Science & Technology

Science news

Mary-Dell Chilton is a pioneer in the field of agricultural biotechnology. As a young scientist at Washington University, she led the team of researchers that produced the first genetically-modified plant. Chilton moved to North Carolina in the early 1980s to begin her corporate career and has continued to conduct research that shapes the agricultural production of corn, cotton, and other crops.

Google Fiber logo
Wikipedia

    

Faster internet is coming to North Carolina. Tech giant Google announced it will build ultra-high-speed broadband networks in the Triangle and Charlotte areas. 

Human brain
Creative commons

Today's program is a rebroadcast of The Mysterious Relationship Between Brain And Body.

Broadband internet, computers,
www.planetofsuccess.com/blog/

    

President Obama used last night’s State of the Union address to position himself as a champion of the middle class.

He called on Congress to raise taxes for the wealthiest Americans to pay for services like child care and rising health costs.

But he also took a minute to ask Congress to pass a bill that would beef up this nation’s cybersecurity.

NC Museum Natural Sciences
Wikipedia

The State of Things is broadcasting live from the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.

Cape Hatteras
Wikipedia

Scientists and even politicians agree: sea levels along the North Carolina coastline are rising. But the Coastal Resource Commission’s Science Panel says the rise varies in different spots along the state’s 300 miles of oceanfront property. Their draft report outlining the change was just released. The panel is the same body that made the prediction of a 39-inch sea level rise back in 2010. The report prompted Republican lawmakers to throw out the findings and order a new report. Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC environmental reporter Dave Dewitt about the latest.

Styracosaurus
wikipedia

Dinosaurs can be fascinating exhibits in a museum. But what is their relevance to modern life? A new exhibit at the Museum of Natural Sciences looks at the biology of dinosaurs.

Dan Ariely / Duke Photography

Dan Ariely works in contradictions. He studies behavioral economics and points out that humans are logical but irrational beings.

How do we assign monetary value to a thought or an idea? How do we decide when a lie is more valuable than the truth? Are we really in control of the decisions we make on a daily basis?

At the crossroads of psychology and economics, Ariely has made it his life’s work to study the idea that some of our best intentions can lead to our most irrational behavior.

Making Space

Dec 5, 2014
Duke Professor Jennifer Groh's new book "Making Space" takes a look at our brain's ability to handle spatial relationships.
Harvard University Press

Our brains devote incredible amounts computational power trying to figuring out the simplest details about spatial relationships. 

Broadband internet, computers,
www.planetofsuccess.com/blog/

The high-tech nonprofit behind the North Carolina Research and Education Network is celebrating advances in broadband infrastructure. 

MCNC brings high speed Internet access to Universities, community colleges and the state's K-12 public schools. 

The organization's new President and CEO Jean Davis says the next step involves even faster connectivity.

A hummingbird in flight
Ed Yoo / Endeavors Magazine, UNC

New modeling from Vanderbilt and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill gives a 3-D breakdown of how a hummingbird's wings work. The method by which the birds move has eluded scientists for some time. But new video imaging shows the airflow the birds create which allows their agility.

Wonder what that proposed 17-mile light rail project that would connect Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina would look like? Take a look at the latest model. It's made using Google Earth's virtual tour capabilities and other 3D software:

Project planners will have an environmental impact statement ready for public review in early 2015. The project is set to be constructed between 2020 and 2026 depending on approvals and funding.

Patches relaxes at the zoo.
NC Zoo

The North Carolina Zoo's popular polar bear, Patches, died on Sunday.

In recent weeks, Patches had become uninterested in food, and was lethargic, according to Ken Reininger, the zoo’s general curator. Tests revealed the female bear had an extensive lung mass which was likely cancer.

“In the wild the average life span of a polar bear is 15-to-18 years old,” said Dr. David Jones, director of the zoo. “Patches was 26-years-old. She exceeded wildlife expectations by living a long life.”

The odorous house ant (Tapinoma sessile) was the most common species found in parks and forests, but was absent in street medians.
Adrian Smith

A new study out of North Carolina State University suggests there's a remarkably high diversity in the types of ants found in cities.

Published in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity, the paper looks at different environments along Broadway Avenue in Manhattan. Researchers found more than 20 different species of ants in the median of the road alone. They found more than 20 other species in the surrounding parks and urban forests.

Image of Duke Professor Missy Cummings, drone advocate and expert.
Missy Cummings

  

Although the word drone may at first evoke an image of a stealth killing machine, the work of Mary 'Missy' Cummings proves drones are much more than that initial thought. 

Holden Mora shows his new hand, and a pumpkin spice cookie.
Carol Jackson

Seven-year-old Holden Mora's hand is something that Iron Man might envy. It's bright red, and appears indestructible. Holden was born with something called Symbrachydactyly, and his hand didn't develop properly in the womb.

