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The Mindset For A Milkshake

Jun 17, 2017

There Goes The Sun

Jun 15, 2017
This image shows how the Sun would look at the extreme ultraviolet wavelength end of the spectrum.
Solar Dynamic Observatory, NASA / NASA

This August communities across the United States will witness a total solar eclipse for the first time almost 100 years. This event is both a visual spectacle for sky watchers and a significant scientific event. 

Photo of Dr. Charmaine Royal
Charmaine Royal / North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

With the rise of a competitive market for personal gene testing, the tool is becoming more available and affordable to the public. People can now swab their cheek, send the sample off to a lab, and wait patiently for a private company with a massive gene database to tell them where in the world their genes are from. But what do these tests reveal about personal identity and what do they imply about race? 

The story of Magnus Hirschfeld, the ‘Einstein of sex'

Jun 14, 2017
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Via Undiscovered

Decades before Alfred Kinsey developed his scale for human sexuality, there was Magnus Hirschfeld — a doctor who dedicated his career to proving that homosexuality was natural.

Hirschfeld’s reasoning was simple: In turn of the 20th century Germany, where he lived, a law called Paragraph 175 made so-called “unnatural fornication” between men punishable by prison time.

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<a href="https://pixabay.com/en/fidget-spinner-spinner-toys-2342845/">Myriams-Fotos</a>/<a href="https://pixabay.com/en/service/terms/#usage">CC&nbsp;BY 2.0</a>

Have you gotten your hands on a fidget spinner yet?

The brightly colored device can be spun, flipped and even tossed in one hand, and it’s been turning up in schools across the country.

Manufacturers say the fidget spinners can help relieve stress, but the toys have already been banned as distractions in some classrooms, sending kids back to the Stone Age of clicking pens and squeezing stress balls.

President Trump nominated Dr. Norman Sharpless of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center for the director of the National Cancer Institute.
Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center / UNC

President Trump nominated Dr. Norman Sharpless as director of the National Cancer Institute.

Sharpless, who goes by “Ned,” is the director of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Wellcome Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research at UNC.

A Home For The Thirty Meter Telescope

Jun 10, 2017

The Sunscreen Of The Future

Jun 10, 2017

The Road To CRISPR

Jun 10, 2017
Courtesy Rob Dunn

The banana is always in season and always available at the grocery store. A new book explores how the prevalence of the popular fruit is a model for the dangers of a food system that is increasingly dependent on fewer food staples.

“Never Out Of Season” (Little, Brown, and Company/2017) by biologist Rob Dunn, a professor in the department of applied ecology at North Carolina State University, walks readers through the precarious corporate food system and explains how diversity is crucial to crop survival.

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Courtesy of Delta Airlines

With stories of unhappy air travelers blanketing social media in recent months, one major airline is trying something new.

Delta Air Lines plans to install special bag-check kiosks at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, giving customers the chance to skip waiting in line for an agent. One of the new kiosks will include facial-recognition technology, using a camera to confirm passengers’ faces against their passport photos.

Mitch Prinstein / Penguin Random House/2017

Popularity is often a concern for teenagers, but research shows it also influences life outside the high school cafeteria. Children as young as four years old can identify their most popular peer, and one’s popularity growing up can even predict his or her lifespan.

In the new book “Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World” (Penguin Random House/2017), Mitch Prinstein teases apart the distinction between two different types of popularity: likability and status. 

Science has some good news for worriers

Jun 5, 2017
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US Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony

Whatever it is that you’re fretting about, here's a bit of good news: Worrying can be beneficial, under certain circumstances.

Dr. Kate Sweeney, an associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, and co-author of new research on the upside of worrying, says it serves a few useful functions.

“The most important function that worry serves is that it acts as a motivator,” Sweeney says. “It essentially tells us there is something we should be doing. And it gives us the motivation to do it.”

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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/morigami/4540657675/">Kenta Morigami</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC-BY-SA 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

This year marks 50 years since the first microwave oven entered home kitchens. Called the Radarange, the machine sold for a whopping $495 in 1967, and we’ve been nuking our food ever since — but not without lingering questions about how the appliance even works.

Consider, for a moment, the musk ox.

The ancient animal looks a bit like a shaggy, long-haired bison and can be found roaming the cold, Arctic landscapes of places like Alaska, northern Canada and Greenland

Musk oxen “actually went extinct in Alaska in the 1890s, and the state brought them back,” says wildlife biologist Joel Berger, a professor at Colorado State University and senior scientist for the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society.

Bringing Sensation To Bionic Limbs

Jun 3, 2017
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NASA

On August 21, the continental United States will experience its first total solar eclipse in nearly four decades. With the eclipse’s path stretching from Oregon all the way to South Carolina, cities like Kansas City, Missouri, and Nashville, Tennessee, will be swathed in daytime darkness for a few minutes — and at least a partial eclipse will be visible around the country.  

Marijuana could give a cognitive boost to older brains

May 30, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/medihuana/9906897843/">MarihuanayMedicina</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC-BY-SA 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Researchers have found a drug that reverses the effects of brain aging in mice — marijuana.

In the study, published in Nature Medicine, German and Israeli researchers tested the memory and cognition of 2-month-old “young” mice, 12-month-old “mature” mice and 18-month-old “old” mice after exposing them to low doses of THC (the main psychoactive component in marijuana) over a monthlong period. 

Once populous on the country’s mainland, the New Zealand sea lion was hunted to extinction there centuries ago. Recently, however, the mammal has been making a comeback: Fifteen New Zealand sea lion pups were born on the mainland last year.

Video producer Chelsea Fiske chronicled government efforts to protect the baby animals in a new film for Science Friday’s Macroscope series, “How to Save the World’s Rarest Sea Lion Pups.” She also discovered a pup in the process. 

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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/_davidphan/16715426351/">David Phan</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Stargazers living in upper latitudes occasionally glimpse shimmering splashes of pink, blue and green in the night sky. The phenomenon, known as the aurora, is “a glitter bomb” of charged particles from the sun, says Liz MacDonald, a space plasma physicist at NASA.

The aurora is also notoriously ephemeral and can be difficult to track — which is where citizen science comes in. Recently, a group of aurora chasers in Canada saw something strange in the night sky: a purplish streak occurring further south than most auroras. “And they said, ‘What is this thing?’” MacDonald recalls.

When avians and airplanes collide, we tend to hear the big stories — like when a flock of birds crippled the engines of US Airways Flight 1549 in 2009, forcing a crash-landing in the Hudson River. (All 155 passengers and crew survived.)

But thousands of birds hit planes in the United States each year, to less fanfare. “There are somewhere around 13,000 bird strikes reported to civil aviation and another 4,000 to 5,000 from the military, so it’s quite a few birds every year,” says forensic ornithologist Carla Dove.

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