Science

3:09pm

Wed March 21, 2012
Space

Spacecraft's Wild Ride To Mercury Yields Surprises

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 4:40 pm

The Messenger spacecraft is depicted over the Calvino Crater on Mercury in this enhanced-color image of the planet's surface.
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

There's a small spacecraft called Messenger that's been orbiting the planet Mercury for a year. Today, at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, astronomers revealed what they've learned about the innermost planet in our solar system, and some of the new knowledge is puzzling.

Maria Zuber, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studied a large crater 900 miles across called Caloris.

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2:30pm

Wed March 21, 2012
The Salt

Into The Wild Science Of Sourdough Bread-Making

Originally published on Wed March 21, 2012 2:50 pm

Margaret Palca in her bakery in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Chris Eichler for NPR

My sister is no science writer, and I'm no baker, but recently our worlds melded in a surprising way.

Here's what happened: Last October, I attended a workshop on artisanal bread and cheese-making at Salt Water Farms in Lincolnville, Maine. Farm manager Ladleah Dunn introduced us to the concept of making sourdough bread with levain, or starter, instead of packaged yeast.

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3:08pm

Thu March 15, 2012
Animals

Just How Big Are The Eyes Of A Giant Squid?

Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 7:32 pm

This giant squid was caught about 10 miles off the shores of Oahu, Hawaii, in 1981. The pupil of its eye measured more than 3.5 inches across.
Current Biology

Giant and colossal squids can be more than 40 feet long, if you measure all the way out to the tip of their two long feeding tentacles. But it's their eyes that are truly huge — the size of basketballs.

Now, scientists say these squids may have the biggest eyes in the animal kingdom because they need to detect a major predator, the sperm whale, as it moves toward them through the underwater darkness.

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2:55pm

Thu March 15, 2012
The Two-Way

Arizona Telescope Sets New Standard For Optical Astronomy

Lab testing of the LBT adaptive secondary mirror system.
Large Binocular Telescope

A telescope in Arizona has taken some of the clearest pictures ever of distant celestial objects, including the first images of the innermost planet in a planetary system 127 light years from Earth. They achieved this astronomical tour de force using something called adaptive optics, a technique that eliminates the blurring caused by the Earth's atmosphere.

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2:00pm

Thu March 15, 2012
The Two-Way

First Neutrino Message Sent Through Rock; Could One Travel Back In Time?

What if we could shoot a message through the center of the planet and back in time?
NASA

"Researchers from the University of Rochester and North Carolina State University have for the first time sent a message using a beam of neutrinos — nearly massless particles that travel at almost the speed of light," U of R reports.

And they pushed the message — which simply spelled out the world "Neutrino" — through "240 meters of stone" (787 feet).

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