Weaving nanowire into textiles to create self-heating garments


From Technology.org:

To stay warm when temperatures drop outside, we heat our indoor spaces — even when no one is in them. But scientists have now developed a novel nanowire coating for clothes that can both generate heat and trap the heat from our bodies better than regular clothes. They report on their technology, which could help us reduce our reliance on conventional energy sources, in the ACS journal Nano Letters.

Follow the link to read more at Technology.org

New Clock Keeps Perfect Time for 5Billion Years

At the heart of this new clock is the element strontium. Inside a small chamber, the strontium atoms are suspended in a lattice of crisscrossing laser beams. Researchers then give them a little ping, like ringing a bell. The strontium vibrates at an incredibly fast frequency. It’s a natural atomic metronome ticking out teeny, teeny fractions of a second.

Listen to the NPR story…

NASA: Astronauts May Hibernate For Mars Trip


NASA is looking for ways to reduce the cost of sending humans to Mars. Their study explores dramatically cutting the cost of a human expedition to Mars by putting the astronauts into a deep sleep called “torpor” that would use existing medical procedures to reduce astronauts’ metabolic functions. Torpor can also occur naturally in cases of hypothermia.

Blended with intravenous feeding, a crew could be in a state of hibernation for the transit to Mars, which at best would be 180 days each-way.

Check out Discovery News for more details.

U.S. Astronaut Leroy Chiao: America Should Embrace China For Mars Missions

Leroy Chiao

In a short Q&A interview with Forbes Magazine, Chinese-American astronaut Leroy Chiao advocates embracing China, rather than shunning it, in the new space race to Mars . He also talks about the recent spying charges USA and China are batting back and forth and what that should mean wrt better cooperation in space.

Leroy also touches on the current Russia/USA relations and gives a little insight into the impact it’s having on the shared space exploration efforts onboard the International Space Station.

I totally agree with Leroy on the China+USA collaboration to get to Mars. We’re both highly motivated countries regarding space exploration. China in particular may be willing to foot more of the $$$/RMB cost if there’s more sharing of technology between us. I think we stand a better chance of pulling off this huge effort working together, rather than in isolation.

Head on over to Forbes for the interview.

Check out Leroy’s personal site with videos he’s appeared in, links to his op-eds and more.

Huge waves measured for first time in Arctic Ocean

As the climate warms and sea ice retreats, the North is changing. An ice-covered expanse now has a season of increasingly open water that is predicted to extend across the whole Arctic Ocean before the middle of this century. Storms thus have the potential to create Arctic swell – huge waves that could add a new and unpredictable element to the region.

A University of Washington researcher made the first study of waves in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, and detected house-sized waves during a September 2012 storm. The results were recently published in Geophysical Research Letters.

“As the Arctic is melting, it’s a pretty simple prediction that the additional open water should make waves,” said lead author Jim Thomson, an oceanographer with the UW Applied Physics Laboratory.

Read the rest of the article from University of Washington, originally reported by Hannah Hickey

Jane Austin, Game Theorist

Jane Austin 

Jane Austin, a game theorist? Oh yes, apparently she was exhibiting in her stories some of the traits we value in game theory today…and this is 100+ years before the concept became science.

The Freaknomics podcast talks to Michael Chwe.

Michael Chwe is an associate professor of political science at UCLA whose research centers on game theory and, as he puts it, “its applications to social movements and macroeconomics and violence — and this latest thing is about its applications maybe to literature.”

The literature in question? The novels of Jane Austen. Chwe discovered that Austen’s novels are full of strategic thinking, decision analysis, and other tools that would later come to be prized by game theorists like those as the RAND Corporation just after World War II.


Old Bones Found Along Rail Line Yield Secrets Of The Black Death

human bones

Black death was not spread by rat fleas, say researchers.

Evidence from skulls in east London shows plague had to have been airborne to spread so quickly.

From the AP:

You can learn a lot from a tooth.

Molars taken from skeletons unearthed by work on a new London railway line are revealing secrets of the medieval Black Death — and of its victims.

