Tech

A long overdue solar cell competitor just smashed a critical record

Silicon-based solar cells might soon have had their day in the sun, as researchers find a way to make an emerging alternative stronger for less cost without compromising on efficiency. Perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have shown promise in recent years as the future of solar power technology, only there’s been a catch – to make them last, they’ve needed an …


Nature

Scientists Have Drilled Into Earth’s Hidden 8th Continent

This Northern Hemisphere summer, researchers spent two months collecting samples from a submerged landmass known as Zealandia. As a result, we could gain new insight into everything from ancient life forms to climate change. Tens of millions of years ago, a landmass that’s being referred to as Zealandia was largely submerged beneath the Pacific Ocean. This summer, a team of …


A Texas woman has died from ‘flesh-eating bacteria’ in Harvey’s floodwaters

Don’t go in the water. That’s been the warning from public health experts for weeks in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Harvey, which left Texas and Florida strewn with millions of gallons of sewage and virtually covered in bacteria. Now, their words of warning perhaps ring more strongly: Earlier this week, a woman in Texas died from a horrific …

Astronauts are roasting B.o.B’s flat Earth satellite and it’s amazing

If you haven’t heard, rapper B.o.B thinks the Earth is flat. We know this, because he tweets about it constantly, and is currently crowdfunding to try and get a satellite out to space to “help B.o.B find the curve!” No, we’re really not making this up. Actually that’s a great idea. ??? https://t.co/1obtdBZocH — B.o.B (@bobatl) September 21, 2017 As …

Elon Musk also plans to fly you anywhere in the world in under an hour

SpaceX founder Elon Musk presented his vision for getting people to Mars within five years at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide today. The spaceship, dubbed the BFR, would carry around 100 people into outer space, but at the end of his presentation he floated the idea of using it to fly anywhere around the world in less than 60 …

Here’s Elon Musk’s spectacular plan for colonising Mars

Elon Musk plans to start colonise Mars within five years. Musk tweeted on Monday that he would reveal “major improvements” to his plan at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, most likely in the shape of changes to a two-part, 40-storey-tall vehicle called the Interplanetary Transport System which is expected to take the first 100-200 people to the Red …

Ultraviolet light could be having a strange effect on ice in space

Icy materials in space could behave like liquids at low temperatures and under ultraviolet light, suggests new research, and that might help to explain how planets began to form in the earliest days of the Solar System. The gas and icy giants circling round our Sun are thought to have been created from water-dominated ice, and the behaviour observed in …

The Japanese tsunami had an unprecedented side effect on the Pacific

New research shows that nearly 300 species of coastal creatures were carried across the Pacific Ocean in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, with some organisms making a journey of more than 7,000 kilometres (4,350 miles) across the waves from Japan to the United States. This unprecedented migration was made possible by the natural disaster and a very …

Here’s the best way to avoid bringing home bed bugs, according to science

Among the possible pest infestations you could get, bed bugs are definitely one of the worst. They’ll nest inside your mattress and feast on your flesh at night, and they develop resistance to pesticides really quickly. So once you have them, getting them gone is really tricky and requires professional help. And there has been a resurgence around the world …

Quantum weirdness once again shows we’re not living in a computer simulation

Questions of whether our reality is a simulation of something deeper have kept philosophers and freshmen awake since Plato was a pup. A pair of physicists sleep a lot easier at night now that they’ve shown that quantum weirdness involving twists in space-time can’t conceivably be simulated, adding to a list of problems that The Matrix would have no answer …

Lithium-ion batteries have been created in Australia for the first time

We use lithium-ion batteries every day – those rechargeable wonders in our smartphones, laptops, and even a pacemaker if you have one. Having a facility that creates lithium-ion batteries is however incredibly complicated, but now Australia has joined the ranks of countries with a facility capable of producing them. Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have built the …

Amateur metal detectorist finds incredible Ancient Roman treasure hoard in the UK

An amateur metal detectorist has hit the motherlode: a cache of bronze treasures in Gloucestershire, dating back to the last decades of the Ancient Roman occupation of Britain. The find, which is being hailed as the first such in British history, mostly consists of broken pieces, but one is intact – a bronze statue of a “licking dog”, the first …

