Science + Technology

Education
5:42 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

Online Education Grows Up, And For Now, It's Free

Coursera founders Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller are computer science professors at Stanford University.
Jeff Chiu AP

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 5:26 pm

Online education isn't particularly new. It has been around in some form since the 1990s, but what is new is the speed and scale in which online learning is growing.

In barely a year, many of the most prestigious research universities in the world – including Stanford, Caltech, Oxford and Princeton — have started to jump onto the online bandwagon.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:58 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

The Best College Prank Of The 1790s (With Bats, Poop & Grass)

Benjamin Arthur for NPR

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 12:03 pm

In yesterday's post, I crowned an Oxford geologist William Buckland as Most Daring Eater Ever. And he was. But I think he deserves one additional, albeit smaller, honor.

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The Salt
3:31 am
Wed September 26, 2012

How Food And Clothing Size Labels Affect What We Eat And What We Wear

There's no industry standard size for food and drink portions, so it's hard to compare a Big Gulp with a McDonald's medium soda.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 8:35 pm

When you go into a restaurant, you probably give some thought to whether you're ordering a small, regular or large sandwich.

That makes sense.With widening waistlines across the land, many of us want to make a health-conscious choice. But are we really getting a small portion when we order a small sandwich?

Well, that depends.

University of Michigan marketing professor Aradhna Krishna has studied how labels impact how much we eat. In one experiment, she gave people cookies that were labeled either medium or large, and then measured how much they ate.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
9:48 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Does The Multiverse Make Sense?

A portal to another universe? No, just the Trifid Nebula, a massive star factory. This amazing image was captured by the European Southern Observatory's La Silla facility in northern Chile.
ESO

Originally published on Wed September 19, 2012 4:35 pm

It's good to start by explaining this title since, to most people, "multiverse" isn't even a word. The idea is that our Universe (with capital "U") is but one amongst a multitude of other possible universes, all part of a single multiverse.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:02 am
Wed September 19, 2012

Scientists See Upside And Downside Of Sequencing Their Own Genes

Dr. James Watson looks at a reproduction of the structure of DNA, which he helped discover, in this 1962 photograph. Decades later, Watson was one of the first people to have his entire genome sequenced.
Mondadori Mondadori via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 4:03 pm

When scientists were looking for the first person to test a new, superfast way of deciphering someone's entire genetic blueprint, they turned to James Watson the guy who shared a Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA.

"They had to sequence someone, so they got me," he says.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:47 am
Mon September 17, 2012

Which Is Greater, The Number Of Sand Grains On Earth Or Stars In The Sky?

Gilles Chapdelaine NASA & ESA

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 9:53 am

Here's an old, old, question, but this time with a surprise twist. The question is — and I bet you asked it when you were 8 years old and sitting on a beach: Which are there more of — grains of sand on the Earth or stars in the sky?

Obviously, grains and stars can't be counted, not literally. But you can guestimate.

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The Two-Way
3:22 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Monkey, New To Science, Found In Central Africa

Researchers have identified a new species of African monkey, locally known as the lesula.
Maurice Emetshu, Noel Rowe PLOS ONE/AP

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 11:19 pm

It would seem difficult to overlook something as large as a new species of monkey, but scientists had no idea about the lesula until just a few years ago when conservation biologist John Hart discovered a specimen being kept as a pet in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In retrospect, the monkey's striking, almost humanlike face should have made it hard to miss, and Hart, who spoke with All Things Considered host Melissa Block, is the first to admit that this new monkey was apparently not such a mystery to the Congolese themselves.

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Animals
2:49 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

New Center Trains Detection Dogs To Save Lives

Eleven-week-old 11-week-old Bretagne is beginning her training as a detection dog at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, which opens Tuesday. Click here to see photos of Bretagne at the mic during her Fresh Air interview.
Sarah Griffith

Originally published on Tue September 11, 2012 3:27 pm

A detection dog-training center opens Tuesday, on the anniversary of Sept. 11, at the University of Pennsylvania so scientists can train dogs for search-and-rescue missions — and study what helps them succeed.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:58 am
Fri September 7, 2012

Volcano Shoots Geyser Of Water Up Into Space

Michael Benson

Originally published on Tue October 9, 2012 11:53 am

What we have here is a moon — a small one (slightly wider than the state of Arizona) — circling Saturn.

If you look closely, you will see a small splay of light at its top, looking like a circular fountain.

That's because it is a fountain — of sorts. A bunch of volcano-like jets are sending fantastically high geysers of water vapor up into the sky, so high that you can see them in this remarkable print by Michael Benson, back lit by light bouncing off of Saturn.

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Author Interviews
1:34 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Conservation Biologist Explains Why 'Feathers' Matter

Thor Hanson's own cast of Archaeopteryx lithographica presents what he calls the "ancient wing written in stone."
Thor Hanson Basic Books

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 2:11 pm

It was the absence of feathers that got conservation biologist Thor Hanson thinking about the significance of them. Hanson was in Kenya studying the feeding habits of vultures, and he noticed the advantages that vultures had relative to other birds because of their bare, featherless heads.

"Having lost their feathers allows [vultures] to remain much cleaner and more free from bacteria and parasites and disease," Hanson tells Fresh Air contributor Dave Davies.

