Science/Technology

Microscopic Hairs Keep Some Critters Clean

Nov 14, 2015

Are ALL Minnesotans Above Average?

Nov 12, 2015

World-famous Minnesotan Garrison Keillor often features the fictional MN town of Lake Woebegone in his show “A Prairie Home Companion,” as a place where “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average.”

David Myers, an author of textbooks on Social Psychology has used “A Prairie Home Companion” to coin a term that describes a certain type of social psychology phenomenon in which people believe they are better than the average person.

Is Football Bad for Your Brain?

Nov 12, 2015

At the beginning of his high school football season Blake Ripple’s football coach read aloud a sticker that said the helmets the teenage players would wear would not prevent head injury, only head fracture. 

Science Writer Sam Kean has had real-life experiences worthy of a horror film. During one such recent episode, he woke up from a night of sleep and found that he was unable to move, completely paralyzed, but fully awake. 

Kean isn’t the only one who’s had such an experience. Others have had similar episodes — waking from sleep to what they described as a “demon sitting on their chest” or an alien abduction. One woman in this state was even thought to be dead and was taken to a morgue before recovering the ability to move her limbs. 

He documented his own death by snakebite instead of going to the hospital

Nov 10, 2015

In September 1957, someone from the Lincoln Park Zoo brought a young 30-inch snake to the Chicago Natural History Museum. They asked for help identifying the snake. 

Famed herpetologist Karl P. Schmidt was working at the Natural History Museum at the time, and agreed to take a look at the snake. Schmidt was a well-known snake expert, prestigious in his field, adept at identifying snakes and so successful that he even had many species named after him. 

Did the Kepler telescope just find the first signs of alien life?

Nov 9, 2015

A recent paper published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society describes a star more than 1,400 light years away that dims and glows in a strange flickering pattern. A number of theories have been suggested to explain why this might be happening, but one of them has gained outsized public notice. 

Could this be an “alien megastructure.” We don't know — but maybe?

Wearable Superpowers for Earth and Beyond

Nov 7, 2015

In 1979, the cult classic sci-fi thriller Alien unleashed one of the most blood-chilling monsters in movie history. When it lurches from a dark spaceship vent (or a human chest), we feel Ripley’s fear.

Colin Ellard is a cognitive neuroscientist, and the author of “Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life.” His work involves studying how city grids, storefronts, and streetscapes effect our mood and our health.

His scientific career wasn't always focused on studying humans, however. At one time he was the world's leading expert on the visual system of the Mongolian gerbil. 

Discovering the Brain’s Ghoulish Glitches

Oct 31, 2015

Spider Stories That’ll Stick With You

Oct 31, 2015

Diary of a Snake Bite Death

Oct 31, 2015

What if scientists were able to forecast the spread of flu the way meteorologists forecast the weather? What if they could track the spread of the virus and predict if it has a 75 or 80 percent chance of striking ... you?

“The flu happens every year, but we still don't have a good idea of [important] factors, like who's going to be affected first, where that will happen and when exactly the peak week might be,” says Rumi Chunara, an assistant professor at the College of Global Public Health and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at New York University.

Monster Microbiome Mash

Oct 30, 2015

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Western New York is becoming greener, thanks to an Albany-based company. Monolith Solar Associates is set to break ground for a Niagara County solar farm that will feature 1,944 solar panels on November 2.

These scientists say they’ve found a cure for a type of congenital blindness

Oct 26, 2015

Just this month, drug manufacturer Spark Therapeutics said it successfully completed a phase III trial for an exciting new gene therapy treatment for inherited retinal dystrophies, a progressive disorder that can cause blindness. This means they're one step closer to putting a cure for congenital blindness actually on the market.

"The trial results are very exciting," says Katherine High, president and chief scientific officer of Spark Therapeutics. 

This parent-led bedtime story app will help your kid rock at math

Oct 25, 2015

A new study in the journal Science finds that a mobile app that prompts parents and kids to solve nightly number problems together greatly improves student achievement in math. The app, Bedtime Math, creates a kind of math story time.

Did Dark Matter Doom the Dinosaurs?

Oct 24, 2015

Scientists generally concur that the dinosaurs were killed off by a giant asteroid that struck Earth tens of millions of years ago. But what sent the asteroid hurtling this way?

Harvard University physics professor Lisa Randall has a creative new theory. She points the finger at a cluster of dark matter, a gravity-like force, as what sent an asteroid missile toward Earth.

To be fair, the US isn’t entirely a failure when it comes to IT. But its record? Really not that good, either.

Bob Charette, a contributing editor with IEEE Spectrum, has been analyzing the past 10 years of government tech mishaps. He points to the Pentagon’s Global Combat Support System as one example of government tech done right. It was completed early, under budget and, by many measurements, has been a phenomenal success. 

This new museum explores the effect humans are having on the natural world

Oct 23, 2015

Several years ago, after visiting a lot of natural history museums, Rich Pell, associate professor of art at Carnegie Mellon University, noticed the natural museums seemed to be missing a lot of what he considered the natural world. There were, for example few farm animals, almost no pets. 

The reason? Human involvement. Once humans start breeding and training animals, the animals are less and less likely to fit in a natural history museum. 

Mobile phones can stream videos, play songs, podcasts, audio books, even pay for your dinner bill. So why is it still so hard to hear the person on the other line? 

Science and technology writer Jeff Hecht says he doesn’t even own a smart phone. 

“I don't have a smartphone. I do have a dumb phone,” Hecht says, “The dumb phone does have one advantage — it's a flip phone. So there's a logical place to hold it to my mouth. One side's on my ear, one side's on my mouth I can feel where it is so it doesn't just drift off.”

Do or DIY This Halloween

Oct 20, 2015

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