Science + Technology

Science + Technology
3:55 am
Fri May 22, 2015

Revealed: The Ocean's Tiniest Life At The Bottom Of The Food Chain

Plankton collected in the Pacific Ocean with a 0.1mm mesh net. Seen here is a mix of multicellular organisms — small zooplanktonic animals, larvae and single protists (diatoms, dinoflagellates, radiolarians) — the nearly invisible universe at the bottom of the marine food chain.
Christian Sardet/CNRS/Tara Expeditions

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 5:54 pm

What's at the bottom of the bottom of the food chain? Well, think small ... smaller than you can see.

Tiny life forms in the ocean, too small for the naked eye to see.

There are (and scientists have done the math) trillions of microorganisms in the ocean: plankton, bacteria, krill (they're maybe bigger than "micro," but not by much), viruses, protists and archaea (they're like bacteria, but they aren't bacteria).

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Science + Technology
11:23 am
Sat May 16, 2015

'Playing Around With Telescopes' To Explore Secrets Of The Universe

The 200-inch Hale Telescope, a masterpiece of engineering at Caltech's Palomar Observatory, was the world's largest telescope until 1993.
Scott Kardel/Palomar Observatory Courtesy of Palomar Observatory/California Institute of Technology

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 12:26 pm

Shrinivas Kulkarni, an astronomy and planetary science professor at the California Institute of Technology, is a serious astronomer. But not too serious.

"We astronomers are supposed to say, 'We wonder about the stars and we really want to think about it,' " says Kulkarni — in other words, think deep thoughts. But he says that's not really the way it is.

"Many scientists, I think, secretly are what I call 'boys with toys,' " he says. "I really like playing around with telescopes. It's just not fashionable to admit it."

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Science + Technology
10:19 am
Fri May 8, 2015

Scientists Crack A 50-Year-Old Mystery About The Measles Vaccine

Worth a little pain? Back in 1990, a school boy got a measles shot in the U.K., and it turns out, he got more than protection against the measles.
Photofusion UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Sun May 17, 2015 8:20 pm

Back in the 1960s, the U.S. started vaccinating kids for measles. As expected, children stopped getting measles.

But something else happened.

Childhood deaths from all infectious diseases plummeted. Even deaths from diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea were cut by half.

Scientists saw the same phenomenon when the vaccine came to England and parts of Europe. And they see it today when developing countries introduce the vaccine.

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Science + Technology
3:49 am
Fri May 8, 2015

Landmark Conservation Deal Offers A First Glimpse Of New Wilderness

Hudson River view.
Brian Mann North Country Public Radio

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 8:22 am

Warm weather has finally arrived in the Northeast. And along a wild stretch of New York state's Hudson River in the Adirondack Mountains, a section has been opened to paddlers for the first time in decades.

New landmark conservation deals in New York state have protected vast swaths of wilderness. Those deals have also opened waterways that had been closed to the public for more than a century.

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Science + Technology
8:19 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

NASA Spacecraft Crashes Into Mercury, Concluding 4-Year Study Of Planet

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Science + Technology
2:37 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

Drought In Calif. Creates Water Wars Between Farmers, Developers, Residents

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: California going back to the drawing board to deal with their drought.

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Science + Technology
11:41 am
Thu April 30, 2015

Kill The Messenger: NASA Orbiter Crashes Into Mercury

This image of a "red spot" on Mercury, which is thought to be the result of a volcanic explosion, was sent to Earth by the Messenger probe in 2011.
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 5:36 pm

After 4,104 orbits of Mercury and billions of miles of space travel, NASA's Messenger orbiter ended its mission with a quiet bang on Thursday. Messenger crashed into the planet it has been orbiting for four years.

NASA says the orbiter began the process of lithobraking at 3:26 p.m. ET — meaning that Messenger essentially scraped to a stop after hitting the planet's surface traveling at thousands of miles an hour. The Oxford English Dictionary reminds us that litho is the combining form for the Greek word for "stone."

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Science + Technology
2:32 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

Welcome To The Neighborhood: 2 Super-Earths Discovered

An artist's rendition of the HD 7924 planetary system — just 54 light-years away from Earth — shows newly discovered exoplanets c and d, which join Planet b.
Karen Termaura, BJ Fulton UH IfA

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 8:53 am

Using telescopes in Hawaii and California, astronomers have found two super-Earth-size planets orbiting a star a mere 54 light-years away.

This brings to three the total number of exoplanets around the star HD 7924.

The discovery is important for two reasons. NASA's Kepler telescope has shown that giant rocky planets orbiting close to their stars are fairly common for distant stars. The new finding confirms that such planets exist around local stars, as well.

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Science + Technology
5:27 pm
Sat April 25, 2015

Solving Crimes With Pollen, One Grain Of Evidence At A Time

Dallas Mildenhall, New Zealand's forensic pollen expert, peers at samples through a microscope.
Courtesy of David Wolman

Originally published on Sat April 25, 2015 6:23 pm

Some murder cases are harder to solve than others. The investigation into the killing of Mellory Manning — a 27-year-old woman who was assaulted and murdered in 2008 while working as a prostitute in Christchurch, New Zealand — confounded police.

They conducted an investigation and interviewed hundreds of people, but months later, they still had no solid leads.

