Art, History, Science

History’s deadliest colours / JV Maranto

When radium was first discovered, its luminous green colour inspired people to add it into beauty products and jewelry. It wasn’t until much later that we realized that radium’s harmful effects outweighed its visual benefits. Unfortunately, radium isn’t the only pigment that historically seemed harmless or useful but turned out to be deadly. JV Maranto details history’s deadliest colours — via Youtube

Science

Forensic scientists overwhelmed by number of donors to NSW body farm

Forensic scientists say they have been overwhelmed by the number of people wanting to donate their corpses to the southern hemisphere’s first body farm.

The secret bushland facility on the outskirts of Sydney is being used to study how human bodies decompose.

It was established in early 2016 by Professor Shari Forbes, a forensic scientist from the University of Technology Sydney.

We’re not CSI, we don’t solve investigations in an hour, but we can solve investigations through the research that we do, Professor Forbes said.

The facility is currently the only body farm outside the United States and Professor Forbes said the public interest had been higher than anyone had expected.

The level of interest has definitely surprised us, she said.

We already have 30 of our donors who have arrived at our facility, and that’s in just over a year.

We weren’t expecting anywhere near that number.

More than 500 people have now said they will also donate their bodies to the cause once they die.

We do have a slight bias towards seniors and the elderly, thankfully because they live long and healthy lives and intend to die from natural causes, Professor Forbes said.

We don’t hope to see young people out there, but the few that arrive are really beneficial to the work that we do for the police — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Darwin Was a Slacker and You Should Be Too

When you examine the lives of history’s most creative figures, you are immediately confronted with a paradox: They organize their lives around their work, but not their days.

Figures as different as Charles Dickens, Henri Poincaré, and Ingmar Bergman, working in disparate fields in different times, all shared a passion for their work, a terrific ambition to succeed, and an almost superhuman capacity to focus. Yet when you look closely at their daily lives, they only spent a few hours a day doing what we would recognize as their most important work. The rest of the time, they were hiking mountains, taking naps, going on walks with friends, or just sitting and thinking. Their creativity and productivity, in other words, were not the result of endless hours of toil. Their towering creative achievements result from modest working hours.

How did they manage to be so accomplished? Can a generation raised to believe that 80-hour workweeks are necessary for success learn something from the lives of the people who laid the foundations of chaos theory and topology or wrote Great Expectations?

I think we can. If some of history’s greatest figures didn’t put in immensely long hours, maybe the key to unlocking the secret of their creativity lies in understanding not just how they laboured but how they rested, and how the two relate — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Why is Greenland an Island and Australia a Continent? / Today I Found Out

There are several different ways of thinking about how many continents there are, with models ranging from 4 to 7 continents. However, in most English speaking countries, as well as other nations around the world, the 7-continent model is taught. Using this model, the continents of the world in order of size (descending) are: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia — via Youtube

Science, Wildlife

How a simple implant could make native animals toxic to feral cats

A new approach to target and kill destructive feral cats is being developed in South Australia, in a bid to help save threatened native animals.

The task of reducing the feral cat population has been difficult due to the lack of effective and humane broad-scale control techniques.

In a lab at the University of South Australia, researchers have created a rice-sized implant that can be injected into native animals, making them toxic to feral cats.

Anton Blencowe, polymer chemistry expert at the university, said it was a unique approach that could help safeguard a range of endangered species.

It’s got a toxin in the middle, and then it’s got a special coating around the outside so that we can make the animals toxic to cats, he said.

But at the same time make sure the implant is not toxic to native animals.

The implant contains a natural poison from seeds of native plants and is covered by protective coating.

It remains inert until it comes into contact with the feral cat, and while it’s harmless to the native animal, to the predator it’s highly deadly once ingested — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Mediaeval Yorkshirefolk mutilated, burned t’dead to prevent reanimation

Archaeologists investigating human bones excavated from the deserted mediaeval village of Wharram Percy in North Yorkshire have suggested that the villagers burned and mutilated corpses to prevent the dead from rising from their graves to terrorise the living.

