Science & Technology

The Two-Way
3:27 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Shutdown Forces Antarctic Research Into 'Caretaker Status'

The Chalet (right) is the U.S. Antarctic Program's administrations and operations center at McMurdo Station.
Reed Scherer National Science Foundation

Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 3:44 am

Earlier this week we told you that scientists who do research in Antarctica have been on pins and needles, worried that the government shutdown would effectively cancel all of their planned field work this year.

Well, those scientists just got the news they didn't want to hear.

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The Two-Way
1:42 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

An Aerogramme From Professor Higgs, Nobel Winner

Letter from Peter Higgs
David Kestenbaum NPR

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 5:02 pm

Well, it's happened. British scientist Peter Higgs has won a Nobel Prize for proposing the Higgs boson particle as part of a mechanism that explains how things in the universe came to have mass.

Higgs seems to be lying low today so far — a colleague told The New York Times that Higgs had "gone off by himself for a few days without saying where" and that a reporter seeking an interview recently had been "sent away with a flea in his ear."

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All Tech Considered
11:33 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Solved: The Minds Behind The 'NSA' Billboard Reveal Themselves

The reveal.
BitTorrent

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 1:32 pm

Someone's taken credit for the shadowy billboard on the 101 Freeway near San Francisco — a plain white sign with black text reading, "Your Data Should Belong To The NSA." We wondered about it last week and got some interesting theories in the comments.

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The Two-Way
6:11 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Higgs Boson Researchers Awarded The Nobel Prize In Physics

British theoretical physicist Peter Higgs (left) and Belgian theoretical physicist Francois Englert were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday.
Fabrice Coffrini AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 10:09 am

Peter Higgs and Francois Englert have been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for their theory of how particles acquire mass, the Swedish committee announced Tuesday.

The prize was given "for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider."

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All Tech Considered
2:01 am
Tue October 8, 2013

Enter The Quiet Zone: Where Cell Service, Wi-Fi Are Banned

The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope is protected from interference by federal and state laws.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 11:03 am

There are no physical signs you've entered the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000-square-mile area that covers the eastern half of West Virginia. But the silence gives you a signal. Somewhere around the Virginia-West Virginia state line, the periodic buzzes and pings of our smartphones stopped.

"Zero [service]. Searching," said photographer John Poole, who traveled with me to the zone.

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The Government Shutdown
4:56 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Even Antarctica Feels Effects Of The Government Shutdown

A helicopter is unloaded from an LC-130 in Antarctica last December. Researchers on this mission were studying the Pine Island Glacier, one of the fastest-receding glaciers on the continent.
August Allen National Science Foundation

Originally published on Mon October 7, 2013 5:50 pm

It looks like even Antarctica isn't far away enough to avoid getting caught up in the government shutdown.

That's because it's currently springtime there, and scientists who study this remote, rugged continent are poised to take advantage of the few months when there's enough daylight and it's warm enough to work. Advance teams have already started working to get things set up and ready for the researchers, who usually begin heading south right about now.

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Technology
3:20 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Funding For Software To Cloak Web Activity Provokes Concern

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 1:18 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Lavabit isn't the only company affected by the fallout form the Edward Snowden leaks. An anonymity tool known as Tor is also in the National Security Agency's sightlines. Tor is widely is used by dissident groups, journalists, even police as a way to surf the Internet and communicate online without revealing anyone's identity.

NPR's Larry Abramson reports that while the NSA has been trying to hack into Tor, other branches of the U.S. government provide a large amount of Tor's funding.

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Technology
3:20 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Why Did Lavabit Founder Shut Down His Company?

Originally published on Mon October 7, 2013 5:50 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

I'm Melissa Block and it's time for All Tech Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC)

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Science
3:20 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Scientists Win Nobel For Work On How Cells Communicate

Originally published on Mon October 7, 2013 5:50 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

Three scientists will win this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their role in figuring out how cells talk to one another. They do that by releasing and soaking up molecules. This basic knowledge also helps explain diseases, from mental illness to immune disorders.

NPR's Richard Harris has our story.

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The Two-Way
10:15 am
Mon October 7, 2013

MIT Scientists Develop New Breed Of Self-Assembling Robots

M-Block cube robots rest on a work table in the Distributed Robotics Lab in CSAIL at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. The robots are 50mm cubes that can reconfigure themselves into various arrangements using self-propulsion and magnets.
M. Scott Brauer MIT

Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 8:49 am

They're called M-Blocks and the tiny, cubical robots that can spin, flip and jump their way into new configurations are the brainchild of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), M-Blocks:

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