A battery made with urea, commonly found in fertilizers and mammal urine, could provide a low-cost way of storing energy produced through solar power or other forms of renewable energy for consumption during off hours.
The Volkswagen emissions scandal and past promotions of tobacco are two examples of “alternative facts” in science’s past, a researcher warns.
Over the past century, American schools have integrated an ever-more-diverse group of students. Racial integration is most prominent, but it’s not just Native Americans, blacks and Latinos who have been brought into public education.
The year 2016 will go down in history as the year in which fake news really took centre stage. It played a decisive role in major events such as the outcome of the US elections and the British Brexit vote.
A new explanation for the origin of Antarctica links two competing theories.
The technology to control a computer using only your thoughts has existed for decades. Yet we’ve made limited progress in using it for its original purpose
When a May 2016 crash killed the person operating a Tesla Model S driving in Autopilot mode, advocates of autonomous vehicles feared a slowdown in development of self-driving cars.
If unexpected packages start showing up at your door, you might want to have a word with one of your smart devices.
We humans have collectively accumulated a lot of science knowledge. While this knowledge is impressive, it’s not distributed evenly. Not even close. There are too many important issues that science has reached a consensus on that the public has not.
For many years, schools and universities have had to change the way they work and teach in order to fit in with technology. Only more recently are we seeing technology being designed and utilized specifically for education contexts.
How would you feel about getting therapy from a robot? Emotionally intelligent machines may not be as far away as it seems.
If you can imagine a future event in your life based on any one of your personal desires, that reality already exists as a possibility in the quantum field. This means that the quantum field contains a reality in which you are healthy, wealthy, and happy, and...
Today every kitchen would seem “under-equipped” without a microwave, with its efficient ability to cook, defrost and reheat a variety of different foods.
Big data is big news these days. But most organisations just end up hoarding vast reams of data, leaving them with a massive repository of unstructured – or “dark” – data that is of little use to anyone.
While the U.S. is the birthplace of the Internet, it currently falls behind other countries in making high quality broadband connections widely available.
In 2016, self-driving cars went mainstream. Uber’s autonomous vehicles became ubiquitous in neighborhoods where I live in Pittsburgh, and briefly in San Francisco
Science is one of the most remarkable inventions of humankind. It has been a source of inspiration and understanding, lifted the veil of ignorance and superstition, been a catalyst for social change and economic growth, and saved countless lives.
In light of climate change and a growing population, water authorities around the world are looking at the treatment of recycled water to achieve water security and sustainability.
Many indoor air pollutants are colorless and odorless, which means people often fail to detect them. A team of engineers at Michigan State University is testing a new technology...
Protecting individual privacy from government intrusion is older than American democracy. In 1604, the attorney general of England, Sir Edward Coke, ruled that a man’s house is his castle.
When we are in a deep slumber our brain’s activity ebbs and flows in big, obvious waves, like watching a tide of human bodies rise up and sit down around a sports stadium.
For centuries, humans have dreamed of harnessing the power of the sun to energize our lives here on Earth. But we want to go beyond collecting solar energy, and one day generate our own from a mini-sun.
If you get your news from social media, as most Americans do, you are exposed to a daily dose of hoaxes, rumors, conspiracy theories and misleading news.
Until now, there’s been no way to control all sorts of devices, wirelessly, via the internet because there’s been no two-way radio smart and small enough to make this possible. A new technology called HitchHike could change that.
Communities would be better off investing in electric vehicles that run on batteries instead of hydrogen fuel cells. The reason? Hydrogen offers few additional energy benefits besides clean transportation.
The internet is full of dark places. There are websites where people gather to share illegal images, buy illicit drugs and air offensive opinions that wouldn’t be tolerated on most mainstream sites.
Polysorbate, a safe additive found in everything from ice cream to cosmetics, seems to slow the toxic effects of E. coli poisoning.
Aquaculture is in the spotlight again, with an ABC investigation raising concerns over the sustainability of the expansion of Tasmania’s salmon-farming industry.
A new system can teach people Morse code within four hours using a series of vibrations felt near the ear.
