Science & Environment

Space
4:44 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Space Thief Or Hero? One Man's Quest To Reawaken An Old Friend

Early days: NASA's International Sun-Earth Explorer C (also known as ISEE-3 and ICE) was undergoing testing and evaluation inside the Goddard Space Flight Center's dynamic test chamber when this photo was snapped in 1976.
NASA

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 7:56 pm

More than 30 years ago, Robert Farquhar stole a spacecraft.

Now he's trying to give it back.

The green satellite, covered with solar panels, is hurtling back toward the general vicinity of Earth, after nearly three decades of traveling in a large, looping orbit around the sun.

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All Tech Considered
4:20 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Computers That Know What You Need, Before You Ask

Expect Labs' MindMeld app uses predictive computing to push information to us, instead of us having to ask.
Courtesy of Expect Labs

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 12:14 pm

We're already giving voice instructions to virtual personal assistants, like Apple's Siri. But artificial intelligence is getting even smarter. The next wave of behavior-changing computing is a technology called anticipatory computing — systems that learn to predict what you need, even before you ask.

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Shots - Health News
3:37 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Scientists Search For Toxins In Cigarette Smoke Residue

Long after the smoke is gone, carcinogenic chemicals remain.
Victoria Alexandrova iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 3:34 pm

Everybody knows smoking is hazardous. Being around someone who smokes isn't such a good idea either. "There's no safe amount of secondhand smoke," the surgeon general has said.

Now thirdhand smoke is getting scrutiny. What's thirdhand smoke? It's the residue from smoke that settles onto clothes, hair, furniture or anything else in a smoker's vicinity.

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Shots - Health News
2:39 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Even If You Don't Have Symptoms, You May Still Have The Flu

Just the sniffles? Could be the flu.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 7:33 pm

Fever, muscle aches, nausea — these are what we usually associate with having the flu.

But just because you don't exhibit these symptoms, it doesn't mean you don't have the flu, researchers say. And you could be just as contagious. In fact, their study found that roughly three-quarters of people with seasonal or pandemic flu show either no symptoms or mild ones that aren't usually linked to flu.

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The Two-Way
1:14 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Scientists Announce A Big-Bang Breakthrough

This image released Monday by Harvard-led researchers represents the gravitational waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background in the microsecond after the Big Bang.
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:19 pm

This post was update at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Researchers say they've discovered that gravitational waves rippled through the fabric of space-time in the first sliver of a second after the Big Bang — the first direct evidence for a mysterious, ultrarapid expansion at the dawn of the universe. If confirmed, it would represent one of the most profound insights in decades to emerge from the field of cosmology.

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Shots - Health News
5:04 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

Parenting In The Age Of Apps: Is That iPad Help Or Harm?

With tablet technology still relatively new, pediatricians are trying to understand how interactive media affects children.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 11:32 am

When it comes to media, parents all want to know: How much is too much for my child?

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician, professor and father of two, has spent a lot of time thinking about the effects of media on young children. Christakis tells NPR's Arun Rath that not all TV is bad.

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Technology
5:04 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

Photo Identification: The 'Best And Worst Way' To ID People

How easy is it to spot a fake ID?
Lai Seng Sin AP

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 6:35 pm

As an international armada of planes, ships and helicopters continues to comb the Indian Ocean for any sign of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, now missing for more than a week, Interpol confirms that two passengers aboard that flight were traveling on stolen passports.

Aviation experts say the incident highlights a major security gap at many airports: It is simply too easy to board a flight using someone else's photo ID.

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All Tech Considered
2:14 pm
Sun March 16, 2014

Physicists, Generals And CEOs Agree: Ditch The PowerPoint

John Paul Chou (right), a physics professor at Rutgers University, uses a whiteboard and answers questions during a forum at Fermilab.
Amanda Solliday Fermilab

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 3:53 pm

About six months ago, a group of physicists in the U.S. working on the Large Hadron Collider addressed a problem they've been having for a while: Whenever they had meetings, everyone stuck to the prepared slides and couldn't really answer questions that weren't immediately relevant to what was on the screen.

The point of the forum is to start discussions, so the physicists banned PowerPoint — from then on, they could only use a board and a marker.

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Humans
7:47 am
Sun March 16, 2014

Not-So-Objective Scientists Cling To Accepted Wisdom

NASA

Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 10:42 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Scientists are usually portrayed as highly rational seekers of the truth - and they are that. But they also have qualities that make them more similar to you and me than you might think. NPR's Joe Palca has a story that reveals that quite dramatically. Joe's been immersed in an NPR series called Joe's Big Idea, where he explores the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors. And from time to time, he drops by to share some of the interesting things he's learned. Hi, Joe.

JOE PALCA, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.

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Author Interviews
7:45 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Why'd The Scientist Cross The Road? To Figure Out Why You're Laughing

iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 6:03 pm

Here's a joke: A man is sitting on the porch with his wife one night when, out of the blue he says, "I love you." His wife says, "Was that you? Or was that the beer talking?" The man says, "That was me — talking to the beer."

Maybe you laughed at that and maybe you didn't, but either way, cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems wants to know whether you found it funny. In his new book HA! Weems explores the science "of when we laugh and why."

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