Astronomers have discovered the first star with an almost pure oxygen atmosphere
1 APR 2016

Scientists have identified a new kind of star that up until this point had only been considered hypothetically: an ancient sun that has lived so long, its outermost layer is now composed almost entirely of pure oxygen.

When relatively small stars – those with less than 10 times the mass of our Sun – get close to the end of their lifespan, they shed their outer layers and become what are called white dwarfs. Under high gravity, the heaviest elements descend into the star’s dense core, while lighter elements such as hydrogen and helium rise to the surface.

At least, that’s what usually happens. This star, dubbed SDSS J124043.01+671034.68, bucks the trend, with astronomers discovering its outer atmosphere is essentially greater than 99.99 percent oxygen. Only traces of other elements have been detected, including neon, magnesium, and silicon, but as for the hydrogen and helium you’d expect to find dominating the surface, there’s no sign.

It’s a puzzle for the team that found it, led by Souza Oliveira Kepler from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. “What happened to all these light elements?” he told William Herkewitz at Popular Mechanics. “How did they all get stripped away?”

The answer isn’t entirely clear, but astronomers have long speculated that elements being stripped from a star’s surface over time could be a possibility. If that’s what’s happened here, SDSS J124043.01+671034.68 (or ‘Dox’ as the researchers have nicknamed it) is the first evidence of the phenomenon taking place.

In any case, this oxygen-dominated star is a true one-of-a-kind in terms of the solar bodies we know about, being the only star among some 32,000 white dwarfs with such a pristine oxygen atmosphere.

“This white dwarf was incredibly unexpected,” Kepler says. “And because we had no idea anything like it could even exist, that made it all the more difficult to find.”

But how did the other elements get stripped away? Nobody knows for sure, but Kepler and his colleagues have a couple of ideas. It’s possible that Dox could be part of a binary star system, and that interactions with another star in the system somehow peeled away its other atmospheric elements, exposing an oxygen envelope underneath.

Alternatively, something within the star, such as a massive pulse of burning carbon at Dox’s core, might have flared outwards, eliminating lighter elements on the surface.

We won’t understand until we learn more about these kinds of rare stars, but the great thing about the discovery of Dox is it’s already reshaping what we know about stellar evolution – particularly with a view to how binary systems could impact the development of the stars moving within them.

“I think the main problem is that we have dedicated the last 50 years to [calculating] the evolution of stars that are not interacting with each other,” said Kepler, “when at least 30 percent of stars interact with a binary companion.”

The findings are reported in Science.




Animal brought back to life after spending 30 years frozen
The waterbears were retrieved from frozen moss sample collected in Antarctica in 1983

Researchers have successfully revived microscopic creatures that had been kept frozen for 30 years.

Tardigrades, also known as waterbears or moss piglets, are tiny water-dwelling organisms. They’re segmented, with eight legs, and measure 1mm in length.

Scientists at at Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research retrieved the creatures from a frozen moss sample collected in Antarctica in 1983. The sample had been stored at −20 °C for just over three decades.


Two waterbears were resuscitated. One of them died after 20 days, but the other went on to successfully reproduce with a third specimen hatched from a frozen egg.

It laid 19 eggs, of which 14 hatched successfully.

Found throughout the world, tardigrades can survive extreme pressure, such as deep underwater, and can even live in the vacuum of space for several days.

When they’re frozen, the creatures enter a state called cryptobiosis, in which their metabolic processes shut down, and they show no visible signs of life.



“The present study extends the known length of long-term survival in tardigrade species considerably,” said researchers.

The previous survival record for adult tardigrades under frozen conditions was eight years, and a much earlier study had suggested that the upper limit for survival under normal atmospheric oxygen conditions was about 10 years.

“We want to unravel the mechanism for long-term survival by looking into damage to tardigrades’ DNA and their ability to repair it,” said research lead Megumu Tsujimoto.

National Institute of Polar Research now plans to work on examining damage to the water bear’s genes and its recovery functions to achieve a better understanding of its long-term survival mechanism.

