Science + Technology

Science + Technology
5:21 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Amazon Unleashes Robot Army To Send Your Holiday Packages Faster

Kiva robots maneuver around one of Amazon's newest distribution centers on Sunday in Tracy, Calif.
Brandon Bailey AP

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 7:42 pm

For many online retailers, Cyber Monday is likely to be the peak shopping day of the year. To handle the onslaught of orders, Amazon has begun rolling out a new robot army.

The Amazon order-fulfillment center in Tracy, Calif., is more than a million square feet — or 28 football fields, if you prefer — filled with orange and yellow bins flying this way and that on conveyor belts. Chances are, if you ordered a bunch of items in the San Francisco Bay Area recently, Amazon put that box together here.

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Law
4:01 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Is A Threat Posted On Facebook Really A Threat?

At his trial, Elonis argued that he was only exercising his First Amendment free speech rights, which he also says he wrote on his Facebook page.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 1, 2014 8:17 am

The U.S. Supreme Court is tackling a question of increasing importance in the age of social media and the Internet: What constitutes a threat on Facebook?

Anthony Elonis was convicted of making threats against his estranged wife, and an FBI agent. After his wife left him, taking the couple's two children with her, Elonis began posting about her on his Facebook page.

There's one way to love ya, but a thousand ways to kill ya,

And I'm not going to rest until your body is a mess,

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Science + Technology
4:53 pm
Fri November 28, 2014

After The Ferguson Decision, A Poem That Gives Name To The Hurt

Originally published on Fri November 28, 2014 6:22 pm

Since George Zimmerman was found not guilty of killing Trayvon Martin, I've been repeating these words by the poet Audre Lorde like a prayer. She writes:

For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.

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Science + Technology
3:30 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Researchers To Attempt Robotic Landing On Comet's Surface

Europe's Rosetta spacecraft is about to send a lander to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
ESA/Rosetta/NavCam

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 10:12 am

Humans have never landed anything on a comet's surface. That may change tomorrow.

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission is poised to send out a small probe to land on a comet known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta spent 10 years chasing the comet before arriving in August.

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Science + Technology
3:03 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Combining The DNA Of Three People Raises Ethical Questions

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 5:03 pm

In a darkened lab in the north of England, a research associate is intensely focused on the microscope in front of her. She carefully maneuvers a long glass tube that she uses to manipulate early human embryos.

"It's like microsurgery," says Laura Irving of Newcastle University.

Irving is part of a team of scientists trying to replace defective DNA with healthy DNA. They hope this procedure could one day help women who are carrying genetic disorders have healthy children.

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Science + Technology
3:02 am
Mon November 10, 2014

Whether Green With Envy Or Tickled Pink, We Live In A Color-Coded World

An employee at a frozen foods company in eastern Germany checks carrots for quality.
Michael Urban AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 11:00 am

Red means stop; green means go. You live in a red or a blue state. You feel green with envy, or you're tickled pink. Colors alert, provoke, attract, divide and unite us.

Thinkers from Plato to Einstein to a new cottage industry of color psychologists have studied the importance of color in our daily lives. But, as Joann and Arielle Eckstut write in their book The Secret Language of Color: "Anyone who claims to be an expert on color is a liar."

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Science + Technology
9:53 pm
Sun November 9, 2014

Can Dancing Teach You Quantum Physics?

iStockphoto

I was being pushed back into the chair. The bass notes were so deep and came so fast it was like someone pounding on my chest. Visions of atoms, galaxies and pure data exploded on the stage as words and symbols, pulses across banks of HD screens.

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Science + Technology
6:33 pm
Sat November 8, 2014

In Space, No One Can Hear You Sample

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES: Hear that? That's what our planet sounds like from space. And that?

(SOUNDBITE OF LIGHTENING ON JUPITER)

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Science + Technology
3:27 am
Fri November 7, 2014

How A Tilt Toward Safety Stopped A Scientist's Virus Research

Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome virus particles cling to the surface of an infected cell.
NIAID/Flickr

Originally published on Tue November 11, 2014 4:27 pm

As cases of a worrisome respiratory virus continue to pop up in the Middle East, scientists who study it in the U.S. are struggling to understand how they'll be affected by a government moratorium on certain kinds of experiments.

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Science + Technology
4:01 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Astronomers Glimpse Distant Planetary Nursery

ALMA image of the protoplanetary disk around HL Tauri.
Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA)

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 7:57 pm

Astronomers have long theorized that planetary systems, including our own, are formed by spinning discs of dust and gas that slowly coalesce. Now, by combining input from an array of radio telescopes located in the Chilean desert, they have sharp images showing what they believe to be just such planet formation.

