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.
Food writer Michael Pollan once advised "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Now, he tells us how to cook it. In his new book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, he takes a tour of the most time-tested cooking techniques, from southern whole-hog barbecue and slow-cooked ragus to sourdough baking and pickle making.
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.
This spring the massive "Brood II" batch of 17-year cicadas is expected to emerge from the ground in backyards and parks all along the Eastern U.S. The insects will mate, lay eggs, and start the cycle all over again. Cicada expert John Cooley explains the unusual biology and evolution of periodical cicadas.