Science & Technology

Science news

Here are a few ways to make the most of wildflower season

Apr 8, 2017

Despite winter’s scattered protests (like the blizzard that hit the Northeast in mid-March), spring has finally arrived in most parts of the United States. And with it: “The party is beginning,” says Andrea DeLong-Amaya, the director of horticulture at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas.

The Anatomy Of A Splash

Apr 8, 2017

Giant Viruses Beefed Up On Host Genomes

Apr 8, 2017

Controlling The Lyme Disease Epidemic

Apr 8, 2017
Tabacus: The Magazine of the British Tabulating Company, August 1958.

In the 1940s, Great Britain led the world in electronic computing. They were responsible for developing the world’s first digital electronic programmable computer; it helped crack enemy codes to aid the Allies in winning World War II. Three decades later, Great Britain’s computing industry was nearly extinct.  

How do tiny little bee brains do so much?

Apr 4, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/usgsbiml/32801121041">USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab</a>

Recently, researchers at Queen Mary University of London trained a group of buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) to get little balls into goals — in a soccer-like game — in exchange for sweet treats.

Climate change might leave a bad taste in your mouth. Literally.

Apr 3, 2017

The conversation about food and climate change often centers on how a warming climate will affect the quantity of food we can harvest. But as it turns out, a warmer world could change the quality, even the flavor, of our favorite foods, too — from the maple syrup that we slather on our pancakes to the tea that we brew before work.

“Tea is similar to maple syrup, in that it needs specific environmental conditions for an ideal harvest,” says Selena Ahmed, an assistant professor of sustainable food and bioenergy systems at Montana State University.

Does the idea of a self-driving ambulance freak you out?

Apr 2, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasa/14180432046/">Paul Sableman</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Would you want a ride to the hospital in a self-driving ambulance?

If you caught yourself hesitating, you’re not alone. Researchers from the Florida Institute of Technology and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University recently found that many people are less willing to be transported in a driverless ambulance than a regular one — significantly less willing, as it turns out.

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NOAA/NASA

The mid-March blizzard that blanketed parts of the Northeast in several feet of snow may have been a freaky turn of weather, but it didn’t take us by surprise, thanks to the "eagle eyes" of satellites.

A week before the storm hit, a weather satellite run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began monitoring the collision course of two low-pressure systems, from its position 22,300 miles above the Atlantic Ocean.

Engineering a Better Bionic Arm

Apr 1, 2017

A Life Robotic

Apr 1, 2017

Tweaking the Dinosaur Family Tree

Apr 1, 2017

Falling Into New Ideas

Apr 1, 2017

See how Tuvan throat singers can sing multiple notes at once

Mar 28, 2017

For traditional singers in Tuva, a Russian republic nestled between Siberia and Mongolia, capturing the sounds of their homeland is no easy task: Winds howl across the remote steppes, herds of animals bray and gallop, and water bubbles from mineral springs.

Before plate tectonics, the Earth may have been covered by one giant shell

Mar 27, 2017
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USGS

The Earth’s outer layer is split into slabs, called tectonic plates. As the plates slide across the Earth’s surface, their constant, often violent interactions with one another create volcanoes, earthquakes, rifts and mountain ranges. But the Earth may not always have been shaped this way.

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Max DeRoin. CC0.&nbsp;

Like many freelancers, Rochelle LaPlante is paid by the piece. “So, I have to balance doing it fast enough to make it worth my time, but also make sure I'm doing high-quality work,” she says.

But LaPlante’s job isn’t the writing or design work you might expect in today’s gig economy. She’s an independent content moderator, tasked with keeping unwanted, sometimes graphic content off the social apps and websites we use every day. “So, it's like modern-day piecework, but with the added layer of psychological stress,” she says.

Retelling the Story of the BP Oil Spill

Mar 25, 2017

Can Geometry Root Out Gerrymandering?

Mar 25, 2017

Training Docs Around the Clock

Mar 25, 2017
Images of MRI scans
Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities

One in 68 children in the United States will develop autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The field of autism research has grown rapidly in the past few decades, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is at the forefront of much of this discovery

Bacteria are thriving in the sky — and they influence the weather

Mar 22, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/chriswaits/13870530113/">Chris Waits</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>

Ever since Antoni van Leeuwenhoek first observed “animalcules” through a microscope in the late 1600s, we’ve been finding bacteria all over. They’ve been discovered in deep sea vents, on human skin, and deep in Antarctic ice. There are even bacteria all the way up in the clouds. Strange and wonderful, no?

There's a sweet new test for pee in the pool

Mar 21, 2017
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tpsdave/Creative Commons

The artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium (ACE) can be found in everything from chewing gum, to baked goods, to the packets of sugar substitute on restaurant tables. But researchers at the University of Alberta recently made headlines with the announcement that they’d found ACE somewhere else: in 31 swimming pools and hot tubs.

Another way to grow crops — by laying down the plow

Mar 20, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/12752977894/">US Department of Agriculture</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

At a time when many modern farmers face problems like soil erosion, nutrient loss and drought, the black dirt on Doug Palen’s family farm is a field apart: Its health and texture just keep improving.

“Its organic matter continues to rise, and it just continues to perform even better than it did,” Palen says.

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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/bearpark/2706701983/">Simon James</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Here’s an unexpected story: Scientists are working on a drug to stimulate ear hair growth.

In this case, the ear hairs in question are actually tiny, sensory hair cells in our cochlea. We have about 15,000 of them in each ear, and they’re crucial to helping us detect sound waves. But the little cells are also very fragile.

New report gives cautious support for embryonic gene editing in humans

Mar 19, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/lunarcaustic/3233482244">lunar caustic</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Last month, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine released a report about the use of gene editing techniques like CRISPR on human embryos. The new report, coming from two globally respected scientific organizations, suggests the technique could be warranted in certain cases — not just in the laboratory, but in real life.

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