Although starvation cannibalism often accounts for the mutilation of corpses during the Middle Ages, when famines were common, researchers from Historic England and the University of Southampton have found that the ways in which the Wharram Perry remains had been dismembered suggested actions more significant of folk beliefs about preventing the dead from going walkabout.

Their paper, titled A multidisciplinary study of a burnt and mutilated assemblage of human remains from a deserted mediaeval village in England, is published today in the Journal of Archaeological Science — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Fungi Fantastic / Steve Axford

Enter the magical miniature world of fungi in these time-lapses by fungi photographer Stephen Axford.

Two photographers, Steve Axford and Catherine Marciniak, only one intervalometer and a forecast of a stormy Sunday afternoon resulted in the story of a forest to go with the fabulous time-lapse photography Steve has been doing of fungi growing — via Youtube

Science, Wildlife

Night parrot sighting in Western Australia shocks birdwatching world

A group of four birdwatchers from Broome has photographed Australia’s most mysterious bird, the night parrot, in Western Australia.

The sighting is all that more remarkable when you consider that the night parrot was not confirmed as still alive in Australia until three years ago, and that the photograph was taken in a patch of spinifex 2,000 kilometres from where the bird was rediscovered in Western Queensland.

While the group described the parrot as a fat budgerigar, the sighting was the equivalent of winning the bird watching lotto — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Boaty McBoatface submarine set for first voyage

The yellow submarine named Boaty McBoatface is set to leave for Antarctica this week on its first science expedition.

The robot is going to map the movement of deep waters that play a critical role in regulating Earth’s climate.

Boaty carries the name that a public poll had suggested be given to the UK’s future £200m polar research vessel.

The government felt this would be inappropriate and directed the humorous moniker go on a submersible instead.

But what many people may not realise is that there is actually more than one Boaty. The name covers a trio of vehicles in the new Autosub Long Range class of underwater robots developed at Southampton’s National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

These machines can all be configured slightly differently depending on the science tasks they are given.

The one that will initiate the adventures of Boaty will head out of Punta Arenas, Chile, on Friday aboard Britain’s current polar ship, the RRS James Clark Ross.

The JCR will drop the sub into a narrow, jagged, 3,500m-deep gap in an underwater ridge that extends northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Referred to as the Orkney Passage, this is the gateway into the Atlantic for much of the bottom-water that is created as sea-ice grows on the margins of the White Continent — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Planet Earth II showcases the fungi photography of Steve Axford

Planet Earth II, possibly the most lavish nature documentary ever made, has catapulted the images taken by fungi photographer Steve Axford from the forest floor to the world.

Axford started photographing rainforests around Lismore, on the NSW North Coast, about 10 years ago, and in retirement the hobby became an obsession.

The next step for Axford was to find a way to create time lapses of his fungi beauties showing the life cycles of the mushrooms.

I had a spare shower which I thought the fungus would grow quite well in so I could bring logs in and put them in the shower and the fungus could grow and I could take time lapse, Axford said.

Well I did that and it worked brilliantly and things have just grown from there.

Time lapse footage of Axford’s fungi photography have gone viral online, and people around the world started to notice that he was discovering plants never seen before.

One of them was a fungus which is now called a blue truffle.