Hardy though the tardigrades in this study undoubtedly were, they didn’t beat the record for survival in a frozen state: that’s currently held by a nematode worm that managed nearly 39 years.




The Zeer Pot



Hidden Cell Phone Contract Perks You Should Be Taking Advantage Of

Like death, taxes, and never-ending Fast and the Furious sequels, exorbitant cell phone bills are unfortunately the only sure things in life. However, unless you’re a fine print fanatic, you probably aren’t taking full advantage of all the extra perks packed into the contract you signed with your wireless carrier. We scoped out the country’s four largest to see what you might be missing out on.

Flickr/Mike Mozart


Get access to the NFL Mobile App
Via Verizon’s free app, customers can stream NFL playoff games all weekend long, the NFL Network 24/7, and the Superbowl. Considering what you’d otherwise shell out for a cable package to get that sort of access, this is big.

Take advantage of free hotspot tethering and cloud storage
If you’re enrolled in the MORE Everything plan, you can tether your phone to other devices and connect your laptop/tablet to the web for free via a data connection. Plus, you also get 25 GB of free cloud storage, and unlimited international text messaging from the US. Earn back data
Using the Kickbit app to answer surveys, shop for stuff, and sign up for free trials of services, you can earn free MBs of data, which are automatically applied to your account. For those of us who regularly max out before the end of a billing cycle, this might actually save you $15 or more a month. Score an employee discount
Does the company you work for offer a special Verizon discount for its employees? It’s entirely possible you have no idea, but you can easily find out if you’re eligible right here. Push for a Loyalty Plan
Like its competitors, Verizon’s been known to pull out all the stops for customers who might walk away after their contract’s up. If you’re at the end of your current contract and have been a customer for years, you owe it to yourself to call them up to see what they’re willing to do to keep you around. If you’re lucky you might end up on the storied Loyalty Plan.

Flickr/Mike Mozart


Slash your bill by switching providers
Sprint isn’t messing around when it comes to attracting new customers. The aggressive tactics mean they’ll cut whatever you’re paying Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile in half, and even pony up enough to cover your termination fee to swiftly make the switch.

Text and browse the web for free abroad
Sprint Global Roaming is a free add-on option that gives you unlimited text and data privileges in dozens of foreign countries, so your won’t end paying as much in roaming fees as you do on airfare. Score an employee discount
Are you one of the lucky ones whose employer is giving you hot, hot discounts from Sprint? Find out here. Get your fill of the NBA and network TV
With the Sprint NBA Game Time app, customers get free access to live coverage of every live NBA game including home and away radio coverage, real-time stats, and video highlights. Plus if you download the Spring TV app you can watch networks like NBC, Disney, ESPN, and The Weather Channel live.

Flickr/Mike Mozart


Automatically connect to WiFi Hotspots
Who has time to plug in a WiFI password these days? As an AT&T customer you don’t have to, since you’ll automatically connect to its affiliated Hot Spots, which are located in chains like Starbucks, McDonalds, Barnes & Noble, and Home Depot.

Bask in rollover data, international texting, and cloud storage
Anyone on the Mobile Share Value plan is privy to red hot rollover data action, meaning any unused data from your allotted monthly allowance is rolled over to the next billing period. The plan also provides free unlimited international texts (from the US), and 50 GB of cloud storage. Get in on that sweet, sweet employee discount
Check here to find out whether your employer has an arrangement with AT&T that might set you up for serious savings on your monthly bill. Earn extra data
Like Verizon’s Kickbit, AT&T’s Data Perks app makes it incredibly easy to earn extra data by simply taking surveys and shopping. Once you finish a specific survey or buy an eligible product, you’ll bank some data, up to 1GB per billing cycle.

Flickr/Thomas Hawk


Stream music all day everyday, for free
Rather than burn through your data plan binging on Spotify playlists, every T-Mobile customer on a Simple Choice plan can stream as much music as they want (via Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Rhapsody, iHeartRadio, and more) without using up an ounce of data.

