News, Science

Oldest stone tools found in Africa: these were likely used by pre-Homo ancestors

Typical oldowan stone tool. Image: Wikimedia Commons

While searching for the remains of an ancient human ancestor, archaeologists came across a lot more than their bargained for: the oldest stone tools ever found so far. The archaic stones they found were clearly deliberately manipulated by hominid hands, and not the result of some natural formation. According to paleomagnetic dating techniques, the artifacts are about 3.3 million years old, or 700,000 years older than previous artifacts.

Environment

Brinicles under Antarctica: the underwater icicles with a touch that spells death

vn2R1e

This incredible time-lapse footage was captured by a daring oceanographer for the BBC a while ago, showing for the very first time how a brinicle forms. It’s essentially a salt water icicle that gets bigger and bigger as it hits the sea floor, and when it does its icy touch puts life to a halt instantly, like the poor sea urchins and starfish.

Biology, News

Brontosaurus is back! New research puts the genus back into the spotlight

brontosaurus

Just like Pluto, the iconic dinosaur genus was demoted decades ago and classified under another sauropod genus. But a more sophisticated taxonomy recently published by researchers in the UK and Portugal warrants a revisit of the shelved, but never forgotten Brontosaurus.

Biology, News, Space

Ants surprisingly agile even in microgravity, ISS experiment shows

ant colony

Eight colonies of common ants were shipped to the International Space Station last December to study how microgravity might affect the creatures. So, how did the ants fare? Well, surprisingly good actually. The dexterous ants clung to the surface of the station and migrated freely (under supervision of course) despite weightlessness. Of course, their movements weren’t as coordinated as on Earth and since they rely on a sort of hive mind to coordinate the colony, researchers believe studying their mishaps in microgravity might aid in building better robots.

Environment, News, Pollution

How glowing tampons help detect sewer leaks in your freshwater drain

glow in the dark tampon

Ironically enough, one male researcher from England used tampons to detect grey water contamination, or laundry system run off, that might be present in waterways. The tampons absorbed key signature chemicals that glow in the dark, making them easy to use and cheap. Moreover, it’s more reliable than consecrated and expensive methods.

News, Renewable Energy

The two-in-one solar cell might harness energy cheaply and efficiently

Test sample of a monolithic perovskite-silicon multijunction solar cell produced by the MIT-Stanford University team. Image: Felice Frankel

A team at Stanford and MIT has devised a novel configuration that combines silicon – the leading solar cell semiconductor – and perovskite – a cheap mineral, only recently exploited for converting solar energy – to form two different layers of sunlight-absorbing material in order to harness energy across a wider spectrum. While performance at this stage is not impressive (it’s equally as good or bad as conventional single-layer silicon cells), researchers believe they have methods at their disposal that could double efficiency. If that were to happen, than these could be the cheap, but efficient solar cells we’ve all been waiting for.

Art, Great Pics, Videos

This camera shaped like a gun shoots 8 bit photos of your Nintendo self

8bit camera

Time to get a bit geeky with Dmitriy Morozov latest contraption: an 8 bit camera that prints photos on a receipt. How’s that for recycling tech? As you can notice, the display is handled by none another than the Game Boy, while the hardware is controlled via the ever trusty Arduino. Morozov is a Moscow-based artist whose ‘thing’ is mixing art with diy electronics.

News, Technology

3D printing to the next level: Terminator style

carbon3d

A new company called Carbon3D, founded by a team of physicists and chemists, were inspired by the iconic Terminator villein, the self-morphing T-1000, to build a machine that 3D prints objects from a puddle of raisin. Unlike conventional 3D printers which add material layer by layer, the latest innovation works fundamentally different. The models it prints are extremely sophisticated and detailed, making it a valuable tool for consumer products, not just prototyping as is the norm today.

News, Technology

Anti-robot protest rallied at SXSW is just a marketing stunt – the message isn’t

stop robots SXSW

About two dozen University of Texas students gathered on Saturday at the entrance to the SXSW tech and entertainment festival to voice their concerns about the risks artificial intelligence might pose to humanity. Though largely ignored by hipster pedestrians nearby, the protest does raise some legitimate concerns even though technology is still far off from any Skynet scenario. Thankfully, we might never cross this SciFi threshold.

Physics, Videos

Einstein’s most famous equation – explained [VIDEO]

einstein

This year we celebrate a century since Albert Einstein’s posited his most famous equation: E=mc2. But what does it mean? How does it affect me? These are all highly pertinent questions, and luckily Symmetry Magazine put together an amazing video that puts all this to rest, and while fitting anti-potatoes and the Higgs boson in the same picture. Wait till you see it.