Science & Technology

Science news


Mental health is a focus of national dialogue in the wake of mass shootings around the country. What makes people kill, seemingly without remorse?

cathydavidson.com

  Is a teacher lecturing in front of a classroom effective?  Is it possible that the way we teach our children is outdated?

solar panels
Strata Solar

A North Carolina renewable energy company says it plans to build a large solar farm in Duplin County.  Strata Solar announced yesterday it's developing 400 acres of land for solar panels with a capacity of 100 Megawatts.  It's one of the largest solar farms in production on the east coast.  Strata CEO Markus Wilhelm says his company will file its plans with the state Utilities Commission by the end of the month.

brianhare.net

The last ten years have seen a revolution in our understanding of dogs, and Brian Hare has led the way.

Hare is an Associate Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University and the co-author – with his wife, Vanessa Woods - of “The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think.”

“Everybody who has a dog is excited to tell you how smart they are,” he said on The State of Things. “But what science is able to contribute is that we compare dogs to other species and we’ve found that dogs are really remarkable.”

How remarkable?

Without training, Hare says dogs are able to learn words and make inferences. Some dogs learn words the first time they encounter them.

Dogs self-domesticated about 40,000 years ago, Hare says. “They chose us, so they got friendlier and they got smarter as a way to live with humans.”



Dogs are very good at solving problems on their own, but they may not be the heroic animals they are often made out to be in popular culture. Hare cites the “bookcase test” where a research project was done to test what dogs would do when its master was pinned under a bookcase and calling for help.

“The truth was, the dog didn’t run off and seek help,” Hare said. “In fact, the dogs just sort of stand around doing nothing.”

Hare has started a website, dognition.com, that will allow dog owners to play a series of science-based games that will reveal their dog’s unique abilities and help build a stronger dog/owner relationship.

A cockroach cleaning an antenna
Ayako Wada-Katsumata

A new study from researchers at N.C. State finds that cockroaches must clean themselves incessantly in order to function properly. The findings are important not just for scientists studying insect behavior, but also – to the relief of those who suffer from infestations – might provide clues in developing more effective pesticides.

naturalsciences.org

  Meet Betsy Bennett: Betsy Bennett recently retired from two decades as the director for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. It's was part of her longer history as an educator and politician in the South. Betsy got her start training teachers in Charlottesville, Virginia on how to integrate their classrooms. She also helped desegregate Charlotte schools before heading to the Natural Sciences Museum and growing it to one of the most successful in the country. Betsy joins our host Frank Stasio to talk about her life history in education.

Xuanhe Zhao
www.pratt.duke.edu

A new material developed by Duke University engineers may help ships rid accumulated scum from their vessels. The material can be applied like paint to the hull of a ship and can move in response to an electric current to dislodge bacteria and prevent accumulations on the ship’s surface. Bacterial buildup on ships increases drag and reduces the fuel economy of the vessel, as well as blocking or clogging undersea sensors.

 

In the age of constant digital stimulus, it can be hard to truly listen to all that's around you. Duncan Laurie will tell you that listening a little closer might bring you happiness or healing. Duncan has found ways to tap into the sonic energy of organic materials, like plants and rock.

A new study from Duke University looks into how male sparrows express their anger. Although they are capable  of fighting to the death, the new study reveals that they often wave their wings wildly before attacking in an attempt to avoid a possibly fatal brawl.

Scientists say they may have found a new clue that sheds light on the sinking of Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley during the Civil War. The new evidence lies in a pole, called a spar, once placed on the front of the sub and used to plant explosives on enemy ships.  Scientists announced Monday that 135 pounds of gunpowder was attached to the spar at the front of the vessel.

Dominion North Carolina Power plans to study the prospect of wind and solar energy on the Outer Banks for small-scale power grids.  The utility is launching a three-year research project at its office in Kitty Hawk. The plans include four wind turbines, solar panels and a storage battery that will work to reduce the amount of power the office pulls from the grid.  Project manager Sarah Cosby says that network creates a so-called micro-grid that could be useful for small communities during power outages.

canopymeg.com
canopymeg.com

Meg Lowman has spent her life exploring the treetops. She was dubbed the real-life “Lorax” by National Geographic for her work exploring forest canopies and identifying the species that live there.

Online networking sites have become one of the primary ways humans forge connections with each another. Ian Gilby tells us that Gombe chimps might be just as interested in social networking as we are. He's been studying the ways chimpanzees form coalitions with one another in order to thrive and reproduce.

The City of Raleigh will be one of the first US cities to try out new wireless technology for electric vehicles.   

Just like everything else – even electric vehicle charging stations are going wireless. 

Evatran Video:  Unleash your EV. To learn more, visit Plug-less Power dot com.

