Scientists Create Strong Bubble That Only Popped After 465 Days

Bubbles are fragile structures that only last a few seconds before popping, but a team of scientists has apparently found a way to keep bubbles from bursting for over a year.

Soap bubbles are subject to a series of processes that cause them to pop in a matter of seconds, minutes at best. They lose liquid through evaporation or gravitational drainage, and the gas trapped inside also diffuses through the membrane of soap and water back into the environment. However, a team of scientists at the University of Lille, in France, have been working on ways to address the fragility and ephemerality of bubbles, and they’ve apparently come up with a way of creating bubbles that maintain their shape and size for over a year.

Read More »

This Weird Parasite Is The Only Known Animal That Can Survive Without Oxygen

Henneguya salminicola, a tadpole-like parasite that infects salmon, has a rather unique superpower – it can survive without oxygen.

When examining Henneguya salminicola, researchers noticed something really strange: the microscopic parasite appeared to have no mitochondrial genome. The mitochondria, commonly known as “the powerhouses of the cell”, are organelles that rely on oxygen in order to produce energy. At first, scientists at Tel Aviv University thought it was a mistake, so they ran the analysis again, and confirmed that the parasite had no mitochondrial genome at all, meaning it did not generate energy the way all other known animals do. Although other single-cell organisms, like amoebas and fungi, have also developed the ability to survive in anaerobic environments, no animals – Henneguya salminicola qualifies as one despite having less than 10 cells – had been known to do that until now.

Read More »

New Technology Tracks Facial Muscle Movements to Expose Liars

When it comes to telling when someone is lying, we currently have very few options, but a team of Israeli researchers claims to have come up with something better than anything we’ve seen before.

Using stickers printed on soft surfaces containing electrodes that monitor and measure the activity of muscles and nerves, a team of researchers led by Prof. Dino Levy from Tel Aviv University, discovered that some people involuntarily activate muscles in their cheeks and eyebrows when they lie. No sensors had been able to measure these subtle muscle contractions before, but the innovative ones invented by Prof. Yael Hanein and sold by Israeli company X-trodes proved sensitive enough. Tests revealed a 73% success rate of lie identification, better than any existing technology.

Read More »

Innovative Company Uses Kinetic Energy to “Throw” Rockets Into Space

California-based startup SpinLaunch has been making news headlines for its innovative approach to space flight – using a vacuum-sealed centrifuge to hurl rockets into space.

SpinLaunch has been working on a launch system that uses kinetic energy as its primary method. It relies on a complex mechanism that includes a vacuum-sealed centrifuge to spin the space rocket at several times the speed of sound before launching it upwards through a chute. If successful, SpinLaunch’s system could prove to be the most cost-effective and most reliable way of getting objects into outer space. The company has already had a successful launch in October, using its SpacePort suborbital accelerator in New Mexico to get a prototype vehicle tens of thousands of feet into the atmosphere.

Read More »

Japan Starts Selling World’s First Genome-Edited Tomato

Sicilian Rouge High GABA is a special type of tomato designed to contain high levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an amino acid believed to aid relaxation and help lower blood pressure.

Tokyo-based startup Sanatech Seed Co. teamed up with scientists at the University of Tsukuba to develop a new variety of tomatoes using CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology. Named Sicilian Rouge High GABA, this new type of tomato contains five to six times the normal level of a type of amino acid called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. According to Japanese media, the company removed an inhibitory domain within the tomato’s genome to enable it to produce these high levels of GABA.

Read More »

Scientists Baffled by Man Who Can Change His Pupil Size on Command

A 23-year-old student in Germany can reportedly shrink and enlarge his pupils on command, a feat previously thought to be physically impossible.

The dilation and constriction of the pupil were believed to be completely automated processes triggered by various factors, like entering a bright or dark environment, but a recent case study suggests that isn’t always the case. A young student in Germany is believed to be able to voluntarily control the tiny muscles that adjust the size of the pupil, a feat once thought to be impossible. The authors point out that while some people can alter their pupil size via “indirect methods”, this person is instead able to directly control the sphincter muscle in his eyes to adjust the size of his pupils.

Read More »

Genetically-Modified Plants Glow When They Are Stressed

A team of researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has managed to genetically modify potato plants to glow under fluorescent cameras when stressed by various factors.

One of the biggest challenges of modern agriculture is reacting to stress factors before it’s too late. Plants don’t really have a way of conveying how they feel, and, more often than not, by the time visible symptoms appear, it’s already too late to do anything about it. But scientists are hoping to fix this big problem with the help of advanced genetic manipulation. A team of Israeli researchers led by Dr. Shilo Rosenwaser managed to genetically modify a potato plant so that it glows under fluorescent camera when affected by physical stress (lack of water, cold weather, lack of sunlight, strong light etc.).

Read More »

This Flower Smells Like Dead Insects to Attract Specific Pollinators

A one-of-a-kind flower endemic to Greece is believed to emit a scent similar to that of decomposing insects in order to attract one of its main pollinators, the coffin fly.

Flowers are usually associated with sweet, pleasant smells, but truth is that not all flowers smell nice. In fact, some smell like some of the grossest thing in the world, and that’s by design, because their pollinators are actually attracted to these disgusting scents. Take Aristolochia microstoma, a small flower endemic to Greece, which deceives its main pollinator, the coffin fly, by emitting a highly unusual mix of scents that includes a compound found in dead beetles. As their name suggests, coffin flies are attracted to carrion, to the scent lures them into the flower where they are trapped long enough to deposit any pollen they carry onto the female organs.

