When everyone’s faces are… missing

photo by Alex Iby, courtesy of Unsplash

You stare into a mirror. Your reflection stares back at you.

You’ve never seen that face before in your life.

In fact, when you look away from the mirror, you have no idea what you look like at all.

It might sound like the beginning of a psychological horror story, but face-blindness is a real life disorder. Also known as prosopagnosia, the bizarre neurological condition makes it difficult for people to recognize familiar faces. Sometimes, that includes their own.

Today, an estimated 150 million people worldwide experience some form of prosopagnosia. …


What happens when two mirrors face each other?

photo by Vale Zmeykov, courtesy of Unsplash

“A broken mirror brings seven years of bad luck.” And, according to superstition, infinite mirrors aren’t that great either.

The broken mirror superstition dates back to the ancient Romans, who believed that reflecting surfaces possessed supernatural abilities. For them, a mirror wasn’t just a way to check out a new toga — it was a divine tool that the gods used to watch over their souls.

Breaking a mirror meant that you would break your soul, cursing yourself with bad luck. …


How bionics give amputees a leg up

photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng, courtesy of Unsplash, altered by author

Today, over 2 million Americans are amputees or live with limb loss. This figure is expected to more than double by 2050.

To compensate for missing limbs, these individuals have a choice to turn to artificial limbs, such as bionics or prosthetics. These devices are designed to improve an individual’s quality of life by seamlessly replacing the original limb.

However, many prosthetic attachments fail to do this. Cosmetic prosthetics, also known as passive prosthetics, offer limited to no functionality for their wearer, only offering a surface-level appearance of the real limb. If the user wants to move their prosthetic, they…


Featuring the Sun’s evil twin

photo by WikiImages, courtesy of Pixabay

The field of astrophysics is a special branch of astronomy, the study of space. In astrophysics, scientists work to understand the physical nature of celestial objects and why those objects behave in the particular ways that they do.

To do this, there are two types of astronomers that work together: observational astronomers and theoretical astronomers.

An observational astronomer is someone who monitors and collects data on the observable universe. This type of work heavily relies on the use of telescopes or spacecrafts to gather important information. This can include tracking electromagnetic radiation (light emissions) from faraway objects and systems.

Next…


Explaining the Bose-Einstein condensate

photo by FLY:D , courtesy of Unsplash

Almost everyone knows the three states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas.

We learn about them in middle school during science class and we constantly interact with them in our day-to-day life. Each of these three states have their own unique physical properties based on the interactions between the atoms that they are made up of.

Beyond these three “core” states, some of us are also familiar with a fourth state of matter, plasma.

Like gas, plasma has no fixed shape or volume. The density of plasma is also less intense than that of a solid or liquid. However, plasma…


What’s covered in spikes, bleeds poison, and shoots off exploding projectiles? A tree, obviously.

photo by Alex Cao, courtesy of Unsplash

Trees are great:

They improve our air quality and give us oxygen to breathe. They provide a home for all sorts of critters and wildlife. On a hot day, they give us a cool, shady place to hide from the sun.

But they can also kill you.

The sandbox tree, scientifically known as Hura crepitans, thrives on sunlight. It is native to a few sunny spots in the Americas and the diverse grounds of the Amazon Rainforest. In other select locations, such as Tanzania, Africa, the sandbox tree has claimed the title of an invasive species. …


Looking behind the scenes of nature’s lightshows

image by Free-Photos, courtesy of Pixabay

If you ever take a trip to the north pole, make sure you look up! Aurora borealis, also called the Northern Lights, is a dazzling array of colorful, flickering lights that stretch across different patches of sky.

The lesser known aurora australis also creates the same effect at Earth’s southern pole. However, you won’t be able to see the fluorescent phenomenon anywhere else beyond these poles.

This is due to Earth’s magnetic field or magnetosphere which is responsible for deflecting charged particles and harmful ultraviolet rays from entering our atmosphere.

These excited particles originate from the Sun, which is constantly…


Only figuratively speaking though… right?

image by Gerd Altmann, courtesy of Pixabay

Over 200,000 people across the globe are wearing a brain implant right now. For the majority of these people, brain implants have drastically changed their lives for the better, tackling medical conditions that would have made day-to-day living much more challenging.

These feats of neurotechnology work by recording electrical activity that originates from neurons inside the brain. Think of neurons as your body’s information messengers, firing off patterns of electrical pulses to transmit data across the brain and to the rest of your nervous system.

Brain implants, or brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), act as electrodes and monitor those pulses. Taking BCIs…


How space compromises the immune system

image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images, courtesy of Pixabay

Astronauts must undergo thorough medical examinations and quarantine before being approved for spaceflight. This is because the circumstances of disease and other conditions become much more serious in outer space than on the surface of the Earth.

For something as simple as a cold, astronauts face novel challenges. On one particular Apollo 7 mission, astronaut Wally Schirra succumbed to a common cold which eventually spread to other members of the crew. For illnesses such as this or influenza, the symptoms become much more prominent in space.

In the common cold incident, congestion becomes so strong that ears of the infected…


Thanks, immune system!

image by Cenczi, courtesy of Pixabay

“Allergies? Why do they even exist? Curse you grass pollen!”

These are the words of Anna Thomas, 16, who is one of the 50+ millions of Americans that deal with allergies every year. For Anna, her personal allergen is grass, with an emphasis on ragweed. If she breathes in the pollen from this type of grass, it can result in a sore throat, runny nose, itchy eyes, and constant sneezing. Sometimes, Anna’s symptoms become so severe that they wake her up in the middle of the night, leaving her sleep deprived the next morning.

Anna’s experiences are shared by many…

Catherine Rasgaitis

Hey there! I write about discoveries and innovations in tech & science.

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