It’s a completely new thing — never seen before — and he’s found that on the forest floor, Dr Tom May from the Herbarium of Victoria said — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

25 Airbag Rainbow Explosion in 4K / The Slow Mo Guys

Gav and Dan, the Slow-Mo Guys, are always looking for something to film with their high-speed cameras. Something that people will find interesting, but more important, things that will look good in a video. Explosions? Yeah! Pretty colors? Yeah! So they gathered bags of paint powder and vehicle airbag devices and headed out to a quarry, far from anyone who would be bothered — via Youtube

Craft, Science

This instructable documents makendo’s efforts to reimagine a 3D periodic table of the elements, using modern making methods. It’s based on the structure of a chiral nanotube, and is made from a 3D printed lattice, laser cut acrylic, a lazy susan bearing, 118 sample vials and a cylindrical lamp — via Instructables

Science, Wildlife

Octopus, squid and cuttlefish numbers boom in changing oceans

A surprising 60-year boom in global octopus, squid and cuttlefish numbers points to long-term changes taking place in the world’s oceans, scientists say.

Research published in Current Biology today shows a steady increase in the world cephalopod population — the class of molluscs comprising octopus, squid and cuttlefish — since the 1950s, at a time of increased fishing, growing pollution and ocean warming.

The data analysis, led by Dr Zoe Doubleday from Australia’s Environment Institute at the University of Adelaide, has confounded previous expectations that cephalopod populations go through cyclical booms and busts.

Anecdotal evidence had suggested the population may experience cyclical booms and busts over time, but there is instead a very consistent increase, she said — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Boaty McBoatface snubbed as name for UK research vessel

The British Government has chosen to name its now-famous polar research ship the RRS Sir David Attenborough, on the verge of the naturalist’s 90th birthday, in a snub to the popular choice, Boaty McBoatface.

In a media release and series of tweets, UK Science Minister Jo Johnson said that Boaty McBoatface will live on as the name of one of the high-tech remotely operated sub-sea vehicles — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Weird

Boaty McBoatface wins naming poll for Britain’s new polar research ship

The United Kingdom’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) may be regretting their decision to let the public name a polar research ship after the winner of the naming poll was revealed.

The name Boaty McBoatface, which caused an internet sensation during voting, was the runaway winner, beating entries honouring explorers and scientists.

The quirky name put forward for the £200 million ($369 million) Royal Research Ship received 124,109 votes, giving it a staggering lead over runner-up RRS Poppy Mai, named in honour of a young girl with cancer, which received 34,371 votes.

Coming in at third place was RSS Henry Worsley, a tribute to the British explorer. Fourth place was RRS It’s Bloody Cold Here, and RRS David Attenborough also made the top five.

Although Boaty McBoatface received overwhelming public support, the final decision rests with NERC, which may choose to ignore democracy for a less frivolous title — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Weird

RRS Boaty McBoatface could be the name of the newest British research ship

The public has been asked to name Britain’s newest polar research ship and the internet has really outdone itself.

The current frontrunner?

RRS Boaty McBoatface.

The Natural Environment Research Centre is probably regretting trusting the public and the internet with the responsibility of naming the £200 million Royal Research Ship.

So far nearly 6,000 voters have chosen RRS Boaty McBoatface, but the top ten also includes RRS Pingu and RRS Usain Bolt.

RRS Boaty McBoatface is also beating RRS David Attenborough and RRS Henry Worsley, named after a famous British explorer and following in the tradition of naming the ships after iconic adventurers — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Art, Science

Imagination is our window into the future. At NASA/JPL we strive to be bold in advancing the edge of possibility so that someday, with the help of new generations of innovators and explorers, these visions of the future can become a reality. As you look through these images of imaginative travel destinations, remember that you can be an architect of the future — via Visions of the Future

Science

Homeopathy effective for 0 out of 68 illnesses, study finds

A leading scientist has declared homeopathy a therapeutic dead-end after a systematic review concluded the controversial treatment was no more effective than placebo drugs.

Professor Paul Glasziou, a leading academic in evidence based medicine at Bond University, was the chair of a working party by the National Health and Medical Research Council which was tasked with reviewing the evidence of 176 trials of homeopathy to establish if the treatment is valid.

A total of 57 systematic reviews, containing the 176 individual studies, focused on 68 different health conditions — and found there to be no evidence homeopathy was more effective than placebo on any.

