Month: June, 2017

Scientists Are Using This Technique To Catch A Whiskey Counterfeiter

Some connoisseurs have no qualms dropping hundreds (if not thousands) on a bottle of good whiskey (or whisky).

But expensive bottles are not always full of expensive liquor. The spirits inside may not have spent the right time in the right barrel in the right place to earn their labeled age or composition, or the name bourbon or Scotch.

Counterfeit whiskies may not fool experts, but most drinkers wouldn’t be able to taste the problem. Fortunately, researchers from Germany and the Netherlands have come up with a new way to weed out these weaselly whiskies.

The technique, published this week in the journal Chem, relies on fluorescent polymer dyes that react to different compounds in whiskies.

The polymers glow when exposed to fluorescent light, and the intensity depends on factors such as whether the Scotch is double or single malt, or whether the whiskey was distilled in Ireland or the United States.


“Each single polymer’s response to the whisky would not be very useful, but if you combine them, they form a really unique pattern,” said Uwe Bunz, a coauthor of the report, in a press release.

The team tested the method on 33 Irish, Scottish, and American whiskies, and each sample produced a distinctive combination of glowing polymers—a unique chemical fingerprint.

The technique can’t be used to identify an unknown spirit, but it can compare a sample to a known brand—perfect for catching counterfeiters.

The technique might someday be applied to other beverages or even in other scientific fields, but for now, it’s a helpful way to make sure a bottle of brown liquor is worth an outrageous price tag.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Oldest Fossils Of Homo Sapiens Found in Morocco


Fossils discovered in Morocco are the oldest known remains of Homo sapiens, scientists reported, a finding that rewrites the story of mankind’s origins and suggests that our species evolved in multiple locations across the African continent.

Until now, the oldest known fossils of our species dated back just 195,000 years. The Moroccan fossils, by contrast, are roughly 300,000 years old.

Remarkably, they indicate that early Homo sapiens had faces much like our own, although their brains differed in fundamental ways.

Today, the closest living relatives to Homo sapiens are chimpanzees and bonobos, with whom we share a common ancestor that lived over six million years ago.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Gecko-Inspired Robot Has Grippers That Help Could Clean Up Space Debris


In space, grabbing onto things is hard. A new robot that uses grippers inspired by gecko feet could solve that problem, helping clear up the mess of debris that orbits Earth.

The toaster-sized device can grip, hold onto and move around even large, smooth surfaces in microgravity, on both flat and curved objects.

To do this, it uses a “dry adhesive” material created by Hao Jiang at Stanford University in California and his colleagues.

In an environment where an accidental nudge can send something flying and space debris can be travelling faster than the speed of sound, agility is key.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Have You Ever Wonder How Does A Mosquito Fly?

Mosquitoes are strange fliers. Compared with other insects, birds, and bats, their shorter wing strokes and oddly long—and skinny—wings have made scientists wonder how they can get off the ground at all.

Now, a new study shows how these animals get their lift: with help from a clever rotation of their wings.

Most animals generate lift, the force that keeps them aloft, during the downstroke of each wing beat.

This creates a vortex of swirling air over the wing’s leading edge, which lowers the pressure above the wing and pushes the animal up.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

The First Living Giant Ship Worm Found In The Philippines

ship worm

Mud-dwelling organism that lives head down in a tusk-like tube found alive for first time, although its existence had been known of for centuries.

About three feet long and glistening black with a pink, fleshy appendage, it looks like the entrails of an alien from a bad horror film. In fact, it is a giant ship worm.

Discovered in the mud of a shallow lagoon in the Philippines, a living creature of the species has never been described before.

Even though its existence has been known for more than 200 years thanks to fossils of the baseball bat-sized tubes that encase the creature.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

This Is The Newest And Fastest Way To Press Vinyl

The first new record-pressing machines built in over 30 years are finally online.

The brainchild of some Canadian R&D guys with a background designing fancy MRI machines. The Warm Tone record press is everything that its vintage counterpart is not: safe, fast, fully automated, reliable, run by cloud-based software, and iOS-controlled.

Unlike the old stamping behemoths, a single worker can operate several Warm Tone units at once.

Its unrivaled speed and efficiency leaves the standard cycle time benchmarks in the dust, too: 20 seconds versus 35 seconds, which translates to three records per minute instead of only two.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Flying The World’s Most Affordable Single-Engine Private Jet

Cirrus Aircraft

Cirrus Aircraft, based in Duluth, Minn., is marketing the new Vision SF50 as the most affordable personal jet on the market.

The Vision Jet is the kind of plane that could have a big impact on the aviation market. Bringing a jet much closer to the affordability range of many pilots who now opt for turboprop or piston planes.

With seating for five adults and two kids, the Vision Jet is on the small side as far as private jets go, but  still has impressive capability. It has a top speed of 345 miles per hour.

Maximum range is 1,380 miles, putting city pairs like Denver to Atlanta within nonstop reach.

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Pass it on: Popular Science


This New Frog Species Is So Transparent You Can See Its Internal Organs


Scientists have recently discovered an incredible new species of Glass frog that has, quite literally, has nothing to hide.

Can be found in the Amazonian lowlands of Ecuador. The newly-found Glass Frogs were discovered by ecologist and biologist Juan M. Guayasimin and his team.

“I work with frogs every day and this is one of the most beautiful species I have ever seen,” says Juan Guayasamin, of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, in Ecuador.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Australia’s Freaky Deep Sea Creatures

spiny crab

An international group of scientists have used new technology to plumb the dark depths of Australia’s eastern abyss for the first time, revealing an exciting array of rare sea life but also rubbish a kilometer under water.

Forty scientists, representing 14 organizations and seven different countries, have come together on the RV Investigator to explore Australia’s eastern waters.

Dr. Tim O’Hara, from Museums Victoria, is the chief scientist of the project and he said it had been a fishing expedition like no other.

“It’s really exciting, it’s completely new and it’s never been done before in Australian waters,” he said.

The scientists have now completed their mission and along the way they have scooped up an exciting array of sea life and surveyed a world that had rarely been glimpsed.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Monster Hail Storm Could Be On The Rise If Global Warming Continues

There is much uncertainty about the effects of anthropogenic climate change on the frequency and severity of extreme weather events like hailstorms, and subsequent economic losses, while this is also relevant information for the design of climate policy.

Few studies conducted indicate that a strong positive relation exists between hailstorm activity and hailstorm damage, as predicted by minimum temperatures using simple correlations.

This relation suggests that hailstorm damage may increase in the future if global warming leads to further temperature increase.

This study estimates a range of Tobit models of relations between normalized insured hailstorm damage to agriculture and several temperature and precipitation indicators for the Netherlands. Temporal dynamics are explicitly modeled.

A distinction is made between damage costs for greenhouse horticulture and outdoor farming, which appear to be differently affected by variability in weather. ‘Out of sample’ forecast tests show that a combination of maximum temperatures and precipitation predicts hailstorm damage best.

hail storm

Extrapolations of the historical relations between hailstorm damage and weather indicators under climate change scenarios project a considerable increase in future hailstorm damage.

Our estimates show that by 2050 annual hailstorm damage to outdoor farming could increase by between 25% and 50%, with considerably larger impacts on greenhouse horticulture in summer of more than 200%.

The economic implications of more hailstorm damage for, and adaptation by, the agricultural and insurance sectors are discussed.

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Pass it on: New Scientist