Science & Technology

Science news

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.

That's the sound of a penny rolling round and round in a device called a gravity funnel. This was recorded at the Natural Science Center in Greensboro using WUNC's Make Radio iPhone app. It's part of a collaboration with the North Carolina Science Festival. You've likely seen this game, the coin launches from the top of a big round funnel and then spins, on edge, down to the collection jar underneath the hole at the bottom of the cone.

The Nature Research Center is now officially open. The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences held a grand opening for the new wing over the weekend.

Dave DeWitt: About 70,000 people attended the 24-hour grand opening of the Nature Research Center. Those who made it inside the 80,000 square foot facility touched animal skeletons, conducted robotic surgeries, and interacted with scientists.

Nature Research Center
NC Museum of Natural Sciences

Today is a long-awaited day in Raleigh, the Nature Research Center will open its doors to the public for the first time. It’s a $56 million wing of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. The 24-hour opening will feature demonstrations, bands, and live walk-throughs of the facility. The Nature Research Center is a dazzling array of technology, built to engage young minds.

The scientific concept of nano-technology became popular in the 1990s.  A conference this week in Durham focuses on the commercial applications of nano-technology.

Leoneda Inge:  Today kicks off a two-day Nanotech Commercialization Conference at American Tobacco in Durham.   John Hardin heads the office of Science and Technology at the North Carolina Department of Commerce, a sponsor of the conference.   He says there will be many researchers at the conference but also many business developers.

A major center for Smart Grid technology will be dedicated today in Raleigh.

Dave DeWitt: Engineers, faculty, and political leaders say the Triangle is fast becoming the east coast’s “Smart Grid Valley.” The comparison to Silicon Valley comes a little closer to reality today, when the first-ever demonstration center and testing lab for electric utilities in the nation is dedicated on N.C. State’s Centennial Campus.

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is introducing a Bio Tech facility later today in Winston-Salem.

Jeff Tiberii: What used to be an RJ Reynolds tobacco manufacturing and storage facility will now serve as Wake Forest BioTech place. The 242-thousand square foot facility will house about 450 people by the end of this year. It’s part of the Piedmont triad Research Park. Medical Center V.P. Doug Edgeton says the new site will have research projects in bio-chemistry, pharmacology, physiology, biomedical engineering and micro-biology.

North Carolina continues to be one of the national hot-beds for the Life Sciences.  Entrepreneurs, scientists and venture capitalists in the field are gathering today and tomorrow in Raleigh.

Leoneda Inge:  The CED Life Science Conference is in its 21st year and is one of the biggest events of its type in the southeast.  The idea is to bring some of the best and brightest Life Science companies face-to-face with investors.  Bob Ingram, a General Partner with Hattaras Venture Partners is one of the events co-chairs.

Scientists are used to relying on grants for funding, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. But a recent trend called "crowd-sourcing" could help small projects get underway. It's basically a kick starter campaign where the general public gives online donations for scientists' research. North Carolina State chemistry professor Walter Weare was able to pay for new equipment for his solar energy research using the method.

Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill are studying how doctors might use human genome sequencing in their private practices. The university is one of five institutions to receive a $6.4 million grant for the project. Scientists have spent the last two decades identifying and mapping each of the three billion groups of molecules that make up human DNA. UNC School of Medicine doctor Jim Evans says the next step is developing genomes as a reliable way to identify genetic diseases.

Researchers from NC State and UNC Chapel Hill are working on an improved blueprint for the Internet. The project is part of the National Science Foundation’s effort on “Future Internet Architecture.”  The team in North Carolina is focused on making more choices available to end-users. Ilia Baldine is a senior researcher at UNC.

Scientists from Duke University and the U-S Geological Survey will soon be collecting water samples in communities where there is the potential for shale gas exploration.  

Scientists will be collecting baseline data in Lee and Chatham counties.  The samples will come from private and public water supply wells.  Holly Weyers is director of the U-S Geological Survey North Carolina Water Science Center.  She says it’s important to get ground-water quality data before any drilling.

Some of the top bloggers and tech-savvy professionals will be in Raleigh for the next two days for the annual Internet Summit.

Internet Summit 2011 will feature more than 120 speakers and 80 presentations and panels.  This year’s keynote presenter is popular blogger, author and wine aficionado Gary Vaynerchuck of Wine Library T-V and Daily Grape.

North Carolina has seen its fair share of both flooding and drought over the past several years. One of the problems has been getting accurate information, especially in rural areas. Francios Birgand is a biological engineering researcher at N.C. State. He led the development of the 'Gauge-Cam'. He says he and his team wanted to explore the possibility of using wireless imaging technologies to help track water flows in streams and rivers.

Go Triangle

Triangle commuters with high tech devices like smart phones will have a new source for busing information. GoLive aims to be a one-stop source for all the information a bus rider might need. That includes arrival times and routes across different systems. John Tallmadge is Director of Commuter Resources for Triangle Transit. He says right now Triangle commuters can pull up a tool to find out information about certain bus systems.

Wake Forest University researchers are participating in a project aimed at better projecting upcoming world events.

Instead of using traditional experts, researchers are now enlisting about 1500 everyday citizens as part of a new crowdsourcing model. Wake Forest Associate Psychology Professor Eric Stone says researchers hope to one day better predict political uprisings, terrorist attacks, and even World Cup Winners.

The Triangle's four major universities are collaborating on a multi-year study of "soft matter." The National Science Foundation awarded a 6-year grant worth nearly 14-million dollars to researchers at Duke, UNC, NC State, and NC Central Universities. Soft matter is usually material that is squishy like proteins, D-N-A solutions, polymers, and gels. They can be assembled into structures that researchers hope will one day prove useful.

An experimental flood forecasting system will get a test with Hurricane Irene. Scientists have been experimenting with computer models since Hurricane Floyd produced heavier than expected flooding in 1999. The models are designed to predict how fresh water stream flow, ocean tides, and storm surge will interact. Suzanne VanCooten is a research hydro-meteorologist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory. She says one thing that's different this year from the lead-up to Hurricane Floyd is that many eastern North Carolina counties have been in a drought.