Popular Science
4 min read
Science

Five Map And Compass Skills Every Outdoorsman Should Master

Identifying the various parts of a baseplate compass A: Straight Edge B: Direction-of-Travel Arrow C: Bearing Guide D: Rotating Housing E: Orienting Arrow F: Magnetic Needle Dan Saelinger This story originally appeared on fieldandstream.com. In the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, as you may remember, Johnny Depp’s character, Capt. Jack Sparrow, navigates with a magic compass whose needle points toward the object of the heart’s desire. Orienteering differs in that a topo map has contour lines in place of the galaxy imprinted on Sparrow’s compass, and the needle on a compass points to the magnet
Popular Science
3 min read
Psychology

How To Smile Without Looking Like A Creep, According To Scientists

Not all smiles are created equal. tonipostius via Flickr How much teeth should you show when you smile? How wide should your grin be, and what if it’s crooked? Using a variety of computer-animated faces, researchers from the University of Minnesota have done their best to isolate the traits of a winning smile. At first glance, this may seem like a laughing matter. But for people with paralysis or other medical conditions, being physically unable to smile can cause communication problems, anxiety, and depression. The new study, published today in PLOS One, could help doctors who perform facial
NPR
2 min read
Science

NASA Spacecraft Gets Up Close With Jupiter's Great Red Spot

Scientists are about to get an up-close and personal look at Jupiter's most famous landmark, the Great Red Spot. NASA's Juno spacecraft will be directly over the spot shortly after 10 p.m. ET on Monday, July 10, about 5,600 miles above the gas giant's cloud tops. That's closer than any spacecraft has been before. The spot is actually a giant storm that has been blowing on Jupiter for centuries. It's huge, larger than the Earth in diameter. "It's lasted a really long time," says Scott Bolton of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio and principal scientist for NASA's Juno mission to Ju
NPR
4 min read
Society

Why You Should Think Twice About Those DNA-By-Mail Results

In a new book, University of North Carolina-Charlotte anthropologist Jonathan Marks says that racism in science is alive and well. This stands in sharp contrast to creationist thinking, Marks says, which is, like racism, decidedly evident in our society but most certainly not welcome in science. In Is Science Racist?, Marks writes: "If you espouse creationist ideas in science, you are branded as an ideologue, as a close-minded pseudo-scientist who is unable to adopt a modern perspective, and who consequently has no place in the community of scholars. But if you espouse racist ideas in science,
Newsweek
7 min read
Science

Autism Risk: Are Girls More Protected From Diagnosis?

Jennifer and Sarah Ross are 6-year-old twins, but they couldn’t be more different. Jennifer is quiet, reserved and calm. She likes to dance, do gymnastics and jump on trampolines. She has plenty of friends. Sarah, on the other hand, is all energy. She has trouble sitting still. She has a gift for math and puzzles, and she likes to play video games. While Sarah has only a few friends and is usually content to be on her own in the playground, she does love a captive audience. “Everyone know I can sing opera?” she asks. “Whaaaaaaa! ” Jennifer and her mother, Alycia Halladay Ross, giggle. On a rec
Newsweek
18 min read
Science

How Scientists are Engineering New Forms of Life

Before human beings wrote books or did math or composed music, we made leather. There is evidence hunter-gatherers were wearing clothes crafted from animal skins hundreds of thousands of years ago, while in 2010 archaeologists digging in Armenia found what they believed to be the world’s oldest leather shoe, dating back to 3,500 B.C. (It was about a women’s size 7.) For a species sadly bereft of protective fur, being able to turn the skin of cows or sheep or pigs into clothing with the help of curing and tanning would have been a lifesaving advance, just like other vital discoveries Homo sapie
Nautilus
6 min read
Science

How to Weed Creationism Out of Schools

One of the latest victims of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian regime in Turkey isn’t a journalist, or dissident academic, but the concept of evolution. His government’s decision to erase Darwin’s idea—the bedrock of biology—from the high school curriculum will take effect in September (if a lawsuit against the move fails). Classes on evolution will, for now, still be taught at the university level. This is the apparent apotheosis of a recent trend to Islamize secular education in Turkey. References to the Muslim faith in the country’s high school curriculum have been on the rise since 2012
The Guardian
4 min read
Science

