Science Channel - InSCIder

29 Sep

Happy National Coffee Day!

Get excited: It's National Coffee Day.

Here's a fun fact to savor with your morning joe: There's a 100% chance your cup of coffee contains one molecule from Abraham Lincoln's coffee.

How is that possible?!


Over on SCI2, we're celebrating National Coffee Day by revisiting some of our favorite highly-caffeinated videos. Check them out:

What do coffee and cocaine have in common?

How is decaf coffee made?

How to drink coffee in space

Mesmerizing: An espresso shot pulled in slow motion

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26 Sep

October Is 'Zombie Preparedness Month' In Kansas

"If you're prepared for Zombies then you are prepared for anything!"

This is not a joke: October has been designated 'Zombie Preparedness Month' in Kansas by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Okay, the name of the month may be hyperbolic but it has a very real purpose: raising awareness about natural disaster readiness. "If you’re equipped to handle the zombie apocalypse then you’re prepared for tornadoes, severe storms, fire and any other natural disaster Kansas usually faces," a press release stated.

Among the tips to prepare for the worst (zombies or otherwise):

  • have a disaster kit with enough supplies to last 72 hours
  • make an emergency plan
  • learn life-saving skills, like CPR

The zombie apocalypse may seem like sci fi conjecture but beware -- the real undead are walking, er, crawling among us:

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24 Sep

Should Pluto Be A Planet Again?

Pluto was downgraded to a 'dwarf planet' in 2006 but a recent debate hosted by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics stirred up old passions and led to a vote that overwhelmingly favored reinstating Pluto as a planet.

As Astrobiology Magazine reports:

"[Science historian Dr. Owen] Gingerich argued that “a planet is a culturally defined word that changes over time,” and that Pluto is a planet. [Dr. Gareth] Williams defended the IAU definition, which declares that Pluto is not a planet. And [Dr. Dimitar] Sasselov defined a planet as “the smallest spherical lump of matter that formed around stars or stellar remnants,” which means Pluto is a planet.

After these experts made their best case, the audience got to vote on what a planet is or isn’t and whether Pluto is in or out. The results are in, with no hanging chads in sight. 

According to the audience, Sasselov’s definition won the day, and Pluto IS a planet."

Back in 2006, Bill Nye supported changing Pluto's name to a dwarf planet; after this week's debate and vote, he told The Huffington Post that "I love Pluto as much as the next guy, but it has a different origin from the traditional planets and orbits in a different plane. It might be exciting to have names for hundreds of new (very old) planets, but I would be fine with 8 'traditionals' and hundreds of 'Plutoids.'"

You can watch the debate and come to your own conclusions on YouTube.

Poor pitiful Pluto...

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22 Sep

You Have to See This Single-Wheeled Electric Motorcycle in Action

It may look more like a unicycle than a traditional motorcycle but the single-wheeled, self-balancing RYNO could be the coolest way to run your errands; at the very least, it's an efficient way to drive around a crowded city without worrying about finding a parking space.

How does it work?

"Lean forward, and the bike will accelerate forward. Lean back, and the bike follows suit, standing up taller and slowing down," RYNO proclaims.

Want one? The electric motorcycle starts at $5,295.00 for a late 2014 delivery.

Take a look at the RYNO in action:

How It's Made: Motorcycle Engines

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19 Sep

How to Hack Your Brain

It's just a myth that humans only use 10 percent of their brains, but it's true that there are ways to train your brain to improve its function.

Tonight at 8/7c on Science Channel, Todd Sampson demonstrates tips and tricks for unlocking the true capacity of your mind.

Here's a sneak peek at 'Hack My Brain':

Does the mind of a mathematical genius differ from a normal human brain? Go inside a genius brain:

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18 Sep

NASA Finds 'Big Surprise In Teeny Tiny Galaxy' (PHOTO)

The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a supermassive black hole inside a "teeny tiny" galaxy, which "crams 140 million stars within a diameter of about 300 light-years, which is only 1/500th of our galaxy’s diameter."

