Science + Technology

Science + Technology
1:16 pm
Sat February 15, 2014

Mars 'Jelly Doughnut' Mystery Solved: It's Just A Rock, NASA Says

This composite image provided by NASA shows before-and-after images taken by the Opportunity rover on Mars of a patch of ground taken on Dec. 26, 2013, showing the "Pinnacle Island" rock.
AP

Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 4:21 pm

It appeared out of the red, like something dropped by a Martian Homer Simpson. But now NASA has an explanation for the "jelly doughnut" object photographed by the Opportunity rover in December.

First, here's what it isn't: It is not a fungus-like Martian organism, nor is it ejecta shot into the air by a nearby (and unseen) meteor impact.

Instead, it's geologic roadkill. Basically.

"We drove over it," Opportunity's Deputy Principal Investigator Ray Arvidson said in a statement on Friday.

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Science + Technology
6:00 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

1 In 4 Americans Thinks The Sun Goes Around The Earth, Survey Says

A view of Venus, black dot at top center, passing in front of the sun during a transit in 2012. A quarter of Americans questioned failed to answer correctly the most basic questions on astronomy.
AP

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 6:41 pm

A quarter of Americans surveyed could not correctly answer that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around, according to a report out Friday from the National Science Foundation.

The survey of 2,200 people in the United States was conducted by the NSF in 2012 and released on Friday at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

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Science + Technology
12:50 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

China's Moon Rover Wakes Up, But Isn't Out Of The Woods Yet

China's first lunar rover separates from the Chang'e-3 moon lander on Dec. 15. This picture was taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.
Li Xin Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 3:56 pm

China's troubled Jade Rabbit rover has woken from its hibernation on the moon, sending a message back to its handlers. But its problems aren't over yet.

"Hi, anyone there?" was the post on Jade Rabbit's unofficial Weibo account on Thursday, which got thousands of responses from enthusiastic followers.

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Science + Technology
11:58 am
Thu February 13, 2014

A Prehistoric Family? Looking For Clues In The Mud

Area A of the Happisburgh archaeology site in Norfolk, Britain, where coastal erosion has revealed mudflats containing 800-thousand-year-old footprints.
Martin Bates/British Museum EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 10:44 am

Imagine five people out walking together along a river. Three are adults, the other two of juvenile age. As they walk together, they leave footprints in the mudflats.

Eight-hundred-thousand years later, a team of 12 archaeologists led by Nick Ashton of the British Museum and University College London announced its discovery of those footprints.

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Science + Technology
1:01 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Scientists Say Their Giant Laser Has Produced Nuclear Fusion

The National Ignition Facility's 192 laser beams focus onto a tiny target.
LLNL

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 9:00 pm

Researchers at a laboratory in California say they've had a breakthrough in producing fusion reactions with a giant laser. The success comes after years of struggling to get the laser to work and is another step in the decades-long quest for fusion energy.

Omar Hurricane, a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says that for the first time, they've produced significant amounts of fusion by zapping a target with their laser. "We've gotten more energy out of the fusion fuel than we put into the fusion fuel," he says.

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Science + Technology
12:38 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

What Is Your Big Question?

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 8:55 am

Questions ... questions ... So many big questions ...

Everybody has them. We are born cute but clueless, come of age through the ignominy of high school; shoulder the burden and joys of adulthood and then — BAM — it's over. And all around us is this space of infinite beauty and sorrow and weirdness. How can you not have questions?

Here at 13.7 we spend a lot of time on big questions. Here are a few that keep us up at night.

  • What is the nature of the mind?
  • Can there be a theory of everything?
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Science + Technology
5:26 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Sounds Intriguing: The World's Most Interesting Noises

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri August 1, 2014 8:53 am

Trevor Cox has heard it all. He's a professor of acoustic engineering at the University of Salford in England, and he delights in discovering unusual noises. He's also author of The Sound Book: The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World, which describes some of what he's found.

