Science & Technology

Science news

Florida is poised to become the first state to allow computer coding to fulfill a foreign-language requirement in high school. In a competitive job market, the thinking goes, computer skills are as important as speaking another language.

At SAIL High School in Tallahassee, a 3-D printer whirs away. It's turning PVC pipe into a red, Lego-like piece for a robot.

This is the OctoPiRates robotics club. These students will soon compete in a national contest with their hand-built robot. It features a square, metal frame with eight rubber wheels and a scooping arm.

Here's an exercise in deductive logic, with implications for our food supply.

Fact: Insects such as bees and butterflies are helpful, and sometimes essential, for producing much of our food, including a majority of our fruits, vegetables and nuts.

It took crews more than three months to seal the gas leak in the San Fernando Valley community of Porter Ranch which forced thousands of people from their homes.

Aside from plugging the leak, there wasn’t much which could be done to deal with the gas spewing into the atmosphere.

For many years, cellphone operators around the world have complained about Facebook and Google: The American tech giants use the operators' cables and towers to hand out free phone calls and messaging services to people in their countries, eating into profits and grabbing customers' data.

Recently, one operator, Telenor, decided: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And in the process, it hunted down the kind of link between people's digital and physical personas that not even Google has.

After A Terrorist Attack, A Fingerprint Drive

Finding success in science requires smarts, determination — and sometimes a bit of luck. NPR's Skunk Bear created the Golden Mole Award For Accidental Brilliance to celebrate that last part.

FBI Director James Comey says encryption is making phones "warrantproof" — and the agency's dispute with Apple over an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters shows the challenges encryption poses in criminal and counterterrorism investigations.

"I have taken a lot of pictures because I've been up here for a long time," NASA astronaut Scott Kelly said during a recent press conference from the International Space Station. "I've definitely taken some good ones and some memorable ones."

When he returns to Earth on Tuesday evening, Kelly will have spent 340 days aboard the ISS. While that's not quite a year, it's still a record for an American astronaut, and one of the longest-lasting spaceflights ever.

"I have taken a lot of pictures because I've been up here for a long time," NASA astronaut Scott Kelly said during a recent press conference from the International Space Station. "I've definitely taken some good ones and some memorable ones."

When he returns to earth Tuesday evening, Kelly will have spent 340 days aboard the ISS. While that's not quite a year, it's still a record for an American astronaut, and one of the longest-lasting spaceflights ever.

Ren Zhiqiang, 54, is a brash, sharp-tongued Chinese real estate mogul who is sometimes likened to Donald Trump. In recent days, he has become the target of a government campaign to discredit him, becoming the focus of a bitter debate about Communist Party control of media and the limits of free speech.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

All right, so when a music artist puts an album out that can only be streamed, not downloaded, what happens? In Kanye West's case, apparently it gets pirated a lot. Paul Resnikoff is publisher of Digital Music News, and he joins us now. Hey there, Paul.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Now let's talk about a part of the Earth's surface that is currently playing the role of Mars. It's a dusty, rocky slope of Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano.

KIM BINSTED: It looks just like the pictures that are coming back from the rovers on the surface of Mars.

Being Black In The Tech Industry

Feb 28, 2016

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF AD)

ALEC BALDWIN: Alexa, how many championships has Dan Marino won?

ALEXA: Dan Marino has won zero championships.

DAN MARINO: Alexa, how many Oscars has Alec Baldwin won?

ALEXA: Alec Baldwin has won zero...

Before NASA had its Mercury 7 astronauts, the Air Force was launching its own team into the stratosphere — in balloons.

Without the glamour or budget of NASA, these early space scientists and test pilots performed extreme experiments that helped pave the way for the Mercury crew. Among them was Captain Joseph Kittinger, who in 1960 stepped from his balloon into free fall from 103,000 feet above the ground — nearly 20 miles.

How 'Oscars' Screens The Salty Moments

Feb 27, 2016

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The Justice Department wants Apple to write special software to help it break into the iPhone used by one the San Bernardino terrorists.

In its filing opposing a federal judge's order to help the government, Apple says it would be a violation of its First Amendment rights to free speech.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The terrorist attack in San Bernardino on Dec. 2 sparked a battle between Apple and the FBI over the investigators' request for the company's help to unlock the iPhone used by one of the shooters, Syed Rizwan Farook.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan spoke with NPR's Steve Inskeep about his opinion of the legal feud and its consequences. Below are some of the highlights.

To hear a patient's heart, doctors used to just put an ear up to a patient's chest and listen. Then, in 1816, things changed.

A major global assessment of pollinators is raising concerns about the future of the planet's food supply.

A U.N.-sponsored report drawing on about 3,000 scientific papers concludes that about 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species (such as bees and butterflies) are facing extinction. Vertebrate pollinators (such as bats and birds) are somewhat better off by comparison — 16 percent are threatened with extinction, "with a trend towards more extinctions," the researchers say.

Missile Launch 2/25
Staff Sgt. Jim Araos / U.S. Air Force

If you were out late last night, you might have gotten a glimpse of the latest missile launch from the Central Coast.

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was successfully test launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 11:01 p.m.

The missile successfully flew 4200 miles to a test range in the Western Pacific, where an instrument package was deployed.

It’s the second Minuteman III launch from the base in less than a week, with one successfully tested last Saturday.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scolding employees for what he calls "several recent instances" of people crossing out "black lives matter" on signature walls at the company's headquarters and writing "all lives matter" instead.

Ted Olson is one of the most prominent lawyers working in America today. He argued on behalf of George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore and was the solicitor general for most of Bush's first term. A star conservative lawyer, he surprised many when he joined the fight to legalize same-sex marriage, taking up the battle against California's Proposition 8 (and allying with David Boies, who argued for Gore in Bush v. Gore).

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Apple CEO Tim Cook put himself and his company front and center in a national debate on digital privacy, when he decided Apple would not comply with a federal court order to help unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Days of news about an Apple iPhone have left us with this consistent feeling. It's that we've all been having highly sophisticated arguments about the Internet and encryption without entirely grasping what we're saying.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Pages