Science + Technology

Science + Technology
8:41 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Government Shutdown Delays Rocket Launch

A Minotaur I at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
NASA

Originally published on Tue October 22, 2013 10:36 am

The launch of a rocket carrying a record-breaking 29 satellites — originally set for early next month — will be delayed by a few weeks after the partial government shutdown halted preparations.

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Science + Technology
5:19 pm
Sun October 20, 2013

To Fix Climate Change, Scientists Turn To Hacking The Earth

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 2:52 pm

In the summer of 2012, a small group of the Haida people, a native community in Canada, had a problem. The salmon they rely on were disappearing. So the Haida took matters into their own hands.

They partnered with an American businessman, drew up plans and then took a boat full of iron dust into the waters off their home island and put the dust in the ocean.

When they spread the iron dust, it created a big algae bloom. They hoped the algae would soak up carbon dioxide and bring back the fish.

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Science + Technology
5:19 pm
Sun October 20, 2013

What's Creepy, Crawly And A Champion Of Neuroscience?

The RoboRoach device allows users to influence the movements of cockroaches with a smartphone.
Backyard Brains

Originally published on Sun October 20, 2013 8:02 pm

Soon you'll be able to direct the path of a cockroach with a smartphone and the swipe of your finger.

Greg Gage and his colleagues at Backyard Brains have developed a device called the RoboRoach that lets you control the path of an insect.

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Science + Technology
2:16 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

Trapped In A Fossil: Remnants Of A 46-Million-Year-Old Meal

A very old squished mosquito found in fossilized rock from Montana. Analysis of the insect's gut revealed telltale chemicals found in blood.
PNAS

Originally published on Mon October 14, 2013 6:19 pm

Scientists who study why species vanish are increasingly looking for ancient DNA. They find it easily enough in the movies; remember the mosquito blood in Jurassic Park that contained dinosaur DNA from the bug's last bite? But in real life, scientists haven't turned up multi-million-year-old DNA in any useable form.

Fortunately, a team at the Smithsonian Institution has now found something unique in a 46-million-year-old, fossilized mosquito — not DNA, but the chemical remains of the insect's last bloody meal.

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Science + Technology
12:42 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

MIT Scientists Develop New Breed Of Self-Assembling Robots

M-Block cube robots rest on a work table in the Distributed Robotics Lab in CSAIL at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. The robots are 50mm cubes that can reconfigure themselves into various arrangements using self-propulsion and magnets.
M. Scott Brauer MIT

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 9:49 am

They're called M-Blocks and the tiny, cubical robots that can spin, flip and jump their way into new configurations are the brainchild of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), M-Blocks:

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Science + Technology
9:32 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Nobel Goes To Scientists Who Took Chemistry Into Cyberspace

Classical mechanics, represented by Isaac Newton, typically doesn't play nicely with quantum mechanics, represented by Schrodinger's cat. But the 2013 Nobel laureates for chemistry figured out a way to get the two to work together.
Courtesy of the Nobel Prize

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 11:08 am

This year's Nobel Prize for chemistry is shared by three international scientists, who moved chemistry out of the lab and into the world of computing.

Together they developed tools for studying complex molecules — such as enzymes in the human body and plants' photosynthesis machinery — inside cyberspace.

These computerized tools allow scientists to design drugs more quickly and cheaply by doing their experiments with computer programs instead of inside rats and monkeys.

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Science + Technology
10:17 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Enter The Quiet Zone: Where Cell Service, Wi-Fi Are Banned

The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope is protected from interference by federal and state laws.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 12:03 pm

There are no physical signs you've entered the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000-square-mile area that covers the eastern half of West Virginia. But the silence gives you a signal. Somewhere around the Virginia-West Virginia state line, the periodic buzzes and pings of our smartphones stopped.

"Zero [service]. Searching," said photographer John Poole, who traveled with me to the zone.

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Science + Technology
10:13 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Higgs Boson Researchers Awarded The Nobel Prize In Physics

British theoretical physicist Peter Higgs (left) and Belgian theoretical physicist Francois Englert were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 11:09 am

Peter Higgs and Francois Englert have been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for their theory of how particles acquire mass, the Swedish committee announced Tuesday.

The prize was given "for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider."

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Science + Technology
10:07 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Nobel Winners Decoded How Neurons And Cells Talk To Each Other

From left: Randy Schekman, Thomas Suedhof and James Rothman shared the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Mon October 7, 2013 12:01 pm

The three scientists who shared this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine all made discoveries that illuminate how the body's cells communicate.

The research has sweeping implications for our understanding of how nerves in the brain transmit signals, how the immune system attacks pathogens and how hormones, like insulin, get into the bloodstream.

Bioengineers have already harnessed the discoveries to manufacture new vaccines and improve the quality of insulin for diabetics.

