Comet ISON is already a celebrity in the cosmos. The huge chunk of rock and primordial ice is on course to make a journey around the sun, and it's lighting up the heavens along the way. NASA released a short movie showing the comet's trajectory over the course of five days as it aims for the blazing beast that keeps us all warm down here on Earth.
What if you could play, say, the game Cooking Mama and virtually taste the dishes you make? Or watch "Iron Chef" (still the best cooking competition ever on TV) and taste the dishes alongside the judges?
Nimesha Ranasinghe and his team at the National University of Singapore have built what they call the Digital Taste Simulator, an electrode that sits on the tip of the user's tongue and re-creates flavors.
It works by sending tiny alternating currents and slight temperature changes into the tongue that fool it into "tasting" four flavors: sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. "We have found noninvasive electrical and thermal stimulation of the tip of the tongue successfully generates the primary taste sensations," Ranasinghe said. … Read more
The Pacific "ring of fire" is living up to its name this week in the sea south of Japan, where volcanic eruptions have been raising up -- or rather laying down -- a brand-new island.
The Japanese coast guard reports that the infant isle is about 660 feet in diameter and located about 620 miles south of Tokyo. In the video below, you see ash, smoke, steam, and rocks bursting forth from a crater and performing a little lava-based construction in the process -- eat your heart out, pumice fans!… Read more
What makes a truly fine blue cheese so spectacular can be partly due to particular kinds of bacteria that are encouraged to grow on it. Now, imagine if those bacteria came from someplace unusual... like food author Michael Pollan's belly button. Yep, you get human-flavored cheese. Hungry yet?
Scientist Christina Agapakis and scent specialist Sissel Tolaas came together for a project that combines art and synthetic biology. They collected bacteria samples from donors and used them to create unique cheeses for each person.… Read more
What if people who are paralyzed could use their brainwaves to get up out of wheelchairs and walk away? That's exactly what researchers from the University of Houston are hoping to accomplish with the latest evolution of robotic exoskeletons. They're turning to mind control to move these high-tech mobility machines to the next level -- and take patients with them.
The idea for for a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton came to engineering professor Jose Contreras-Vidal, the project's lead, after Duke University's Miguel Nicolelis demonstrated that electrode arrays implanted in monkey brains could pick up on the neuron-firing patterns that occur when the monkey thinks about walking.
"Contreras-Vidal's group found out they could get the same effects using EEG (electroencephalography) to control an exoskeleton. EEG doesn't have the spatial resolution of an implanted electrode array, but it is noninvasive and has the added benefit of being able to measure electrical activity across the entire brain," Popular Mechanics reported. … Read more
Honda's latest foray into the world beyond cars and bikes may sound like a bit of a leap, but it's the next logical step in the company's line of personal mobility devices.
The Walking Assist Device, which we took a look at back in 2008 but ultimately dates back to 1999, has evolved from an interesting concept that might make walking a bit easier to the subject of a new clinical trial that might help stroke patients improve their mobility.
Honda announced last week that it is currently testing its battery-powered device at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. As with its humanoid bot ASIMO, Honda says its Walking Assist Device uses cooperative control tech the company developed over the course of studying the human gait. Using readings from hip angle sensors of the patient's natural gait, a control computer activates motors to improve the symmetry of the timing of each leg lift and to promote a longer stride. The simple design includes adjustable belts to fit over differently-sized people and clothing.… Read more
Refe Tuma and his wife are the architects of a grand mystery that has their children waking up to a new wonder every morning in the month of November. While the kids are asleep, the parents place plastic toy dinosaurs in entertaining positions, making it look like they came alive when nobody was watching.
It turns out toy dinosaurs are a bit unruly as house guests. They tend to get up to antics like invading the fruit bowl, pulling eggs out of the fridge, drawing on the walls, and throwing little dino-parties.
The mini-dinos aren't always naughty. They have taken time to do some audio recording, photography, and portrait painting. They even did the dishes once, ending up in a massive pile of suds during the process.… Read more
If there's a choice between an afterlife and nothing at all, I'd plump for the former.
It gives us a peculiar kind of hope that there is more. And, in America, we know that more is always better.
Discussions surrounding the afterlife tend to focus on belief. One scientist, however, is suggesting that there might be firm evidence of a great beyond.
Professor Robert Lanza, adjunct professor at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University, is a proponent of biocentrism.
This turns our idea of the universe on its head. Instead of imagining that it's … Read more
When I was young, I found my father's old geology sample set from when he was a kid. One of the rocks had a faintly yellowish look to it and was labeled "uranium." Ah, those were the good old days. Liability worries and an overly protective society have taken a lot of the fun out of science kits for kids. The Heirloom Chemistry Set Kickstarter wants to bring the magic back.
A quick look at chemistry sets on Amazon finds a lot on offer, but few that sound compelling. Most have a token number of bland chemicals to work with, not the sort of mad-scientist, chemistry-explorer type of environment that really gets kids excited.… Read more
Last February, a fireball streaked past the Russian town of Chelyabinsk, releasing 500 kilotons of energy as it ran up against some serious resistance from Earth's atmosphere and exploded, blowing out windows all over town in the process. The biggest resulting chunk of space rock finally ended its journey by crashing into a frozen lake a few dozen miles away.
Remarkably, the moment of impact was captured by a security camera located at what looks like some sort of maintenance shop near the edge of the lake. Even more remarkable is the fact that an object that had essentially caused an explosion of A-bomb proportions in the sky just moments earlier was whittled down to the size of a small boulder that created little more than a whispy puff of snow and dust upon hitting the surface of the lake. … Read more