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Stephen Colbert grills Neil deGrasse Tyson

Stephen Colbert grills Neil deGrasse Tyson about Pluto’s non-planet title

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock (a not-planet sized rock), you will have heard at least some of the chatter about the New Horizons probe sending back the first ever high definition pictures of Pluto. Of course, Pluto has most famously been demoted from planet status, and while seeing the Solar System’s outermost inhabitant isn’t anything short of amazing, The Late Show‘s Stephen Colbert had a different bone to pick, in particular with renowned TV scientist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, who played a part in Pluto’s demotion. The encounter is nothing short of hilarious – check it out: Hilarious, and remarkably informative. In case you missed it, New Horizons is going to be sending back its photos of Pluto and its surrounding “objects” over the next year or more, so the most landmark space discovery of our lifetimes (probably) is still a work in progress. Even so, it’s utterly mesmerizing ...

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North Korea claims to have a single drug that cures MERS, AIDS and Ebola

North Korea claims to have a single drug that cures MERS, AIDS and Ebola

I don’t think it should be a surprise to anyone that news that comes out of North Korea is generally pretty farcical, but this latest piece of news seems almost laughably unbelievable. North Korea claims to have a single drug that cures MERS, AIDS and Ebola, and is apparently made from ginseng grown specifically in North Korea. Now, I’d almost be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt if they’d claimed the cure for one of the diseases (no, actually I wouldn’t), but to claim all three diseases is a little greedy. And let’s be honest, ginseng is really only good in tea. Naturally, this is the same drug, Kumdang-2, that cured bird flu in North Korea some years ago, but I’m almost certain the probability of that happening is about the same probability of anyone in North Korea having either bird flu, MERS, AIDS or Ebola put together – ...

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Large Hadron Collider is back online

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger: The Large Hadron Collider is back online

This is the kind of news that will either make you jump for joy or cower in fear: the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is back online and its even more power than it was before. The LHC has been undergoing an extensive upgrade that has taken two years, but is now starting a ramp up that marks its second body of work – a body of work that will hopefully see protons colliding with 13TeV of energy, double that which was possible the last time the LHC was on. Of course, all of this is in the name of science, and the theories on the table to be explored by CERN include: Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism, dark matter, antimatter, quark-gluon plasma All of these tests intend to push the limits of our understanding of physics and hopefully unravel more of the unknown. Here’s to the LHC not creating a black hole. What do you think ...

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Head transplants

Head transplants could be possible in about two years, says Italian scientist

Modern medicine has progressed to the point where we can almost transplant any part of the body to another body, but the brain, or more generally, the head, is something that we’ve yet to fully understand, yet alone transplant on humans. However, one Italian scientist, Sergio Canavero, believes we are about two years away from a successful head transplant. His method, as CNET summarizes, is as follows: “First, both the transplant head and the donor body would need to be cooled in order to slow cell death. Then, the neck of both would be cut and the major blood vessels linked with tubes. Finally, the spinal cords would be severed, with as clean a cut as possible. Joining the spinal cords, with the tightly packed nerves inside, is key. The plan involves flushing the area with polyethylene glycol, followed by several hours of injections of the same, a chemical that ...

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Earth timelapses

Alexander Gerst’s Earth timelapses taken from the ISS are absolutely breathtaking

Sometimes with all this talk of conflict and turmoil, we forget what a beautiful place we live in. To illustrate exactly how beautiful, astronaut Alexander Gerst has compiled the 12,500 photos he took while aboard the International Space Station (ISS) into a series of Earth timelapses, and the results are… well, take a look for yourself (oh, and make sure to take a look in 4K resolution): Capturing multiple aurora events, and passing over tumultuous weather and cities during the night, the Earth looks just as beautiful as the space and galaxies it sits amongst. It’s breathtaking to watch, and it’s all thanks to Gerst’s camera work while on the ISS, setting up his cameras to take photos at regular intervals to create these timelapses. Thankfully though, Gerst is now safely back on solid ground, where it’s arguably the most beautiful. What do you think of these Earth timelapses? Let ...

