science

Strange lights appear in the skies of Japan, but thanks to fish, not aliens

Way at the western tip of Honshu, the main island of Japan, you’ll find the town of Shimonoseki. Shimonoseki is especially famous for its always delicious, naturally poisonous, and occasionally canned blowfish, but fishermen catch all manner of tasty seafood there in the waters off the edge of Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Wherever you have boats and coastlines, you’ll also want to put a lighthouse too. But on a recent night the beacon of Shimonoseki’s Tsunoshima lighthouse wasn’t the only thing shining in the darkness, as observers also roughly a dozen mysterious-looking lights in the night sky.

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Recently discovered Japanese pufferfish included in list of top ten new species

The ocean is full of a massive array of undiscovered species, so scientists are always finding new types of creatures lurking offshore. The circle-making pufferfish discovered in 2013 are one great example of a species mankind only recently encountered for the first time.

But you don’t have to take our word for it — the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) even included it in their 2015 Top Ten New Species list!

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You probably shouldn’t look at this optical illusion, it could have long-term effects

Every once in a while we like to post an optical illusion that’s trending in Japan at the moment, and this time around we bring you the McCollough effect. However, this is one optical illusion you probably shouldn’t go through with.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re going to post the illusion for the sake of reporting on it, but you might want to consider some of our other wonderful articles instead. I read a lovely piece about sacred horses the other day.

The reason we are dissuading you from checking out this optical illusion is that its effect might not go away for quite some time. Studies have reported some after-effects last over three months. So last chance to turn back and check out our list of beautiful Japanese train stations instead.

No? Okay suit yourself and don’t say we didn’t warn you…because we’re still going to continue to warn you.

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12 eggs, 24 yolks? Woman in Japan receives batch of extraordinary eggs

Pretty much every man, woman, and child in Japan works hard. Professionals throw themselves into their jobs, homemakers take on just about every domestic responsibility by themselves, and kids are expected to not only keep up with their regular studies, but also attend cram schools after their normal classes get out in the afternoon.

But is the Japanese work ethic so infectious that it caused a group of industrious chickens to lay an entire batch of double-yolk eggs?

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Perovskite promises power-producing paint for pennies per pint

Back in 2009, a research team from the University of Tokyo led by Professor Tsutomu Miyasaka found that a substance called perovskite had the potential to generate solar power. However, at the time it only had a very weak power conversion efficiency (PCE) of about four percent and would break down in just a few minutes.

Because of these sizable flaws, not could practical use could be made of perovskite and the discovery lay dormant for a few years. Then, after a Korean team managed to double the PCE in 2011, research into the material was reignited. Now as scientists around the world continue to work on it, the PCE has become well above 20 percent and comparable with the standard silicon-based solar panels that we see today.

With perovskite being drastically cheaper to produce, more flexible to use, and now as efficient as regular solar panels, could we be on the verge of a solar energy revolution?

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Dunked your smartphone in your drink? Now you can bring it back to life!

Smartphone addiction is a worldwide problem, with many of us unable to keep our eyes off our little magic boxes long enough to cross the street safely or make occasional eye contact with loved ones.

So what happens when your beloved pocket companion takes an accidental dip into your drink (or, heaven forbid, the toilet)? Well, before you start gnashing and wailing, you might want to try out Reviveaphone, the new “magic” product that claims to bring your electronic hand buddy back from silicone heaven…

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Raw eggs may lead to heads as bald as eggs

One of Japan’s most beloved dishes is tamago kake gohan which is simply a bowl of rice topped with a raw egg and a splash of soy sauce. While the thought of consuming raw egg might be off-putting to some people, here a TKG is about as commonplace as a PB&J would be in America.

In fact raw egg is used as a garnish for many other dishes as well, which might make you wonder why everyone in Japan isn’t constantly kneeling over a high-tech toilet bowl. Actually the problem of bacteria has been licked quite some time ago, but now a new danger in raw egg consumption looms: it’s thought to cause hair loss.

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Fly a Nimbus and launch a Kamehameha at the “Dragon Ball in Science” exhibition coming to Tokyo!

Last summer the Dragon Ball in Science exhibition hit Nagoya amid much fanfare and celebration. Participants were encouraged to immerse themselves in the world of Dragon Ball as reproduced by modern science and technology such as piloting a Flying Nimbus with their minds or communicating telepathically with Goku on King Kai’s planet.

It was a big success, but many complained that they couldn’t attend with it being held out in Nagoya. So now, Dragon Ball in Science is coming to the people of Tokyo during Fuji TV’s Spring Fest 2015 LIFE !S LIVE.

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No one will be flying Evangelion spear to the moon as crowdfunding project dies on the vine

We recently talked about how the opening theme of anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, “A Cruel Angel’s Thesis,” is almost painfully ubiquitous in Japan. Overseas, though, the more famous tune is the series’ ending theme, the English-language jazz standard “Fly Me to the Moon.”

The song’s sweet sentimentalism takes on an ironic atmosphere coming after an episode of Evangelion’s painfully subversive depiction of the horrors that could unfold if 14-year-olds were actually tasked with fighting giant invading aliens. And now, “Fly Me to the Moon” will probably take on even more of a bittersweet tone for Eva fans, as the crowdfunding project to send the anime’s Spear of Longinus to the moon has fallen short of its goal.

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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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