Science + Technology

Science + Technology
11:24 am
Wed June 11, 2014

The Transhuman Future: Be More Than You Can Be

Andrew Ostrovsky iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 10:59 am

How is it that we define a human? Is it our body? Our genome? Our behaviors? Our self-awareness? Our compassion? Our minds? All of these and then something more? What now may be obvious to most people about being human will become less so as we become progressively more integrated with technology both inside and outside our bodies.

Transhumanism, according to the dictionary on my Apple laptop, is defined as "the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology."

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Science + Technology
10:59 am
Tue June 10, 2014

With Concern For Environment, Illinois Bans Microbeads

Researcher Sherri Mason looks for microbeads in a water sample from Lake Michigan.
Cheryl Corley

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 1:27 pm

Illinois became the first state in the union to ban microbeads, the tiny bits of plastic found in consumer products like skin exfoliants and soap.

As NPR's Cheryl Corley reports, environmentalists say that when microbeads wash down the drain, they're usually missed by filtration systems, which means they become food to fish and other wildlife.

Cheryl filed this report for our Newscast unit:

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Science + Technology
3:48 am
Tue June 10, 2014

Spiders Tune In To Web's Music To Size Up Meals And Mates

Hairlike sensors on the the legs of the golden silk spider help it "listen" to the thrum of its web.
I'll Never Grow Up Flickr

Originally published on Wed June 25, 2014 5:03 pm

Some of the toughest stuff in nature is spider silk — as strong, ounce for ounce, as nylon. And a silk web makes a great trap for prey, as well as a nice place for a spider to live.

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Science + Technology
3:47 am
Tue June 10, 2014

Project Eavesdrop: An Experiment At Monitoring My Home Office

If someone tapped your Internet connection, what would they find out about you?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 2:55 pm

If someone tapped your Internet connection, what would he find out about you?

It's been just over a year since Edward Snowden became a household name, and his disclosures about the reach and extent of the National Security Agency's online monitoring programs led to headlines around the world.

But one big, basic question remains more or less unanswered: What exactly does the NSA's surveillance reveal?

To try to answer that question, I had my home office bugged.

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Science + Technology
3:32 am
Thu June 5, 2014

A Year After Snowden, U.S. Tech Losing Trust Overseas

Participants hold up images of former NSA analyst Edward Snowden at an April conference on the future of Internet governance in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Andre Penner AP

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 5:18 pm

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Snowden revelations. Whatever you may think about Edward Snowden the man — is he a traitor or a hero? — one fact is indisputable. His leaks shook the U.S. technology industry to its core. And the reverberations keep on coming.

Take Cisco. The Silicon Valley giant is now at risk of losing its once-stellar reputation with foreign customers — at the exact same moment it needs to grow abroad.

Security Worries For The Cloud

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Science + Technology
5:04 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

An Underwater Race To Transplant Miami's Rare Corals

Close-up of a star coral rescued by Coral Morphologic from a reef in Miami's shipping channel.
Courtesy of Coral Morphologic

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 7:18 pm

A lab just off Florida's Miami River has become the base for an unusual lifesaving operation.

A group of scientists there is on an urgent mission to save as many corals as it can before the marine creatures are destroyed as part of an underwater excavation of Miami's shipping channel. The channel — set to be dredged and deepened on Saturday — is home to a thriving coral reef.

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Science + Technology
5:11 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Into The Virtual Reality Lab With Pioneering Researchers

Peter Mason tries the Oculus virtual reality headset at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco earlier this year. Some see Facebook's acquisition of the company as a turning point.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 11:41 pm

When Facebook paid $2 billion to buy Oculus VR, the company that makes the virtual reality goggles, it turned heads. Oculus doesn't even make a profit, but many enthusiasts believe this may be a turning point for a technology that's been around for decades.

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Science + Technology
6:04 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Norovirus: Far More Likely To Come From Restaurant Than Cruise Ship

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 11:49 pm

If you follow the news on nasty, contagious norovirus, you might assume that the place you're most likely to get it is on a cruise ship. For one, there was that outbreak earlier this year when a group of passengers got sick with severe vomiting and diarrhea on a Royal Caribbean boat.

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Science + Technology
3:31 am
Tue June 3, 2014

How Atomic Particles Helped Solve A Wine Fraud Mystery

French physicist Philippe Hubert uses gamma rays to detect radioactivity in wine. "In the wine is the story of the Atomic Age," he says.
C J Walker Courtesy of William Koch

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 7:44 am

In a laboratory, deep under a mile-high stretch of the Alps on the French-Italian border, Philippe Hubert, a physicist at the University of Bordeaux, is testing the authenticity of a bottle of wine.

"We are looking for radioactivity in the wine," says Hubert. "Most of the time the collectors send me bottles of wine because they want to know if it is fake or not."

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Science + Technology
1:43 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Science, Trust And Psychology In Crisis

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 1:20 pm

When I attended my first scientific conference at the tender age of 20, one of my mentors surprised me with the following bit of advice. Transcribed directly from memory:

"You should be sure to attend the talk by so-and-so. You can always trust his results."

