Science + Technology

Science + Technology
1:11 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

Cosmos Might Be A Few Million Years Older Than Advertised

Planck's view of the Cosmic Microwave Background.
European Space Agency

Originally published on Thu March 21, 2013 2:08 pm

The universe is a bit older than we thought, according to a group of European scientists who say they've snapped the most detailed image to date of the afterglow of the Big Bang.

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Science + Technology
10:49 am
Wed March 20, 2013

On Australia's Great Barrier Reef, There's A Turf Battle Raging

Guillermo Diaz-Pulido from Griffith University in Brisbane grows bits of seaweed attached to pieces of coral in tanks at the research facility on Australia's Heron Island.
Richard Harris NPR

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.

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Science + Technology
3:18 am
Wed March 20, 2013

Good Luck With That 'Perfect' March Madness Bracket. You'll Need It

Kansas center Jeff Withey (left) and Kentucky guard Darius Miller battle under the boards during the second half of the NCAA championship on April 2, 2012.
Mark Humphrey AP

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.

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Science + Technology
12:56 pm
Mon March 18, 2013

The Naming Of The Shrew

Carl Buell

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?

It's an act of edited, elegant imagination.

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Krulwich Wonders...
2:53 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

Pacific Island, Bigger Than Manhattan, Vanishes

Auckland Museum flickr

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.

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Science + Technology
1:18 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

A Peek Into Exoplanet's Atmosphere Offers Clues To How It Was Formed

The 10-meter Keck II (right), a twin of the world's largest optical telescope, was used to study the atmosphere of HR 8799c.
Richard Wainscoat AP

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).

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The Picture Show
7:48 am
Fri March 15, 2013

It's Called 'De-Extinction' — It's Like 'Jurassic Park,' Except It's Real

The bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex, lived high in the Pyrenees until its extinction in 2000. Three years later, researchers attempted to clone Celia, the last bucardo. The clone died minutes after birth. Taxidermic specimen, Regional Government of Aragon, Spain
Robb Kendrick National Geographic

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.

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Energy
5:12 am
Fri March 15, 2013

Could Tapping Undersea Methane Lead To A New Gas Boom?

This photo from a Kyodo News helicopter shows a flame of natural gas from a Japanese deep-sea drilling ship on Tuesday. This successful extraction of methane from the seafloor was a world first.
Kyodo Landov

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.

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Digital Life
4:47 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

The 'Nasty Effect': How Comments Color Comprehension

Researchers found that exposure to uncivil comments can polarize opinion on news issues.
iStockphoto.com

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 Communication suggests that rude comments on articles can even change the way we interpret the news.

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Science + Technology
6:26 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Claims Of A Meteorite's Ancient Aquatic Fossils Spark Debate

Images show what researchers say could be a "hystrichosphere," a fossilized dinoflagellate cyst.
Journal of Cosmology

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.

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Science + Technology
7:20 am
Mon March 11, 2013

The Most Talked About Tech And Culture Trends At SXSW Interactive

The feline known as Grumpy Cat.
Elise Hu NPR

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:

Beyond The Keyboard And Mouse

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Science + Technology
4:41 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Controlling Your Computer With A Wave Of Your Hand

Festival attendees experiment with Leap Motion technology.
Elise Hu NPR

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.

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Science + Technology
1:46 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

This Week In Science History: March 4th-March 10th

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! 

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Science + Technology
3:00 am
Thu March 7, 2013

The 'Big Data' Revolution: How Number Crunchers Can Predict Our Lives

iStockphoto.com

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.

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Science + Technology
2:26 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Spring Break For Geeks: SXSW Interactive Starts Friday

At SXSW 2012, the app "Highlight" was touted but failed to break out like Foursquare or Twitter in years prior.
Jack Plunkett AP

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 3:01 pm

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.

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Science + Technology
3:44 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Elephant Poaching Pushes Species To Brink Of Extinction

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 11:18 am

A new study of Central African forest elephants has found their numbers down by 62 percent between 2002 and 2011. The study comes as governments and conservationists meet in Thailand to amend the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

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Science + Technology
3:39 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Wanna Play? Computer Gamers Help Push Frontier Of Brain Research

This image represents a chunk, or "cube," of brain. Each different color represents a different neuron, and the goal of the EyeWire game is to figure out how these tangled neurons connect to each other. Players look at a slice from this cube and try to identify the boundaries of each cell. It isn't easy, and it takes practice. You can try it for yourself at eyewire.org.
EyeWire

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 3:39 pm

People can get pretty addicted to computer games. By some estimates, residents of planet Earth spend 3 billion hours per week playing them. Now some scientists are hoping to make use of all that human capital and harness it for a good cause.

Right now I'm at the novice level of a game called EyeWire, trying to color in a nerve cell in a cartoon drawing of a slice of tissue. EyeWire is designed to solve a real science problem — it aims to chart the billions of nerve connections in the brain.

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Science + Technology
4:20 pm
Sun March 3, 2013

Turning It Down: Cities Combat Light Pollution By Going Dim

This summer Paris will start dimming its streetlights, though major landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, will not be affected.
Mike Hewitt Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 3, 2013 4:35 pm

Bright lights are part of a city's ecosystem. Think of Times Square or the Las Vegas Strip or right outside your bedroom window.

Electric lighting is ubiquitous in most urban and suburban neighborhoods. It's something most people take for granted, but appreciate, since it feels like well-lit streets keep us safer. But what if all this wattage is actually causing harm?

"We're getting brighter and brighter and brighter," warns Paul Bogard, author of the upcoming book, End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light.

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Science + Technology
2:03 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

FCC To Examine Federal Ban On Unlocking Cellphones

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 6:54 pm

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski says his agency will investigate whether a federal ban on unlocking cellphones is "harmful to economic competitiveness."

Genachowski made the comments during a event hosted by the technology site TechCrunch.

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Science + Technology
10:30 am
Fri March 1, 2013

MIT Invents A Machine That Can Look At Batman's Face And See His Heart Beating

The New York Times YouTube

Originally published on Thu February 28, 2013 11:53 am

My pal Erik Olsen at The New York Times has just described an extraordinary new way to look at people. You point a camera at someone, record the image and then, using an "amplifier," you can discover things you've never seen before.

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