comScore Erin Podolak | The Mary Sue
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Posts by Erin Podolak

Otis The Skydiving Pug Might Be Braver Than You [Video]

Would you jump out of an airplane? I'm sure some of you have, and I'm sure some of you answered absolutely not. But if you are in the absolutely not camp, I hate to say it, but this adorable dog is braver than you. Otis (a pug) not only goes skydiving with his owner, professional skydiver Will DaSilva, he enjoys the experience. Safely nestled in a harness built just for him, Otis is more afraid to go to the vet than he is to jump out of a plane. This little dog is now a pro, going on bigger and better jumps. Adorable (check out those goggles!) and badass.

(via ViralViralVideos)

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Jaw Droppingly Beautiful Small World Photography

Every year, entries in the Nikon Small World competition are stunningly beautiful. The competition receives thousands of submissions of extremely close-up photography from scientists and photomicrographers around the world. These pictures are captured with the help of microscopes, and allow us to see things in amazing detail that we wouldn't normally be able to. The photographs are truly works of art, making things that might make us shudder, like the ant's head above, appear completely breathtaking. The winners of the competition will be determined by a panel of judges, but the public can help choose the winner of the popular vote. The judges will make their selections on October 4th and people can check out the gallery of more than 100 finalists and choose the popular vote until October 31st. Check out a few of our favorite entries in the competition after the jump.

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Ancient Egyptians Styled Their Hair for the Afterlife

Everyone knows that ancient Egyptians headed into the afterlife looking their best. The beautiful garments and jewels found in their tombs centuries ago is evidence of this. However, new research suggests that the Egyptians took looking good even in death to even bigger extremes. Researchers from the University of Manchester, UK have uncovered evidence of styling with hair gel on ancient Egyptian mummies. Led by Natalie McCreesh, the researchers found that men and women would have their hair styled with a fat-based "gel" when they were embalmed. The researchers studied hair samples from 15 mummies from the Kellis 1 cemetery in Dakhla, oasis, in Egypt, which is a community cemetery dating back 3,000 years. The researchers also evaluated mummies from museum collections for a sample of mummies of both sexes between the ages of 4 and 58, ranging from 3,500 to 2,300 years ago.

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For The Love Of Bud, Marijuana Genome Sequenced

It's alright officers, they were just holding the samples for a friend. Researchers at the company Medicinal Genomics have published the raw data of the Cannabis sativa genome. Yes, scientists sequenced the DNA of weed. You know, for medical reasons. The raw data, including some 131 billion bases of shotgun sequence, have not yet been assembled into contiguous chunks for more detailed analysis. Still, the company released the information on Amazon's EC2 public cloud computing service. According to Medicinal Genomics founder Kevin McKernan, when the fragments of data are assembled the C. sativa genome will likely be around 400 million bases, more complex that other plants like the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana.

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The Moon May Be Millions Of Years Younger Than Previously Thought

A new analysis conducted on lunar rocks brought back to Earth by the Apollo 16 astronauts has led researchers to believe that the moon may be 60 million years younger than previously thought. This would make the current prevailing theory about how the moon formed impossible. The new results date the moon at around 4.36 billion years old, which means that the moon formed around the same time as the oldest crusts on Earth (4.4 billion year old zircons from Australia.) Led by Lars Borg of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in CA, the researchers used new refining techniques to study the isotopes lead and neodymium in a 1.88gram sample of  ferroan anorthosites (FAN) from NASA's lunar rock collection. The 4.36 billion year number refers to the time when the sample crystallized. This opposes the giant impact theory, the currently favored theory about moon formation (although this theory has itself been called into question lately.)

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Thermal Imaging Cameras Are More Effective Way To Steal PIN Numbers

A team of researchers from the University of California at San Diego have found that thermal imaging cameras can be used to steal PIN numbers when people make a cash withdrawal from an ATM. Residual heat from a person's finger when it touches the keypad to punch in their PIN can be viewed with an infrared camera to give away your combination without anyone having to actually see your finger on the button. For criminals, thermal imaging has some advantages. Whether or not the user visually blocks the keypad while they type their number will make no difference, and PIN harvesting can still be automated to provide crooks with a leg up. Researchers Keaton Mowery, Sarah Meiklejohn and Stefan Savage of UCSD studied 21 volunteers punching in 27 randomly selected PIN numbers on plastic and brushed metal keys. The study showed that plastic PIN pads retain the heat signature from the finger the longest showing which numbers and which order they were pressed.