This week, Don Walker, an osteologist with the Museum of London, outlined the biography of one man whose ancient bones were found by construction workers under London’s Charterhouse Square: He was breast-fed as a baby, moved to London from another part of England, had bad tooth decay in childhood, grew up to work as a laborer, and died in early adulthood from the bubonic plague that ravaged Europe in the 14th century.

Majestic Sombrero Galaxy

This snap shows the Majestic Sombrero Galaxy, it’s my favorite galaxy out of the hundreds of billions out there. A brilliant white core is encircled by thick dust lanes in this spiral galaxy, seen edge-on in this view. The galaxy is 50,000 light-years across and 28 million light years from Earth.

Do you think there’s someone over there looking back at us? :) Visit the SETI Institute to learn more on that subject.


Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Recent Science News Dec 2013


Here’s a collection of recent science news items that I found interesting…

An extremely well-preserved baby dinosaur skeleton has been discovered in Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta. The fossil is extremely rare.

Top 100 academic papers in 2013 that generated the most buzz.

Simple mathematical law benchmarks human confrontations

MIT physicist finds the creation of entanglement simultaneously gives rise to a wormhole

Hormone-disrupting chemicals found in water at fracking sites

New generator creates electricity directly from heat

Dolphins Suffering From Lung Disease Due to BP Deepwater Horizon Spill Gulf Oil Spill, Study Says

Scientists Develop Light Bulb That Provides Access to Wireless Internet


Shanghai’s Fudan University scientists have created an affordable and efficient one-watt light bulb that produces its own Wi-Fi signal. Scientists found that the prototype that uses a technology called Li-Fi, works faster than the average connection in China. The Li-Fi bulb featuring a microchip generates around 150 mbps, 20 times faster than average broadband connection in China.

Read more at University Herald

Well-Connected Hemispheres of Einstein’s Brain May Have Sparked Brilliance

Albert Einstein

From a Florida State University article – Research shows Albert Einstein’s brain had more extensive connections than other men.

The left and right hemispheres of Albert Einstein’s brain were unusually well connected to each other and may have contributed to his brilliance, according to a new study conducted in part by Florida State University evolutionary anthropologist Dean Falk.

“This study, more than any other to date, really gets at the ‘inside’ of Einstein’s brain,” Falk said. “It provides new information that helps make sense of what is known about the surface of Einstein’s brain.”

The study, “The Corpus Callosum of Albert Einstein’s Brain: Another Clue to His High Intelligence,” was published in the journal Brain. Unfortunately, an account is needed to access the full study, but you can read the extract here.

Join An Educational Opportunity At Evolutionary Robotics Course

University of Vermont

The University of Vermont is opening up it’s Evolutionary Robotics course to the public.

This is the Ludobots course which has an interesting method of student learning and participation requirements before being able to join in the bigger initiatives of the course, this is called the Discovery Track which you can learn more about in this video. The video outlines the 10 levels of work and participation with other students before becoming a ‘scientist’ asking and researching bigger questions in the robotics field.

There’s lot of coding opportunities, lots and lots of tutorial videos, you can also view the syllabus + assignments and much more.

From the professor of the program in his AMA on Reddit:

The prerequisites for the Ludobots course requires nothing more than a beginner’s background in programming. While the assignments may take longer depending on your experience level, we believe that the step-by-step progression each assignment has makes it accessible enough to a wide variety of people.

The course works with a ranking system. At the first rank you just submit an assignment; if you receive a passing grade you move on to the second rank. At every rank beyond the first you must grade an assignment that you have already done, using a rubric on each assignment page, and receive a passing grade on that rank’s assignment.

Once you have received a passing grade on each assignment you can work on evolutionary robotics research with us. Essentially the ranking system is in place to make sure that contributors to our research can be trusted. If your contribution is validated by others — or you provide a sufficiently interesting hypothesis of your own that others pursue — we will include you as a co-author and all write up a research paper together.

The ludobots site is an experiment for us as well: we’ve never tried this before, so we’re very eager to see the results!