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New Magnetocaloric Material Will Allow Magnetic Refrigeration

When people think of a refrigerator, magnetism isn't necessarily the first thought that comes to...

Seeing In The Deep

With pressures hundreds of times that at sea level and temperatures nearly freezing, it's amazing...

Ultrafast Laser Inscription Could Enable A 42-Meter Telescope To See The First Galaxies

Demands on telescope technology are rapidly increasing as astronomers look at fainter and fainter...

What's In The Economic Recovery Bill For Scientists?

It's hard to avoid the omnipresent rhetoric being tossed around regarding the economy these days...

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Chris Rollins is a recent graduate in aerospace engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. When he's not snowboarding, he's writing about or researching physics, astronautics, or science policy.... Read More »

In 1970, a Japanese roboticist named Masahiro Mori described what he called the "uncanny valley" - a point on a graph relating human affinity for a machine to its likeness of humans themselves, where human affinity plummets as the likeness becomes nearly indistinguishable from ourselves. As robots become more humanlike, our fondness for them increases.
Imagine you have two plants - one is a plant you'd like to keep around, like a crop, and the other is a pest of some kind that interferes with the growth of your crop. Now, imagine synthesizing 30,000 different candidates for an herbicide and spraying each one on a different plant - and only finding one that effectively kills the weed while preserving the life of your crop. Until recently, this incredibly inefficient method was the only way for the agrichemical industry to find new herbicides. Now, thanks to the boom in biological technology during the last 15 years or so, agrichemical companies are able to come up with far better predictions about the results of spraying an herbicide on a particular plant - adding a huge degree of elegance to the previous guess-and-check method.
To some, it's a vague remembrance of a scene from a past life. Others attribute it to viewing something in real life they dreamed the night before. To the leather-clad protagonists of the movie "The Matrix", it happened whenever the machines altered something about the virtual world they created. Regardless of the explanation, déjà vu is the common and unmistakable experience of feeling as if whatever sensory input we're receiving has been received before - even though we can't pinpoint the exact source.

If every beachgoer could have one, we'd never need sunscreen again. The new sunshield for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, designed by Northrop Grummann  in Redondo Beach, California, is capable of rejecting nearly all of the approximately 250,000 watts of energy the spacecraft will be receiving from the Sun while in orbit - the equivalent to applying sunscreen with an SPF of 1.2 million.