Since 2000, the government has tried to help democracy go digital. But is it working?
After several centuries of casting and counting ballots, it’s shocking that we still haven’t mastered what seems to be a simple task. But anyone who lived through the 2000 presidential election, in which a mishmash of flawed voting machines, contradictory county procedures, and unclear state laws in Florida led to the least reliable outcome in history, knows that 21st century voting is no better than the era when we shouted out our votes at the courthouse steps.
Despite reams of evidence to the contrary, many still insist those footprints above are a myth
When Neil Armstrong pressed the first bootprint into the Sea of Tranquility, most of humanity watched the televised low-res blob and felt pride welling up in their chests. But a few watchers felt something entirely different—an unconfirmed, squinty-eyed skepticism that something about the whole deal smelled fishy. How could the United States, which could barely put a chimp into space in 1961, get two full-grown men on the surface of the moon eight years later? How could anyone confirm that men actually made it to the moon? And, how, exactly, had that $25 billion Apollo budget been spent?
A new imaging technology may make surgeons' jobs a little easier
The problem with cancer surgery, or so we hear, is that it's difficult for surgeons to know if they've removed all of a tumor, especially in late-stage cancers when the edges get indistinct. But a new imaging technology developed at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's Center for Imaging Technology and Molecular Diagnostics in Boston is giving cutters visual cues on just where to aim their scalpels.
Has the holy grail of Sasquatch hunting been found in the hill country of Georgia?
Not since Harry and the Hendersons has the legend of Bigfoot, aka Sasquatch, aka Yowie, captured the attention of the country so thoroughly. This week, a pair of men from northern Georgia claimed they have found the body of the so-called Georgia Gorilla, and are keeping the remains in a chest freezer.
Scientists discover that chili peppers produce actual heat
We all know that eating hot peppers can burn your tongue and make you sweat, but up till now researchers thought the process was a result of chemicals stimulating neurons rather than the actually production of heat. But Yasser Ahmed Mahmmoud at Denmark’s University of Aarhus has discovered something surprising—chili peppers can actually turn up the temperature, a finding that may have significant uses in the future
Researchers ditch the ethanol in favor of biofuels derived from junk crops and trash, like cornhusks
We all thought biofuels we’re going to be our eco-savior (what could be greener than running our cars on renewable corn, soy, or sugarcane?) That is, until it turned out eco-fuels contribute to rising food prices, put conservation land back into agricultural production, and turn into an all-around bust because fermentation of the starches and sugars put lots of CO2 into the atmosphere. But biofuels may yet make their mark on mother earth.
Run for your life! And, uh, for your life
A recent study by Stanford researchers has confirmed your worst fears—that dorky neighbor in the short-shorts who zips by every morning at 6 o’clock in the morning will likely outlive you, and will be healthier in the long run.
Don't blame yourself, blame your genes! Scientists find you can indeed be a born couch potato
Rather watch TV than bike 50 miles? The thought of a hike sound like torture instead of fun? Well, according to two recent research papers you can stop berating yourself for being a couch potato (maybe). Researchers have identified 23 gene locations that control the activity levels of mice. “Can you be born a couch potato? In exercise physiology, we didn't used to think so, but now I would say most definitely you can," says J. Timothy Lightfoot, lead researcher on the project at the University of North Carolina.
Grab another beer guys, carbo-loading could lead to longer lives say scientists
Finally, the scientific finding every man has been waiting to hear: carbo-loading on doughnuts optimizes your lifespan and makes you sexually potent. Too bad the research only applies to crickets (so far . . . ).
A remote control toy could help NASA scientists better understand Earth's polar regions
If you thought your remote control monster truck was badass, check out the SnoMote. The new remote control snowmobile was funded by NASA to help scientists in polar regions collect climate data without forcing them onto cracking ice sheets. The bots, designed to work as a team, can be programmed to monitor a target area; a fleet of bots is outfitted with sensors and cameras to navigate terrain autonomously, all the while taking temperature and barometric readings.
A portable dialysis machine could liberate millions
For the 1.3 million people who suffer renal failure each year, kidney dialysis is a major undertaking. The lengthy out-patient process requires near-daily trips to the doctor’s office to be hooked up for hours to a massive machine; making it difficult to hold a job or have a normal social life. But Victor Gura of UCLA’s Geffen School of medicine has patented and tested the holy grail of nephrology: a portable, wearable dialysis machine.
Scientists develop a database that could pinpoint forgeries once and for all
Detecting art forgeries is an inexact science—even some certified masterpieces have a cloud of doubt over their authenticity. But in recent years James Z. Wang and his colleague Jia Li have been putting Van Gogh under the microscope to create a database they hope will eventually thwart art fakers and revolutionize the detection of forgeries. Using 23 high-resolution gray scale images known to be by Van Gogh, the Penn State team broke the images down into 2.5 x 2.5 inch squares, analyzing “wavelet” based texture features and the geometric characteristics of the master’s brushstrokes.
A study years in the making finds that a collegiate drinking culture does indeed lead to collegiate drinkers
A team from the Harvard School of Public Health has deduced what an annual Playboy survey has been telling us for years: Partying is more common at party schools. In a review of the 14-year-long College Alcohol Study, Director Henry Wechsler and Assistant Director Toben Nelson conclude that heavy drinking among students was more common at schools with an established drinking culture, lots of liquor stores, and awesome drink specials, a condition the researchers call a “wet environment” (which, I’m assuming, may also lead to a higher prevalence of wet t-shirt contests).
Arsenic-laced drinking water, lead-contaminated soils and choking air pollution are sadly just the start in some of the world's dirtiest places
You may already know about the pollution plight of Linfen, China. But how about the heavy metals Pittsburghers breathe in on a daily basis? Or the incomparable smog Milanesi put up with? PopSci has culled an eye-opening selection of some of the world's most problematic cities. From the painfully high cancer rates in Sumgayit, Azerbaijan to the acid rain destroying La Oroya, Peru, writer Jason Daley will walk you through the lowest of the low; and explain why, despite it all, there's still hope for these places.
The stories behind the "duh"
Caffeine wakes you up, rock stars die young and long ambulance rides aren't ideal. Sound obvious? You bet. But there's more than meets the eye here. On this week's episode
of Cocktail Party Science,
the writers and editors of PopSci
's "Science Confirms the Obvious
," talk to host Chuck Cage about the studies that make you say "duh" and why they're worth a second look.