Science

5:00am

Mon February 16, 2015
Agriculture

Colorado Tech Start Ups Bet The Farm On Agricultural Drones

Farmers want to use drones to scope out problem spots in crops fields or check in on livestock.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

A highly anticipated batch of federal laws governing the use of drones could change the regulatory landscape and lead to an explosion in drone use by farmers.

Farmers see drones as a way to get a birds-eye view of their fields to find problem patches with crops. That information can allow farmers to be more precise with fertilizers and pesticides and, ultimately, save them money. But getting them in the sky without running afoul of federal regulation is proving to be a challenge.

Commercial use of drones is still widely banned in the U.S., though some companies have secured exemptions. Other farmers have gone rogue, flying drones over their property without all the proper permissions, daring federal regulators to put a stop to it. But the new federal rules due out later this year are expected to usher in a new era of farm machinery.

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3:04am

Tue January 13, 2015
Animals

Good News For Bats! Things Are Looking Up For Stemming Disease Spread

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 6:01 am

This October 2008 photo, provided by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, shows a brown bat with its nose crusted in fungus.
Ryan von Linden AP

The bat disease known as white-nose syndrome has been spreading fast, killing millions of animals. But for the first time, scientists are seeing hopeful signs that some bat colonies are recovering and new breakthroughs could help researchers develop better strategies for helping bats survive.

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5:00am

Mon January 12, 2015
Agriculture

Hemp's Legality Has Stunted Research, But That's Starting To Change

Some hemp varieties can grow up to 20 feet tall, like this plant growing in a Lafayette, Colorado warehouse.
Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

Humans have been growing hemp for centuries. Hemp-based foods have taken off recently. So have lotions and soaps that use hemp oil. Studies underway now are examining how different compounds in cannabis could be used as medicine. There’s hope its chemical compounds could hold keys to medical treatments for Parkinson’s disease and childhood epilepsy.

Scientists studying industrial hemp say the plant holds a tremendous amount of promise. But to unlock its potential there’s very basic scientific research to be done.

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3:02am

Fri December 19, 2014
Science

7 Miles Beneath The Sea's Surface: Who Goes There?

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 8:11 am

The research vessel Falkor in August 2013.
Courtesy of Mark Schrope

A ship full of marine scientists is floating over the deepest part of the world: the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. They're sending down probes to study life in one of the most hostile environments on the planet.

This week the researchers are targeting the two deepest spots in the trench — the Sirena Deep and the Challenger Deep — which each extend down about 7 miles beneath the ocean's surface.

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3:45am

Tue December 2, 2014
Space

NASA Prepares To Test New Spacecraft (That You've Likely Never Heard Of)

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 1:43 pm

The Orion capsule is poised to make its first test flight Thursday. If all goes as planned, the unmanned vehicle will orbit Earth twice before splashing into the Pacific Ocean.
Kim Shiflett NASA

NASA is about to launch a new spaceship into orbit, and Mallory Loe has never heard of it.

"I mean, technically, NASA doesn't have another spaceship, do they?" she asks incredulously during a visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

She's hardly the only one who doesn't know about this new spacecraft. In fact, none of a half-dozen tourists NPR interviewed in the museum's lobby was aware of the Orion spaceship.

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