Homeopathy is an alternative medicine based on the idea of diluting a substance in water. According to the NHS: Practitioners believe that the more a substance is diluted in this way, the greater its power to treat symptoms. Many homeopathic remedies consist of substances that have been diluted many times in water until there is none or almost none of the original substance left — via redwolf.newsvine.com

History, Science

200,000 fish bones suggest ancient Scandinavian people were more complex than thought

200,000 fish bones discovered in and around a pit in Sweden suggest that the people living in the area more than 9000 years ago were more settled and cultured than we previously thought. Research published in the Journal of Archaeological Science suggests people were storing large amounts of fermented food much earlier than experts thought.

The new paper reveals the earliest evidence of fermentation in Scandinavia, from the Early Mesolithic time period, about 9,200 years ago. The author of the study, from Lund University in Sweden, say the findings suggest that people who survived by foraging for food were actually more advanced than assumed — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

What every dictator knows: young men are natural fanatics

Young men are particularly liable to become fanatics. Every dictator, every guru, every religious leader, knows this. Fanatics have an overwhelming sense of identity based on a cause (a religion) or a community (gang, team), and a tight and exclusive bond with other members of that group. They will risk injury, loss or even death for the sake of their group. They regard everyone else as outsiders, or even enemies. But why are so many of them young males? — via Aeon

Science, Wildlife

Wolf species have ‘howling dialects’

The largest ever study of howling in the canid family of species — which includes wolves, jackals and domestic dogs — has shown that the various species and subspecies have distinguishing repertoires of howling, or vocal fingerprints: different types of howls are used with varying regularity depending on the canid species.

Researchers used computer algorithms for the first time to analyse howling, distilling over 2,000 different howls into 21 howl types based on pitch and fluctuation, and then matching up patterns of howling.

They found that the frequency with which types of howls are used — from flat to highly modulated — corresponded to the species of canid, whether dog or coyote, as well as to the subspecies of wolf — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

David Bowie: Astronomers pay tribute to Starman with his own constellation

After 69 years living among us, The Man Who Fell To Earth has returned home to space.

Belgian astronomers have paid tribute to late music legend David Bowie, giving him a seven-star constellation in the shape of the iconic lightning bolt seen across his face on the cover of his Aladdin Sane album.

Bowie died last week aged 69, after an 18-month battle with cancer.

The homage to Bowie, whose hits include Starman, Life on Mars and Space Oddity, sits — appropriately — in the vicinity of Mars — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

The man who studies the spread of ignorance

In 1979, a secret memo from the tobacco industry was revealed to the public. Called the Smoking and Health Proposal, and written a decade earlier by the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, it revealed many of the tactics employed by big tobacco to counter anti-cigarette forces”.

In one of the paper’s most revealing sections, it looks at how to market cigarettes to the mass public: Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.

This revelation piqued the interest of Robert Proctor, a science historian from Stanford University, who started delving into the practices of tobacco firms and how they had spread confusion about whether smoking caused cancer.

Proctor had found that the cigarette industry did not want consumers to know the harms of its product, and it spent billions obscuring the facts of the health effects of smoking. This search led him to create a word for the study of deliberate propagation of ignorance: agnotology.

It comes from agnosis, the neoclassical Greek word for ignorance or not knowing, and ontology, the branch of metaphysics which deals with the nature of being. Agnotology is the study of wilful acts to spread confusion and deceit, usually to sell a product or win favour — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

A team of scientists from Brunel University London, UK has come up with a solar panel/heat pipe hybrid system, which basically turns the whole roof into a solar power generator. This makes the panels a lot more efficient, since this system is able to harvest more solar energy than just solar panels alone.

