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Mars Colonists Could Spend Their Entire Journey Sleeping

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suspended animationWith today’s technology, it takes a spacecraft approximately seven months to reach Mars. That’s a long time for astronauts to be crammed together, especially if their Netflix access is choppy. It also means that astronauts have to eat, use the bathroom, exercise, and clean (at least a little bit) during the journey, which increases the amount of supplies they need, and thus, the cost of the mission. And something tells me that playing “I Spy” would get a little old. NASA is backing a study at SpaceWorks Enterprises in Atlanta to see if it’s feasible to put a crew into deep sleep for the journey.

The official term for the state is “torpor,” which involves slowing down metabolic functioning to the point where hypothermia is induced and people enter a state of hibernation. The technique has been used in medical facilities, particularly in trauma units, for keeping patients alive long enough to undergo surgeries or other procedures. For crews headed to Mars in the future, scientists consider six months to be an optimistic traveling time. So the idea of the idea is to see what it would take to keep humans in a state of torpor for 180 days. Thus far, the longest any human has been kept in this state is one week. Human suspended animation trials are currently being conducted on gravely injured ER patients, however, and may provide some insight into how the process can be adapted for longer-term scenarios.

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The Transhumanist Party Announces Their 2016 Presidential Candidate

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transhumanismThe 2016 presidential race just got a lot more interesting. I’m not talking about Hillary Clinton or Rick Perry, or even Sarah Palin—I’m talking about someone with a far cooler name: Zoltan Istvan.

Istvan is a one of the most famous transhumanists out there, largely because of his prolific and popular writings. He writes for the Huffington Post, Vice, Psychology Today, and many other publications, and his novel The Transhumanist Wager, details one man’s search for immortality through technology.

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Plant Blood May Be The Secret To A Better Veggie Burger

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impossible burgerI haven’t eaten a burger—and I’m talking a real burger—in almost twenty years. It sounds crazy, even to me. I used to love them—my dad made a killer burger, and there’s just nothing like the smell of ground beef on the grill. I stopped eating meat in high school, and while you might catch me lingering next to a barbeque with my eyes closed, I don’t regret it. In fact, I feel loads better and don’t have to feel guilty about participating in one of the most disgusting and arguably unethical industries humans have ever come up with. But sometimes, veggie substitutes for meat foods are lacking, or even straight-up nasty. I think it’s a mistake to try and make something vegetarian taste like the real thing. I’ll happily eat marbled strips of soy, but if you tell me they’re soy bacon, or “fake-on,” then I have a whole different expectation. Hence the problem with veggie burgers: they don’t taste like real burgers. Sure, when you drown them in mustard, ketchup, onions, etc, you can trick yourself into forgetting what is all too evident. I’ve had some damn tasty veggie burgers in my day, but the best ones were inventive—lentils, quinoa, and walnuts, or some combination of things you’d never find on a real burger. It’s best not to beg the comparison. But I may soon be eating my words—a Stanford biochemist claims to have made a totally convincing veggie burger with “plant blood.”

In addition to being a scientist—and in addition to being one of the folks responsible for the PLOS (Public Library of Science) journal—Patrick Brown has been vegetarian for over 30 years, and has been vegan for 7. A couple years ago at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, he called animal farming “the biggest environmental catastrophe.” He’s not wrong. According to the Food & Agriculture Organization of the UN, livestock—or more accurately, their methane emissions (read: farts)—comprises 37% of human-caused methane and 65% of human-caused nitrous oxide. These two gases contribute to the greenhouse effect far more than carbon dioxide does, and, overall, these emissions amount to more than those generated by cars and airplanes combined.

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Melting Ice In Western Antarctica Decreases Earth’s Gravity

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antarcticaThe Western portion of Antarctica has melted so much over the past few years that Earth’s gravity is weaker than it used to be. I’m just going to leave that here and let it sink in for a second.

The European Space Agency (ESA) has special satellites that it uses to measure variations in Earth’s gravitational field. Basically, the mission involves sending up two satellites that remain in orbit near one another. Because of their proximity, slight changes between their positions signify changes in gravity, which computer programs then interpret. From 2009-2013, the ESA conducted the “Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer” (GOCE) mission, which gave scientists thorough and accurate gravitational measurements on an unprecedented level. The program was able to map the predictable variations due to the planet’s rotation and other geological shifts, but the most recently measured shift is much more substantial than that.

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Marriott Jams Wi-Fi, Gets Smacked Down By FCC

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marriottI can’t think of the last time I stayed in a Marriott hotel, and according to this next story, that’s a good thing — unless one happens to want to disappear from social media and the internet in general. The Gayland Opryland Nashville resort, which is run by Marriott, recently got busted for a cute little scam involving making it impossible to stay connected to WiFi, even hotspots.

Like all conference centers, the Marriott charges exhibitors and organizers for WiFi. This might seem strange, given that hotel guests generally get free Internet access, but trade shows and conferences are a whole different story — Marriott’s free WiFi doesn’t extend to conference or meeting rooms. Hotels rake in money by charging for access, which organizers and exhibitors pay because everyone needs or wants to be connected while making presentations, updating social media, networking, etc. But these days, savvy guests and organizers can bypass those restrictions using 4G LTE networks and portable hotspots.

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No, You Still Can’t Shoot Down A Drone, Even If It’s Coming Right For You

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droneThere’s been lots of talk about the legality of drones lately, especially when it comes to the FAA regulations commercial drone manufacturers are waiting for. But it turns out that’s not the only legal question in this area, regardless of whether they’re flown for commercial or private purposes. Now the question seems to be: what can we do about drones that might be flying over our homes or private land? The answer: sorry, but you can’t shoot them down.

It’s hardly surprising that pissed off citizens are resorting to shooting drones out of the sky like modern-day equivalent to skeet shooting. It happened just last week on the New Jersey Shore when a 32-year-old resident got fed up with a drone flying over his home, and riddled it with bullet holes, which did the trick. The owner says he was trying to get some aerial photos of a construction job on a friend’s home nearby. He heard gunshots, lost control of the drone, which crashed, and then called the cops.