science

Insane-looking construction site in Yokohama is, amazingly, neither a giant robot nor a deathtrap

I have a friend whose college professor was fond of saying, “Anyone can make a bridge that doesn’t fall down, but only a civil engineer can make one that barely stays up!” The point he was making is that an important task of civil engineering is designing structures that are sturdy and safe without incurring unnecessary costs and wasting materials, often in ways that might not seem intuitive to those who don’t have an engineering background.

For example, if you were building a support column for a highway overpass, you might think the base needs to be the sturdiest part, but the planners of this construction project in Yokohama beg to differ.

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No pixie dust here! The hidden, scientifically accurate backstory of Tokyo DisneySea’s volcano

Tokyo Disney Resort, as anyone can tell you, is a land of magic and whimsy. As we’ve shown before, it’s also somewhere you can experience the pinnacle of attentive service, whether you’re an inattentive motorist or a lost cat. But did you know that in addition to all that, Tokyo DisneySea is actually a place that you can enjoy for its subtle yet precise depictions of natural science?

It’s true, as explained by one Japanese Twitter user who’s uncovered and documented the geological principles behind one of the park’s most iconic features.

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Plan to send Evangelion “weapon” to moon is fastest-growing Japanese crowdfunding project ever

While it’s taken some time to catch on in Japan, crowdfunding is slowly but surely becoming a way for entrepreneurs to find funding for their projects that might be just a little too close to the latter end of the “genius vs. madness” spectrum for ordinary financing routes. As in other countries, it’s most noticeably gaining traction for pop culture endeavors, such as video games or anime-related initiatives, and armchair sociologists may want to shake their heads when they hear the fastest accumulation of crowdfunding money ever in Japan is for something that claims it’s going to recreate a scene from venerated mecha anime Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Before they start muttering about, “Those stupid otaku,” though, critics might want to bear in mind that while the project’s stellar start is in large part thanks to its tie-in to science fiction, should the project succeed the Evangelion marketing gimmick will be powering an important achievement in real science.

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Forget the dress, how many shades of blue do you see here?

The internet was all aflame last week with debates over the color of a certain dress, so we should know by now that our eyes are damn, dirty liars. In case you want more proof of that, take a look at the picture above. How many shades of blue do you see? Are you sure about that?

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Shipwreck of massive Japanese battleship discovered after more than 70 years 【Video】

No one would blame Paul Allen if, having reached the age of 62, he decided to relax and take life easy. After co-founding Microsoft and becoming one of the wealthiest people on the planet, most of us would feel we’d earned a little break.

Allen, though, continues to take on new projects. Owner in whole or part of three professional sports teams, Allen is also major philanthropist who makes donations to further medicine, science, and ecological conservation.

He also owns the 15th largest yacht in the world, the Octopus. While it’s luxuriously appointed, the ship also takes part in humanitarian and research missions, with its latest accomplishment being the discovery of the sunken Japanese battleship Musashi.

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Mummified remains of monk found inside 1,000-year-old Buddha statue

When you think of mummies your mind probably goes straight to Egypt and Halloween. But not all mummies are pyramid-dwelling, bandaged pharaohs. Asia has had its fair share of mummies over the millennia as well, but instead of pharaohs they were Taoist and Buddhist monks, and instead of being mummified post-mortem, they mummified themselves before dying.

Recently, researchers in the Netherlands have discovered the mummified remains of a Buddhist monk who is thought to be Liuquan, a master of the Chinese Meditation School, within a bronze Buddha statue! Keep in mind, this guy lived around 1100 AD!

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Hello Kitty goes to space in awesome junior high science experiment 【Video】

Fans’ love for Hello Kitty has taken her all over the word. Aside from her many enterprises in her native Japan, Sanrio’s most famous mascot has been at the center of ventures in the U.S., Taiwan, and China. You could even say the character’s popularity has reached astronomical proportions, just like Kitty-chan herself did when she made a trip into space as part of an awesome junior high school science experiment.

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Autism researchers in Japan investigate whether oxytocin nasal spray could alleviate symptoms

While the following research study at the University of Tokyo has been going on for over a year now, we feel it’s important enough to bring to your attention, especially following recent medically related events. For the past month or so in the States, autism has once again been thrust into the national spotlight surrounding a “debate” about whether childhood vaccinations could lead to the neurodevelopmental disorder after an outbreak of the preventable measles disease was traced back to California’s Disneyland. Though the original study which found a link between vaccinating children and autism has since been disproved, a number of parents still maintain that a link exists between the two.

That being said, this ongoing Japanese study has been investigating the possibility of whether a nasal spray containing the hormone oxytocin could reduce the severity of symptoms in people with relatively mild forms of autism.  

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The internet can’t figure out why the snow melted in this pattern – Can you?

Take a look at the photo above. Yes, I know it’s just a picture of some melting snow, but take a closer look. Notice anything strange about it?

There’s only snow remaining on every other square tile. It’s melted into a snowy checkerboard, and no one has any idea why. There are no heaters or sewers or anything involved here, just good old-fashioned science, and some hypotheses are more science-y than others.

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Tuna born from mackerel: Japanese scientists develop surrogate tech to save threatened species

Last November the sushi world was struck with some bitter news: the Pacific bluefin tuna was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. While not considered endangered like its close relatives, the Atlantic and Southern bluefin tuna, it has been proclaimed as a vulnerable species.

Bluefin tuna is considered the best of the best, its tender red meat is coveted by sushi chefs and sushi consumers alike. But what will happen if the Pacific bluefin becomes extinct? Foreseeing a future of sushi connoisseurs being forced to eat tuna-shaped cakes or playing with tuna models to try to get their bluefin fix, scientists have come up with a radical new idea: use mackerel to breed bluefin tuna. 