This system is made up of flat heat pipes and PV cells, which can heat water and generate electricity. The pipes measure 4mm x 400mm and are used to heat water to be used by the household, while at the same time transferring heat away from the solar cells. In the tests by the creators, they found that this hybrid system was able to cool the PV cells by 15 percent more compared to a traditional PV array installation — via Jetson Green

Science

Researchers accidently find industrial waste, orange peel material sucks mercury out of water

Researchers at Flinders University have accidentally discovered a way to remove mercury from water using a material made from industrial waste and orange peel.

Mercury is a dangerous pollutant that can damage food and water supplies, affect the human nervous systems and is especially poisonous for children.

Synthetic chemist Dr Justin Chalker said his team initially set out to make a useful type of plastic or polymer made from something widely available.

We ended up settling on sulphur because it’s produced in 70 million tonnes per year by the petroleum industry as a by-product, so there are not very many uses for it, and limonene is produced in 70,000 tonnes per year and so it’s relatively cheap, he said.

It literally grows on trees.

The plastic-like substance they created is made entirely from sulphur and limonene, industrial waste products that are widely available but unused around the world — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics, Science

Tony Abbott’s department discussed investigation into Bureau of Meteorology over global warming exaggeration claims, FOI documents reveal

Former prime minister Tony Abbott’s own department discussed setting up an investigation into the Bureau of Meteorology amid media claims it was exaggerating estimates of global warming, Freedom of Information documents have revealed.

In August and September 2014, The Australian newspaper published reports questioning the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BoM) methodology for analysing temperatures, reporting claims BoM was wilfully ignoring evidence that contradicts its own propaganda.

With seven of Australia’s 10 warmest years on record being in the last 13 years and warnings climate change will bring disastrous impacts for Australia, the accuracy and integrity of temperature information is crucial.

The BoM strongly rejected assertions it was altering climate records to exaggerate estimates of global warming.

Nevertheless, documents obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information show just weeks after the articles were published, Mr Abbott’s own department canvassed using a taskforce to carry out due diligence on the BoM’s climate records — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Glass Paint That Can Keep Structures Cool / American Chemical Society

Sunlight can be brutal. It wears down even the strongest structures, including rooftops and naval ships, and it heats up metal slides and bleachers until they’re too hot to use. To fend off damage and heat from the sun’s harsh rays, scientists have developed a new, environmentally friendly paint out of glass that bounces sunlight off metal surfaces — keeping them cool and durable — via Youtube

Health, Science, Technology

World-first operation implants 3D-printed titanium ribcage and sternum

A Spanish cancer patient is the first person in the world to receive a titanium 3D-printed sternum and rib cage, designed and manufactured by an Australian company.

The 54-year-old needed his sternum and a portion of his rib cage replaced.

The CSIRO said chest prosthetics were notoriously tricky to create due to the complex customised geometry and design for each patient.

Thoracic surgeons typically use flat and plate implants in the chest, but they can come loose over time and create complications, the CSIRO said.

A 3D-printed implant was a safer option for the patient because it can identically mimic the intricate structures of the sternum and ribs.

Almost a fortnight since the surgery, the CSIRO confirmed the patient was discharged and had recovered well — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Obituary: Oliver Sacks

British neurologist Oliver Sacks has died at the age of 82, it has been confirmed.

The acclaimed author, whose book Awakenings inspired an Oscar nominated film of the same name, reportedly died of cancer at his home in New York.

In February he wrote about his illness — and being face to face with dying.

His publicist Jacqui Graham paid tribute to Dr Sacks, saying he was unlike anybody I have ever met, while JK Rowling said he was inspirational — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Australia’s first body farm aims to answer forensic questions

Any fan of Patricia Cornwell’s crime fiction novel The Body Farm will have a reasonably good idea of what goes on in one.

For those in the dark, a body farm is a large expanse of bushland where donated human bodies are buried for the purposes of scientific study. There are several in the United States, but up until now there haven’t been any in Australia.

