Science + Technology

Science + Technology
7:17 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

Saturn Shows Off A Massive Spinning Vortex: 'The Rose'

A mammoth spinning vortex is seen on Saturn, in this "false-color" photograph released by NASA Monday. The image was captured by the Cassini spacecraft. A related image, presenting what a human eye would see, is farther down this page.
NASA

NASA is calling it "The Rose." By any other name, it's a mammoth storm on Saturn's north pole. Its eye spans an estimated 1,250 miles — 20 times the size of an average hurricane's eye on Earth. Winds in the Saturn storm's eye wall are believed to be four times as fast.

The stunning image of the spinning vortex was given "false colors" to emphasize low clouds (in red) versus high clouds (in green). NASA estimates that the clouds at the outer edge are moving at up to 330 miles per hour.

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Science + Technology
4:56 pm
Sun April 28, 2013

First He Invented The Phone. Then, Bell Left A Voice Message

Though the quality of the sound recordings is poor, we know what Alexander Graham Bell was saying because he left transcripts.
Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

Originally published on Mon April 29, 2013 4:28 pm

As the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell is credited with bringing countless voices to our ears. And now, for the first time, here he is imploring us to hear his own voice:

The sound is scratchy. You have to strain to decipher it, but the words are clear. They're from Bell's lips, recorded in 1885 but unveiled just last week by the Smithsonian.

"It lets us know what the past was really like. It fills in a gap for people," says Shari Stout, collections manager at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

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Science + Technology
9:02 am
Wed April 24, 2013

Stunning Video: 3 Years Of The Sun In 3 Minutes

This is a composite of 25 separate images spanning the period from April 16, 2012, to April 15, 2013. In a video, NASA has also collected three years' worth of such images and set them in a new video.
NASA/SDO/AIA/S

Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 9:37 am

We all deserve a break from the past week's news. This NASA video could be just the right thing.

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Science + Technology
3:25 am
Wed April 24, 2013

For Corn, Fickle Weather Makes For Uncertain Yields

By this time last year, 26 percent of the country's corn crop was already planted. A wet, cold spring means that only 4 percent is in the ground right now.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Wed April 24, 2013 9:06 am

Last year's drought wreaked havoc on farmers' fields in much of the Midwest, cutting crop yields and forcing livestock producers to cull their herds. This spring, the rain that farmers needed so badly in 2012 has finally returned. But maybe too much, and at the wrong time.

It's almost the end of April, which is prime time to plant corn. But farmers need a break in the rain so they can get this year's crops in the ground and try to lock in good yields at harvest.

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Science + Technology
11:28 am
Wed April 17, 2013

There's Trouble Brewing At The Birth Of The Universe

Cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) as observed by Planck. The CMB is a snapshot of the oldest light in our Universe, imprinted on the sky when the Universe was just 380,000 years old.
Planck Collaboration ESA

Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 5:59 pm

Scientists can't just agree to disagree. It's not because we are stubborn or ornery (OK, maybe we are). It's because the whole point of science is to establish "public knowledge" — an understanding of the cosmos on which we can all agree. That is why there is trouble brewing at the beginning of the Universe.

There is a number, the Hubble Constant, that's fundamental to the study of the cosmos. The problem is, different folks are finding different values for that number and no one yet knows what that means.

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Science + Technology
11:27 am
Wed April 17, 2013

Who Stands Where In A Crowded Elevator And Why?

Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 1:22 pm

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Science + Technology
3:05 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Inside The Brains Of People Over 80 With Exceptional Memory

Lou Ann Schachner, 84, and Jay Schachner, 81, are volunteers with the Northwestern University SuperAging Project. They keep track of all their plans in a shared calendar. She loves to cook and study French and he is a part-time tax lawyer.
Samantha Murphy for NPR

Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 8:45 am

Most research on memory loss in the elderly focuses on dementia, Alzheimer's disease or other brain diseases.

But neuroscientist Emily Rogalski from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine knew there is great variation in how good memory is in older people. Most have memory loss to varying degrees, but some have strong memories, even well into old age.

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Science + Technology
3:01 am
Mon April 15, 2013

Supreme Court Asks: Can Human Genes Be Patented?

Artist's representation of DNA.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue April 16, 2013 8:45 am

Same-sex marriage got huge headlines at the Supreme Court last month, but in the world of science and medicine, the case being argued on Monday is far more important. The lawsuit deals with a truly 21st century issue — whether human genes may be patented.

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Science + Technology
4:52 pm
Sun April 14, 2013

As Arctic Ice Melts, It's A Free-For-All For Oil ... And Tusks

After being frozen for thousands of years in a Siberian riverbed, this pristine mammoth tusk is a financial boon to the hunter who found it.
Evgenia Arbugaeva National Geographic Magazine

Originally published on Tue April 23, 2013 11:47 am

It's widely known that the world's icecaps are melting. While most people are focused on what we're losing, some have considered what might be gained by the disappearance of all that ice.

In 2008, the U.S. Geological Survey released a report estimating that 13 percent of the world's remaining undiscovered oil and 30 percent of the remaining undiscovered natural gas could be in the Arctic.

