Science + Technology

Science + Technology
4:45 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

An Urban Tree Farm Grows In Detroit

Mike Score, president of Hantz Farms, shows off a small-scare version of what Hantz Woodlands will look like.
Sarah Hulett for NPR

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:21 pm

An entrepreneur says he's got a plan to curb urban blight in parts of Detroit. He's buying up acre after acre of abandoned lots and planting thousands of trees. But where backers of the plan see a visionary proposal, critics see a land grab.

Entrepreneur and Detroiter John Hantz, owner of Hantz Farms and the tree-planting effort called Hantz Woodlands, wants to plant at least 15,000 trees on about 140 acres. Hantz promises to clear out all the trash and keep the grass cut, things the city cannot afford to do now.

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Science + Technology
3:52 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Why Some Kids Have An Inflated Sense Of Their Science Skills

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 8:49 pm

If you're a student at the halfway point of the academic year, and you've just taken stock of your performance, perhaps you have reason to feel proud of yourself.

But a recent study suggests some of the pride you feel at having done well — especially in science — may be unfounded. Or at least your sense of your performance may not be a very accurate picture of how good you actually are.

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Science + Technology
4:28 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

This Should Be A Hit In Texas: Puddle Of Oil Turns Into A Christmas Tree

YouTube

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 9:41 am

We start with a pool of oil. We turn on a magnet. The oil travels up a superstructure and blossoms into a tree. Turn off the magnet, the branches, the needles, the tree melt away. It's a puddle again.

The perfect tree for an oil billionaire, no?

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Science + Technology
4:16 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Suddenly There's A Meadow In The Ocean With 'Flowers' Everywhere

Courtesy of Matthias Wietz

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 1:40 pm

It was three, maybe four o'clock in the morning when he first saw them. Grad student Jeff Bowman was on the deck of a ship; he and a University of Washington biology team were on their way back from the North Pole. It was cold outside, the temperature had just dropped, and as the dawn broke, he could see a few, then more, then even more of these little flowery things, growing on the frozen sea.

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Science + Technology
4:15 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

A Guarantee: The World Will Not End On Friday

A replica Mayan Calendar Round showing the date September 21, 2004, opening day for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.
Molly Stephey Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 11:52 am

According to countless prophecies, terrorizing people across the world, this will be my last contribution to 13.7. On Friday, December 21, the world will come to an end. I have been receiving dozens of concerned email messages from otherwise reasonable people, convinced that this time it is for real, that there is no escape.

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Science + Technology
5:43 pm
Tue December 18, 2012

Research Chimps Get Permanent Retirement Home

Chimpanzees check out a termite mound at the Chimp Haven sanctuary in Louisiana.
Chimp Haven

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 1:27 pm

More than 100 chimps retired from medical research are about to get a new home.

Most of the primates who have been living at the New Iberia Research Center will soon make their permanent residence at the Chimp Haven sanctuary, the National Institutes of Health said Wednesday.

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Science + Technology
6:39 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

After A Year Of Study, Twin Probes Crash Into Moon

The GRAIL mission's gravity map of the moon. Very precise measurements between two lunar probes orbiting the moon allowed researchers to study the moon with great detail.
NASA/JPL/Caltech

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 7:19 pm

At about 5:30 p.m. on Monday, two washing machine-sized space probes crashed into the surface of the moon. It was all by design and marked the end of NASA's GRAIL mission. The two probes had been orbiting the moon for almost a year, and they've sent back data that have given scientists an unprecedented look inside our nearest solar system neighbor.

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Science + Technology
3:04 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Scientists Look For New Drugs In Skin Of Russian Frog

Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 1:01 pm

Before the advent of refrigeration, Russians had a neat trick for keeping their milk from spoiling. They'd drop a live frog in the milk bucket.

The Russians weren't sure how this amphibian dairy treatment worked, but they were convinced it did.

Since then, researchers have discovered that the goo some frogs secrete through their skin has antibacterial and antifungal properties.

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Science + Technology
11:29 am
Mon December 17, 2012

How To Decide If Space Tourists Are Fit To Fly

Astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space in 1961. He later developed an inner ear problem that grounded him from space flight until an operation cured him.
NASA

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 5:49 pm

Childhood dreams of being an astronaut are easy. Actually blasting off is a little harder.

But now people who have longed to go into space can buy a ticket, if they've got the cash. Are they healthy enough to make the voyage, though?

That's becoming a pressing question as the options for leaving Earth multiply.

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Science + Technology
11:28 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Herbs And Empires: A Brief, Animated History Of Malaria Drugs

Adam Cole NPR

Originally published on Wed December 19, 2012 8:57 am

What do Jesuit priests, gin and tonics, and ancient Chinese scrolls have in common? They all show up in our animated history of malaria.

It's a story of geopolitical struggles, traditional medicine, and above all, a war of escalation between scientists and a tiny parasite. Malaria has proved to be a wily foe: Every time we think we have it backed into a corner, it somehow escapes.