"It’s very much like a pinprick in the sky," astronomer Anil Seth said, while NASA's press release revealed that this ultra-compact galaxy has an incredibly dense and dazzling night sky:

"If you lived inside this dwarf galaxy, the night sky would dazzle with at least 1 million stars visible to the naked eye. Our nighttime sky as seen from Earth’s surface shows 4,000 stars."

An artist's rendering of the M60-UCD1 Black Hole -- captioned "Our Hubble Space Telescope finds big surprise in teeny tiny galaxy" -- shows the astounding scale:

Did A Black Hole Create The Milky Way?

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17 Sep

This Is What A Plane Carrying 195,000 New iPhones Looks Like

As the first reviews roll in on the new iPhone 6, the smartphone has already smashed Apple's record for preorders, with more than 4 million iPhone 6 devices ordered in the first 24 hours.

How do all of these iPhones get to U.S. consumers? On planes!

One reader of MacRumors shared photos showing 195,000 iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices he just flew to the U.S. from China: " Yep, that's what I do. I fly stuff. Privileged to be a small part of the team. Just landed a 747 in Anchorage," he wrote.

HuffPost Tech reports he wrote in a later post that "the shipment [weighed] a combined 256,000 pounds, and the plane landed at 'a little under max landing weight at 643,000 lbs.'"

Of course, 195,000 iPhones is just a drop in the bucket with millions of preorders. Apple has already warned customers that "demand had outstripped supply" for the new iPhones and that some customers will have to wait until next month for their order to be fulfilled.

iGenius: How Steve Jobs Changed the World

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15 Sep

For The First Time, Scientists Have Captured The Sound Of A Single Atom

A single atom sounds like a D-note -- D28, to be precise, "about 20 octaves above the highest note on a grand piano."

That's the conclusion from a team of researchers at Sweden's Chalmers University of Technology, which set out to capture the sound of an atom.

"We have opened a new door into the quantum world by talking and listening to atoms," study co-author Per Delsing said in a press release. "Our long term goal is to harness quantum physics so that we can benefit from its laws, for example in extremely fast computers. We do this by making electrical circuits which obey quantum laws, that we can control and study."

The research was published in the journal Science.

DNews explains how the research was conducted:

"The team started by first making an artificial atom. Next, they charged it with energy. Normally, atoms release energy in the form of light, called a photon. However, in this experiment, the atom was designed to both emit and absorb energy in the form of sound, called a phonon."

One of the greatest historical discoveries involving atoms was the finding that atoms combine in a certain way:

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12 Sep

Carnegie Mellon 'Smart Headlights' May Make Nighttime Driving Safer

Innovative new headlights technology from Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute could make nighttime and inclement weather driving safer.

The 'smart headlights' allow drivers to use high beams "without fear of blinding oncoming drivers or suffering from the glare that can occur when driving in snow or rain at night," a CMU press release said.

Here's how it works: The programmable headlights track oncoming vehicles and dim "only the small parts of the headlight beam that would otherwise shine into their eyes."

"During snow or rain showers, the headlight improves driver vision by tracking individual flakes and drops in the immediate vicinity of the car and blocking the narrow slivers of headlight beam that would otherwise illuminate the precipitation and reflect back into the driver's eyes."

An early version of the technology was demonstrated in this 2012 video:

Don't look for this cutting-edge technology on showroom floors just yet; Dr. Srinivasa Narasimhan told The Huffington Post that it would be three to five years before smart headlights show up on new cars.

Smart headlights aren't the only cool car technology to come along lately. In the Netherlands, this car hack is absolutely outrageous and ridiculously out-of-control:

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11 Sep

What Astronauts Returning to Earth Looks Like From the International Space Station

Expedition 40's three-man team -- American astronaut Steve Swanson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev -- landed safely in Kazakhstan Wednesday after completing 167 days on the International Space Station.

The trio "orbited Earth more than 2,700 times, traveled more than 71.7 million miles and welcomed five cargo spacecraft," NASA reports.

As the Soyuz spacecraft carrying the three flew toward Earth, German astronaut Alexander Gerst Tweeted two incredible images of the craft from his vantage point aboard the ISS:

Social media has become an integral way astronauts share their experiences in space and one of the first space superstars was Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. Here, he shows what happens when you wring a wet washcloth in space.

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