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Science + Technology
3:33 am
Fri April 12, 2013

Startup CEO Wields Small Antenna In TV Streaming Battle

Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia
Dan Bobkoff NPR

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 1:30 pm

A top executive at News Corp. dropped a bombshell this week when he said the company is considering taking Fox's over-the-air network to cable. The announcement follows a court win for a startup company that streams broadcast channels online.

That startup's CEO, arguably the most feared man in television right now, is soft-spoken and rather techy.

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Science + Technology
3:29 am
Fri April 12, 2013

In NASA's Budget: Plans To 'Shrink-Wrap' An Asteroid

A NASA mission proposed in President Obama's budget would involve capturing an asteroid and pulling it into Earth's orbit for observation.
NASA/Advanced Concepts Laboratory

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 10:55 am

When President Obama released his 2014 budget for the federal government on Wednesday, much of it was spreadsheets and tables. But one corner of NASA's budget looked like something out of a movie script.

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Science + Technology
4:18 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

A Mile-High Hack: An App That Could Remotely Hijack Planes

A German IT consultant's proof-of-concept software raises questions about efforts to secure global flight systems.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri April 12, 2013 11:28 am

The Federal Aviation Administration continues work on its multibillion-dollar upgrade to the nation's air traffic control system, but it may not be enough to stop hackers from taking control of airplanes with a smartphone.

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Science + Technology
11:00 am
Wed April 10, 2013

Monkey Calls Could Offer Clues For Origin Of Human Speech

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 7:34 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is not the sound of the ALL THINGS CONSIDERED staff morning meeting.

(SOUNDBITE OF WOBBLE)

BLOCK: It's not Justin Timberlake doing his vocal warm-up. And it's not a celebration of hedge fund managers.

(SOUNDBITE OF WOBBLE)

BLOCK: It is the sound of the wild gelada monkey. And why are we bringing you the sound of the wild gelada monkey? Well, because a new study finds the vocalization of these monkeys could tell us something about the beginning of human speech.

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Science + Technology
5:47 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Bitcoin Surpasses $200 Mark, Continuing 'Epic' Rise

A chart shows the sharp rise of bitcoin against the U.S. dollar in the past five days. Only two months after exchange rates put a single bitcoin's value at around $20, it surpassed $200 Tuesday.
Bitcoin Charts

Bitcoin, the digital currency that trades outside the control of central banks and international borders, reached new heights Tuesday, surpassing the $200 mark for the first time. That level comes just five days after bitcoin approached $150, a development that Mt.Gox, the largest exchange service for the currency, deemed to be "epic."

Bitcoin's rise has been sharp. It was only two months ago that exchange rates put a single bitcoin's value at around $20.

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Science + Technology
2:58 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Starving Baby Sea Lions Flood Southern California Shores

More and more starving sea lions are being found stranded on California shores, and animal rehabilitation centers are at their maximum capacity. Experts say there are fewer fish for these mammals to feed on, but they don't know why.
Gloria Hillard NPR

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 9:14 am

In recent months, more than 1,000 starving baby sea lions have been found on Southern California beaches, from Santa Barbara to San Diego. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just declared the crisis an "unusual mortality event."

On a recent early morning, Peter Wallerstein is on the job on a beach near Marina del Rey, Calif. His white truck is a familiar sight along this coastline. Next to him, a small blond dog named Pumpkin rides shotgun.

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All Tech Considered
3:23 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

A Facebook Phone? Who Else Wants To Be In Your Pocket?

Fill in the blank: Tell us who else you think should make a phone, in the comments section below.
Giorgio Magini iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 1:30 pm

Yes, April Fools' Day is SO three days ago, but we couldn't resist ...

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Krulwich Wonders...
3:03 pm
Fri April 5, 2013

Monty Python's John Cleese Almost Explains Our Brains

YouTube

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 10:50 am

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The Salt
11:04 am
Fri April 5, 2013

Freezing Food Doesn't Kill E. Coli And Other Germs

The NPR Science Desk freezer: now we know we can't presume it's germ-free.
Daniel M.N. Turner NPR

Think that freezing food kills E. coli and other nasty microbes? Think again.

That's the lesson from the new E. coli outbreak caused by frozen chicken quesadillas and other snacks that has sickened 24 people in 15 states.

Freezing does slow down the microbes that cause food to spoil, but it's pretty much useless for killing dangerous bugs.

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Science + Technology
10:27 am
Wed April 3, 2013

In The Name Of Science, Head-Bobbing Sea Lion Keeps The Beat

Ronan, a 3-year-old female sea lion, has learned to keep a beat, something researchers previously thought was tied to vocal mimicry.
Screengrab via YouTube

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 4:30 pm

While rhythm can often be hard enough to find among humans, finding it in the animal kingdom has been even more rare.

But thanks to a 3-year-old sea lion named Ronan who knows how to keep the beat, previous notions of rhythmic ability among animals are now being challenged.

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Science + Technology
3:55 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Could Wind Turbines Be Toxic To The Ear?

A maintenance worker looks out over an off-shore wind farm in Liverpool, England in 2008. Some people are concerned about the potential health effects of noise from wind turbines.
Christopher Furlong Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 3, 2013 11:18 am

The U.S. is embracing wind energy, with wind turbines making up half of the new electricity added to the power grid last year. But a smattering of people who live near the turbines say they're a nuisance — and making them ill.

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