The Rosetta team just found one final image, hiding in the data

ESA scientists have found one additional image from the Rosetta spacecraft hiding in the telemetry. This new image was found in the last bits of data sent by Rosetta immediately before it shut down on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko last year. The new image shows a close-up shot of the rocky, pebbly surface of the comet, and looks somewhat …

Tonight, Elon Musk will unveil new details about conquering Mars

Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of SpaceX, is about to present an updated plan for colonising Mars with 1 million people. The International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia, is hosting Musk’s presentation on Friday. SpaceX will stream video of the event via a YouTube Live feed, which we’ve embedded at the end of this post. Coverage should begin Friday at …

The fiery hell that gave birth to Earth could have evaporated 40% of our world

The ground under your feet was not always so firm. Earth is thought to have gradually coalesced in fiery collisions of smaller planetoids – and those hellish conditions can now explain an enduring scientific mystery. Though scientists have long held to this view of planetary accretion, it’s never been clear why the chemical makeup of Earth is different to the …

Here’s The Real Reason Cutting Onions Makes You Cry

Mark Anthony in Shakespeare’s Cleopatra may have referred to “the tears that live in the onion”. But why do onions actually make us cry? And why do only some onions make us blub in this way when others, including related ‘allium’ plants such as garlic, barely ever draw a tear when chopped? When any vegetable is damaged, its cells are …

Here’s how colours really affect our brain and body, according to science

Red makes the heart beat faster. You will frequently find this and other claims made for the effects of different colours on the human mind and body. But is there any scientific evidence and data to support such claims? The physiological mechanisms that underpin human colour vision have been understood for the best part of a century, but it is …

Check out this incredible Mars city the UAE is building for training purposes

It is increasingly seeming like only a matter of time before humans get to Mars. One of the big questions is – once we get there, how are we going to live? The United Arab Emirates is seeking an answer to this question by building an entire city to simulate Mars conditions, as realistically as possible here on Earth. The …

Researchers have developed microchips that behave like brain cells

The human brain is used as a comparison for how computer’s function. But, honestly, computers are nothing like human brains. Not yet, at least. That could change as researchers have developed computing technology that uses light to mimic the functionality of a nerve’s synapse, opening the way for hardware that combines the speed of modern processors with the efficiency of …

It’s official: Russia and the US will work together on the first-ever Moon station

In Spring of 2017, NASA revealed their plans for what the massive Space Launch System (SLS) rocket would be used for: to build the Deep Space Gateway, a space station in cis-lunar orbit that’ll serve as a stepping stone to the exploration of the Solar System. Until today, it was assumed that this would be a NASA project, with the …

This newly discovered giant rat species is so huge it cracks coconuts with its teeth

In the isolated Solomon Islands, mothers and fathers have been known to sing to their children of apocryphal rats. In one rhyme, Kamare and Isuku go scurrying up a child, one rat on each side. They climb the ribs and reach the armpits, where the singer finally tickles the child. Isuku, as the song goes, is what your average New …

This crazy new tech contest is set on finally making jetpacks a practical reality

President Franklin Roosevelt’s aviation chief had a New Deal plan to get everyday Americans up in the air. But he needed help. So Eugene Vidal sparked a competition among the nation’s tinkerers, engineers and aircraft makers. His challenge: build a “rugged, safe and simple” aircraft that would be as easy to drive as a car and cost roughly the same, …

Researchers Claim They Just Invented The “Ultimate” Method for Quantum Computing

Today’s working quantum computers are already more powerful than their traditional computing counterparts, but a pair of researchers from the University of Tokyo think they’ve found a way to make these remarkable machines even more powerful. In a research paper published in Physical Review Letters, Akira Furusawa and Shuntaro Takeda detail their novel approach to quantum computing that should allow …

New discovery points to life on Earth nearly 4 billion years ago

Time to add even more candles to life’s birthday cake – around another 150 million of them, to be precise. Rocks from northern Canada have shown signs that life was doing its thing about 3.95 billion years ago, setting a new record for fossils while showing biology was more eager to get started on Earth than we had previously suspected. …