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Science + Technology
3:26 am
Thu February 6, 2014

Woolly Mammoths' Taste For Flowers May Have Been Their Undoing

Woolly mammoths depended on tiny flowering plants for protein. Did the decline of the flowers cause their extinction?
Per Möller/Johanna Anjar

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 5:01 pm

They were some of the largest, hairiest animals ever to walk the Earth, but new research shows a big part of the woolly mammoth's diet was made up of tiny flowers.

The work is based on DNA analysis of frozen arctic soil and mammoth poop. It suggests that these early vegans depended on the flowers as a vital source of protein. And when the flowers disappeared after the last ice age, so too did the mammoths that ate them.

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Science + Technology
9:53 am
Mon February 3, 2014

WATCH: Breathtaking New Video Of Felix Baumgartner's Record Jump

Felix Baumgartner taking the plunge from 24 miles up in his record-breaking 2012 jump.
Felix Baumgartner

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 12:21 pm

You might recall Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner's 2012 jump from a 24-mile-high balloon capsule, a height of 127,852 feet. He broke not only an altitude record, formerly set by a U.S. Air Force pilot, Col. Joe Kittinger, in 1960, but also a record for speed of descent, breaking the sound barrier on his plummet to the New Mexico desert.

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Science + Technology
9:53 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Can It Be? Pigeons, Geese And White-Tailed Deer Were Once Rare

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 4:47 pm

Go back 150 years and ask yourself, what was there a lot of?

We all know the answer ...

There were lots of buffalo, lots of passenger pigeons, lots of oysters. And then, poof! Hardly any. Or none ...

OK, let's flip the question: What were there precious few of 150 years ago, in a couple of cases almost to the point of extinction? The answer — believe it or not — is white-tailed deer, Canada geese and, arguably, ordinary pigeons.

I'm not kidding.

White Tailed Deer

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Science + Technology
9:57 am
Sun February 2, 2014

Should Uber Be Responsible For Driver Recklessness?

The transportation app Uber matches ride-seekers with drivers. Drivers must keep checking their phones to catch customers, and critics say that may have dangerous consequences on the road. Is Uber responsible for the risk?
Lucy Nicholson Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue February 4, 2014 11:04 am

A man named Syed Muzaffar drove for Uber, the San Francisco-based company that makes money selling car rides. He lives in a suburb of San Francisco and on New Year's Eve, he says, he was in the city for the sole purpose of picking up partygoers who needed a ride.

His night ended early and tragically, around 8 p.m., when he turned a corner and hit a family in a crosswalk.

"The mother sustained facial fractures," says Police Sgt. Eric Mahoney, who is investigating the case. "The 4-year-old boy suffered abrasions on his face, and the 6-year-old girl was fatally injured."

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Science + Technology
9:07 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Changing Climate In Argentina Is Killing Penguin Chicks

A penguin nestling sounds off at the Punta Tombo reserve. Young birds that haven't yet traded a down coat for juvenile plumage "aren't waterproof — at all," says biologist Dee Boersma.
Maxi Jonas Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:00 pm

There's a patch of seashore along the coast of Argentina where hundreds of thousands of penguins make their home. It's called Punta Tombo. Dee Boersma, a conservation biologist at the University of Washington, has been going there for 30 years, and she's discovered that a changing climate is killing those penguins.

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Science + Technology
3:30 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Asteroid Belt May Be Just One Big Melting Pot Of Space Rocks

An artist's concept of a narrow asteroid belt orbiting a star similar to our own sun.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:32 am

The asteroid belt, a ring of rubble between Mars and Jupiter, has sometimes been written off as discarded leftovers from the solar system's start. But new research published in the journal Nature shows that the belt actually formed during an unruly later era, when planets themselves were on the move.

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Science + Technology
8:56 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Computers Are The Future, But Does Everyone Need To Code?

