Science news

Do we rely too much on GPS?

May 22, 2016

So many parts of our modern world rely on GPS, or the Global Positioning System: driving, timekeeping military operations, crop harvesting, financial deals. Even, author Greg Milner argues, the way we think has been affected.

“It really is everywhere,” says Milner, who wrote “Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds.”

Milner says the ubiquity of GPS in our daily lives is what got him interested in the technology. 

What’s the best way to lose weight and keep it off?

May 22, 2016
Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Contestants on the reality TV show "The Biggest Loser" put in a gargantuan effort to lose weight: They diet rigorously, exercise for hours a day, and compete with each other to completely change their bodies. And many do change their bodies, quickly losing 100 pounds, 200 pounds — or more.

But what happens after? It turns out that, like many people who lose weight, maintaining that smaller frame is hard, even for those whose bodies changed so rapidly and completely.

Saul Gonzalez

It’s easy to think of how technology has left some products behind. After all, when’s the last time you used a pocket calculator or made a call from a pay phone?

And then there’s the jukebox.

But if you head to Los Angeles, and the 2000 block of Pico Boulevard, look for a shop run by Magdi Hanna. He is one of a handful of people left in the United States dedicated to fixing jukeboxes. His mission? To save the machines for future generations.

The advancement of A.I. has the potential to fundamentally change how we solve problems

May 19, 2016

"If you control the code, you control the world," security adviser Marc Goodman said in a 2012 a TED Talk. But what happens when humans no longer control the code?

How a Kindle's e-ink system works

May 18, 2016
Brendan McDermid/Reuters

When Amazon introduced its first Kindle back in 2007, it raved about the e-reader’s “crisp, high-resolution electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight.”

High Hopes For DUNE At Sanford Lab

May 16, 2016

Scientists from across the country gather at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology this week to talk about an upcoming experiment at the Sanford Lab. The project is called DUNE.

DUNE isn’t only an award winning sci-fi novel, but also an acronym. It stands for deep underground neutrino experiment. The project is a collaboration between Sanford Lab and Fermilab.

Dado Ruvic/Reuters

When Sheera Frenkel started observing ISIS online, she was surprised by how ordinary the conversations were. “They use a lot of emojis,” Frenkel says. “A lot of these channels are just a bunch of dudes mansplaining the Internet to each other.”

Frenkel is BuzzFeed’s cybersecurity reporter, and she’s spent the last six months figuring out how ISIS uses the internet. “Ninety-nine percent of ISIS are probably not using the internet for anything more sophisticated than occasionally going onto Facebook or Twitter,” she says.


Dr. Gareth Davies, Scientific Director with the Avera Institute for Human Genetics, is a Human Molecular Geneticist with expertise in complex diseases and gene expression. He discusses the recent findings in why women are more likely to give birth to twins and the association with two genes and twinning.

Dr. Luke Corwin and Dr. Juergen Reichenbacher – both are School of Mines physicists who are leaders on the DUNE project.  DUNE stands for Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment. Next week more than 150 scientists from around the world will meet in the Black Hills to collaborate on the project. The DUNE international megascience neutrino experiment is between the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago. DUNE is considered the world’s flagship neutrino project, driven by scientists from 27 countries.

Are we smart enough to really understand how smart animals are?

May 12, 2016

Is a human smarter than an octopus? 

“It’s really the wrong question to ask,” says primatologist Frans de Waal. “Because I’m smarter than an octopus in things I’m good at, like language and technology. But the octopus is smarter than me in many other ways.”

How new technology may make unlocking your phone as easy as thinking

May 11, 2016
Steve Marcus/Reuters

Our phones hold so much of our personal digital data, so keeping our phones secure is one of the most important personal security measures out there.

How can we build a better password? Smartphones now include fingerprint scanners, and companies have been testing other biometrics — including retinal scans and heart rhythm measurements — for the ultimate personalized "password." But, could “brainprints” be the next unbreakable identification tool?

A team of researchers created a system that could match EEG readings to an individual with, they claim, 100 percent accuracy. 

BHSU Opens Underground Campus In Sanford Lab

May 10, 2016
Amy Varland

The Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead recently added a new facility that allows college students to aid in research. Black Hills State University faculty say the underground campus  encourages science students to become involved with experiments.

Why nature is an engineer’s best inspiration

May 10, 2016
Kellar Autumn

Have you ever flown on a plane? Or used Velcro to hold two things together? If so, you’ve benefitted from biomimicry, an approach to solving human problems through nature-inspired innovations.

The invention of Velcro, for instance, happened one day when a man brought his dog into the house after a walk. The man noticed some burrs stuck to the dog's fur, and began studying their design and the way the burrs clung to fur and clothing using tiny hooks. Soon after, he invented the first strip of Velcro. 

What would Styrofoam be like if it were made out of steel? Afsaneh Rabiei at North Carolina State University has been working for years to develop and perfect metal foams, the product of a manufacturing process that embeds hollow metal spheres in solid metal.

The resulting material is light, strong, heat, and radiation-resistant, and, when incorporated in a bulletproof vest, for example, capable of shattering bullets on impact without injuring the person wearing it.

