To conduct experiments, researchers can change a variable in an organism and watch the results unfold. But life is messy, and it's difficult to understand the underlying processes that explain the data. Digitizing the process could help, and now we're starting small: researchers have successfully made a computer model of Mycoplasma genitalium, the world's tiniest free-living bacterium.
We know CFL bulbs are world-changingly efficient, producing the same level of light as their incandescent parents while using a quarter of the energy. But they're still a relatively new device, and few long-term studies have been carried out on them. One of the most recent, a new report from a team at Stony Brook, suggests CFLs might cause damage to skin by releasing UV rays.
The WikiLeaks info-dumps, as a lot of the public realized as they started to be released, contained a whole lot of info--both genuine nuggets of military action and wartime marginalia. But by cataloguing all of the events logged in the WikiLeaks Afghan War Diary--91,000 reports from 2004 to 2010--researchers from the University of Edinburg have been able to accurately map the past of the conflict, which could lead to predicting the conflict into the future.
For humans, few things are as ubiquitous as the common cold. We catch it more than any other infectious disease and it's been with us as about as long as we've existed. But while there isn't a cure, our technology is constantly improving, and now in our corner we have Australia's fastest supercomputer helping to work out a solution.
For about 60 years, we've defined the amp--the power of an electrical current--by using mechanical processes, i.e., processes not defined in nature. And for the most part that works just fine. But now we're approaching a better way: scientists from the National Physical Laboratory and University of Cambridge have found a process to move 1 billion individual electrons per second, and measure them accurately.
Getting to space is a tough enough prospect, and even once you make it out of our atmosphere, there are still physical issues. Chief among them: a long flight can cause a loss of bone and muscle mass. To find ways to combat that process, researchers study C. elegans, worms that have a surprising amount in common with humans. But a recent study noticed a strange side effect for space-bound worms: they lived longer.
As intelligent as computers continue to get, it's still a lot of work for them to perform tasks many humans do on a regular basis--like, say, enjoying cat videos on YouTube. In an attempt to bridge that gap, scientists from Google's X laboratory created a simulated human brain by putting 16,000 computer processors together and having them browse around the Internet, learning facts about the world as they went. And the simulated human brain successfully found YouTube's cats.
It sounds like the new 50 gigapixel camera from engineers at Duke University and the University of Arizona was a simple, intuitive, Lego-inspired idea: stack 98 cameras on top of each other to make one big camera. That's the main idea, anyway. What's tough is taking the information from those 98 flashes and organizing it without the camera going up in smoke. That's why it uses about 3 percent of its hardware to do actual camera stuff, while the rest of it goes to wiring that takes the info and gets it to make sense.
You are not a bastion of self-control. Everyone has a set amount of the stuff, and when life saps it, people can break. Now fMRIs from a University of Iowa study show exactly what it looks like when that happens.
In the same way humans might be tempted to binge on some junk food when they're under stress, grasshoppers head for the carbohydrate-rich foods when they get scared. The difference is the grasshoppers can leave behind some big-scale problems for the environment.
Taste is a highly subjective thing. But when science gets involved, things have to be measured, and the measurements must be exact.
Here are 11 ways that food is precisely measured. Bitterness can be determined based on a specific scale, and the amount of sucrose in a solution can be easily calculated. Some others are a little more esoteric: stretching cheese to measure its texture; determining the color of a beer based on how much light passes through it; testing the strength of coffee.
Despite plenty of advances in neuroscience, often what we know about the brain comes with gaps, and anything close to a full piece of knowledge always ends up lacking something — whether it's for the human brain or a mouse's.
The human body isn't a metal machine, but it's still plenty complicated, and regulating it like a machine is tough to pull off. That's why a new discovery by Klas Tybrandt, a doctoral student in Organic Electronics at Linköping University, Sweden, is exciting: he's developed the first integrated chemical chip, similar to silicon-based electronics, but for biologic material.
Sometimes, in the name of progress, doctors have nobody to test their medical theories on but themselves. And in these five cases--though several of them perished from the self-inflicted experiments--that testing was warranted, leading to key advances in the treatment of yellow fever, blunt force impact, ulcers, and more.
Last year, Nature and Science prepared to publish research describing how to mutate H5N1, a deadly bird flu, into more-contagious forms. The papers could help scientists create a treatment should a similar mutation occur in nature. But according to the U.S. government, the papers could also help terrorists create a weapon.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.