How do you make a 100 meter telescope that folds down to 3 meters so you can tuck it inside a space vehicle? How do you make a heart stent that folds out inside the human body? In each case, researchers have turned to masters of origami, the thousand year-old art of paper folding.
On this show, we'll hear how paper folding went from a quaint, simple hobby, to an extensive work of art that achieves hundreds of intricate folds. We'll also hear how origami is used beyond the art world, in mathematics, science, and technology.
If you think about why you fiddle with your clock twice a year, there are probably two things that spring to mind: farmers and energy savings. Neither are the reasons why we have Daylight Saving Time, so I called Michael Downing, the author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, and asked him why these myths persist.
This is Hungerford, a large female snowy owl. Last summer she was just a hatchling — a gray ball of fuzz in the middle of the Arctic tundra. In the fall, newly equipped with adult plumage, she flew thousands of miles south until she reached the coast of Maryland. And this winter, she became an important part of an unprecedented research project.
Researchers at Yale have identified what they say is a more efficient way to screen thousands of spider neurotoxins against different pain receptors in the body. Above, the Peruvian Green Velvet tarantula.
From Faith Middleton: Science still can't say for sure why we need sleep, though we spend a third of our lives asleep, or trying to sleep. Those trying to sleep include the millions who have some sort of sleep issue, from insomnia to over-sleeping.
Can you name the five main ingredients in Sriracha?
Credit Reactions / YouTube
Credit Reactions / YouTube
Why peppers feel hot and mint feels cool: Our nerves (afferents) have receptors that sense low and high temperatures. The hot detectors, like TRPV1, also sense molecules (natural ligands) in peppers and mustard oil. The cold receptor, TRPM8, detects molecules in mint, such as menthol.
In 1962, the Nobel Prize was awarded to three scientists, James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins, for their work in discovering the fundamental structure of DNA: the double helix. Today, Watson, Crick, and Wilkins maintain international prestige for their findings.
Drug companies like operating in the shadows, but a recent move by Johnson and Johnson may change all that. In collaboration with Yale University's Open Data Access Project (YODA), the pharmaceutical giant will now share its clinical trial data with researchers.
As flu-watchers like to say, you can always count on influenza virus to surprise.
The latest revelation is that scientists have apparently been wrong about where new flu viruses come from. The dogma is that they always incubate in wild migratory birds, then get into domestic poultry, and then jump into mammals — especially pigs and humans.
Originally published on Sat February 15, 2014 6:11 pm
Sometimes it feels like all the fancy meteorological machinery and prognostication equipment is actually working. And that the weather folks may finally be able to predict — albeit with constant updates and countless hedge words — what the weather is going to be.
Researchers at a laboratory in California say they've had a breakthrough in producing fusion reactions with a giant laser. The success comes after years of struggling to get the laser to work and is another step in the decades-long quest for fusion energy.
Omar Hurricane, a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says that for the first time, they've produced significant amounts of fusion by zapping a target with their laser. "We've gotten more energy out of the fusion fuel than we put into the fusion fuel," he says.
Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 6:26 pm
The Copenhagen Zoo has faced worldwide criticism over its decision to euthanize a healthy two-year-old giraffe known as Marius.
As Scott reported, zoo veterinarians performed a public autopsy on Sunday and parts of the giraffe were fed to the lions. Animal rights groups were up in arms and an online petition received 20,000 signatures asking the zoo to reconsider.
There's been a surge in earthquakes in the U.S. over the last few years. In Texas, there are 10 times the number of earthquakes now than just a few years ago.
Scientists say it's likely linked to the boom in oil and gas activity, meaning that people who never felt the ground shake are starting to.
Here's how Pat Jones of Snyder, Texas, describes the earthquake that struck her town in 2010: "It just sounded like some car hit the back of our house. We got up and checked around and we didn't see anything or hear anything else."
Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 8:16 pm
There are different ways to think about animals. One way is to imagine them totally separate, not attaching to us, ever. "They are not brethren," wrote the great naturalist Henry Beston, "they are not underlings. They are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time." Animals and people, Beston thought, live in their own worlds while sharing the same streets, meadows, skies, homes. We mingle, but the gap between us is not crossable.
Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:42 pm
Take a close look at the stunning image above showing a newly formed impact crater on Mars: The blue streaks of material, known as ejecta, radiate 9 miles from the 100-foot crater, according to NASA.
The picture was taken from orbit by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Nov. 19. The same area was imaged by the MRO's Context Camera in July 2010 and again in May 2012 — with no crater in the first and a telltale surface scar in the second.
The first secret society, according to Theodore Ziolkowski, a Princeton-based scholar on the literature of cults and conspiracies, "consisted of Eve and the serpent and then it just kept going," Ziokowski writes.
The brain edits memories of the past, updating them with new information. Scientists say this may help us function better in the present. But don't throw those photos away.
The researchers used scenes like this to test memory. When an object's location and a background scene are presented together, they are remembered as a whole event (top). But when new information is presented, like a new location for the small object, that new location is tied to the old scene (bottom).
Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 8:04 am
Think about your fifth-birthday party. Maybe your mom carried the cake. What did her face look like? If you have a hard time imagining the way she looked then rather than how she looks now, you're not alone.
The brain edits memories relentlessly, updating the past with new information. Scientists say that this isn't a question of having a bad memory. Instead, they think the brain updates memories to make them more relevant and useful now — even if they're not a true representation of the past.
The asteroid belt, a ring of rubble between Mars and Jupiter, has sometimes been written off as discarded leftovers from the solar system's start. But new research published in the journal Nature shows that the belt actually formed during an unruly later era, when planets themselves were on the move.
Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 8:38 am
The National Weather Service is warning, once again, that brutally cold weather is going to be spreading across much of the nation, from the upper Midwest down to the deep South and up through the mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England.
The Weather Service even throws an exclamation point into its forecast for this week: