Water makes all the difference for agricultural crops.
US Geological Survey
The majority of water that people use goes to agriculture. In a drier, hungrier future, we'll need to use what water we have with less waste. Technologies being developed now will help.
John Nash, May 2015.
The Nobel Prize winning mathematician made lasting contributions in the fields of game theory and topology. Famously portrayed by Russell Crowe in the movie A Beautiful Mind, he died May 23 at age 86.
No one’s a fan of nuclear waste. What if we could just recycle it all?
General Physics Laboratory (GPL)
Even the biggest proponents of nuclear power can't ignore 10,000 metric tons of spent fuel globally every year. What if we could recycle every last atom of nuclear waste?
Excavating stone artifacts that date from 3.3 million years ago in Kenya.
Stone tools excavated in Kenya date back 3.3 million years – making them about a million years older than the oldest known fossils from our own hominid genus Homo. Who made and used these tools?
Reactor pressure vessel during construction of Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania, 1956.
U.S. Department of Energy, Naval Reactors Program
The basics of fission physics have stayed the same over the decades. But power-generating reactor designs have evolved, turning to new coolants, recycled fuel and other innovations.
Is the real villain in Frankenstein the scientist who created him, or the people who refused to understand him?
Stamp via www.shutterstock.com.
Critics of controversial science like GMOs and cloning often invoke the myth of Frankenstein to highlight the dangers of new technology. But these critics may overlook the moral of Shelley's story.
OK, but which sea’s level? And how do you know what it is?
The tides come in, the tides come out. But what is a sea's level? Technology has evolved since we first started gauging the height of the ocean in comparison to the land.
What good is all this data if we can’t figure out how to analyze it?
Collect all the data you want, but if you can't figure out what you're looking at, it's useless. Topologists look for spatial relationships to figure out what the data can tell us.
What properties allow lab-made metals to flow like liquids (as in this digital art)?
These laboratory-made metals have unusual properties that consumer electronics manufacturers love. New research used high-energy X-rays to figure out why.
Will Russian science return to the bad old days of Stalin?
Some Russians are looking back admiringly to a tyrannical scientist from Stalinist times – and using the new field of epigenetics to bolster their case.
Rainwater + hard urban surfaces = lots of runoff.
Built-up urban environments transform the resource of rainwater into wasted runoff. Low Impact Development mimics nature to help get stormwater into the natural water system.
The author, collecting dust via vacuum for lab analysis.
Clarisse Betancourt Román
We spend much of our time inside buildings. What chemicals and microbes are in here with us? And how do they affect each other? One scientist collects dust to find out.
I can get you there fast!
There's a cosmic speed limit that unfortunately means you aren't going to be firing up warp drive anytime soon.
Chimpanzees are wily enough to adapt in some ways when people encroach on their turf.
Apes and people are sharing habitat more than ever. As apes are pushed into novel situations, we can see how they adapt and maybe find clues into early human evolution.
Observing on-site at the University of Hawaii 2.2-meter telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii in 2008.
Astronomers aren't mere stargazers these days. One researcher explains the ins and outs of how they collect data from far-off galaxies and what they do with it back at the office.
Surface measurements hint at what’s going on within.
For seismologists, there's much to be learned after a major earthquake, as aftershocks help them map out the fault with high precision. More data now can prepare a region for its next big one.
Sure you’re connected to them, but can you trust them?
Michael Sean Gallagher
Checking online reviews is a big part of shopping. But review sites can be manipulated. Does favoring reviews posted by your social media contacts help with trustworthy, meaningful content?
Don’t do away with that human driver at the wheel.
Experts in the field of human factors – how people interact with machines – warn that "self-driving" cars need to be more of a cooperative effort between human driver and tech than the hype would suggest.
Forget evolution, just listen to the rocks.
Simon de Myle – Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat
If the biblical flood occurred just a few thousand years ago, that doesn't leave enough time for the geologic history we see in rocks and fossils.
Astronomers from around the world identify their favourite images sent back to Earth by the Hubble Space Telescope.
How do we think about something we can’t see and don’t experience in our everyday lives, but seems to be pushing our universe apart ever faster?
NASA, ESA, G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch (University of California, Santa Cruz), R. Bouwens (Leiden University), and the HUDF09 Team
Einstein's theory of gravity says dark energy must be out there, accelerating the expansion of our universe. But what is it and how can we try to figure out more about it?
Hubble in orbit.
The Hubble Space Telescope launched 25 years ago in 1990. But O'Dell started on the project in 1972, garnering support for the world's first telescope free of Earth's atmosphere's blurring effects.
Fluorescent security ink produces multicolor barcode visible under UV light.
Invisible under normal light but fluorescent under UV light, this ink can print out unique signatures that use 'molecular encryption' to authenticate anything they tag.
If sexual orientation is not static, where does that leave ‘Born This Way?’
Current conversion therapies can't effectively switch someone's sexual orientation. But there could be a time down the road when neuroscience can do what they can't. Where does that leave gay rights?
One study found women twice as likely to be chosen for tenure-track STEM jobs.
White coats image via www.shutterstock.com.
Figuring out points along the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math pipeline where women are doing ok can help focus efforts to improve sex ratios where they can make a difference.