Science + Technology

Science + Technology
12:45 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

PHOTO: Rosetta Sends 'An Impressive New Perspective' On Comet

An image of Comet 67P/C-G taken on Feb. 6 from a distance of about 77 miles to the comet center.
ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM

Space, Douglas Adams wrote, is big. Really big. And from this vastness comes "an impressive new perspective" on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko taken by the Rosetta probe from about 77 miles away.

We won't disagree.

The European Space Agency, which operates Rosetta, says, "The image is the first single frame image capturing the entire comet nucleus since leaving bound orbits last week."

The ESA adds:

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Science + Technology
11:41 am
Wed February 11, 2015

From The Cold Depths Of Space, A Smile Emerges

An image taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope of the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 shows that it seems to be smiling. The space agency says it's the result of a symmetrical alignment of the galaxy cluster and the telescope — along with a powerful gravity field that can bend light.
NASA & ESA

Space, you may have heard, can be a cold and lonely place. But the NASA/ESA Hubble telescope has identified a particularly well-adjusted corner of space — or at least that's what a recent image suggests, with the help of an effect called an Einstein Ring.

In the Hubble image of galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849, two bright galaxies resemble eyes, NASA says, "and the misleading smile lines are actually arcs caused by an effect known as strong gravitational lensing."

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Science + Technology
11:03 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Scientific Pros Weigh The Cons Of Messing With Earth's Thermostat

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 spewed almost 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, causing worldwide temperatures to drop half a degree on average.
Arlan Naeg AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 3:20 pm

Before anyone tries to cool the Earth with technologies that could counteract global warming, there needs to be a lot more research into the benefits and risks. That's the conclusion announced Tuesday by a scientific panel convened by the prestigious National Research Council to assess "climate geoengineering" — deliberate attempts to alter the global climate.

Geoengineering has been seen as the potential last-ditch option to stave off the worst effects of climate change, given that agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been slow in coming.

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Science + Technology
10:50 am
Tue February 10, 2015

The Moon Like You Have Never Seen It Before

YouTube

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 9:58 am

There are many invisible realities that lie hidden from us. Some things happen too fast for us to see. Some things are too small to see. Some things are too far away. Some things, however, are right in front of us, but we are just in the wrong position to get a clear view.

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Science + Technology
10:49 am
Tue February 10, 2015

WATCH: A Robot That Just Won't Quit Even When It's Kicked

A Boston Dynamics robot called Spot is kicked by a human.
Boston Dynamics via YouTube

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 10:38 am

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Science + Technology
5:16 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Q&A: Sen. Ed Markey On Protecting Data Our Cars Are Sharing

U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., says our cars are becoming increasingly vulnerable to hacking.
Alex Wong Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 6:27 pm

Cars and trucks today are computers, and a new report overseen by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., comes with a warning: As more vehicles have wireless connections, the data stored in them is vulnerable to stealing, hacking and the same invasions faced by any technical system today.

How safe are we in our connected cars?

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Science + Technology
5:16 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Shake, Rattle And Toll: Berkeley's Bells Play Sounds Of Earth

In a project called "Natural Frequencies," the bells in the Campanile on the University of California, Berkeley campus were recently programmed to play a score composed in real time by the seismic shifts taking place along the Hayward fault.
Eric Risberg AP

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 8:04 am

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Science + Technology
2:21 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Psychological Biases Play A Part In Vaccination Decisions

Gazi Alam iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 7:49 am

With the recent outbreak of measles originating from Disneyland, there's been no shortage of speculation, accusation and recrimination concerning why some people won't vaccinate their children.

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Science + Technology
3:58 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Listeners To NPR: Why Don't We Track Planes Like We Do Ships?

SkyTruth followed the ship Shin Jyi Chyuu 33 during one week last month. Planes are connected to a satellite network just like ships, but the information is only collected if the airline pays for it.
Courtesy of SkyTruth via Exact Earth ShipView

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 11:25 am

A couple of listeners wrote to Morning Edition on Thursday with the same idea.

"Did anyone notice that shortly after reporting on the difficulty of tracking airliners in flight, you aired a story about a gentleman in West Virginia who was able to work with Google to track fishing boats in real time?" wrote Paul Douglas from Simsbury, Conn.

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Science + Technology
4:52 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Anthem Hack Renews Calls For Laws To Better Prevent Breaches

Anthem says 80 million company records were accessed in what may be one of the largest health care data breaches to date.
Aaron P. Bernstein Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 2:46 pm

The call for more systemic changes to prevent mega-hacks is getting louder after hackers hit Anthem, the nation's second-largest health insurer. The company says cyberthieves gained access to the addresses, employment information and Social Security numbers of 80 million customers and employees.

Eighty million individuals is a lot — it's roughly the populations of California, Texas and Illinois combined.

