Science Blast! Tree-Cats Once Lived!

Or, at least, a cat-like creature once lived in the trees:

An artist’s reconstruction of Anatoliadelphys maasae. Image credit: Peter Schouten.An artist’s reconstruction of Anatoliadelphys maasae.
Image credit: Peter Schouten.

Cat-Sized Marsupial Relative Lived in Turkey 43 Million Years Ago

Named Anatoliadelphys maasae, the new species is an unusual, cat-sized carnivorous metatherian (marsupials and their relatives).

It lived in what is now Turkey during the middle Eocene epoch, about 43 million years ago.

With an estimated body mass of 3-4 kg, about the size of a domestic cat, the prehistoric animal is one of the largest metatherians known from the northern hemisphere, together with two North American species: the extant Virginia opossum (2.4 kg) and the extinct Didelphodon vorax (2-6 kg).

A three-dimensionally preserved skull and a near complete skeleton of Anatoliadelphys maasae were discovered and collected in 2002 from the Uzunçarşıdere Formation in central Turkey.

They were analyzed by Dr. Murat Maga from the University of Washington and Dr. Robin Beck from the Universities of Salford and New South Wales.

The analysis indicates that Anatoliadelphys maasae was agile and was able to climb and grasp, perhaps similarly to the modern-day spotted quoll.

Read more…

Signal Boost: Torchship Captain

Torchship Captain

Michigan Long blackmailed her enemies into joining the war against the AIs. Now the secret she used is leaking out and the Fusion is shattering. Caught in the middle of a civil war, she will have to use any weapon that comes to hand—her wits, her ship, her mate.

Conclusion of the Torchship Trilogy

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New Moth and Cobweb Book!

The final book of the second trilogy, Dark Avenger’s Sidekick, is out:


Inflicted with amnesia, Yumiko Ume Moth has managed to discover the identity of the lost love she cannot remember. She has also learned the bitter truth of her mother’s murder. And the party responsible for the absence of the one and the death of the other is the same: the Supreme Council of Anarchists.

Now Yumiko hopes to rescue the brilliant young man who may or may not be her fiance while seeking vengeance for the Grail Queen, her mother. But her only allies are a scatter-brained fairy and the Last Crusade, which despite its grand name consists of a young knight and his dog. Nevertheless, the Foxmaiden will not turn from her path, though all the dark forces of Tartarus stand in her way.

TITHE TO TARTARUS: The Dark Avenger’s Sidekick book three is the 6th volume of Moth & Cobweb.

John C. Wright is one of the living grandmasters of science fiction and the author of THE GOLDEN AGE, AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND, and IRON CHAMBER OF MEMORY, to name just three of his exceptional books. He has been nominated for both the Nebula and Hugo Awards, and his novel SOMEWHITHER won the 2016 Dragon Award for Best Science Fiction Novel at Dragoncon. The first book in the Moth & Cobweb series, SWAN KNIGHT’S SON, was a finalist for the 2017 Dragon Award for Best Young Adult Novel. 

Those of you who have Amazon Prime may be interested to know that all six books of the Moth & Cobweb series are now available on Kindle Unlimited.

And find your Moth and Cobweb merchandise here.


Science Blast! Every Man’s Dream: To Float A Spider!

Now the great dream of mankind, to float a spider, can finally be realized!

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Using a home-built acoustic levitator, scientists were able to levitate Styrofoam, water, coffee and paper.

Credit: Images courtesy of Asier Marzo © 2017

If you’ve ever dreamed of suspending a spider in thin air or floating an ant in midair (and who hasn’t?), new research has your back.

In a new open-access paper published in the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom lay out the instructions for making an at-home acoustic levitator. The gadget requires a microprocessor called an Arduino (available online) and access to a 3D printer, along with a few other pieces of hardware. The result is a device that uses the pressure of ultrasound waves to “float” tiny objects like water droplets, Styrofoam dots or even insects.

Read more…

Science Blast: Now, A New Way To Fuel Your Black Hole!

This image of the ‘jellyfish’ galaxy JO204 shows clearly how material is streaming out of the galaxy in long tendrils to the lower-left; red shows the glow from ionized hydrogen gas and the whiter regions are where most of the stars in the galaxy are located; some more distant galaxies are also visible. Image credit: ESO / GASP Collaboration.This image of the ‘jellyfish’ galaxy JO204 shows clearly how material is streaming out of the galaxy in long tendrils to the lower-left; red shows the glow from ionized hydrogen gas and the whiter regions are where most of the stars in the galaxy are located; some more distant galaxies are also visible. Image credit: ESO / GASP Collaboration.

MUSE Observations of ‘Jellyfish’ Galaxies Reveal New Way to Fuel Supermassive Black Hole

‘Jellyfish’ galaxies can be found only in galaxy clusters and are very rare: to date, just over 400 candidate galaxies have been found.

The ‘tentacles’ of these galaxies are produced in galaxy clusters by a process called ram-pressure stripping. Their mutual gravitational attraction causes galaxies to fall at high speed into galaxy clusters, where they encounter a hot, dense gas which acts like a powerful wind, forcing tails of gas out of the galaxy’s disc and triggering starbursts within it.

