Science & Technology

Science news

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First, don’t call them “octopi.” That is incorrect. The correct plural is octopuses or, more infrequently, octopodes.

Second, an octopus’ eight appendages are called arms, not tentacles.

Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve ever been bitten by a Bullet Ant, then you’ve experienced a “pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch nail embedded in your heel.”

Fortunately, you probably have never encountered a Bullet Ant. But Justin O. Schmidt, a biologist at the Southwest Biological Institute has. In fact, he has been bitten and stung close to a thousand times by a wide variety of painful creatures.

How might global warming affect air travel?

Jul 10, 2016

Recently, a United Airlines flight to Phoenix was forced to turn around and head back to Houston. The reason for the diversion? Extreme heat. With global temperatures rising, is this a sign of things to come?

The answer is both yes and no.

Marilyn Smith, a professor and associate director at Georgia Tech’s Vertical Lift Center of Excellence in Atlanta, says the aerospace industry has been addressing this problem for the past decade.

A Geological Tour From 30,000 Feet Up

Jul 8, 2016

Building Better Violins…With Science

Jul 8, 2016

Art and design students from across the country gathered in New York City last month to participate in the first-ever Biodesign Summit, the culmination of a semester-long challenge to conceptualize a biotech product for the future.

Turning Ocean Waves Into Drinking Water

Jul 3, 2016
photo of launching SAROS into the ocean
Michael Beswick/The Outer Banks Voice

A North Carolina start-up company is testing a device that turns ocean water into fresh drinking water. Their technology uses wave energy exclusively to power reverse osmosis.

Chris Matthews, Justin Sonnett and Laura Smailes co-founded EcoH20 Innovations in 2014, but its inaugural project’s roots go back a year further. Matthews and Sonnett began working on the SAROS desalination device during their senior year at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where they were both studying mechanical engineering.

California Institute for Regenerative Medicine

A new book suggests that within just 20 to 40 years, most human reproduction will take place in the lab, rather than the bedroom.

Hank Greely, a Stanford professor who teaches law and genetics, writes about this potential brave new world in, "The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction."

While the book title refers to the “end of sex,” Greely is not predicting the end of human sexuality.

If you’re looking for good science fiction books to bring with you on a trip or to the beach or on a visit to relatives you’d rather not speak to, Science Friday’s Ira Flatow is here to help.

Ira checked in with a couple of SciFi experts to find out what’s on their list for good summer reading.

Ann VanderMeer, a science fiction editor and anthologist based in Tallahassee, Florida, starts with these:

Version Control, by Dexter Palmer

Our options for fighting superbugs are dwindling

Jul 2, 2016
CDC/Wikimedia Commons

Imagine the following scenario: You discover that you have an infection — perhaps appendicitis, an abdominal infection or a urinary tract infection. You go to the doctor to get antibiotics, but your doctor tells you that oral antibiotics are no longer effective.

Your only option for treatment is to spend a week in the hospital on IV antibiotics. 

Checking In on Our Planetary Neighbors

Jul 1, 2016
Jason T. Cantley

Yes, what you see here is, in fact, a tomato.

Crack open the spiky burr, and if the tomato fruit isn’t quite ripe, you’ll see something resembling the fleshy, seedy tomatoes you might find in your supermarket aisle. But the color will look more “like the interior of a Granny Smith apple — that whitish [color with] a little bit of green tint,” says Chris Martine, a biology professor at Bucknell University.

In a matter of minutes, though, that fruit will begin to turn redder and redder, shriveling up into a hardened, dark mass.

It sounds like science fiction: a hyperloop that propels passengers traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in levitating pods through a nearly airless tube. Their pace rivals the speed of sound. The journey takes only 30 minutes.

Flowers give off electrical signals to bees

Jun 26, 2016

Bumblebees use a lot of tools to find nectar in flowers like visual cues and chemical signs. But, as it turns out, they’re also able to detect weak electrical signals that flowers give off.

Here are the people who make Google Doodles

Jun 26, 2016

Chances are, you know the thrill of heading to Google to do a search and finding … a doodle. Doodles — periodic illustrated takeovers of the Google logo — have graced the company’s homepage since before the company was even incorporated. 

“There are one or two geeks at Google that get excited about things like this,” says Google Doodle team leader Ryan Germick. “If you walked around a cafeteria at lunchtime you'd hear some pretty interesting things.” 

These are some of the darkest mysteries of our universe

Jun 26, 2016

Both philosophers and scientists are captivated by the concept of dark matter, dark energy and black holes.

“Human beings by nature have always been intrigued by the invisible,” says astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, author of "Mapping the Heavens."

Natarajan is a theoretical astrophysicist, a professor of physics and astronomy at Yale University. She's also spent much of her academic career studying philosophy. 

Chicken guns and other bizarre stories of the science of war

Jun 25, 2016

There are weapons we’ve all heard of: assault rifles, bombs, grenades and rocket launchers. But there are many tools of warfare that are less famous: chicken guns, stink bombs and maggots, for instance. 

Author Mary Roach has long been interested in the strange science of the human condition and in her new book, “Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War," she goes behind the front lines to investigate the sometimes bizarre science of humans at war. 

Aminatou Sow

Note: This program is a rebroadcast.

About five years ago, Aminatou Sow was working for a technology company in Washington D.C. and came across an article detailing how few women work in tech. The statistic did not match her personal experience as she knew of a number of women working in tech-related fields, from NASA to the National Security Agency.