Science & Technology

Science news

UCFFool on Flickr

    

Google recently announced nine metro areas under consideration for its latest internet technology: Google Fiber.

APOPO HeroRAT tea egg training  Dammies trainee HeroRAT swaps a tea egg containing a sample of TNT he has just found for a banana treat
flickr.com / APOPO

    

Most Americans think of rats as nuisances to be trapped and destroyed. But in Tanzania, giant pouched rats use their acute sense of smell to detect landmines and other explosives. Dr. Danielle Lee is an animal behavior scientist based at Oklahoma State University and she researches the African giant pouched rat. 

Sweet potato fields in Eastern NC.
Bob Is Traveling / Flickr Creative Commons

Many farms spread human waste on cropland to fertilize it. In this case, the waste is called "biosolids". It can carry household chemicals that affect important bacteria, and that can hurt soil health.

The government has had a hard time regulating chemicals in biosolids, because the equipment that measured bacterial gases was very expensive.

But a new report from Duke University's school of engineering shows that bacterial reactions to chemicals can be assessed by changes in color. That's a cheaper test to administer.

Lithium ion battery from a laptop computer
Kristoferb / Wikipedia Creative Commons

Scientists in the Triangle might have discovered a non-flammable liquid electrolyte that could be instrumental for longer-lasting lithium-ion batteries found in cell phones, laptops, and some electric cars.

The research could also provide a solution to the recent high-profile battery fires in the Tesla Model S car, iPhones, and Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

David Haring / Duke Lemur Center

Lemur couples with infants start to smell alike. Oh sure, they smelled differently before they had offspring. But pretty soon, the lemur lovers start mirroring each other's scents. Even their "scent-marking" odor begins to change. Researchers think the change in scent could be a way to mark territory, or it could be a way to advertise their relationship to all the other would-be mates.

The study findings are in the  February issue of  Animal Behavior.

wikipedia

When we think about the bond between animals and humans, we often think of the "pet-owner" relationship. But animals influence our lives in many other ways: as part of the food supply chain, as therapeutic companions and as cohabitants of our environment. Jeannine Moga, clinical and veterinary social worker at North Carolina State University, explores the imprints animals leave on humans beyond companionship. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Moga about the relationships between animals and humans.

Dr. Freeman Hrabowski has spent two decades transforming the University of Maryland, Baltimore County into one of the most innovative research institutions in the country.  His devotion to helping minority students advance in the world of science and mathematics gained him a role as a trusted advisor to President Obama on educational issues. Host Frank Stasio talks with Dr. Hrabowski about his life, his work and STEM programs in higher education.

David Pizarro black and white photo, laughing
http://www.peezer.net/

  

Feelings of disgust can be a useful in navigating environmental threats. When we are disgusted, we avoid contaminated or poisonous things. But new research shows that disgust may also subconsciously influence our political and moral judgments. Psychology professor David Pizarro examines the ways disgust affects decision-making in the political realm.

Mars One

A North Carolina State University bioengineering student has made the first cut for a Dutch non-profit's mission to Mars. 

Of the 200,000 applicants for a mission to colonize the red planet, Raleigh's Charles Parrish made it to the recent cut of 1,058 candidates. The 23-year-old  has been passionate about space since childhood and has already done research for NASA and the Mars Society.

Obama at Vacon
Courtesy of Vacon

North Carolina State University was awarded a big task by The White House this week.

The land-grant institution will house a new public-private manufacturing innovation institute that will focus on getting the next generation of electronic chips and devices into the marketplace. 

President Barack Obama got the biggest applause of his speech when he made this announcement at NC State earlier this week:

Yan Liang / Energy Frontier Research Center UNC-Chapel Hill

The Frontier Research Center at UNC-Chapel Hill has built a system that converts solar energy into fuel, so power can be used even after the sun sets.  The US Department of Energy is funding the research.

Instead of storing solar electricity in an expensive battery, researchers use the sun's energy to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen.  Two of the Center's papers about the process were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

House Wade Avenue Pump Station
Eric Mennel / WUNC

If you live or work in Raleigh, there's a reasonable chance you've driven by it. Maybe hundreds, or even thousands of times. And, chances are, you've never noticed anything out of the ordinary. In most ways, it's wholly unremarkable.

The house at 3215 Wade Avenue, about 15 minutes from downtown Raleigh, looks just like the rest of the houses in that neighborhood. A nice metal roof. Forest green window shutters. Doric columns line the front porch.

But there's no driveway out front. And the lights are never on. And there's no walkway to the front door.

Creative Commons

Algae may seem harmless, but toxic algae blooms can be a real problem in water supplies used by people.

They can kill wildlife in the water and be dangerous to humans. Host Frank Stasio talks with Hans Paerl, professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences, Morehead City.

Creative Commons

Some scientists tout genetically modified food as a groundbreaking technology that can feed the hungry.

MediGuard App
Courtesy of Quintiles

There’s a new mobile phone app that can monitor your medications -- from pill reminders to warnings about drug interactions.

Durham-based Quintiles is providing the app for free for users of its MediGuard service.  Users can even gather information about medical research, according to this YouTube video.

