Science + Technology

Science + Technology
2:15 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

If You Think You're Anonymous Online, Think Again

Sure, you can try doing your Internet browsing this way, but we can't promise that it will help you protect your personal data online.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 11:00 am

Investigative reporter Julia Angwin was curious what Google knew about her, so she asked the company for her search data. "It turns out I had been doing about 26,000 Google searches a month ... and I was amazed at how revealing they were," she tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.

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Science + Technology
3:28 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Industry Challenges EPA's Greenhouse Gas Rules In High Court

Not all energy producers find fault with the EPA's rules. Calpine, which helped build the Delta Energy Center in Pittsburg, Calif., says the permitting regulations aren't overly cumbersome.
JAKUB MOSUR AP

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 10:35 am

The Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday about the Environmental Protection Agency's first-ever greenhouse gas regulations for the biggest polluting facilities.

The case focuses on a 3-year-old requirement that companies get permits anytime they construct new plants or modify existing ones that will emit a lot of greenhouse gases.

EPA's supporters and most of its challengers agree this case is narrow in scope; the court's ruling is not expected to threaten EPA's broader strategy to fight global warming.

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Science + Technology
3:27 am
Mon February 24, 2014

At 4.4 Billion Years Old, Oz Crystals Confirmed As World's Oldest

The colors of the zircon crystals range from transparent to deep red.
Courtesy of University of Wisconsin

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 2:06 pm

Scientists have used a powerful new technique to prove that some tiny crystals found in Western Australia are indeed the oldest known materials formed on Earth.

Back in 2001, scientists reported that one of the zircon crystals was about 4.4 billion years old — so old that not everyone believed it.

"There have been challenges, because nothing in science goes without being questioned. It always has to be proven," says John Valley, a geochemist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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Science + Technology
5:12 pm
Sun February 23, 2014

Explorers' Aim For Perilous Polar Trek: 'Get Home In One Piece'

Ben Saunders and Tarka L'Herpiniere trek from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back, breaking the record for the longest polar journey on foot.
The Scott Expedition

Originally published on Sun February 23, 2014 7:00 pm

In 1911, explorer and British Royal Navy officer Robert Falcon Scott had big plans. He intended to be the first to reach the South Pole, that holy grail of exploration, and claim the distinction for the British Empire.

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Science + Technology
1:02 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Scientist Switches Position, Now Supports Keystone XL Pipeline

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 9:29 am

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning.

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Science + Technology
12:40 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

How Dogs Read Our Moods: Emotion Detector Found In Fido's Brain

Volunteers pose with the brain scanner at the MR Research Centre in Budapest.
Courtesy of Borbala Ferenczy

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 7:47 am

A paw on the leg. A nose nuzzling against your arm. Maybe even a hop onto your lap.

Dogs always seem to know when you're upset and need extra love, even though they hardly understand a word of what you say. How can that be?

Our four-legged friends have a little patch of their brain devoted to deciphering emotions in human and dog voices, scientists reported Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

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Science + Technology
3:33 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Risk Is Low And Business Is Booming In The Malware Market

Stolen credit card data are sold on underground markets, along with the malware and tools the thieves need to steal the data themselves.
Elise Amendola AP

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 2:29 pm

Malware is malicious, bad software. It's the code that cybercriminals use to steal credit card numbers and bank accounts. And the big hack against Target showed how good these criminals are getting: They've built a thriving underground where credit cards go on sale before anyone even knows that a massive breach has happened.

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Science + Technology
3:39 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

If Yellowstone Could Talk, It Might Squeak. Blame The Helium

Sunset on the Firehole River, Yellowstone National Park.
Bill Young Flickr

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 8:02 pm

A huge amount of ancient helium is rising up from the rocks beneath Yellowstone National Park — about enough to fill up a Goodyear blimp every week.

The gas comes from a vast store of helium that's accumulated in the Earth's crust for hundreds of millions of years, scientists report in the journal Nature this week.

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Science + Technology
4:12 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

In The Dark About Picking A Light Bulb? This FAQ Can Help

(From left) Incandescent, CFL and LED light bulbs. Many people are finding that choosing the right light bulb has a steep learning curve.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed May 7, 2014 9:23 pm

Buying a light bulb used to be a no-brainer. Now it's a brain teaser; the transition to more energy-efficient lighting means choosing from a dazzling array of products.

We've long identified bulbs by their wattage, but that is actually a measure of electricity, not the brightness of a bulb. The amount of light a bulb generates is measured in lumens.

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Science + Technology
11:49 am
Tue February 18, 2014

A Big Asteroid Just Flew By, And Guess What? More Are Coming

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 3:18 pm

An asteroid that's about the size of three football fields flew past Earth on Monday, coming within 2.1 million miles. That was near enough to generate headlines such as this, from Reuters: "Earth marks close encounter with enormous asteroid."

