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7 Jan

The Turntable Is Back. But Why?

In a venue where everything is new, something old school is making a statement at CES. The classic turntable is back, but with high end and functional tweaks for the modern world.

We all know someone who has their crate of vinyl records from days gone by. We also know those musicians who are beginning to release on vinyl again, looking to embrace the difference in sound quality. That’s why Sony and Technics both have turntables on display at CES 2016.

Get the story on Sony’s PS-HX500 turntable, which in addition to improvements in the arm and vibration control has the hugely useful advantage of not only being “analog,” also has a USB which captures the sound quality of your beloved vinyl with high res output allowing you to upload your music to your modern devices. That’s pretty cool, so join us waiting on the release date!

 

The other turntable entry at CES is the return of the Panasonic turntable. Their Technics SL-1200GAE, is the modern version of the original Technics 1200 from way back in 1972.

The hook here is the Technics turntables have been preferred by professional DJs for their sound output and control. When they went out of production in 2010 is caused a huge outcry from audiophiles, so you can imagine the much enhanced, and limited-edition 2016 models are made to crush it with vibration control and more.

The Verge has a great review of what Technics is bringing to the party.

6 Jan

This TV Rolls Up and Fits in Your Closet

One of the first things that has caught people’s eye at CES is LG’s OLED TV that is little more than a flat screen you can roll up like a piece of paper while still maintaining a high quality picture. The company debuted an 18” prototype they are letting people get hands-on with to show the promise of this ultra-thin TV.

While we probably won’t see the TV on shelves for a few years or so, LG has gotten far enough in development that we can see it work and they’re already thinking about bigger screen versions.

Why a roll up TV? The company talks about it being an advance in storage, where you roll it up and stow it in a closet. We can totally see this as a benefit for those living in big-city, tiny apartments.

We’ve been monitoring the chatter around the roll up LG OLED, and it’s also worth noting that gamers and virtual reality fans see the promise of rolling out screens on all their walls and being fully immersed. That’s an interesting prediction!

See the bendy screen in action in this video from BBC News, but don't stop there! LG brought a LOT of products to the show including the 2.57mm thick (think four credit cards stacked together) 4K Smart TVs and UHD models. Fortunately, TechnoBuffalo's Jon Rettinger was on hand to give the detailed wrap up of the LG press conference, covering everything from their TVs, to washing machines and the G Flex 2 Phone.

 

 

5 Jan

What’s Next In Tech? Five CES Predictions

The annual Consumer Electronic Show is officially scheduled to open tomorrow, but of course the big players in new technology have been leaking their latest products to the press to start the “wow factor.” Fortunately, our expert friends at TechnoBuffalo and AndroidAuthority are there on the show floor to capture the news and decipher the gamechangers from the hype.

Their first report gives us five great predictions of categories where we’ll see the most action. From VR to wired cars, TechnoBuffalo will take us up close to what’s trending. We’ll also be taking a look at some of the standouts so watch this space and let us know what YOU think will take off!

Our DNews Minute at 9 will have a wrap up on Friday at 9PM, so you’ll be covered from start to finish so update your calendars!

 

29 Dec

Meet Chance and Shadow (The Attack of the Cloned Puppies)

By attacked by cloned puppies, we meant attacked by their cuteness – not anything sinister although their story is an interesting one. Little Chance and his new twin brother Shadow look just like their daddy, Dylan. These two little guys are clones created from the DNA of a couple’s beloved boxer who died unexpectedly.

The UK couple paid almost $100K USD to have the wee little puppy clones created by a South Korean firm Sooam Biotech Research Foundation. This company alone claims to have created over 700 successful clones, so what’s the big deal about these two pups?

Chance and Shadow have the distinction of being created from the oldest sample of DNA yet provided for cloning. The first batch of DNA the couple sent to South Korea failed in the cloning attempt. Despite it being a full 12 days after the boxer had died, the couple took a gamble along with the biotech firm that they would try again.

Now the couple and the world have these record-breaking pups to wonder over.

 

Of course the story has raised all the questions about cloning that have been around since Dolly the Sheep became the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell way back in 1996.

Is cloning ethical? In this case, does the age of the DNA mean the door may be open to tinkering with older DNA samples – say from the Wooly Mammoth and other extinct species? Should we use cloning to save soon-to-be-extinct species.

What about humans? Will humans one day be cloned? We’ve got an interesting video below that debates that very issue.

