Science & Technology

Environment
3:43 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Wastewater Wells, Geothermal Power Triggering Earthquakes

A geothermal energy plant near the Salton Sea in California taps deep underground heat from the southern San Andreas Fault rift zone. A new study ties the amount of water pulled from the ground by the geothermal plant here to the frequency of earthquakes.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 4:55 pm

The continental U.S. experiences small earthquakes every day. But over the past few years, their numbers have been increasing. Geoscientists say the new epidemic of quakes is related to industrial wastewater being pumped into underground storage wells.

Now there's new research that reveals two trigger mechanisms that may be setting off these wastewater quakes — other, larger earthquakes (some as far away as Indonesia), and the activity at geothermal power plants.

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The Two-Way
1:13 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

True, Blue Planet Found Orbiting Nearby Star

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 1:37 pm

Move over, Earth. There's another blue planet in town — or at least in our corner of the Milky Way.

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope deduced for the first time the atmospheric hue of a planet outside our own solar system — and it turns out to be a "deep cobalt blue."

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Race
11:04 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Study: Whites Think Black People Feel Less Pain

Racial disparities exist, but what causes them can be complicated. Harvard anthropology student Jason Silverstein says it has to do with a lack of empathy. Host Michel Michel Martin talks with Silverstein about a Slate article he wrote titled, 'I Don't Feel Your Pain.'

All Tech Considered
11:02 am
Thu July 11, 2013

The Man Who Predicted Google Glass Forecasts The Near Future

Physicist and writer David Brin, in Xian, China.
Courtesy of David Brin

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 11:44 am

Google Glass isn't even available to the public yet. But the wearable technology that packs a tiny computer into a lightweight frame has already faced mockery, condemnation, fear and threats of regulation. As NPR's Steve Henn reported in May:

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The Two-Way
10:23 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Def Con Hacking Conference Puts Feds In 'Time-Out'

An image of the site promoting Def Con 21, a large annual gathering of hackers in Las Vegas. The meeting's leader is asking federal workers to stay away from this year's event.
Def Con

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 12:02 pm

As one of the world's largest gatherings of hackers, the Def Con conference has long welcomed experts from the security industry and the U.S. government, along with academics and hackers. But this year, Def Con's leader is asking federal workers to skip the event, due to recent revelations about U.S. electronic surveillance.

The request was announced Wednesday in a message titled, "Feds, we need some time apart," which was posted at the Def Con site. It reads:

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NPR Cities: Urban Life In The 21st Century
9:17 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Join The Twitter Roundtable: What Makes A City 'Smart'?

Use #nprcities to join a Twitter conversation about smart cities and urban innovation.
NPR

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 2:10 pm

This year, the NPR Cities Project is covering the concept of "smart cities": how cities worldwide are experimenting with technology to solve all sorts of urban problems. Please join us as we tackle the issue of smart cities with a live Twitter chat on Thursday, July 11, from 11 a.m. to 12 noon EDT.

Policymakers hope implementing technological solutions to urban issues will help cities become more efficient, more user-friendly and more environmentally sustainable.

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All Tech Considered
2:03 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Tech-Savvy Cities May Be 'Smart,' But Are They Wise?

Cable cars move commuters over a complex of shantytowns in Rio de Janeiro, one of many cities taking part in the smart city boom around the world.
Felipe Dana AP

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 3:52 pm

This summer, NPR's Cities Project has been looking at how cities around the world are solving problems using new technologies. And though there's great promise in many of these "smart" city programs, New York University's Anthony Townsend remains skeptical.

Townsend, whose book Smart Cities is due out in October, tells NPR's David Greene about the causes, benefits and potential dangers of the smart city boom.


Interview Highlights

On what caused the smart city boom

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Environment
2:01 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Saving One Species At The Expense Of Another

Antelopes stand at alert at the presence of a human visitor in the sparsely populated Centennial Valley of Montana.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 3:52 pm

To keep America's wilderness anything like it used to be when the country was truly wild takes the help of biologists. They have to balance the needs of wildlife with those of cattle-ranching and tourism, and even weigh the value of one species against another. Ultimately, they have to pick and choose who makes it onto the ark. And, as scientists in Montana's Centennial Valley have discovered, all that choosing can be tricky.

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Animals
4:29 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Barking Up The Family Tree: American Dogs Have Surprising Genetic Roots

Modern Chihuahuas trace their genetic roots in America to back before the arrival of Europeans, a new study suggests.
mpikula iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 7:58 pm

America is as much of a melting pot for dogs as it is for their human friends. Walk through any dog park and you'll find a range of breeds from Europe, Asia, even Australia and mutts and mixes of every kind.

But a few indigenous breeds in North America have a purer pedigree — at least one has genetic roots in the continent that stretch back 1,000 years or more, according to a new study. These modern North American breeds — including that current urban darling, the Chihuahua — descended from the continent's original canine inhabitants and have not mixed much with European breeds.

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The Salt
3:28 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

The Science Of Twinkies: How Do They Last So Darned Long?

Unlike the dodo that sits next to it on an NPR Science Desk shelf, this year-and-a-half-old Twinkie is still around — but that doesn't mean you want to eat it.
Heather Rousseau NPR

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 11:56 am

We have to confess: When we heard that Twinkies will have nearly double the shelf life, 45 days, when they return to stores next week, our first reaction was — days? Not years?

Urban legend has long deemed Twinkies the cockroaches of the snack food world, a treat that can survive for decades, what humanity would have left to eat come the apocalypse. The true shelf life — which used to be 26 days — seems somewhat less impressive by comparison.

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