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High Altitude Venus Operational Concept

NASA’s High Altitude Venus Operational Concept will hopefully make Venus more explorable and habitable

A lot is made in the space community about travelling to the little red planet known as Mars, but what about our other closest neighbour, Venus. Well, a few facts about Venus that have generally made it difficult to explore include the fact that it is the hottest planet in the solar system (that’s right, it’s not Mercury) at a toasty average surface temperature of 462 °C, and the fact that its atmosphere pressure is 92 times than that of Earth’s atmosphere, which would make arriving on the planet like diving into the deepest deep sea trench on Earth. That’s where the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept comes in. The High Altitude Venus Operational Concept, or HAVOC for short, is NASA‘s attempt at imagining how it might be possible to visit the planet and carry two astronauts closer to Venus’ surface than we’ve ever managed. It’s obviously comparable to a traditional blimp, but ...

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turn water and carbon dioxide into synthetic fuel

These clever Germans think they can turn water and carbon dioxide into synthetic fuel

By now, the grim state of our dwindling fossil fuel reserves is at the forefront of the everybody’s minds, and while alternative, renewable sources of energy hold promise, they aren’t making quite as much progress as we might have hoped. To help ease the transition to renewable energy, a German company based in Dresden called Sunfire GmbH thinks they might have found a way to turn water and carbon dioxide into synthetic fuel, something similar to recognizable fuels like diesel or petrol. The three step process first uses solid oxide electrolysis cells to convert electrical energy to chemical energy, the resultant of which is hydrogen. This hydrogen is then used in the second step in a reverse water-gas shift reaction which changes carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide, and feeds into the final step which uses Fischer-Tropsche Synthesis to create the fuel. These so-called “e-fuels” can be used on their own, or as ...

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elon musk on artificial intelligence

Elon Musk on Artificial Intelligence: “The pace of progress in artificial intelligence is incredibly fast”

We’ve said it before: Elon Musk is a pretty smart guy (understatement much?). The CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors is essentially what we would liken to a real-life Tony Stark; if he came out wearing an Iron Man suit tomorrow, nobody would be surprised. So when he spoke candidly about artificial intelligence, warning that its progress is much quicker than any of us realize, possibly posing a danger to humanity, we were bound to get more than a little worried. In a series of emails to Edge.org publisher, John Brockman, that were erroneously shared, Musk puts a timeline on when he sees the development of artificial intelligence becoming worrisome. “The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most… Please note that I am normally super pro technology and have never raised this issue until recent months. This is not a case of crying wolf ...

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Fist bumps are better than handshakes

Fist bumps are better than handshakes, because science said so

Have you ever wondered why President Obama is always spotted fist bumping people he meets? Of course, it might just be because he’s a pretty cool guy, but what if he knew something that we didn’t? A study posted on EurekAlert has postulated that fist bumps are better than handshakes because they “transmit significantly fewer bacteria than either handshaking or high-fiving” and still fulfill the base requirements for social etiquette. While this seems relatively trivial for most of us, unless you’re somewhat of a germaphobe, this makes a huge impact in the medical industry, particularly hospitals, where nasty viruses can be transmitted from medical professionals to multiple patients in otherwise innocent handshakes. The study follows on from a suggestion by the Journal of the American Medical Association which called for the cessation of handshakes in hospitals. Still don’t believe it? The study details the exact process its findings were collated: In this ...

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EXOBIOTANICA

Makoto Azuma’s ‘EXOBIOTANICA’ project puts a bonsai on the edge of space

Have you ever seen a bonsai plant on the edge of space? Well, thanks to Japanese artist, Makoto Azuma, now you can. As part of his EXOBIOTANICA project, Azuma worked with JP Aerospace to launch various types of flora, including a bonsai tree, with helium space balloons. A specially built rig took pictures of the featured plants on its journey into the heavens, and the results are stunning; we have a few choice pictures below, but you can check out the full gallery at Azuma’s website here: The starting point for the project was Black Rock desert in Nevada where the balloons were launched. It’s truly awe-inspiring stuff; I could never get tired of seeing photos of the Earth from space. What do you think about the photos taken during EXOBIOTANICA? Source: AMKK via engadget

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