Science & Technology

Science news

This pressurized, skirt-like machine helps keep astronauts fit

Apr 29, 2017
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Courtesy of NASA 

Many engineers spend their entire careers focused on a single area of research — say, the design of airplane components. Then there's Christine Dailey: Put simply, she's not your average engineer. 

Dailey has explored everything from fluids to electronics and has built an exercise machine for astronauts. She has designed autonomous vehicles and much more (some of which she's not allowed to talk about), all while finishing her PhD at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and working as a mechanical engineer for the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC.

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<a href="https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-white-smartphone-141362/">kote baeza</a>/<a href="https://www.pexels.com/photo-license/">CC BY 2.0 </a>(Image cropped).

Modern smartphones are full of sensors that can make the devices more intuitive — counting your steps, for example, or detecting when you’ve tilted your screen. But according to a new study published in the International Journal of Information Security, those features could come at a price: your security.

Courtesy of Penguin Books

Sixteen years ago, environmentalist Paul Hawken searched for a comprehensive list of the most effective solutions to climate change. He was dismayed to find that not only was there no such compendium, but no one seemed capable of producing one. So, Hawken decided to make one himself. He gathered data from scientists and organizations to map, measure and model existing solutions to climate change and the effects they would have if scaled 30 years into the future.

Elsa Loissel

Bird brains are the size of a nut, or possibly even smaller in some cases. But a plethora of new research shows that despite their small brain size, birds are actually among the most intelligent members of the animal kingdom.

“The Genius of Birds” (Penguin Books/2016) profiles a range of winged-beasts who are expert problem solvers and mappers with their own social networks and cultural traditions. Host Frank Stasio talks with science writer Jennifer Ackerman about her new book. Ackerman speaks tonight at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh at 7 p.m.

Kathy Cowell

A childhood spent in downtown Manhattan did not dampen Adam Summers’ passion for the outdoors. His family took yearly trips to Canada’s woods and streams, which instilled in him a special passion for marine life. Now a comparative bio-mechanist, Summers is an expert in the evolution, anatomy and movement of fish.

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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/myfwcmedia/6871113503/">Tim Donovan/FWC</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">CC BY-ND 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

It's been seven years this month since a drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico (April 20, 2010), releasing millions of barrels of oil into the ocean from its damaged wellhead. It’s thought to be the worst offshore oil spill in US history; even months later, hot oil continued to gush from the well, while oil-covered birds and tar balls washed up on beaches. 

Courtesy Cliff Missen

People with few means but big hearts stepped in to help Cliff Missen as he transitioned in and out of foster care as a child. When he turned 18, Missen made a vow to pay it forward and live a life in ​service of the poor. He made good on that promise when he brought well-drilling technology to rural villages in Liberia and an information technology program to Joss, Nigeria.

How to hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence

Apr 23, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/jiuguangw/8129557462/">Jiuguang Wang</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence — known as SETI — got a boost in 2015, when philanthropist Yuri Milner announced plans to inject up to $100 million into the field over the next decade.

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Danielle Dana

It was a rainy day in Washington, DC — but that didn’t stop thousands from gathering on the National Mall to voice their support for science.

The March for Science in Washington was one of nearly 500 marches around the world scheduled on April 22, 2017—Earth Day. Science Friday‘s Danielle Dana, Otherhood's Catherine Whelan and Lauren Owens Lambert from the GroundTruth Project were all on the ground to get a sense of what it was like.

Here are a few of their photos:

Studying splashes to learn more about how disease spreads

Apr 22, 2017

Lydia Bourouiba, an applied mathematician at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studies sneezes at a level of detail most of us have never imagined — under bright lights, using advanced imaging technology.

“When you zoom in, parts of the clouds look like snowflakes,” she explains in Science Friday’s new video, “Breakthrough: Connecting the Drops.”

“It’s really beautiful.”

Tick season has begun. How much do you know about Lyme disease?

Apr 22, 2017
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James Gathany/CDC

Spring is here, so here’s a quick test: How much do you know about Lyme disease, that tick-borne scourge?

Transmitted in the United States by tiny blacklegged ticks, Lyme can initially cause fatigue and flulike symptoms — and later on, even arthritis or short-term memory loss. But if you think that Lyme always arrives with a bull's-eye rash, read on.

“Actually, the majority of the skin lesions are uniformly round and red,” says John Aucott, director of the Lyme Disease Clinical Research Center at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Bringing Rigor Back To Health Research

Apr 22, 2017
By Source - Fair use March for Science

Tens of thousands of scientists are expected to descend on Washington, D.C., this Saturday for the March for Science. Partner marches are set up in more than 500 cities around the world to bring together scientists and science supporters. Threats to budget cuts at the National Institutes of Health, and the Trump administration’s position on scientific research have galvanized the march movement.

The noise of cities can harm our health but it can also make us more creative

Apr 19, 2017
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<a href="http://www.lifeofpix.com/photo/traffic-jam/">Nabeel Syed</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/">Public Domain</a>

In March, the Department of Transportation created a visual showing the levels of airplane and traffic noise that blankets much of the US. According to the map, 97 percent of Americans could be exposed to transportation noise measuring around 35 to 50 decibels — about the loudness of a humming refrigerator.

(How loud is it where you live?)

HCC Public Information Office Biotechnology Program

The Research Triangle is dotted with life sciences research and development companies, and Big Pharma operates sizeable manufacturing facilities in surrounding counties. The industry is a big player in North Carolina’s economy. It supports high-paying jobs, and in 2016 alone, it contributed an estimated $86 billion to the state’s economy.

Bonnie Rochman

Parents today have more options to determine and influence their children’s genetic makeup than ever before. But is knowing more about one’s DNA always empowering? In the new book “The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids- and the Kids We Have” (Farrar, Straus, Grioux/2017) writer Bonnie Rochman explores the possible benefits and drawbacks to modern genetic testing.

A UNC-Greensboro study sheds a good light on daydreaming
Flickr

New research from the UNC-Greensboro Psychology Department is shedding light on daydreaming as researchers set out to study mind-wandering in the real world.

The mathematician who’s using geometry to fight gerrymandering

Apr 16, 2017

After every new US census, states have to redraw their congressional districts to divide up their populations fairly. But in practice, these districts don’t always end up equal: Federal judges recently ordered Wisconsin lawmakers to redraw maps of the state’s legislative districts, after finding the districts had been shaped to favor Republican candidates.

The dinosaur family tree isn't quite what we thought it was

Apr 15, 2017

Since the 1880s, we’ve classified dinosaurs into two major groups, based on the shapes of their hips — the Saurischia are “lizard-hipped,” and the Ornithischia, “bird-hipped.”

Sensing Steps, And Perhaps Your PIN

Apr 15, 2017

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