Science/Technology

Order from any number of Chinese takeout restaurants these days, and you may notice that many menus boast “NO ADDED MSG.” The label can also be found in supermarket aisles on snack foods or on packaged seasonings.

The labels are meant to ease consumers’ worries, because MSG, which is used as a flavor enhancer, has for decades been popularly linked to various health problems, such as headaches and allergic reactions. It's even been considered a factor in infant obesity.

Picture of the Week: DNA Bunny

Mar 12, 2019

The candy-colored bunny above looks good enough to eat, but it’s no Easter leftover. This is a 3-D-printed model of a microscopic, rabbit-shaped structure made entirely out of DNA. An enlarged picture of that tiny structure (which is 50 nanometers long) appears at left. Can you make out its cottontail shape? 

WBFO file photo

As Buffalo endures severe cold and blizzard conditions, skeptics of climate change point to the weather and suggest it's proof that global warming is nothing more than hot air. Meterologists explained to WBFO why it's the contrary.

The following is an excerpt from Brain Storms, by Jon Palfreman. Listen to SciFri on September 18, 2015, to hear Palfreman talk more about Parkinson's disease.

The Octopus Whisperer

Jan 24, 2019

This article is part of a Science Friday spotlight about cephalopods. Get involved using the hashtag  #CephalopodWeek.

Target grades: 4th +

Content Areas: General Science, Mathematics

Topics: Experimental design, variation, variables

Time required: 60 minutes, including lollipop-licking time

Standards:

NGSS: Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Picture of the Week: Cock-Eyed Squid

Jan 24, 2019

This activity is part of a Science Friday spotlight about cephalopods. Get involved using the hashtag #CephalopodWeek.

In the midst of “the twilight zone”—the ocean realm ranging from 200-1,000 meters below the surface—roams this small cephalopod.

Does Sound Affect the Way We Taste?

Jan 24, 2019

The next time you eat out in a restaurant, consider the sounds around you. Is there music playing? Just the gentle hum of other people’s conversations? Maybe it’s loud and booming, maybe it’s relatively quiet.

Whatever the acoustic atmosphere, it could be affecting how you experience the flavor of the food and drink you’re consuming, according to a growing body of research.

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

It's a gene-editing technology which offers promise in both medicine and agriculture but also comes with serious ethical and moral considerations. University at Buffalo students are now getting hands-on training, and taking on the ethical questions, in what is known as CRISPR.


NASA/JPL-Caltech

After seven minutes of high anxiety - attempting to touch down a billion-dollar spacecraft on another planet after slowing it down several thousands of miles per hour can do that to your nerves - NASA's latest Mars spacecraft signaled its safe touchdown on the Red Planet. Now, InSight prepares to get to work learning more about the planet by scanning below its surface. A local astronomer says if there's water to be found on Mars, underground is where you'll find it.


Updated 5:37 p.m. ET

Facebook says that it has discovered a security breach affecting nearly 50 million accounts and that it's not yet clear whether any information was accessed or any accounts were otherwise misused.

The vulnerability that caused the breach was found Tuesday and was fixed on Thursday night, Facebook says. It was the result of bugs introduced into Facebook's code in July 2017. No passwords or credit card numbers were stolen, the company says.

WBFO Photo

In September of 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico with 175 mph winds, cutting the island in half and unleashing torrents of rain and devastation. Now, almost a year later, Buffalo is helping displaced students rebuild their education while Puerto Rico is still rebuilding from the storm.


When artist Matthew Reinhart gets an idea for a children’s book, he scribbles a note to himself about what he wants the illustrations to do. Things like, “T-Rex head bites reader.”

“That's it,” Reinhart says. “I don't know how it's going to happen with all the engineering. I just know that’s what I want to happen.”

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

Now that the Buffalo Museum of Science has restored its rooftop telescope and reopened its observatory, the public has a chance to use it. Beginning this week, scheduled viewing sessions may be arranged, weather permitting, by reservation.


Central NY drone corridor left out of national project

May 23, 2018
Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

The 50-mile drone corridor that the state is building in central New York will not be part of a new federal pilot program meant to accelerate drone integration into national airspace.

