Science + Technology

Science + Technology
3:27 am
Tue June 4, 2013

High-Tech Sensors Help Old Port City Leap Into Smart Future

The Spanish city of Santander is using a network of sensors to help improve services and save money. Incidents reported to Santander's command-and-control center, where the city manages data from sensors and smartphone reports made by citizens, are plotted on a map of the city.
Courtesy of the University of Cantabria

Originally published on Tue June 4, 2013 1:53 pm

Aside from the occasional ferry down from England, the old Spanish port city of Santander doesn't get too many foreign visitors. So imagine the locals' surprise when delegations from Google, Microsoft and the Japanese government all landed there recently, to literally walk the streets.

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Science + Technology
6:11 pm
Sat June 1, 2013

No 'Universal' Best Practice To Save Yourself From Tornadoes

A tornado forms over I-40 in Midwest City, Okla., during rush hour on Friday.
Alonzo Adams AP

Friday's tornadoes came less than two weeks after an F-5 tornado destroyed a large section of Moore, just south of Oklahoma City. Both episodes raise two sides of one question: When caught in a tornado's path, should you run or hide?

For Morning Edition the day after the powerful tornado on May 20, NPR's Wade Goodwyn spoke with Molly Edwards, who was covered in pink insulation and standing on the rubble of her home with her family.

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Science + Technology
10:08 am
Fri May 31, 2013

Huge Asteroid Makes Its Closest Pass To Earth Today

Radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2, taken when the cosmic traveler was about 3.75 million miles from Earth, revealed that the asteroid, with a 1.7-mile diameter, has a moon or satellite revolving around it.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 11:29 am

An asteroid nine times the size of a cruise ship is dropping by Earth on Friday, and it's not coming alone. Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be about 3.6 million miles from our planet at its closest approach. And its proximity has already given scientists a surprise: It has its own moon, measured at about 2,000 feet wide.

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Science + Technology
4:00 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Headed To Mars? Watch Out For Cosmic Rays

NASA/SDO

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 8:42 am

There was great fanfare when the Mars Science Laboratory launched in November 2011, and again when its precious cargo — NASA's Mars rover Curiosity — touched down on the red planet in August 2012.

The eight months in between had drama of their own. Curiosity was constantly bombarded with radiation as it traveled through space — high-energy protons thrown out by the sun, and galactic cosmic rays slicing through the solar system from distant supernovas.

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Science + Technology
11:04 am
Thu May 30, 2013

New Discovery Knocks 'Oldest Bird' Off Its Perch

A photo released by the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences shows the skeleton of a recently discovered dinosaur dubbed Aurornis xui.
Thierry Hubin AP

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 6:01 pm

Move over Archaeopteryx, an older bird just landed on the evolutionary tree.

Scientists writing in Nature magazine, say a feathered, chicken-sized creature known as Aurornis xui, unearthed recently in northeastern China, challenges the "pivotal position of Archaeopteryx" — long regarded as the oldest bird.

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Science + Technology
8:40 am
Wed May 29, 2013

The 'Brilliant Blunders' Of Science: Success Through Failure

William Thomson Kelvin (1824 - 1907) who proposed the absolute or Kelvin temperature scale. He also established the second law of thermo-dynamics. He was brilliant. But he wasn't perfect.
W. & D. Downey Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 4:03 pm

"Experience is the name everyone gives their mistakes" said Oscar Wilde and it is true that, hopefully, we all learn from our mistakes. But what about science?

In school we learn about the scientific method and its emphasis on observation, hypothesis and experiments. Clearly mistakes are an important part of the process. It has even been said that the point of science is to make as many mistakes as possible as fast as possible. Still, what about the really big mistakes?

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Science + Technology
5:17 pm
Mon May 27, 2013

Beneath A Glacier's White, Researchers See Green

The small patch in the middle of the image is Aulacomnium turgidum, a type of bryophyte plant. Researchers in the Canadian Arctic say they are surprised the bryophytes were still green, even after being covered by ice.
Courtesy of Caroline La Farge

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 8:52 am

In the news business, an evergreen is a story that doesn't have to run on a particular day, but can stay fresh for a long time.

This is an evergreen story about an evergreen. In particular, a group of plants called bryophytes. Turns out they may be evergreen quite a bit longer than most people thought.

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Science + Technology
4:08 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Ring Nebula Is More Like A Jelly Doughnut, NASA Says

The famous Ring Nebula is shown here in striking detail, in a composite image made from images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and infrared data from telescopes on Earth.
NASA, ESA, C.R. Robert O'Dell, G.J. Ferland, W.J. Henney and M. Peimbert

The Ring Nebula, whose iconic shape and large size make it a favorite of amateur astronomers, can now be seen in new detail, after NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a sharp image of the nebula. Researchers say the new clarity reveals details that were previously unseen, and a structure that's more complex than scientists had believed.

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Science + Technology
5:44 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Could African Crops Be Improved With Private Biotech Data?

The baobob fruit is one of the 100 traditional African food crops that a group of scientists want to learn more about to improve nutrition.
Alexander Joe AFP/Getty Images

"I'm shocked by the optimism here," Howard Yana-Shapiro, the chief agricultural officer for Mars Inc. said Tuesday to the audience of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Global Food Security Symposium in Washington, D.C.

Seated there before him were some of the leaders from the wealthiest international organizations and multinational companies of the fight to end hunger. And Shapiro told them they weren't even close.

