Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 11:49 am
It's not every day that a new window on the birth of the universe is thrown open. It's not every day that human beings get the chance to leap into the void and have their conceptions of space and time stretched to the limits. It's not every day that we see the wildest dreams of scientists realized, written into the fabric of space and time and light.
As an international armada of planes, ships and helicopters continues to comb the Indian Ocean for any sign of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, now missing for more than a week, Interpol confirms that two passengers aboard that flight were traveling on stolen passports.
Aviation experts say the incident highlights a major security gap at many airports: It is simply too easy to board a flight using someone else's photo ID.
Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 3:53 pm
About six months ago, a group of physicists in the U.S. working on the Large Hadron Collider addressed a problem they've been having for a while: Whenever they had meetings, everyone stuck to the prepared slides and couldn't really answer questions that weren't immediately relevant to what was on the screen.
The point of the forum is to start discussions, so the physicists banned PowerPoint — from then on, they could only use a board and a marker.
Scientists are usually portrayed as highly rational seekers of the truth - and they are that. But they also have qualities that make them more similar to you and me than you might think. NPR's Joe Palca has a story that reveals that quite dramatically. Joe's been immersed in an NPR series called Joe's Big Idea, where he explores the minds and motivations of scientists and inventors. And from time to time, he drops by to share some of the interesting things he's learned. Hi, Joe.
An article last week in The New York Times reported that the scientific jury is still out on brain-fitness programs. It seems that playing computer games designed to work your powers of perception, memory and attention can lead to significant and lasting improvement in one's ability to play those very games. But the benefits don't transfer. You may perform the relevant tasks like a 20-year-old, but you'll still have the mind of a 60-year-old.
Here's a joke: A man is sitting on the porch with his wife one night when, out of the blue he says, "I love you." His wife says, "Was that you? Or was that the beer talking?" The man says, "That was me — talking to the beer."
Maybe you laughed at that and maybe you didn't, but either way, cognitive neuroscientist Scott Weems wants to know whether you found it funny. In his new book HA! Weems explores the science "of when we laugh and why."