The 3D hand was created specially for Holden by a UNC  biomedical engineering student, Jeffrey Powell. Powell didn't use high-tech prosthetic engineering tools to create the hand. He used a 3D printer.

The State of Things is broadcasting live from the Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. Watch here:

Florida predatory stink bug nymph
Matt Bertone, 2014

  

Stink bugs, moths, fireflies, and caterpillars are just a few of the creepy crawlers featured at Bugfest, a showcase of more than 100 exhibits about an array of arthropods at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Alison Moyer poses with Dreadnoughtus' neck bone, which she uncovered.
Alison Moyer

Last week, researchers revealed one of the biggest discoveries ever in the dinosaur world. "Dreadnoughtus" is 85 feet long, two stories tall, and as big as a jumbo jet. It's estimated to weigh as much as seven T. rex dinosaurs put together, and experts believe it was not yet fully grown when it died. Alison Moyer spent several months on her knees in southern Argentina using picks, dust brushes, and tweezers to uncover parts of Dreadnoughtus' skeleton. Moyer is a Ph.D candidate at N.C. State University. This was her first dig.

What was your role?

NC Museum of Natural Sciences
Wikimedia

Officials with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences are renovating its Museum of Forestry facility in Whiteville.  But the forestry museum's board will have to raise $100,000 as part of the process. 

Legislators wrote into the state budget a requirement for the fundraising effort as a means of proving the facility has value to the Whiteville community.

Museum of Natural Sciences director Emlyn Koster says plans are to turn the building into a hands-on community learning facility.

Youth Radio: How NC Teens Text 4 Free

Aug 25, 2014
Jamayah Parrish conducting an interview outside the WUNC Studios in Durham
Carol Jackson

Jamayah Parrish is a rising senior at Northern High School in Durham.  As a part of WUNC's Youth Radio Project, she reports on teens who have found a way to call and text for free over Wi-Fi.


NC Biotech
NC Biotechnology Center

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center is investing $1 million in its budget in bio-defense and agricultural projects. 

The funds come from the legislature's budget adjustments for this fiscal year, which Governor Pat McCrory signed earlier this month. 

The nonprofit had asked for an extra $7.3 million this year, but incoming president and CEO Doug Edgeton says the money will still go a long way to help companies that are developing measures to fight bioterrorism and produce food for the defense industry.

Research Center Kannapolis, NC
Wikipedia

  

When the textile mill closed in Kannapolis, NC in 2003, more than 4,000 workers lost their jobs. The effects on the small community outside of Charlotte were devastating.

Today is National Aviation Day, the date chosen in part because it’s the birthday of Orville Wright, who flew the very first airplane in 1903, with his brother Wilbur Wright.

Astronaut Neil Armstrong carried at piece of wood and some fabric from the Wright brothers’ 1903 flyer to the moon, connecting the first airplane flight to space exploration.

A composite image shows the facial differences between an ancient modern human with heavy brows and a large upper face and the more recent modern human who has rounder features and a much less prominent brow.
Robert Cieri / University of Utah

About 50,000 years ago, people started developing tools. They started making art, in caves. And they started cooperating. Simultaneously, that's when our faces went from looking like the skull on the left, to the one on the right.

A group of researchers from Duke and the University of Utah are theorizing that the correlation is not coincidence; that, in fact, the changing shape of skulls signals a change in something else that would have made cooperation more likely: A drop in male testosterone levels.

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Note: This is a rebroadcast from a show that aired November 7, 2013.

Think you’re avoiding the advertisements when you fast forward through using your DVR?

Think again. New research from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business shows that sometimes commercials are even more effective when you’re not paying attention.

A Dare County sheriff's deputy walks down damaged Route 12 after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.
Steve Earley / Virginian-Pilot/AP

A new report from NationalGeographic.com begins this way: "Development and climate change are causing the islands to slowly vanish, scientists say."

A story that ran last Sunday on All Things Considered about a sixth-grader's science fair project has elicited not just criticism but controversy.

Since the student's project built on the work of scientists, she's been accused this week of being a "plagiarist" who "ripped off" earlier work.

A DNA rendering
YNSE / Flickr

An international team of researchers has made landmark progress on the study of Schizophrenia.

A consortium co-founded by the University of North Carolina's Patrick Sullivan reports that it's identified 108 points of genetic variation in people with the illness.

Love Motel for Insects: Eining Variation
Foto Mayer

There's a new establishment opening for one night only in Research Triangle Park. It's a Love Motel for Insects. Imagine several teepees lit up against the night sky - attracting area insects from far and wide.

It's a voyeuristic space. Once the ultraviolet light attracts the insects, people can look closely at them. Brandon Ballengée is the scientist/artist behind the project. An article in American Scientist Magazine provides some background:

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