News That Matters

Science

Scientists design software that detects when people are texting and driving

Scientists design software that detects when people are texting and driving

Science
Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Scientists at the University of Waterloo have created a computer algorithm that can accurately determine when drivers are texting while driving.Distracted drivers are to blame for up to 75 percent of all traffic accidents worldwide, researchers say."It has a huge impact on society," Fakhri Karray, a University Research chair and director of the Center for Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, or CPAMI, at Waterloo, said in a press release.The system uses cameras and artificial intelligence to detect hand movements that deviate from normal driving behavior, such as from texting or talking on the phone, and grades them in terms of safety threats.The algorithms were trained using machine-learning techniques to recognize actions such as texting, talking on the phone or re...
Unknown species may thrive in Antarctic caves

Unknown species may thrive in Antarctic caves

Science
Animals and plants may be living in warm caves under Antarctica's ice, according to a study.Australian researchers said that Mount Erebus, an active volcano on Antarctica's Ross Island, is surrounded by caves hollowed out in the ice by steam.Soil samples retrieved from the caves have revealed intriguing traces of DNA from mosses, algae and small animals.The research has been published in the journal Polar Biology."It can be really warm inside the caves - up to 25C in some caves. You could wear a T-shirt in there and be pretty comfortable," said co-author Dr Ceridwen Fraser, from the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra."There's light near the cave mouths, and light filters deeper into some caves where the overlying ice is thin."Dr Fraser said that most of the DNA resembles that...
NASA maps summer melt of Greenland Ice Sheet

NASA maps summer melt of Greenland Ice Sheet

Science
Sept. 8 (UPI) -- NASA's Operation IceBridge has been mapping summer ice melt of the Greenland Ice Sheet since Aug. 25 using a B200T King Air aircraft.The flights will go through Sept. 21, with repeat paths to be flown in the spring to monitor seasonal changes in the elevation of the ice sheet."We started to mount these summer campaigns on a regular basis two years ago," Joe MacGregor, IceBridge's deputy project scientist and a glaciologist with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a press release. "If the flights go as expected, the result will be a high-quality survey of some of the fastest melting areas in Greenland and across as much of the island as possible."For the campaign, Operation IceBridge is flying a B200T King Air from Dynamic Aviation carrying th...
Bats 'tricked' into flying into buildings

Bats 'tricked' into flying into buildings

Science
Modern buildings with large expanses of glass or mirrored surfaces are "potentially dangerous" for bats, research suggests.Scientists are calling for monitoring of the risks, particularly in areas where bats congregate in large numbers.Bats have a remarkable ability to fly at high speeds in the dark avoiding natural hazards such as trees.Yet, smooth, vertical surfaces such as glass windows create a "blind spot" for the flying mammals, a study shows."Bats predominately rely on their echolocation system to forage, orientate, and navigate," says a team led by Dr Stefan Greif of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology near Munich in Germany."We found that bats can mistake smooth, vertical surfaces as clear flight paths, repeatedly colliding with them, likely as a result of their acoustic mirr...
'No fire risk' with new lithium batteries

'No fire risk' with new lithium batteries

Science
Lithium-ion batteries that are resistant to exploding or catching fire have been developed by scientists.The devices produced sufficient energy for use in household electronics, but did not ignite - even when punctured repeatedly with a nail.The batteries use a water-salt solution as their electrolyte, removing the risks carried by some non-aqueous commercial models.The research is published in the journal Joule."In the past, if you wanted high energy, you would choose a non-aqueous lithium-ion battery, but you would have to compromise on safety. If you preferred safety, you could use an aqueous battery such as nickel/metal hydride, but you would have to settle for lower energy," said co-author Kang Xu, from the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL)."Now, we are showing that you can simultaneo...