Science & Technology

Science news

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:

House Wade Avenue Pump Station
Eric Mennel

 Update: 1/27/14, 10:35 a.m.: Nine days after our story "What's Inside This House On Wade Avenue" premiered here, the video story has 857,751 views on YouTube (and counting). The story has broken all previous records for WUNC in terms of page and video views. Find a new interview with the star of the show, Perry Allen, construction projects administrator for the city of Raleigh, below the story.

What's Inside This House On Wade Avenue?

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.

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