The Buffalo Museum of Science, BSNS Q 257

A recent discovery at the Buffalo Museum of Science has the scientific community buzzing. A team uncovered a fully-intact elephant bird egg while digitally cataloging the museum’s oological collection.

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<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/7163119505/in/album-72157623343484405/">NASA/Kathryn Hansen</a>. <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a>&nbsp;(image cropped)

It’s 2017. What does a scientist look like?

If the first image that popped into your head was an older man with frizzy hair and a white lab coat, surrounded by bubbling test tubes, you’re not wrong — the Einsteinlike “mad scientist” is still a prevailing image in popular culture.

Book creates buzz about native bees of North America

Apr 19, 2018

When it comes to bees, honeybees get all the attention. But as a new book will tell you, honeybees are just one fraction of the many types of bees buzzing outside the collective consciousness of most Americans.

Researchers explore the fascinating biomechanics and neuroscience of bats

Apr 13, 2018

They are associated with dark caves, bloodthirsty vampires and one of the most famous superheroes of all time. But for all we know about bats, a lot is unknown to the general public — from how they fly and land to how they find objects in front of them.

Study examines how diseases really spread during air travel

Apr 11, 2018

We’ve all heard it before: With tight quarters and recirculated air, commercial airplane passengers are just asking to catch a cold or some other spreadable disease — especially if another passenger is coughing in close proximity.

Liam James Doyle/NPR

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is testifying on Capitol Hill to answer questions about protecting user data. The hearing held by the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees follows news that the data-mining and political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained personal information of up to 87 million Facebook users. The firm is accused of using that information to target Facebook users with political advertising in 2016. The two Senate committees are holding a joint hearing called "Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data."

Gabriel Ugueto largely cultivated his lifelong fascination with dinosaurs by going to the movies as a kid. He cannot name his favorite one.

"There's nothing that looks like them today and they are so impressive. They dominated life on Earth for so long. They were so well adapted to the environment,” he says.

"I think I'm a little bit partial to theropods, which is this group of dinosaurs that are carnivorous like Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor, but honestly it's very difficult. I love them all."

Blockchain. At the most recent South by Southwest Conference earlier this month, it was one of the top buzzwords floating around the various pockets of conversation. A large majority of the people talking about it there, though, were men.

Even though the blockchain movement has the potential to have innumerable effects on our everyday lives, one estimate puts this new tech space at being currently 95 percent filled by men — but there are growing initiatives to bring more women into the fold.

Can the US protect its power grid from hackers?

Apr 7, 2018

One does not have to go far these days to hear or read a story about Russian cyber interference affecting life in the United States.

There is one mode of meddling that could hit closest to home: a possible attack on the American power grid.

Study begins to reveal genetic ties behind a neurological phenomenon

Mar 31, 2018

When you hear a particular piece of music, can you see an accompanying color? Or do certain letters stir up certain colors?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, than you may have what is known as synesthesia. An estimated four percent of the world’s population have the neurological condition that may best be described as a blurring of the senses.

It maybe be hard to believe, but the 20th anniversary of the International Space Station’s initial launch will take place in November. In those soon-to-be two decades, the ISS has proven to be immensely helpful in helping facilitate research on microgravity — and it remains the only destinations for astronauts moving through Earth’s lower orbit.

It may be hard to believe, but the 20th anniversary of the International Space Station’s initial launch will take place in November. In those soon-to-be two decades, the ISS has proven to be immensely helpful in facilitating research on microgravity — and it remains the only destinations for astronauts moving through Earth’s lower orbit.

New book looks at medical cures now considered 'quackery'

Mar 23, 2018

Placing red-hot irons on someone's temple for headaches. Drinking mercury for syphilis. Rubbing pimples on dead bodies for acne. All of these remedies to various maladies seem ridiculous now, but at one point they were not.

They are just some of the some of the crazy “medical cures” that are highlighted in a new book written by Lydia Kang: “Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything.”

New book explains the secrets behind famous skyscrapers, other structures

Mar 23, 2018

Roma Agrawal spends a lot of time thinking of the sheer power of concrete. She’s a structural engineer who helped design The Shard in London, an iconic 95-story skyscraper that opened in 2012.

“What I really like about it is that it has so many different forms,” Agrawal says. “It's quite an indeterminate material … I just love the fact that it can be anything you want it to be."

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