A new design for solar cells that uses inexpensive, commonly available materials could rival and even outperform conventional cells made of silicon.
We humans like to think of ourselves as on the top of the heap compared to all the other living things on our planet.
We often hear about the dark web being linked to terrorist plots, drug deals, knife sales and child pornography, but beyond this it can be hard to fully understand how the dark web works and what it looks like.
Did you know that you actually “see” the world upside down? Well, you do. You just don’t know it because your brain has fiddled around with your perceptions so that you think you see the world right-side up. This is one of many examples of how the brain rethinks what it sees.
China recently launched a satellite into orbit with a unique feature: it has the ability to send information securely, not with mathematical encryption but by using the fundamental laws of physics.
There is a replicability crisis in science – unidentified “false positives” are pervading even our top research journals.
Why do we think that climate sceptics are irrational? A major reason is that almost none of them have any genuine expertise in climate science (most have no scientific expertise at all), yet they’re confident that they know better than the scientists.
An electric car currently relies on a complex interplay of both batteries and supercapacitors to provide the energy it needs to go places. But chemists are developing a new material that could change that.
Despite being trapped in Moscow, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden often ambles through meeting rooms and conference halls in New York City.
Modern humans started spreading from Africa to Europe, Asia and Australia some 100,000 years ago – a process that took about 70,000 years.
With hydrogen power stations in California, a new Japanese consumer car and portable hydrogen fuel cells for electronics, hydrogen as a zero emission fuel source is now finally becoming a reality for the average consumer.
Imagine driving a car, using a heads-up display projection on the windshield to navigate through an unfamiliar city
Researchers working with swarm robots say it is now possible for machines to learn how natural or artificial systems work by observing them—without being told what to look for.
A new catalyst could make biodegradable plastics derived from renewable materials—promising alternatives to plastics made from oil.
One year ago Tesla Motors announced plans to build its Gigafactory to produce huge numbers of batteries, giving life to the old saying, “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”
Over the years, citizen scientists have provided vital data and contributed in invaluable ways to various scientific quests. But they’re typically relegated to helping traditional scientists complete tasks the pros don’t have the time or resources to deal with on their own.
Amazon recently began to offer same-day delivery in selected metropolitan areas. This may be good for many customers, but the rollout shows how computerized decision-making can also deliver a strong dose of discrimination.
What would your ideal robot be like? One that can change nappies and tell bedtime stories to your child? Perhaps you’d prefer a butler that can polish silver and mix the perfect cocktail?
Recently Sandfire Resources, a gold and copper producer based in Western Australia, announced its new solar power plant will soon start powering its DeGrussa mine. By replacing diesel power, the 10-megawatt power station, with 34,000 panels and lithium storage batteries, is expected to reduce the mine’s carbon emissions by 15%.
Would you want to alter your future children’s genes to make them smarter, stronger or better-looking?
The director of the Southern California Earthquake Center, Thomas Jordan, made an announcement recently that would have sent a chill down the spine of every Californian: that the San Andreas fault appears to be in a critical state and as such, could generate a large earthquake imminently.
The irony of internet freedom was on full display shortly after midnight July 16 in Turkey when President Erdogan used FaceTime and independent TV news to call for public resistance against the military coup that aimed to depose him.
When children learn how to tie their shoelaces, they do so in discrete steps—making a loop or tugging at the lace. After enough repetition, our brain turns these steps into “chunks.”
Research shows that a student’s genetic makeup can have a strong influence on their academic performance.
We live, we are so often told, in an information age. It is an era obsessed with space, time and speed, in which social media inculcates virtual lives that run parallel to our “real” lives and in which communications technologies collapse distances around the globe.
The smartphone in your hand enables you to record a video, edit it and send it around the world. With your phone, you can navigate in cities, buy a car, track your vital signs and accomplish thousands of other tasks. And so?
Mobile phone data may reveal an underlying mathematical connection between how we move and how we communicate. This could make it easier to predict how diseases—and even ideas—spread through a population.
Accidents, natural disasters and random or targeted attacks can cripple human infrastructure. Our transportation networks, supply chains and communication networks are increasing in size and becoming more complex as our populations grow.
