Early last October, Brendan Foley found himself on a small, inflatable boat making rings in the middle of the Aegean Sea. The 43-year-old maritime archaeologist was waiting on three divers, who were searching for ancient shipwrecks 100 feet below. Rather than drop anchor, the boat's skipper, a potbellied Greek man named Giorgos, held the wheel hard to port, spinning the boat around and around. Whether inured to the repetitive course or just oblivious to it, Giorgos didn't appear to mind making circles. But the repetition was making Foley antsy. He fidgeted with the zipper on his wetsuit. He rearranged the dive gear, still dripping wet from his own survey earlier that day. Then he sat down next to me and made an unusual confession for someone whose livelihood is tied to the sea. "I hate small boats," he said. "Not too fond of big ones either."
On August 5, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory will reach the outer edge of the Martian atmosphere. The 8,500-pound craft will have traveled 352 million miles at speeds of up to 13,200 mph, but its real work will have only just begun. Over the next seven minutes it will plummet through 80 miles of atmosphere, withstanding temperatures of up to 3,800°F, and guide itself to a sudden halt in the massive Gale Crater.
Last year, I stuck my hand in super-cold liquid nitrogen for the amusement of PopSci readers. My skin survived that demonstration, but I wimped out on a related experiment at the opposite extreme: dipping my finger into molten lead. That’s because the only time I’ve ever burned myself badly enough to need a doctor was while casting a lead plaque as a kid.
How comfortable are you with some minor hacking that will almost certainly void your warranty but can vastly improve your phone?
By Howard WenPosted 03.06.2012 at 5:19 pm 6 Comments
Manufacturers of Android smartphones often won't provide an updated, custom version of the operating system for models they no longer sell, so users can't take advantage of new features. For older phones, there's a workaround: CyanogenMod, a free OS built from the source code for the latest versions of Android that Google releases to developers. CyanogenMod is very similar to the official Android platform, but it includes a few extra features, such as Wi-Fi tethering, a screenshot tool, and more security and power-management settings.
By Katie Peek and Ryan BradleyPosted 03.06.2012 at 10:10 am 0 Comments
Strains of seasonal influenza behave slightly differently season to season and strain to strain. The differences are revealing. The rate of transmission of the 1918 pandemic, which killed 40 million people, closely mirrors the data from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. The two strains are, in fact, closely related. At the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), epidemiologists study the patterns of flu data from the current season against historic data. The comparison helps them make informed decisions about how to respond to the virus: what kind of vaccine to make, how to make it, and how and where to distribute it. As data sets improve, scientists will be able to better predict how future strains of seasonal influenza will spread.
See the infographic in full here.
Last October, after hurting his knee playing hockey, Patrick Priebe was holed up in his apartment near Cologne, Germany, with nothing to do. He was sitting at his computer, staring at his keyboard, when the “Y” key caught his eye. Priebe didn’t see a letter. To him, it looked like a crossbow. Immediately he knew what his next project would be.
Meeko the calf stood nuzzling a pile of hay. He didn't seem to have much appetite, and he looked a little bored. Every now and then, he glanced up, as though wondering why so many people with clipboards were standing around watching him.
Fourteen hours earlier, I'd watched doctors lift Meeko's heart from his body and place it, still beating, in a plastic dish. He looked no worse for the experience, whisking away a fly with his tail as he nibbled, demonstrably alive—though above his head, a monitor showed a flatlined pulse. I held a stethoscope to his warm, fragrant flank and heard, instead of the deep lub-dub of a heartbeat, what sounded like a dentist's drill or the underwater whine of an outboard motor. Something was keeping Meeko alive, but it was nothing like a heart.
By Ryan BradleyPosted 02.29.2012 at 10:18 am 12 Comments
My first migraine arrived in a fuzzy cloud of reds and purples, a stab of pain that left me bent over in the back of an auto-rickshaw, squinting and nauseous, on my morning commute to Connaught Place, in New Delhi. Months later, when I left India, I thought that the headaches would disappear along with the chaos of the overcrowded capital. They didn't. And finally, after months spent stumbling into my room, drawing the curtains, and lying in the darkness for hours wishing for sleep, I went to an internist, who prescribed a brain scan.
To catch a fast-acting virus, response teams have to be faster
By Ryan BradleyPosted 02.28.2012 at 10:05 am 8 Comments
A man who worked in a lead and gold mine in southwest Uganda died suddenly from a hemorrhagic fever. Concerned that it could be the beginning of an outbreak of Marburg virus, which is similar to Ebola, doctors sent a blood sample to the Uganda Virus Research Institute, where pathologists confirmed that Marburg was indeed the cause of death and alerted the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Both the WHO and the CDC are tasked with containing the spread of virulent diseases.
Scientists needed $3 billion and 13 years to sequence the three billion base pairs encoded in a single human genome—the first time. By 2011, eight years after that first project was completed, the cost of sequencing a human genome had fallen to $5,000, in a process that took just a few weeks. And in January, Jonathan Rothberg, a chemical engineer and the founder of the biotech company Ion Torrent, unveiled an approach that is faster and cheaper still.