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NASA Debunks Comet Elenin Rumors, No Armageddon Here

You know the Internet is getting carried away with itself when NASA has to issue a press release just to assure everyone that we aren't facing armageddon. What seems to be a rather insignificant story about a comet passing close (but not too close) to Earth has gotten wrapped up in doomsday predictions and run-for-the-hills hysteria. Never fear, life as we know it isn't about to end. At least, not from anything that has to do with the Comet Elenin, which is set to pass by Earth some 22 million miles (35 million kilometers) away during its closest approach on Oct. 16, 2011. The comet, more formally known as C/2010 X1, was first detected on Dec. 10, 2010 by Leonid Elenin in Lyuberts, Russia using images obtained from an observatory in New Mexico. Since then, Comet Elenin has been on track to pass by Earth on its way to perihelion, its closest point to the sun. While television and movies have made comets approaching Earth something to be incredibly weary about, NASA reports that there will be no influence in any way on Earth due to the comet's passing.

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Primitive Eel Species Described As "Living Fossil" Discovered

Proving once again that there are still places on our own planet that have yet to yield all their secrets, scientists have discovered a unique eel off the coast of the Republic of Palau in the Pacific Ocean. This eel has been dubbed a "living fossil" due to its unusually primitive features. These features led researchers to create a new taxonomic family to classify the eel in relation to other eel species. The eel, described in the researchers' paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is an 18cm-long female, collected during a dive in an 35-m deep underwater cave. The species was named Protoanguilla palau, according to the new family, genus, and species names bestowed by the researchers. According to the researchers from Chiba's Natural History Museum in Japan, the Southern Marine Laboratory in Palau, and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, the eel likely embarked on an independent evolutionary history millions of years ago.

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Everyone Should Try New Foods Like This Puppy Eating A Lime [Video]

The Internet is full of videos of puppies doing cute puppy things, but we just couldn't resist this video of an Alaskan Klee Kai trying figure out what to make of this lime. More things in life should be as exciting as this lime wedge is for this puppy, named Kiwi. The dog gets so excited it even takes a dance break, but then it goes right back to tasting the lime. Some YouTube viewers were concerned that the lime would be harmful for the 12-week old puppy, but according to the owner's comments on the video, the little bit of lime the dog ingested didn't hurt it one bit. The next time you try a new food, you should probably adopt this puppy's method: Taste, freak out, taste again (just to be sure).

(via YouTube/Kleesentials)

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Electronic Sensors Stick Like Temporary Tattoos, Present Endless Possiblities

A team of researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign have developed small electronic devices that can be worn on the skin. These temporary tattoos make the person wearing them a part of the device, that can bend, stretch, and move along with the skin. The researchers were hoping to make less obtrusive medical monitors for special needs patients, like premature babies. But the new sensors have proven so successful they could also be used for a variety of other applications. The idea of making wearable sensors that adhere to the skin seems so easy and useful its surprising no one has developed them before. According to researchers, the major challenge in developing the technology was making the parts of the sensor as flexible and stretchy as skin. To do this, the researchers had to take brittle silicon and make it more bendable by making the sensor incredibly thin. The electronic parts of the sensor, light-emitting diodes, solar cells, transistors, and antennae, were assembled in an S-shape that would allow the circuits to still work when stretched in different directions.

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Study: Benedict Arnold Bacteria Betray Their Brethren, Go On Killing Spree

In what seems to be a bacterial death match, researchers at Nanyang Technological University have genetically altered Escherichia coli to attack and kill Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is responsible for many infections in hospital patients whose immune systems are weakened. Led by Nazanin Saeidi and Choon Kit Wong, the researchers created E.coli that produces the protein LasR, which can recognize molecules that P.aeruginoa uses to communicate. According to the researchers, they are basically using P. aeurginosa's own defenses against it. When the E.coli's LasR detects the chemical signals that P.aeurginosa uses to communicate with other cells, it switches on two genes. This first gene creates a lethal (to P.aeeruginosa) toxin called pyocin. The toxin breaks through the outer cell wall of the bacteria, causing its insides to leak out. The second gene causes the E.coli to break apart, killing itself and releasing even more pyocin.

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British Racing Team To Test On-The-Track Electric Car Chargers

Drayson Racing Technologies and HaloIPT have teamed up to develop a new on-the-go charging system for electric cars. HaloIPT had previously announced that they were working on the technology and have now brought Drayson Racing Technologies into the project. The technology will be tested on race cars with the technology built into the track to wirelessly provide power so drivers don't have to stop to charge the vehicle. According to the companies, the technology deals with misalignment over the transmitter pads, which is a common problem with on-the-go charging. Primarily developed by HaloIPT (IPT standing for inductive power transfer), the technology got its start from UniServices a University of Auckland commercial subsidiary.

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Breaking News: Kansas Actually Flatter Than A Pancake

As the old saying goes Kansas, like many midwestern states, is as flat as a pancake. Somehow, pancakes became the golden standard for flatness, but do they really deserve such a title? A team of researchers from Texas State University and Arizona State University decided to find out. The researchers scientifically tested whether or not the state of Kansas was as flat as a pancake, and were surprised at what they found. Pancakes might be flat, but they are by no means the golden standard. The state of Kansas is actually flatter than a pancake. Who would have thought that was possible? The researchers figured this out by gathering data from the US Geological Survey about the topography of Kansas. They then obtained sample pancakes from none other than that breakfast staple, The International House of Pancakes. Armed with science and breakfast, the researchers headed into the lab.

