Science/Technology

Tired of jogging? There’s an exosuit for that.

Jun 20, 2017

Talk about suiting up for a jog — researchers have developed an exosuit that helps runners use less energy.

The ensemble is no stiff, Iron Man-style exoskeleton — it looks more like a pair of belted spandex shorts. In the study, recently published in Science Robotics, researchers say that wearing the suit can cut the metabolic cost of a treadmill run by 5.4 percent.

For fish, the good and bad of warming ocean waters

Jun 19, 2017

As ocean temperatures rise, what will happen to the fish we eat?

According to a recent study published in “Progress in Oceanography,” some fish species will thrive in warmer waters — and others, not so much.

Using a detailed climate model and historical observation data, researchers at NOAA and The Nature Conservancy modeled the shifting thermal habitats of over 50 species along the Atlantic coast, from North Carolina to the Gulf of Maine.

How to make bionic limbs feel more natural

Jun 18, 2017
b
Juan Carlos Ulate/Reuters

When you flex your bicep, your muscle sends information to your brain, allowing you to feel your muscle contract without even having to glance at it. But if you have a bionic limb, you don’t get that same sensory feedback.

“When I move my bionic ankles, I don’t feel the movement of the ankles, and when the torque increases on my bionic ankle joints, I don’t feel that torque,” says Hugh Herr, who co-directs the Center for Extreme Bionics at MIT, and whose legs are amputated below the knee.

Just how much science is in forensic science?

Jun 17, 2017
7
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/westmidlandspolice/7170656948/">West Midlands Police</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>

On TV crime shows, forensic science always just manages to pinpoint the criminal in the span of a televised hour — and with 100 percent accuracy. But in real life, forensic science doesn’t always work so smoothly.

The Mindset For A Milkshake

Jun 17, 2017

The story of Magnus Hirschfeld, the ‘Einstein of sex'

Jun 14, 2017

Decades before Alfred Kinsey developed his scale for human sexuality, there was Magnus Hirschfeld — a doctor who dedicated his career to proving that homosexuality was natural.

Hirschfeld’s reasoning was simple: In turn of the 20th century Germany, where he lived, a law called Paragraph 175 made so-called “unnatural fornication” between men punishable by prison time.

Have you gotten your hands on a fidget spinner yet?

The brightly colored device can be spun, flipped and even tossed in one hand, and it’s been turning up in schools across the country.

Manufacturers say the fidget spinners can help relieve stress, but the toys have already been banned as distractions in some classrooms, sending kids back to the Stone Age of clicking pens and squeezing stress balls.

A Home For The Thirty Meter Telescope

Jun 10, 2017

The Sunscreen Of The Future

Jun 10, 2017

The Road To CRISPR

Jun 10, 2017

With stories of unhappy air travelers blanketing social media in recent months, one major airline is trying something new.

Delta Air Lines plans to install special bag-check kiosks at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, giving customers the chance to skip waiting in line for an agent. One of the new kiosks will include facial-recognition technology, using a camera to confirm passengers’ faces against their passport photos.

4
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/morigami/4540657675/">Kenta Morigami</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC-BY-SA 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

This year marks 50 years since the first microwave oven entered home kitchens. Called the Radarange, the machine sold for a whopping $495 in 1967, and we’ve been nuking our food ever since — but not without lingering questions about how the appliance even works.

Consider, for a moment, the musk ox.

The ancient animal looks a bit like a shaggy, long-haired bison and can be found roaming the cold, Arctic landscapes of places like Alaska, northern Canada and Greenland

Musk oxen “actually went extinct in Alaska in the 1890s, and the state brought them back,” says wildlife biologist Joel Berger, a professor at Colorado State University and senior scientist for the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society.

Bringing Sensation To Bionic Limbs

Jun 3, 2017

On August 21, the continental United States will experience its first total solar eclipse in nearly four decades. With the eclipse’s path stretching from Oregon all the way to South Carolina, cities like Kansas City, Missouri, and Nashville, Tennessee, will be swathed in daytime darkness for a few minutes — and at least a partial eclipse will be visible around the country.  

Marijuana could give a cognitive boost to older brains

May 30, 2017
9
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/medihuana/9906897843/">MarihuanayMedicina</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC-BY-SA 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Researchers have found a drug that reverses the effects of brain aging in mice — marijuana.

In the study, published in Nature Medicine, German and Israeli researchers tested the memory and cognition of 2-month-old “young” mice, 12-month-old “mature” mice and 18-month-old “old” mice after exposing them to low doses of THC (the main psychoactive component in marijuana) over a monthlong period. 

Once populous on the country’s mainland, the New Zealand sea lion was hunted to extinction there centuries ago. Recently, however, the mammal has been making a comeback: Fifteen New Zealand sea lion pups were born on the mainland last year.

Video producer Chelsea Fiske chronicled government efforts to protect the baby animals in a new film for Science Friday’s Macroscope series, “How to Save the World’s Rarest Sea Lion Pups.” She also discovered a pup in the process. 

1
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/_davidphan/16715426351/">David Phan</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Stargazers living in upper latitudes occasionally glimpse shimmering splashes of pink, blue and green in the night sky. The phenomenon, known as the aurora, is “a glitter bomb” of charged particles from the sun, says Liz MacDonald, a space plasma physicist at NASA.

The aurora is also notoriously ephemeral and can be difficult to track — which is where citizen science comes in. Recently, a group of aurora chasers in Canada saw something strange in the night sky: a purplish streak occurring further south than most auroras. “And they said, ‘What is this thing?’” MacDonald recalls.

When avians and airplanes collide, we tend to hear the big stories — like when a flock of birds crippled the engines of US Airways Flight 1549 in 2009, forcing a crash-landing in the Hudson River. (All 155 passengers and crew survived.)

But thousands of birds hit planes in the United States each year, to less fanfare. “There are somewhere around 13,000 bird strikes reported to civil aviation and another 4,000 to 5,000 from the military, so it’s quite a few birds every year,” says forensic ornithologist Carla Dove.

Jupiter Surprises In Its Closeup

May 27, 2017

Pages