Science

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Flame retardants building up within us.

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Globetechnology's scary article says highest levels are found in babies as PBDEs emanate from carpets, furniture, to form dust balls. Those dust bunnies lurking under the bed may not be as innocuous as you think.

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NASA says 2005 could be warmest year recorded.

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CNN reports that a weak El Nino and human-made greenhouse gases could make 2005 the warmest year since records started being kept in the late 1800s. This was reported by NASA scientists said this week. While climate events like El Nino -- when warm water spreads over much of the tropical Pacific Ocean -- affect global temperatures, the increasing role of human-made pollutants plays a big part.

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Orbital Overload: Space Debris Crowds the Not-So-Friendly Skies

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SPACE.com says totally gone or near-dead spacecraft, spent motor casings and rocket stages, all the way down to pieces of solid propellant, insulation, paint flakes, and thousands of frozen bits of still-radioactive nuclear reactor coolant dribbling (from a number of aged Russian radar satellites) orbit around Earth. As of December 29, 2004, there were 9,233 objects large enough to be tracked and catalogued by the USSTRATCOM Space Surveillance Network. Of this total, there were 2,927 payloads along with 6,306 object classed as rocket bodies and debris. That's the statistics as listed in the January issue of The Orbital Debris Quarterly News, issued by the NASA Johnson Space Center Orbital Debris Program Office in Houston, Texas.

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'Broken-heart syndrome' has medical link.

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Both CNN (from Blue's News) and Yahoo! News report that a sudden shock, such as hearing news of a death in the family, can trigger a condition that appears to be a massive heart attack except that the victim suffers no lasting damage, a study reports today.

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Tsunami Earthquake Three Times Larger Than First Thought

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LiveScience report that a new analysis of the December earthquake that caused disastrous tsunami waves to strike Asia and Africa. The report finds it was three times more powerful than earlier measurements suggested. This would make it the second largest earthquake ever instrumentally recorded.

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Tree/Canopy-living ants glide to safety -- Rainforest dwellers steer themselves home during a fall.

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Mousey (remove AQFL to e-mail)'s engineer co-worker sent him and me this News @ Nature.com article (LiveScience's story with a 4 minutes streaming video) about Canopy/Tree-dwelling worker ants (Cephalotes atratus) in the tropical forests of the Americas have adopted a neat way of averting disaster should they fall from their perch. They glide to safety, steering towards their home trunk rather than plummeting to the ground, where they might never see their nest-mates again.

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Unfit and overweight OK by many, a survey suggests...

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MSNBC's article says Americans know exercise is good for their health. Yet many are overweight, out-of-shape couch potatoes -- and that seems to be just fine with a lot of them, suggests a new nationwide fitness survey.

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Why North Americans ain't got rhythm...

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This MSNBC article reports that North Americans are worse than babies when it comes to rhythm. A recently published study looked into why people in some parts of the world seem better at grasping offbeat rhythms compared to people in North America. The problem appears to be at least partly cultural. The study would seem complex to those not musically inclined. But here's the upshot:

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Left-handers have different view... Are you left handed or right handed?

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BBC News report that left-handed and right-handed people view the world differently, scientists have shown. Psychologists found they use opposite sides of their brains when looking at, and making sense of, an image.

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Worms, lobsters, and crabs cannot feel pain?

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Reuters and Yahoo! News report worms squirming on a fishhook feel no pain -- nor do lobsters and crabs cooked in boiling water, a scientific study funded by the Norwegian government has found. "The common earthworm has a very simple nervous system -- it can be cut in two and continue with its business," Professor Wenche Farstad, who chaired the panel that drew up the report, said Monday.

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Beagle 2 'should never have been built'

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New Scientist reports that Beagle 2, the British lander lost on Mars in 2003, should never have been built. That is the damning conclusion of the official investigation into the loss of the probe in a report that the UK government and the European Space Agency (ESA) attempted to hide. The probe was carried to Mars on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft and released towards the Red Planet in December 2003. It was never heard from again.

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Dyslexia slows drivers' reactions...

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New Scientist report that dyslexia can impair a driver's reactions as much as a moderate drinking session. That is the conclusion of a small study which compared how quickly dyslexic and non-dyslexic drivers react to traffic signs.

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Anniversary of Challenger explosion (1/28/1986)... Where were you back then?

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This /. poll reminds people that today is the anniversary from the Challenger's explosion from 1/28/1986. So sad. I was ten years old back in Pennsylvania, USA, if I remember correctly. I did not see this accident live on TV. I saw the recording on the local news. I wasn't crazy about space stuff back then compared to today, but yet it was sad. :( Columbia's accident is coming up very soon too. :(

So, where were you when it happened (e.g., wasn't born yet)?

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Ants Use Geometry to Navigate

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Discovery Channel News' article says ants use angled signposts, marked with scent, to find their way home or follow the path into the

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How the Venus flytrap snaps up its prey.

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This Yahoo! News article says American and French scientists believed they have explained how one of nature's marvels, the Venus flytrap, snaps shut to snare its victims. The plant -- described by Charles Darwin as "one of the most wonderful in the world" -- is able to enclose a fly within its clamshell-shaped leaves in just 100 milliseconds, faster than the eye can blink.

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Is President Bush good for technology?

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CNET's News.com and The New York Times articles say George W. Bush probably won't be remembered as "the high-tech president." The strongholds of the biotech and infotech industries, on the East and West Coasts, voted against him. If his State of the Union address next week, his fourth, is like the previous three, it will say next to nothing about the role of science or advanced technology in the nation's economic and social future. The symbol of Al Gore's relationship with gizmos was the early-model BlackBerry he wore on his belt. The symbol of Bush's was his tumble from a Segway computerized scooter in 2003.

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Shuttle Surface More Vulnerable Than Suspected

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The New Yorks Times (no registration required) says the space shuttle's skin is turning out to be even more fragile than NASA engineers thought, its scientists and engineers say. Impact tests and analysis performed as part of the return-to-flight effort show that pieces of insulating foam that weigh less than half an ounce can cause small cracks and damage to the surface coating on the heat-resistant panels on the leading edge of the wing, agency officials said in interviews this week.

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Ant's 2 Compfused.com Video Picks for (1/20/2005)

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Compfused.com posted some cool videos today, but two of them were worth noting:

  • Horrible Weatherman -- Wow, I can be better than this guy! OK, maybe worse.
  • Mini Guns -- A cool video of mini guns being used from helicopters. The sheer amount of firepower one of these guns can spew out boggles the mind. This reminds me of video games, movies, and TV shows. :)
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Cancer the Top Killer for Those Under 85

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A Yahoo! News story says heart disease has been the nation's top killer for decades. Now, cancer has taken its place for Americans 85 and younger.

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Untidy beds may keep us healthy.

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BBC News says failing to make your bed in the morning may actually help keep you healthy, scientists believe. Research suggests that while an unmade bed may look scruffy it is also unappealing to house dust mites thought to cause asthma and other allergies. A Kingston University study discovered the bugs cannot survive in the warm, dry conditions found in an unmade bed.

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