Closer to home, we know it’s raised questions about how far would you go to save your family pet? Would you spend $100K to have them back? Could their clone really replace the loss? Let us know your thoughts!

 

28 Dec

Did Santa Bring You A Drone? The FAA Wants to Know About It

We're willing to bet a few people out there received drones for the holiday. They're cheap, lightweight and can do some pretty amazing things. The problem is, they can also do some pretty stupid or dangerous things. Like potentially strike a power line or even worse, an aircraft.

In an effort to exert some control of drones hitting the skies, on December 14th the FAA issued new rules that mandate everyone must register their drone with their office. So do you have to register the toy drone that sits on your desk, or what exactly about your drone do they want to know?

It turns out they classify the drone by weight and not the general size. If your drone is more .55 lbs and less than 55lbs you can register on the FAA's Unmanned Aircraft Site. If it's heavier, then you've got some paperwork ahead of you.

If you have a drone, checking out this site is a must do by February 19, 2016; that's the cut off before the FAA begins the threat of fines and "civil and criminal penalties."

The FAA site provides a list of standard drones that might be in circulation or part of the latest haul from Santa, including weights with GoPro and other camera attachments.

Given the amount of drones out there, both for hobbyists and for professional purposes like film crews, surveyors or even proposed deliveries, it seems like the FAA may have a big task at hand. Registering your drone is one thing, but the rules for flight are sketchy; for example, how do you avoid hitting other drones or steering it into an airline route? We think there will be much more to come from the FAA on the daily creep of drones into our everyday lives.

In addition to the FAA's Official Site, here's a video from the Epic Review Guys giving us the scoop. Scroll down further and see a video from Outrageous Acts of Science showing tiny, synchronized drones performing all sorts of tricks.

Plus, tune in tomorrow as Science Channel presents the DNews Minute at 9 to get the latest scoop on drone deliveries!

 

 Don't forget to set your DVR for an all new season of Outrageous Acts of Science starting Sat. 1/9 at 9/8c.

 

18 Dec

Survival Kit Tips From Les Stroud

Editor's Note: Les has very kindly put together a blog on basics on what should go into a survival kit. It couldn't be more timely as we get ready for the season finale tomorrow night @ 10p in Patagonia. We'll be giving away three of Les' Survival Kits for those who use the hashtag #SurvivormanKitSweeps - but only during his show tomorrow night! We have other content popping up as well so key an eye out on social media. We can't wait to talk to you there and hope you enjoy the finale. Now on to Les' tips: Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 7.10.36 PM

It is so very tempting, when faced with the concept of surviving in the wilderness, to want to carry with you the ultimate survival item. Is it a lighter? A knife? Food? No…..ok it must be water? Nope wrong again. Actual victims of survival have been asked time and again what they felt was the number one thing you need to survive in the wilderness. The answer: (and you can’t buy it at the outdoor store) the will to live.

There are documented cases of lost victims found dead beside a backpack of supplies. They lost their will to live. There are also fantastic stories of people suffering horrendous ordeals with nothing and they survived. Their will to live was strong.

But ok let’s get beyond the psychology of it all. I still just want to head out camping and carry with me a few items that, just in case I need them, will better my chances for survival. But now it all depends doesn’t it? Are you going to Africa? Costa Rica? The Arctic? Northern Ontario? And what time of year is it?

Suffice it to say – there is no one item that will ensure you make it back with great photos, all your limbs and the movie rights to your story up for grabs.

So I can only relate this personally now: If you are sending me off on a winter trek in Canada and you are giving me three choices, I will likely take a sharp axe, a water proof butane lighter and assuming I am dressed properly, a small pot to boil water in.

So you see, assuming I’m not injured, I have a way to split wood, make a huge fire and boil up some spruce tea. In the summer I will trade in the axe for a good tarp. This is the minimalist approach however. The ideal is as follows:

Firstly let’s get these items in your pockets…you can’t leave your pockets at the last camp site. If you really must, a fanny pack can carry the larger items but remember: if it is too big and heavy you will just not want to carry it around with you. Oh and couples – one other thing – DO NOT have a joint survival kit – keep It personal – if they’ve got the kit and you lose them – you lose the kit.