The new process dissolves lignin into the PIL, leaving cellulose behind as a solid.
Ezinne Achinvu / North Carolina State University

As corn prices rise and ethanol production competes with food sources, the energy industry is looking for other ways to produce biofuels.

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a simple, efficient and inexpensive way to extract energy-rich cellulose from non-edible plant matter, like corn husks, grasses, and wood chips.

PhD student Ezinne Achinivu  says labs often run into trouble trying to remove a protective material called lignin. It's bonded to the cellulose, but hinders its efficiency.

Duke scientists look into the brains of songbirds.
johnholdway.com

Scientists are learning fascinating things by studying songbirds. 

NCSU students study an array of solar panels on top of the NSF FREEDM Systems Center.
Marc Hall / North Carolina State University

The North Carolina Solar Center has become the fifth lab in the country approved to test solar hot water panels to the market standard.

The federal government requires home solar water heating systems to have Solar Rating and Certification Corporation—or SRCC—certification in order to be eligible for a 30-percent tax credit.

The Center has also been recently accredited to test efficiency and calibrate panels according to international standards.

man with glasses, stroboscopic training, in running position
Peter Friesen @NHLCanes / Carolina Hurricanes

It's pretty amazing to think that strobe lights in a club, the ones that make you kind of dizzy, could actually help our brains process images.

Duke researchers knew that they were on to something. They had done at least one other study on "stroboscopic visual conditions." So, they teamed up with some men whose livelihoods depend on visual acuity, hockey players, to test their theories out.

They designed special glasses with kind of an internal strobe light. The glasses intermittently let vision in, and then cut it off.

CPR Training
BC Gov Photos / Flickr Creative Commons

Researchers at Duke University say areas with the most cardiovascular health issues are least likely to have bystanders who can perform CPR. 

A study released last week says rural and poor communities have a significantly lower number of people who have CPR training.  The report says that rate is particularly low in Southern states. 

The study's lead author Monique Anderson says communities that promote a simpler way of conducting CPR are training more people.

NCSU students study an array of solar panels on top of the NSF FREEDM Systems Center.
Marc Hall / North Carolina State University

Raleigh might soon have a group-purchasing program that would make it cheaper for residents to install solar panels on their homes. North Carolina Solar Center Director Steve Kalland  says solar power is popular among state utilities. They save money buying the costly technology in bulk. Kalland says homeowners are also interested in using cheaper, greener energy.

"The opportunity to do this has been somewhat constrained in North Carolina because the cost of these smaller-scale projects is somewhat higher than the large-scale projects," Kalland says.

Siats
Jorge Gonzalez

Researchers from North Carolina and Chicago announced  the discovery a new dinosaur today.

Siats Meekerorum (known colloquially as "SEE-ahtch") is thought to have been one of the three largest predators in America, at one time even larger than the Tyrannosaurus. This particular specimen was 30 feet long... and it's an adolesent.

Dr. Lindsay Zanno, a paleontologist at N.C. State and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, is one of the co-discoverers. She told WUNC that we're still trying to figure out what led to Siats's demise. But there are theories.

Frank Stasio hosting 'The State of Things' from Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh
NC Museum of Natural Sciences

Today, The State of Things is broadcasting live from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Look below to watch the program live. 

Jorge Gonzales / Museum of Natural Sciences

The Tyrannosaurus Rex is the indisputable king of the dinosaurs, but it wasn’t always that way. Lindsay Zanno -- director of paleontology and geology research at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and assistant research professor in the department of biology at North Carolina State University -- helped discover a new dinosaur in North America. It is called Siats meekerorum, and it was one of the top three predators ever discovered in North America. In fact, it ruled over the early ancestors of the T-Rex. 

Fossil Fair at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences

  

Science is a place where facts and objectivity reign supreme while politics is a blend of perspectives and opinions. So what happens when science and public policy collide?

Internet Summit

The sixth annual Internet Summit is in Raleigh this week, and organizers are hoping to leave conference goers a little starstruck.

Creative Commons

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. Host Frank Stasio talks to Gavan Fitzsimons, a professor in Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

A plane lands at Piedmont Triad International Airport.
redlegs21 via Flickr, Creative Commons

Researchers at Duke University are developing radio wave scanners that could dramatically increase the speed at which travelers are checked at security points in airports.

The scanners, which researchers say could be tested in as soon as 12 months for airport use, were one of the developing technologies that scientists showed three North Carolina congressmen in a tour yesterday of laboratories at Duke’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering.

CMAST
NC State

A new study out of N.C. State demonstrates how oysters may rely on sound to navigate to their permanent homes on the reef.

Ashlee Lillis is a researcher in the marine sciences department at N.C. State. She recorded underwater sounds then tested larval oysters to determine whether settlement rates increased when they were exposed to reef sounds versus the open sea floor. 

“We've got differences in water flow over a hard structure compared to just a sandy bottom that's going to make it distinct as well as a lot of fish,” says Lillis.

When experimental drugs or treatments need to be tested for the market, they generally go through a series of clinical trials. However, a new study shows that nearly one third of all large clinical trials go completely unpublished. This means that information about certain drugs and treatments are not accessible to the public.

Pages