Science + Technology

People talk about a flash of inspiration. But Xavier Helgesen's eureka moment came in the dark.

A few years ago, the American entrepreneur was traveling through Malawi to meet with clients for his book-selling company, Better World Books. He stopped in Monkey Bay, a town of about 30,000 people, to spend the night. What made this place unforgettable, he says, was that it was "100 percent off-grid."

After 71 hours and 8 minutes of flight time crossing the Atlantic, Solar Impulse 2 has touched down in Seville, Spain. It's a major step toward the team's goal of circumnavigating the globe using only the sun's power.

The end of this leg means they've now completed 90 percent of that journey.

As The Two-Way has reported, the single-seater plane took off from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport early Monday with pilot Bertrand Piccard at the controls.

The Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant will be shut down by 2025. The plan was announced today by the power utility operating the plant, along with labor and environmental groups.

Asthma-Free With No Hay Fever? Thank Your Older Sibling

Jun 22, 2016

Older siblings may be good for something after all. Infants whose mothers have been pregnant previously may have more active immune systems that protect them against asthma and hay fever, according to a paper in the June issue of Allergy.

A federal judge in Wyoming has struck down the Obama administration's regulations on hydraulic fracturing, ruling that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management doesn't have the authority to establish rules over fracking on federal and Indian lands.

In the ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl said Congress had not granted the BLM that power, and had instead chosen to specifically exclude fracking from federal oversight.

By now we know that Zika is dangerous for pregnant women and their future babies. The virus can cause devastating birth defects.

But what about for infections after babies are born? Or in older children? Is Zika a danger for them?

So far, all the evidence suggests probably not. But there are a few caveats.

Let's start with what we know.

When you think about fish, it's probably at dinnertime. Author Jonathan Balcombe, on the other hand, spends a lot of time pondering the emotional lives of fish. Balcombe, who serves as the director of animal sentience for the Humane Society Institute for Science and Policy, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that humans are closer to understanding fish than ever before.

"Thanks to the breakthroughs in ethology, sociobiology, neurobiology and ecology, we can now better understand what the world looks like to fish," Balcombe says.

A solar-powered airplane took off from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport early Monday, in a bid to have the Solar Impulse 2 craft cross the Atlantic Ocean and land in Spain on Thursday.

On June 20, 1840, Samuel Morse received a patent for an early version of the electric telegraph. His ideas for transmitting and recording signals helped revolutionize long-distance communication.

This is what passes for good news about coral reefs these days: Around the world, some reefs aren't dying as quickly as scientists thought they would.

Scientists say that in a Swedish quarry, they've uncovered a meteorite unlike any other documented on the planet.

Its chemical makeup is unique among the 50,000 meteorites known on Earth, as Birger Schmitz of Sweden's Lund University tells The Two-Way. "This does not resemble anything ... even if we look at the big types that exist today and look at the broad ranges, this one falls completely outside of everything," he says.

Scientists announced Wednesday that they have once again detected ripples in space and time from two black holes colliding far away in the universe.

The discovery comes just months after the first-ever detection of such "gravitational waves," and it suggests that smaller-sized black holes might be more numerous than many had thought.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday fully upheld the so-called Open Internet rules, regulations backing the principle of net neutrality.

It's the idea that phone and cable companies should treat all of the traffic on their networks equally — no blocking or slowing their competitors, and no fast lanes for companies that can pay more.

What draws people to terrorism? What propels them to commit mass murder? We asked these questions back in December after a self-radicalized couple shot and killed 14 people and wounded 22 others in San Bernadino, California. This past weekend, the carnage continued. The rampage at The Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida is the deadliest mass shooting in recent U-S history.

Millennials May Be Losing Their Grip

Jun 13, 2016

Millennials, the thoroughbreds of texting, may lag behind previous generations when it comes to old-fashioned hand strength.

In a study of Americans ages 20-34, occupational therapists found that men younger than 30 have significantly weaker hand grips than their counterparts in 1985 did. The same was true of women ages 20-24, according to the study published online by the Journal of Hand Therapy a few months back.

In a talk in Pittsburgh in 1997, the late evolutionary biologist Stephen J. Gould allegedly characterized humans as "the primates who tell stories." Psychologist Robyn Dawes went much further, suggesting humans are "the primates whose cognitive capacity shuts down in the absence of a story."

Stephon Alexander didn't always love music. When he turned 8, his grandmother, who was from Trinidad, forced him to take piano lessons in the Bronx. His teacher was, in a word, strict. "It felt like a military exercise to rob me of my childhood," Alexander recalls.

Several years went by like that. Until one day when Alexander's dad brought home an alto sax he found at a garage sale. "That became my toy. Music no longer for me was this regimented tedium," he says.

The luminous glow of light pollution prevents nearly 80 percent of people in North America from seeing the Milky Way in the night sky.

That's according to a new atlas of artificial night sky brightness that found our home galaxy is now hidden from more than one-third of humanity.

According to a new hypothesis put forward by an international team of geneticists and archeologists, dogs may have been domesticated in two different places from genetically distinct wolf populations in Europe and in East Asia.

This year's extra-large El Nino weather pattern is over, according to federal meteorologists.

"We're sticking a fork in this El Niño and calling it done," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists wrote on a blog tracking the 15-month-long weather event.

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