CONFIRMED: A Huge Gravitational Wave Announcement Is About to Happen

Update 27/09/17: It’s happening! We have confirmation that the LIGO team will go ahead with the rumoured announcement today at 6:30pm Italian time (that’s 12:30pm EST). We’ll be doing a live blog when that happens so stay tuned for a link to that right here! Time to keep a close eye on the LIGO announcement schedule, folks, because if rumours …

Evaporating water could power almost 70% of the US electrical grid

It’s not every day scientists say a new kind of renewable energy could satisfy the majority of our power needs, so when they do, it’s worth leaning in close. In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers have found that energy harvested from the evaporation of water in US lakes and reservoirs could power nearly 70 percent of the nation’s electricity demands, generating …

A jar of decapitated toads has been found in a 4,000-year-old burial

A 4,000-year-old tomb in Jerusalem has yielded up a lovely surprise – a funerary vessel containing the tiny bones of at least nine toads, all of which had been decapitated prior to being placed inside. The tomb was one of 67 human-made shaft tombs found in the Nahal Repha’im basin, not far from the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. The area was …

This researcher thinks there’s a case for having a 3-hour workday

Over the course of an 8-hour workday, the average employee works for about 3 hours – 2 hours and 53 minutes, to be more precise. The rest of the time, according to a 2016 survey of 1,989 UK office workers, people spend on a combination of reading the news, browsing social media, eating food, socialising about non-work topics, taking smoke …

Yep, Rapper B.o.B is crowdfunding satellites to prove Earth is flat

Rapper B.o.B has been pretty outspoken on Twitter in his belief that Earth is flat – so much so that he even got into a Twitter/rap battle with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson about it last year. But he’s now taking things to the next level, setting up a GoFundMe page asking people to donate money towards launching “one, if not …

An asteroid space probe just captured a gorgeous new photo of Earth

NASA spacecraft OSIRIS-REx is well on its way to asteroid Bennu. It launched just over a year ago, on 8 September 2016, but it just needed a little extra push from Earth’s gravity to get it the rest of the way there. That flyby took place on 22 September, and the OSIRIS-REx team took the opportunity to test and calibrate …

‘Magic dust’ made from light and matter could power supercomputers of the future

There’s more than one way to build a supercomputer, and researchers have come up with a new method for crunching data on a massive scale: using a type of ‘magic dust’ made from quantum particles called polaritons. These polaritons are half light and half matter, and scientists have been able to demonstrate how they can act as beacons lighting the …

Changing sea levels have a disturbing effect on sleeping volcanoes, says study

The grim predictions of climate change envisage a sweltering future where rising seas swallow the land – but in Earth’s ancient past, receding waters may have triggered a different kind of hell. A monumental drying out that took place more than 5 million years ago caused the Mediterranean Sea to literally evaporate – and scientists now think this could have …

A 1000-year-old Viking boat burial was just found under a market square in Norway

An archaeological excavation in Trondheim, Norway has revealed a hidden surprise – the unmistakeable traces of a boat buried under Torvet, the city’s market square. The discovery came just in the nick of time, in the final available moments before archaeologists planned to end their excavation so the market square could be filled in and re-paved for use as the …

South Pole observatory could solve the mystery of all those fast radio bursts

Around the world, efforts are ramping up to try and uncover the mystery of fast radio bursts – extremely powerful, milliseconds-long radio bursts from somewhere out beyond the solar system. We don’t know what they are. We don’t even know where most of them are coming from, since the majority of sources only emit a burst once and fall silent. …

Lost city of Alexander the Great thought to be found after 2,000 years

An ancient city thought to have been founded in the era of Alexander the Great has been discovered after being lost in the sands of history for over 2,000 years. Qalatga Darband, which overlooks a river in the Sulaimaniya province of Iraqi Kurdistan, bears the traces of an ancient fortified settlement, and now archaeologists have finally stepped foot in this …

These 16 psychological tricks immediately make you more likeable

It’s hard to say exactly why you like someone. Maybe it’s their goofy smile; maybe it’s their razor-sharp wit; or maybe it’s simply that they’re easy to be around. You just like them. But scientists generally aren’t satisfied with answers like that, and they’ve spent years trying to pinpoint the exact factors that draw one person to another. Below, we’ve …

