Science

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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1:37pm

Wed November 12, 2014
Oil and Gas

Study Finds Shared Chemicals Between Toothpaste, Ice Cream – And Fracking Fluid

A drill rig in Northern Colorado.
KUNC File Photo

Fracking fluid -- is it a dangerous substance, full of secret chemicals and cancer-causing toxins? Or is it safe enough to drink?

A new study from researchers at Colorado State University and the University of Colorado Boulder takes a stab at answering that question. Their take: much of what's found in fracking fluid isn’t all that different from common chemicals found in your house -- and some of it's even in your ice cream.

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9:11am

Mon November 3, 2014
Science

New Clock May End Time As We Know It

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 9:49 am

Strontium atoms floating in the center of this photo are the heart of the world's most precise clock. The clock is so exact that it can detect tiny shifts in the flow of time itself.
Courtesy of the Ye group and Brad Baxley/JILA

"My own personal opinion is that time is a human construct," says Tom O'Brian. O'Brian has thought a lot about this over the years. He is America's official timekeeper at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado.

To him, days, hours, minutes and seconds are a way for humanity to "put some order in this very fascinating and complex universe around us."

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4:07pm

Sun October 26, 2014
Research News

From Brain To Computer: Helping 'Locked-In' Patient Get His Thoughts Out

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 8:08 am

Patients with certain kinds of brain damage can wind up with locked-in syndrome: they may be able to think just fine, but are unable to communicate their thoughts to others. A recently published case study shows that a non-invasive brain-computer interface can help.
iStockphoto

In 2009, a man named Barry Beck suffered a series of strokes, which caused extensive damage to his right occipital lobe and to the brain stem. The geologist and author of several books was left completely unable to communicate, in a state known as locked-in syndrome.

The condition was famously described by Jean-Dominique Bauby in his memoir The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, which he dictated by blinking.

But thanks to a team of researchers and some technological advances, Beck had another option.

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2:32pm

Wed October 22, 2014
Science

Bigger Than A T. Rex, With A Duck's Bill, Huge Arms And A Hump

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 6:24 pm

Reconstruction of Deinocheirus mirificus.
Yuong-Nam Lee/Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources

Scientists announced Tuesday they've solved the mystery of the Mongolian ostrich dinosaur.

The mystery began in 1965, when fossil hunters found a pair of 6-foot-long, heavily clawed arm bones in Mongolia's Gobi desert. Nobody had seen anything like them before. Now, scientists say, they've got the rest of the beast ... and dinosaur textbooks may need to be rewritten.

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