From Star Wars' R2-D2 to The Terminator to WALL-E, robots have pervaded popular culture and ignited our imaginations. But today, machines that can do our bidding have moved from science fiction to real life.
Think hands-free vacuum cleaners or iPhone's Siri or robotic arms performing surgery. At the Innorobo conference in Lyon, France, the latest in service robot technology was on display.
Back in 1996, a group of baby cicadas burrowed into soils in the eastern U.S. to lead a quiet life of constant darkness and a diet of roots. Now at the ripe age of 17, those little cicadas are all grown up and it's time to molt, procreate and die while annoying a few million humans with their constant chirping in the process.
NPR Science Correspondent Richard Harris traveled to Australia's Great Barrier Reef to find out how the coral reefs are coping with increased water temperature and increasing ocean acidity, brought about by our burning of fossil fuels. Day 5: A return to shore finds that people prefer cars to corals.
It's not every day you open an in-flight magazine and read an ad touting "spitwater pressure cleaners for the mining industry." Flip the page and you'll also see an ad cajoling you to "snorkel, sip, snooze" on the Great Barrier Reef.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm John Dankosky. Ira Flatow is out this week. Last December, Steven Coughlin, an epidemiologist at the Veterans Affairs Office of Public Health, resigned his position. And last week he told a congressional subcommittee why. He had serious ethical concerns about the research being done on Gulf War Illness at the VA.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm John Dankosky. Some 30,000 people die on U.S. roads every year, but the highway isn't just dangerous for us humans. Scientists estimate that our cars and trucks kill 80 million birds a year. That's 80 million. That death toll is high enough, they say, that it's turning out to be a powerful force of natural selection. In fact, some birds may be evolving shorter wings to let them navigate traffic more safely. That's according to a paper out this week in the journal Current Biology.
Neurology is the branch of medicine concerned with the health of the brain and nervous system. If you've spent time in the office of a neurologist, you'll have noticed that there is something quaintly old-world about the practice.
Neurologists ask a lot of questions; they listen; then they hook you up to pre-computer age devices that measure the speed of nerve conductance; neurologists do things like attach electrodes and stick needles in your arm. It's all positively 19th-century.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm John Dankosky. It sounds like something from a science fiction movie, researchers using cutting-edge biotech methods to bring an extinct species back to life. As a matter of fact, I think I saw that one. It was called "Jurassic Park."
Babies as young as nine months appear to approve of people who like what they like — and approve of being mean to those who don't share their tastes. Kiley Hamlin, lead author of a study in the journal Psychological Science, discusses the importance of similarity to young children.
NPR Science Correspondent Richard Harris traveled to Australia's Great Barrier Reef to find out how the coral reefs are coping with increased water temperature and increasing ocean acidity, brought about by our burning of fossil fuels. Day 4: Richard catches up with one of the gurus of climate science out on the reef.
Ken Caldeira loves a challenge, and he has a big one right under his feet. He's standing on an expanse of coral reef out in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. It's being washed with water as the tide streams over the reef, from a lagoon to the open sea.