A monkey mother ate her mummified dead baby in a never-before-seen case

Primates such as apes, monkeys and chimpanzees can appear extraordinarily human in their responses to the world around them. They have been observed, for instance, grieving when members of their tribe die, in a surprisingly touching way. Mother primates are also known to carry around their dead babies for some time after death, although it is not known whether the …

Scientists spent a month scaring guppies to prove that fish have personalities

Five minutes in the life of a guppy in the terrible spring of 2015: You’re swimming around with your friends in a tank. You’ve been here for days. Food falls from the sky. Everything is fine. Then suddenly, you’re netted up and dropped into an alien world, all alone, just you and the glass. You panic at first, but in …

A major Antarctic glacier just lost a massive chunk of ice 4x the size of Manhattan

An enormous Antarctic glacier has given up an iceberg over 100 square miles (259 sq km) in size, the second time in two years it has lost such a large piece in a process that has scientists wondering if its behaviour is changing for the worse. The Pine Island Glacier is one of the largest in West Antarctica, a region …

Here are 7 places in our Solar System most likely to harbour microbial life

As humans have ventured further from our home planet, we have sought other living organisms, proof that we’re not alone. We, of course, haven’t found any yet. But a growing amount of data has given us a better sense of where in the solar system we should look more carefully. Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial …

Scientists have designed a crystalline type of aluminium that’s insanely light

Aluminium is already highly prized. It’s conductive, has a low melting point, is very strong when alloyed, is impervious to rust and, above all, it’s extremely light. But what if you could get it lighter – so light, in fact, that it could float on water even when not made into the shape of a foil boat? According to a …

Here’s how scientists are mapping the decline of the Great Barrier Reef with AI

We’ve all heard the terrible stories about the Great Barrier Reef, and the extensive bleaching that has occurred in recent years. But despite what some news outlets might think, the reef is not actually dead, and we still need to monitor what’s happening closely to try to stop the damage where possible. That’s why a team from the Queensland University …

This overlooked theory could be the missing piece that explains how the EM Drive works

Ever since the EM drive first made headlines, science lovers have puzzled over how the propulsion system seems to produce thrust, despite the fact it’s ‘impossible’ according to one of the most fundamental laws of physics – Newton’s third law of motion. Now a team of physicists have put forward an alternative explanation – it turns out the EM drive …

Sweet potatoes suggest Easter Island had more people than previously thought

When Dutch sailors became the first Europeans to lay eyes on Easter Island in 1722, they found two sets of figures staring back at them. One gaze belonged to the remote island’s Polynesian inhabitants – the Rapa Nui – but this human society was rivalled by a staggering population of almost 900 monolithic statues, and new research points to just …

It’s official: Australia is finally getting its own space agency

The Australian Federal Government announced it will finally commit to a national space agency at the International Astronomical Congress in Adelaide, South Australia on Monday. The move has come after mounting pressure from experts, who have been growing increasingly concerned that Australia was missing the boat taking a share in the AU$420 billion (US$330 billion) global industry. “The global space …

Is it really bad to share a bed with your dog? Science weighs in

The question: Family dogs often spend the night in their owner’s bedroom. Might this affect people’s sleep? In this study, the researchers assessed the sleep habits of 40 healthy adults (average age, 44) who had no sleep disorders and who had a dog older than 6 months (average age, 5 years) that slept in the bedroom. For seven nights, the …

Uber Will No Longer Have a License to Operate in London

The subsidiary responsible for the ride-hailing app Uber has been told it isn’t considered “fit and proper” so won’t have its license renewed on 30 September. While Uber London Limited can appeal the decision, if the ban goes ahead it will be one of the biggest blows to date for the global technology company, which in spite of its immense …

Gravity could be produced by bizarre quantum ‘Flashes’

Since the mid-twentieth century, two theories of physics have offered powerful yet incompatible models of the physical universe. General relativity brings space and time together into the (then) portmanteau space-time, the curvature of which is gravity. It works really well on large scales, such as interplanetary or interstellar space. But zoom into the subatomic, and things get weird. The mere …