Some of them may be placed on the surface, some may be placed in burials, there may be other concealed environments that we’ll mimic and then we’ll just start studying the decomposition process. Shari Forbes, Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research

The country’s first body farm, the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research is due to officially open early next year. It’s come about after an exhaustive search for the right patch of land and the right partners.

It has to be a remote location but still accessible to police, to forensic investigators. It also needs the support of a university with a body donation program, says Shari Forbes, a forensic chemist and the farm’s coordinator.

Forbes can’t reveal the exact location but can say that it’s at the base of the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Unhealthy Fixation

I’ve spent much of the past year digging into the evidence. Here’s what I’ve learned. First, it’s true that the issue is complicated. But the deeper you dig, the more fraud you find in the case against GMOs. It’s full of errors, fallacies, misconceptions, misrepresentations, and lies. The people who tell you that Monsanto is hiding the truth are themselves hiding evidence that their own allegations about GMOs are false. They’re counting on you to feel overwhelmed by the science and to accept, as a gut presumption, their message of distrust.

Second, the central argument of the anti-GMO movement — that prudence and caution are reasons to avoid genetically engineered, or GE, food—is a sham. Activists who tell you to play it safe around GMOs take no such care in evaluating the alternatives. They denounce proteins in GE crops as toxic, even as they defend drugs, pesticides, and non-GMO crops that are loaded with the same proteins. They portray genetic engineering as chaotic and unpredictable, even when studies indicate that other crop improvement methods, including those favored by the same activists, are more disruptive to plant genomes.

Third, there are valid concerns about some aspects of GE agriculture, such as herbicides, monocultures, and patents. But none of these concerns is fundamentally about genetic engineering. Genetic engineering isn’t a thing. It’s a process that can be used in different ways to create different things. To think clearly about GMOs, you have to distinguish among the applications and focus on the substance of each case. If you’re concerned about pesticides and transparency, you need to know about the toxins to which your food has been exposed. A GMO label won’t tell you that. And it can lull you into buying a non-GMO product even when the GE alternative is safer.

If you’re like me, you don’t really want to wade into this issue. It’s too big, technical, and confusing. But come with me, just this once. I want to take you backstage, behind those blanket assurances about the safety of genetic engineering. I want to take you down into the details of four GMO fights, because that’s where you’ll find truth. You’ll come to the last curtain, the one that hides the reality of the anti-GMO movement. And you’ll see what’s behind it — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Wildlife

Octopus Adorabilis? / SciFri

What do you call an tiny octopus with big eyes, gelatinous skin and is cute as a button? Nobody knows quite yet! Stephanie Bush of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute aims to classify and name this presently undescribed deep-sea cephalopod using preserved specimens and a clutch of eggs hatch housed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium — via Youtube

Science

Microwave oven to blame for mystery signal that left astronomers stumped

The mystery behind radio signals that have baffled scientists at Australia’s most famous radio telescope for 17 years has finally been solved.

The signals’ source? A microwave oven in the kitchen at the Parkes observatory used by staff members to heat up their lunch.

Simon Johnston, head of astrophysics at the CSIRO, the national science agency, said astronomers first detected the signals, called perytons, in 1998. The signals were reasonably local, say within 5km of the telescope.

Originally researchers assumed the signals — which appeared only once or twice a year — were coming from the atmosphere, possibly linked to lightning strikes.

Then on 1 January this year they installed a new receiver which monitored interference, and detected strong signals at 2.4 GHz, the signature of a microwave oven.

Immediate testing of the facility microwave oven did not show up with perytons. Until, that is, they opened the oven door before it had finished heating. If you set it to heat and pull it open to have a look, it generates interference, Johnston said.

Astronomers generally operate the telescope remotely and do not reside at Parkes. There were, however, a number of operational staff members who maintained the facility and used the microwave oven to heat their coffee or lunch.

Johnston said the suspicious perytons were only detected during the daytime and as they now knew, not during the evening when all the staff had finished their shift.

