Legend has it that the rainforest of Mosquitia hid La Ciudad Blanca, the White City. For centuries, explorers tried to find the fabled city in the jungle of Nicaragua and Honduras. Protected by white water, coral snakes, stinging plants and brutal topography, the White City remained an archeologist dream. But with a new application of recent technology, a documentary filmmaker, not an archeologist, found the White City.
Last month, psychologist Jamil Zaki from Stanford University launched The People's Science (TPS), a forum dedicated to bridging the gap between scientists and the public.
"I've been a big proponent of science communication for a long time," Zaki told me in an email. He was motivated to start the site in part because there's no "middle ground" between doing a lot of science communication (like a science writer) and doing none at all (like most scientists). Zaki explained:
A cruise run by the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, Calif., sounds like a picturesque summer outing. But the Urban Ocean boat cruise highlights the juxtaposition of a powerful port with a fragile ecosystem: You're just as likely to see trash as you are to see marine life.
In front of the aquarium, school kids are running around, eager to go inside and pet the sharks and see the penguins. There's also a marina, where a small passenger boat called the Cristina shoves off from sunny Shoreline Aquatic Park.
It's a captivating story: A global rice-growing revolution that started with a Jesuit priest in Madagascar, far from any recognized center of agricultural innovation. Every so often, it surfaces in the popular media — most recently in The Guardian, which earlier this year described farmers in one corner of India hauling in gigantic rice harvests without resorting to pesticides or genetic modification.
In fall 2011, Sebastian Thrun, a research professor at Stanford, and Peter Norvig, the top scientist at Google, teamed up to develop and teach a free, online course on artificial intelligence. Their aim, as Norvig said in an impassioned and compelling TED talk, was to develop a course at least as good as, if not better than, the course they teach together at Stanford. They'd put the result online and make it available to everyone, for free.
The Earth's wettest regions are likely to get wetter while the most arid will get drier due to warming of the atmosphere caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, according to a new NASA analysis of more than a dozen climate models.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Imagine stepping onto the Earth two billion years ago, taking a stroll along the shores of an ancient beach near the northern edge of what today is Lake Superior. You wouldn't see any trees. They didn't hit the scene until, oh, another billion-and-a-half years. What you might see, though, if you had a microscope, were tiny bacteria-like organisms on the shore having a ball eating each other.
Up next, another installment in the continuing quest to understand antimatter, that stuff that's supposed to be the opposite of matter. It's supposed to have been created during the Big Bang in equal amounts as normal matter, but for some reason, it's all disappeared. No one knows why - yeah, that stuff or actually that anti-stuff.
When the Great Storm of 1900 battered Galveston, Texas, the town simply lifted itself up--in some places as much as 17 feet. Could a similar approach save cities today? Randy Behm of the US Army Corps of Engineers and Dwayne Jones of the Galveston Historical Foundation talk about the costs and feasibility of raising a town, albeit with better technology than Galveston's hand-cranked jacks and mules.