Science + Technology

For nearly 150 years, a bizarre tree frog species in India was believed to be extinct.

Now, scientists have found the elusive Frankixalus jerdonii in India's West Bengal state, in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Last seen in the wild in 1870, the frogs were rediscovered by accident during a 2007 expedition led by Indian biologist Sathyabhama Das Biju. "We heard a full musical orchestra coming from the tree tops. It was magical. Of course we had to investigate," he told the BBC.

When the first Mac computer came out in 1984, it cost nearly $2,500 and had a floppy drive for storage. In 2016, a spate of computers with a price as low as $5 and a lot more storage are hitting the market, and they may be opening up a new era of experimentation.

Recently, I got a look at one of these low-cost computers — the $9 CHIP, which has 4 gigabytes of storage.

It's not rare for a year to break record temperatures. But it's now happened two years in a row — and 2015 was "very, very clearly the warmest year by a long chalk," says Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The astronomer whose work helped kick Pluto out of the pantheon of planets says he has good reason to believe there's an undiscovered planet bigger than Earth lurking in the distant reaches of our solar system.

Being in Kaikoura, New Zealand, for what is allegedly the first astrobiology workshop here, it's a good time to go back to the basics and reflect on what we know of the complicated question of the origin of life on Earth — and the possibility of life elsewhere.

I will do this, here at 13.7, in installments during the next few weeks.

Lithium-ion batteries are extremely popular because they are lightweight and pack a lot of power.

In their book published this month, In a Different Key: The Story of Autism, journalists John Donvan and Caren Zucker delve into the history of the good and bad intentions, sometimes wrongheaded science and shifting definitions that can cloud our understanding of what has come to be called the autism spectrum.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This week we're talking about New Year's resolutions. A little late, aren't we? Nope. We're just in time.

A good portion of you have likely already fallen off the proverbial wagon, and we thought, well, we could help you get back on. If you have stuck to your resolution so far, way to go! This episode is also for you.

So, it finally snowed for real here in Rochester last night.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: Upstate New York equals lots of snow. Well, not for us this weird winter. (Buffalo, of course, has gotten its share.)

Citing concerns over pricing and pollution, the Obama administration on Friday unveiled a moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands. The change won't affect existing leases, which generated nearly $1.3 billion for the government last year.

The Department of the Interior says it wants to make sure the money it's charging for coal leases takes into account both market prices and what's often called the "social costs" of coal — its impact on climate change and public health.

The agency says federal lands account for roughly 40 percent of all U.S. coal production.

One day after the West Africa region that suffered a two-year Ebola epidemic was declared free of the deadly disease, Sierra Leone has confirmed another death from Ebola. The World Health Organization says there's still a risk of more flare-ups.

Officials are now trying to trace any contacts the person who died may have had, in a desperate attempt to cut short a potential new chain of transmission.

Millions of bats are dying due to a deadly disease sweeping across the United States, their tiny bodies strewn across cave floors.

A mind-boggling stellar explosion is baffling astronomers, who say this cosmic beast is so immensely powerful that no one's sure exactly what made it go boom.

The recently discovered inferno is about 200 times more powerful than a typical exploding star, or supernova, and 570 billion times brighter than our sun. It was first spotted in June by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae, nicknamed the "Assassin" project, so it's called ASASSN-15lh.

Two teams of geologists say portions of the seafloor along the Aleutian Islands in southwestern Alaska could produce tsunamis more devastating than anything seen in the past century. They say California and Hawaii are directly in the line of fire.

The California Air Resources Board has rejected Volkswagen's plan to recall cars with 2-liter diesel engines that trick emissions tests, saying the company's plan is incomplete. The Environmental Protection Agency says it concurs.

Politics and science are two very different beasts.

Science, at its best, tries to extract some measure of truth about the world from a combination of observation and theory. Politics, even at its best, may be more concerned with perception than truth, using the former as a means to advance policy goals.

So, what happens when the two collide in addressing a possibly existential threat to global civilization?

Our cars are getting smarter and smarter: They may help you park or switch lanes, dictate directions if you need them, link up with your phone to play your calls and music or make sure you stop before it's too late.

Keeping honeybees healthy has become a challenge for beekeepers. One main reason is a threat that has been wiping out bees since the late 1980s: the varroa mite.

"It's a parasitic mite that feeds on the blood of adult bees and on the brood. It also transmits virus, and it suppresses the immune system of the bees," explains Penn State honeybee expert Maryann Frazier.

Pages