Science + Technology

Science + Technology
9:40 am
Wed July 17, 2013

VIDEOS: Robot Sticks Backflip; Don't Miss The Bloopers Too

This robot sure can flip.
YouTube

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 8:13 pm

This will only take a minute and it just may make you smile.

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Science + Technology
3:01 am
Wed July 17, 2013

All Charged Up: Engineers Create A Battery Made Of Wood

Wood fibers are coated with carbon nanotubes and then packed into small disks of metal. The sodium ions moving around in the wood fibers create an electric current.
Heather Rousseau NPR

Originally published on Wed July 17, 2013 5:08 am

The big idea behind Joe's Big Idea is to report on interesting inventions and inventors. When I saw the headline "An Environmentally Friendly Battery Made From Wood," on a press release recently, I figured it fit the bill, so went to investigate.

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Science + Technology
3:00 am
Wed July 17, 2013

In Oregon, The GMO Wheat Mystery Deepens

Wheat grows in a test field at Oregon State University in Corvallis. Some scientists believe that there's a chance that genetically modified wheat found in one farmer's field in May is still in the seed supply.
Natalie Behring Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 4:34 pm

The strange case of genetically engineered wheat on a farm in Oregon remains as mysterious as ever. If anything, it's grown more baffling.

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Science + Technology
12:24 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Reading Science: A Story Of Consensus And Community

Located 1,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Perseus, a reflection nebula called NGC 1333 epitomizes the beautiful chaos of a dense group of stars being born. Most of the visible light from the young stars in this region is obscured by the dense, dusty cloud in which they formed.
Spitzer Space Telescope NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. A. Gutermuth

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 12:18 pm

How does science make progress? How do scientists know what they claim to know? What does it mean when scientists say they have come to a consensus?

These questions are far more than academic. We live in a world where issues of science and technology dominate headlines and policy. In that way, science and its claims effect the very real world choices we all face in domains as varied as climate change, genetically modified foods and the uses of Big Data.

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Science + Technology
3:16 am
Tue July 16, 2013

Om Nom Nom: T. Rex Was, Indeed, A Voracious Hunter

Mind The Teeth: Fossils indicate that Tyrannosaurus rex was an active hunter, in addition to being a scavenger. And in Jurassic Park, it also had a sweet tooth for lawyers.
Universal Pictures Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 10:44 am

Tyrannosaurus rex is perhaps one of the most famous animals to have ever roamed the Earth. This huge, fierce meat-eater has graced Hollywood films as the perpetual villain, and it has played a notorious role in the science community that studies it, too.

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Science + Technology
5:07 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

New Moon Found Orbiting Neptune, But What To Call It?

Even the Voyager 2 spacecraft missed the new moon when it flew past Neptune in 1989.
NASA

Astronomers have found a new moon orbiting the solar system's outermost planet, Neptune.

The tiny moon, just 12 miles across, was discovered in more than 150 pictures of Neptune taken by the Hubble Space Telescope between 2004 and 2009.

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Science + Technology
3:04 am
Mon July 15, 2013

How Hackers Tapped Into My Cellphone For Less Than $300

It's easier — and cheaper — than you'd expect to hack a cellphone, say a team of white hat hackers.
iStockPhoto.com

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 8:57 am

In the wake of the National Security Agency cyber-spying revelations, you may be worrying about the government keeping track of your digital life. But, for less than $300, a group of ordinary hackers found a way to tap right into Verizon cellphones.

This is a group of good-guy, or "white hat", hackers. They hacked the phones to warn wireless carriers that the phones have a security flaw.

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Science + Technology
3:02 am
Mon July 15, 2013

A Peek Inside A Once Top Secret Spot In Atomic Age History

Take a tour of the Hanford site, a nuclear production complex in Richland, Wash., and you'll see the hundreds of mechanical water pressure gauges wired to the process tubes inside the core. Tour guide Paul Vinther warns that bumping these gauges could throw off the readings enough to trigger a an emergency shutdown of the reactor.
Martin Kaste NPR

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 11:40 am

People tend to remember that the atomic bomb was developed at Los Alamos, N.M., and Oak Ridge, Tenn., but they often forget about a third nuclear production complex — the Hanford Site in Richland, Wash. It's where they built the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor.

The "B Reactor" is a windowless, cinder block hulk out in the middle of nowhere. You might mistake it for an abandoned cement plant. But inside, it's a lovingly preserved time capsule of the Atomic Age. If you're lucky, your guide will be one of the people who worked here when the place was still new.

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Science + Technology
12:14 am
Sat July 13, 2013

The Hardest Thing To Find In The Universe?

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 3:06 am

What is rarer than a shooting star?

Rarer than a diamond?

Rarer than any metal, any mineral, so rare that if you scan the entire earth, all six million billion billion kilos or 13,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pounds of our planet, you would find only one ounce of it?

What is so rare it has never been seen directly, because if you could get enough of it together, it would self-vaporize from its own radioactive heat?

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Science + Technology
2:26 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

5 Stars: A Mosquito's Idea Of A Delicious Human

Many criteria — from blood type to body temperature — can play a role in affecting who attracts mosquitoes.
abadonian iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 2:48 pm

If mosquitoes used Yelp, they might look for their next meal by searching nearby for a heavy-breathing human with Type O blood, sporting a red shirt and more than a smattering of skin bacteria. Preferably either pregnant or holding a beer.

That's some of what we take away from a post today on the Surprising Science blog from the Smithsonian.