(Leaving out first aid for the time being) - Here’s my minimum kit - FOR SURVIVAL ONLY – (keep separate from your camping supplies):

In pockets or hanging from your belt;

·      High quality (sharp) knife
·      Compass
·      Solid matches with striker in a waterproof container
·      Butane lighter
·      Magnesium flint striker (hey – I like fires!)
·      One or two large ORANGE garbage bags
·      Metal cup (for boiling)
·      Rope (Parachute cord is great)
·      Whistle

In a small kit or fanny pack (try a coffee tin with a lid – you can use it for boiling);

·      Dried foods
·      Insect screen (seasonal)
·      Signal mirror
·      Small flashlight with batteries
·      Snare wire
·      Fishing lures (3), hooks, sinkers and line
·      Some two inch nails
·      Candle
·      Flares

You must!!!! – Know how to use everything in your kit!

BUT!!!!;  No single item is as important as some real survival training….kits can be lost and give a false sense of security. Survival should depend on your ability to adapt…your will to live….not on a single item you left back on the portage trail. ~ Les Stroud

4 Dec

Update From Les Stroud

EDITOR'S NOTE: We were thrilled to just receive this update from Les Stroud giving us the inside story on his latest activities, written specifically for this blog and you, his fans. We've wouldn't dream of editing Les' words - after all, he's the story teller! Enjoy!!

As the latest batch of Survivorman episodes rolls out on the TV screens you would think I would take the time to chill out a little bit and relax before getting into something all consuming again. And I really should. But alas, that is not my usual way. I absolutely loved the variance of Survivorman expeditions this year from the Search and Rescue episodes shot in Transylvania, to the teaming up with two fine women for the Conne Family expose in Oregon, to the inclusion of a fan this year based on a contest.

I await news on whether or not I will be asked to head back out for more filming and you will all know as soon as I do. In the meantime I suppose I am getting a little bit of down time fishing in LesKitOregon on the Rogue river for Steelhead and getting out with my son and daughter for some hiking. But career wise I am focused on the development of Survivorman’s Mother Earth tour. A live stage production where I have big screens highlighting some of my video work from around the world – a full 6 piece rock band performing my music to the images on the screens and including some chilled, intimate moments of Q&A with the audience where I answer questions on everything from Survivorman and Bigfoot to how we can all connect to the earth in more meaningful ways as human beings.

Over the years of producing Survivorman (its been almost 15 now!!) I have often referred to various mentors that I have looked to, to do my work as a film maker and to pass on good and worthwhile instruction. Teachers like Mors Konchanski, Larry Dean Olson, Dave Halladay, Bradford Angiers, Dave Westcott and John and Geri McCpherson have all been heroes and teachers for me either through direct contact or their published works. It is from these esteemed instructors that I first learned the craft, art and skill of wilderness survival. And that was always the first original (and remains to this day) goal of the Survivorman series; to teach survival skills. No stunts. No tricks. Just pure survival for what it is – when it is good and when it is bad. Warts and all as we say.

Along the way a second subtext of teaching became apparent to me. Well perhaps not so much teaching as inspiring. And that was to simply re-connect with nature. This doesn't take going to Peru or Africa – there is beautiful nature usually just down at the end of your street. The local parks have nature you can touch and smell and experience and in doing so you absolutely reconnect. I used to do this underneath a freeway overpass close to Toronto, Ontario by a creek.  Noisy? Yes. A little polluted?  Yes, but it was still a natural spot in a busy city and it gave me respite. That continues to be the message of Survivorman as well; to connect with nature. There we other mentors throughout the making of Survivorman I owe a great deal of gratitude to; film makers. I often would try to emulate great filmmakers in my work on Survivorman. This was a big part of my passion in being out there; to film a great story and show it beautifully. I think likely my number one influence was a Canadian Oscar award winning filmmaker named Bill  Mason. I probably still set up certain moments on film in ways that I noticed him doing years ago.

Lets see where things go from here. Another book? Maybe. I was interested in doing a field guide to finding Bigfoot but I cant get a publisher interested. I have two new CD’s in the works; one is more of a roots acoustic thing and the other is an epic art rock album including, so far, solos from Slash and Steve Vai. And lastly more Survivorman? Well that's not up to me – its up to the ratings and the networks who have always been good to me over the years so I stand at the ready to do what I always do; try to remain a prolifically creative and involved artist/film maker/adventurer. I’m still working on it!

