Month: February, 2018

Just How Dangerous Are Winter Olympic Sports?

Pyeongchang has witnessed its fair share of thrills and spills, but which events result in the most injuries?

Dramatic crashes, spectacular spills and high-profile injuries – if anything, a week and a half of action in Pyeongchang has proved Winter Olympics events carry with them a fairly high degree of risk.

Australian snowboarder Jessica Rich competed at the Games just a month after tearing her ACL, and revealed she had previously broken her back, and twice broken her collarbone.

Her team-mate, Cam Bolton competed in the snowboard cross with a suspected broken wrist, while Jarryd Hughes, who won silver, has had five knee operations over the course of his career.

British speed skater Elise Christie was injured in a dramatic crash in the 1500m, and snowboarder Katie Ormerod broke her heel during training.

Australian snowboarder Tess Coady also sustained an injury during training, blaming strong winds. There have been numerous other examples.

So, just how dangerous are the various Winter Olympic sports?

We don’t yet have the final injury statistics from Pyeongchang, but journal articles detailing injury records are available from the 2010 Games in Vancouver, and 2014 in Sochi.

The relatively new events of slopestyle snowboarding and skiing are both in the top five, with snowboarding having a particularly high rate of injuries at 37 per 100 athletes.

The aerials skiing event also results in a high rate of injury, particularly during the Sochi Games, where the injury rate was 48.8 per 100 athletes, a staggeringly high figure.

The reports also looked at how severe injuries were by measuring the rate of injuries resulting in recovery times greater than a week.

The moguls, slopestyle (snowboard) and cross (both ski and snowboard) all had higher rates of more severe injuries at Sochi, with all these events having a severe injury rate of 14 or higher.

Overuse injuries were also quite common in bobsledding and cross-country skiing, while contact with the ground was the most common cause of injury for slopestyle, halfpipe and cross events.

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Thermal Transfer ‘Melt Mat’ Clears Snow From Paths And Driveways

Known as the Melt Mat, it consists of a thin sheet of aluminium spray-coated with an ultra-flat black paint.

When draped over a snowbank, the Melt Mat absorbs energy from the sun’s rays at an accelerated rate, transferring the heat directly onto the highly-reflective snow.

According to the study, which is published in the journal Langmuir, snowbanks can melt three times faster when a thermally absorptive blanket is placed on top.

Generally, snow reflects about three-quarters of the sun’s radiation back into the air, so it’s actually really hard for the sun to melt a snowbank,” said Jonathan Boreyko, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics and the team’s faculty advisor.

Even if temperatures are above freezing and the sun is out, the snow’s surface just bounces most of the heat right off. That’s the fundamental problem we’re trying to address here.

Some cities in the US spend up to $125m each year clearing snow from roads and public spaces, using a combination of vehicles and gas-powered heaters.

In 2016, Boreyko pitched the idea for a thermal absorptive blanket, something that would not only absorb the sun’s heat but could also conduct that heat across the blanket’s surface to accelerate melting times.

The students then spent a year designing and experimenting with different materials, finally settling on the Melt Mat’s configuration.

Having obtained a provisional patent, the Virginia Tech team now hopes to licence the technology to an established company and work towards a full patent.

The idea for a thermal absorptive blanket is novel, but also very practical,” said Boreyko.

For novelty’s sake, the team really needed to go for a journal publication. For practicality’s sake, we went for a patent. They ended up getting both.

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What Is Private Browsing And Why Should You Use it?

Since 2008, January 28th has been set aside for Data Privacy Day. The goal: “to create awareness about the importance of privacy and protecting personal information.

It’s the perfect time to take a look at one privacy feature that’s right in front of you: your web browser’s private browsing mode. Just what is it that makes private browsing private? Let’s take a look at the major browsers and see.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome calls it Incognito Mode, and you can tell you’re using it by looking for the “secret agent” icon in the top left corner of the window.

Chrome also shows you a big, bold new tab page when you open an Incognito window. That’s it at the top of this post.