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Science + Technology
3:01 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Saving One Species At The Expense Of Another

Antelopes stand at alert at the presence of a human visitor in the sparsely populated Centennial Valley of Montana.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 4:52 pm

To keep America's wilderness anything like it used to be when the country was truly wild takes the help of biologists. They have to balance the needs of wildlife with those of cattle-ranching and tourism, and even weigh the value of one species against another. Ultimately, they have to pick and choose who makes it onto the ark. And, as scientists in Montana's Centennial Valley have discovered, all that choosing can be tricky.

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Science + Technology
5:29 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Barking Up The Family Tree: American Dogs Have Surprising Genetic Roots

Modern Chihuahuas trace their genetic roots in America to back before the arrival of Europeans, a new study suggests.
mpikula iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 8:58 pm

America is as much of a melting pot for dogs as it is for their human friends. Walk through any dog park and you'll find a range of breeds from Europe, Asia, even Australia and mutts and mixes of every kind.

But a few indigenous breeds in North America have a purer pedigree — at least one has genetic roots in the continent that stretch back 1,000 years or more, according to a new study. These modern North American breeds — including that current urban darling, the Chihuahua — descended from the continent's original canine inhabitants and have not mixed much with European breeds.

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Science + Technology
10:09 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Physics And Poetry: Can You Handle The Truth?

T.S. Eliot (1888 - 1965), winner of the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 7:10 am

If you are going to shell out cash sending a kid to college, you might as well get in on their fun too. That's how my daughter's post-modern lit class slammed me into The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot.

It is, arguably, one of the most important poems of the 20th century. At least that is what they told her and that is what my dad told me when he first gave me a copy as a boy. But she had a class that helped her understand the poem. Alone in my study I didn't get it ... again (sorry Dad).

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Science + Technology
3:39 am
Tue July 9, 2013

As Biotech Seed Falters, Insecticide Use Surges In Corn Belt

Crop consultant Dan Steiner inspects a field of corn near Norfolk, Neb.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 2:56 pm

Across the Midwestern corn belt, a familiar battle has resumed, hidden in the soil. On one side are tiny, white larvae of the corn rootworm. On the other side are farmers and the insect-killing arsenal of modern agriculture.

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Science + Technology
3:06 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Arrest Caught On Google Glass Reignites Privacy Debate

Filmmaker Chris Barrett wearing his Google Glass. He is among the first 1,000 nondeveloper testers of the product.
Jennifer Rubinovitz Courtesy of Chris Barrett

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 12:36 pm

The Fourth of July holiday brought about another first for Google Glass, the computing device that you can wear on your face.

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Science + Technology
5:24 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

What Is Farm Runoff Doing To The Water? Scientists Wade In

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey sample water in Goodwater Creek, Mo., for pesticides and other chemicals that may have run off from the surrounding land.
Abbie Fentress Swanson Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 12:37 pm

America's hugely productive food system is one of its success stories. The nation will export a projected $139.5 billion in agricultural products this fiscal year alone. It's an industry that supports "more than 1 million jobs," according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

But all that productivity has taken a toll on the environment, especially rivers and lakes: Agriculture is the nation's leading cause of impaired water quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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Science + Technology
5:48 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Why You Can't Name New Moons And Planets Anything You Want

This artist's illustration shows Pluto and one of its moons, Charon. A global consortium of astronomers sets the rules for naming things like asteroids and moons throughout the solar system.
Detlev van Ravenswaay Science Source

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 12:38 pm

A dispute over the names of two new moons of Pluto is highlighting a broader battle over who names what in our solar system and beyond. On one side is the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a venerable consortium of astronomers who have set the naming rules for the better part of a century. On the other side, a growing number of astronomers who feel the IAU has unfairly designated itself as the intergalactic naming police.

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Science + Technology
4:32 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Inventor Of Computer Mouse Dies; Doug Engelbart Was 88

This early version of the mouse (named for its tail-like cord) was assembled by Douglas Engelbart and his Stanford team in 1963.
Getty Images/Life

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 7:20 pm

U.S. inventor Doug Engelbart, the man known as the father of the computer mouse and a thinker who helped introduce other key innovations, died Wednesday morning at age 88. His death was announced today by the Computer History Museum.

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Science + Technology
7:51 am
Wed July 3, 2013

In Israel, Unearthing A Bed Of Flowers For Eternal Rest

Karen Jang places flowers on the the grave of her late boyfriend, Vietnam veteran Francis Yee, during her Memorial Day visit to the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, in Dixon, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 2:37 pm

If you died 55,000 years ago in the lands east of the Mediterranean, you'd be lucky to be buried in an isolated pit with a few animal parts thrown in. But new archaeological evidence shows that by about 12,000 years ago, you might have gotten a flower-lined grave in a small cemetery.

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Science + Technology
1:00 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Radiocarbon Clues Help Track Down Poached Elephant Ivory

A man checks the quality of ivory stocks before an auction at the London docks in January 1948.
Popperfoto Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 2:00 pm

The value of elephant ivory has skyrocketed in the past few years. That's led to a huge increase in elephant poaching in Africa and, in turn, created new urgency to stop the trade. And as poachers have become savvier, scientists have devised more sophisticated methods of catching the thieves.

A pound of ivory is now worth more than $1,000, with wildlife experts attributing the rise in price largely to consumers, especially in Asia, who have new money to spend on ivory carvings.

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