Daily Bulletin for 05/23/2017

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How to Get Rid of Dark Matter

Chris Lee, Ars Technica

The Universe is a strange place. Apart from the normal matter that we see around us, there appears to be a far larger amount of matter that we cannot seethe infamous dark matter. Even more puzzling, the Universe seems to be bathed in a similarly invisible dark energy, which drives the Universe to expand faster and faster. This all points to something missing from our understanding.

Have Gravitational Waves Scarred Spacetime?

Ryan Mandelbaum, Gizmodo

Car crashes, nuclear explosions, and even asteroid impacts are relatively puny compared with some of our universe’s other explosive events. Heck, a violent, seemingly infinitely hot explosion is probably what set the whole universe in motion in the first place. So big collisions, like those between black holes many times the mass of our sun, could have some pretty wild consequences. Like scarring spacetime itself.

Supernova Face-Off May Solve Antimatter Mystery

Charles Choi, Space.com

The majority of antimatter that pervades the Milky Way may come from clashing remnants of dead stars, a new study finds.The work may solve a 40-year-old astrophysics mystery, the study’s researchers said.

Forty More “Intelligence" Genes Discovered

Laura Sanders, ScienceNews

Smarty-pants have 40 new reasons to thank their parents for their powerful brains. By sifting through the genetics of nearly 80,000 people, researchers have uncovered 40 genes that may make certain people smarter. That brings the total number of suspected intelligence genes to 52.

Quackery Infiltrates Major Journal

David Gorski, Science-Based Medicine

We here have long lamented the creeping infiltration of quackery into medical academia in which modalities once considered quackery, such as acupuncture, reiki, naturopathy, homeopathy, and various other dubious treatments, have found their way into what should be bastions of science-based medicine (SBM). Over the years, we have noted the proliferation of integrative medicine programs and residencies in medical academia, and professional conferences, the credulous teaching of CAM modalities as part of the normal medical school curriculum.

The Uncertain Future of Virtual Reality Porn

Matt Wood, The Conversation

Judging by the statistics, a lot of people must have received virtual reality technology for Christmas. Views of virtual reality pornography on one website spiked at 900,000 on Christmas Day 2016, three times what they were a month previously. Today, daily views are almost 250% higher than a year ago.

‘Out of Africa’ Theory Disputed by New Evidence


The common lineage of great apes and humans split several hundred thousand earlier than hitherto assumed, according to an international research team headed by Professor Madelaine Bhme from the Senckenberg Centre for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at the University of Tbingen and Professor Nikolai Spassov from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. The researchers investigated two fossils of Graecopithecus freybergi with state-of-the-art methods and came to the conclusion that they belong to pre-humans. Their findings, published today in two papers in the journal PLOS ONE, further…

Baking Soda Shortage Hits Hospitals Hard

Beth Mole, Ars Technica

Amid a national shortage of a critical medicine, US hospitals are hoarding vials, delaying surgeries, and turning away patients, The New York Times reports. The medicine in short supply: solutions of sodium bicarbonateaka, baking soda.The simple drug is used in all sorts of treatments, from chemotherapies to those for organ failure. It can help correct the pH of blood and ease the pain of stitches. It is used in open-heart surgery, can help reverse poisonings, and is kept on emergency crash carts. But, however basic and life-saving, the drug has been in short supply since around February.

‘Flying Bum’ Completes Successful Test Flight

Kacey Deamer, Live Sci

It’s a plane, it’s a blimp it’s the world’s largest aircraft.A massive airship dubbed the Airlander 10 recently completed a successful test flight, bringing the helium-filled behemoth one step closer to commercial use.Though it looks like a massive blimp, the Airlander 10 combines technology from airplanes, helicopters and airships.

Caffeine’s Effect on Spider Webs

Julianna LeMieux, ACSH

Recently, a teenager died from ingesting too much caffeine in too short a time period. At first, this may sound shocking.But, caffeine is known to be toxic in very high quantities. An old, fascinating, science experiment tested, in a very unique way, just how toxic certain chemicals are – including caffeine. The results show the effect of caffeine (and other drugs) on our brains by using an uncommon scientific assay — spider web spinning.This idea was first proposed by Peter Witt and Charles Reed, in an article published in Science in 1965 called “Spider-web building".

Unlocking the Power Potential of Sound

Kendra Redmond, Physics Central

Whether it’s the neighbor’s barking dogs, pounding rain, the din of traffic, or the music of your own choosing, most of us are constantly surrounded by noise. Noise is energy, so that means most of us are constantly surrounded by a relatively safe, renewable, and clean form of energy. What if we could harvest this energy?It seems like a match made in heavenunwanted noise is everywhere and its levels are rapidly rising, as is our demand for power. Crunch the numbers on how long you’d have to yell to heat up a cup of coffee, though, and it’s clear that sound isn’t an optimal source of…

Nanofiber Measures Force of Swimming Bacteria

Tim Wogan, Physics World

A tiny “force probe" that can measure sub-piconewton forces when inserted directly into liquid media has been created by researchers in the US. The team says that it used the probe to detect the tiny forces associated with swimming bacteria and heart-muscle cells. The researchers suggest that the technique could be used to create miniature stethoscopes. A leading biophysicist, however, says more work must be done on characterizing the device before he is convinced of its efficacy.

