Weather: [More data + more computers = better forecasts]

Weather: [More data + more computers = better forecasts]

Weather forecasts improve, but who’s ever satisfied? Check some around-the-corner technologies that will paint a better picture of tomorrow — especially in hot, stormy summer days. What is the promise of GPS, better radar and “hyperspectral” instruments? More »

Poaching problem

Poaching problem
As elephant poaching soars, carbon dating, a mainstay of archeology, could be used to date ivory, based on heavy isotopes left over from the atom-bomb era. More »

Counting bugs in Panama

Counting bugs in Panama

Life is biology is species: But how many species live on Earth? About six million arthropods (insects, spiders and crustaceans), says a new study. More »

Mourning the dying weather satellites

Mourning the dying weather satellites

We love accurate weather forecasts, but the weather satellites they rely on are nearing the boneyard. Some replacements have crashed into the ocean, others are in financial limbo. Be very worried about our fragile planet: these satellites also track climate, ice, fire, and the health of forests and ocean! 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 »

Dr. Darwin teaches robot!

Dr. Darwin teaches robot!

A crash course in “sink or swim” teaches computerized robots to adapt to changing circumstances. When taught by “directed evolution,” robots that started without legs learned to walk sooner than robots that started with legs! Can you explain? More »

Watching a continental split

detail of labelled, satellite view of Baja California and Sea of Cortez

Seismic study shows crust thinning as continent divides, giving another view of our restless planet, showing tectonic movement in action, and highlighting a major real-estate investment opportunity. More »

Ancient hole, black hole

Ancient hole, black hole

A new report on the ancient universe shows that most galaxies – even all of them – had a black hole at the center, much like modern galaxies. We can understand why a black hole would need to be surrounded by millions of stars, but why should galaxies require black holes? More »

Testing seafood in the Gulf

Testing seafood in the Gulf

Fish contamination was rare after the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, with levels of dangerous hydrocarbons well below “levels of concern.” But nobody looked systematically at heavy metals, the Gulf still has a lot of oil, and the many different hydrocarbons may have unpredictable impacts. More »

Stem cell battle resumes

Black and white image of woman in wheelchair seen from the back in a hospital hallway

A federal court has thrown the field of embryonic stem cell research into confusion. Last week, research that destroys embryos could not get federal bucks — even if those embryos were doomed or destroyed years ago. This week, it can. How is the legal yo-yo affecting researchers — and desperate patients? More »

Old-new glue for plywood, composites

Old-new glue for plywood, composites
Plywood used to be bonded with soybean glue; then along came synthetic adhesives. They were strong and cheap, but they did release toxic formaldehyde. Now, industry is switching to a new, improved soy adhesive. Tough, water-resistant soy glue does not release formaldehyde, and is already being used for interior plywood. More »

North Korea’s nukes

North Korea’s nukes

Underground nuclear tests have been the biggest roadblock to a comprehensive test ban. How are these explosions detected, and how reliably? More »

Counting birds

Counting birds

The feds put out a massive report on American birds, and the #1 source of data is – amateurs! What is the role of amateurs in ornithology? Hint: if you want to survey 800 species on 3.5 million square miles… More »

Embryonic stem cells

Embryonic stem cells

Pres. Obama has removed some limits on studies of cells that can become any body cell. What was lost in eight years of limits on embryonic stem cells? What’s ahead? More »

Small is beautiful: Nanotech meets biology!

Biology operates on the nanometer scale, and now ultra-small technology is producing monster benefits for genetic analysis, cell biologists, and the treatment of blinding glaucoma. More »