Doomsday Narratives About Climate Change Don't Work. But Here's What Does | Victoria Herrmann

The title of David Wallace-Wells’ recent essay in New York magazine is catchy, if not uncomfortable. “The Uninhabitable Earth: Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreck – sooner than you think.” The article asks us to peer beyond scientific reticence into a doomsday future. The accounts of mass heat deaths in cities and praying for cornfields in the tundra is disturbing, but they’re familiar. It’s the same frame for how we talk about a much more immediate climate change disaster – US communities at risk to sea level rise today. We’ve labeled Shishmare
NPR
2 min read
Science

Maryam Mirzakhani, Prize-Winning Mathematician, Dies At 40

Nearly three years after she became the first woman to win math's equivalent of a Nobel Prize, Maryam Mirzakhani has died of breast cancer at age 40. Her death was confirmed Saturday by Stanford University, where Mirzakhani had been a professor since 2008. Mirzakhani is survived by her husband, Jan Vondrák, and a daughter, Anahita — who once referred to her mother's work as "painting" because of the doodles and drawings that marked her process of working on proofs and problems, according to an obituary released by Stanford. "A light was turned off today .... far too soon. Breaks my heart," for
The Atlantic
4 min read
Science

Making Babies, No Sex Necessary

In the future, when a couple wants to reproduce, “they will not make a baby in a bed or in the backseat or a car, or under a ‘Keep Off the Grass’ sign,” says Henry Greely, the director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford Law School. Instead, they will go to a clinic. Using stem cells from the couple’s skin or other non-reproductive organs, scientists will be able to make eggs and sperm, which will be combined into embryos. “Each of those embryos will have its own gene sequence,” Greely says. “The parents will be asked: ‘What do you want to know about these embryos?’ And they’
STAT
3 min read
Science

Grappling With Cancers Like John McCain’s Glioblastoma That Break All The Rules

Arizona Sen. John McCain’s recent diagnosis of the hard-to-treat cancer glioblastoma stands in contrast to recent media reports that paint an optimistic picture of cancer treatment in America. A sampling of headlines includes “Cancer survival rates at all-time high” and “Cancer death rates continue to decrease in the United States.” Driving much of the progress are emerging advances in three vital areas: cancer prevention and early detection, immunotherapy, and precision medicine approaches that match patients to targeted therapies. These developments are yielding benefits for nearly every sit
Nautilus
5 min read
Science

What Medicine Is Learning from Animals That Resist Cancer

In recent years, naked mole rats, elephants, and bowhead whales have caught the attention of cancer researchers. At first glance, these three don’t have much in common: naked mole rats are subterranean rodents; elephants roam above ground; and bowhead whales spend their lives in the sea. But they do. For one, they all have relatively long lifespans. Naked mole rats can live just over three decades, much longer than most other creatures their size; some elephants can live up to 70 years; and the average lifespan of a bowhead whale is two centuries. For another, these three species are also prac
The Atlantic
2 min read
Psychology

To Remember Random Errands, Turn Them Into a Story

Who among us has not walked into a Target mentally chanting something like “Eggs, shaving cream, toothpaste, toilet paper” only to get home and realize we’ve forgotten the toothpaste? Looks like we’re using mouthwash tonight! If you’ve got a lengthy to-do list, and you’re not ready to commit to bullet journaling or whatever to keep track of it all, Gary Small, the director of the Longevity Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, has a little trick to hold it all in your head: Turn the words into a story. He demonstrated this trick on Saturday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is
Popular Science
3 min read

We Still Don’t Really Know Where Dogs Came From

From the looks of this one, somewhere on Tatooine (or possibly heaven). Stocksnap Dogs are too pure for this world. This fact is known. If supernatural explanations were sufficient, we could safely say that dogs descended from the heavens to bring us joy. Reality, as ever, gets in the way with its need for “logic” and “evidence.” The truth is that we created dogs gradually by unconsciously selecting for traits that made wild wolves increasingly puppy-like. Yes, modern dogs are essentially just perma-puppies. That much is clear. What we’re not quite certain about is where and how this happened.
Popular Science
4 min read
Psychology