In Incognito Mode, Chrome won’t keep track of the pages you visit, the data you enter into forms, or any searches you submit.

It won’t remember what files you download, but those files will stay on your computer after you close the Incognito window. You’ll have to manually delete them if you want them gone. The same goes for bookmarks you create.

Internet Explorer and Edge

Internet Explorer and Edge feature InPrivate browsing. The same caveats apply: temporary internet files like cookies, browsing history, form data) are not saved.

Downloaded files and bookmarks stick around even after you close the InPrivate window.

Microsoft’s browsers also disable any third-party toolbars you might have installed when you start an InPrivate session.


Mozilla welcomes you to Firefox’s Private Browsing mode with a nice, clear explanation of what it does and doesn’t do.

The list pretty much lines up with Chrome, IE, and Edge: browsing/search history and cookies are not saved, downloads and bookmarks are.

Mozilla also gives you an additional setting that can make Private Browsing a little more private:tracking protection. Turn it on and Firefox will attempt to prevent sites from gathering data about your browsing habits.


Safari’s private browsing mode also removes temporary files when you close the window. Browsing history, form data, and cookies are all wiped by default.


Opera is noteworthy because its private browsing mode offers one truly unique feature. You can turn on a VPN connection to add another layer of secrecy to your browsing activities.

It’s not a bulletproof VPN solution and it still doesn’t keep your activities totally private, but it does provide additional protection.

It may also technically be considered a proxy and not a true VPN, but that’s a discussion you can leave to the more technically-inclined folks.

Beyond the VPN, Opera’s private browsing mode works like Chrome’s.

How Private Is It?

The short answer is not very, regardless of which browser you use. On the computer, tablet, or phone you’re using, yes, your temporary browsing data is removed.

It’s still very possible to see what you’ve been doing. Routers, firewalls, and proxy servers could be keeping tabs on your browsing activities, and private browsing mode won’t get in the way of that.

If you’re thinking private browsing will keep your activities hush-hush at the office, for example, you’re probably wrong.

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Star Trek Tech: From Science Fiction To Science Fact

Whether you’re a fan of the original series, an admirer of Jean-Luc Picard or a sucker for the incredible action sequences in the latest J J Abrams reboot films, we can all agree that Star Trek is amazing!

It has inspired generations of children and adults to learn more about science and astrophysics. But, have you ever wondered about some of the science in the show?

How does the Enterprise travel at warp speed? What exactly is a photon torpedo? Well, wonder no longer, because we’re going to take a look at some of the science behind Star Trek!

These are the famous words that describe the mission of the Star Trek Enterprise. Strange worlds, new life, new civilisations; this is exactly what you want from a Sci-Fi TV show!

But, there have been over 700 episodes of Star Trek, so surely they must be running out of planets to visit?

Well, the latest research from NASA, using the Kepler satellite which looks for planets around other stars in our galaxy, suggests that 50% of stars in our galaxy have at least one Earth sized planet or bigger.

There are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, which means there are at least 50 billion (that’s 50,000,000,000) planets in our galaxy!

As there are an estimated 100 billion galaxies in the Universe, that means there could be 5,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s called 5 sextillion!) planets in the Universe!

Mr. Spock certainly has enough planets left in our Universe to beam down to.

But, how many of these have life on them? Well, this is much trickier question to answer. The only life that we know of in the Universe is down here on Earth.

Space missions are planned to see whether life exists elsewhere in our own solar system, perhaps on Mars or on Saturn’s moon Titan, but there is no evidence so far that life exists anywhere other than on our own planet.

We’ll let you judge for yourselves what the chances are that one of those 5 sextillion planets has life on it.

“She cannae take it Captain!”

This is the response by Scotty, the ship’s engineer, when asked to take the ship to a higher warp speed. But, what is warp speed? Well, light travels at a certain speed (around 300 million metres per second), which we call the speed of light (clever naming!).

Scientists in the real Universe believe that this is the fastest speed that anything can travel; however, in the Star Trek universe, they have developed engines that can make ships travel faster than the speed of light, which they call warp speed.