Read More »

Scientists Now Know Why These French Rabbits Do Handstands When Moving Fast

For over a century, animal experts have known that a certain variety of rabbits move exclusively on their front legs when trying to move fast, but they’ve only recently learned why that is.

The Sauteur d’Alfort, also known as the Alfort jumping rabbit have baffled scientists for more than a decade. Unlike other rabbit varieties, the sauteur d-Alfort have a uniquely acrobatic way of moving. Over short distances, when moving slowly, they walk on all four limbs, but their hind legs hit the floor one after another, rather than at the same time. But the truly remarkable thing happens when it needs to move faster. Rather than hopping, it quickly lifts its hind legs above its head and starts moving on its front legs alone. Experiments done decades ago showed that the sauteur was incapable of hopping, but thanks to modern technology, scientists know exactly why that is.

Read More »

This Rare Bird Could Go Extinct Because It Has Forgotten Its Mating Song

The regent honeyeater is already one of the world’s rarest birds, but experts are worried that it could soon go extinct, because they have forgotten how to sing.

Flocks of hundreds of regent honeyeaters could once be spotted all over south-eastern Australia on a regular basis, but today the species is critically endangered, with only 300 specimens believed to exist in the entire world. They were also known for the complexity of their mating songs, but as their numbers started dwindling, ornithologists started noticing this complexity diminishing, to the point where male regent honeyeaters didn’t even sound like their species anymore. Today, there is ample evidence that regent honeyeaters have forgotten how to sing, which could render the entire species extinct.

Read More »

This Shiny Sphere Is the World’s Roundest Object

Made out of a single, very expensive, crystal of silicon-28 atoms, and extensively analyzed for imperfections by both humans and computers, this “nearly perfect” sphere is the world’s roundest object.

The surface of the world’s roundest object is so smooth that if you were to blow it up to the size of our planet, the difference between the highest peak and the lowest valley would be between 3m and 4.5m (10 and 15 feet). It used to be around 15m back when scientists started making these amazing spheres, but technology has gotten better at smoothing out even the tiniest wrinkles. However, creating such a wonder isn’t cheap. The silicone crystal alone costs around $1 million, while the sphere itself, although often described as priceless, costs around $3.5 million.

Read More »

There’s Stench, And Then There Is Thioacetone, the World’s Stinkiest Chemical

You’ve probably experienced foul smells before, but as bad as you remember them stinking, scientists say it’s nothing compared to the stench of thioacetone, the world’s smelliest chemical compound.

Trash left in the can too long on a summer day, sewage, or the smell of public toilets uncleaned for multiple days, we can all agree that they stink, but their stench is not classified as dangerous to human life. However the foul aroma of the rare chemical known as thioacetone, is. This simple molecule is somewhat tricky to produce, as at temperatures above -20°C it will clump together to form a solid called trithioacetone, but on the rare occasions that humanity did create it, thioacetone managed to make its presence felt, quite literally.

The most famous story about the stench of thioacetone dates back to1889, when workers at a factory in the German city of Freiberg attempted to produce the simple yet potent chemical, and accidentally created panic among the city’s residents. Their success led to “an offensive smell spreading rapidly over a great area of the town, causing fainting, vomiting and a panic evacuation”.

Read More »

Plant Evolves to Become Less Visible to Humans in Areas With Excessive Harvesting

Fritillaria delavayi, a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine, has apparently evolved to match its background and become more difficult to spot as a direct consequence of heavy harvesting.

Scientists had known that many plants evolved to use camouflage as a way of hiding from herbivores that may eat them, but a recent study suggests that one particular plant species has developed the same mechanism to hide from human harvesters. Researchers found that fritillaria delavayi plants, which grow on the rocky slopes of China’s Hengduan mountains, match their backgrounds most closely in areas where they are intensely harvested by humans.

Read More »

Earth’s Heartbeat – The Mysterious Sound Generated Every 26 Seconds

Ever since the 1960s, seismologists on multiple continents have detected a mysterious pulse generated like clockwork, every 26 seconds. But in the last 60 years no one has been able to figure out what this sound actually is.

The “heartbeat of the Earth” was first documented in 1962, by John Oliver, a researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, Columbia University. He figured out that it was coming from somewhere in the southern or equatorial Atlantic Ocean, and that it was more intense during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months. Then, in 1980, Gary Holcomb, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, also discovered the mysterious pulse, noting that it was stronger during storms. But for some reason, the two researchers’ discoveries remained virtually unknown for over two decades, until a graduate student at the University of Colorado, Boulder, once again detected the “heartbeat” and decided to look into it.

Read More »

Engineers Develop “White Cooling Paint” That Could Reduce Use of Air Conditioning

The idea that a simple paint could could compete with modern air-conditioning sounds crazy, but researchers at Purdue University say it could become a reality thanks to a cool new “radiative cooling paint” they developed.

Engineers at Purdue University recently unveiled a revolutionary white paint that they claim can keep surfaces up to 18 degrees Fahrenheit (7.8 degrees Celsius) cooler than their ambient temperature, by absorbing almost no solar energy and actually sending heat away from the surface it is covering. Think of it as a way of turning basically any space into a refrigerator, only without the energy cost.

Read More »