Take off. Rise. Soar. Bank. Turn. Stall. Swoop. Dive. Land. For each of the different kinds of flying an airplane has to do, there’s an ideal shape and configuration for its wings. Even though bird-like flappability isn’t feasible with struts and steel, engineers since the dawn of aviation have been trying to make wings that […]
A small team of people gathered in the Nevada desert earlier this week to take another step toward answering one of mankind’s most pressing questions: What does beer taste like in space? At least that’s one of the most pressing questions that comes up when a bunch of brewers get together with a bunch of […]
To quote the great Austin Powers, when provided floss to escape being lowered into a tank of ill-tempered sea bass: “OK, I get it. I have bad teeth.” Sure, it’s easy to stereotype the British for shunning American advances in oral hygiene. But it’s time to set our dental differences aside and celebrate the most […]
Though we often think of the earth beneath our feet as static, we also know that our planet is a dynamic object. In this image, we can see how geologic processes---namely a glacial outburst flood known as a jökulhlaup---can cause major changes to an area. But in time, even these huge alterations are eroded away and the landscape can return to something close to its previous state.
Whether you find it exhilarating or terrifying (or both), progress in robotics and related fields like AI is raising new ethical quandaries and challenging legal codes that were created for a world in which a sharp line separates man from machine. Last week, roboticists, legal scholars, and other experts met at the University of California, Berkeley law school to talk through some of the social, moral, and legal hazards that are likely to arise as that line starts to blur.
It’s hard to imagine being the first human being to look at a plant like, say, a stinging nettle and think, “I probably shouldn’t eat this, on account of the general agony it would cause me. But what if I cooked it first?” So you prepare it and nervously drop it down your gullet—and luckily […]
When the gorilla Willie B. had to move to a tiny cage at the Atlanta Zoo for six months, the vet staff decided to put Thorazine in the Coca-Cola he drank in the morning. Willie responded to the drug as many institutionalized humans do: He shuffled back and forth across his cage with dulled eyes.
You run into the grocery store to quickly pick up one ingredient. You grab what you need and head to the front of the store. After quickly sizing up the check-out lines, you choose the one that looks fastest. You chose wrong. People you could swear got in other lines long after you chose yours […]
It took 16 years and data from four orbiting spacecraft to assemble, but the U.S. Geological Survey’s new map of Mars is awesome. In beautiful color and excellent detail, the map shows the geology of the Red Planet’s surface today, and reveals a new understanding of its past.
One year from today, everybody’s favorite dwarf planet will receive its first man-made visitor. The New Horizons mission, which launched in 2006, will make its closest flyby of Pluto on July 14, 2015. Right now, Pluto is mainly known as that object in the solar system that used to be a planet (some would argue […]
After a 4.3 billion-mile nonstop flight, Rosetta is about to reach its destination. The European Space Agency vehicle has spent a decade circling our solar system in pursuit of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. And to prepare for the trip, ESA tested and equipped the vessel for any cosmic curveballs it might encounter on the way.
The greatest, smoothest gunslinger of all time—and I say it knowing full well I’m going to get emails for this opinion—is Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name, aka Blondie, of Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti westerns. I mean, at a public hanging the guy sat back and sniped the rope to free the accused, then blasted […]
A future lunar probe could be setting China up for a manned mission next decade. After details were released late last month of the Chang’e 5 mission—a robotic lander that will collect samples from the lunar surface and return them to Earth in 2017—several international observers noticed that it looked like a smaller version of […]
This article has been corrected. When they hover, hummingbirds move their wings more like a buzzing insect than a flapping bird. But, unlike tiny insects, hummingbirds are large enough to stir up the air more violently as they move. Now scientists have attempted to model exactly how hummingbird wings interact with the air as they […]
Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum are planning a trip to Mars. They’ve been hashing out the details for 20 years now, and alternate between being extremely excited and utterly terrified by the prospect, refusing to discuss it after 5 p.m. to avoid nightmares. The couple’s far-out dreams of space travel differ from those of many […]
In research published today in Nature, scientists describe what may be the first steps toward creating a new type of ultrathin, superfast, low-power, high-resolution, flexible color screen. If the inevitable engineering difficulties in bringing a product from the lab to the living room can be overcome, these displays could combine some of the best features of current display technologies.
There are a whole lot of unsavory lifestyles in the animal kingdom. The pearlfish has to swim up sea cucumber butts to escape predation. All manner of birds must fly thousands and thousands of miles each year with the change of the seasons. And hyenas have to deal with giving birth through their six-inch-long clitorises. […]
National Science Foundation (NSF) - The only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for medical sciences. We are tasked with keeping the United States at the leading edge of discovery in areas from astronomy to geology to zoology. So, in addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports "high-risk, high pay-off" ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow.
Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University - A center of excellence that integrates ecology with socioeconomics, demography, and other disciplines for ecological sustainability from local, national, to global scales.
Global Land Project - A joint research project for land systems in the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and the International Human Dimensions Programme.
Coupled human and natural systems(CHANS) are integrated systems in which humans and natural components interact. CHANS research has recently emerged as an exciting and integrative field of cross-disciplinary scientific inquiry, with research projects covering a variety of coupled systems in locations spanning the globe. Although individual projects have generated many important insights, it is essential to systematically transform the field to be more than the sum of its parts and provide broader insights of greater scientific and societal significance than those resulting from individual projects alone.The goal of CHANS-Net is to foster this transformation by facilitating communication and collaboration among members of the CHANS research community.