Grandma's Insomnia Might Be A Product Of Evolution

The study was carried out among the Hadza people of Tanzania, who sleep in an environment similar to that of early humans: no artificial lights, heat, or air conditioning. David Samson If your sleep is getting worse with age, evolution might be to blame. A study recently published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B found that humans' age-specific sleep patterns may have evolved to protect mixed-age groups from potential danger in the night. And in this scenario, the elderly members of these groups may have drawn the short straw—their restless sleep made them perfect for the night watch. “Lo
Nautilus
5 min read
Science

The Unbearable Weirdness of CRISPR

When Francisco Mojica was 25, he supported himself by tracking bacteria in the Mediterranean off the coast of a tourist haven in southeastern Spain. At the time, he was a doctoral candidate at the University of Alicante, where he focused on a much stranger microorganism than those he was searching for in the ocean: Haloferax mediterranei, a single-celled creature that thrives in water so salty it kills almost everything else. “Even sea water is not salty enough for them,” he says. To understand this peculiar creature, Mojica, his advisor, and another graduate student were painstakingly sequenc
People
2 min read
Science

Battling Addiction To The End

Carrie Fisher was brutally honest about her demons. “I couldn’t stop, or stay stopped,” she told People in 1987 of her lifelong struggle with substance abuse. “It was never my fantasy to have a drug problem. I’d say, ‘Oh, f--- it, I haven’t done anything for a couple of months, why not? Let’s celebrate not doing them by doing them.’ I got into trouble each time.” Sadly, she was never able to dispel that darkness. On June 19 the L.A. County Coroner’s Office revealed that cocaine, heroin and Ecstasy, among other drugs, were in Fisher’s system at the time of her Dec. 27 death. The coroner stated
Newsweek
2 min read
Science

Soccer Players Act Like Turbulent Particles, Study Says

New research shows the way soccer players move about the field bears similarities to the manner in which particles behave under the chaotic conditions of turbulence. This discovery is one of the many made in an effort to better understand turbulence, which is a surprisingly active and pressing field. More than half a millennium after Leonardo Da Vinci first coined the term, in 1507, physicists still don’t have a complete understanding of what goes on under conditions of turbulence, and no equation exists to accurately describe the phenomenon. That matters greatly, because turbulence is one of
Mic
3 min read
Science

These Are The Health Benefits Of Spending Time By The Ocean

The sea is miraculous. Just the sight of the seemingly boundless body of water is humbling for many. And in the 18th century, the ocean was often regarded as a panacea, with doctors prescribing drinking a pint of sea water to cure everything from leprosy to heatstroke to depression. While modern medicine has yet to support ocean water as a cure-all, there are certainly some major benefits to spending time by the seaside — whether you’re lucky enough to live there or are just visiting. A breath of fresh ocean air might be medicinal. Research has found that patients with cystic fibrosis experie
STAT
3 min read
Science

Mice Show Signs Of Mental Disorder After Brains Injected With Cells From Schizophrenic Humans

Lab mice whose brains were injected with cells from schizophrenia patients became afraid of strangers, slept fitfully, felt intense anxiety, struggled to remember new things, and showed other signs of the mental disorder, scientists reported on Thursday. The latest advance in “chimeras,” animals created by transplanting cells from one species into another, demonstrated the value of the technique, scientists not involved in the study said, but is likely to draw renewed attention to a controversial field that opponents see as deeply immoral and undermining the natural order. Under a 2015 morator
STAT
4 min read
Science

Could Cows Be The Vaccine Factories Of The Future?