The signals were rare because the interference only occurred when the telescope was pointed in the direction of the microwave oven. And “when you only find a few it’s hard to pin them down”, Johnston said.

The findings have been reported in a scientific paper — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

Transparent Armour from NRL

Imagine a glass window that’s tough like armor, a camera lens that doesn’t get scratched in a sand storm, or a smart phone that doesn’t break when dropped. Except it’s not glass, it’s a special ceramic called spinel {spin-ELL} that the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has been researching over the last 10 years.

Spinel is actually a mineral, it’s magnesium aluminate, says Dr Jas Sanghera, who leads the research. The advantage is it’s so much tougher, stronger, harder than glass. It provides better protection in more hostile environments — so it can withstand sand and rain erosion.

As a more durable material, a thinner layer of spinel can give better performance than glass. For weight-sensitive platforms-UAVs [unmanned autonomous vehicles], head-mounted face shields—it’s a game-changing technology.

NRL invented a new way of making transparent spinel, using a hot press, called sintering. It’s a low-temperature process, and the size of the pieces is limited only by the size of the press. Ultimately, we’re going to hand it over to industry, says Sanghera, so it has to be a scalable process. In the lab, they made pieces eight inches in diameter. Then we licensed the technology to a company who was able then to scale that up to much larger plates, about 30-inches wide.

The sintering method also allows NRL to make optics in a number of shapes, conformal with the surface of an airplane or UAV wing, depending on the shape of the press — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics, Science

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki backs away from ‘flawed’, ‘political’ Intergenerational Report

The man promoting the Government’s Intergenerational Report, ABC science commentator Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, has backed away from the document, describing it as flawed.

Released every five years, the report provides a snapshot of how the nation might look in 40 years, covering everything from population size and life expectancy to public spending and the size of future budget deficits.

Dr Kruszelnicki appears in a number of advertisements promoting the report on television and radio, in newspapers and on social media, but he is now criticising the report’s reduced focus on climate change.

I did it on the grounds that it would be not for any political party but for the Government of Australia as a non-political, bipartisan, independent report, he told the ABC’s AM program.

He said he was only able to read parts of the report before he agreed to the ads as the rest was under embargo.

Despite assurances otherwise, Dr Kruszelnicki now believes he put his name and reputation to a report that is highly political and which largely ignores the impact of climate change — via redwolf.newsvine.com

History, Science

Alan Turing’s notebook sold for $1m in New York auction

A scientific notebook compiled by World War Two codebreaker Alan Turing has sold for $1m in New York.

It is one of very few manuscripts from the head of the team that cracked the Germans’ Enigma code.

The handwritten notes, dating from 1942 when he worked at Bletchley Park, were entrusted to mathematician Robin Gandy after Turing’s death.

The notebook was sold at Bonhams for $1,025,000 (£700,850) to an unnamed buyer — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science, Technology

Aluminum battery from Stanford offers safe alternative to conventional batteries

Stanford University scientists have invented the first high-performance aluminum battery that’s fast-charging, long-lasting and inexpensive. Researchers say the new technology offers a safe alternative to many commercial batteries in wide use today.

We have developed a rechargeable aluminum battery that may replace existing storage devices, such as alkaline batteries, which are bad for the environment, and lithium-ion batteries, which occasionally burst into flames, said Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford. Our new battery won’t catch fire, even if you drill through it.

Dai and his colleagues describe their novel aluminum-ion battery in An ultrafast rechargeable aluminum-ion battery, which will be published in the April 6 advance online edition of the journal Nature.

Aluminum has long been an attractive material for batteries, mainly because of its low cost, low flammability and high-charge storage capacity. For decades, researchers have tried unsuccessfully to develop a commercially viable aluminum-ion battery.  A key challenge has been finding materials capable of producing sufficient voltage after repeated cycles of charging and discharging — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Science

How far down would you have to dig before you came to the centre of the Earth? And what would you find along the way? BBC Future descends into the depths