A group called StudentRND throws 24-hour code-a-thons for programmers of all backgrounds and skill levels. Coders show up at noon on Saturday, pitch ideas, form teams and code through the night trying to finish by noon on Sunday. Above, StudentRND participants work at a 2011 CodeDay in Seattle.
StudentRND

Originally published on Tue January 28, 2014 2:01 pm

Republicans and Democrats don't see eye-to-eye on much these days, but there is one aspect of the future that they can agree on: "Becoming literate in code is as essential to being literate in language and math," says House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Republican from Virginia.

President Obama agrees: "Computers are going to be a big part of your future," he predicts.

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Science + Technology
3:33 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Grand Canyon May Be Older (And Younger) Than You Think

The eastern Grand Canyon was about half-carved (to the level of the red cliffs above the hiker) from 15 million to 25 million years ago, an analysis published Sunday suggests. But the inner gorge was likely scooped out by the Colorado River in just the past 6 million years.
Laura Crossey University of New Mexico

Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 11:31 am

In recent years geologists have hotly debated the age of the Grand Canyon. Some think it's young (just 6 million years old), while others argue that it dates back 70 million years — to the days of dinosaurs.

Now one group says the Grand Canyon is neither young nor old. Instead, these geologists say, it's both.

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Science + Technology
4:19 am
Fri January 24, 2014

At 30, The Original Mac Is Still An Archetype Of Innovation

A 1984 Apple Macintosh Classic was on display at the Museum for Art and Industry in Hamburg, Germany, in 2011.
Philipp Guelland dapd

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 7:58 am

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Science + Technology
3:01 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

Rosetta Space Probe Gets Interplanetary Wake-Up Call

Rosetta, the European Space Agency's cometary probe with NASA contributions, is seen in an undated artist's rendering.
NASA Reuters/Landov

... That's the message received from a bleary-eyed comet-chasing space probe on Monday, much to the relief of ground-based controllers who sent it a long distance wake-up call after nearly a three-year nap.

The European Space Agency received the communique from deep space on schedule at 1 p.m. ET from Rosetta, some 500 million miles away on a trajectory to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August. It's been in sleep mode to conserve power.

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Science + Technology
11:40 am
Mon January 20, 2014

U.S., EU Lift Some Iran Sanctions After Assurances On Uranium

An IAEA team checks the enrichment process inside the uranium enrichment plant Natanz in central Iran on Monday.
Kazem Ghane EPA/Landov

Originally published on Mon January 20, 2014 4:46 pm

This post was updated at 11:40 a.m. ET.

The United States and European Union say they will lift some sanctions against Iran after reports from international inspectors that Tehran has suspended high-level enrichment of uranium under an interim pact to scale back its nuclear program.

The Associated Press reports:

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Science + Technology
6:20 pm
Sun January 19, 2014

Mars Or Bust: Putting Humans On The Red Planet

Tracks from NASA's Opportunity rover disappear toward the horizon on the Meridiani Plains of Mars. The rover has been on the planet since 2004.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University

Originally published on Sun January 19, 2014 6:42 pm

"I don't know why you're on Mars, but whatever the reason for going to Mars is, I'm glad you're there and I wish I was with you."

That was a part of astrophysicist Carl Sagan's message, recorded a few months before he died in 1996, to the future human inhabitants of Mars.

Some of the earliest science fiction imagined voyages to the Red Planet. We now have the space-faring technology, and getting humans to Mars actually seems within reach. It would certainly involve massive resources and a lot of danger, but some believe the rewards would be massive.

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Science + Technology
9:22 am
Sun January 19, 2014

From Ashes To Ashes To Diamonds: A Way To Treasure The Dead

Most of the diamonds synthesized from cremated remains come out blue, due to trace amounts of boron in the body. These diamonds, made from the ashes of animals, were created through the same process used to make diamonds from human remains.
Courtesy Rinaldo Willy/Algordanza

Originally published on Sun January 19, 2014 11:59 am

Diamonds are supposed to be a girl's best friend. Now, they might also be her mother, father or grandmother.

Swiss company Algordanza takes cremated human remains and — under high heat and pressure that mimic conditions deep within the Earth — compresses them into diamonds.

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