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The Best Hostel Advertisement Ever Made Is Also The Cheapest [Video]

A redditor claiming to be an employee of the hostel 790 On George in Australia says he or she was "told to make an ad with no money." With a budget like that, it is no surprise that the video's amazing special effects (the explosions, oh, the explosions) steal the show. Really though, for an advertisement with no budget, this hostel is certainly going to get a lot of free publicity, just for the fact that the ad is so delightfully horrible. Thumbs up for the brilliant marketing mastermind at 790 On George. (via Reddit)

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This is What the Perseid Meteor Shower Sounds Like

Ever wanted to know what a meteor sounds like? Well, wonder no more. The recent 2011 Perseid Meteor Shower was recorded by the U.S. Air Force Space Surveillance Radar in Texas. The sound the meteors made as they filled the sky could make for a good horror movie soundtrack, or maybe just something to play at a high volume and annoy a roommate. The radar station that made the recording is located in Lake Kickapoo, Tx, and is part of the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM). The purpose of the USSTRATCOM is to detect, track, catalog, and identify artificial objects orbiting Earth. If there were aliens approaching, these guys would be some of the first to know about it, but most of their time is spent watching active and inactive satellites, rocket bodies, or fragments of space debris. Listen to the sound of space with the recording after the jump.

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Researchers Combat Tumors from Stem Cell Therapy

Pluripotent stem cells are cells that can grow into any tissue. The ability to turn into any type of cell makes pluripotent stem cells a promising treatment for any number of disorders. However, this ability to differentiate into anything also comes with a dangerous side effect: The cells that don't turn into the desired tissue can instead form dangerous tumors called teratomas. However, researchers have now demonstrated a method to weed out the dangerous teratoma forming cells from the beneficial stem cells. Led by Micha Drukker, a team of researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine developed a new antibody that can identify the cells that don't differentiate into the needed tissue before they are transplanted into a patient. The researchers accomplished this by targeting pluripotency surface markers (PSMs,) which are changes within a cell that signify which type of cell it will become. The researchers targeted these specific cellular landmarks by developing antibodies that could seek out cells that did not differentiate.

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Singing Robot Head Is Entertaining, Yet Horrifying

Sometimes technology just gets a little too creepy for its own good. This robotic singing head, created by researchers at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology in Taipei, is the perfect example. The researchers created a head that can read music and sing a song in a synthesized voice. The research was published in the journal Robotics and Autonomous Systems.

Led by Chyi-Yeu Lin, the researchers designed the robot to take a picture of the music that is annotated with numbers and words, using cameras that are built into its eyes. An algorithm then determines the right pitch, rhythm, and lyrics from the image and relays the data to a voice synthesizer. The synthesizer matches the sounds in the Mandarin language with the Roman spelling of the lyrics. Once the head knows what to do, it will burst out into song.

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Netflix, You Know, for Kids!

Netflix has started testing a new user interface of programs for kids. The separate children's content section is being designed for kids to use themselves. Select Netflix users have been given access to the new section for testing. On the main Netflix site, users who have the trial section will see a tab labelled "Just for Kids" that allows children to select a program based on the character from that show. By clicking on one of the characters, kids will be taken to a new page that lists the television shows and episodes starring that character, each episode is previewed by looking at a screenshot. This is so kids don't necessarily have to be able to read to find what they are looking for. If all they know is they want to watch Blue's Clues, they'll be able to make that choice by recognizing the puppy's picture.

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What Are Websites Made Of? [Infographic]

The Internet is a mysterious thing. We all use it, but what makes a website, really? Obviously, some of us know more about this than others. Still, this is the question asked and answered by the company Broadband Choices, in this infographic. The graphic provides statistics like how much data is on the Internet, from less than half a trillion gigabytes in 2005, to more than one trillion gigabytes in 2010, and a projected leap to nearly eight trillion gigabytes by 2015. So, if you've ever wondered what exactly is that Internet thing anyway, here is your answer.

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New Hip Dislocation Treatment Inspired By Captain Morgan

Yes, that Captain Morgan. The pirate representing the rum brand has led doctors to develop a new way to "reduce" (put back in place) a hip dislocation. When a hip is dislocated the head of the femur (aka. thigh bone) comes out of its proper alignment in the acetabelum, which is the socket part of the hip. This is usually treated by a doctor pushing the bone back into the socket, which is a delicate task that should only be attempted by a physician. Writing in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, several physicians report that there may be a better way to correct hip dislocations. It is the rum brand's mascot, Captain Morgan, who inspired the new technique. Captain Morgan always appears with one leg up resting on a barrel, in a pose that has become iconic. That pose is actually useful for doctors to reduce a hip by putting force on the joint.

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