The internet provides a forum for public conversation, debate and interaction. At times, it may seem more less public square and more like the Roman forum…where sniping, shaming and mean-spirited insults can devour conversations and proclaim judgments by like an unruly mob.
Media outlets have long-debated how best to moderate online comments, where some of the worst internet trolling takes place…last month, Popular Science shut down comments on its website, citing, in part, a study from the University of Wisconsin measuring the influence negative comments have on other readers. (We spoke with study co-author Dietram Scheufele back in March about the phenomenon he calls “the Nasty Effect.")
Jake Ward is Editor-in-Chief of Popular Science, he’s with us to talk more about the decision and response so far.
A lot of kids go through a “dinosaur phase,” begging parents to buy every book with a Tyrannosaurus on the cover. While the T-Rex, Velociraptor and Tricerotops have a kind of celebrity status among dino-crazed kids, the truth is not so static. For nearly three centuries, an ever-growing fossil record and scientific progress reveals the importance of a number of unsung species that may have far more to tell us about ancient biology than our popular paleo-crushes.
Brian Switek is author of My Beloved Brontosaurus, a book about the history of paleontology and the transformation of dinosaurs in the popular imagination.
Here in Concord, flocks of fourth graders are boarding school buses to get a glimpse of something you definitely won’t see in a classroom: falcons. Right now, birds of prey are migrating in massive numbers from their breeding grounds in the north to their wintering grounds down south. Independent producer Jack Rodolico met up with a group of kid scientists on a field trip at the Carter Hill apple orchard, and filed this report.
Of all the features on Apple’s newest iPhone, the one generating the most buzz by far is the finger print scanner. The iPhone 5s allows people access to their phones without entering a passcode or even a swipe. So, is this the latest gimmick to sell phones or the beginning of the end of the password? David Ewalt writes about technology, games, space, and other geeky stuff as senior editor at Forbes…which is where you can find his blog, “Spacewar.”
If you think there are too many food deserts in cities across the United States, try finding some fresh produce in outer space. Naturally, NASA makes sure astronauts living on the International Space Station don’t go hungry, but since it costs about $10,000 to send a single pound of food to the I.S.S., you can bet they don’t see a lot of leafy greens.
That cost is just one reason growing fresh food in outer space is a crucial step in the future of manned space exploration. Jesse Hirsch is a staff writer for Modern Farmer, where you can find his article, “Space Farming: The Final Frontier”.
Science is supposed to be objective, value neutral, a noble pursuit of truth – whatever that may turn out to be. In recent years though, some science skeptics have sought to associate objectivity with amorality - and meanwhile, a few well-publicized academic frauds and political battles over funding have revealed that researchers are just as capable at deception as anyone else. Despite these setbacks, research at the University of California Santa Barbara reveals that people do indeed carry deep and positive associations with the scientific method. Piercarlo Valdesolo wrote about the experiments for Scientific American.
The University of New Hampshire has started a new school of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering, focusing on newer topics such as adaptations to climate change and coastal planning, in addition to marine biology and oceanography.
The school is the first interdisciplinary one at UNH and will provide graduate and undergraduate courses.
Imagine a world where eating and preparing food was a thing of the past. Sounds like the stuff of science fiction, right? Well, that world might be closer than we think. A new product, Soylent, claims to provide the body with all the nutrients it needs. The creator of Soylent sees it as not only a solution to the inefficiency of producing and preparing food, but potentially the world’s hunger problems.
Lee Hutchinson is senior reviews editor at Ars Technica. He lived on Soylent for a full week, and blogged about the experience.
Fifteen-thousand years ago, nearly 100 species of large animals known as ‘megafauna’ roamed the amazon forest before going extinct. A team of researchers from oxford and Princeton University studying the ‘megafauna’s’ effects on the ecosystem discovered that they were crucial in maintaining soil fertility. Chris Doughty is currently a lecturer in ecosystem ecology within the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford, and lead author of a recent study: “The Legacy of the Pleistocene Megafauna Extinctions on Nutrient Availability in Amazonia.”
A collaborative project between New Hampshire universities, the National Science Foundation, and state agencies is looking at ecosystem health and how the environment is affected by climate change.
At first glance, this part of Saddleback Mountain in Deerfield looks like a regular forest. But look closer and you see thick, black electrical cords running along the forest floor and silver instruments sitting among the trees.
Imagine a four-wheeled robot, rolling slowly over frozen landscapes, equipped with high-tech sensors, and funded by NASA . You’re imagining a robot named Yeti, a polar rover designed by a team of Dartmouth Engineering students. Yeti has ground penetrating radar, and helps scientists in Antarctica and Greenland detect and map dangerous and possibly deadly crevasses before manned expeditions. Laura Rayis professor of engineering at Dartmouth College and Yeti project leader; she joined us earlier to discuss the new technology.
You may have heard the news earlier this week that taste-testers and scientists in the U.K. sampled the world’s first lab-grown burger. One food researcher said that the burger tasted “close to meat, but not that juicy”. Another quipped, “what was consistently different was the flavor”. Not a great review for a patty costing somewhere around three hundred and thirty thousand dollars, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Henry Fountain, science reporter for the New York Times, tells us about the science under the bun.
Iodized salt is so common today that you may never have considered the two as separate elements. This wasn’t always the case -- in 1924 iodized salt was first sold commercially in the U.S. to reduce the incidence of goiter – or swelling of the thyroid gland. Within a decade the average I.Q. in the United States had risen three and a half points. In areas that had been iodine deficient, I.Q. levels rose an average of fifteen points. A new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research traces this leap in I.Q. back to iodized salt. We spoke with Max Nisen, war room reporter for Business Insider, where he wrote about I.Q. increases as a result of iodized salt.