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Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”

In 2014, Dr. Shuji Nakamura, along with two other scientists, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work in creating bright blue LEDs. In 1993, Nakamura held only a master’s degree and worked with just one lab assistant for a small manufacturer in rural Japan, yet he was able to find a solution that had eluded some the highest paid, best-educated researchers in the world.

If his story ended there, he would no doubt be the poster boy for Japanese innovation and never-say-die spirit, but in the years since his discovery, he has instigated a landmark patent case, emigrated to the US, given up his Japanese citizenship and become a vocal critic of his native country. Last week, the prickly professor gave his first Japanese press conference since picking up his Nobel and he had some very succinct advice for young Japanese: Leave.

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Toilet slides and turd hats: welcome to Tokyo’s crappiest exhibition

Imagine crowds of Japanese families donning poop-shaped plush hats and sliding into a huge toilet. No, this isn’t a scene from a dream brought on by a questionable bowl of ramen, this is just one of the many surreal exhibits from a Tokyo educational expo that organizers hoped would inspire visitors to “gain an increased appreciation of toilets.”

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Tohoku University team discovers blue light is effective at killing insects

Earlier this year Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their development of an efficient blue light-emitting diode (blue LED).

It was a well-deserved victory for the Japanese scientists whose invention continues to impact our lives in ways we often don’t even notice. It could be in the display you’re looking at right now or it could be helping some of the millions of people in parts of the world without electrical infrastructure get affordable lights for their homes.

And now in a report published in Scientific Reports, a team of researchers from Tohoku University have found a new use for blue LED. When used in the right frequency it can be an effective, safe, clean, and cheap way to kill insects. For the first time, they showed that visible light around the blue part of the spectrum is lethal to insects such as mosquitoes and fruit flies.

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Elementary school student’s “robots of the future” drawing is too creepy for words!

As we speak, scientists in Japan are hard at work on inventing a myriad of robots whose sole raison d’être is to improve quality of life for humans. Whether it’s shoveling snow, helping people to walk, or generally spreading cheer through unbelievable cuteness and dexterity (we’re talking about you, Asimo!) it’s clear to see that robots are going to feature big in our lives during the years to come. But when a drawing contest was held in Japan for elementary school students to submit their impressions of a robot-filled future, one particular entry started to gain a lot of attention on twitter for being extremely creepy in an oddly knowing way…

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Japanese TV reveals the revolting truth about the source of jasmine’s alluring fragrance

Sometimes it’s better not to know where nice things come from. That’s the lesson Japanese netizens learned last week when a TV show revealed a very unpleasant fact about why jasmine has its unique and fragrant scent.

In a segment of the variety show aptly called “it’s better that you don’t know,” the president of an “aroma school” in Tokyo revealed that the compound that gives jasmine its pleasant fragrance is also responsible for a very unwelcome smell familiar to us all.

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Just in time for 2015! Hoverboard becomes reality, proves Back to the Future was legit

Remember that scene in the classic 80’s movie Back to the Future Part II, where Marty McFly escapes a group of bullies using a floating skateboard known as a hoverboard? If you do, you probably spent your childhood longing for one of those bad boys and wondering when technology would catch up to the 2015 depicted in the film. Well, it looks like we’ve managed to make it a reality, and just before the cut-off date, too! Join us after the jump for video evidence!

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Japan introduces a new kind of needleless injection, you won’t believe how it works!

Needle phobia all boils down to “Needles? No thank you!” This seemingly innocuous fear makes many things in life quite difficult. Drawing blood, injections…sewing…are just some of the things that become very problematic. Needle(ss) to say, science fiction has been ripe with alternative injection systems, the most famous is probably the hypospray from Star Trek. While needle-free injections have existed for a while now, a Japanese research team is ready to release their invention into the world, a new kind of needle-free injection that works on the magic of bubbles and is pain FREE!

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World’s simplest build-it-yourself toy train set may also be the cleverest with just three parts

With less than a month until Christmas, hopefully you’ve been working your way through your holiday shopping list. Still, come December 24, you may find that your hectic schedule of professional and scholarly pursuits means you’ve forgotten to get a present for one of the little tykes in your family.

Rushing to the store on Christmas Eve, your spirits may fall as you find the toy department picked clean. Don’t give up hope, though! As long as the hardware section is still stocked, you can make a pretty cool “toy train” with just three incredibly common items.

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Japanese sleep experts say we’ve been using our blankets wrong, help us hate winter a little less

I hate winter. 20-plus years of living in sunny southern California didn’t do anything to help me build up a tolerance for cold weather, and honestly, if I could make like the bears and just gorge myself on salmon for a few weeks and then sleep until spring, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately, since hibernation isn’t really an option, I have to rely on a blanket and down comforter to make it through the freezing winter nights. Even still, the cold often leaves me shivering (plus grumbling, cursing, and generally complaining).

As it turns out, though, instead of blaming Old Man Winter for all my discomfort, I’m actually part of the problem, according to Japanese experts who say I’ve been using my comforter and blanket the wrong way.

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Panasonic may change the world with upcoming product…SAND!

When you think of the multinational electronics producer Panasonic, “sand” probably doesn’t immediately come to mind. However, if a new product they are looking to release meets its full potential, this new kind of sand may completely change the face of the Earth as we know it.

The picture above is not Panasonic sand, but you wouldn’t be able to tell just by looking at it anyways. Actually even if you examine their grains of soil under a microscope you wouldn’t see a difference. So let’s start by looking at what makes this dirt so special and how it could help everyone in one way or another.

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