Science + Technology

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



The methodology described in a recent study, a peer-reviewed paper on animal behavior — in which biologists Tina Peckmezian and Phillip W. Taylor of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, worked with 56 female jumping spiders — is fascinating.

Here's what the biologists did:

NASA's planet-hunting Kepler Telescope has spotted the first roughly Earth-sized world orbiting in the "Goldilocks zone" of another star – offering perhaps the best bet so far for life elsewhere in the universe.

A year on Kepler-452b, which is about 1,400 light years from us in the constellation Cygnus, is 385 days, meaning its orbit is just a bit farther away from its star than the Earth is from the sun. That places it squarely within what planetary scientists call the habitable zone, or "Goldilocks" zone — not too cold and not too hot.

At a restricted airfield at a quiet National Guard base in central California, researchers from the Naval Postgraduate School have loaded a drone they call a flying wing onto what looks like a giant sling shot.

The drone soars up into the air and settles into a racetrack pattern. It's up so high it's hard to see, but the sound is inescapable — like a buzzing bee. With the launch of several more, the buzz grows louder as they all settle into that racetrack pattern.

The aim is to get 24 drones into a swarm and have it behave like one.

Fast-moving wildfires in Montana and California have scorched thousands of acres and triggered evacuations.

NBC News has a bit more on the fire at Montana's Glacier National Park:

"The Reynolds Creek Wildland Fire was first reported about 6 p.m. ET on the east side of Glacier National Park, according to a news release by the National Parks Service.

Long gone are the days when you could pass off all your computer issues to an expert — IT support or the broadband 1-800 number. Today, in this always-connected, mobile world, regular people find themselves in a challenging situation.

On our own, we have to manage security on our devices, patch software and update passwords. And according to a new survey by Google, we're not prioritizing well.

Nature is the ultimate puzzle player, as scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) found out last week.

In a field on the outskirts of Spokane, Wash., Peter Goldmark points across to a charred, rocky hillside where the Little Spokane fire burned dangerously close to the city limits earlier this month.

We are in the middle of a mindfulness revolution.

According to Time, The Huffington Post and a host of other media outlets, mindfulness and meditation are having their moment in the spotlight. From hospitals to corporate wellness programs, mindfulness is — supposedly — a new path to relieving stress, lifting depression and increasing happiness.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Today, a Russian billionaire investor announced he's giving a portion of his wealth to the search for extraterrestrial life. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports.

Advertising is the basic business model of the Internet. It's one reason we can view online content free of charge.

Millions of Web surfers already download software to block ads online, and that number is growing. Soon, Apple could be making mobile ad blocking easier.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says a steel strut is the most likely cause of last month's explosion of an unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

"The preliminary conclusion is that the failure arose from a strut in the second stage liquid oxygen tank," Musk said Monday at a news conference.

He said one of the steel struts that held a helium bottle broke free during flight, likely causing the bottle to shoot to the top of the tank at high speed.

Stephen Hawking has started the biggest project to date to search for intelligent life outside of planet Earth. The initiative was announced Monday at The Royal Society in London.

The 10-year search is called "Breakthrough Listen" and will scan 1 million stars closest to Earth, the center of our galaxy, and "the entire galactic plane" for broadcast signals, according to a press release. The technology astronomers will use can also detect a laser that only requires the energy use of a 100-watt light bulb.

In an interview earlier this year, Sen. Harry Reid argued that it's time for a woman to run for president.

"Women have qualities that we've been lacking in America for a long time," he told New York Times reporter Adam Nagourney. For instance, he said, "Women are much more patient."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



I'm Arun Rath.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Moscow is go for docking. Houston is go for docking. It's up to you guys. Have fun.

Flowers, bugs and bees: Stephen Buchmann wanted to study them all when he was a kid.

"I never grew out of my bug-and-dinosaur phase," he tells NPR's Arun Rath. "You know, since about the third grade, I decided I wanted to chase insects, especially bees."

These days, he's living that dream. As a pollination ecologist, he's now taking a particular interest in how flowers attract insects. In his new book, The Reason for Flowers, he looks at more than just the biology of flowers — he dives into the ways they've laid down roots in human history and culture, too.

Pluto turns out to be pretty lively.

Not Las Vegas, perhaps, but more vivacious with geologic activity than we've ever known about, and for good reason: Pluto is currently almost 3 billion miles away from Earth, a dwarf planet spinning in the lonely last ring of our solar system.

Pluto looks to be a far cry from the dead body that many scientists had long presumed. As the New Horizons probe continues to report back from the fringes of the solar system, a word that Mr. Spock might have used sums up the reaction: fascinating.

Our Robot Servants

Jul 17, 2015

Industrial robots are big machines capable of merciless speed and power. In a recent report in Time, a robot "grabbed and pushed" a man against a metal plate at a Volkswagen production plant, crushing him.