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Environment
3:19 am
Tue September 4, 2012

As Temps Rise, Cities Combat 'Heat Island' Effect

An art installation of a melting fan sits on display in a subway station Thursday, June 9, 2011, in Atlanta.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 5:10 pm

More than 20,000 high-temperature records have been broken so far this year in the United States. And the heat is especially bad in cities, which are heating up about twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

High temperatures increase the risk of everything from asthma to allergies, and can even be deadly. But a researcher in Atlanta also sees this urban heat wave as an opportunity to do something about our warming planet.

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Shots - Health Blog
4:02 am
Mon September 3, 2012

Can We Learn To Forget Our Memories?

Research shows that under certain circumstances, we can train ourselves to forget details about particular memories.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon September 3, 2012 7:06 pm

Around 10 years ago, Malcolm MacLeod got interested in forgetting.

For most people, the tendency to forget is something we spend our time cursing. Where are my keys? What am I looking for in the refrigerator again? What is that woman's name?

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The Salt
9:26 am
Wed August 29, 2012

Grow Your Own Locust Kit Could Someday Help Feed African Refugees

Locusts are cheap and easy to farm, and are considered a delicacy in many countries in Africa.
Soon Wee Hong iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 10:36 am

When it comes to environmentally-friendly meat, insects can't be beat. As The Salt reported last year, grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles are four times more efficient at converting grasses into protein-packed meat than cattle. Insects generate less greenhouse gases than cows, eat just about anything and survive in dry, inhospitable environments.

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13.7: Cosmos And Culture
9:19 am
Wed August 29, 2012

Reading Up On Thermodynamics

Pierre Andrieu AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue August 28, 2012 1:26 pm

Thermodynamics — the branch of physics dealing with heat and its relation to other forms of energy — is profound stuff.

Rooted in the engineering realities of engines and air conditioners, it also rises above these day-to-day realities to embrace heady, universal principles in complexity, order, chaos and organization. Thermodynamics touches everything that really matters in human life, including — most famously — the nature of time. It is profound and slippery.

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Monkey See
8:33 am
Tue August 28, 2012

YouTube Trends: Politics And Pop, Yes, But Education And Science, Too

Originally published on Tue August 28, 2012 9:32 am

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Shots - Health Blog
3:27 am
Tue August 28, 2012

Can You Learn While You're Asleep?

Research suggests basic forms of learning are possible while snoozing.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 9:44 am

If you're a student, you may have harbored the fantasy of learning lessons while you sleep. Who wouldn't want to stick on a pair of headphones, grab some shut-eye with a lesson about, say, Chinese history playing in his ears — and wake up with newly acquired knowledge of the Ming Dynasty?

Sadly, it doesn't work. The history lesson either keeps you from going to sleep, or it doesn't — in which case you don't learn it.

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The Two-Way
3:46 pm
Sat August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong, First Man To Walk On The Moon, Dies

Armstrong in the lunar module after the historic moonwalk.
AP NASA

Originally published on Sun August 26, 2012 5:28 pm

Former astronaut Neil Armstrong, known for his words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," has died. The first man ever to walk on the moon was 82.

Update at 5:15 p.m. ET:

Armstrong's family has released a statement, saying he died following cardiovascular procedures. NASA published it here. They say, "Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job."

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Author Interviews
11:22 am
Fri August 24, 2012

'Incognito': What's Hiding In The Unconscious Mind

Dr. David Eagleman is a neuroscientist and writer. He directs the Laboratory of Perception and Action at Baylor College of Medicine.
Sharon Steinmann Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at the University of Texas, Houston Medical School

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 12:48 pm

This interview was originally broadcast on May 31, 2011. David Eagleman's Incognito is now out in paperback.

Your brain doesn't like to keep secrets. Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, have shown that writing down secrets in a journal or telling a doctor your secrets actually decreases the level of stress hormones in your body. Keeping a secret, meanwhile, does the opposite.

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Science
3:50 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Web Cartoonist Raises $1 Million For Tesla Museum

Tesla reads in front of the spiral coil of his high-frequency transformer at his lab on Houston Street in New York.
Marc Seifer Archives

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 1:12 pm

The only remaining laboratory of one of the greatest American inventors may soon be purchased so that it can be turned into a museum, thanks to an Internet campaign that raised nearly a million dollars in about a week.

The lab was called Wardenclyffe, and it was built by Nikola Tesla, a wizard of electrical engineering whose power systems lit up the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 and harnessed the mighty Niagara Falls.

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All Tech Considered
3:18 am
Fri August 24, 2012

Is The Cloud In Gamers' Future?

Nintendo's Wii U is the only new game system on the horizon as console makers are having a hard time figuring out how to improve on what they've got.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 11:56 am

Last year, consumers spent $17 billion on video games. That sounds like a lot, but it was nearly $1.5 billion lower than the previous year. One reason: there haven't been any new game consoles out to excite buyers.

Only Nintendo's Wii U might be on shelves for the holiday season.

The console makers are having a hard time figuring out how to improve on what they've got.

Try asking a gamer like Ryan Block what would entice him to drop a few hundred bucks on a new console.

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