A ship travelling at warp speed two is travelling on average 8 times faster than the speed of light, for example.

“Fire Photon Torpedoes!”

When you’re fighting off evil aliens, you need some powerful weapons, and no weapon is more famous in the Star Trek universe than the photon torpedoes.

These torpedoes use small amounts of anti-matter and matter to create devastating explosions; but could we make these deadly weapons in real life?

Well, matter is any kind of material made of atoms – that’s trees, the air, water, metal and pretty much everything in the Universe.

Anti-matter is the opposite of it, a strange material which is made up of the opposite versions of the particles that make up atoms.

Most of the Universe is made up by normal matter and not anti-matter, which is good, as when matter and anti-matter meet the violently explode!

Live long and prosper

So, in conclusion, the science in the Star Trek Universe is pretty good; there are billions and billions of planets out there, many of which are suitable for carrying life.

We can make anti-matter down here on Earth already, so photon torpedoes might not be too far away.

And we might not be able to travel faster than the speed of light, but who want’s to watch a TV show about a thousand year journey to Alpha Centauri!

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Cleaning Products And Perfumes Are Major Sources Of Air Pollution, According To Scientists

Chemicals in household cleaning products, paints and perfumes could now rival motor vehicles as the top contributor to urban air pollution, a study has said.

Scientists in Los Angeles found that the amount of chemical vapours emitted into the atmosphere from these everyday items is roughly the same as from the transportation sector.

These vapours – known as volatile organic compounds (VOC) – react with sunlight to form ozone pollution and also react with other chemicals to form tiny particles in the air which can lead to lung damage.

The team of researchers concluded that as stricter policies on vehicles work to reduce traffic emissions, the impact of chemical products will become more significant.

As the transportation sector gets cleaner, these other sources of VOCs become more and more important,” said scientist Brian McDonald, the lead author of the study.

A lot of stuff we use in our everyday lives can impact air pollution.

Despite the fact people still use a lot more fuel than petroleum-based compounds in chemical products, there are some fundamental differences which can increase the impact of these household items, the researchers said.

Gasoline is stored in closed, hopefully airtight, containers and the VOCs in gasoline are burned for energy,” said Jessica Gilman, a co-author of the report.

You wear perfume or use scented products so that you or your neighbour can enjoy the aroma. You don’t do this with gasoline.”

They also found people become exposed to higher concentrations of VOCs while indoors compared to outdoors.

The findings from the study, which was led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have been published in the journal Science.

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The Evolution of the SpaceX Falcon 9

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SpaceX is on a roll lately with the launch of their Falcon Heavy rocket, but the real workhorse of the SpaceX lineup is the Falcon 9. So let’s look at the development of the Falcon 9 and how it got this way.

SpaceX is the most successful private rocket launch company in the world, and it’s due in large part to the Falcon 9 rocket.

And the journey to the Falcon 9 began with the Falcon 1 in 2006. The first three launches of the Falcon 1 failed, and with only one more shot before the company went bankrupt, they finally got into orbit on the 4th launch.

Plans for a larger Falcon 1e were scrapped, as well as a Falcon 5, so that they could move forward with the Falcon 9 v1.0.

With this first version of the Falcon 9, SpaceX was able to win a contract to service the ISS through NASA’s COTS program by proving that the Dragon capsule was capable of carrying out resupply missions.

SpaceX then focused on reusability and developed the Falcon 9 v1.1, which they used to test landings over open water, at the same time testing vertical take off and landing with their grasshopper vehicle.

But it was the next version, the Falcon 9 Full Thrust, that was the first to land, first on a landing pad at Cape Canaveral, and then on a drone ship.

Incremental improvements lead to the Falcon 9 Block 4 and Block 5 that will launch for the first time this April.

Earlier this year, SpaceX launched the Falcon Heavy, which is 90% reusable, making spaceflight even more sustainable, but the ultimate reusable rocket is the upcoming BFR, which is completely reusable.

This is the ultimate implementation of the SpaceX vision.

