benjamin wiers

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FYI: Can Humans Survive In A Completely Self-Sufficient Closed Environment?

Not yet, though we've been trying to do so since at least the 1970s. Fabricating an environment that needs no power other than the sun and is a closed system (where waste gets broken down and reused) is extremely difficult.<p>One of the first attempts at a CELSS—Controlled Ecological Life Support …

Element of the week: rutherfordium

Why do the new elements have symbols filled with all those "u's"?<p>This week's element is rutherfordium, a synthetic transition metal that has the atomic symbol <b>Rf</b> and atomic number, <b>104</b>. Its name was inspired by physicist Ernest Rutherford, who was born in New Zealand. Although Lord Rutherford was …

Why it's hard to control your thoughts

The Galaxy's Core Is About to Explode

The supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy will soon consume a blob of gas and begin to radiate energy at a tremendous rate.

Game Company Valve Will Probably Announce A Console On Monday

Valve is leaping into the hardware business. (Probably. Almost certainly.)<p>Valve, the gaming company behind hits like the <i>Portal</i> and <i>Half-Life</i> franchises, plus the creators of the massively popular online gaming store Steam, are releasing... something. They created a site to tease a Monday …

Darwin Wasn't A Complete Chauvinist After All

The man who once called having a wife "better than a dog, anyhow" expressed far more egalitarian views in his private letters.<p>The annals of scientific history are filled with brilliant men who, when push came to shove, weren't exactly super nice guys. Renown evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin, …

Have Modern Scientists Made Any Advancements In Alchemy?

Ancient alchemists tried just about anything to turn lead into gold. But if they had just had a laser, they might have been able to make pseudo-platinum.<p>More than half of the world's platinum goes into cars' catalytic converters, where it helps neutralize the carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide in …

PCBs cause birds to sing a different tune

Low level exposures to PCBs cause neurological changes in birds that alter a critical behaviour: birdsong.<p>Songbirds living along the Hudson River in New York state are exposed to levels of PCBs that don't kill them but do disrupt the songs they sing, reports a team of researchers from Cornell …

Man stabbed and robbed of Grand Theft Auto 5 game

Three teenagers charged after victim, 23, was attacked on way home from launch event for violent video game<p>Three teenagers have been charged over the stabbing and robbery of a man who had bought the video game Grand Theft Auto 5 only 80 minutes earlier.<p>The 23-year-old man was attacked as he made …

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Loneliness

Top 5 unmissable journeys by rail

There are few more memorable ways to travel than by train. Here are <i>Lonely Planet Traveller</i> magazine’s top five ways to get on board.<p>1. The Ghan, Australia: the luxury rail ride<p>The Australian outback is a place that’s hard to grasp: a vast, ill-defined area mapped by Aboriginal people not on paper …

Trains