Public Media Science & Technology Posts

Online Content From APM, PRI, and PRX

The latest stories from South Dakota Public Broadcasting's national media partners: American Public Media, Public Radio International, and Public Radio Exchange.

Holding Your Smartphone Makes it Harder to Think

19 hours ago

Where do you keep your phone while you’re at work or school?

If you keep it within arm’s reach, you might not be performing your tasks to the best of your ability, even when it’s turned off.

How to Watch the Eclipse Without Hurting Your Eyes

Aug 17, 2017

Everybody’s getting all hot and bothered about the total eclipse, but you won’t be able to simply run outside and stare at the sun as it’s obscured by the moon Monday. You’ll need to be prepared, or your eyes will be burning along with your curiosity.

Why we still remember a ‘relatively’ important eclipse nearly a century later

Aug 17, 2017

Millions of onlookers may find themselves pausing in awe of the cosmos on Aug. 21, as a total solar eclipse darkens swaths of North America. (And at PRI, we want your eclipse plans, stories and photos.)

Olivia Harris/Reuters

It’s a dance that’s been playing itself out for millennia. On average, once every year and a half, the moon slips directly between the Earth and the sun, punching a hole of darkness into the daytime sky. And whenever possible, there have been people below, looking up.

Experiencing a total solar eclipse is revelatory, especially for people who study them.

"Every eclipse gives you new information,” says Shadia Habbal, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii, originally from Syria.

Aussie eclipse chaser heads to Idaho for 16th eclipse

Aug 16, 2017

Roughly 200 million people live within a day’s drive of next Monday's eclipse.

But eclipse chasers road-tripping to the path of totality will also be joined by those traveling much farther to stand in the shadow of the moon for just a few minutes.

Among them is Terry Cuttle, an amateur astronomer, and photographer, traveling from Brisbane, Australia, to the US to see his 16th total solar eclipse.

He’s been planning this trip for years and is aiming for eastern Idaho where the chances of clear weather are good.  

You Can Influence Lawmakers With Your Smartphone

Aug 15, 2017

We all have politically engaged friends who take to social media to encourage us to contact our representatives about important issues. But for those of us who don’t have a background in politics—maybe the 2016 presidential election was the first time you really got engaged—knowing exactly how to do that can be a little confusing.

Edgar Su/Reuters

Throughout much of history, witnessing a total solar eclipse would mean one thing above all else. And that is fear.  

For the ancient Greeks, an eclipse was a sign that the gods were angry. The Vikings saw eclipses as a potential apocalypse. And the ancient Chinese apparently believed that an eclipse meant that a giant dragon was trying to devour the sun and that people needed to make as much noise as possible to scare the dragon away.

Alan Alda's secret to better communication? Have a little more empathy.

Aug 13, 2017
<a href="">Gratisography</a>/<a href="">CC0</a>.

Actor Alan Alda is on a mission to help scientists make their research more relatable to the public. He even co-founded an organization at New York’s Stony Brook University, the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, to get the message out.

What’s your game plan for the Great American Eclipse?

Aug 13, 2017
<a href="">Ernie Wright/NASA&rsquo;s Scientific Visualization Studio</a>

If you’re reading this in the United States, you’re perfectly positioned for a dazzling glimpse of the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21.

In the US, the total eclipse will cross 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina, and, according to NASA, a partial eclipse will be visible across North America and parts of South America, Africa and Europe.

Mark your calendar: Aug. 21 is the Great American Eclipse.

Helping the blind 'see' the solar eclipse

Aug 11, 2017
Carolyn Beeler/PRI

It sounds like the beginning of a riddle. How can someone who’s blind “see” the upcoming eclipse on Aug. 21?

It’s a question solar astrophysicist Henry “Trae” Winter started thinking about several months ago after a blind colleague asked him to describe what an eclipse was like.

“I was caught completely flat-footed,” Winter said. “I had no idea how to communicate what goes on during an eclipse to someone who has never seen before in their entire life.”

We want your eclipse plans, stories and photos

Aug 11, 2017

Jason Rekulak from Philadelphia is camping with his family at a goat farm in McMinnville, Oregon.

He realized last minute that an already-planned family vacation to the West Coast would bring him within a few hours of the eclipse’s path of totality and rushed to book a place to stay.

"I thought we were going to be staying at a Holiday Inn and probably watching from a parking lot,” Rekulak said. “But instead, we're going to be on a 500-acre goat farm.”

An Indianapolis charter school will be one of the first in the country to use a virtual reality program to teach science to high school students.

Hope Academy, on the city’s far northeast side, is purchasing the software and curriculum from a tech-startup to supplement its traditional classroom teaching.

These Robotic Shorts Make Running Easier

Aug 10, 2017

Do you dream of having superhuman abilities to run faster and farther, or simply to get through the day more easily? A team of researchers developed robotic shorts that act as a second set of hip extensor muscles, reducing the amount of energy runners expend while running by as much as 5.4 percent.

Ghana’s first satellite is now orbiting Earth.

