science

It’s a Beach Day miracle as even landlocked Japan swears it can smell the sea

Japan may have an image as an all-work and no-play sort of place, but you’ve got to give the country credit for coming up with Umi no Hi. Observed on the third Monday of July, Umi no Hi literally means “Ocean Day,” but “Marine Day” and “Beach Day” would also be acceptable translations. It’s a national holiday expressly created to give everyone a day off to go have fun at the beach, and it just might be the greatest socially accepted reason ever for blowing off work.

This year, Japan got so into the spirit of the holiday that even people in prefectures with no coastline swore they could smell the sea. But was this just a summery olfactory hallucination, or a legitimate Umi no Hi miracle?

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More lifehacks! The easiest way to keep champagne from going flat, tested

There are all kinds of urban legends and so-called old wives’ tales that proclaim the health benefits, or time-saving benefits, borderline magical properties, or terrifying dangers of doing X or Y. We’ve heard them all: Don’t eat within thirty minutes of swimming or you’ll get a cramp and literally die, bundle up when it’s cold outside or you’ll get a cold (by the way, oh my god, people, stop it with this; a cold is a virus, you don’t get it from the weather), an apple a day will keep the doctor away, a watched pot never boils, etc.

It’s almost like these old sayings and legends are the pre-Internet era equivalent of lifehacks! And since we’ve sort of been on a lifehacking streak recently, we decided to give one of these a test for ourselves: Specifically, the rumor that sticking a spoon into the neck of a champagne bottle will keep it from going flat.

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Forget tech or medicine, invention most Japanese are proud of is instant ramen

Japan’s best minds have contributed quite a few important inventions to the world over the years. Did you know that the portable ECG machine was invented in Japan, for example? So were electric rice cookers, DSLR cameras, CD players, Blu-ray discs, and gaming systems. Really, the list of Japanese tech that has become integral to our daily lives goes on and on.

However, if you ask Japanese people which invention their country should be proud of, it turns out a far humbler product jumps to mind for most: instant noodles.

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World’s smallest dinosaur egg just discovered in Hyogo Prefecture

Everyone has got dinosaurs on their mind at the moment since most of the world is going crazy for Jurassic World. The exception to this is of course, Japan who can’t watch the movie until August 5. (Why Japanese movie people? Why?!?!) Not to be left out of the giant lizard game, officials in Hyogo Prefecture have confirmed the discovery of a brand new dinosaur egg. By analyzing the fossil, it is estimated that this new egg is the world’s smallest dinosaur egg ever. That’s a gigantic discovery of the tiniest kind.

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Japanese scientists treat depressed male mice by making them remember happy times with lady-mice

You’ve probably never heard of Susumu Tonegawa before, but now’s your chance to fix that! Tonegawa won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1987 for the discovery of the genetics behind antibody diversity, and he’s been going strong ever since doing his best to keep all of us ungrateful ingrates healthy.

And now Susumu and his team have recently made another breakthrough discovery: treating depression. They were able to virtually reverse the effects of stressful situations on male mice by having them remember the good times they’d spent with lady-mice. How did they do it? Read on to find out!

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The joy of pancakes, and why they might kill you

Although hardly new, Japan has been undergoing something of a boom in pancake consumption in recent years. With several trendy new restaurants opening up around the country, there has also been a significant rise in the popularity of homemade pancakes as well. Yes, with its warm and fluffy texture and mildly sweet flavor it’s certainly hard to turn down a hotcake, isn’t it?

While everyone is having a good time with their pancakes, some researchers and medical professionals would like to remind us all that pancakes and similar flour based foods have the potential to not only make us very ill, but in some cases may lead to death.

But before you go cursing out these wet blankets of science for ruining yet another beloved food with their health warnings, there’s actually an incredibly easy way to not die from eating flapjacks as well.

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Boredom might be behind brilliant Dyson fan loop spotted in Japanese electronics store

James Dyson is kind of the mad scientist/rockstar celebrity of the admittedly probably not very exciting world of vacuum cleaner and fan design. The Dyson company’s innovations have more or less revolutionized the world of electronic devices that primarily, uh… suck and blow.

But it looks like Dyson’s genius designs are so innovative that with the right amount of boredom and free time, just being in the mere presence of Dyson products can apparently inspire creative epiphany, as this infinitely looping Dyson fan layout – spotted at a Japanese electronics store – seems to prove.

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Engineers teach robot to swing katana at 1,000 foes, hopefully don’t awaken its bloodlust 【Video】

We recently took a look at the latest iteration of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, which showed us how far scientists have come in building sophisticated robots, and yet how far those machines have left to go before they can get from point A to point B without falling down hilariously. But little did we know that while we were snickering at those clumsy creations, another group of engineers were building their own robot that can perfectly perform a severing strike with a samurai sword.

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Three potentially fatal flaws with the facial recognition ATMs soon to be introduced in China

We’ve all seen how facial recognition software can go badly wrong. But it seems that China hasn’t gotten the message, since they’re going forward with a new plan for ATMs which rely on face-scanning technology.

The new machines will reportedly snap a quick picture of the person trying to access each account, and cross-reference their facial features with a database to find a match.

We can see at least three fatal flaws with this plan. Can you guess what they are?

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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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