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December 19 2014

These Dreamers Are Actually Making Progress Building Elon’s Hyperloop


When Elon Musk unveiled his idea for the Hyperloop in August of 2013, no one seemed sure what the next step would be. The Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO dropped a 57-page alpha white paper on us, noting he didn’t really have the time to build a revolutionary transit system that would shoot pods full of people around the country in above-ground tubes at 800 mph.

Fortunately for futurists and people who enjoy picking apart complicated plans, an El Segundo, California-based startup has taken Musk up on his challenge to develop and build the Hyperloop.


Alt: Hyperloop Reality Check: Elon Musk's High-Speed Scheme Is Alive And Kicking

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December 19 2014

Navy Deploys Robot Sharks. Yes, Really


Automatonophobia is the technical term for fear of robots. Fear of sharks is selachophobia. Psychiatrists will have to come up with a new term now that the U.S. Navy has deployed, yes, robot sharks.

The Navy's GhostSwimmer unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) -- a five-foot-long, 100-pound robotic shark -- has completed testing and will now join the fleet, according to naval researchers.

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December 19 2014

Giant robotic insect takes its first steps


A robot that looks like a giant insect is taking its first steps, advancing cautiously on its crutch-like limbs. The six-legged bot, known as Hector, can move each of its legs independently, which allows it to tackle a wider range of surfaces than other similar-bodied robots that typically walk by moving three legs at a time.

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December 19 2014

A Quadriplegic Woman Used Her Mind To Move This Robotic Limb In '10D'


For the first time ever, a quadriplegic woman has used her thoughts to move a robotic hand across 10 degrees of freedom. The remarkable system allowed her to pick up a variety of objects, including skinny tubes and oddly shaped rocks.


Related: Watch a man control two robotic prosthetic arms with his mind

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December 19 2014

Disabled Dog Runs on 3D-Printed Braces


An adorable Husky named Derby was born with malformed front limbs. With short forelimbs and no paws, Derby maneuvered the world by scooching around on his front elbows. He was limited to crawling around on soft surfaces as rougher areas, such as sidewalks, caused abrasions.

Luckily he came into the foster care of Tara Anderson, an employee of 3D Systems based in Rock Hill, S.C. The company specializes in design-to-manufacturing solutions for 3D printing and they decided to come up with a solution for Derby.

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December 19 2014

Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?


Cannabis oil, which requires an extra stage of preparation once the plant has been harvested, is basically made up of cannabinoids such as CBD and the psychoactive THC, the active chemicals found in the plant that cause the "high" sought by recreational users. Already forming the basic make-up of the pharmaceutical cannabis-based drug Sativex, which is used to treat MS, growing scientific research now suggests that cannabis oil may also possess anti-cancer properties that help stem the growth of malignant tumours.

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December 19 2014

Pot Smokers Show Less Inflammation


People who smoke marijuana may have lower levels of inflammation compared with people who have never smoked it, according to new research on one marker of inflammation.

In the study, researchers examined data from more than 9,000 people on their history of marijuana use and their levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), one marker of inflammation that is frequently linked with people's risk of heart disease.

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December 19 2014

What Forms of Creativity Turn You On?


It’s no secret: creativity is sexy. People all over the world rank creativity as a highly desirable quality in a partner, and people who are creative across a variety of fields report more sexual partners (similar results have been found in specific fields such as visual art, music, and humor).

But are all forms of creativity equally attractive?

According to evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller, creative displays in humans are analogous to the peacock’s tail: they serve the function of attracting mates by serving as indicators of mental fitness (cognitive functioning and personality).

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December 19 2014

After years of trying, scientists finally find our sense of direction


The internal compass of the brain that tells you the direction to go in order to reach your final destination has been found by scientists using an MRI machine that measures nerve activity inside the head.

Researchers have found that a brain region known as the entorhinal complex is responsible for making the key calculations of how to navigate from one place to another – a critical feature of a person’s sense of direction.

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December 18 2014

Stunning Zinc Fireworks When Egg Meets Sperm


Sparks literally fly when a sperm and an egg hit it off. The fertilized mammalian egg releases from its surface billions of zinc atoms in “zinc sparks,” one wave after another, a Northwestern University-led interdisciplinary research team has found.

Using cutting-edge technology they developed, the team is the first to capture images of these molecular fireworks and pinpoint the origin of the zinc sparks.

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December 18 2014

World’s first ‘three-parent’ babies could be born in the UK


A further step towards creating babies using DNA from three people has been taken by the UK government with the announcement of new regulations to be put before parliament.


Related: Midwives Are Often Safer Than Docs–Why Don't They Deliver More Babies?

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December 18 2014

Autism link to air pollution raised


A link between autism and air pollution exposure during pregnancy has been suggested by scientists.

The Harvard School of Public Health team said high levels of pollution had been linked to a doubling of autism in their study of 1,767 children.

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December 18 2014

Mangrove forest planted as tsunami shield


THE worst tsunami on record hit South-East Asia on 26 December 10 years ago, killing more than 227,000 people in total. I recently toured villages on the west coast of Aceh, the Indonesian province that bore the brunt of the impact, where 167,000 lost their lives when a 20-metre wave crashed ashore that morning. I also saw the results of heavy mangrove reforestation since the tsunami.

Can replanting mangrove forests on tropical coastlines really protect communities from the immense destruction of a tsunami such as the Indian Ocean killer wave that struck 10 years ago?

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December 18 2014

Cost of cloud brightening for cooler planet revealed


Scientists have identified the most energy-efficient way to make clouds more reflective to the sun in a bid to combat climate change. Marine Cloud Brightening is a reversible geoengineering method proposed to mitigate rising global temperatures. It relies on propelling a fine mist of salt particles high into the atmosphere to increase the albedo of clouds.


Related: Warmer Pacific Ocean could release millions of tons of seafloor methane

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December 18 2014

How NASA Could Build A Cloud City Over Venus


Owing to the extreme conditions on the Venusian surface, it's going to be quite some time before a human ever steps foot on that planet. That's why NASA is developing a plan to deploy human-occupied airships in Venus's upper atmosphere. And yes, permanent occupation is the ultimate goal.


Related: Out of Fuel, Venus Express Is Falling Gently to Its Death in Planet's Skies

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December 18 2014

NASA Rover Finds Active and Ancient Organic Chemistry on Mars


NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory's drill.


Alt: Curiosity Rover Drills Into Mars Rock, Finds Water
Alt: ‘A Great Moment’: Rover Finds Methane, a Clue That Mars May Harbor Life

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December 18 2014

Is Mars habitable? That’s tougher to answer than you might think


It’s no secret that the possibility of life on Mars has tantalized us for a long time now. Even today, despite the knowledge that there are no intelligent Martians, the idea works its way into science fiction, as movies like John Carter, The Last Days on Mars, and the animated film Mars Needs Moms demonstrate. Even the character of Spock on Star Trek was originally conceived as a Martian!

But the concept isn’t limited to science fiction; scientific interest in life on Mars continues.

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