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Alan Alda: To Talk Better, Listen

Jul 28, 2017

Seawater in the pores? It’s what made Roman concrete great.

Jul 25, 2017
Muhammad Hamed/Reuters

The ancient Romans mastered concrete more than 2,000 years ago and used it to build piers, breakwaters and other structures. Despite the batterings of time and seawater, some of those structures still stand today.

In fact, their concrete has grown stronger over time — the result, scientists now say, of complex interactions between seawater and volcanic ash used in the mortar.

The kilogram is getting a new look

Jul 23, 2017
<a href="">National Institute of Standards and Technology</a>

For over a century, we’ve been using the same object to define the kilogram: a pingpong-ball-size chunk of platinum-iridium kept in Paris under lock and key. That will soon change.

<a href="">NASA/Kathryn Hansen</a>. <a href="">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

It’s 2017. What does a scientist look like?

If the first image that popped into your head was an older man with frizzy hair and a white lab coat, surrounded by bubbling test tubes, you’re not wrong — the Einsteinlike “mad scientist” is still a prevailing image in popular culture.

Does your sunscreen make the grade?

Jul 22, 2017
<a href="">David Lezcano</a> via <a href="">Unsplash</a>.&nbsp;

In the United States, sunscreen use is on the rise — but so are skin cancer cases. What’s going on?

As it turns out, it could come down to the types of sunscreen we’re using. In a recent test of nearly 1,500 sunscreens, moisturizers and lip balms that advertised sun protection, scientists at the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that 73 percent of the products don’t provide the protection consumers think they’re getting, or they contain questionable ingredients.

Particles Behaving Badly

Jul 22, 2017

Can We Pay People To Save The Rainforest?

Jul 22, 2017

Tired of sweating over the stove? Try cooking with science this summer.

Jul 21, 2017

It’s the height of summer, and nothing sounds less appetizing than sweating over the stove to cook a meal. No one would blame you for turning to a diet of ice cream, salad and sandwiches — but with the help of science, you can expand your culinary horizons even further.

As Jeff Potter, author of "Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food," explains, there are plenty of ways to dehydrate, acid bathe and salt preserve your way to a delicious meal, sans oven.

In California, solar power is booming: The state leads the nation in solar production, and for a brief period on March 11, California pulled nearly 40 percent of its electricity from the sun.

Instead of heading to the doctor for a painful flu shot, what if you could someday vaccinate yourself at home — just by applying a patch to your skin?

Researchers at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology are working to make that a reality. They’ve developed a small, bandagelike patch that can dispense a flu vaccine into your skin using a hundred or so microneedles. Its creators described the first human trials recently in The Lancet.

Are We Facing Electrical Gridlock?

Jul 15, 2017

A Peek Into The Sex Lives Of Algae

Jul 15, 2017

Creating The Perfect Ice Cube

Jul 15, 2017

Buzz over the Chukchi Sea in a helicopter in early spring, and there’s little to see but sky and ice. That is, until your eye catches the maze of polar bear tracks threading across the ice in some areas. The sea, which stretches between northwestern Alaska and northeastern Russia, is home to one of the Arctic’s 19 distinct polar bear populations.

Kepler turns up a trove of new exoplanets

Jul 10, 2017

Scientists behind NASA's Kepler K2 mission recently unveiled hundreds of new planet candidates for NASA’s exoplanet catalog, including 10 that could be rocky planets in the "just right" Goldilocks zone of their stars.

Is marijuana a secret weapon against the opioid epidemic?

Jul 9, 2017
Blair Gable/Reuters

As US Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a crowd of federal, state and local law enforcement in March, the country “is in the throes of a heroin and opioid epidemic.” According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription opioid and heroin overdoses kill 91 Americans each day.

Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute
Greg Duckworth II / Flickr, Creative Commons,

Hikers trekking deep in the Pisgah National Forest are usually on the lookout for copperheads and black bears. But sometimes they are startled by a Big Bang of sorts, stumbling out of the woods and into a science fiction-like world of giant telescopes. But it's no illusion.

A Mathy Makeover For The Kilogram

Jul 8, 2017

Climate change is coming to your coffee cup

Jul 6, 2017
<a href="">Malcom Manners</a>/<a href="">CC BY 2.0</a>

When it comes to coffee, Ethiopia is sacred ground.

It’s the home of Coffea arabica — one of the most popular species of coffee bean. And in Ethiopia, coffee is a major part of the economy: It makes up about a quarter of the country’s export earnings, and around 15 million farmers make a living farming the crop.

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.