Whoever said that nobody likes a know-it-all likely wasn’t all that smart. There’s no shame in cramming your noodle full of as much data as humanly possible, and there’s a lot of joy to be found in thrashing an opponent Texas-style during an old school barroom trivia throw-down. But who has the time these days to tackle anything close to the amount of book learning required to become a Master or Intellectual Disaster? No one. Fortunately, Popular Science Magazine's Chrome Edition Web App is here to spoon-feed you all the cool factoids you’ll ever need to intellectually dominate/alienate your friends and loved ones.
Here's another rule of thumb to live by. If you're getting ready to punch in your PIN code at an ATM and notice the guy behind you is wielding a digital camera, find another ATM. That's because researchers at the University of California, San Diego, published a study showing how digital cameras capable of digital imaging can capture PIN codes by picking up heat patterns left on the keypad.
For the Knights of the Round Table, the holy grail is, well, the holy grail. The holy grail for computer geeks is a little different, but perhaps just as legendary – quantum computing. While super performing PCs powered by quantum bits sound good in theory, achieving results in the real world is a lot harder than just talking about it. Fortunately, that doesn't stop scientists. A team of researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have managed to entangle two ions using a small microwave device, which could be a key step in the quest for quantum computing.
A team of engineers from Rice University in Houston, Texas, constructed what amounts to a full blown battery where all the essential components are integrated into a single nanowire, Physorg.com reports. The research team says their accomplishment could help give researchers a better understanding of electrochemistry at the nanoscale level, and with a bit of tweaking, it could one day be used to power nanoelectronic devices.
When you think of BitTorrent, you probably think of movies, music, and games being shared illicitly. Well, one man by the name of Greg Maxwell is turning all of that on its head by uploading a cache of 18,592 scientific papers to the torrent site The Pirate Bay. This is, according to Maxwell, a protest against the prosecution of programmer Aaron Swartz for theft of data.
It was just two months ago that the WHO decided to reclassify cell phones as “potentially carcinogenic”, calling for increased scrutiny. A new review of available evidence published on Saturday aims to clarify the situation. The paper, authored by cancer experts from the US, UK, and Sweden finds that the evidence is “increasingly against” a link between mobile phone use and cancer.
Researchers at IBM have announced that they recently managed to create the first high-speed computer circuits out of a material called graphene. This process has possible applications in displays, processors, and high-speed communication. While this advancement is interesting, we’re not quite ready to ditch traditional transistors quite yet.
Leave it to the uber-nerds at Google to get their science on with the new Nexus S. With the clever cover of "testing the Nexus S sensors", Googlers recently had the opportunity to send seven Nexus S phones up on weather balloons to the very edge of space. The phones were running GPS apps like Google Maps, and Google Sky Map. The verdict is that the sensors worked well, and space looks really cool.
The phones were kept safe in Styrofoam coolers attached to the balloon with nylon rope. A parachute was added to the rig to guide the phones gently back to Earth. When they landed, engineers used Google Latitude to find their brave space faring phones. The data collected from the phones' sensors was also of interest.
According to Google's data. The GPS chip works up to altitudes of 60,000 feet. The phone itself withstood low temperatures of -50 degrees C. The payloads reached an altitude of 107,375 ft (over 20 miles) before the balloons popped. Check the video below for the full rundown.
You may remember Wicked Lasers as the company that will sell you a laser with an emitter that looks like a lightsaber hilt. Oh, and the laser is strong enough to destroy your eyeballs, but that's still safer than a real lightsaber. Safe is a relative term though, and the FDA is the agency responsible for determining what is safe. The agency has sent Wicked Lasers a letter saying that it "disapproves the quality control and testing program for all laser products." Bummer.
The company now has the customary 15 days to refute the claim, ask the FDA for a reasonable exemption, or explain how it has fixed things. Wicked Lasers will also have to provide the FDA with a list of all the products they sell in the US. These high-power lasers are technically legal, but the import situation has always been a little shady. This action could be the first step in government action to ban the devices. They were previously on "import alert" delaying shipments.
Are you still hankering for one of these pricey, eyeball annihilating industrial lasers? Check out our review before you dare.
Proteins are large molecules made up of amino acids that are capable of many things; from catalyzing biological activity, to physically supporting tissues. One of the first pieces of the puzzle in understanding a particular protein is to know about its 3D shape, or conformation. That's what Foldit does. Users are presented with a partially folded protein as determined by an algorithm. They use a number of tools built into the interface to align the protein's folds of amino acids until they find the lowest energy state. This is the shape a protein must have in order to perform its function.
The study authors notes that different players have different play styles. Some were adept at making large scale changes to approximate the final shape. Others had a knack for fine tweaking of the structure to find the perfect conformation. When gamers combined their skills, they accomplished some real science. Researchers in other fields are considering employing gamers in similar ways after the success of Foldit. The next time someone tells you you're wasting time playing games, tell them about this.