science

Word of Mouth
1:50 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

3.19.14: Big Data, ICANN & Body Farm

Credit via amazon.com

Today on Word of Mouth, we're unpacking big data. Should we fear or embrace it? Then we get a lesson on ICANN - what it is and how the decision made by the Obama administration not to renew its contract to oversee see it actually affects the way the internet functions. Finally, bodies! How do you study the effects of certain conditions on human remains? With a body farm, of course.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

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All Things Considered
5:53 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Emotions And Evidence: Why Pro-Vaccine Pushes May Backfire With Skeptics

Public health officials have a problem. They want more parents to get their kids vaccinated, because there's been a resurgence of dangerous diseases as vaccination rates have dropped.

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All Things Considered
5:17 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Consumers Can Back Solar Together Under N.H.'s 'Group Net Metering' Law

Credit Tai Viinikka, courtesy Flickr

For some time now in New Hampshire, consumers and businesses who install and use solar panels have been able to earn refunds for the power they generate and return to the electric grid. This is known as “net metering.”

A state law passed last year makes it possible for some consumers to participate in net metering and earn refunds without having their own solar arrays.

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All Things Considered
5:47 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Allergies Not Just A Spring Issue Anymore

Peanuts are one of the biggest concerns in discussions of food allergies.
Credit desegura89 via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/tLhCh

Today’s weather is yet another reminder that spring is still a ways away, but Nashua is playing host this week to a Science Café discussion about something we often associate with spring: allergies.

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All Things Considered
5:15 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Why Snow Melts Right Above The Septic Tank

Credit Robin via Flickr CC

We have a lot of snow on the ground these days in New Hampshire. And judging by this week’s weather forecast, the snow piles aren’t likely to get any smaller in the immediate future.

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Word of Mouth
12:01 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Five Billion Years Of Solitude

Most Earthlike Exoplanet started out as a gas giant.
Credit NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

In his Washington Post review of Lee Billings book, Five Billion Years of Solitude, astronomer Mike Brown compressed the age of the earth into a human lifetime.

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Word of Mouth
12:49 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Recently Released Research Reveals A Trying Tongue Twister

What's the matter? Cat got your tongue?
Credit sfroehlich1121 via flickr Creative Commons

Ok, here it goes…

Sally sells seashells by the seashore.

Sally sells seashells by the seashore.

Sally sells seashells by the seashore.

From Sally and her shells, to Peter and his pickled peppers, tongue twisters have a long history of tripping up even the most professional of broadcasters. But these fun phrases offer more than simple entertainment. A team of MIT scientists recently released research on what tongue twisters reveal about human speech patterns and brain processes. Joining us is a member of that team, Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel, principal research scientist with MIT’s speech communication group.

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Foodstuffs
6:00 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Chocolate: The Sweet Science

For many of us the science of chocolate begins and ends with that great literary and cinematic candyman, Willy Wonka, who insisted chocolate was only best when it was churned by waterfall.

Of course, Wonka lived in the world of pure imagination, but the science of chocolate is pretty interesting in this world as well, as a group of Granite Staters found out in a recent "Science on Tap" event in Manchester.

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Word of Mouth
1:48 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Lucid Dream Research Goes Mainstream

Lucid dreaming would allow you to stop the imaginary person chasing you in your dreams...maybe.
Credit Janet Ramsden via flickr Creative Commons

For a long time, the study of dreams was marred in mysticism and pseudo science to warrant academic respect. But in the 1970’s, a man named Stephen LaBerge gained a measure of credibility for his research into the phenomenon called “lucid dreaming”, but he ultimately remained on the fringes of mainstream science.  In more recent years, films like Inception and The Matrix have been increasing public interest into the mysteries of the dream-state. Mirroring this rise in pop culture appeal, lucid dream research is beginning to move out of the fringes and into the scientific mainstream. Dorian Rolston is a freelance writer covering cognitive science, mental health, and the mind. His article on the work of Stephen LaBerge, and new efforts to understand lucid dreaming appeared in the online publication, Matter.

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Word of Mouth
2:55 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

A Real-Life Tricorder? Affirmative! (Maybe.)

Star Trek's seemingly miraculous 'tricorder' is a device which can measure anything from a patient's vital signs to geological activity with the push of a button. Now, a company called Scanadu has developed a device called the 'Scout,' which they hope can be as useful for the health industry as tricorders were on the Enterprise. We talked with the company's co-founder to learn more. 

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Word of Mouth
1:41 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Identifying The Motivation To Have Sex

Credit Jean KOULEV via flickr Creative Commons

In 2007, researchers from the University of Texas categorized 237 motivations for humans to have sex. Recently, researchers at the University of Toronto divided the most common into two broad categories: approach motives pursue a positive outcome, like increasing intimacy; avoidance motives aim to avoid conflict or guilt. The Canadian team found that adding the fairly un-sexy drives of duty, resignation and guilt which significantly affect the health of a relationship, and could spell the difference between a happy marriage and a rocky one. Elizabeth Bernstein is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, where she wrote about the studies published by University of Toronto in October.

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Word of Mouth
11:07 am
Wed November 6, 2013

Do You Believe In Satan? How Belief In Pure Evil Affects Behavior

Credit squirelaraptor via Flickr Creative Commons

Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Prince of Darkness…whatever he's called, some seventy percent of Americans believe in the existence of the Devil. That’s according to a 2007 Gallup Poll, and that number has increased steadily since 1990, when only fifty-five percent believed in evil personified in the form of Satan.

Now, researchers are looking at the implications of belief in “pure evil” on psychological and social behaviors.  Piercarlo Valdesolo is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Claremont Mckenna College and contributor to Scientific American’s “Mind Matters” blog, where we found his article, “The Psychological Power of Satan.” 

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Word of Mouth
12:43 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Can A Buffet Serve A Balanced Meal?

This breakfast buffet greets visitors at a Marriott property in Germany.

In the spirit of thinking about how we eat over what we eat, a team at Cornell University conducted a study to see how we can make the buffet—that most tempting and often fattening arrays of food — into part of a balanced breakfast.

Dr. Andrew Hanks is a researcher for the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

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Word of Mouth
11:24 am
Mon October 21, 2013

Balloons...In...Space!

A rendering of a high-altitude balloon suspended over most of the Earth's atmosphere. That thing dangling from its underside is a telescope. (via The Atlantic)
Credit NASA/Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility

And now for a project that sounds more like something from a Pixar movie than the next big thing in space exploration…the High Altitude Lensing Observatory, or HALO, could be the Hubble telescope’s successor in deep space imaging – but instead of orbiting earth from space, scientists are hoping to hang this giant telescope from a great…big…balloon.

One of the scientists working on the project is Dr. Richard Massey, an astronomer at The Royal Observatory in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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Word of Mouth
1:21 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

The Government Shutdown Of Scientific Research

Credit badly drawn dad via Flickr Creative Commons

One area of funding hit hard by the government shutdown is science. Since so much basic research and development is funded by the government, the partial shutdown means labs have had to close their doors, research centers are operating with skeleton crews, and many  clinical trials have ground to a halt and experiments put on ice. All these factors have some scientists complaining that their time-sensitive work is in jeopardy.

Fred Guterl is the Executive Editor of Scientific American, which is covering the shutdown’s effect on scientific research.

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