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Science + Technology
1:49 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

The Little Metronome That Wouldn't

YouTube

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 2:04 pm

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Science + Technology
7:52 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Measuring The Power Of Deadly Tornadoes

John Warner surveys the damage near a friend's mobile home in the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park, destroyed in Sunday's tornado, near Shawnee, Okla., on Monday.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 4:59 am

Damaging tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma on Sunday and Monday, causing widespread damage that is still being assessed, and additional severe weather is expected.

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Science + Technology
12:57 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

'Cheating' Can Be An Effective Learning Strategy

Paul Morton iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon May 20, 2013 11:19 am

It's the end of the semester here at UC Berkeley, and I've got testing on my mind. I'm not the only one; across campus, instructors are engaged in the arduous task of grading quickly and fairly while students sigh with relief as they exit their final, final exams.

We most often think of tests as being about assessment. They tell us something about how successfully an individual has mastered the material being tested, and this assessment can in turn help us to assign grades, make determinations about placement or identify areas that would benefit from further study.

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Science + Technology
3:01 am
Mon May 20, 2013

Seeing The (Northern) Light: A Temporary Arctic Retirement

The Botnen-Chen family moved from Boston to live for a year on Rødøy, a Norwegian island north of the Arctic Circle.
Courtesy of Winston Chen

Originally published on Sat May 25, 2013 11:10 pm

By all the laws of anything, Winston Chen should not have quit his well-paying, midcareer job at a software company at age 40. But one day he was watching a TED Talk, one of those popular online video presentations, delivered by a New York designer.

"He presented this absolutely irresistible idea," Chen says. "He said, 'Why don't we take five years out of retirement and spread them throughout your working life?' "

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Science + Technology
1:15 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

What Did I Do Last Summer? Oh, I Discovered How To Make Babies Without Sex. And You?

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 11:26 am

Ah, if only all summers could be like June, July and August 1740 — when three young guys (and a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old) did a science experiment that startled the world. In those days, you could do biology without a fancy diploma. More people could play.

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Science + Technology
3:04 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Cloning, Stem Cells Long Mired In Legislative Gridlock

After President Obama overturned Bush-era policy restricting federal funding of embryonic stem cell research in 2009, Nebraska Right to Life led a protest of the research outside the University of Nebraska regents' meeting.
Nati Harnik AP

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 11:53 am

The news that U.S. scientists have successfully cloned a human embryo seems almost certain to rekindle a political fight that has raged, on and off, since the announcement of the creation of Dolly the sheep in 1997.

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Science + Technology
3:03 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Water Trapped For 1.5 Billion Years Could Hold Ancient Life

This map, from the United States Geological Survey, shows the age of bedrock in different regions of North America. Scientists found ancient water in bedrock north of Lake Superior. This region, colored red, was formed more than 2.5 billion years ago.
United States Geological Survey

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 9:25 am

Scientists have discovered water that has been trapped in rock for more than a billion years. The water might contain microbes that evolved independently from the surface world, and it's a finding that gives new hope to the search for life on other planets.

The water samples came from holes drilled by gold miners near the small town of Timmins, Ontario, about 350 miles north of Toronto. Deep in the Canadian bedrock, miners drill holes and collect samples. Sometimes they hit pay dirt; sometimes they hit water, which seeps out from tiny crevices in the rock.

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Science + Technology
10:26 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Cup Of Joe With Apple CEO Goes For $610,000

An anonymous bidder has offered $610,000 to have coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a charity auction that closed Tuesday afternoon.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 9:55 am

It turns out that the desire to speak with Apple CEO Tim Cook, along with $610,000, will buy you a cup of coffee. That's the winning bid offered in a charity auction for up to an hour of Cook's time.

As we reported last month, the chance to grab coffee with Cook at Apple's headquarters zoomed past the suggested value of $50,000 set at the Charitybuzz auction site, rising to more than $600,000 in just three days.

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Science + Technology
3:35 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

With Rising Seas, America's Birthplace Could Disappear

Colonists built the original glass-blowing kiln in Jamestown, Va., at this beach for easy access to the sand. Now the site is just inches above the water level.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 7:15 pm

By the end of the century, the birthplace of America may be underwater.

The first successful English colony in America was at Jamestown, Va., a swampy island in the Chesapeake Bay. The colony endured for almost a century, and remnants of the place still exist. You can go there and see the ruins. You can walk where Capt. John Smith and Pocahontas walked. But Jamestown is now threatened by rising sea levels that scientists say could submerge the island by century's end.

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Science + Technology
1:18 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

What Is It About Bees And Hexagons?

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 1:26 pm

Solved! A bee-buzzing, honey-licking 2,000-year-old mystery that begins here, with this beehive. Look at the honeycomb in the photo and ask yourself: (I know you've been wondering this all your life, but have been too shy to ask out loud ... ) Why is every cell in this honeycomb a hexagon?

Bees, after all, could build honeycombs from rectangles or squares or triangles ...

But for some reason, bees choose hexagons. Always hexagons.

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Science + Technology
12:37 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Litterbugs Beware: Turning Found DNA Into Portraits

Self portrait by Heather Dewey-Hagborg. Portrait generated from her own DNA.
Heather Dewey-Hagborg Heather Dewey-Hagborg

Originally published on Sun May 12, 2013 5:22 pm

Heather Dewey-Hagborg was sitting in a therapy session a while ago and noticed a painting on the wall. The glass on the frame was cracked, and lodged in the crack was a single hair. She couldn't take her eyes off it.

"I just became obsessed with thinking about whose hair that was, and what they might look like, and what they might be like," she says.

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