Science & Technology

Science news

Scientists just used Hawaii as a 'body double' for Mars

Nov 28, 2016
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/daveynin/7189311678/">daveynin</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

This fall, there's been plenty of buzz about sending humans to Mars. Elon Musk recently unveiled designs for a two-stage Mars vehicle and NASA has its own transport system in the works, slated for launch by the 2030s.

But how will scientists (and the rest of us) get to the Red Planet, and how will science actually happen once we're there?

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Erik De Castro/Reuters

It’s been more than 50 years since the Food and Drug Administration first approved birth control pills for women. Since then, other reversible contraceptives like implants, injections and intrauterine devices (IUDs) have also entered the market — but still, just for women.

For men, condoms have remained the only completely reversible birth control option, and they have a 12 percent failure rate with typical use.

Courtesy Sönke Johnsen

Sönke Johnsen was always driven by art. As a youth he captured documentary photos on the streets of Pittsburgh and developed them in a homemade dark room. Later he practiced and taught modern dance. But Johnsen's pursuit of artistic awe led him on a surprising path toward biology. Today, as a professor of biology at Duke University, he plunges thousands of feet under the sea, discovering mysterious marine animals that hide in plain sight. He has won multiple awards for his scientific writing, teaching, and mentorship.

If you own a car, chances are it’s parked much of the time, whether at the office or in your driveway. Sure, not a great overall use of the vehicle. But would you be comfortable with another option — renting it out, perhaps even to a stranger?

In science, a picture is worth a thousand data points. And recently, our glimpses at two very different worlds got much, much clearer.

When artist Matthew Reinhart gets an idea for a children’s book, he scribbles a note to himself about what he wants the illustrations to do. Things like, “T-Rex head bites reader.”

“That's it,” Reinhart says. “I don't know how it's going to happen with all the engineering. I just know that’s what I want to happen.”

What Causes the Common Cold?

Nov 18, 2016

Science Goes to the Movies: ‘Arrival’

Nov 18, 2016
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/15218887503/">Doug Kerr</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

Ever imagine Minnesota as a coastal state?

The idea sounds absurd (especially as winter nears), but history shows that at one time, it wasn’t so unlikely: 1.1 billion years ago, the continent was splitting apart along the Midcontinent Rift, a move that could have turned states like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan into oceanfront real estate. But the rift stalled, leaving a huge scar in the Earth’s crust. What happened?

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blickpixel/CC0

On Oct. 21, a cyberattack targeting Dyn, a New Hampshire company that provides domain registration services, "brought the internet to its knees," as numerous media put it. Websites for major outfits like the New York Times, Netflix and Twitter were all temporarily unavailable.

While this attack didn’t compromise personal data like bank accounts or Social Security numbers, cybersecurity experts agree that this won’t be the last mass internet outage we face. And next time, the damage could be even greater.

<a href="https://www.eso.org/public/images/0319_kuiper_belt_1/">ESO/M. Kornmesser</a>. <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/">CC-BY-4.0</a>. Image cropped.

Earlier this year, Konstantin Batygin, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology, joined Ira Flatow on Science Friday to discuss "Niku," the name for the newly discovered Kuiper Belt object with a wild orbit. (How wild, you ask?

This new 3-D printed glove can dupe fingerprint scanners

Nov 12, 2016
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/westmidlandspolice/7364794520/">West Midlands Police</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC-BY-SA 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

The latest wearable tech to get people talking isn’t an activity tracker or a watch. It’s a glove that gives the wearer an entirely new set of fingerprints, fooling even the best fingerprint scanners on the market.

An image of writer Margot Lee Shetterly
Aran Shetterly

From the 1940s through the 1960s, a group of elite black women mathematicians known as "human computers" helped NASA put rockets, and eventually astronauts, into space. The women began working with federal aeronautical agencies at the Langley Research Laboratory during World War II, computing endless sets of data while enduring racial segregation and discrimination of the Jim Crow South. 

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