Author posts

In Some Parts Of The US, You Can Text 911

This week the four major wireless carriers began allowing customers to take advantage of text-to-911 services available in two states and a handful of counties. It could prove most useful for those who are hard-of-hearing or have difficulty speaking.

In The Longevity Game, Shorter Men Win

Using data from one of the world's oldest continuing studies of aging men, researchers have discovered a possible connection -- in the form of a certain type of gene -- between body height and lifespan.

One Possible Key To Lucid Dreams: 40 Hertz

According to a new study, that's the frequency of electric current that, when sent to the frontal cortex via electrodes, best induced sleeping test subjects to become aware of their dream state. (Lower and higher frequencies had little effect.)

How To Turn A Building Into A Big Water Filter

By installing the Rainhouse system, which includes a roof made of "bioconcrete," every rainfall can produce drinking water for the building's inhabitants. Its designers say that the technology can fit any size of building, from a factory to a home.

How Do We Build Ethical Robots?

The US Navy is working with several universities on a new multi-year project designed to figure out how to engineer moral competence. One big challenge: Science still doesn't know exactly how it works in humans.

Looks Like A Strawberry, Tastes Like Bubble Gum

For a few weeks only, the UK-based supermarket chain Waitrose is offering what they're calling "bubbleberries" due to their distinctive taste. In botanical circles, they're known as musk strawberries; in Jane Austen's day, they were called hautboys.

How Shrimp Shells Could Help Save The Environment

Harvard scientists have created a bioplastic using silk protein and a commonly-found organic substance that gives the shells their strength. The substance, shrilk, biodegrades in a matter of weeks, and its residue encourages plant growth.

When ATMs (Chemically) Attack

ETH Zurich University scientists borrowed from the bombadier beetle to create a defense system that would release hot nanoparticle-filled foam when the ATM is tampered with.

For Faster Earthquake Alerts, Check Twitter

US Geological Survey researchers say that by simply tracking the word "earthquake," they're able to pinpoint seismic activity much more quickly than with their own specialized equipment. However, because it's Twitter, the method is far from perfect.

New Mexico May Ban Hunting With Drones

Later this month, the state's Game Commission will vote on a proposal that, if passed, would make New Mexico the fourth state to outlaw a practice that sportsmen and animal activists say hurts "the concept of free chase."

¿Cómo Se Dice "Netflix"?

Hoping to grab more of a growing market, the company has announced that it will release its first original Spanish-language comedy series next year.

Is GMO Labeling Coming To New England?

If signed, a bill passed by Vermont's legislature would make it the first US state to require disclosure for certain foods containing genetically modified ingredients. It would also clear the way for laws in neighboring states.

Bringing Sunlight To Windowless Rooms

University of Cincinnati researchers have designed technology that channels sunlight to dark interior rooms through grids of tiny adjustable cells. The energy can also be stored to power electrical systems.

These Solar Cells Literally Rock Out

Researchers used zinc oxide nanorods to create a solar cell, then played music to determine the sound waves' effect on performance. Pop and rock music bumped up efficiency levels by 40 percent.

The UN Proposes A Global Asteroid Defense Plan

The plan would allow the world's space agencies to share information about potentially dangerous asteroids, create a special task group to detect smaller asteroids, and collaborate on ideas for diverting them from Earth.

These Lasers Could Help Cure Brain Diseases

Researchers have designed a type of laser technique that is able to distinguish the bad -- specifically, the proteins responsible for Alzheimer's and similar diseases -- from the good. Simply locating them could make removing them much easier.