Science/Technology

Climate change might leave a bad taste in your mouth. Literally.

Apr 3, 2017

The conversation about food and climate change often centers on how a warming climate will affect the quantity of food we can harvest. But as it turns out, a warmer world could change the quality, even the flavor, of our favorite foods, too — from the maple syrup that we slather on our pancakes to the tea that we brew before work.

“Tea is similar to maple syrup, in that it needs specific environmental conditions for an ideal harvest,” says Selena Ahmed, an assistant professor of sustainable food and bioenergy systems at Montana State University.

Does the idea of a self-driving ambulance freak you out?

Apr 2, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasa/14180432046/">Paul Sableman</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Would you want a ride to the hospital in a self-driving ambulance?

If you caught yourself hesitating, you’re not alone. Researchers from the Florida Institute of Technology and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University recently found that many people are less willing to be transported in a driverless ambulance than a regular one — significantly less willing, as it turns out.

The mid-March blizzard that blanketed parts of the Northeast in several feet of snow may have been a freaky turn of weather, but it didn’t take us by surprise, thanks to the "eagle eyes" of satellites.

A week before the storm hit, a weather satellite run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began monitoring the collision course of two low-pressure systems, from its position 22,300 miles above the Atlantic Ocean.

Tweaking the Dinosaur Family Tree

Apr 1, 2017

Falling Into New Ideas

Apr 1, 2017

Engineering a Better Bionic Arm

Apr 1, 2017

A Life Robotic

Apr 1, 2017

See how Tuvan throat singers can sing multiple notes at once

Mar 28, 2017

For traditional singers in Tuva, a Russian republic nestled between Siberia and Mongolia, capturing the sounds of their homeland is no easy task: Winds howl across the remote steppes, herds of animals bray and gallop, and water bubbles from mineral springs.

Before plate tectonics, the Earth may have been covered by one giant shell

Mar 27, 2017

The Earth’s outer layer is split into slabs, called tectonic plates. As the plates slide across the Earth’s surface, their constant, often violent interactions with one another create volcanoes, earthquakes, rifts and mountain ranges. But the Earth may not always have been shaped this way.

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JaeRan Kim

The push to get more electric vehicles on the road has been hampered by the lack of readily available charging stations. Remedying that problem isn’t a quick fix, since it takes a lot of work to build up the necessary infrastructure. Some are taking advantage of the slow transition to build a business around the need for charging.

On a recent Friday, Desmond Wheatley, president and CEO of Envision Solar, was backing his Chevy Bolt into an EV Arc station in the parking lot of the Rancho Park Golf Course in Los Angeles.

Like many freelancers, Rochelle LaPlante is paid by the piece. “So, I have to balance doing it fast enough to make it worth my time, but also make sure I'm doing high-quality work,” she says.

But LaPlante’s job isn’t the writing or design work you might expect in today’s gig economy. She’s an independent content moderator, tasked with keeping unwanted, sometimes graphic content off the social apps and websites we use every day. “So, it's like modern-day piecework, but with the added layer of psychological stress,” she says.

Can Geometry Root Out Gerrymandering?

Mar 25, 2017

Training Docs Around the Clock

Mar 25, 2017

Retelling the Story of the BP Oil Spill

Mar 25, 2017

03/23/17: Uploading the human mind to a machine

Mar 23, 2017
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Marketplace

The physical sports world is now trying to capitalize on the digital sports world. We'll look at the NBA's plan to launch eLeague, a group that'll feature top-notch video gamers who compete against one another. Afterwards, we'll chat with author Luke Dormehl about the history and future of artificial intelligence.

Bacteria are thriving in the sky — and they influence the weather

Mar 22, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/chriswaits/13870530113/">Chris Waits</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>

Ever since Antoni van Leeuwenhoek first observed “animalcules” through a microscope in the late 1600s, we’ve been finding bacteria all over. They’ve been discovered in deep sea vents, on human skin, and deep in Antarctic ice. There are even bacteria all the way up in the clouds. Strange and wonderful, no?

03/22/17: Shattering stereotypes about programmers

Mar 22, 2017
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Lizzie O'Leary and Eliza Mills

Ads on YouTube have been running next to videos with content that could be defined as hate speech. After receiving complaints from advertisers, the site is now changing its policies. We'll take a look at the new settings YouTube will provide companies with to avoid the issue in the future. Afterwards, we'll chat with Joel Spolsky, the CEO of Stack Overflow, about why some developers feel underpaid and the skills required to succeed in the profession.

 

 

There's a sweet new test for pee in the pool

Mar 21, 2017

The artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium (ACE) can be found in everything from chewing gum, to baked goods, to the packets of sugar substitute on restaurant tables. But researchers at the University of Alberta recently made headlines with the announcement that they’d found ACE somewhere else: in 31 swimming pools and hot tubs.

Museums embrace virtual reality

Mar 21, 2017
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Adrienne Hill

Between the megamouth shark, the bison diorama, and gangs of excited school kids, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has added a virtual reality exhibit called theBlu.

For an extra $10, on top of the $12 general admission fee, visitors can strap on a headset and explore the virtual ocean. A blue whale swims overhead. A school of silvery fish darts by. Visitors use virtual flashlights to explore the abyss.

Another way to grow crops — by laying down the plow

Mar 20, 2017

At a time when many modern farmers face problems like soil erosion, nutrient loss and drought, the black dirt on Doug Palen’s family farm is a field apart: Its health and texture just keep improving.

“Its organic matter continues to rise, and it just continues to perform even better than it did,” Palen says.

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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/bearpark/2706701983/">Simon James</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Here’s an unexpected story: Scientists are working on a drug to stimulate ear hair growth.

In this case, the ear hairs in question are actually tiny, sensory hair cells in our cochlea. We have about 15,000 of them in each ear, and they’re crucial to helping us detect sound waves. But the little cells are also very fragile.

New report gives cautious support for embryonic gene editing in humans

Mar 19, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/lunarcaustic/3233482244">lunar caustic</a>/<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

Last month, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine released a report about the use of gene editing techniques like CRISPR on human embryos. The new report, coming from two globally respected scientific organizations, suggests the technique could be warranted in certain cases — not just in the laboratory, but in real life.

NASA was big on the internet in late February, when it announced that scientists had discovered seven Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting an ultra-cool dwarf star, 40 light-years away.

The planets are closer to their cool star than Mercury is to the sun, and scientists think they could all be temperate enough to hold liquid water — a key ingredient for life. Not surprisingly, the scientific community is abuzz about what the planets hold, water and otherwise.

Why Are We Here? Physics Has Answers.

Mar 18, 2017

Visualizing the Beauty of Vibrato

Mar 18, 2017

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