If you want to
decide which football team takes the ball first or who gets the
larger piece of cake, the fairest thing is to toss a coin, right?
Not necessarily. A new mathematical analysis suggests that coin
tossing is inherently biased: A coin is more likely to land on
the same face it started out on."I don't care how vigorously
you throw it, you can't toss a coin fairly," says Persi Diaconis,
a statistician at Stanford University who performed the study with
Susan Holmes of Stanford and Richard Montgomery of the University
of California, Santa Cruz.
and smoke suppress rainfall, but cause the remaining rain amounts
to fall in greater intensities, with lightning and hail, says a
researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. They showed that
smoke from these fires delays the release of water from clouds
in the form of rain, thus preventing depletion of the water in
the clouds as they grow. As these water-laden clouds reach great
heights, they produce thunderstorms and hail instead of relatively
on an electric stove is both healthier and fluffier than corn popped
in a microwave, according to Turkish scientists trying to perfect
the corn-popping recipe. Popcorn is an increasingly popular snack
in Turkey, writes Ersan Karababa from Mersin University in his
paper on the topic. But popcorn lovers around the world are plagued
by problems. There are always a few obstinate kernels that do not
pop, while others fail to swell to their full potential. If the
temperature becomes too hot, corn can simply burn instead of pop.
To most people,
the word computer conjures up an image of a PC sitting on a desktop.
According to a new study, however, complex computations may also
be underway in another bit of office equipment: the potted plant
that brightens up the windowsill. Plants may perform what scientists
call distributed emergent computation. Unlike traditional computation,
in which a central processing unit carries out programs, distributed
emergent computation lacks a central controller. Instead, large
numbers of simple units interact with each other to achieve complex,
The good news
from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is that Einstein was right — maybe.
A strange form of energy called "dark energy" is looking
a little more like the repulsive force that Einstein theorized
in an attempt to balance the universe against its own gravity.
Even if Einstein turns out to be wrong, the universe's dark energy
probably won't destroy the universe any sooner than about 30 billion
years from now, say Hubble researchers.
M.D., oncologist and researcher at the Mary Crowley Medical Research
Center (MCMRC) at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, has
developed a vaccine that suppresses lung cancer in some patients.
Results of the clinical trial are published in today’s Journal
of the National Cancer Institute in a paper titled “Phase
I/II Study of GVAX® in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC).” NSCLC
is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women in the United
States. More than 150,000 people die from the disease each year.
We learned it
in grade school. There are three forms of matter: solids, liquids
and gases. But that's not even half right. There are at least six:
solids, liquids, gases, plasmas, Bose-Einstein condensates, and
a new form of matter called "fermionic condensates" just
discovered by NASA-supported researchers. These are so new that
most of their basic properties are unknown. Certainly they're cold.
University of Colorado/NIST physicist Deborah Jin created the substance
by cooling a cloud of 500,000 potassium-40 atoms to less than a
millionth of a degree above absolute zero.
a Valentine's Day gift for a wife or girlfriend, you can't go wrong
with diamonds. If you really want to impress your favorite lady
this Valentine's Day, get her the galaxy's largest diamond. But
you'd better carry a deep wallet, because this 10 billion trillion
trillion carat monster has a cost that's literally astronomical! "You
would need a jeweler's loupe the size of the Sun to grade this
diamond!" says astronomer Travis Metcalfe, who leads a team
of researchers that discovered the giant gem.
Before the 1930s,
the gems of choice for engagement rings included opals, rubies,
and sapphires. But in the 1940s, De Beers introduced "A Diamond
Is Forever." The success of this campaign turned diamond into
the symbol of eternal love and dramatically increased demand for
the gems. Today, two start-up companies are staking their futures
on the lure of more affordable, laboratory-grown diamond gemstones.
But because of diamond's remarkable optical, thermal, chemical,
and electronic properties, synthetic diamond promises to offer
a lot more than just beautiful jewelry.
of using the Earth's abundant supply of water as a cheap source
of hydrogen is a step closer thanks to researchers from Imperial
College London. By mimicking the method plants use to split water,
researchers say that a highly energy efficient way to form cheap
supplies of hydrogen fuel may be possible in the future. By analysing
these findings the researchers believe it may be possible to learn
how to recreate the process on an industrial scale, allowing hydrogen
to be manufactured as a fuel.
For almost a
century, industrial chemists have had to rely on hellishly high
temperatures and gas pressures to cleave the tenacious chemical
bond that holds together each two-atom nitrogen molecule. That
done, chemists can use the nitrogen from the atmosphere to make
fertilizers, explosives, and other modern products. Now, researchers
have devised a way to split nitrogen molecules under milder conditions
within liquids, a step that may inaugurate a variety of energy-efficient
techniques for creating nitrogen-bearing substances.
detected the first presence of oxygen and carbon in the atmosphere
of an extrasolar planet, a world already known to be venting massive
amounts of gas into space. The find is evidence of an atmospheric "blow
off" in action, where energetic hydrogen gas drags heavier
elements along for a supersonic ride into space. Despite the oxygen,
the faraway planet is not one that would support life.
For 3 decades,
builders of outdoor decks, arbors, swing sets, and other unpainted
structures have relied almost exclusively on the greenish wood
known as pressure-treated lumber. Annual sales of some 7 billion
board feet of this wood created a U.S. industry worth $4 billion
per year. What makes the lumber so useful is what the pressure
treatment forced into it: a toxic cocktail of arsenic and other
pesticides that deters termites, other insects, fungi, and microbes.