Five Reasons We Know The Earth Isn’t Flat

The curvature of the Earth is visible in this 2014 photo, which ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti snapped from the International Space Station.

Most of the human population is pretty sure the Earth is round.

Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t have to take to Twitter to confirm it, because every kind of investigation that we can do shows that the blue marble we live on is indeed marble-shaped.

Here are 5 ways we know the Earth is round, and some you can prove yourself!

1. You Don’t Weigh Less at the Horizon

While flat-earthers will contend that there is no such thing as gravity, this force unites the entire universe. It’s everything from what makes the numbers jump on a bathroom scale to the reason why planets and stars form.

It uniformly pulls everyone on the surface of Earth toward our planet’s center of mass. That’s why you’ll weigh the same in Los Angeles as you will in Jakarta.

If the Earth was flat, gravity would no longer pull everyone the same way.

If the flat Earth would be something like a disk, those at the edge of the disk would be pulled relatively sideways, while those at the center of the plate would be pulled straight down.

The difference would change your weight enough to confuse a bathroom scale. Considering that humans have been to every landmass on Earth without celebrating sudden lightness, we can rule out a flat planet.

2. You Don’t Fall Off The Planet

Where is the edge of the world according to flat-earthers? The answer changes, but it usually involves some impenetrable barrier at said edge that prevents people from going past or falling off.

Global conspiracies apparently prevent people from investigating these boundaries.

Where is the edge of the world according to flat-earthers? The answer changes, but it usually involves some impenetrable barrier at said edge that prevents people from going past or falling off.

Global conspiracies apparently prevent people from investigating these boundaries.

3. You Don’t Always See the Same Constellations

Hit up a friend in Australia and ask them what constellations they can see at night. Now tell them which ones pepper your patch of darkness.

They won’t be the same. Because the Earth is a shape other than a flat disk, when looking into the night sky the Earth itself can block your view.

If the flat Earth theory were true, everyone should be able to see the same constellations all the time, as if we all were staring up from the same section of summer grass.

4. We’ve Seen Earth From Space, From Multiple Angles

This is “Earthrise,” arguably the most famous photo ever taken. It was beamed back to us by the astronauts on the Apollo 8 mission on Christmas Eve, 1968.

It shows the Earth as a perfect (from that vantage point at least) azure orb speckled with land and clouds, and us.

It’s true that the Earth could be a disk in this photo, and the astronauts were seeing it face-on, making it appear spherical.

5. Timezones Exist

To make the seasons work with a flat Earth, advocates claim that the Sun orbits in a circle above our disk, like a tetherball on an invisible string.

But timezones exist. Try calling someone in China right now and convincing them that you are experiencing the same time of day (and then apologize).

A flat Earth can’t account for how some parts of the planet are provably in darkness while other parts are bathed in light.

the Earth is not flat. From what we know of the universe, it can’t be. A conspiracy could never be big enough to deny us our planet’s true shape.

We live on a pale blue dot, believe it or not. A dot from every angle makes a sphere, who you been listening to, this is what you should hear.

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Three Awesome Geeky Kitchen Gadgets For All The Geeky Persons Out There

Darth Vader Lightsaber Spatula

In times of peace, your favorite Star Wars fan can use this Lightsaber Spatula for cooking things up on the dark side. But remember to wield this deadly weapon with care. It’s been known to remove a hand (or two)!

Whether you are making some chocolate cookies for your little Wookies or some dark, sticky cinnamon buns for your warrior princess, this metal spatula is the perfect tool.

The handle is designed after Darth Vader’s personal lightsaber and the spatula features a laser-cut Star Wars logo. Basically it’s flippin’ perfect.



Medieval Cheese Board

Play the role of executioner at your next wine and cheese feast by slicing up your fromage on this medieval cheese board.

The rubberwood board is shaped like a medieval shield and comes with 3 miniature stainless steel weapons ideal for slicing.

Super Mario Boo Mug

Do you roll out of bed looking like someone scared you? Does your morning cup of coffee make you as virtually indestructible as the Boos from Super Mario Bros.?

