Science + Technology

More than 500,000 balancing scooters — better known as hoverboards, though they do no hovering — are being recalled because of the risk of fire or explosions.

The devices were extremely popular gifts this past holiday season. Online, they were hits in viral dance videos ... and in less-impressive videos of people falling off their new toys.

The days of peak BlackBerry in the U.S. capital are hard to forget. The swift clackety-click of the keyboard and the soft trrrrrrr of the trackpad scroll invaded every corner of Washington: You'd hear it on the Metro and in building hallways, at dinner tables and in bars, in elevators and, yes, even bathroom stalls.

By all accounts, technology has made us safer.

Cars are more maneuverable because of tire design changes. Jet engines are less likely to fail midflight thanks to better propulsion mechanics. Clinical diagnoses are more accurate thanks to improvements in medical imaging.

Over the past half-century, such advances have forced a drop in deaths caused by technical lapses. And now, technology is used to reduce fatalities caused by human error. But we need more.

Right when Steve Spielberg's rendition of Roald Dahl's classic The BFG hit the screens here on Earth without the expected impact, NASA's probe Juno, in a spectacular performance, entered orbit around monstrous, stormy Jupiter — our solar system's "unfriendly" gi

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Outside Susan Holmes' house in southeastern Oklahoma, visitors are welcomed by an entryway lined with oxygen bottles and a machine that collects and concentrates oxygen from the air.

"I take two inhalers twice a day," Holmes says. "And I have a nebulizer that I use four times a day, and I use oxygen at night."

She says her asthma returned when she moved to Bokoshe, a decaying town of about 500 people that is flanked by old coal mines. The huge pits have now been filled with hundreds of thousands of tons of coal ash.

The exploration of our outer solar system is about to hit a real slump.

NASA is celebrating Juno's arrival at Jupiter, but in less than two years, Juno will be gone — it's slated to plunge into the gas giant and burn up. The Cassini spacecraft, now orbiting Saturn, will meet the same fate next year.

In January, our news assistant Max Nesterak made a resolution to quit smoking. We decided to pitch in and help. Shankar gave Max three things to do based on social science research: write a public service announcement, get a support network, and put money budgeted for cigarettes into a savings account. It's been more than six months since you've heard from Max, so this week, we're checking in with him to see how he's doing.

Updated 1:40 a.m. ET with Juno orbit maneuver

After a nearly five-year journey, NASA's solar-powered Juno spacecraft achieved orbit around Jupiter on Monday night. Juno navigated a tricky maneuver — including slowing by around 1,212 mph — to insert itself into orbit in what NASA calls "the king of our solar system."

At 11:18 p.m. ET, Juno transmitted a radio signal to Earth that meant its main engine had switched on. It stayed on for 35 minutes, placing Juno into exactly the orbit that mission managers had planned for.

After a five-year journey through the solar system, NASA's $1.1 billion Juno mission is set to begin its orbit around Jupiter on Monday. But for the probe to be captured by the giant planet's gravity and go into the desired orbit, Juno's main engine has to fire for 35 minutes.

The machine looks like a terminal at your local convenience store, but police agencies in a number of states are using them to read money cards seized from crime suspects. Officers can instantly freeze or seize the funds loaded on prepaid cards using the handheld device, and some civil liberties advocates say the machines may be abused.

The Dark Side To The Firefly's Flare

Jul 2, 2016
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Frigatebirds, seagoing fliers with a 6-foot wingspan, can stay aloft for weeks at a time, a new study has found. The results paint an astonishing picture of the bird's life, much of which is spent soaring inside the clouds.

Why do people act the way they do? Many of us intuitively gravitate toward explaining human behavior in terms of personality traits: characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving that tend to be stable over time and consistent across situations.

This intuition has been a topic of fierce scientific debate since the 1960s, with some psychologists arguing that situations — not traits — are the most important causes of behavior. Some have even argued that personality traits are figments of our imagination that don't exist at all.

An influential federal panel has taken the unusual step of telling the Obama administration to withdraw a controversial proposal to revise regulations that protect people who volunteer for medical research.

The proposal is "marred by omissions, the absence of essential elements, and a lack of clarity," according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The conclusions are part of a 283-page report released Wednesday.

The U.K.'s fraught decision to exit the European Union was motivated by everyday issues such as trade and immigration. But its impact could soon be felt in some of Europe's most esoteric locales — like particle accelerators.

Sometimes the most important step one can take in science is back.

When the path towards progress in a field becomes muddied, the best response may be to step away from all the technical specifics that make up day-to-day practice and begin pulling up the floorboards. In other words, rather than continuing to push on the science, it may be best to ask about the unspoken philosophies supporting that research effort.

A team of archaeologists diving near the Greek island of Antikythera have reported a startling new discovery from a previously explored 2,000-year-old shipwreck. The find — a very heavy, metal cylinder — offers new insights into the maritime warfare of ancient times, the scientists say.

President Obama and his counterparts from Canada and Mexico are preparing to unveil an ambitious new goal for generating carbon-free power when they meet this week in Ottawa.

The three leaders are expected to set a target for North America to get 50 percent of its electricity from nonpolluting sources by 2025. That's up from about 37 percent last year.

Aides acknowledge that's a "stretch goal," requiring commitments over and above what the three countries agreed to as part of the Paris climate agreement.

Twelve years ago, I tried to drive a stake into the heart of the personality-testing industry. Personality tests are neither valid nor reliable, I argued, and we should stop using them — especially for making decisions that affect the course of people's lives, like workplace hiring and promotion.

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