Get your other gadgets online
You can turn your phone into a hotspot for free and tether up to 10 other devices. Basically, that means that in a pinch or while on the road, you can turn your phone into a wireless router to get your laptop or tablet online. Text and talk to friends across the border for free
Yep, you can conference call and exchange emojis with any pals in Mexico or Canada without being on the hook for extra charges. Hang on to unused data
Most of T-Mobile’s most popular plans come with Data Stash, which automatically rolls any of your unused data (up to 20GB) to the next month. Text while you fly, for free
T-Mobile’s partnership with Gogo allows its customers to text without paying for in-flight WiFi. Binge Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and more for free
The new (and already somewhat beleaguered) BingeOn feature gives customers the ability to stream content from their favorite services without using any of the high-speed data counted in their plan (in other words, you can watch unlimited amounts of Netflix/HBOGO/Hulu at sub-4G LTE speeds for free). Pick up a premium subscription to the MLB At Bat app
Big baseball fan? If you’re on T-Mobile you get access to the MLB At Bat app‘s premium features including live game streams, pitch-tracking, and in-game highlights — which would set you back a cool $20 if you weren’t a customer.



NASA Makes Clouds that Rain:





29 Apps That Will Make Traveling So Much Easier

All you’ll have to worry about is having a good time.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed


Roadtrippers is a must-have for anyone planning a road trip in the United States. You enter where you want to go, make selections depending on what you want to see (natural wonders! weird stuff!), and the app will create a customized map for you.

Download here.

Find other cool places to stop on your journey using AroundMe, iExit, and Field Trip.

2.Hotel Tonight

Get last-minute discounts on top-rated hotels using Hotel Tonight. You can only book a week in advance, so it’s not the best option for a long-planned family vacation…but for a fun, spur-of-the-moment getaway? Perfect.

Download here.

Another similar app to try: Roomlia.


You’ll get your lowest airfares ever thanks to Hopper’s finely tuned price-prediction feature. First it figures out the best time for you fly, then it figures out the best time for you to buy tickets for that flight.

Download here.

4.Travel Math

Warner Bros.

If your brain is frazzled at the mere idea of organizing a trip, let Travel Math do all the calculations for you: it’ll measure distances, travel times, budgets—whatever you need to know.

Download here.

5.Ship Mate

Cruise crazy? This is the #1 app when it comes to vacations taken on a ship. You can take a look at deck plans, read reviews of the different ports you’ll be stopping at, chat with other people who will be on your ship, and more.

Download here.


If you’re traveling outside your country and have to depend on Wi-Fi for internet, it’s smart to download all the maps you’ll need in advance at CityMaps2Go: they’re stored offline, so you’ll avoid roaming charges.

Download here.

Another great option = Maplets.

7.Pack Point

Pack Point helps you decide what to pack depending on where you’re going, what the weather will be like, and what sort of activities you’ll be participating in.

Download here.

Another similar option – Travel List.


Tripit merges your flight, restaurant, hotel, and car rental confirmation emails into one “master itinerary” to keep you organized and where you need to be for your entire trip.

Download here.


Your daughter is throwing up everywhere and suddenly going on vacation is no longer an option: What do you do about your hotel room? Get rid of it using Roomer. You list your room and wait to hear from someone who wants to take over your reservation — no more losing money on cancellation fees!

Download here.

10.Jet Lag Rooster

Jet Lag Rooster will tell you how to shift your sleeping schedule in the days before a trip so you won’t be exhausted once you reach your destination.

Download here.

11.Dude Where’s My Car?

20th Century Fox

The last thing you want to do when you get back from a trip is wander around the airport parking garage for 30 minutes, exasperatedly searching for your vehicle: Dude Where’s My Car keeps track of *exactly* where you parked and will guide you back to that spot. Plus, it also helps you find parking.

Download here.


Did you know that you can use a ton of airport lounges even if you aren’t a first class passenger? Sometimes it’s worth paying a fee if it means getting to wait for your flight in a comfortable spot—Loungebuddy will let you know what your options are at the airport you’re flying out of.

