Science/Technology

A Mood Ring for Your Wrist

Feb 18, 2017

There's 'alien soil' growing deep underground

Feb 15, 2017

Almost one-third of a mile underground, in the dark, damp vaults of the vast Frasassi cave system in central Italy, curious patterns appear on the walls. Stretching for miles, the designs are slimy to the touch, similar to the consistency of wet clay.

“The most simple phrase I can think of [to describe them] would be alien soil,” says Jennifer Macalady, an associate professor of geosciences at Penn State University.

These geeky valentines will warm your heart

Feb 13, 2017

Our friends over at Science Friday couldn't resist creating these fun, geeky Valentines. 

Here’s how they work:

There’s an old, insidious stereotype that men are brainier than women — that somehow they’re more dazzling, more genius. And that notion can have wide-ranging effects on women’s career decisions: One study recently found that there are fewer women than men in academic fields that place a premium on “innate brilliance” — like physics, philosophy and computer science.

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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/obamawhitehouse/24129408002/">Official White House photo by Pete Souza</a>

For years, fighting the spread of child pornography online was like playing a dark game of whack-a-mole: Scrub an image of abuse from one location, and it would just rear its head again later, in another corner of the web.

That is, until 2008, when Dartmouth College computer scientist Hany Farid teamed up with Microsoft. Together, they built a tool that could compare an image’s digital signature, or “hash,” against a database of known child pornography, cataloged by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Can we develop immunity against fake news?

Feb 11, 2017

In the run-up to last fall’s US presidential election, fake news swept social media sites like a virus, unleashing alternative facts that many people thought were real. One reason we may have been so susceptible to false facts? A consensus is powerful, experts say — especially when our brains are handling a lot of information quickly.

Why So (Heat) Sensitive?

Feb 11, 2017

The casual observer — or beachgoer — probably doesn't give too much thought to the reproductive lives of seahorses.

After all, it’s a classic storyline, right? Boy seahorse meets girl seahorse, seahorse gets pregnant, and a few weeks later, a bouncing brood of baby seahorses are born.

But that would be skimming over the coolest part about seahorse reproduction: “They're the only vertebrates — seahorses and pipefish, a group of about 300 species — where the males become truly pregnant,” says Luke Groskin.

Wearable, implantable ‘soft robots’ could someday make our bodies stronger

Feb 7, 2017

Heart failure — when the heart is too weak to pump enough blood through the body — affects nearly 6 million American adults. But recent innovations in muscle-like “soft robots” may someday provide a respite for heart failure patients, and patients suffering from a host of other muscular ailments.

Soft robots “are very different from conventional robots with rigid parts, but they're robotic in the sense that you can program them to achieve a predefined motion,” says Ellen Roche, a postdoctoral researcher at the National University of Ireland.

“Overall, discovering the world is a complicated business,” says the theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli. “And it goes slowly. It has always gone slowly. And it's still going slowly now, I believe.”

What would you do with data from more than 2 billion trips taken with the ride-booking service Uber?

Soon, you'll be able to explore the possibilities. The company recently debuted a new online tool called Movement, which provides data like ride durations between two points, based on GPS information. The tool is a dream for city planners and local governments, who can use it to learn more about commute patterns, and target infrastructure projects. And in the coming months, Uber wants to make Movement accessible to everyone.

The Secrets of Sticky Frog Saliva

Feb 4, 2017

Sure, they're space rocks that sometimes hurtle past Earth a little too close for comfort — asteroids, that is. But for researchers involved in two new NASA missions titled Lucy and Psyche, asteroids are much more than an occasional nuisance: They're time capsules that could unlock secrets of the early solar system.

Almost half of what we do at work could be automated by 2055

Jan 28, 2017
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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/skewgee/3161505670/">Matthew Hurst</a>. <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">CC BY-SA 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

Almost half the activities people are paid to do globally could be automated using current levels of technology, according to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute.

But before we start fretting about job security — or daydreaming about lives of leisure surrounded by "Jetsons"-style robot staff, the report includes a few other key details.

Building an Immunity to Fake News

Jan 28, 2017

How States Can Step Up for Science

Jan 28, 2017

The only physicist in Congress, on the state of science on the Hill

Jan 23, 2017

When the 115th Congress was sworn in on Jan. 3, there was no shortage of solemn ceremony, smiling children and photo ops with Joe Biden. But one thing the room lacked? Scientists.

“At this point, I think I am the only Ph.D. scientist of any kind [in Congress],” says Bill Foster, D-Illinois. “We have some political scientists, I think a mathematician, but it feels sort of lonely.”

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