"Our theory explains specifically why primates developed superintelligence but dinosaurs—who faced many of the same environmental pressures and had more time to do so—did not. Dinosaurs matured in eggs, so there was no linking between intelligence and infant immaturity at birth," says Celeste Kidd.
It was 1986, and the American space agency, NASA, was reeling from the loss of seven lives. The space shuttle Challenger had broken apart about one minute after its launch.
From the transforming discovery of penicillin to the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics, science progressed with mind-boggling speed even before there were computers. Much of this is down to the robustness of the scientific method: scientific results are validated by being replicated and extended by other scientists.
In the hours since I first sat down to write this piece, my laptop tells me the National Basketball Association has had to deny that it threatened to cancel its 2017 All-Star Game over a new anti-LGBT law in North Carolina – a story repeated by many news sources including the Associated Press.
Ask around – everyone has an opinion about their email and their inbox, and it’s not always positive. From information overload, zero inbox and leaked email scandals to the much-hyped triumph of workflow software like Slack and Asana, email has certainly had a bad rap recently.
Given its huge success in describing the natural world for the past 150 years, the theory of evolution is remarkably misunderstood. In a recent episode of the Australian series of “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”, former cricket star Shane Warne questioned the theory – asking “if humans evolved from monkeys, why haven’t today’s monkeys evolved”?
Extra, extra! The embargo’s lifted, read all about it. Rumors were flying through the blogosphere this winter: physicists at the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) may finally have directly detected gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space-time predicted by Einstein 100 years ago in his general theory of relativity. Gravitational waves were predicted to be produced by cataclysmic...
Imagine your child requires a life-saving operation. You enter the hospital and are confronted with a stark choice. Do you take the traditional path with human medical staff, including doctors and nurses, where long-term trials have shown a 90% chance that..
Once the three-billion-letter-long human genome was sequenced, we rushed into a new “omics” era of biological research. Scientists are now racing to sequence the genomes (all the genes) or proteomes (all the proteins) of various organisms – and in the process are compiling massive amounts of data.
Any long-term solution will require “decarbonizing” the world energy economy – that is, shifting to power sources that use little or no fossil fuel.
Through pressure from Google, Facebook, and other major providers such as Yahoo and Apple the world wide web is slowing becoming more secure, with web services using HTTPS to encrypt web traffic by default.
"The research was just one experiment in a lab," Steve Lohr writes in the New York Times about the study, "but it does point to the larger subject of striking a balance between connectedness and isolation in the digital age."
Earlier this month, the US Broadband Opportunity Council declared that broadband is “taking its place alongside water, sewer and electricity as essential infrastructure for communities”.
Every year, people in the US throw away 2.5 billion plastic foam cups—and that’s just a fraction of the 33 million tons of plastic that Americans throw out each year.
Apps drain 28.9 percent of smartphone battery power while the screen is off, according to the first large-scale study of smartphones in everyday use.
As petroleum-based polymers foul our oceans and litter our lives, researchers seek more environmentally friendly ways to meet demand for durable, versatile materials.
“Also: please note that we NEVER link to Wikipedia,” reads the email about an article for The Conversation Africa. I’m not surprised. The same sentiment is expressed in many course documents at universities and schools.
Ever fancied having a superpower? Something you can call upon when you need it, to hand you extra information about the world? OK, it’s not X-ray vision, but your eyes do have abilities that you might not be aware of.
For such a large and culturally diverse place, Europe has surprisingly little genetic variety. Learning how and when the modern gene-pool came together has been a long journey. But thanks to new technological advances a picture is slowly coming together of repeated colonisation by peoples from the east with more efficient lifestyles.
The recent announcement by Tesla of Powerwall, its new lithium-ion (Li-ion) based residential battery storage system, has caused quite a stir. It even raises the possibility of going off-the-grid, relying upon solar panels to generate electricity, and storing it with their own battery and using it on demand.
Fans of homebrewed beer and backyard distilleries already know how to employ yeast to convert sugar into alcohol. Now, bioengineers have gone much further by completing key steps needed to turn sugar-fed yeast into a microbial factory for producing morphine and potentially other drugs, including antibiotics and anti-cancer therapeutics.