It’s a historic moment for the country at a time when several African countries are increasingly interested in space exploration. Just last year, the African Union passed an initiative to help coordinate the efforts of space agencies across the continent.

The GhanaSat-1 was designed by a team of engineers at Ghana’s All Nations University and will send a signal to a ground station at the university.

Stressed? Try Talking to Yourself Like This

Aug 9, 2017

What’s your favorite way to deal with stress? Hopefully you’ve developed a method that works for you, but a lot of adults don’t know how to deal with it.

When I first bought Zoe, my poodle mix, I had high hopes for her future.

I was convinced she’d be an astrophysicist like Mr. Peabody on "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show." 

But it’s been three years, and while Zoe has had plenty of time to think, she has made zero progress on her time machine.

So now, I'm looking at backup careers for her.

Having a Purpose in Life Will Help You Sleep

Aug 8, 2017

If you’re like a lot of people all over the world, you have a hard time sleeping. Maybe you’ve tried apps that promote sleep, or going without electronics for the hours leading up to bedtime, or supplements like melatonin or magnesium.

But have you tried thinking differently about your waking life?

Anyone who’s been in a monogamous relationship for a while will tell you there are pros and cons to it. For example, pro: You feel comfortable and secure in the partnership (hopefully). Con: The little things you did to make each other happy at the beginning—like making their favorite dish for dinner or running to the store to grab toilet paper without being asked—might be going away, or going unnoticed.

How to hack the internet, Cuban-style

Aug 7, 2017
Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters&nbsp;

Facing limited internet options, high costs and low speeds, Cubans are creating workarounds to get online.

Since 2014, the government has opened hundreds of public Wi-Fi hot spots for Cubans and tourists who visit the island. But for many Cubans, the costs to get online are too high. And when they do, many find the connection speeds too slow.

That's why some Cubans are creating workarounds to get online. 

In small collisions, scientists find big new physics questions

Aug 7, 2017
Pierre Albouy/Reuters

In physics, the Standard Model describes how particles like quarks, leptons and bosons should interact. But as a review paper detailed in the journal Nature in June, recent experiments at particle colliders around the world have turned up anomalies that the rule book doesn’t quite account for.

Students' robots fly into 3M headquarters

Aug 4, 2017

Dateline: Maplewood, Minn.
A couple of dozen robots briefly took over the plaza at 3M's Maplewood headquarters Friday, as Minnesota high school robotics teams showed off their machines.

3M scientists, engineers and other employees serve as mentors to hundreds of students on local robotics teams.

Hans Mueller, a member of the Eagan High School robotics team, said his experience with the team and counsel from 3M workers put him on the path toward an industrial engineering degree.

How Your Brain Reacts to Facebook's Logo

Aug 4, 2017

Our brains are hardwired to want things that make us happy. Seeing something (or someone) we like makes us feel good, and we want to see it again and again.

The same happens with social media. We spend so much time on sites like Facebook and Instagram and Twitter (a study by Mediakix found the average person will spend more than five years of their life on social media) in part because we associate them with the positive feelings they give us.

The end of cars that run on petroleum may now be in sight.

Think 2050, the middle of this century.

The latest strong signal of the turn away from the internal combustion engine toward cleaner electric motors is coming from the UK.

The British government announced last week it will ban the sale of new gas and diesel cars by the year 2040.

The Economics of College Graduation

Aug 2, 2017

We might be the most educated generation ever, but, for a lot of us, there are still plenty of barriers to college graduation. One of the largest, of course, is money.

The rap on Washington and the Trump administration these days is that nothing is getting done.

Well, tell that to anyone concerned about the climate crisis.

Sure, most of President Donald Trump’s legislative initiatives have gone nowhere in Congress.

How Puppies and Pizza Make You Feel More in Love

Aug 1, 2017

How does imagining a hot, cheesy pizza make you feel? Probably starving. But in the most millennial science experiment ever, it has been shown that looking at pizza and puppies can also make you feel more in love with your partner.

The results might sound like click bait, but they’re based in established relationship psychology—and were borne of a very honorable mission.

How Playing Dungeons & Dragons Can Help You IRL

Aug 1, 2017

It was the winter of my sophomore year of college when some friends suggested we try Dungeons & Dragons. Back then, I knew very little about the game—something about a group of people hunched over a table with tiny figurines and multisided dice, all following the commands of a designated leader. It seemed like something within my areas of interest, and with its resurfacing popularity in movies and TV, I decided to give it a go.

Photo by Martin Blanco.

Margaret Burnett Makes Computers More Inclusive

Jul 31, 2017

Drink Up! Your Coffee Habit Might Mean a Longer Life

Jul 31, 2017

Years after most others in my cohort, I recently developed a nasty coffee habit. Better late than never: it turns out drinking a few cups of coffee every day is not only good for you, it could help you live a longer, healthier life.

Results of a study conducted by the University of Southern California and the University of Hawaii Cancer Center suggest coffee drinking is associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and respiratory and kidney disease.