Download here.

13.My TSA

Universal Pictures

Can you bring _____ through airport security? Open up My TSA and you’ll know in an instant. You can also use the app to look up how long the security wait times are at your airport so you’ll be sure to arrive early enough to make your flight.

Download here.

For more help navigating an airport like a pro, take a look at GateGuru and Flight Aware.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

14.Track My Tour


This app allows your loved ones to “join” you on a trip from the comfort of their homes: they “follow a breadcrumb trail of your tour by visiting the link you sent them,” while you document the most exciting spots you visit as you go—it’s the easiest way to keep people in the loop.

Download here.



Put together your dream trip itinerary using the guides at Unlike, an app that “connects tastemakers and trendsetters around the globe with unique, essential and inspiring places.”

Download here.

You should also check out 12hrs, Spotted By Locals, and Trover.


Providing you with “90+ languages in your pocket,” iTranslate is one of the best translator apps available. If you’re heading to the Netherlands and you can’t speak Dutch, this is a necessity.

Download here.

Another awesome option = Trip Lingo.

17.City Papers

Find out what’s happening in the city or town you’re visiting using the collection of local newspapers available on the City Papers App: you’ll be able to discover concerts, craft sales, and other events that may not even be listed online.

Download here.


When you’re in a new place (for work or on vacation), open up this app and it will give you a list of popular nearby bars *plus* what sorts of beer are on tap there. You want to to find someplace that serves a state-specific microbrew? This is how to hunt a glass of that down.

Download here.

19.TV Food Maps

If you’re more interested in food tourism than beer tourism, take a gander at TV Food Maps: it’s a guide to restaurants that are featured on popular TV series like Chopped and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

Download here.

For more dining recommendations, check out Flavour and Open Table.

20.Happy Cow

Depending on what part of the country (or world) you’re in, it can be difficult to find vegan or vegetarian friendly restaurants: When you want some help with your search, browse through the listings on Happy Cow—you’ll find dining establishments with meat-free options all over the world.

Download here.


It’s a horrible moment when you realize that you need a file stored on your home computer when you’re 700 (or even just 30) miles away from it: LogMeIn allows you to access (and control) your home computer from anywhere.

Download here.


Vayable is a way to discover “unique experiences offered by locals” on your next trip. All of the available options sound so much cooler than traditional city tours: A midnight street food crawl! A guide to the most photogenic places in Paris! DIY seafood with a sea forager!

Download here.

23.My Disney Experience

Don’t enter the gates of the Magic Kingdom at Disney World without downloading this useful app. You can access real-time wait times, so keep checking to see how long the wait is at Splash Mountain and *SPRINT* over there when it says it’s only 15 minutes. You can also make dining reservations, look up parade showtimes, and more.

Download here.

If you’re going to Disneyland, download this app instead.

24.Currency Converter

If you want a simple way to figure out how much a Euro equals in USD, use Currency Converter (it will do calculations for over 160 currencies from all over the world).

Download here.

Don’t piss off the local waiters and bellhops—check out Tip Fast to see what the typical tipping habits are in over 240 countries and regions.

Download here.

26. Wi-Fi Finder

Use Wi-Fi Finder to find locations where you can use Wi-Fi for free. It works worldwide, so be sure to download it before your next trip to avoid being charged pricey roaming fees.

Download here.

27. Panoramio

If you’re going on a trip, you want to take some awesome pictures to make everyone who follows you on Instagram jealous—use the map function on Panoramio to easily find picturesque places to snap a few ‘grams and let the likes roll in.

Download here.

28. Goldstar

Find half-price tickets to live entertainment in cities all over the world (from concerts and musicals to comedy shows and sporting events).

Download here.

If you’re travelling to New York and you want to see a show on Broadway, try TodayTix.

29. Postagram

Have a technophobe friend or relative that doesn’t really text or check their email? Do you just believe that snail mail is more special? Use Postagram to easily send photos from your vacation as actual postcards.

Download here.

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