What does racism do to your health?

Jul 31, 2016
David Gray/Reuters

The videos of recent tragic shootings are disturbing and hard for anyone to watch. But it can be even harder if the person in the video looks like you.

In fact, researchers say that experiencing, witnessing, or even just hearing about discrimination could result in anxiety, depression, psychosis, or PTSD.

And early evidence suggests that racism can boost heart rate and blood pressure, and ultimately influence life expectancy in people of color.

The real science in the new Ghostbusters

Jul 30, 2016

In a film about the paranormal, what possible role could science play behind the scenes? As it turns out, several scientists were involved in the creation of the new Ghostbusters film.

Physicists James Maxwell, a staff scientist at the Department of Energy’s Jefferson Lab, and Lindley Winslow, an assistant professor of physics at MIT, both got the call to bring their expertise to the big screen. 

Photographer Deborah Samuel began her latest project after experiencing a series of profound losses, of family and other loved ones.

“It seems that as soon as one left, the next one came up, and it was even worse,” she says. One afternoon, sitting in her backyard and watching the birds fly, she was overcome by their elegance and freedom. That’s when she knew: “I had to find that beauty again.”

Should we be protecting historic sites in space?

Jul 25, 2016

Nearly 47 years ago, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin emerged from Apollo 11 and became the first humans to set foot on the moon. In addition to leaving their iconic footprints, the crew left equipment and memorabilia scattered on the lunar surface. 

Archaeologist Beth O’Leary says that the landing area constitutes an archaeology site that should be preserved. 

This is how radically unrecognizable life might be on other planets

Jul 24, 2016

Researchers have found that Saturn’s moon Titan could have the right chemical conditions to create precursors to life, although the chemistry — based on hydrogen cyanide and a molecule called polyimine — wouldn’t lead to life as we know it here on Earth.

Does human specimen research always need consent?

Jul 24, 2016

Should scientists be allowed to study your biological specimens — such as blood, urine or tissue samples — if you haven’t expressly given them permission?

What if the samples were left over from a doctor’s visit or a different study that you did consent to, and stripped of information that would identify you? 

Will heat waves cause more deaths as the climate warms?

Jul 23, 2016

In June, a heat wave in the American southwest sent the mercury soaring over 115 degrees in parts of Arizona. At least four deaths were linked to that heat wave.

Considering that 2016 is predicted to be the hottest year on record worldwide, and that last month was declared the hottest June on record in the United States, how could climate change influence the number of heat-related deaths we see?

The Shocking Behavior of Leaping Eels

Jul 23, 2016

Building Better Violins…With Science

Jul 13, 2016

Checking In on Our Planetary Neighbors

Jul 13, 2016

How might global warming affect air travel?

Jul 10, 2016

Recently, a United Airlines flight to Phoenix was forced to turn around and head back to Houston. The reason for the diversion? Extreme heat. With global temperatures rising, is this a sign of things to come?

The answer is both yes and no.

Marilyn Smith, a professor and associate director at Georgia Tech’s Vertical Lift Center of Excellence in Atlanta, says the aerospace industry has been addressing this problem for the past decade.

A Geological Tour From 30,000 Feet Up

Jul 8, 2016

Building Better Violins…With Science

Jul 8, 2016

Jupiter probe Juno arrives successfully

Jul 5, 2016

NASA staff spent their Independence Day evening not watching fireworks but instead successfully securing orbit for its latest Jupiter-bound space probe.

How we react to vocal fry in music depends on the gender of the singer

Jun 13, 2016
Alessia Pierdomenico/Reuters

Vocal fry, a speech pattern that is characterized by a throaty, low register, has become an increasingly popular topic of conversation. That creaky sound can be heard in pop music from artists like Britney Spears and Enrique Iglesias. Unsure of how to create vocal fry? 

“You just have to try talking like a Kardashian and see what comes out of that,” says vocalogy researcher at the University of Texas San Antonio Mackenzie Parrott. 

Still not sure what it sounds like? 

Could brain infection set the stage for Alzheimer’s?

Jun 13, 2016

One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is the buildup of the protein amyloid-beta in the brain. Several years ago neurobiologist Rob Moir began wondering about the function of amyloid-beta. Surely it couldn’t just be junk, gumming up the brain? His studies on this protein may be overturning some 30 years of assumptions about what causes Alzheimer’s. 

Moir first began wondering about amyloid-beta over Friday night drinks at a bar. 

How your phone could help scientists detect and measure an earthquake

Jun 12, 2016
David Moir/Reuters

Developers are creating apps that can tap into the sensors in your smart device to measure different aspects of your environment, such as your number of footsteps or your heartbeat. And now there’s an app to measure your surrounding seismic activity.

Seismologist Richard Allen, who worked to develop MyShake, says the app uses the sensing abilities already built into smartphones. 

What science says about e-cigarettes

Jun 12, 2016

Battery-powered e-cigarettes have become wildly popular over the last decade, especially among teenagers and young adults. At least some of this popularity stems from their marketing as safe alternatives to conventional, combustible cigarettes, as well as their many, often fruity flavors.

But how much do we understand about the safety of e-cigarettes, or the more than 7,000 e-liquids on the market?

The Hyperloop: From Pipe Dream to Possible

Jun 10, 2016

An all-female car race team from Rochester Institute of Technology finished third place in the electric category in its first global event. In early May, Hot Wheelz took part in the Formula Hybrid at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The secret life of animals, captured on camera

May 24, 2016

Scientists trying to learn about the lifestyles of elusive critters (tigers and cougars come to mind) have their work cut out for them.

Many animals will smell or hear a researcher long before the researcher sees them. As for observing nocturnal animals? Forget it. But in the last few years, many wildlife researchers studying animals in their natural habitat have had a technological assist from camera traps. These devices lie in wait until a passing animal triggers their motion sensor.

Then, click! — a candid shot of a creature in the wild.

As the weather warms in the southern Appalachians, the blue ghosts start to appear.

No, they’re not otherworldly or apparitional — they’re just insects. Blue ghost fireflies (Phausis reticulata), native to the region, begin their mating season as spring slides into summer, usually around the beginning of June, although they’re already starting to appear this year, says Jennifer Frick-Ruppert, a professor of biology and environmental science at Brevard College in North Carolina.