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A few years ago a pair of scientists theorized that there was another planet in our solar system orbiting far beyond the orbit of Pluto. The scientists that offered the theory are John Matese and Daniel Whitmire from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Both men are physics professors.
Their theory grabbed a lot of attention when it was first published back in 2011. The scientists hoped that when NASA finished combing through the data from its WISE, Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, survey that their theory might be proven correct.
NASA is finished with that survey and has announced that it found no proof of Planet X, also known as Tyche. The scientists had theorized that Planet X is a gas giant four times larger than Jupiter and would be found in the Oort cloud.
NASA is always-on the lookout for asteroids that are coming close to the Earth to ensure that we have some warning of one if them is going to hit the planet and to study ones that pass nearby for science. Today an asteroid that is about 90-feet in diameter is going to streak by the planet between the Earth and moon's orbit.
That sounds close if you don't keep in mind the vast distances in space. The asteroid, called 2014 DX110, will be about 217,000 miles from the Earth at its closest point. It is actually very far away from the planet, even though on a cosmic scale this is a close call.
The asteroid will pass the earth at 33,000 mph. At 217,000 miles away from the Earth, it is about 9/10ths of the distance to the moon from the Earth. The asteroid will be at that distance from the planet for about seven hours.
Giant single celled organisms that thawed out from arctic ice and took over mankind use to be a thing only heard of in low-budget, b-grade movies from the 60's and 70's, but the reality is that large viruses frozen in permafrost is a very real reality. Recently, scientist thawed out a block of 30,000-year old permafrost and allowed any viruses that survived to infect the cells of amoebas.
The amoebas used in the study were also a strain found in 30,000 year old permafrost that were reanimated by researchers. When combined with the viruses, the amoeba cells burst, or what is called cellular lysis. When inspected, the burst cells contained a virus that was one of the largest ever discovered and is very similar to a previously discovered ancient virus named Pandoravirus. Due to the similarities and its jug like shape, the new virus was named Pithovirus after a type of amphora used by Pandora.
The Pithovirus contains a genome of just 600,000 DNA bases which is small in terms of modern-day viruses. Extra space inside the virus is consumed by proteins that are needed for the virus to begin replication. Additionally the Pithovirus is only able to encode 467 proteins which is much less than any other giant virus ever discovered.
The use of social media with real-time capability could one day be used to track drug and medical issues, hopefully able to prevent medical outbreaks. Using Twitter analytics and linking the collected information with drug use and geographic data, for example, could allow big data to provide another good tool for medical researchers.
"Ultimately, these methods suggest that we can use 'big data' from social media for remote monitoring and surveillance of HIV risk behaviors and potential outbreaks," said Sean Young, David Geffen School of Medicine assistant professor, in a statement.
There is growing interest among university researchers and the private sector teaming up to monitor medical risk behavior - and to try and predict where a medical outbreak might occur next - though it's still a complicated matter. Of 550 million tweets collected from May 26 to Dec. 9, 2012, researchers found 8,538 tweets related to sexually risky behavior - and more than 1,300 implying stimulant drug use.
Research into remote mind-control took another step forward this week when scientist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute managed to use a laser beam to convince a fly to mate with a ball of wax. The experiment, dubbed Fly Mind-Alternating Device (FlyMAD for short), utilizes a laser beam which is projected onto the fly's head and stimulates the fly's brain which has been altered with heat-activated proteins.
By using FluMAD to warm the fly's brain, researchers were able to cause the fly to instantly court the closest object nearby and then proceed to mate with it. The study says that the effects of the laser were so effective that it took an entire quarter of an hour for the fly to calm back down and return to normal. A similar study took place with mice and used normal white light to stimulate neurons in the rodent's brains, but the white light was ineffective on flys as it is unable to penetrate the insects exoskeleton.
Despite what you may think (I'm Looking at you Anthony), this research is not being conducted to bring forth mind control, but rather is being used to help researchers determine what happens when two neurons of opposing effects are activated simultaneously. This will help researchers map how the brain prioritizes neuron traffic, as well as finally understand how decision making parts of the brain function in different people, animals, and insects.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently creating new guidelines so unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are able to commercially fly in U.S. airspace.
Unlike many other countries, the U.S. has very crowded airspace, and the potential for safety issues in commercial drone crashes, will need to be properly addressed.
"Aerial robotics will be a significant market, assuming the FAA doesn't put huge restrictions on it," said Michael Blades, Frost & Sullivan analyst, when interviewed by the San Jose Mercury News.
Drones are still typically thought of in a traditional sense: something used to shoot GPS and laser-guided missiles at targets, but civilian companies express great interest in using drones for day-to-day tasks.
During a recent speech, US President Barack Obama announced that the US government is "building Iron Man". You can watch the announcement below, which feels very similar to the ending of the original Iron Man, where Tony Stark announces "I am Iron Man".
President Obama had a moment of fun with the speech, teasing that even if the US government was working on a super-suit, that it would be classified. He does well with his comedic timing during the speech, where he he corrects himself after stating that the US government is working on an Iron Man-like suit by saying "Not really. Maybe. It's classified".
A recent study from Michael Ranson, a Senior Associate with Abt Associates, has quite the claim about global warming. His study claims that global warming will lead to more violent crimes, including rape and murder.
Ranson claims that climate change will lead to an additional "1.2 million aggravated, 2.3 million simple assaults, 260,000 robberies, 1.3 million burglaries, 2.2 million cases of larceny and 580,000 cases of vehicle theft in the United States". The study is called "Crime, Weather and Climate Change", and you can take a look at it here.
Ranson states that the analysis he provided is from a "30-year panel of monthly crime and weather data for 2997 US counties. I identify the effect of weather on monthly crime by using a semi-parametric bin estimator and controlling for state-by-month and county-by-year fixed effects".
Science Fiction has long imagined a world where robot sentries patrol the streets, office buildings, and college campuses, and today those fictions became reality. A company called Knightscope has unveiled a new 5-foot tall robot dubbed K5 that is loaded with sensors, cameras, and connectivity to make it the best security robot ever to roam the hallways of silicon valley.
The K5 was launched today in San Francisco, and has the ability to see, feel, hear and smell, and can issue warnings of biochemical attacks, leaks, or even notify officials of high levels of radiation. The robot uses complex algorithms to scan images it captures with its cameras to detect human threats such as a gun wielding criminal, at which point it automatically notifies authorities. K5 is also capable of scanning license plates on-the-fly to verify cars parked in parking lots belong to employees or authorized visitors.
A research team from Hungary is working on a project to see if 10 drones can fly autonomously with the ability to self-organize in-flight.
If there is an issue for flying space, some drones will hover and wait until they are able to continue on their route, according to researchers. Most current drone technology is focused on allowing someone in a remote location to fly the drones, though there is growing interest in autonomous drone technology.
"Drones are most commonly associated with war, terrorism, and cyberattacks, but drones can be used in more peaceful civil applications as well," said Gabor Vasarhelyi, leader of the robotics research phase. "With a flock of drones, you can create a self-organized monitoring system from the air, or you can even deliver food or mail."
Researchers plan to demonstrate the technology during the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems later this year. There has been a significant amount of research, with a few different attempts to create 3D flying drone flocks, and collective motion could make these drones plausible.