Science & Technology

Science news

Why Is Vocal Fry Popping Up in Pop Music?

May 27, 2016

Marine Researchers Use Drones To Spot Sharks

May 27, 2016
Drones flying above the water.
Courtesy of NC Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve

Drones might one day be able to alert swimmers to the presence of sharks in the waters off North Carolina’s coasts. But first, researchers need to know how accurate unmanned aircraft are at spotting sea creatures.

Spencer Black/

As the weather warms in the southern Appalachians, the blue ghosts start to appear.

No, they’re not otherworldly or apparitional — they’re just insects. Blue ghost fireflies (Phausis reticulata), native to the region, begin their mating season as spring slides into summer, usually around the beginning of June, although they’re already starting to appear this year, says Jennifer Frick-Ruppert, a professor of biology and environmental science at Brevard College in North Carolina.

How GPS Found Its Way

May 23, 2016

A Synthetic Human Genome? Not So Fast

May 23, 2016

Mushrooms: On the Hunt for Edibles

May 23, 2016

Do we rely too much on GPS?

May 22, 2016

So many parts of our modern world rely on GPS, or the Global Positioning System: driving, timekeeping military operations, crop harvesting, financial deals. Even, author Greg Milner argues, the way we think has been affected.

“It really is everywhere,” says Milner, who wrote “Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds.”

Milner says the ubiquity of GPS in our daily lives is what got him interested in the technology. 

What’s the best way to lose weight and keep it off?

May 22, 2016
Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Contestants on the reality TV show "The Biggest Loser" put in a gargantuan effort to lose weight: They diet rigorously, exercise for hours a day, and compete with each other to completely change their bodies. And many do change their bodies, quickly losing 100 pounds, 200 pounds — or more.

But what happens after? It turns out that, like many people who lose weight, maintaining that smaller frame is hard, even for those whose bodies changed so rapidly and completely.

How GPS Found Its Way

May 20, 2016

A Synthetic Human Genome? Not So Fast

May 20, 2016

City Bees Forego Fast Food To Feed On Flowers

May 20, 2016
Honey bees
David Tarpy

Urban beekeeping is a growing trend, but some scientists have worried bees in the city might turn to processed sugars for food.

N.C. State researcher Clint Penick was inspired to study urban bee diets by reports of bees feeding on soda, syrup, or even half-empty lattes.

Take The High Ground: How Rocks Helped Win The Civil War

May 18, 2016
Thomas R Machnitzki / Wikimedia

From limestone trenches at Stones River to the rolling hills at Antietam, a new report looks at how geology shaped the outcome of the Civil War.

Commanders on both sides used the natural terrain to their advantage, according to Scott Hippensteel, associate professor of Earth Sciences at UNC Charlotte and the author of the study.

How a Kindle's e-ink system works

May 18, 2016
Brendan McDermid/Reuters

When Amazon introduced its first Kindle back in 2007, it raved about the e-reader’s “crisp, high-resolution electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight.”

Corn, Agriculture, AgTech Accelerator
Leoneda Inge

It used to be hard to convince blue chip investors to put millions of dollars into agricultural technology startups.

But times are changing. Last week, a new business accelerator launched in Research Triangle Park with $11.5 million.

Are we smart enough to really understand how smart animals are?

May 12, 2016

Is a human smarter than an octopus? 

“It’s really the wrong question to ask,” says primatologist Frans de Waal. “Because I’m smarter than an octopus in things I’m good at, like language and technology. But the octopus is smarter than me in many other ways.”

How new technology may make unlocking your phone as easy as thinking

May 11, 2016
Steve Marcus/Reuters

Our phones hold so much of our personal digital data, so keeping our phones secure is one of the most important personal security measures out there.

How can we build a better password? Smartphones now include fingerprint scanners, and companies have been testing other biometrics — including retinal scans and heart rhythm measurements — for the ultimate personalized "password." But, could “brainprints” be the next unbreakable identification tool?

A team of researchers created a system that could match EEG readings to an individual with, they claim, 100 percent accuracy. 

An image of  Katharine Wright sits beside Wilbur, ready for her first takeoff at Pont-Long in France in 1909.
Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University

Note: this is a rebroadcast from May 20, 2015

The state of North Carolina has many claims to fame, but there is likely none more popular or controversial than the slogan on the state license plate: “First In Flight.” The phrase commemorates the spectacular achievement of brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright who piloted their first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903.

Why nature is an engineer’s best inspiration

May 10, 2016
Kellar Autumn

Have you ever flown on a plane? Or used Velcro to hold two things together? If so, you’ve benefitted from biomimicry, an approach to solving human problems through nature-inspired innovations.

The invention of Velcro, for instance, happened one day when a man brought his dog into the house after a walk. The man noticed some burrs stuck to the dog's fur, and began studying their design and the way the burrs clung to fur and clothing using tiny hooks. Soon after, he invented the first strip of Velcro. 

What would Styrofoam be like if it were made out of steel? Afsaneh Rabiei at North Carolina State University has been working for years to develop and perfect metal foams, the product of a manufacturing process that embeds hollow metal spheres in solid metal.

The resulting material is light, strong, heat, and radiation-resistant, and, when incorporated in a bulletproof vest, for example, capable of shattering bullets on impact without injuring the person wearing it.