27 Oct

The Controversial Proposal of an Alien Megastructure

The space and science community was buzzing last week about of odd behavior of a star called KIC 8462852. More accurately, the news was about the odd behavior from something near or in transit around the star causing it to dim in irregular patterns and brightness. The buzz was about the theory whether this could be a megastructure or mass of structures created by aliens.

Science Channel will air a special news update about the theories being aired about this strange star: Alien Megastructures tonight at 9/8c. Before you tune-in or set your DVR, here's a little bit about why this odd star has scientists stumped and alien hunters guessing. Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 1.16.33 PM

The story about the The Most Mysterious Star in Our Galaxy broke in The Atlantic on October 13, but as the story noted, the star’s behavior isn’t exactly breaking news. 

While going about its mission to find exoplanets Kepler Space Telescope found this star in 2009. Kepler does its job by observing far flung stars and tracking any dimming in their brightness, which could signify the presence of an exoplanet. When the dimness happens over a recognizable period and speed, it often signals there is an exoplanet and can even help astronomers estimate the size. In the case of KIC 8462852, the star had dips that followed no precise pattern and vary in intensity.

Kepler could very well be picking up some natural phenomenon such as dust rings or a debris field. After all, Kepler can pick up things other than exoplanets, like flares, said dust or debris, or perhaps even something created specifically to move around the star. Yes, created.

Watch DNews: We're Not Saying The Kepler Discovery Is Aliens, But...

Of course we expect some backlash at this point, and at least one of the meme with the wacky looking dude who has his hair standing up with the text “Aliens” on it. The comments claiming this is pseudo-science have come along with most posts and articles we've seen circulated on the topic. Some people do not believe there is alien life, and do not like mainstream science and cultural media outlets reporting on it.

Here’s why some of us are talking about it.

The source of this story and the follow up pieces are not the result of astronomers just grabbing at straws. The data on this star goes back to 2009 and has been carefully documented; a paper reporting on the data and all plausible theories was just submitted by a Yale post-doctorate researcher to the September 2015 edition of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The paper also includes the names and interpretation of several citizen scientists from The Planet Hunters, an expert group who regularly studies certain parts of the galaxy to help scientists wade through the massive amount of data the telescopes send back. The combined efforts of the lead at Yale, Tabetha Boyajian, and the Planet Hunters confirmed at least two basic things: the irregular data is NOT coming from flawed data or instrumental error and the behavior was notable, with dips “in flux down to below the 20 percent level.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 1.18.11 PM

Boyajian and the Planet Hunters offer up several theories, most of which raise additional questions given that none of them are an exact fit with the behavior being observed.

Read More: DNews Has Kepler Discovered an Alien Megastructure?

As Dr. Ian O’Neill notes in his DNews report on the story, Boyajian’s paper focuses only on “…natural and known possible causes of the mystery transit events around KIC 8462852. A second paper is currently being drafted to investigate a completely different transit scenario that focuses around the possibility of a mega-engineering project created by an advanced alien civilization.”

This does NOT mean anyone is immediately suggesting it IS an alien megastructure. What this second paper and some scientists believe is that every possible theory must be explored. Even if it the most remote chance it is something created by an advanced civilization, in the spirit of scientific exploration it must be explored and proven or dis-proven. So we’ll wait for the paper and see.

So what happens next? Well, the scientists at the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute are joining in the search for an explanation in a significant way. They’ve turned their Allen Telescope Array – a field of 42 smaller and highly targeted satellite dishes – off its normal schedule and have focused it on KIC 8462852. They will work day and night looking for transmissions that fall into a specific range of wavelengths.

According to Universe Today, the team is gathering results they hope to publish soon in a scientific journal.

The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) has also joined in, issuing an alert to its members on October 20th to focus on KIC 8462852, with specific parameters to help target their observations. This continues to be a working investigation to find the cause of the erratic dips.

At Science Channel we believe in “questioning everything,” and we’re excited by the depth of research going into confirming a theory, regardless the side of the debate. We’ll be presenting the latest news about the story tonight in a special news report: Alien Megastructures at 9/8c. We hope you’ll join us in exploring the story of this strange signal and the science going into solving this mystery.

WATCH: ALIEN MEGASTRUCTURES, tonight 9/8c

Interested in these kinds of space mysteries? You might enjoy these related videos:

 

 

15 Oct

Meet The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge Winner!