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Science + Technology
12:40 pm
Thu November 6, 2014

Weekly Innovation: Harness Could Allow Dogs, Humans To Communicate

David Roberts says the Cyber-Enhanced Working Dog harness will allow humans to monitor dogs' physical and emotional states remotely, such as in search and rescue operations.
Becky Kirkland North Carolina State University

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 6:46 pm

The relationship between man and dog is unlike any other.

Many people dream of understanding what their dogs are thinking and feeling. Technology even lets us strap a camera on a dog's head to see what it sees.

Soon, we may be able to talk to our dogs — but not exactly with our voices.

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Science + Technology
3:26 am
Thu November 6, 2014

Republican Sweep Highlights Climate Change Politics In Alaska

Oil, carried here by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, is fundamental to the state's economy. But Alaskans also face the effects of climate change in their daily lives.
Al Grillo AP

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 11:15 am

On election night in a hotel ballroom in Anchorage, Alaska, Sen. Lisa Murkowski picked up a chair and waved it over her head.

"I am the chairmaaaaaaaaaaan!" she shouted.

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Science + Technology
3:23 am
Thu November 6, 2014

America's T. Rex Gets A Makeover

The Smithsonian's Jon Blundell scans the fossilized foot bone — the metatarsal — of the Wankel T. rex to help create a digital 3-D image of the long-dead dinosaur.
Nikki Kahn The Washington Post

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 11:15 am

The Wankel T. rex, named for the Montana rancher who found its bones, is destined to be the giant centerpiece for the new dinosaur hall at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. — the first nearly complete skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus rex the Smithsonian Institution has ever had. But when it arrived at the museum last April, the skeleton was in pieces — in a couple of dozen packing crates.

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Science + Technology
7:54 am
Tue November 4, 2014

Alvin: The Little Submarine That Could

Alvin returns to research ship Lulu after a dive in the Atlantic Ocean over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, southwest of the Azores, in 2001.
Emory Kristof National Geographic/Getty Images

As the world races to outer space, a submarine about the size of a delivery truck has explored what some consider the real final frontier: the deep blue sea.

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Science + Technology
6:23 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

Incorrect Command May Have Doomed Virgin Spaceship

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Science + Technology
1:07 pm
Sat November 1, 2014

In Texas, The World's Biggest Bat Colony Is Saved From City Sprawl

The Bracken Bat Cave outside San Antonio is home to millions of bats. Here, a few of them emerge from the colony in 2011.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Mon November 3, 2014 3:39 pm

Down a narrow gravel drive and a short walk past cactus and scrub cedars outside San Antonio is a gaping, dark cave mouth, 60 feet wide, nestled at the bottom of a steep hill.

This is the Bracken Bat Cave. Each night at 7:30, millions of bats spiral out of the deep cave and streak off toward the darkening Southern sky.

Thanks to a $20 million deal signed Friday by San Antonio, conservation groups and a local developer, the night sky around the cave will stay dark, and the mother and baby bats inside will have a buffer between them and the hazards of city sprawl.

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Science + Technology
7:41 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Virgin Galactic 'Spaceship Two' Crashes In Calif.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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Science + Technology
7:49 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Lava Flow In Hawaii Spares Homes, But Threatens To Cut Off Community

Lava near the leading edge of the flow oozes over a concrete slab and toward a tangerine tree before solidifying near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii earlier this week.
U.S. Geological Survey AP

Originally published on Fri October 31, 2014 11:30 am

Officials in Hawaii are sending National Guard troops to the town of Pahoa on the Big Island, where a lava flow is creeping toward a main road, threatening to cut off the community.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said 83 troops have been sent to the town of fewer than 1,000 to help provide security. They are to aid in a road block and with other safety issues, The Associated Press says.

"These are local troops, people from the community. They'll be here working to take care of their family and friends," Oliveira said.

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Science + Technology
11:23 am
Thu October 30, 2014

No End In Sight? No Problem!

All of our scientific tools have limits. These limits ensure that we will never see the whole picture. We can never have complete knowledge of the universe. Above, the ESO's APEX radio telescope probes the heavens from its lonely perch on Chile's Chajnantor plateau.
Gordon Gillet ESO

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 7:44 am

Last week, I came across George Johnson's piece for The New York Times, "Beyond Energy, Matter, Time and Space," where he writes, in his usually engaging style, about two recent books with opposite viewpoints concerning what we can and cannot know of the world.

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Science + Technology
6:33 pm
Wed October 29, 2014

Can Scientific Belief Go Too Far?

iStockphoto

Last week, our own Tania Lombrozo ignited an intense discussion of the differences between factual and religious belief. I want to take off from there and examine a no less controversial issue, one that has been in the limelight of cutting-edge physics for the past few years: Do some scientists hold on to a belief longer than they should? Or, more provocatively phrased, when does a scientific belief become an article of faith?

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