This casual remark made a deep impression on me. What did trust have to do with anything? This was supposed to be science! Based on evidence! It shouldn't have mattered who performed the experiment, who delivered the talk or whose name was on the ensuing publication.

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Science + Technology
3:03 am
Fri May 30, 2014

Drone Wars: Who Owns The Air?

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 12:50 pm

There are lots of entrepreneurs who would love to fly drones — tiny unmanned aircraft — all over the country. They dream of drones delivering packages and taking photos, but there's a battle in the courts right now standing in their way. The battle is about whether it's legal for drones to take to the sky.

The question at the core of the battle: Who owns the air?

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Science + Technology
2:22 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Coming Soon: A Summer Of Ugly Fruits And Vegetables

This romaine lettuce growing in California looks pretty now. But how much of it will be discarded as waste before the unblemished plants go on display at the grocery store?
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 3:02 pm

If you're like me, when you're buying fruits and vegetables to cook or make a salad with, you seek the most aesthetically appealing examples: the unblemished apple, the bright-red tomato, the zesty looking leaves of spinach.

But I'm reforming my ways. This summer, I'll be looking for ugly produce instead.

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Science + Technology
11:46 am
Wed May 28, 2014

Our Brain, The Trickster

Argentina's Facundo Bagnis does his best to integrate space and time as he brings his senses to bear on a tennis ball at the French Open.
Pascal Guyot AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 10:46 am

The "here and now." We say these words with perfect calm and composure, as if they mean something. We think we know what they mean. They serve an obvious purpose in our lives. But come to think of it, even if we have more freedom with the "here" — as we are free to move about in space and can conceive of an object filling up a volume in space — the "now" doesn't really exist. Our minds create a representation of both so we may guide ourselves in space and time.

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Science + Technology
8:15 am
Wed May 28, 2014

Google Is Becoming A Car Manufacturer

Google X is building a few hundred self-driving cars that have no steering wheel, accelerator pedal or brake pedal.
Google

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 4:35 pm

Google is taking a detour into the world of automobiles, by becoming a carmaker.

But not just any car: a car that drives itself. In an effort to create a fully, 100 percent self-driving vehicle — something that needs no human being at the steering wheel — the company is building a car without a steering wheel.

Scientists at the company's research wing, Google X, have been working on this project hush-hush for the past year.

Today's Self-Driving Car

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Science + Technology
4:10 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

What To Do If Your iPhone Is Hacked And Remotely Locked

A hacker targeted people in Australia, sending a message to their iPhones and iPads that their devices were locked — unless they paid a ransom.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 5:52 pm

This week, in the hours before daylight, a hacker sent an unsettling alert to iPhone users in Australia. The husband of a Sydney council member received the message at 4 a.m.; a graphic designer was awakened at 2 a.m.

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Science + Technology
1:27 pm
Tue May 27, 2014

Former LulzSec Hacker Turned Informant Avoids Further Jail Time

Hector Xavier Monsegur arrives at court in New York for a sentencing hearing on Tuesday.
Seth Wenig AP

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 2:28 pm

Avoiding further jail time, Hector Xavier Monsegur — a hacktivist legend — walked out of a federal court house in Manhattan on Tuesday.

The AP reports that U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska said Monsegur's cooperation helped disrupt hundreds of cyber attacks and helped disrupt the hacker activist group Anonymous and essentially marked the end of LulzSec.

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Science + Technology
6:57 pm
Sun May 25, 2014

Going Dark: The Internet Behind The Internet

The Deep Web is a part of the Internet not accessible by standard Web browsers and search engines.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 3:17 pm

The average computer user with an Internet connection has access to an amazing wealth of information. But there's also an entire world that's invisible to your standard Web browser.

These parts of the Internet are known as the Deep Web. The tools to get to there are just a few clicks away, and more and more people who want to browse the Web anonymously are signing on.

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Science + Technology
4:35 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

Organic Cat Litter Chief Suspect In Nuclear Waste Accident

Workers at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant are still investigating what caused a radioactive release at the site, but organic cat litter may be the culprit.
DOE/WIPP

Originally published on Sat May 24, 2014 3:12 am

In February, a 55-gallon drum of radioactive waste burst open inside America's only nuclear dump, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

Now investigators believe the cause may have been a pet store purchase gone bad.

"It was the wrong kitty litter," says James Conca, a geochemist in Richland, Wash., who has spent decades in the nuclear waste business.

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Science + Technology
7:39 am
Fri May 23, 2014

Book News: NASA Has Free E-Book On Decoding Extraterrestrial Messages

Phone Home? NASA wants us to be ready to understand messages from potentially "a species that is radically Other."
Neilson Barnard Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 23, 2014 3:43 pm

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

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Science + Technology
1:13 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

UK Government Asks: What's The Greatest Challenge Of Our Time?

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 10:20 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now, a prize that's making a return: the Longitude Prize.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It was set up in 1714 by the British government to solve the greatest challenge of that time: Pinpoint a ship's location at sea by knowing its longitude.

CORNISH: Three hundred years later, there's a video announcing its return.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: We're at the dawn of a new world.

SIEGEL: Its committee is led by Lord Martin Rees, a professor at Cambridge University.

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