Last Monday, an amateur astronomer in Wisconsin, Dan Peterson, was gazing through his telescope when he caught sight of a flash of white light in Jupiter's gassy atmosphere. Lucky for him, someone else also had a scope trained on Jupiter that night. George Hall, an amateur astronomer in Dallas caught that flash on video, hard evidence that an explosion had indeed happened on the giant planet.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. How much of the world's energy needs could be met by wind power alone? Energy analysts are always quick to point out that the wind doesn't blow all the time, but it turns out that if you look worldwide, and you look up at the sky and not just at ground level, there's a lot of wind available, and that wind carries a lot of energy.
What happens at the Northeast Mycological Federation Foray? "Mushrooms only," according to attendee Gary Lincoff, an instructor at the New York Botanical Garden and author of The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms. Science Friday stopped by the conference for mushroom talk, mushroom crafts, mushroom eats and a mushroom hunt.
Scientist Robert Koch holding a post-mortem on an ox thought to have died of rinderpest, circa 1900.
Credit Reinhold Thiele / Getty Images
Twice in all of history, humans have managed to eradicate a devastating disease. You've heard of the first one, I suspect: smallpox. But rinderpest?
That's a German word for "cattle plague" a feared companion of cattle throughout history. When outbreaks occurred, as in Europe of the 1700s or Africa in the 1880s, entire herds were wiped out and communities went hungry. Now the disease is gone, eliminated from the face of the earth.
It would seem difficult to overlook something as large as a new species of monkey, but scientists had no idea about the lesula until just a few years ago when conservation biologist John Hart discovered a specimen being kept as a pet in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In retrospect, the monkey's striking, almost humanlike face should have made it hard to miss, and Hart, who spoke with All Things Considered host Melissa Block, is the first to admit that this new monkey was apparently not such a mystery to the Congolese themselves.
A piece of red ochre with a deliberately engraved design is pictured here at Cape Town's Iziko/South African Museum in 2002. The piece was discovered in Blombos Cave near Stilbaai, about 300 kilometers from Cape Town.
Credit Anna Ziemenski / AFP/Getty Images
This year I greeted my new Biological Anthropology students with a chalked timeline of some human-evolution highlights:
6-7 million years ago: Start of the human lineage, following a split with the lineage containing chimpanzees and gorillas
2.6 mya: Onset of large-scale making and use of stone tool technology
2.5 mya: First human ancestors in our own genus, Homo
200,000 years ago: First modern humans, Homo sapiens
Originally published on Mon September 17, 2012 9:25 am
On its way to Jupiter, the Galileo spacecraft looked back and captured this remarkable view of Earth and the moon. The image was taken from a distance of about 3.9 million miles.
According to the latest theories, the moon was born from the Earth, its matter torn off when a Mars-size planetoid hit the Earth in a grazing collision some 4.5 billion years ago, when the Sun and its court of planets were emerging from a contracting and spinning hydrogen-rich primordial cloud of matter. For those who enjoy Biblical references, as Eve was born from Adam's rib, so the Moon was born from the Earth's innards.
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 2:47 pm
An overabundance of lobsters in Maine due to early shedding of shells has driven down prices to record lows. That's good for consumers.
Credit Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
This summer in Maine, I ate more lobster than at any other time I've been there – twice in one day on a couple of occasions. We lobster lovers had the glut of soft-shells, which started in June as the lobsters began to shed earlier and faster than usual, to thank for the more affordable market price of around $4 or less a pound.