Tagged With Science & Health

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Video: Weird science was out in force in 2017 - someone named a planet Bernard, sheep were trained to recognise Baaarack Obaaama, octopuses marched out of the sea, and re-inflated dolphin dangly bits revealed some sea sex secrets.

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Most of us definitely haven't thought about what a car would do if we put other liquids in an engine that runs on petrol. But cars are running on all kinds of stuff these days, right? Like electricity, and so on? That's what I hear. It's worth a try to put Coke in the tank, in case fuel prices go up and we all get desperate.

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A million Russian artillery shells helped scientists discover the Higgs boson. And all over the world, remnants of World War II weapons are built into the most mysterious experiments in physics.

In the mid-1990s, physicists needed tons of a metal strong enough to withstand the massive magnetic fields of the house-sized Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment, one of the particle detectors on the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. They settled on high-quality brass - but where would they get enough of it?

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Jane Scowcroft believes that every career of the future will be a "tech job", in one way or another. So, in that respect she tells me, "the future looks brighter for everyone who touches tech."

As the Head of Product at CSIRO's Data61, Scowcroft is hopeful that we can work towards a more equitable workforce in the tech world - "but I think it will take thoughtfulness and the promise to address any unconscious bias that might exist".

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To be a giraffe among giraffes, or a pigeon among pigeons, is to live at all times in that scene from Being John Malkovich - a world in which everyone you know looks pretty much exactly like you. However wondrously varied the animal kingdom might be, on a species-level its residents tend to look more similar than not - at least, from a human perspective. I'm not saying that all squirrels look identical - just that being a squirrel, and trying to distinguish your squirrel-spouse from your squirrel dad from your squirrel-mailman, seems like it would be pretty hard work.

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Martha Lillard spends half of every day with her body encapsulated in a half-century old machine that forces her to breathe. Only her head sticks out of the end of the antique iron lung. On the other end, a motorised lever pulls the leather bellows, creating negative pressure that induces her lungs to suck in air.

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The Earth, the Sun, Andromeda galaxy, they have all been around for as long as you can remember and as long as humanity has been around. So when a new light suddenly shows up in the distance, it's a weird occurrence. But a newly-detected explosion could be one of the weirdest - and it isn't the only one.

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No one said that monsters needed to be big or even scary. But when James Dwight Dana first spotted one strange plankton species back in the 19th century, he knew he had something weird on his hands. "Little monster," Monstrilla seemed like as good a name as any. After all, scientists can name species after pretty much anything, even penises.

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Remember AlphaGo, the first artificial intelligence to defeat a grandmaster at Go? Well, the program just got a major upgrade, and it can now teach itself how to dominate the game without any human intervention. But get this: In a tournament that pitted AI against AI, this juiced-up version, called AlphaGo Zero, defeated the regular AlphaGo by a whopping 100 games to 0, signifying a major advance in the field.

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"Conventional drug detection generally use techniques that require long operation time, sophisticated experimental procedures, and expensive equipment with well-trained professional operators; moreover, they are not usually portable," says Joon Hak Oh, head of The Oh lab for organic electronics laboratory at Pohang University of Science and Technology.

Joon Hak Oh's research team has solved all of these problems, apparently. And the result is portable test - and an app - that together can detect amphetamines in urine within seconds, whilst only costing $50 to make.