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Science + Technology
11:14 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Pigeon Interruptus — A Fish That Hunts Pigeons On Land

YouTube

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 4:34 pm

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Science + Technology
5:26 pm
Fri December 14, 2012

50 Years After First Interplanetary Probe, NASA Looks To Future

The Mariner 2 probe at an assembly facility in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Aug. 29, 1962.
NASA/JPL/Caltech

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 10:27 am

Fifty years ago, on Dec. 14, 1962, reporters gathered for a press briefing at NASA headquarters and heard an unearthly sound: radio signals being beamed back by a spacecraft flying within 22,000 miles of Venus.

The Mariner 2 mission to Venus was the first time any spacecraft had ever gone to another planet.

These days, vivid photographs showing scenes from all around the solar system are so ubiquitous that people might easily forget how mysterious our planetary neighbors used to be.

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Science + Technology
3:19 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Counting Bugs In Panama? Get Out Your Tree Raft

Arachnoscelis magnifica
Maurice Leponce AAAS

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 3:22 pm

There are more species of insects than pretty much anything else in the world. And scientists know there are millions they haven't even identified yet. Now, in a tropical rainforest in Panama, a multinational team of scientists has just completed the first ever insect census.

Scott Miller, an entomologist at the Smithsonian who worked on the Panama, shows off one of the species from the survey that's at the National Museum of Natural History's insect zoo in Washington, D.C.

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Science + Technology
4:24 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Gravity Never Sleeps, And Other Lessons Nations Learn From Space Programs

This picture received from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on Wednesday shows an orbit image of the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, being monitored on a large screen at a satellite control center in Cholsan county, North Pyongan province in North Korea.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 4:51 pm

Sputnik 1 just beeped. China's first satellite, launched more than a decade later, simply radioed a communist anthem back to Earth. So far, North Korea's first satellite appears to be less accomplished.

And that shouldn't be a surprise.

Given the history of first orbital space shots, North Korea's apparent struggle with its mission is fairly typical, says David Akin, an associate professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Maryland.

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Science + Technology
3:50 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Ah, Wilderness! Nature Hike Could Unlock Your Imagination

Maybe you can find that creative spark out in Zion National Park in southwestern Utah.
Jeff Turner Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 5:50 pm

Want to be more creative? Drop that iPad and head to the great outdoors.

That's the word from David Strayer, a cognitive neuroscientist who studies multitasking at the University of Utah. He knew that every time he went into the southern Utah desert, far from cellular service, he started to think more clearly.

But he wanted to know if others had the same experience.

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Science + Technology
4:57 pm
Wed December 12, 2012

Land Creatures Might Not Have Come From The Sea

The fossil remains of Dickinsonia, an Ediacaran organism that's long been extinct. Scientists have long assumed these early life forms lived in the sea, but a new study argues they emerged on land.
G. Retallack Nature

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 6:29 pm

Cartoonists have found many clever ways to depict the conventional wisdom that complex life evolved in the sea and then crawled up onto land. But a provocative new study suggests that the procession might be drawn in the wrong direction. The earliest large life forms may have appeared on land long before the oceans filled with creatures that swam and crawled and burrowed in the mud.

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Science + Technology
4:07 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

How About A Little Drive, Hmm? (A Horror Story)

mandatory.com

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 6:12 pm

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Science + Technology
4:26 pm
Sun December 9, 2012

Forget Extinct: The Brontosaurus Never Even Existed

This photograph from 1934 shows the Carnegie Museum's Apatosaurus skeleton on the right — wearing the wrong skull.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Originally published on Sun December 9, 2012 7:09 pm

It may have something to do with all those Brontosaurus burgers everyone's favorite modern stone-age family ate, but when you think of a giant dinosaur with a tiny head and long, swooping tail, the Brontosaurus is probably what you're seeing in your mind.

Well hold on: Scientifically speaking, there's no such thing as a Brontosaurus.

Even if you knew that, you may not know how the fictional dinosaur came to star in the prehistoric landscape of popular imagination for so long.

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Science + Technology
3:22 am
Mon December 3, 2012

The Next Workplace? Behind The Wheel

The 2013 Bentley Mulsanne features drop-down iPad workstations. More cars are being outfitted to operate as mobile offices.
Bentley Motors

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 4:57 am

Brad Hines is a building contractor in Los Angeles who spends a good eight hours a day in his 2008 Dodge Ram. He talked to us from his truck — hands-free, of course.

"I do everything in my truck. I drive from job site to job site. I take calls. I try to get on the computer and clean up daily reports. I answer emails on my phone. I use my truck as a mobile office," Hines says.

The idea of the mobile office is far from new — Willy Loman; the Avon Lady; plumbers; electricians. Now, technology is taking the idea of working from the road to a whole new level.

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Science + Technology
10:26 am
Wed November 28, 2012

Ask A NASA Astrobiologist About Dec. 21 'Doomsday'

Some doomsayers predict that the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012, citing the end of the pre-Columbian Mayan calendar.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 2:44 pm

On Dec. 21, 2012, some fear that a rogue planet will collide with Earth and destroy the planet, or that the supposed end of the Mayan calendar will lead to the obliteration of the universe.

When people have questions about these scenarios, they often turn to the Internet.

NASA astrobiologist David Morrison has taken it upon himself to enter that online conversation and answer hundreds of questions about the science of existential threats.

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