Your favorite couch or sofa could be dangerous for your health. More than half of all couches tested in a Duke University-led study were found to contain potentially toxic flame retardants. One of the main offenders: a chemical called "Chorlinated Tris". It's a probable carcinogen that was used in children's pajamas back in the 70's. It was phased out due to its health risks. Lead researcher Heather Stapleton is associate professor of environmental chemistry at Duke's Nicholas School:

Leoneda Inge

A group of biologists and researchers at Duke University have discovered a new group of ferns that have DNA they could not ignore. The DNA of this flat-leaved species consistently read, GaGa. So they named their discovery after pop icon Lady GaGa. 

Dr. Robert Lefkowitz
Duke University

Dr. Robert Lefkowitz has won the Nobel Prize in chemistry. He’s a principal investigator and faculty member at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Duke University Medical Center. Lefkowitz shares the award with Brian Kobilka from Stanford University. Together, the two men work in the field of G-protein coupled cell receptors. Yesterday was a big day on Duke’s campus.

An NC State researcher says a 10-million-dollar gift will mean a stable future for the poultry science program.

North Carolina is one of the nation's leaders in poultry production. Clinton-based Prestage Farms' endowment has given NC State's School of Poultry Science new life.

Mike Williams says, "The concept of poultry science is often hard to sell to new students coming into a program."

Dr. Robert Lefkowicz
Duke University

A Duke University faculty member has won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Doctor Robert Lefkowicz is a researcher and faculty member at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Duke University Medical Center.

The Nobel Committee made the announcement earlier this morning. Lefkowicz said on the phone during the announcement that the middle-of-the-night call was unexpected.

Dr. Robert Lefkowicz: And so my wife gave me an elbow. Call for you. And there it was, a total shock and surprise.

An “Ag-Biotech Summit” gets underway in Raleigh today.  It’s the first gathering of its kind in the state.  It will focus on shaping a new “bio-economy.”

Leoneda Inge:  Gwyn Riddick is the Vice-President of Ag-Biotech at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.  He says Agriculture and Biotechnology are the state’s biggest industries.

Gwyn Riddick:  Agriculture which is considered to be around $71-billion dollars, that’s with a “B.” And then Biotechnology, at $64-billion.

Raleigh TV station WRAL is working on technology that would get emergency messages to you -- wherever you are.

Gurnal Scott: You're familiar with the Emergency Alert System messages on TV and radio.

EAS Test: This is only a test.

WRAL says mobile EAS messages can be sent to hand-held devices with a chip that can pick up TV signals. Steve Hammel is the station's Vice President and General manager.

A North Carolina research firm says it's taken a significant step toward making solar energy a widely-marketable source of electricity. RTI International says its new solar cells use an ink-like material produced at much lower cost than traditional silicon panels. Jay Lewis is a senior research scientist with the RTP nonprofit.

N-C State researchers are looking at whether livestock production can keep up with the global demand.

The N-C State panel looked at what it will take to meet demand for meat, dairy and eggs as the world population grows.

"Double animal agriculture production over the next few decades, " said Kelly Zering, the professor who led the study. He says research shows it can be done.

UNC-Chapel Hill researchers are working to make it easier for hydrologists to share data on problems facing the world's water supply. The project is being funded by the National Science Foundation. Ray Idaszak works for the Renaissance Computing Institute at the university. He says his team is working to create the high-tech infrastructure to allow scientists to see and comment on each other's work.

Teams of scientists from NC State and the University of Maryland are developing new wireless sensors designed to detect structural deficiencies in bridges. They hope the smart technology will help prevent bridge disasters like the one in Minneapolis 5 years ago that claimed the lives of 13 people. Lead scientist Mehdi Kalantari is a research engineer from U-M-D. He says the sensors are durable and are built to withstand harsh conditions...

This past July was one of the hottest on record, the third-hottest in fact since 1895. Typically, hot goes along with dry, but in contrast to the rest of the country most of North Carolina is enjoying drought-free conditions. Ryan Boyles from the State Climate Office says much of the Piedmont has benefited from frequent afternoon thundershowers.

Bugs Hiding In Our Homes

Jun 28, 2012

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the Museum of Natural Science are trying to uncover the unknown bug species in our homes.

Asma Khalid: Sure, you may see the occasional centipede crawl across the living room floor, or worse, a cockroach scuttle across the kitchen. But, Michelle Trautwein says there are dozens more bug species right under our noses.

Apple Incorporated has the go-ahead to provide power for its new data center in western North Carolina.

Business leaders met in Cary today to discuss security threats to their corporate networks.

Gurnal Scott: No business is immune to cyber attacks. Several locally-based companies took part in an exercise to see how vulnerable computer systems can be. Cyber technology expert Joan Myers says breaches are expensive.

Joan Myers: It's up to a trillion dollars just last year in lost intellectual property.

A training center opens in Raleigh this afternoon to highlight the latest uses for propane. North Carolina is the second largest user of the fuel behind California. John Jessup is the executive director of the North Carolina Propane Gas Association. He says propane burns cleaner and is cheaper than gasoline and diesel. He also says the natural gas boom is behind the boost in the propane supply.

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