Science & Technology

Science news

An entirely renewable energy future is possible, a new study says

Sep 9, 2017
Courtesy of the US Department of the Interior

A new study finds that countries around the world could shift their economies entirely to renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and hydroelectric, by the year 2050.

The researchers map out the blend of energy sources that each of 139 countries would need to completely switch their energy to electric power. The report was first published in the journal Joule.

Peeking Under The Skin Of Aging Aircraft

Sep 9, 2017

Bad Plumbing? There Goes The Empire

Sep 9, 2017

'13 Reasons Why' suicide controversy continues

Sep 6, 2017

When the Netflix series "13 Reasons Why" debuted last spring, it sparked widespread discussion about how TV and movies should handle the issue of teen suicide. Now that the show is scheduled to begin its second season in 2018, the controversy will likely continue.

<a href="">WerbeFabrik</a>/<a href="">CC0</a>. Image cropped.

When it comes to getting new drugs on the market, testing and clinical trials can take years — but patients with rare or life-threatening illnesses don’t always have that long to wait.

To treat these patients, the Food and Drug Administration accelerates approval of some promising drugs, letting them onto the market based on physical indicators and lab measurements. But afterward, manufacturers must conduct post-approval clinical trials to confirm the drugs’ safety and efficacy.

Man stares at phone in dark room. / Flickr - Creative Commons -

Manoush Zomorodi, host of WNYC tech podcast “Note to Self,” has spent years thinking about how people interact with technology. Zomorodi led tens of thousands of listeners through an experiment to help them unplug from their devices. 

From day one of the Oroville spillway crisis in February, the California Department of Water Resources has never wavered in its declarations that, despite the disintegration of the massive concrete flood control outlet — and a near-disaster caused by uncontrolled emergency reservoir flows down a rapidly eroding hillside — the stability of the massive dam itself was not and has never been threatened.

What the aye-aye and the woodpecker can tell us about how evolution works

Sep 3, 2017

Is the evolution of particular traits predictable or random? Or put it this way: If we rewound the tape on Earth’s history and started life over again from the very beginning, would the same animals — even humans — still emerge?

The sweet stories of fake fruit flavors

Sep 3, 2017

What do icy cherry popsicles, sweet grape sodas and sticky banana taffy have in common?

For one, we don’t expect them to taste much like the real fruits they’re meant to mimic — but their artificial flavors are familiar and intense, all the same. Where did these fake fruit flavors come from, and why, in 2017, do they still taste so little like the real thing?

How to make biometric technology more secure

Sep 2, 2017

Fingerprint scanners now come standard on most new smartphones, and some devices even feature iris scanners and 2-D facial recognition technology. But with every new step forward in biometrics, it seems a way to “spoof” the technology follows soon behind — from fingerprint replicas to high-resolution photographs of faces and eyes. So, what’s on the horizon in biometric security, and how can we make the technology more secure?

What happened to the moon’s magnetic field?

Sep 2, 2017

The moon doesn’t have a magnetosphere, unlike Earth. The protective bubble shields our upper atmosphere from solar wind — and, it's what makes compasses point north. But billions of years ago, scientists say, the moon did have its own magnetic field. 

Hurricane Harvey And The New Normal

Sep 2, 2017
Courtesy of James Costa

There is no doubt that Charles Darwin’s trip to the Galapagos Islands in the 1830s changed his life’s work. It  put him on the path to develop his game-changing theory of evolution. But Darwin’s observations were not isolated to one exploration. For years after his pivotal excursion, Darwin conducted unorthodox and innovative experiments to test his speculations, and he often did so in his own backyard. 

Jurassic Park at Universal Studios
Marco Becerra / Flickr - Creative Commons -

Dinosaurs have graced the silver screen since the early 20th century. But depictions of the pre-historic creatures in movies are often comically inaccurate. 

National Park Service

When it comes to volcanoes, there isn’t exactly a crystal ball that will tell scientists when the next eruption will take place, but there is crystal debris that is helping researchers see what’s going on below the surface of a volcano.

These crystals, formed in the magma chamber, are ejected along with the lava and volcanic ash during an eruption. Trapped inside these crystals is a bit of magma, preserving all the details of what it was like inside the chamber.

Sweating is an essential and uniquely human function

Aug 28, 2017

Most furry mammals pant to regulate their body temperature. Other animals, like ectotherms — lizards, amphibians, and insects — have other behaviors that help keep them cool. Humans, however, are in a category of our own.

We are the only mammal that relies on secreting water onto the surface of our skin to stay cool: We call it sweating. But how did we develop this ability? When did we ditch the fur of our primate ancestors in favor of sweaty skin?

Why are humans so curious?

Aug 27, 2017

Humans are innately curious creatures. But have you ever wondered why?

Astrophysicist Mario Livio has. And now, he explores this question in a new book, "Why? What Makes Us Curious."

“I chose this particular word, ‘why,’ because this particular question is uniquely human,” Livio says. “Other animals are curious, but only humans are worried and curious about reasons and causes for things. Only humans really ask the question, ‘Why?’”


In early August, researchers announced they had genetically edited human embryos, the first such experiment reported in the United States.

In an article, published in the journal Nature, scientists revealed that CRISPR — a type of “molecular scissors” — could be used to switch a mutated gene from one parent for a healthy gene inherited from another parent. (The embryos, created in a lab dish, were destroyed after several days, as planned.)

Don’t Throw Away Those Eclipse Glasses!

Aug 26, 2017

Your Teenager’s Brain Isn’t Deficient

Aug 26, 2017