Nicholas Battjes

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Get ready! NASA's MAVEN mission is about to reach Mars

Home stretch! This Sunday, after a 10-month journey across the inner solar system,<p>NASA’sMAVENspacecraft will finally reach the Red Planet. The orbiter could provide the elusive answer to a simple question: If Mars once had enough atmosphere to allow for liquid water on its surface, then where did …

The Ozone Layer Is On The Mend

FTW<p>An international agreement to phase out use of chemicals that damage the ozone layer appears to be working. A new report finds that ozone-depleting substances in the atmosphere are down by 10 to 15 percent, and that the ozone layer is by and large getting thicker.<p>The reason is that nations have …

Pollution

Scientists Capture The Sound Of A Single Atom, And Apparently It's A 'D-Note'

What does an atom sound like? Apparently it's a "D-note."<p>That's according to scientists at Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden, who have revealed in a new study that they've captured the sound of a single atom.<p>"We have opened a new door into the quantum world by talking and …

September’s birthstone is the sapphire

Like the ruby, the sapphire is a form of the mineral corundum, a normally drab grey mineral.<p>The sapphire, birthstone for September, is a relative of …

13 Scientific Terms Even Smart People Misuse

When scientists use these words, they typically mean something completely different than what they do when non-scientists use them. Sometimes our …

Can This Mineral Power The Planet?

It may soon be time to say "so long" to silicon solar panels.<p>Solar panels are cheaper than ever before, thanks to government subsidies and a flooded market. But they’re not yet affordable enough to eclipse traditional energy sources. Enter perovskites: crystalline minerals that may emerge as the …

Clean Energy

China's Future Submarine Could Go The Speed Of Sound

Thanks to a gas bubble and a liquid lubricant<p>The submarine of the future may come to America in a super fast bubble, traveling under water. Researchers at China's Harbin Institute of Technology developed a new concept for submarine “supercavitation,” where an underwater vessel creates a pocket of …

Military

Players Build Working Hard Drive Inside Minecraft

It's a computer inside a computer game.<p>Over the hills, across the stone bridge, past the giant pony, around the lake of questionable test, and beyond the giant rainbow barrier sits a work of great artifice on a grey plain. Far larger than any single inhabitant of this virtual world, the contraption …

Minecraft

Doctor Who neuroscience special: the brain of a Time Lord

This Saturday sees the return of Doctor Who and the debut of Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor. One of the most enduring qualities of the titular Time Lord is that he relies on superior intelligence to save the day. But what could be the underlying scientific properties of the Time Lords’ brain that …

Even Daleks need a science policy

The new series of Doctor Who begins today and wherever the eponymous Time Lord goes his greatest foes will not be far behind. The Daleks are the most feared species in the Doctor Who universe, able to bring even the all-powerful Time Lords to the brink of defeat. So where did that technological …

See-through cells to turn windows into solar panels

A film that lets in light when placed over windows, but also generates solar power, has been developed by a team of chemical engineers.<p>The …

Russian Cosmonauts Report Sea Plankton On The Outside Of The ISS

NASA has not confirmed the findings.<p>Cosmonauts have apparently discovered plankton and other microorganisms on the outside of the International Space Station’s windows, according to an announcement from a Russian official. NASA has not yet confirmed or denied the findings.<p>"As far as we're …

Space

Can Artificial Insemination Save Endangered Species?

Wildlife & Wild Places<p>These Magellanic penguin chicks, hatched in May 2014, are the second group of penguins bred using artificial insemination at SeaWorld. The penguin on the right was the first penguin to be conceived using frozen-then-thawed semen. The two on the left were conceived using …

Uranus: Why we should visit the most unloved planet

Uranus has always been left out when it comes to missions to our near neighbours. But now there are serious attempts to visit this toxic gas giant, writes Richard Hollingham.<p>The butt (snigger) of countless jokes, Uranus is almost certainly the most unloved planet in our solar system. It always …

Astronomy

Ancient Mayan Cities Found In Mexican Jungle

MEXICO CITY, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Archaeologists have found two ancient Mayan cities hidden in the jungle of southeastern Mexico, and the lead researcher says he believes there are "dozens" more to be found in the region.<p>Ivan Sprajc, associate professor at the Research Center of the Slovenian Academy …

These Reinvented Urban Farms Grow Algae, Not Kale

If we’re serious about tackling the sustainability challenges that cities face, the urban bucolic vision is going to have to mean more than hipster vegetables.<p>Think of urban farming, and you might picture a rooftop vegetable garden. But designers from EcoLogicStudio in London think that cities …

The boathouse

The man with the missing brain

A medical recovery that is baffling science - and giving hope to head injury patients<p>"Are you ready for our drive then?” Simon Lewis, 56, comes hobbling into his parents’ living room in Sherman Oaks, a suburb of the San Fernando Valley, north of Los Angeles. An Englishman by birth, his …

The Brain

Google Protects Its Undersea Fiber Optic Cables... From Sharks

Maybe the animals were just mad about their low page-ranking<p>Shark bites are a real threat to undersea fiber-optic cables. No, really. Google actually goes so far as to wrap its wires in a Kevlar-like material to prevent damage from sharks, a company spokesperson recently disclosed. As you can see …

New York Times

A bacterium that destroys tumors' dark heart shows promise

A mutant form of a bacterium that lives in soil and thrives in low-oxygen environments appears to be a precise and aggressive killer of malignant tumors as well as an energetic activator of the body's immune system, according to new research.<p>When scientists injected spores of a weakened form of the …

Magpies are not thieves, new study finds

Environment

Scientists think they've discovered an entirely new mode of plant communication

And parasitic species might be using it for espionage<p>Scientists may have discovered a whole new plant language. According to a new study, published today in <i>Science</i>, a parasitic plant called the strangleweed is capable of not only sucking out genetic material from the host plant it invades, but also …

A Professor Created A Single Tree That Can Produce 40 Types Of Fruit

"The idea is that I could collapse a whole orchard and put it into one tree," he told Business Insider.<p>Each of the colors in the photo above represents a variety of flowering tree. Collectively, as one plant, they produce 40 different edible stone fruits (ones with pits, like peaches and plums). …

Peaches

Do Not Fear This Giant Robot Swarm

Harvard roboticist Mike Rubenstein thought he was being clever when he came up with the name for the 1,024 little robots he built. He's into computers, so he thought of kilobytes and named them kilobots.<p>"Unfortunately, it sounds like they're 'killerbots,' which ... we don't intend for them to be …

Rise of the machines? Tiny robot horde swarms to form shapes | Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - They look vaguely like miniature hockey pucks skittering along on three pin-like metal legs, but a swarm of small robots called Kilobots at a laboratory at Harvard University is making a little bit of history for automatons everywhere.<p>The Kilobots, a swarm of 1,000 simple but …