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Science + Technology
8:24 am
Thu February 5, 2015

Fossil Provides Evidence Of Early Human Migration To Europe

Dr. Omry Barzilai of the Israel Antiquities Authority holds an ancient skull found inside a cave near the northern Israeli city of Nahariya.
Dan Balilty AP

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 10:38 am

Some 55,000 years ago, a person — whether female or male, we don't know — lived in Manot Cave in the western Galilee area of what is now Israel. Judging from the partial skull recovered from the cave, and described in Nature last week by Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University and his co-authors, the person was anatomically modern and closely related to the first modern humans who went on to colonize Europe.

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Science + Technology
7:03 am
Wed February 4, 2015

FCC Chairman Wheeler Backs Regulating Internet As Public Utility

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler unveiled his plan in a Wired op-ed on Wednesday. The FCC is scheduled to vote on the proposal Feb. 26.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 10:48 am

Updated Feb. 4, 11:52 a.m. ET: Wheeler Outlines His Proposal In Wired.

Today is the day net neutrality watchers had been waiting for, according to numerous reports. After months of debate, discussion and the culling of nearly 4 million public comments on the matter, the Federal Communications Commission appears poised to decide how it will regulate the Internet.

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Science + Technology
2:14 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

The Most Dangerous Ideas In Science

Originally published on Tue January 27, 2015 3:06 pm

There's a battle going on at the edge of the universe, but it's getting fought right here on Earth. With roots stretching back as far as the ancient Greeks, in the eyes of champions on either side, this fight is a contest over nothing less than the future of science. It's a conflict over the biggest cosmic questions humans can ask and the methods we use — or can use — to get answers for those questions.

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Science + Technology
11:27 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Rare And 'Horrific': Frilled Shark Startles Fishermen In Australia

A frilled shark swims in a tank after being found by a fisherman off Japan's coast in 2007. One of the rare creatures was recently caught in Australia, shocking fishermen.
Awashima Marine Park Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 8:23 am

Normally, we wouldn't call something a living fossil. But the name seems tailor-made for the frilled shark, whose roots are traced to 80 million years ago. Its prehistoric origins are obvious in its primitive body; nearly all of the rare animal's closest relatives are long extinct.

In the most recent of those 80 million years, the frilled shark has been scaring the bejeezus out of humans who pull it out of the water to find an animal with rows of needle-like teeth in a gaping mouth at the front of its head.

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Science + Technology
11:25 am
Thu January 22, 2015

Mind Your Moods, Cat Owners

iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 1:18 pm

Babies "social reference" by checking out their parents' facial expressions and voice tones when they encounter a new or strange object or event in their environment — then base their own reactions on mom's or dad's. They look to their parents as they wonder: Is it OK to stay calm, or is it time to worry?

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Science + Technology
3:38 am
Thu January 22, 2015

X-Rays Open Secrets Of Ancient Scrolls

The ancient scrolls look and feel more like blocks of charcoal. A new technique gives a peek inside.
Salvatore Laporta AP

Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 7:41 pm

Researchers in Europe have managed to read from an ancient scroll buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. The feat is all the more remarkable because the scroll was never opened.

The Vesuvius eruption famously destroyed Pompeii. But it also devastated the nearby town of Herculaneum. A villa there contained a library stacked with papyrus scrolls, and the hot gas and ash preserved them.

Sort of.

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Science + Technology
6:20 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

The Battle Over Open-Internet Rules Shifts To Congress

President Obama called on the Federal Communications Commission to implement a strict policy of net neutrality and to oppose content providers in restricting bandwidth to customers.
Michael Bocchieri Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 8:01 pm

In Tuesday night's State of the Union address, President Obama offered a number of ideas for improving the economy. Among them was a nod to the role the Internet plays in economic development.

"I intend to protect a free and open Internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks," Obama said.

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Science + Technology
5:45 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

This Is True: Facebook Starts Cracking Down On Hoax News Stories

A Facebook worker at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Facebook announced it will start flagging hoax news stories in users' News Feeds.
Paul Sakuma AP

Facebook's on a mission to make your News Feed a little more truthful.

The social media giant has announced it will start doing more to alert users when stories they're seeing in their feeds are fake. And it will allow users to start flagging hoaxes themselves. But Facebook says it won't remove false stories. And the company says it won't start "reviewing content and making a determination on its accuracy."

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Science + Technology
9:37 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Google's Stake In SpaceX Puts It Closer To Goal Of Internet Access For All

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 12:30 pm

Google's massive investment in SpaceX gives the tech giant another avenue for its goal of providing Internet access to remote parts of the Earth, and it gives Elon Musk's company money to continue its research on space transport, re-usability and satellite manufacturing.

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Science + Technology
12:26 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

At 90, She's Designing Tech For Aging Boomers

Barbara Beskind, 90, is a designer at IDEO who works with engineers on products that improve the quality of life for older people.
Nicolas Zurcher Courtesy of IDEO

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 7:32 pm

In Silicon Valley's youth-obsessed culture, 40-year-olds get plastic surgery to fit in. But IDEO, the firm that famously developed the first mouse for Apple, has a 90-year-old designer on staff.

Barbara Beskind says her age is an advantage.

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