Brewing biofuel

Brewing biofuel
The struggle to make fuel from wastes from farm, factory and forest continues. What’s keeping cellulosic biofuel out of the market? Will biofuel from algae beat cellulose to the gas pump? More »

3-D printing: Wave of the future

3-D printing: Wave of the future

Layer by layer, 3-D printers fuse tiny particles of plastic or metal, building complex parts from computer instructions — forget hold the prototype or template! How good are these parts? What are they used for? Are 3-D printers the wave of the manufacturing future? More »

Store more. Much more!

Store more. Much more!

The explosion of data — in meteorology, genetics, spying and physics — requires new storage technology. DNA has been storing data for billions of years. Could life’s “hard disk” help tame today’s data explosion? More »

Making spears

Making spears

Spears helped our ancestors eat and defend themselves. Spearmaking required ingenuity, experiments and communication. Symmetrical stone tools with damage at the tip indicate that spears were being used in South Africa half a million years ago, according to a new study. More »

The science of cheese

The science of cheese

Cheesemaking is older than Homer’s Odyssey, but questions remain. Which bacteria make the best cheese? Must low-fat cheese taste like cardboard? Why is small-producer, “artisan” cheese becoming so popular? Why does one cheese taste different than another. More »

Mock meat: Fit for grilling?

Mock meat: Fit for grilling?

Soy protein: It may look like meat. Could meat be grown, cell by cell, in lab dishes. Could in vitro meat solve health and environmental problems? More »

Farming, Native American style

Farming, Native American style

Native agriculture could be a sophisticated response to a challenging environment. What were the secrets of permaculture, companion cropping and corn farming? Could these techniques contribute to modern farming? More »

Chasing neutrinos at the South Pole

Chasing neutrinos at the South Pole

Neutrinos are odd: Extremely difficult to see, they travel through mass with scarcely a trace. A 1-billion ton detector in South Pole ice is now counting neutrinos, intent on understanding their origin and role in the universe, and even spotting echoes of the Big Bang. More »

I robot. Aye science!

I robot. Aye science!

Ocean technology on the move: 1: a robot sub smart enough to find stuff in the deep ocean 2: a metal fish glides for weeks under the ice 3: an electric sinker-bobber that never needs recharging 4: a research jet that flies miles above airliners. More »

Plumbing ancient Mayan plumbing!

Plumbing ancient Mayan plumbing!
A small constriction in a buried pipe shows that the Maya were using pressurized pipes before year 750. It’s more proof that when it comes to water, people get inventive! And what did the Maya do with the New World’s oldest plumbing? How about storing water, supplying drinking water, and flushing toilets? More »

Video surveillance: Who is watching you?

surveillance
London pioneered video surveillance in public, but it’s catching on fast. Many major cities have systems, and more are coming. What do these cameras learn? How do they interact with other sources of data? In this culture of disclosure should we even worry about privacy? More »

Fertilizing the ocean

Fertilizing the ocean

As Earth warms, should we try huge geoengineering projects to cool the climate? Would adding iron to fertilize ocean plants withdraw enough carbon dioxide to slow warming — or backfire? More »

Happy Thanksgiving! We celebrate eating — and food.

Happy Thanksgiving! We celebrate eating — and food.

Happy Thanksgiving! We celebrate eating — and food. Hungry: Is that your “food clock” ringing? Why does a fruitfly need to smell? How does bitter taste to you? And could eating MSG make you fat? More »

Hungry? History has lessons for improving farm productivity.

After World War II, the “green revolution” sparked an explosion in farm output in developing countries. With soaring food prices and spreading food riots, what can we learn from the green revolution? More »