Does that shot of caffeine turn you from a shy, bashful guy to someone ready to face the day with enthusiasm?

Pour your magic morning medicine (all 22 ounces of it) into this huge Super Mario Boo Mug and get ready to face your day. This three-dimensional mug is just taunting you, waving its short little arms and sticking its tongue out.

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China Announces Plan For Hypersonic Jet That Can Reach New York From Beijing In Two Hours

A team of Chinese researchers has claimed to have designed a hypersonic jet that could travel at 6,000km/h, five times faster than the speed of sound.

The team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences said the plane would be able to transport passengers and cargo from Beijing to New York in two hours – the journey currently takes an average of 13 and a half hours.

Cui Kai, who headed up the research, published a paper on the new design in this month’s Physics, Mechanics and Astronomy journal, in which he said: “It will take only a couple of hours to travel from Beijing to New York at hypersonic speed”.

The team said they had tested a scaled-down model of the jet in a wind tunnel, and that it reached speeds of 8,600km/h with low drag and high lift. To compare, Concorde’s top speed was 2,179km/h.

The design, dubbed the I Plane, features two layers of wings to reduce turbulence and drag while creating more lift.

Talk of hypersonic travel has been ramping up of late. “It’s certainly within the realm of possibility,” Dr Kevin Bowcutt, senior technical fellow and chief scientist of hypersonics for Boeing Research and Technology, told NBC last month.

I think we have the technology now where we could actually do it.

Boeing has dipped its toe in the water with its X-51A WaveRider, and it is now reportedly working with Lockheed Martin to develop a jet-powered hypersonic aircraft – although both are keeping schtum about the design.

Supersonic commercial planes – those that travel faster than 1,236km/h, the speed of sound – are likely to be the precursor to hypersonic jets.

Boom Supersonic, for example, plans to produce passenger aircraft that can travel at MACH 2.2, or 2,335km/h, that will enter service in 2023.

These jets could carry 50 passengers, flying from New York to London in three hours and 15 minutes. But it won’t come cheap; fares are expected to cost $2,500 one way.

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After Hard Landing, Falcon 9 First Stage Back At Port Canaveral

For the third time, a Falcon 9 first stage returned to Port Canaveral via a drone ship after launching toward the heavens from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) five days prior.

The booster landed at sea some 400 miles (644 kilometers) downrange less than 10 minutes after liftoff.

At about 11:30 a.m. EDT (15:30 GMT) on June 2, the Automated Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), also known as the Of Course I Still Love You, officially crossed into the port’s channel as it was towed toward the West Turning Basin.

The drone ship and booster, on their journey home, were accompanied by three ships called Go Quest, Go Searcher, and Elsbeth III. The latter is the tugboat that regularly pulls the platform to and from the landing area.

It was pushed to the dock at 12:30 p.m. EDT (14:30 GMT), about an hour after entering the channel. What took less than 10 minutes by rocket, took over five days by drone ship.

It technically arrived just on the other side of the horizon, from the perspective of Cape Canaveral, on May 31.

However, for as-of-yet undisclosed reasons, the ASDS and accompanying ships loitered for over 24 hours before making the final leg of the trip.

This Falcon 9 first stage was used to launch Thaicom 8 at 5:39 p.m. EDT on May 27 (21:39 GMT). After pushing the second stage and payload at speeds reaching over 5,000 mph (8,000 km/h), the first and second stages separated.

As the second stage finished the job of placing Thaicom 8 into a parking orbit, the first stage rotated nearly 180 degrees to point its nine engines in the boosters direction of travel.

The next mission for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled for June 16. It will launch the Eutelsat 117W B and ABS-2A satellites. This will be the second dual-GTO satellite launch that the company has carried out.

Both spacecraft were constructed by The Boeing Company and will employ solar electric propulsion to circularize their orbits.

Additionally, the next launch with a subsequent landing at Landing Zone-1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will be during the CRS-9 mission to resupply the International Space Station.

That launch will also see a Dragon sent to the station with an International Docking Adapter in its trunk in advance of next year’s commercial crew activities.

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