This Week: Ancient water = ancient habitat?
In the News: Maggots, leeches, parasitic worms
Coming Thursday: Roaches: A lot smarter than you thought!
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?
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.
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.
As a new conversion of soy protein into a meat-like material reaches the market, we also look into meat grown, cell by cell, in lab dishes. Could in vitro meat be in your future, and would that solve ethical, health and environmental problems?
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?
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.
Military technology supports atmospheric and ocean science! 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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
Pilot errors dropped 40% over 20 years, but on-the-ground accidents are up. Can we further boost airline safety?
Wildfires are a tragedy, but are human actions making them worse? What is the role of global warming and zoning? Can we build safer houses in safer locations?
Most adhesives can’t be reused. But a radical new design, based on the foot of frogs, lizards and insects, shows how engineers can learn from nature to make smarter materials.