Science + Technology – Articles, Analysis, Opinion

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Excavating stone artifacts that date from 3.3 million years ago in Kenya. MPK-WTAP

Our stone tool discovery pushes back the archaeological record by 700,000 years

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?
OK, but which sea’s level? And how do you know what it is? Wally Gobetz

Explainer: how do you measure a sea’s level, anyway?

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? Elif Ayiter

Topology looks for the patterns inside big data

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.
Don’t do away with that human driver at the wheel. LoKan Sardari

Self-driving cars will need people, too

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.
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

Explainer: the mysterious dark energy that speeds the universe’s rate of expansion

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?