Science

5:26pm

Fri December 14, 2012
Space

50 Years After First Interplanetary Probe, NASA Looks To Future

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 10:27 am

The Mariner 2 probe at an assembly facility in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Aug. 29, 1962.
NASA/JPL/Caltech

Fifty years ago, on Dec. 14, 1962, reporters gathered for a press briefing at NASA headquarters and heard an unearthly sound: radio signals being beamed back by a spacecraft flying within 22,000 miles of Venus.

The Mariner 2 mission to Venus was the first time any spacecraft had ever gone to another planet.

These days, vivid photographs showing scenes from all around the solar system are so ubiquitous that people might easily forget how mysterious our planetary neighbors used to be.

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1:03pm

Fri December 14, 2012
Science

Ask A Quantum Mechanic

Did you know plants use quantum mechanics every day? That quantum computers can hack the encryption used in online commerce? Or that a 'quantum internet' could someday teleport your emails? MIT's Seth Lloyd discusses those and other quantum mysteries in this episode of "Ask a quantum mechanic."

1:03pm

Fri December 14, 2012
Technology

'Instant' Looks At Polaroid's Land

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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1:03pm

Fri December 14, 2012
Brain Candy

A View from the Flip Side

Could you handle a world that looked upside down? Marc Abrahams, editor and co-founder of The Annals of Improbable Research, shares a case study in which the subject was made to wear vision-flipping goggles. Ten days later, the man was riding a bicycle and playing catch in the park--his only impairment the strange headgear itself.

12:03pm

Fri December 14, 2012
The Salt

Brewers Prepare Beer For The End Of Time, Mayan Or Otherwise

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 1:50 pm

Great Basin's Mayan Maybe? beer has been a fast seller, the company's brewmaster says.
Jazz Aldrich Great Basin Brewing Company

The world isn't going to end next Friday, but Dec. 21, 2012, has come to be known as the Mayan apocalypse because that's when the Mayan calendar ends. As scientists have told us repeatedly, the end of the calendar year was actually a time for celebration and renewal — the equivalent of an ancient New Year's Eve. So breweries around the country have decided to celebrate with — what else? — beer.

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11:59am

Fri December 14, 2012
NPR Story

Using Science to Care for Your Christmas Tree

Nothing beats the smell of a live Christmas tree in your home, but how can you keep the needles on your tree and off your carpet? Rick Bates, professor of horticulture at Penn State University, offers tips for how to properly care for your Christmas tree this holiday season.

11:59am

Fri December 14, 2012
NPR Story

Is It Possible To Create A Mind?

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 1:03 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Up next, what is intelligence? What is thought? What does it really mean to have a mind? And if we can answer those questions, is it possible for people to reverse-engineer the process and build an artificial mind? Sure, there are things like Siri, which can understand enough of your question to pull up directions to the restaurant, and there's IBM's Watson, which took on human contestants in a game of "Jeopardy!" and won. But how to jump the gap from those to something everyone would agree is truly intelligent?

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11:59am

Fri December 14, 2012
NPR Story

Alan Alda's Challenge to Scientists: What is Time?

Originally published on Fri December 14, 2012 1:03 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. Of course we'll be keeping you up to date this hour on the shooting spree that's been going on in Newtown, Connecticut. But first something different. When Alan Alda was 11, he asked one of his teachers: What is a flame? The answer he got back was oxidation. Accurate, yeah, but not very helpful.

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9:24am

Fri December 14, 2012
The Salt

Sowing The Seeds For A Great American Chestnut Comeback

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 10:02 pm

Though we hear about them every holiday season in that famous song, chestnuts – whether roasting on an open fire or otherwise – have been noticeably absent from many American tables for decades, thanks to a deadly fungus that decimated the species near half a century ago. But a small army of determined growers have been on a seemingly quixotic quest to put chestnuts back on the American table, and they're just starting to see results.

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3:19am

Fri December 14, 2012
Research News

Counting Bugs In Panama? Get Out Your Tree Raft

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 3:22 pm

Arachnoscelis magnifica
Maurice Leponce AAAS

There are more species of insects than pretty much anything else in the world. And scientists know there are millions they haven't even identified yet. Now, in a tropical rainforest in Panama, a multinational team of scientists has just completed the first ever insect census.

Scott Miller, an entomologist at the Smithsonian who worked on the Panama, shows off one of the species from the survey that's at the National Museum of Natural History's insect zoo in Washington, D.C.

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