Mary Kay Magistad

Ask natives of Asia’s two giants, China and India, what they think of the other, and not infrequently, the jokes and stereotypes fly. At least some people in each country seem to enjoy secretly — or not so secretly — looking down on the other.

Laser-scanning our culture to preserve it

May 5, 2016

Climate-induced apocalypse forthcoming or not, our Earth endures constant environmental stress. Our landscapes erode, our buildings and roads wear down and crumble. Sometimes humans exacerbate the stress; sometimes the structures simply surrender to time.

Emily Johnson

Imagine living across the world from your family and friends and not being able to use Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and other social media and messaging apps to communicate.


Captain James Cook is the Christopher Columbus of Australasia. His voyages of discovery in the 18th Century opened the way for the colonization of the South Seas by Europeans.

And now Cook’s ship, the Endeavour, may have been found — but not where we might have expected. Marine archaeologists in Rhode Island say there’s an 80 to 100 percent chance they’ve located the wreck, on the ocean floor at the entrance to Newport Harbor.   

But how did the ship that discovered Botany Bay end up at the bottom of Narragansett Bay?

BTC Keychain 

Ever few months, it seems another news organization claims to have figured out the real identity of the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto.

Nakamoto is the name of the anonymous creator of the crypto-currency Bitcoin. Bitcoin was conceived in 2008 when a white paper was published under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto. The paper laid the foundation for what would become Bitcoin a crypto-currency.

In this memoir, a science lab portrayed as 'homey' and respectful

May 2, 2016
Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

Much of the language used to teach scientific principles or describe exciting scientific discoveries is anything but exciting. Scientific language, as a rule, is precise, but it can also be boring, elitist, and all but impenetrable to the average listener or reader.

Geobiologist Hope Jahren wants to change all that.  

That emoji you sent might not mean what you think

May 1, 2016

A new study finds that emoji, the tiny graphic images increasingly used in text communications, can be interpreted in a variety of ways. In other words? That round-faced emoticon at the end of your text message might not mean what you think.

How much do we really know about the Zika virus?

Apr 30, 2016

In April, the CDC announced that there’s finally enough evidence to draw a definitive connection between Zika virus and microcephaly, the condition where infants are born with unusually small heads and brain damage. But many questions remain, such as how the virus passes from mother to child.

Nose To Nose With A Rattlesnake In Persistence Cave

Apr 29, 2016
Marc Ohms / National Park Service

The buzz of a rattlesnake will give just about anyone the heebie-jeebies.  Now imagine encountering rattlesnake while belly crawling into cave.   
That’s what two National Park cave explorers did by accident. They managed to snap a photo of the snake before a careful retreat.  
You can hear the full story by clicking play below.

What's behind 'vinegar-gate' in Bristol, UK?

Apr 28, 2016
Ian Smith/Reuters

For Harriet Williams, the moment came one day when she was at a park playing with her 18-month-old son.

"And a guy turns up with a backpack and starts spraying the weeds at the base of the railings," she recalls, "with no warning, very close to where we were sitting."

As soon as Williams got home, she began researching. She found out that the chemical in the spray was likely something called glyphosate — a widely used herbicide. It kills weeds and other unwanted plants.

'Space archaeologists' and activists are using satellites to unearth history

Apr 26, 2016
DigitalGlobe/US Department of State

Satellites are integral for modern communication, navigation and weather forecasting. But advances in satellite technology, however, are allowing for new political and archaeological applications. 

“It's amazing ... the questions that you can answer that you didn’t even know you could answer once you start digging in and exploring what the options are," says Susan Wolfinbarger, director of the Geospatial Technologies Project at AAAS. 

Is bilingual better?

Apr 25, 2016
Michael Gumtau via Flickr

In this week's World in Words podcast, we consider the so-called bilingual advantage.

Did climate change cause these ancient civilizations to collapse?

Apr 24, 2016
Courtesy of&nbsp;<a href="" style="font-size: 13.008px; line-height: 20.0063px;">Nate Crabtree</a>

Scientists have documented the environmental impacts of climate change — including melting ice sheets — and predicted rising sea levels. But can climate change also disrupt culture?

Reporting in Science Advances, researchers say that climate change may have been a factor in the boom-and-bust cycles of ancient Southwest civilizations in the United States.

Dr. Ranjit Koodali, USD Chemistry Professor discusses the latest in chemistry research around the country. Dr. K is the Public Relations Chair of the Sioux Valley Section of the American Chemical Society. He provides regular collection of science articles and joins Innovation once a month to talk about what’s happening around the country. The focues is on Graphene - a type of carbon.

Groundwater underpins much of the breadbasket in the middle of the United States. 

The Oglala Aquifer begins in South Central South Dakota and extends underground all the way into the state of Texas.    The aquifer is a key source for irrigation… it was tapped only after the dust bowl ravaged this part of the country – but today, parts of the Oglala are under risk of going dry,  other parts could become contaminated.

Larry Downing/Reuters

It’s been eight years since DJ Patil — then the data and analytics lead at LinkedIn — helped coin the term “data scientist,” and the profession has already become one of the most popular in the country.