On This Week In Science History, we have the birthday of the most well-known physicist, Albert Einstein. We'll talk about his contributions to science, as well as the first professional female astronomer, the farthest object in our solar system that we've identified, and when the first two-way phone call was made!
On This Week in Science History, we've a family that included 3 generations of scientists, an artist in space, an inventor who made the most efficient engine of his time and later mysteriously disappeared, and more!
Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 2:10 pm
According to the historical record dating back to 1895, 2012 was the hottest year this country has ever seen. But it's not just that the temperature has risen — from deadly tornadoes to the widespread coastal damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy, we seem to be living through a period of intensified and heightened weather extremes.
Originally published on Fri March 22, 2013 11:02 am
NPR Science Correspondent Richard Harris traveled to Australia's Great Barrier Reef to find out how the coral reefs are coping with increased water temperature and increasing ocean acidity, brought about by our burning of fossil fuels. Day 2: The good news is life could get better for seaweed.
Picture a coral reef and the first things likely to come to mind are brilliantly colored fish swimming among stout branches of coral. Let your mind wander a bit more and you might imagine some sea turtles, stingrays and sharks.
Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 9:30 am
Basketball fans have one more day to fill out their March Madness brackets. They'll need to predict not just the champions and their route to victory, but also the paths of all the losers. It's not easy. In fact, no person or computer has yet been able to do it.
Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 6:05 am
It looks kinda like a squirrel, except its ears are too small, its tail is ratty, then bushy, and its mouth? Definitely un-squirrel. More like a shrew, a fox, or a dog. And the teeth? Strange. What is it?
Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 9:04 am
You can see it on this Google Map — a little spit of land, sitting between Australia (on the left) and French-governed New Caledonia (on the right).
It's called "Sandy Island." In the Times Atlas of the World it's called "Sable Island." On both maps it's a conspicuous land mass, roughly 15 miles long from north to south, three miles across. Altogether, that's about 45 square miles — about one and a half times the size of Manhattan.
Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 3:06 pm
Scientists peering into the atmosphere of a giant planet 130 light years away believe their findings bolster one theory of how solar systems form.
The planet, orbiting the star HR 8799, is part of a solar system containing at least three other "super-Jupiters" weighing in at between five and 10 times the mass of our own Jupiter. The nearby system features a brash, young 30-million-year-old star (by contrast, our Sun is in midlife at about 4.5 billion years old).
Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 9:30 am
Sorry to disappoint, but science writer Carl Zimmer says we're not going to bring back dinosaurs. But, he says, "science has developed to the point where we can actually talk seriously about possibly bringing back more recently extinct species."
It's called "de-extinction" — and it's Zimmer's cover story for National Geographic's April issue.
Originally published on Fri March 15, 2013 10:38 am
The new boom in natural gas from shale has changed the energy economy of the United States. But there's another giant reservoir of natural gas that lies under the ocean floor that, theoretically, could dwarf the shale boom.
No one had tapped this gas from the seabed until this week, when Japanese engineers pulled some up through a well from under the Pacific. The gas at issue here is called methane hydrate. Methane is natural gas; hydrate means there's water in it. In this case, the molecules of gas are trapped inside a sort of cage of water molecules.
Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 5:56 pm
At its best, the Web is a place for unlimited exchange of ideas. But Web-savvy news junkies have known for a long time that reader feedback can often turn nasty. Now a study in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communicationsuggests that rude comments on articles can even change the way we interpret the news.
A meteorite that lit the sky over Sri Lanka with a yellow and green flame when it fell to earth on Dec. 29, 2012, contains "fossilized biological structures," according to researchers in Britain, Sri Lanka, and the United States. Elaborating on claims they first made in January, the scientists are also seeking to answer critics who are skeptical of their findings.
Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 8:40 pm
Everywhere you walk in downtown Austin, Texas, new names compete for the attention of the tens of thousands wandering the SXSW Interactive festival. Which of this year's emerging ideas and brands — MakerBot, Leap Motion, Geomagic — will break into mainstream consciousness? Here's a quick rundown of the conversation topics in coffee lines, and some notes on appearances and panels that caught our attention:
Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 8:48 am
If you've had wrist and shoulder pain from clicking a mouse, relief may be in sight. This spring, a new motion sensing device will go on sale that will make it possible for the average computer user to browse the Web and open documents with a wave of a finger.
The Leap Motion Controller is on display at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, for the first time. It's one of the most talked about startups at the conference, where some 26,000 people have gathered to see emerging tech companies.
Do you know who were the first man and woman in space? How about what makes HIV different than your garden variety case of influenza? And who decided to organize the elements into the periodic table? Find out the answers to these questions and more by listening to “This Week in Science History” podcast!
Originally published on Sat April 13, 2013 1:52 pm
When the streaming video service Netflix decided to begin producing its own TV content, it chose House of Cards as its first big project. Based on a BBC series, the show stars Kevin Spacey and is directed by David Fincher, and it has quickly become the most watched series ever on Netflix.
Every year, the South By Southwest music, film and interactive festival gets larger, and navigating the blur of panels, parties and shows gets more daunting. The girth of it all is enough to keep many SXSW old-timers away from Austin this year.