Science + Technology

Would you have a computer drive for you?

Some say yes if the computer is accurate and has no bugs in it, while some say no because they want to be in control and they enjoy driving.

A University of Michigan survey found that about 90 percent of Americans have some concerns about the concept of self-driving cars. But most also say that they do want some aspects of the car to be automated.

You might expect the middle of the Pacific Ocean to be a pretty quiet place, especially a thousand feet down. But it turns out that huge parts of the ocean are humming.

Scientists have puzzled over the source of the sound for several years. Now, a marine biologist reporting Monday at a meeting of ocean scientists in New Orleans says she thinks her team may have figured it out.

"Raise your hand if you have ever determined your location on the planet using the stars," Lt. Daniel Stayton tells his class at the U.S. Naval Academy.

A young officer halfheartedly puts up her hand. Another wavers. The rest of the class of 20 midshipmen sits stone-faced.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The world wasn't prepared for Zika to fly across continents in the span of a few months. In 2015, when the virus began rapidly spreading across the Americas, health workers were surprised, and researchers were caught flat-footed when it came time to provide information to protecting the public's health.

Honey, Who Shrank The Alligators?

Feb 19, 2016

In the Florida Everglades, the alligators are in trouble.

The reptiles are scrawny, weighing 80 percent of what they should. The alligators grow more slowly, reproduce less and die younger. Researchers are trying to figure out why this iconic species is in decline — and what it means for the Everglades.

Today was trash day on the International Space Station, and as you might expect, it's not as simple as rolling a can out to the curb. Instead, a used resupply capsule was stuffed with 1.5 tons of trash and cut loose.

Limacina helicina looks like most any other sea snail — until it beats what look like delicate wings and "flies" through the water.

A newly published study in the Journal of Experimental Biology says the tiny species of sea snail moves through water using the same kind of motion that an insect uses to fly.

Take a look at the "sea butterfly" in action:

What caused the collapse of Easter Island, widely believed to be the world's most isolated inhabited place, hundreds of years ago? The question is a matter of hot debate.

Updated 12:25 p.m. ET, with the FCC's vote.

The Federal Communications Commission has begun a process that could lead to TV viewers being able to own their cable TV set-top boxes.

That's probably a problem most subscribers didn't know they had, but a congressional study found that cable subscribers pay an average of $231 a year to rent their cable boxes.

Sarah Parcak is a space archaeologist. She uses satellite imagery to track looted ancient burial sites and find pyramids hidden under Egyptian cities. Now, she has bigger plans: to launch a worldwide campaign to make all of us space archaeologists.

Was Einstein Wrong?

Feb 16, 2016

Last week's announcement of the direct detection of gravitational waves proved, once again, the enduring power of Albert Einstein's scientific vision. Once again, Einstein was right in that this theory accurately predicted the behavior of the world.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

As we reported yesterday, the leaking gas well near a Los Angeles neighborhood has been temporarily plugged, ending four months of uncontrolled amounts of methane being released into the atmosphere.

Find your binoculars and fill up the bird feeders, because the Great Backyard Bird Count starts today.

The annual event invites bird-watchers of all levels to count the birds in their backyards, wherever that may be, and submit the data to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, which launched the project in 1998.

On Thursday, researchers announced the discovery of gravitational waves --wrinkles in the very fabric of space-time.

But behind the headlines and news conferences were decades of hard work, hundreds of scientists and more than a billion dollars in taxpayer funds.

Exactly 15 months after it completed a seemingly impossible journey to land on the surface of a comet, the Philae lander now faces "eternal hibernation," as officials at the European Space Agency say the craft doesn't get enough sunlight to power its batteries.

One of the world's most famous and oldest spacecraft is revealing some of its past. Apollo 11 was the first mission to land humans on the moon. As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the lunar surface, Michael Collins circled above in the command module called Columbia.

The answer as to whether a DNA test can tell you your ethnic identity? Yes — and no.

If you've ever seen what a Neanderthal is supposed to have looked like, it might be hard to imagine mating with one. But modern humans did. We know because, a few years ago, scientists found stretches of Neanderthal DNA in living humans.

And now there's evidence, from a study published Thursday in Science, that some of that DNA might help shape our health.

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