Category Archives: Discover Magazine

Discover Magazine

There’s Nothing Squirrely about a Squirrel’s Memory for Puzzles

While you’re writing down yet another password on the notepad hidden in your desk drawer, a squirrel is retrieving nuts it buried months earlier. It’s no secret these animals have good memories. But they don’t only remember where they stuck stuff: squirrels can remember how to solve a puzzle almost two years after they last saw it. And they can use that knowledge to tackle a problem they haven’t seen before.

In a lab at the University of Exeter, Pizza Ka Yee Chow studies gray squirrels. S

Read More

Free Microchip Implants, the New Employee Perk?

A Wisconsin company will be the first in the United States to implant microchips beneath the skin of its employees.

Three Squared Market (32M), a break-room kiosk company, has offered to give its workers subdermal RFID tags, tiny rice-grain-sized pellets that can hold information like credit card numbers and passwords. With their “handy” chips, they’ll be able to unlock doors, log in to computers, and, of course, buy snacks from the company vending machines—all with a wave of their hand.

Read More

A Closer Look at ‘Rogue Planets’ Adrift in the Universe

Not all stars are good parents to their budding planets — some get downright nasty and kick their children into interstellar space.

We’ve found a handful of these free orphaned planets before, and they’re called “rogue planets.” But a study today in Nature Astronomy suggests that the type we’ve seen so far, which are all gas giant sized, are the exception, not the norm.

“Basically, it is much easier to eject an Earth-mass planet than a Jupiter-mass planet,” Przemek Mróz, lead author of

Read More

Toyota Wants Cars to Predict Heart Attacks

A heart attack or diabetic blackout can have especially deadly consequences for drivers when they cause car crashes. Toyota researchers hope to change that grim equation by studying how wearable devices could help smart cars possibly save lives by predicting medical emergencies ahead of time.

The day when smart cars—either manually driven or self-driven—will watch out for the health of their drivers remains some ways off into the future. But Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center t

Read More

Watch as a lonely sunspot grows larger than our planet, turns toward Earth, and gets ready to blast hot stuff at us

Actually, it’s a sunspot group, and the active region it is tied too let loose an aurora-causing eruption of hot plasma

I guess I just can’t get enough of time-lapse animations.

A couple of days ago, I was mesmerized by an animation of satellite images showing not just smoke billowing from a California wildfire but also the blaze itself. And yesterday, I was smitten by an animation showing the tiny Martian moon Phobos zinging around the Red Planet.

SEE ALSO: This is just really cool –

Read More

Predatory Journals Hit By ‘Star Wars’ Sting

A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper. The manuscript is an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes. I know because I wrote it.

Inspired by previous publishing “stings”, I wanted to test whether ‘predatory’ journals would publish an obviously absurd paper. So I created a spoof manuscript about “midi-chlorians” – the fictional entities which live inside cells and give Jedi their powers in Star Wars. I filled it with other refe

Read More

This is just really cool – a time-lapse animation from the Hubble telescope showing a tiny moon zinging around Mars

On May 12, 2016, when Mars was 50 million miles from Earth, the Hubble Space Telescope turned its incredibly sharp eye toward the Red Planet. The time-lapse animation above reveals what it saw.

That little white speck zinging around Mars is Phobos, a football-shaped moon just 16.5 miles by 13.5 miles by 11 miles. You’re seeing it in an animation consisting of 13 separate exposures by Hubble.

Phobos looks like it is speeding along at an unbelievably rapid clip. In reality, Hubble acquir

Read More

Inflatable, Vine-like Robot Can Do It All

A new soft robot grows like a creeping vine to weave its way around obstacles and nose into tiny spaces.

From researchers at Stanford University, the robot consists mostly of an inflatable tube that’s been folded in on itself and coiled up. To move, a pneumatic pump fills the tube with air, pushing it forward by drawing material from the inside. In initial tests, the robot stretched as far as 72 meters from an initial length of 28 centimeters and reached speeds of over 20 mph.
Grow Robot

Read More

What’s Going On With the World’s Most Destructive Mud Volcano?

The world’s most destructive mud volcano was born near the town of Sidoarjo, on the island of Java, Indonesia, just over 11 years ago – and to this day it has not stopped erupting. The mud volcano known as Lusi started on May 29, 2006, and at its peak disgorged a staggering 180,000 cubic meters of mud every day, burying villages in mud up to 40 meters thick. The worst event of its kind in recorded history, the eruption took 13 lives and destroyed the homes of 60,000 people. But although

Read More