Why Mathematicians are Hoarding This Special Type of Japanese Chalk

This spring, an 80-year-old Japanese chalk company went out of business. Nobody, perhaps, was as sad to see the company go as mathematicians who had become obsessed with Hagoromo Fulltouch Chalk, the so-called “Rolls Royce of chalk”. Read More >>

Tribe That Ate Brains Develop Resistance to Some Brain Diseases

The story of kuru, as classically told in biology textbooks, is a tragic one. The Fore population in Papua New Guinea ate the brains of their tribe members as an act of mourning, a ritual that allowed a misshapen protein to spread through the population. This caused the disease kuru, which killed as much as 10 per cent of the population in the mid-twentieth century. Read More >>

This Biotech Start-Up Wants to Brew Yeast That Smells Like Perfume

Yeast labs have a distinctive smell: a bready scent familiar to bakers and brewers. But the frozen test tube of yeast I held at Ginkgo Bioworks had a fragrance crisp and pear-like. It was definitely yeast, but it had been genetically engineered to smell like no yeast has ever smelled. Read More >>

A Blood Test Could Detect Every Virus That’s Ever Infected You 

Every time a virus gets you sick, your immune system keeps a record. This essentially becomes a kill list that lets your body recognise and readily dispatch of any virus that tries to invade again. Scientists have now created $25 test blood test that prints out this list—an easy and cheap way to find out every virus that’s ever made you sick. Read More >>

A Stealth Energy Startup Just Made a 10x Improvement to its Fusion Tech

Tri Alpha Energy does not have a website. Its office in California is unmarked. But this stealth company apparently has hundreds of millions in cash. And now it has something to show for it, reports Science: The company claims it’s gotten ten times better at containing high-energy particles necessary for fusion energy. Read More >>

This Seal Has a Sensor on Its Head for Gathering Data About Antarctica

It is not easy for a human to traverse the deep, cold waters of Antarctica. It is easy, however, for seals to swim through them. For the past decade, scientists have been turning elephant seals into live, swimming sensors to monitor those waters. Now, the data’s going public. Read More >>

I Was a Test Subject For Brain Experiments

The summer after I graduated, I took a research assistant job on campus that gave me a lot of free time, but not much pay. So I did the natural thing one does at a research university: I signed up to be a guinea pig for neuroscience experiments. Read More >>

Dust from Asteroid Mining Could Turn Into Another Space Junk Hazard

There is gold out there on asteroids. Silver and platinum and titanium, too. And if we’re seriously going to mine asteroids, it might be easier to tow them closer to Earth. But that could be serious trouble for satellites, according to new calculations by astrophysicists. Read More >>

Amateur Satellite Trackers Found the Secret X-37B Space Plane in Orbit

The US Air Force’s super-secret X-37B was launched into orbit for the fourth time last week, and amateur satellite watchers have promptly identified its secret orbit — also for the fourth time. There is, you see, a small army of amateurs who keep track of over 300 spy satellites, often with little more than a pair of binoculars. Read More >>

Google’s Inbox App is Now Available For Everyone

Inbox, aka Google’s attempt at fixing the cesspool that is email, is no longer invite only. You can download it right now at the Apple or Google Play store. To mark the occasion, Google’s also pumped out some new features, including the super duper important “undo send.” Read More >>