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Science + Technology
7:37 am
Sat April 25, 2015

Hubble's Other Telescope And The Day It Rocked Our World

The Hooker 100-inch reflecting telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory, just outside Los Angeles. Edwin Hubble's chair, on an elevating platform, is visible at left. A view from this scope first told Hubble our galaxy isn't the only one.
Courtesy of The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science Collection at the Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.

Originally published on Sat April 25, 2015 12:36 pm

The Hubble Space Telescope this week celebrates 25 years in Earth's orbit. In that time the telescope has studied distant galaxies, star nurseries, planets in our solar system and planets orbiting other stars.

But, even with all that, you could argue that the astronomer for whom the telescope is named made even more important discoveries — with far less sophisticated equipment.

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Science + Technology
4:05 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Scientists Discover Massive New Magma Chamber Under Yellowstone

The Grand Prismatic hot spring in Yellowstone National Park is among the park's myriad hydrothermal features created by the fact that Yellowstone is a supervolcano.
Robert B. Smith AP

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 5:14 pm

There's more to Yellowstone National Park than meets the eye. Much more, as it turns out.

You might already know that a supervolcano dominates the famous park that is situated on land in Wyoming and Montana. A shallow subsurface magma chamber has long been known.

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Science + Technology
3:56 am
Fri April 24, 2015

After 25 Years, The Hubble Space Telescope Still Wows Humanity

(Left) This is one of two cameras that the telescope originally carried, and it has since been replaced with a more up-to-date version. (Right) Workers study Hubble's 8-foot main mirror. After launch the mirror was found to have a problem, which astronauts corrected in 1993.
SSPL/Getty Images; Hubblesite

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 4:26 pm

Mike Massimino is one of the last people to ever see the Hubble Space Telescope in person.

From inside his orbiting space shuttle, the telescope first appeared on the horizon as a star, says Massimino, who was an astronaut on the final mission to service the space telescope in 2009.

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Science + Technology
9:36 am
Thu April 23, 2015

'A God That Could Be Real' In The Scientific Universe

The star in the center, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope, is known as V1331 Cyg and is located in the dark cloud LDN 981.
Karl Stapelfe ESA/Hubble, NASA

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 9:15 am

Part One Of Two. (Read Part Two here.)

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Science + Technology
3:39 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Medical Schools Reboot For 21st Century

Dr. Raj Mangrulkar and medical student Jesse Burk-Rafel at the University of Michigan Medical School. Good communication skills, teamwork and adaptability will help doctors thrive through swift changes in medical science, Mangrulkar says.
Leisa Thompson Courtesy of University of Michigan Medical School

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 8:27 pm

Medicine has changed a lot in the past 100 years. But medical training hasn't — until now. Spurred by the need to train a different type of doctor, some top medical schools around the U.S. are tearing up the textbooks and starting from scratch.

Most medical schools still operate under a model pioneered in the early 1900s by an educator named Abraham Flexner.

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Science + Technology
5:20 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

From Pet To Pest, Goldfish Tip Scales Of Survival In Lake's Ecosystem

Originally published on Wed April 8, 2015 6:23 pm

Colorado wildlife officials believe someone released four or five pet goldfish into Teller Lake #5 a few years ago. Now, the fish number in the thousands and threaten the lake's ecosystem. Aquatic biologist Ben Swigle explains how they're trying to rid the lake of the invasive species.

Science + Technology
12:20 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Science Sticks Its Neck Out For Brontosaurus

Originally published on Wed April 8, 2015 12:26 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Science + Technology
12:14 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

What The 'God Of The Gaps' Teaches Us About Science

Scientist Isaac Newton on an engraving from the 1800s.
iStockphoto

"God of the Gaps": When God is invoked to fill in the blanks in scientific knowledge. An old-fashioned and doomed theological approach, but one that is nevertheless very much alive in the minds of many.

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Science + Technology
2:36 pm
Tue March 31, 2015

Hackers Teach Computers To Tell Healthy And Sick Brain Cells Apart

The Allen Institute for Brain Science hosted its first BigNeuron Hackathon in Beijing earlier this month. Similar events are planned for the U.S. and U.K.
Courtesy of Allen Institute for Brain Science

Originally published on Wed April 8, 2015 11:17 am

Brain researchers are joining forces with computer hackers to tackle a big challenge in neuroscience: teaching computers how to tell a healthy neuron from a sick one.

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Science + Technology
2:01 pm
Wed March 25, 2015

Scientists Discover A New Form Of Ice — It's Square

Water molecules between two layers of graphene arranged themselves in a lattice of squares — unlike any other known form of ice.
NPG Press via YouTube

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 8:00 pm

Scientists recently observed a form of ice that's never been seen before, after sandwiching water between two layers of an unusual two-dimensional material called graphene.

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Science + Technology
9:53 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Should You Trust That New Medical Study?

Alexander Raths iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 7:36 pm

News of medical studies fill the headlines and airwaves — often in blatant contradiction. We've all seen it: One week, coffee helps cure cancer; the next, it causes it.

From a consumer's perspective, the situation can be very confusing and potentially damaging — for example, in a case where someone with a serious illness believes and follows the wrong lead.

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