Famously, the word vaccine comes from the Latin word for cow — a namesake that traces back to the late 1700s. Now cows are once again at the cutting edge of vaccine science. Thanks to a quirk of how cows make antibodies, they are helping researchers understand human immunity. Someday, cows could serve as testing grounds for whether vaccines are well-designed. And it’s possible that cow antibodies could treat everything from autoimmunity to infectious disease. A new study on HIV by scientists at Scripps Research Institute explores these possibilities. Cows don’t get HIV, but, when injected with
NPR
4 min read
Psychology

Just Thinking You're Slacking On Exercise Could Boost Risk Of Death

In a fitness-crazed land of spin classes and CrossFit gyms, Octavia Zahrt found it can be tough to feel as though you're doing enough. "When I was in school in London, I felt really good about my activity. Then I moved to Stanford, and everyone around me seems to be so active and going to the gym every day," she says. "In the San Francisco Bay Area, it's like 75 percent of people walk around here wearing exercise clothes all day, every day, all the time, and just looking really fit." She wasn't less active than when she lived in London, Zahrt says, but in comparison she began to feel a bit lik
The Atlantic
3 min read
Science

The Mysterious Origins of Mars’s Trailing Asteroids

In 1990, astronomers detected an asteroid, about one mile wide, trailing Mars. In the spirit of discovery, they named it Eureka. Over the next few years, they found a few more, six near Eureka, and two in other locations in Mars’s orbit. The rocky bodies are known as Trojans, the name given to asteroids that exist in stable spots around their parent planet and share its orbit around the sun. The origin of the Mars Trojans has puzzled asteroid researchers since. Mars is the only terrestrial planet in the solar system to have Trojans, which number in the thousands around Jupiter and about 17 aro
Nautilus
17 min read
Science

Chaos Makes the Multiverse Unnecessary: Science predicts only the predictable, ignoring most of our chaotic universe.

Scientists look around the universe and see amazing structure. There are objects and processes of fantastic complexity. Every action in our universe follows exact laws of nature that are perfectly expressed in a mathematical language. These laws of nature appear fine-tuned to bring about life, and in particular, intelligent life. What exactly are these laws of nature and how do we find them? The universe is so structured and orderly that we compare it to the most complicated and exact contraptions of the age. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the universe was compared to a perfectly working cloc
Nautilus
3 min read
Science

How Japanese Floating Illusions Reverse-Engineer What We See

If you don’t know how something works, break it. Science is built on creative destruction: Much of what neuroscientists know of the brain, they know from what gets lost during brain injuries. Under happier circumstances, they glimpse the functioning of visual perception from how it breaks down in optical illusions. For instance, the 3-D Escher-like illusions created by Kokichi Sugihara of Meiji University exploit our brain’s tendency to see all angles as right angles. Some of the most dramatic illusions involve apparent motion—these appear to spin, shimmer, or shimmy even though they’re comple
Popular Science
3 min read
Science

A Third Of Marine Megafauna Died In A Mass Extinction That We Didn’t Even Know About

Something had to go to make room for the turtles. Pixabay Death is a part of life. Things have to die so other things can be born et cetera et cetera circle of life hakuna matata. It’s hard to get that broken up about some giant aquatic sloths that no longer roam the oceans in search of sea grass. We never experienced their majestic front crawl, so we don’t really care how or when they died. Almost all of the species that have ever existed are now extinct—why should swimming sloths be any more important than the rest? Apart from the fact that, come on they’re giant swimming sloths, there’s one
Newsweek
6 min read
Science

How NASA Can Help Solve the Middle East Water Crisis

For at least six of the past 10 years, Ali Saed, a farmer, grew no crops. The rain in his little corner of northern Iraq was too meager, as was the flow of a nearby irrigation canal. He was only a few months away from ditching agriculture for good when he reached out to a distant relative, a government scientist in Baghdad. Saed was told some farmers had tapped groundwater stores, and he wondered if he might be able to do the same. By sizing up satellite images of the surrounding fields, the cousin identified a nearby dip layered with porous rock through which rainwater might once have seeped.
Newsweek
6 min read
Science

One Day There Could Be a Blood Test for Autism

More than a decade ago, Judy Van de Water, a neuroimmunologist, decided to follow her instincts and research a condition she knew nothing about. Van de Water, now a lead scientist at the University of California Davis MIND Institute—an international research center for neurodevelopmental disorders—had spent her career studying the immune system. In 2000, she stumbled upon a compelling area of research: the immunobiology of autism. Through studies on mice, rats and rhesus macaques and, eventually, retrospective and prospective analyses of children diagnosed with autism and their mothers, Van de