Meteors Made Mars’ Atmospheric Metals

Charles Q. Choi, Space.com

Metal detected in the sky of Mars may come from meteors streaking through the Red Planet atmosphere, a new study finds.Interplanetary dust motes and chunks of rock often plunge at high speeds into the atmospheres of Earth and other worlds, blazing to form meteors as friction with air particles heats the objects. On Earth, the resulting smoke generates a persistent layer of metallic atoms in the atmosphere. However, until now, such layers were not directly seen elsewhere in the solar system.

Frozen Space Sperm Produces Healthy Mouse Pups

Katherine Kornei, SM

If NASA wants to send humans to Mars, it will probably also send along an unusual provision for the interplanetary journey: sperm. A diverse supply of human sperm could ensure the genetic diversity of a new colony, which is critical to a healthy population. But no one knows whether the reproductive cells could withstand the ravages of DNA-damaging radiation in space. Now, a new study shows that mouse sperm stored for more than 9 months on the International Space Station (ISS)where radiation levels are roughly 100 times higher than on Earthcan produce healthy, fertile mouse pups.

Light-Sensitive E. coli Paint Colorful Pictures

Adam Levy, Nature News

To show off the powers of synthetic biology, researchers have engineered a primitive kind of colour vision into bacteria and got the microbes to paint pictures of what they see.The genetically modified Escherichia coli can sense red, green and blue (RGB) light, and they respond by producing a pigment of the corresponding colour. Projecting light on to a Petri dish of the bacteria leads them to create colour photographs’, albeit ones with an exposure time of 18 hours.

Off-Grid Solar Benefits Limited in Remote Areas

The Economist

FOR sunny places not connected to the electricity grid, the falling price of solar panels and LED lighting promises a bright future. No more smoky, lung-damaging kerosene lamps. Greater security and safety. More ways to connect with the worldeven if that involves only something as simple as being able to charge a mobile phone. And, above all, the chance to work or study into the evening and thus improve both a family’s immediate economic circumstances and its children’s future prospects. It is a tale of hope. But as a study just published in Science Advances, by Michal Aklin of the…

5 Reasons We Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Aliens

Robby Berman, Big Think

As we perhaps draw thrillingly/terrifyingly closer to discovering life elsewhere in the universe, the chorus of people warning us to be careful what we wish for is growing louder. Most famously, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has argued for hitting the brakes, reiterating as recently as 2016 his concern about seeking alien contact in his comments about possibly life on Gliese 832c: “One day, we might receive a signal from a planet like this.

Why Occam’s Razor Doesn’t Apply to Physics

Ross Pomeroy, RealClearScience

Occam’s razor is one of the most useful tools for logic and problem solving ever devised: When examining competing hypotheses to explain phenomena, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Simpler is better.

What If Whole Foods Was Science-Based?

Jenny Splitter, Science of Us

Whole Foods used to be my idea of grocery heaven. Once upon a time, I shopped at the California Street location in San Francisco it was light and airy with produce for miles. I knew the cheesemonger. I had philosophical conversations with the butcher. I stared longingly at the Le Creuset bakeware. The soap aisle smelled like lavender. Heaven.

Medicine May Return to the Dark Ages

Ed Whiting, The Guardian

When Prof Sally Davies published The Drugs Don’t Work in 2013, it wasn’t some allusion to a Verve number from the 1990s, but a sombre warning of the growing threat posed by bacteria evolving resistance to life-saving antibiotics. If this were left unaddressed, she argued, it would lead to the erosion of modern medicine as we know it.

Why Humans Should Be Called Homo Prospectus

Tierney & Seligman, NY Times

We are misnamed. We call ourselves Homo sapiens, the wise man, but that’s more of a boast than a description. What makes us wise? What sets us apart from other animals? Various answers have been proposed language, tools, cooperation, culture, tasting bad to predators but none is unique to humans.

The Sea Cucumber That Became a Jellyfish

Jennifer Frazer, Sci American

H.P. Lovecraft, creator of the infamous Cthulhu mythos, said his dread tentaculate creature slumbered in a sunken city in the South Pacific Ocean. In that very spot (and in other spots around the world) may live a creature with a striking resemblance: the world’s only full-time swimming sea cucumber.

Hoax Paper Says Penis Is “Social Construct"

Lindsay & Boghossian, Skeptic

“The androcentric scientific and meta-scientific evidence that the penis is the male reproductive organ is considered overwhelming and largely uncontroversial."That’s how we began. We used this preposterous sentence to open a paper consisting of 3,000 words of utter nonsense posing as academic scholarship. Then a peer-reviewed academic journal in the social sciences accepted and published it.

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