Here at Science Channel we are always completely blown away by the ideas generated by younger kids today. Teenagers are sending things into space, developing apps, and questioning everything about the future. This year’s winner of the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is no different. She created an energy probe prototype.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 4.39.23 PMYou read that correctly. 15 year-old Hannah Herbst from Florida Atlantic University High School, in Boca Raton, FL captured the title this year with her prototype that seeks to offer a stable power source to developing countries by using untapped energy from ocean currents. It’s a simple idea that could be revolutionary in the years to come.

Hannah’s inspiration for the project came from her desire to help her nine-year-old pen pal in Ethiopia. Her friend lacks reliable power and electricity; nor is her friend alone in this plight. According to the World Bank, 1.1 billion people around the world do not have access to electricity.

It makes you think how a teenager’s desire to help a friend could be the seed of an idea that helps people worldwide. We think her choice of project is pretty impressive – one that has personal relevance but also casts an eye to “How can I change the future?”

She’s wasn’t alone in her journey to becoming a winner. Herbst and nine other finalists from around the country had the chance over the past three months to work directly with a 3M scientist on their invention as part of a summer internship. Herbst was paired with Jeffrey Emslander, a 3M corporate scientist whose research and patents have helped 3M reduce emissions to the environment and use less energy in the making of products.

We love the ideas that come out of the competition, but we also love the underlying genesis of the competition, which was creating a structure filled with adults passionate about science who could mentor the next generation who are equally as passionate.

During the collaboration the students looked to their 3M expert mentors to help guide them through the scientific method of advancing their ideas from a theoretical concept into an actual prototype. Together they reviewed the scientific process and worked virtually through pre-assigned objectives, with resources and support provided by Discovery Education and 3M.

[149975] HannahHerbstand2014winner2.JPG_lowDuring the final competition hosted by Discovery Education's Lance Rougeux, the finalists shared their completed inventions with a panel of judges, including Hakeem Oluseyi, astrophysicist and star of our own hit show Outrageous Acts of Science.

Along with the title and the knowledge gained, Herbst took home a $25,000 prize. It’s a just reward for the serious challenge that she and her fellow competitors and finalists faced.

All of us here at Science Channel just wanted to say: “You Go Hannah!”

About The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge:

Since its inception, the Young Scientist Challenge has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in student scholarships and prizes, paired students with world-renowned scientists to give them real-world insights and delivered much-needed science resources to millions of students, teachers and families across the country. Previous winners have met the President of the United States, addressed members of Congress, worked with the nation's top scientists and been featured in Forbes magazine's annual "30 Under 30" list.

Want to Make A Difference In A Young Person's Life? Get Involved In Support Our Science

Science is everywhere. It’s the DNA for progress and possibility.  Support Our Science is committed to igniting students’ passion for science, technology, engineering and math on-air, online, in the classroom and in local communities.  Science Channel and Discovery Education, together with partners, The Planetary Society, Girls Inc, and Maker Ed will ensure our kids are the next generation of innovators, problem solvers, and game changers.

14 Oct

Hubble’s Images of Jupiter Bring Surprises

Using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, planetary scientists at NASA’s have captured Jupiter in an annual photo, and this year the very high-res images are showing some interesting new things.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 9.39.04 AMPlanetary scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory created two global maps on the planet to essentially show back-to-back rotations. This helps them calculate the speed of the movement they see occurring on the surface.

Focusing first on the famous Red Spot, actually a giant storm, the team confirmed the spot is still shrinking and becoming more circular. It’s also more orange than red. These changes have been occurring in previous photos, but what they did uncover that was different is a “filament” or streamer stretching for most of the width of the Spot, which rotates and is blown about by the high winds.

Additionally, when looking at the North Equatorial Belt, the team found a wave that had only previously been spotted long ago by Voyager 2. This image confirms the rare wave’s existence. It is found in a region noted for cyclones and anti-cyclones, and appears to be similar to baroclinic waves which are found in the Earth’s atmosphere prior to cyclones forming.

The reasons for its elusive behavior may be due to the wave beginning in the layers beneath the visible clouds and only becoming visible when surfacing to the cloud layer.

The annual photos contain a wealth of other information the scientists are still exploring. The yearly photos are invaluable and will continue as they provide a way to show how the planet changes over time and provide clues as to what they might mean about the weather, geology, chemistry and more of this giant planet.

Be sure to visit NASA’s Press Release about images to get more in-depth information and incredible video and photography.

For more story on The Red Spot, check out this in-depth look from HOW THE UNIVERSE WORKS:

 

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