Genetic factors appear to be important in determining when we turn grey. Identical twins seem to go grey at a similar age, rate and pattern, however we’re yet to identify the controlling genes.
The underwater icicles, or brinicles, are known as the "finger of death". That is a good name for them as you will see as you watch this awesome video footage. Not only does it look like a finger pointing down to the sea bed, but...
We live in an increasingly noisy world. Since even low-level noise can affect quality of life, new tools to deal with noise are welcome. “Auralisation”, the audio equivalent of visualisation, is now helping to model and improve the sound of our living and working spaces, as well as recovering the acoustics of past environments.
A battery that could treble electric car mileage and cut costs is among the innovations moving closer to reality on the frontiers of science.
Separation from iPhones can cause users serious psychological and physiological effects, including poor performance on cognitive tests, according to new research.
As wind power companies venture into ever-deeper waters, the traditional windmill-style turbine may not be the most suitable solution. It’s time to look at alternatives.
What will you and I—and our descendants—become over the next decades or centuries? Is the answer to this question self-evident? Or will we be radically different from how we are now? All that follows from this thought is conjecture, but it is more than a venture into fantasy or science fiction.
Brian is correct that his brain made him do it. It was not his legs or eyes that made him watch the movie. It also wasn’t the movie or another person that made him do it. It was his desires, which are in his brain...
Science textbooks say humans can’t see infrared light. New research, however, finds that our retinas can sense it under certain conditions. Scientists on the research team "were able to see the laser light, which was outside of the normal visible range..."
Using plants to generate electricity brings a new clean energy option to the table, but even more exciting, the company plans to expand the technology to existing wetlands and rice paddies where electricity can be generated on a larger scale. This could give power to some of the world’s poorest places.
Fast-forward about 150 years from Alice in Wonderland’s time and we all find ourselves down a version of her rabbit hole. The Maya call this the lifetime of change. I like to refer to it as the lifetime full of lifetimes of change. How many “lifetimes” have you lived within this lifetime?
Astrophysicists say questions about the sustainability of civilisation on our high-tech planet may soon be answered scientifically as a result of new data about the Earth and other planets in its galaxy.
A woman peers through goggles embedded in a large black helmet. Forest sounds emanate from various corners of the room: a bird chirping here, a breeze whispering there. She moves slowly around the room. On the wall, a flat digital forest is projected so observers can get a rough idea of her surroundings, but in her mind’s eye...
There are many more than the five “facts” that need to be fixed in school textbooks. I am not suggesting that we should start teaching 6-year-olds about matter that only appears in Nobel Prize-winning physics labs or filling the curriculum with detail on dozens of senses. But maybe we should stop telling kids fibs.
There is a major revolution under way in science today, a transformation that is both profound and fascinating. It changes our view of the world, and our concept of life and consciousness in the world. It comes at a propitious time. We know that the world we have created is unsustainable...
Police play a proverbial cat-and-mouse game with those they pursue, but also with the technology of the day they use. This game of one-upmanship, of measure and countermeasure, sees one or the other side temporarily with the upper hand.
Solar cells made from polymers have the potential to be cheap and lightweight, but scientists are struggling to make them generate electricity efficiently.
The idea that during sleep our minds shut down from the outside world is ancient and one that is still deeply anchored in our view of sleep today, despite some everyday life experiences and recent scientific discoveries that would tend to prove our brains don’t completely switch off from our environment.
We’re getting more stupid. That’s one point made in a recent article in the New Scientist, reporting on a gradual decline in IQs in developed countries... Such research feeds into a long-held fascination with testing human intelligence. Yet such debates are too focused on IQ as a life-long trait that can’t be changed. Other research is beginning to show the opposite.
Every age has its wonder materials. For the Victorians, it was rubber. In the 20th century, it was plastic. And for the digitized 21st century, it may well turn out to be graphene. It’s one of the newest nano-scaled materials to have emerged from our laboratories...
Researchers may have found the way to a more comfortable life for suburbanites: garden lawns are more prolific carbon emitters than some farm crops, and keeping yourself warm uses much more energy than running an air conditioner.