Science & Health

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Advertisers have found ways to bombard us with promotions no matter what we're doing: watching TV, checking social media, and even when streaming music. But the future of advertising could be even more invasive when the next public event you attend is full of flying video drones projecting inescapable video everywhere you look.

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In a study that's already attracting considerable controversy, a research team says it has found evidence of human habitation along the southern coast of California dating back an astounding 130,000 years. That's 10 times older than most estimates, and a complete upending of what we thought we knew about how and when humans first arrived in North America — if it turns out to be true.

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The hunt for Planet 9 — a hypothetical, Neptune-sized object beyond Pluto — has stirred the scientific community since last year year, when a pair of Caltech astronomers argued in favour of the idea. Those intrepid scientists — Mike Brown, best known as the guy who killed Pluto, and Konstantin Batygin — are currently spearheading a search for this elusive giant. Recently, a network of citizen scientists have followed suit. The problem, of course, is we still haven't found it. So what's it going to take?

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An Italian neuroscientist who says he's planning to perform the world's first head transplant later this year has told a German magazine that he intends to thaw a cryogenically preserved brain and transplant it in a donor body within three years. It's a preposterous claim given the current limitations of medical science, and a complete misreading of how the fledgling cryonics industry works. It's also a significant credibility fail for a doctor who's already struggling to be taken seriously.

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It's a scenario many women in the room are all too familiar with: You're sitting in the park, enjoying some R&R, when you spy a leery Y-chromosome carrier lumbering in your direction, clearly looking to test the pickup line he found on Reddit last night. You could run; you could start talking loudly and to no one in particular about your last menstrual cycle. Or, you could do as the female moorland hawker dragonfly does, and pretend to be dead.

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It was 1:56PM Thursday afternoon AEST when a Deep Space Network receiver picked up a signal from NASA's Cassini orbiter as it emerged from its first trip through the gap between Saturn and the gas giant's rings. In the ensuing data came pictures of the planet's north pole and cloud tops from only 3000km away — our closest look yet at the upper part of Saturn's atmosphere, where the pressure is about the same as it is at sea level on Earth.

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Good morning, Cassini! Yesterday, at about 5:00PM AEST, NASA's Deep Space Network Goldstone Complex in California's acquired the orbiter's signal for the first time since it began its series of Grand Finale dives. The photos it took from the space between Saturn and its rings, which have just been released, are nothing short of breathtaking. It's classic Cassini, making the previously impossible look easy.

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Back in August, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a bunch of films held by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). We looked at one yesterday from 1976 about nuclear extortion, and we'll explore the others in the coming weeks. But there was one that I requested that the NNSA can't seem to find. The title? "Skull Melting Demonstration".

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In the halcyon days of yore, people put away money with the hopes of retiring somewhere warm, where they could argue about chicken salad with other curmudgeons until they expired. But very soon, the new retirement hotspot might be on Mars. While billionaires like Elon Musk have long touted human settlement of the Red Planet, at least a few ordinary folks are listening — and saving up money accordingly.

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Alien: Covenant has a lot of far-flung futurist tech in it, which will inevitably be smeared in bits of the cast by the time the xenomorphs are done with them. But one piece in the movie is actually a bit of present-day technology: A small Rover provided by Audi that the manufacturer actually plans to send to the Moon once its Hollywood career has taken off.

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We aren't doing such a great job solving the whole climate change problem, which is why some experts think it's time to study more radical tactics. The notion of geoengineering — hacking the climate to cool the planet — is controversial, awe-inspiring and, to many, terrifying. And yet, despite their own grave concerns with the idea, a group of researchers believes the time has come to explore whether planet-hacking might really work.