Science & Technology

Science news

Trump’s plan for the EPA is death by ‘a thousand cuts’

Mar 17, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/7687126@N06/5033915021/">Mike</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">CC BY-ND 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

If President Donald Trump has his way, the Environmental Protection Agency will be downsized quite a bit: 31 percent, with more than 50 programs eliminated, as laid out in his budget proposal released on Thursday. But penny-pinching isn’t the only tool his administration and Republican lawmakers have at their disposal, to undermine the agency.  

As two environmental law experts explain, different congressional actions and executive orders can also be used to chip away at the EPA. Some already have.   

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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/santea/16553031695">Alexander Lyubavin</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

It may look like shrink wrap, but a film recently developed by a team of researchers has a secret power: It’s incredibly sensitive to temperature.

“Just to give you a sense, it … can detect, for example, the presence of warm bodies like a rabbit, or a human body or a hand at a distance of up to a meter,” says Chiara Daraio, a professor of mechanical engineering at the California Institute of Technology and a co-author of the new study, published in Science Robotics.

The very real science behind 'The Expanse'

Mar 13, 2017

Imagine for a moment that we’ve colonized Mars and the asteroid belt. We mine the asteroid belt for ice and minerals and live — not always peacefully — in different factions, split up across the solar system.

Mining nature for the next groundbreaking antibiotic

Mar 12, 2017
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qimono/CC0.

It’s been just shy of 90 years since Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in his London lab, but as the World Health Organization recently cautioned, we’re already headed for a “post-antibiotic era.”

Trump Versus the EPA

Mar 11, 2017

Scrap Your Dinner Plans

Mar 11, 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.
 

In the future, people might really wear their emotions on their sleeves

Mar 10, 2017

Picking up on subtle cues in our conversations with other people is tough — and it can be even trickier for people with social anxiety or Asperger’s syndrome.

What could happen to net neutrality under the new FCC?

Mar 9, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/freepress/14743736905/">Stacie Isabella Turk/Ribbonhead</a>. <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

In 2015, after much public debate, the Federal Communications Commission passed rules mandating net neutrality — the idea that all data should be treated equally by internet service providers. The rules labeled broadband internet a utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act.

Scientists are trying to make the perfect battery

Mar 5, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/kmdoncaster/27080461903/">Kevin Doncaster</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Lithium-ion batteries power everything from our laptops to phones to electric vehicles, but they’re far from perfect. In fact, they were the culprits behind Samsung’s recent exploding Galaxy Note 7 phones. 

“The word ‘bomb’ is not out of place here,” says David Pogue, tech columnist for Yahoo Finance and the host of NOVA’s documentary “The Search for the Super Battery.”

Scientists make a battery that runs on stomach acid

Mar 4, 2017
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<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lemon_battery_experiment.JPG#/media/File:Lemon_battery_experiment.JPG">ChristianSW</a>. Own work/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/">CC BY 3.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

A new wave of “ingestible electronics” is poised to transform health care from the inside out. Researchers are experimenting with sensors that can wirelessly monitor vital signs like heart rate, respiratory rate and body temperature from the squishy interior of our gastrointestinal tract.

The Secret (Smart) Life of Bees

Mar 4, 2017

Back When the Planet Had Just One Plate

Mar 4, 2017

Should artificial intelligence be used in science publishing?

Feb 28, 2017
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blickpixel/CC0. Image cropped.&nbsp;

Advances in automation technology mean that robots and artificial intelligence programs are capable of performing an ever-greater share of our work, including collecting and analyzing data. For many people, automated colleagues are still just office chatter, not reality, but the technology is already disrupting industries once thought to be just for humans. Case in point: science publishing.

In 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan changed the source of its water from the city of Detroit to the Flint River. But in the transition to river water, officials didn’t implement proper anti-corrosion measures. Lead leached from old pipes into the water supply, and in some homes, lead levels measured 10 times higher than the limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Last month, lead levels in Flint's city water finally tested below federal-action level. But residents are still being cautioned to use filters on their faucets, or to drink bottled water.

Harvard researchers say they’ve created metallic hydrogen

Feb 25, 2017

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe — and we know it mainly as a gas, not a metal. But in 1935, the physicists Eugene Wigner and Hillard Bell Huntington theorized that under high enough pressures, hydrogen could actually become metallic.

Since then, scientists have tried all sorts of techniques to create metallic hydrogen. Now, reporting in the journal Science, researchers at Harvard University say they’ve squeezed hydrogen between two diamonds — and made metal happen.

How Can We Discover Better Antibiotics?

Feb 25, 2017

Can This Treatment Combat Hearing Loss?

Feb 25, 2017

Science lovers around the world will march on April 22. Here’s why.

Feb 21, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/yotut/3569136480/">YoTuT</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

April 22 holds special significance for environmentalists: It’s Earth Day. And this year, there’s another reason to save the date. Scientists and science lovers will take to the streets of Washington, DC, and other cities worldwide in a “March for Science,” inspired by the Jan. 21 Women’s March. 

Some of the oxygen on the moon used to be on planet Earth

Feb 18, 2017
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NASA/Reid Wiseman

Scientists say that every month, we here on Earth send some oxygen to the moon — and we’ve probably been doing it for billions of years.

The moon may be airless, but we know it has oxygen — Apollo mission samples confirmed its presence in the moon’s soil. The easiest explanation for its source is the solar wind, which bombards the moon’s surface with particles streaming off of the sun. But new research shows that the moon may be getting some of its oxygen from a more familiar place: Earth.

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