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Science + Technology
3:39 am
Mon February 17, 2014

A Push To Boost Computer Science Learning, Even At An Early Age

Alex Tu, an advanced placement student, takes a computer science class in Midwest City, Okla. There's been a sharp decline in the number of computer science classes offered in U.S. secondary schools.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Sun February 23, 2014 12:11 pm

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Science + Technology
10:12 am
Sun February 16, 2014

Warming Arctic May Be Causing Jet Stream To Lose Its Way

The jet stream that circles Earth's north pole travels west to east. But when the jet stream interacts with a Rossby wave, as shown here, the winds can wander far north and south, bringing frigid air to normally mild southern states.
NASA/GSFC

Originally published on Sun February 16, 2014 12:17 pm

Mark Twain once said: "If you don't like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes."

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Science + Technology
8:10 am
Sun February 16, 2014

Scientists Discover Universe's Oldest Star

Originally published on Sun February 16, 2014 11:44 am

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC, "STAR TREK")

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Scientists have discovered the oldest star in the galaxy. And it's really old, 13.6 billion years. Now to be clear, they had known about this star before but hadn't yet figured out its age. This star is four billion years older than any other star found to date.

Here to more to talk about what this star can tell us about the great beyond is Timothy Beers, of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. Thanks so much for being with us.

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Science + Technology
1:16 pm
Sat February 15, 2014

Mars 'Jelly Doughnut' Mystery Solved: It's Just A Rock, NASA Says

This composite image provided by NASA shows before-and-after images taken by the Opportunity rover on Mars of a patch of ground taken on Dec. 26, 2013, showing the "Pinnacle Island" rock.
AP

Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 4:21 pm

It appeared out of the red, like something dropped by a Martian Homer Simpson. But now NASA has an explanation for the "jelly doughnut" object photographed by the Opportunity rover in December.

First, here's what it isn't: It is not a fungus-like Martian organism, nor is it ejecta shot into the air by a nearby (and unseen) meteor impact.

Instead, it's geologic roadkill. Basically.

"We drove over it," Opportunity's Deputy Principal Investigator Ray Arvidson said in a statement on Friday.

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Science + Technology
6:00 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

1 In 4 Americans Thinks The Sun Goes Around The Earth, Survey Says

A view of Venus, black dot at top center, passing in front of the sun during a transit in 2012. A quarter of Americans questioned failed to answer correctly the most basic questions on astronomy.
AP

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 6:41 pm

A quarter of Americans surveyed could not correctly answer that the Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around, according to a report out Friday from the National Science Foundation.

The survey of 2,200 people in the United States was conducted by the NSF in 2012 and released on Friday at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

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Science + Technology
12:50 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

China's Moon Rover Wakes Up, But Isn't Out Of The Woods Yet

China's first lunar rover separates from the Chang'e-3 moon lander on Dec. 15. This picture was taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.
Li Xin Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 3:56 pm

China's troubled Jade Rabbit rover has woken from its hibernation on the moon, sending a message back to its handlers. But its problems aren't over yet.

"Hi, anyone there?" was the post on Jade Rabbit's unofficial Weibo account on Thursday, which got thousands of responses from enthusiastic followers.

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Science + Technology
11:58 am
Thu February 13, 2014

A Prehistoric Family? Looking For Clues In The Mud

Area A of the Happisburgh archaeology site in Norfolk, Britain, where coastal erosion has revealed mudflats containing 800-thousand-year-old footprints.
Martin Bates/British Museum EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 10:44 am

Imagine five people out walking together along a river. Three are adults, the other two of juvenile age. As they walk together, they leave footprints in the mudflats.

Eight-hundred-thousand years later, a team of 12 archaeologists led by Nick Ashton of the British Museum and University College London announced its discovery of those footprints.

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Science + Technology
1:01 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Scientists Say Their Giant Laser Has Produced Nuclear Fusion

The National Ignition Facility's 192 laser beams focus onto a tiny target.
LLNL

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 9:00 pm

Researchers at a laboratory in California say they've had a breakthrough in producing fusion reactions with a giant laser. The success comes after years of struggling to get the laser to work and is another step in the decades-long quest for fusion energy.

Omar Hurricane, a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says that for the first time, they've produced significant amounts of fusion by zapping a target with their laser. "We've gotten more energy out of the fusion fuel than we put into the fusion fuel," he says.

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Science + Technology
12:38 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

What Is Your Big Question?

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 8:55 am

Questions ... questions ... So many big questions ...

Everybody has them. We are born cute but clueless, come of age through the ignominy of high school; shoulder the burden and joys of adulthood and then — BAM — it's over. And all around us is this space of infinite beauty and sorrow and weirdness. How can you not have questions?

Here at 13.7 we spend a lot of time on big questions. Here are a few that keep us up at night.

  • What is the nature of the mind?
  • Can there be a theory of everything?
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Science + Technology
5:26 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Sounds Intriguing: The World's Most Interesting Noises

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 3:55 pm

Trevor Cox has heard it all. He's a professor of acoustic engineering at the University of Salford in England, and he delights in discovering unusual noises. He's also author of The Sound Book: The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World, which describes some of what he's found.

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