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Hi, Robot: Adults, Children And The Uncanny Valley

Enlarge this image Devrimb/Getty Images/iStockphoto Henry Wellman is the Harold W. Stevenson Collegiate Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. Kimberly Brink is a doctoral candidate in developmental psychology at the University of Michigan. Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov collected a series of his short stories on robots in his now famous anthology I, Robot. The series “revolutionized science fiction … and made robots far more interesting than they ever had been,” according to the Saturday Evening Post. I, Robot begins with a lesser-known story: Robbie. Robbie is an…

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Black Farmers Are Sowing The Seeds Of Health And Empowerment

Enlarge this image Farmers pick crops at Soul Fire Farm in New York state. It’s run by Leah Penniman, a farmer and activist working to diversify the farming community and reconnect people to their food. Soul Fire Farm hide caption toggle caption Soul Fire Farm Chris Newman used to be a software engineering manager, well paid, but he worked long hours, ate fast food, and went to the doctor a lot. Eventually, enough was enough. He and his wife moved from the Washington, D.C., area to Charlottesville, Va., to become…

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‘They’ll All Be Gone’: Video Of Starving Polar Bear Highlights Effects Of Melting Ice

[embedded content] National Geographic YouTube By now, millions of people around the world have seen the video: A polar bear, gaunt and weak from starvation, pawing through garbage at an abandoned fishing camp on Baffin Island. The bear seems so exhausted from hunger, it can barely stand. The filmmakers believe the bear was just hours from death. National Geographic published the video last week, bringing renewed attention to climate change and the decline of sea ice that polar bears need to hunt and find food. Steven Amstrup, the chief scientist…

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PHOTOS: Animals That Could Disappear Because Of Us

The ploughshare tortoise of Madagascar is down to perhaps 100 adults in the wild. Poachers sell the tortoises as pets for up to $4,000 apiece on the black market. Tim Flach hide caption toggle caption Tim Flach Earth is facing an extinction crisis – and humans shoulder the blame. Wildlife poaching and illegal trade. Climate change. Urbanization. Mining. These are some of the myriad things we do that endanger animals and, in the process, damage our own well-being. Three-quarters of the earth’s estimated 8.7 million species are at risk, according…

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VIDEO: For LSD, What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been

[embedded content] NPR YouTube Psychedelic drugs are getting a makeover, with scientists exploring their potential in treating debilitating conditions like cluster headaches, addiction or anxiety, with promising results. That’s despite the fact that very few researchers are legally allowed to study psychedelics, largely because of LSD’s decades-old reputation as a counterculture drug that sparked bad trips. Back in the 1960s, LSD was touted as a tool to shed social conventions and fast-forward to enlightenment – or as LSD advocate Timothy Leary memorably said, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” He…

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Scientists Say Japanese Monkeys Are Having ‘Sexual Interactions’ With Deer

Enlarge this image An adolescent female Japanese macaque on the back of a male sika deer. Researchers have looked into some macaques’ attraction to the deer. Courtesy of Noëlle Gunst hide caption toggle caption Courtesy of Noëlle Gunst Adolescent female monkeys in Japan have repeatedly engaged in sexual behaviors with sika deer, for reasons that are not yet clear, according to researchers who study macaque behavior. The study, published in the peer-reviewed Archives of Sexual Behavior, follows up on a single report from earlier this year of a male macaque…

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What If Life On Earth Didn’t Start On Earth?

Enlarge this image This artist’s impression shows the first sighted interstellar asteroid, Oumuamua, discovered on Oct. 19, 2017. M. Kornmesser/ESO/NASA hide caption toggle caption M. Kornmesser/ESO/NASA Half a billion years. That’s how long the Earth existed as a barren world. Half a billion years of hell before the planet’s molten seas of liquid rock cooled to give the world a solid surface. Only then did life appear. Only then did our world’s fantastic history of microbes evolving to mollusks, evolving to dinosaurs, evolving to us, begin. But what, exactly, was…

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Reinventing The Cheese Wheel: From Farmhouse To Factory And Back Again

Enlarge this image Bronwen (left) and Francis Percival in the pasture with cows. Their new book traces the transatlantic cheese wars that led to the rise of factory cheeses and loss of traditional varietals. They also look at the farmhouse cheesemakers working to restore that lost legacy. Jon Wyand hide caption toggle caption Jon Wyand Between my dad’s love for upstate New York’s sharp cheddars and the annual gift-pack of farmhouse cheeses my brother sends from California, cheese figures pretty heavily in my holiday season. This year Bronwen and Francis…

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Avocado Hand Injuries Are Real. Is A Seedless Fruit The Answer?

Enlarge this image Cocktail avocados: adorable, seedless — safer for those who can’t cut the kind with a pit? Maanvi Singh/for NPR hide caption toggle caption Maanvi Singh/for NPR Behold, the cocktail avocado. No, that’s not a weird cucumber. It’s the latest in avocado innovation, on offer at British retail chain Marks & Spencer. According to an Instagram post from M&S itself, “It’s the avocado you never knew you needed.” That may be because the British press are promoting them as the answer to “avocado hand,” the name surgeons have…

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