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Science + Technology
10:05 am
Mon October 7, 2013

A Zoo For You

zoo
YouTube

Originally published on Sat October 5, 2013 7:38 am

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Science + Technology
10:04 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Shutdown Forces Nation's Radio Telescopes Into Inactivity

The Very Large Array in Socorro, N.M.
Wikipedia Commons

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 7:11 pm

Many of the world's largest radio telescopes, operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, are going inactive — the latest casualty of the government shutdown.

NPR's Geoffrey Brumfiel reports that the NRAO, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and operates radio telescopes in West Virginia, New Mexico, Arizona and even Chile, will be pointing the giant dishes straight up, in the "stow" position.

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Science + Technology
5:31 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

Comparing Sperm Whales To Sperm: A Swimming Contest

Brad Purnell YouTube

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 3:40 pm

If you're a big, big whale with a gigantic tail swimming through water, nothing gets in your way, not the water, not the other fish, not nothin'. You are so much bigger than the water molecules around you, you move through the sea the way humans move through the air on a calm day — you just go. Whales, I imagine, don't think much about water.

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Science + Technology
9:37 am
Fri October 4, 2013

Siri, Who Are You? She Won't Say, But Her ID's Been Blown

Voice actor Susan Bennett, talking to herself (or, rather, Siri) for CNN.
CNN.com

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 10:43 am

We tried Friday morning to get Siri to confirm CNN's report that a real woman named Susan Bennett is the "classic" American voice of Apple's virtual assistant.

But all Siri would do is tell us, repeatedly, that "this is about you, not me." As for whether she does have a "real" voice, Siri would only say that "I guess I don't have one."

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Science + Technology
4:40 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

The Government Shutdown's Final Frontier: How NASA Is Dealing

While almost all of NASA's employees have been furloughed because of the government shutdown, ground control activities for the International Space Station are still operational. Above, astronaut Chris Cassidy on a spacewalk aboard the ISS on May 11.
AP

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 10:39 am

If ET wants to phone home, this is not the week to do it. NASA's phone lines are down, as are its website and many Twitter feeds. All have been silenced by the government shutdown, whose far-reaching consequences are now stretching into space.

The shutdown began on Tuesday, after Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives failed to come to an agreement over the federal budget. Most of the government's nonessential services have ground to a halt, and among the hardest hit agencies is NASA.

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Science + Technology
9:12 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Scientists May Have Source For A.D. 1257 'Mystery Eruption'

The Samalas volcanic crater at Rinjani National Park on Lombok Island, Indonesia.
Rinjani National Park, Indonesia

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 7:08 pm

Scientists think they've identified the source of a massive volcanic eruption that occurred in A.D. 1257 and spread telltale traces across the globe.

The culprit in the "mystery eruption" appears to be the Samalas volcano, part of the Mount Rinjani Volcanic Complex on Indonesia's Lombok Island, an international team of scientists publishing in PNAS journal says.

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Science + Technology
3:59 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

What Lurks Beneath The Earth's Surface

Shinichi Kuramoto of the Center for Deep Earth Exploration in Japan displays a replica of earthquake fault rock.
TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat September 28, 2013 4:02 pm

Recently there has been an eruption of revelations from below the surface of the Earth: Major aquifers beneath Kenya and a vast volcano deep in the Pacific Ocean.

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Science + Technology
11:16 am
Mon September 30, 2013

No Assembly Required: Ikea To Sell Solar Panels In U.K.

Workers assemble solar panels at the now-bankrupt Suntech in the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi. Overproduction in the country has helped lower the cost of solar panels.
Peter Parks AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 3:44 pm

Ikea Corp., the Swedish housewares giant, says it will begin selling solar panels to its customers in Britain as it aims to tap into a growing market for renewable energy fueled partly by the U.K.'s solar subsidies.

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Science + Technology
6:36 pm
Sun September 29, 2013

Is Living With Extreme Wildfires The New Normal?

A house destroyed by a wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz. Experts say increasing expansion into wildfire-prone areas has created new challenges for firefighters unequipped to protect houses and structures.
Andy Tobin AP

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 5:02 pm

It has been a deadly year for the people who fight wildfires. In total, 32 people have lost their lives fighting fires in 2013; the highest number in nearly 20 years, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Just one incident accounts for most of those deaths, the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona. In June, the blaze blasted through a firefighting crew known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots; 19 of the 20 men died.

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Science + Technology
7:12 am
Fri September 27, 2013

It's Clear Humans Are Changing World's Climate, Panel Says

The Larsen B ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula, which is among the places where such ice has been breaking off.
Mariano Caravaca Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 10:56 am

Declaring that "human influence on the climate system is clear," a U.N.-assembled panel of scientists reported Friday that "it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century."

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Science + Technology
6:07 am
Fri September 27, 2013

BlackBerry: If You Don't Survive, May You Rest In Peace

Steve Henn NPR

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 4:45 pm

This may be premature, but it is best to think of this post as an obituary for the BlackBerry, a phone struck down seemingly in its prime. Gone so soon.

BB, we'll miss you.

Over the course of its existence, BlackBerry sold smartphones to more than 200 million people. It became ubiquitous in places like Indonesia, but it began with an invasion of Wall Street and Washington.

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