Science + Technology

Our world is made of matter. "Everything you see and feel — your laptop, your desk, your chair — they are all ordinary matter," says Aihong Tang, a researcher at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

But matter has a counterpart called antimatter. Each kind of fundamental particle of matter has an antimatter nemesis lurking in the shadows. And true to science-fiction stereotype, if matter and antimatter ever meet, they annihilate in a flash of light.

In this part of the Amazon rain forest, they call it "the war over wood."

It has front lines.

One of them is here, in Machadinho d'Oeste in the western Brazilian state of Rondonia.

The self-described "Guardians of the Forest" defending the land don't look like fighters, at least when we first meet them. But they are pitting themselves against criminal logging gangs that have infiltrated their protected reserves.

There are many thought-provoking moments in the new movie The Martian.

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Jane Goodall has learned a lot about chimpanzees in her 55 years of studying them. She has learned a lot from them, too.

And she's putting those lessons into practice.

That's what she explains after giving a lecture at the U.S. State Department.

Uber has shaken up what it takes to get from point A to point B in cities across the country with a simple premise: If you need a ride, a driver nearby could pick you up within minutes.

Behind that idea is an algorithm, which promises to keep supply and demand in constant balance, encouraging drivers toward busy areas and tempering customer requests by increasing the price of each ride. It's called surge pricing.

Dr. Tim Littlewood handles more gross and terrifying creatures than just about anyone in London.

And he loves it.

"I'm a parasitologist," he explains, "so I tend to work on things that live inside other animals. And most people think of them as quite gross and revolting. But upon looking at these things and studying them, [I find] they are the most beautiful, spectacular animals you can find."

Although you wouldn't want to get one inside of you.

A NASA probe will hurtle past Saturn's moon Enceladus on Wednesday, coming to within just 30 miles of the surface.

In the process, it will sample mist from a liquid ocean beneath the frozen surface. Doing so may provide clues about whether the ocean can support life.

At just 314 miles across, researchers originally expected Enceladus to be a tiny ball of solid ice. But thanks to NASA's Cassini probe, they now know it's somewhere really special.

One of the indisputable advantages of the Internet is accessibility of information, in particular for educational purposes, inside and outside schools.

Vast collections of what we photograph, study and catalogue are available by typing a few words and clicking on a few tabs. For someone who grew up scavenging local libraries to retrieve what little information was available, this accessibility is nothing short of a revolution — and an amazing one.

We all know "password" is no good, and "1234567" is asking for trouble.

But the more we try to strengthen our passwords, the harder we make them to remember.

It's a thoroughly modern problem — but researchers at the University of Southern California have found a very old solution. Instead of passwords, consider the passpoem:

The tiny villagers explore
a speaker company rapport

For a few days this week, a convention center in Chicago became the global epicenter of brain science.

Nearly 30,000 scientists swarmed through the vast hallways of the McCormick Place convention center as part of the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting. Among them were Nobel Prize winners, the director of the National Institutes of Health, and scores of researchers regarded as the international rock stars of neuroscience.

No names. No pictures. No direct conversation.

And don't touch the plutonium.

Those were the ground rules before NPR was allowed a rare opportunity to see nuclear inspectors learning their craft. The inspectors came from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the world's nuclear watchdog.

I've always been a little skeptical about the scientific method.

Science isn't one thing, after all. Just as sports isn't one thing. There isn't one way to win, or one way to get the gold. And, so, there isn't one way to conduct research in fields as different as chemistry, economics, climate science and ethology.

Pluto is not dead. That's the bottom line, according to new research published in the journal Science. The dwarf planet is home to mountains, glaciers and a hazy atmosphere that stretches for a hundred miles above the surface.

In America, it seems only unicorns get seven or eight hours of sleep a night, and the rest of us suffer. But people may be meant to sleep as little as 6 1/2 hours nightly and were doing so long before the advent of electricity and smartphones, researchers say.

To find that out, they consulted with some of the few people on the planet who live roughly the same lifestyle humans did in the Paleolithic.

The origin of the universe is one of the most difficult realities we ponder.

It bends our logic, straining the words we have to describe it. If one is to say the universe started at the Big Bang some 13.8 billion years ago, the immediate reaction is: "But what came before that? What caused the Big Bang?"

This is the issue of the "first cause" — the cause at the beginning of the causal chain that caused all else but was itself not caused — that has plagued and inspired philosophers for millennia.

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Sometimes in this job, you get to do something really cool.

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For the first time, primitive human kidneys have been created in a laboratory dish, by using stem cells.

Although the kidneys cannot perform the functions of a fully formed adult kidney, the researchers hope the achievement will someday lead to new ways to treat people suffering from kidney failure.