Science & Technology

Science news

This is the controversial plan underway to save the endangered vaquita

Aug 22, 2016

The vaquita is one of the smallest, and rarest, cetacean species. The diminutive porpoise is native to the northern part of the Gulf of California. Scientists estimate that only 60 individuals remain in the wild. What’s driving down the population? Nets cast by poachers searching for an endangered fish — the totoaba. 

Recently, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the government was considering classifying voting systems part of the nation’s “critical infrastructure,” a designation currently held by systems such as the electric grid and banking networks.

The announcement comes on the heels of reports of a vast infiltration of Democratic Party servers. 

The physics behind the world’s fastest swim strokes

Aug 21, 2016

To propel themselves through the water, swimmers use different strokes to control drag and lift. But which stroke is the fastest? Some experts have pinpointed the fish kick — a version of the dolphin kick — as the speediest swimming style.

Why? As swim coach and engineer Rick Madge explains, it's all about fluid dynamics.

The Race to Build a Smaller Rocket

Aug 19, 2016

NC State Awarded Grant For New Plant Sciences Initiative

Aug 19, 2016
Artist rendering of the new plant sciences building
NC State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

The Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded a $45 million grant to NC State to help the university build a new plant sciences building. Along with other contributions, the grant gets the university closer to the $160 million cost of construction.

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PuckerButt Pepper Company

The first time Ed Currie tasted the Carolina Reaper, a fire-engine red chili pepper the size of a golf ball, “it knocked me to my knees,” he says. “I was very surprised.”

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Tbachner/<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Orang-utan_bukit_lawang_2006.jpg">Wikimedia Commons</a>

The human tendency to be right-handed is obvious — especially if you’re a lefty and have to deal with right-handed desks and scissors, not to mention spiral notebooks.

The end of summer is coming. Have you been mothing yet?

Aug 14, 2016
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Charlesjsharp/<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marbled_emperor_moth_heniocha_dyops.jpg">Wikimedia Commons</a>

Moths play a vital role in our ecosystems, but many people know little about them. That's why Elena Tartaglia, an ecologist at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey, thought it was time to raise awareness. 

After Tartaglia had the experience of going mothing in East Brunswick, she decided to try and start a regular summer mothing night. What's mothing? Just going outside to find and record moths.

Where is modern cloning, 20 years after Dolly?

Aug 14, 2016
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The University of Nottingham

Twenty years ago, Dolly the sheep was born, becoming the first mammal cloned from an adult cell. Dolly lived for 6.5 years and developed osteoarthritis late in life. Researchers analyzed her chromosomes and found that she had shortened telomeres, an indication that her genetic age was actually older than her 6.5 years.

Why snails are one of the world's deadliest creatures

Aug 13, 2016
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Alan R. Walker/CC BY-SA 3.0

As far as the world’s deadliest creatures go, large predators like sharks and lions tend to get all the credit. But in fact, if we were to point to the animal kingdom’s most frequent killer, it’d actually be the mosquito.

Another creature belonging to the “small but deadly” category is the freshwater snail, which is responsible for more than 200,000 deaths a year — more deaths than sharks, lions and wolves combined.

Why New Zealand is going all out to kill its rats, possums

Aug 13, 2016
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Shutterstock

New Zealand is well-known for harboring hundreds of beautiful native bird species, many of which have called the archipelago home for millennia. Mammalian species, on the other hand, are not native to the island nation — all except two surviving bat species arrived along with humans a mere 700 years ago. Since then, nearly a quarter of the country’s native birds have gone extinct.

Photo of patient using virtual reality system
Neurorehabilitation Laboratory, Alberto Santos Dumont Association for Research Support (AASDAP), São Paulo, Brazil

Eight paraplegic patients have regained partial control of their lower limbs, according to a recent rehabilitation study led by a Duke University neuroscientist.

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Rose Lincoln/Harvard

Put simply, Lisa Randall’s job is to figure out how the universe works, and what it’s made of.

Her contributions to theoretical particle physics include two models of space-time that bear her name. The first Randall–Sundrum model addressed a problem with the Standard Model of the universe; the second concerned the possibility of a warped additional dimension of space.

Photo of Dr. Cynthia Toth and Dr. Francesco LaRocca
Francesco LaRocca / Duke University

A team of engineers and physicians at Duke University has developed a new device that can capture high-quality images of retinas. It can produce high-resolution images of photoreceptor cells, or rods and cones.

Previous technology required the patient to sit still and concentrate for a few minutes, something children can't do very well. This lightweight handheld device fixes that problem.

Watch this slow-motion video of attacking electric eels

Aug 8, 2016

Scientists have long known that electric eels can send out short pulses of electricity to sense their environment and also to paralyze their prey. But one researcher has recently discovered that eels can also use powerful electric pulses to attack or defend themselves while leaping out of the water. 

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Valentin Flauraud/Reuters

Today, the federal government spends about $60 billion a year on research. That research gets published in scientific journals that institutions, researchers and the public have to pay in order to access.

Many have argued that the government should make this taxpayer-funded research freely available. And now Congress has drafted a piece of legislation that would do just that.

The women who made communication with outer space possible

Aug 6, 2016

In 1969, the world watched as Neil Armstrong marked his historic achievement with the words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” His now-famous transmission was heard around the globe thanks to NASA’s Deep Space Network, which made communication from outer space possible.

The Physics of the Fastest Swim Strokes

Aug 5, 2016

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