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Do wormholes exist? Scientists aren't sure, but they may know how to spot them

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 17:38
Wormholes are a veritable mainstay when it comes to science fiction. They're the ever-convenient methods of travel so many characters use to get from one place to another in just enough time to avert a crisis. Here's the thing about them, though: scientists ...

Tracking satellites through crowdsourcing

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 17:35
A newly announced project called TruSat uses crowdsourced data to track satellites in an effort to hold companies and nations operating in space accountable. Why it matters: Space junk is a growing concern for those in the space industry, as companies plan ...

Who Will Build the First Commercial Space Station?

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 17:16
When Michael Suffredini decided to retire from the Johnson Space Center in 2015, he knew he wasn't actually done with space. “I was just looking for the right opportunity to use everything I'd learned,” he says. The Texas native had learned a lot during an ...

Bird bacteria work like a come-on to other birds

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 17:12
Birds use odor to identify other birds, but if the bacteria that produce those odors changes, it can make it tough to communicate or find a mate, new research shows. Smell is a basic sense vital for the survival of humans and animals. It warns of danger, aids in ...

NASA reveals 'galaxy of horrors' exoplanet posters in time for Halloween

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 17:11
Welcome to the sinister side of space, where "no one can hear you scream," as the original "Alien" movie poster warned. Just in time for Halloween, NASA released two new posters on Tuesday showcasing exoplanets HD 189733 b and PSR B1257+12 c, ...

Can't stop putting your hand in the candy dish? Scientists may have found why

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 16:28
Research has indicated that melanin-concentrating hormone is linked with appetite for food or drugs, but scientists hadn't previously understood how it affects impulse control. (Photo/iStock). A national team of scientists has identified a circuit in the brain that ...

Bird eggs have different colors around the world, and this study has an idea why

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 16:17
Bird eggs come in different shapes, sizes, and patterns. Biologists have long puzzled over why these differences happen in the first place, but the major drivers of variation have remained unclear. Of course, there are many different parameters at play: genetic ...

New MIT Weapon to Fight Climate Change

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 16:07
Scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) may have created the most efficient carbon capture technology that can clean a huge amount of greenhouse gas from the planet's atmosphere. The new method is significantly less energy-intensive ...

Satellite surveillance may be less of a privacy concern than you think

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 16:04
The ESA Aeolus satellite is used for Earth observation. ESA. About 5,300 satellites orbit the Earth right now, which also means that thousands of cameras take images in real time above you. Major advances in satellite photography since the 1957 launch of ...

The Air Force's Mysterious X-37B Space Plane Lands After 2 Years Doing Classified Space Plane Stuff

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 15:59
(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) — The Air Force's mystery space plane is back on Earth, following a record-breaking two-year mission. The X-37B landed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida early Sunday. The Air Force is mum about what the plane did in ...

Why Do Bird Eggs Come in Different Colors?

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 15:54
From baby blue to black-speckled beige, bird eggs are as varied as the species that lay them. Why bird eggs come in so many colors is still something of a mystery, but new research identifies a reason for a common trend among birds, especially those up ...

Inverse Daily: A former asteroid gets a major promotion

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 15:51
Before you look at this slightly odd image of a shirtless Norman Reedus in the Death Stranding video game, get caught up on the most essential science and tech news of the day below. We've got a piping-hot review of the new Amazon Echo Buds, a precise ...

Bizarre Ghostly 'Space Face' For Halloween Found By NASA's Hubble Space Telescope

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 15:48
Are you ready for Halloween? Space is. Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have captured two galaxies colliding in space that resemble a ghostly face. What does the image show? Based on an observation made on June 19, 2019 in ...

Intuitive virtual reality: Bimodal 'electronic skin' developed

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 15:24
Date: October 29, 2019; Source: Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf; Summary: Through the crafty use of magnetic fields, scientists have developed the first electronic sensor that can simultaneously process both touchless and tactile stimuli.

Scientists invent animal-free testing of lethal neurotoxins

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 15:23
Date: October 29, 2019; Source: University of Queensland; Summary: Animal testing will no longer be required to assess a group of deadly neurotoxins, thanks to new research. A new technique could replace conventional methods of testing paralytic ...

Third-party genetic genealogy site is vulnerable to compromised data, impersonations

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 15:22
DNA testing services like 23andMe, Ancestry.com and MyHeritage are making it easier for people to learn about their ethnic heritage and genetic makeup. People can also use genetic testing results to connect to potential relatives by using third-party sites, ...

Chameleons' weird speedy tongues inspire faster soft robots

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 15:14
Getting inspiration from a chameleon's tongue, researchers have created soft robots that can recreate high-powered and high-speed motions using stored elastic energy. Chameleons, salamanders, and many toads use stored elastic energy to launch their ...

Turning a dangerous toxin into a biosensor

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 15:03
Some types of bacteria have the ability to punch holes into other cells and kill them. They do this by releasing specialized proteins called "pore-forming toxins" (PFTs) that latch onto the cell's membrane and form a tube-like channel that goes through it.

Structured light promises path to faster, more secure communications

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 15:00
Structured light is a fancy way to describe patterns or pictures of light, but deservedly so as it promises future communications that will be both faster and more secure. Quantum mechanics has come a long way during the past 100 years but still has a long way ...