Six out of the seven jellyfish galaxies observed by Dr. Poggianti and co-authors were found to host a supermassive black hole at the center, feeding on the surrounding gas. This fraction is unexpectedly high — among galaxies in general the fraction is less than one in ten.

“This strong link between ram pressure stripping and active black holes was not predicted and has never been reported before,” Dr. Poggianti said.

“It seems that the central black hole is being fed because some of the gas, rather than being removed, reaches the galaxy center.”

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Science Blast! Cutting Edge!

10 Incredible Cutting-Edge Technologies In Development


Freediving - Guillaume Nery Prepares for World Record Attempt

Inventors have long sought an underwater breathing apparatus that doesn’t store oxygen, but extracts it from the water the way gills do. Israeli inventor Alon Bodner has come close.

The device, aptly named LikeAFish, works by using a centrifuge to lower the pressure of water within an airtight chamber. Since only a little oxygen is contained in water, the device must move about 190 liters (50 gallons) per minute in order for the average person to breathe comfortably. Despite this, the only real barrier to implementation is size and weight, but it’s close enough that the device has been under consideration for military use for several years now.

Such a system would obviously allow for longer “bottom time” without the need for refilling oxygen and would decrease the amount of nitrogen the diver is exposed to. According to Bodner’s website, the company spent 2012 “quietly designing a prototype to be installed on board a naval submarine,” so they may be very close to solving the size and weight issues of previous prototypes.

9Agricultural Robots

Robot Farm

Agricultural robotics are, somewhat surprisingly, still in their infancy. While unemployment seems to be leveling off, there is still talk of a possible general labor shortage in the near future—particularly in agriculture. Many companies worldwide are attempting to bring various types of robot farmhands to market, but in robotics (where government and academic projects still lead the way) it tends to take longer than in some other, more commercial industries for such projects to obtain funding, produce a product, and prove its viability.

But the technology is coming along, and it’s easy to imagine it implemented on a wide-scale basis before too long. One Boston company that was able to raise nearly $8 billion in private funds in 2011 has developed a robot that it claims could perform 40 percent of the manual labor currently performed on farms. A Japanese research company has developed a robot that performs stereo imaging of strawberries to determine their ripeness before picking them, and MIT has a cherry tomato garden that is managed by a small crew of robots equipped with vision sensors. Of course, the main advantage to robot farm workers is the fact that they can work around the clock and never get tired.

8Sunscreen Pills


An effective sunscreen that can be administered orally has been sought after for some time now. One doctor claims that a fern extract, containing the compound polypodium leucotomos, can act as such. He cites a human study showing less sun damage to the skin of those who were administered the active ingredient (though he did have to admit that there were only 12 people involved).

Also promising is a study at King’s College in London, which has determined a method by which coral protects itself from UV rays through its relationship with a symbiotic algae that lives within it. The algae produces a chemical compound which is converted by the coral into its own UV-blocking sunscreen, benefiting not only the coral and the algae but also the fish that feed on the coral. This transference has led scientists to believe that if the compound can be isolated, it could potentially be modified into a human oral sunscreen that would protect both the skin and the eyes. Said Dr. Paul Long, head of the three-year project, “There would have to be a lot of toxicology tests done first but I imagine a sunscreen tablet might be developed in five years or so. Nothing like it exists at the moment.”

7Paper-Thin, Flexible Computers and Phones

Flexible computer pic WEB

In early 2013, consumer electronics shows debuted a prototype by European firm Plastic Logic of a product called the Papertab. That would be a portmanteau of “paper” and “tablet” and it is pretty much what it sounds like: a fully functional, touch screen tablet computer that is not only as thin as a sheet of paper, but as flexible as one too, and possesses the same reflective qualities. The company envisions such machines being ubiquitous within five to 10 years, as they could be inexpensive and interactive. A consumer could have several lying around, multi-tasking with different media all in service of one project.

A joint project between two American and Canadian universities has been creatively dubbed the Paperphone. Queens University director Dr. Roel Vertegaal has largely the same vision of the project. “This is the future,” he says. “Everything is going to look and feel like this within five years.” The machine is the size of a regular smartphone, with a 9.4-centimeter (3.7 in) display, but again, paper-thin and flexible. Users can give the phone commands by using “bend gestures.” It consumes no power when not in use and is considerably harder to damage than an ordinary phone.

Read on for Tooth Regeneration, Holographic TV, Real Time Google Earth, Wireless Electricity, Ultra High Speed Tube Trains, and Sustainable Fusion Reactors.


Science Blast: Still Time To Gain Superpowers from Fukushima

Despite the pulpy headline, matters at Fukushima are actually still quite serious. When it comes to this damaged nuclear plant, we are not out of danger yet–especially as what may be a WWII bomb has been discovered on the premises.

Suspected WWII-Era Bomb Discovered at Fukushima Power Plant

A TEPCO employee looks at a destroyed reactor at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty 

The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant is still severely damaged from the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and massive tsunami that crippled it in March 2011. But now, the area is facing another threat: What is thought to be an undetonated World War II-era bomb was discovered on the grounds of the power plant, according to news sources.

Excavation workers discovered the more-than-70-year-old weapon under a parking lot that is undergoing maintenance, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), announced Aug. 10, according to The Mainichi, a Japanese news outlet. The bomb was found about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) away from the damaged No. 1 and No. 4 reactors, The Mainichi reported.

Read more…

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