Manifold Garden Review - Stairways To Puzzle Heaven

Game Spot Reviews - Tue, 10/29/2019 - 15:00

You stand in a room and the floor is the ceiling, or maybe it's the other way around? No, everything is the floor and you're falling through infinity. Welcome to the Manifold Garden, a game where you need to prepare to have your mind warped by the beauty of repetition and some seriously impressive puzzles. It is an Escher-inspired fever dream of a game--you have the ability to allocate gravity to any side of an environment at any time, and it's surprising just how many different puzzles the game manages to pull from this concept, with new elements gradually being introduced at just the right pace to grant further complexity without being completely daunting.

To start, there are colour-coded cubes which need to be placed on switches to open doors or other mechanisms. It doesn't take long to discover these colours are also relevant to their own personal gravity and as such, cubes can only be moved when the world is in that orientation. Add stairs going in different directions, switch combinations, and staggered environments, and even these relatively basic puzzles take some mind-bending to get accustomed to, which makes for further payoff when solutions come.

It takes a while to adjust to the changes in orientation, so for the first few hours, I often found myself getting lost and even feeling a little nauseous and headachy (though it's worth noting that there are settings to adjust field-of-view, which helps). I found that the more I came to understand the concepts, the less this happened, as my mind stopped fighting what it was seeing. Towards the end of the game, I could rapidly make these changes; I could almost hear the click in my brain when everything started to become intuitive and second nature. Things that weren’t immediately obvious, like understanding that the gravity of one block can be used to stop another from falling in order to trigger a seemingly impossible switch, went from edge-of-the-brain concepts to be instinctual.

There was one particularly devilish puzzle where I had to use several different cubes to hold a single, vital cube in place. It had to be done in a specific way and sequence to take advantage of their individual gravities. When I first approached this problem, it hadn’t previously occurred to me that this was even possible, and I was left stumped for ages. The payoff for working it out, however, was not only immensely satisfying but helped open my mind for further puzzles. I began using cubes to hold various things in place, and even as steps for myself (even when it was unnecessary to solve an actual puzzle). It’s in these moments where I felt like my power in this ever-changing space was growing, where the game made me feel like a master of my own domain.

The aesthetics of Manifold Garden are confrontingly beautiful, in that they are both stark and complex. The music is minimal, though it builds in peak moments with intense synths which seem to mirror the environment. There are practically no textures to speak of and almost everything is made of simple polygons; the environments are littered with stairs which seemingly go in every direction, whether or not you know that's what they are at the time. Some of the environments are simple, like a beautiful block tree with running water displays in a sort of Japanese garden aesthetic. Others are incredibly complex with moving parts in multiple directions. When looked at up close, it can appear dull and barren, but a step back will often reveal the psychedelic beauty in greater patterns.

The physical stages themselves actually repeat endlessly into the void of the world, and this is more than just an aesthetic choice--it allows you to fall off a ledge forever and then land back on otherwise unreachable areas, creating another obtuse mechanic that comes into play during later puzzles. In every way, Manifold Garden's world challenges you to think differently while maintaining that you're always safe--there isn't death or fall damage of any kind. This allows you to explore without fear, while also taking the time to internalise the game's logic.

As you progress through the increasingly layered architectural stages, you'll find little-to-no hand-holding and for the most part, this is fantastic. There's just enough direction that you get the satisfying sensation of working things out yourself, which comes with a deep feeling of accomplishment. Even as new, unexpected elements are added, they're grounded with enough familiar imagery that you can eventually decipher new solutions with minimal prompting. For example, cube trees grow cube fruits, which can be planted in special areas and given water to provide new trees and more fruit; water can move a turbine to provide the power that opens a door, allowing you to move forward. I was stumped multiple times throughout my playthrough, but it was never due to an obtuse new mechanic being added. Instead, the puzzles are all legitimately clever and tricky, which required me to look at them from literally all angles in order to work out a solution.

There's also an incredible density of puzzles. Sometimes, even traversing from one room to the next provides you with a new obstacle to reconcile your way around. Very rarely did I feel like Manifold Garden provided much reprieve. Instead, it keeps your mind constantly thinking, always looking for new angles, and firmly on the tips of your toes. But, there's also no pressure--no enemies, no time limits--and this makes Manifold Garden feel like an intensely cerebral experience from start to finish.

There was one puzzle in Manifold Garden that was so tricky I couldn't solve it myself--and I later discovered it was only because I'd missed something from an area I thought was finished. The game doesn't always do enough to provide you with clues to solve its problems--in this one occasion, I wasted possibly over an hour trying to find a solution where there was none. There were a few other moments where I felt that a little more direction would have been welcome, or where I solved a puzzle on accident and missed an important lesson as a result. However, being forced to work out every other problem in the game for myself was so gratifying that in the end, I felt like it was worth the hours lost to obscurity.

As I stood in the impossible world of the Manifold Garden, I felt tested and worthy. Its puzzles are incredibly satisfying and offer a very clever blend of step-by-step knowledge-building with increasingly challenging solutions. The environments are awe-inspiring in their endless repetition, but repetition isn't a trait reflected in the game's challenges. There is always something new, or a new way to look at something old, as you traverse through the infinite horizon. Manifold Garden is a feast for the eyes and the mind, so long as you can wrap both around what it has to offer.

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