Science news

Courtesy National Park Service

The recent unearthing of a rare mammoth skull at the Channel Islands National Park was accomplished with the assistance of personnel from The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs. We spoke with the director of the world-renowned mammoth research facility about what the find means.

An exceptionally well-preserved fossil of a complete mammoth skull has been uncovered from an eroding stream bank on Santa Rosa Island in California.

mali maeder. Image cropped.

Would you clothe yourself in plastic kitchen wrap to stay cool on a blazing summer day?

Researchers at Stanford University are hoping so — they’ve designed a new polyethylene-based fabric that’s meant to lower its wearer's body temperature by almost four degrees. The invention isn’t just for convenience: If more of our bodies’ thermal radiation can escape through our clothes, we might be less likely to flip a switch to cool down.  

Muhammad Fadli/GroundTruth

Like millions of Jakartans, Dedi Setiawan lives along one of the city’s 13 rivers, in a village-style neighborhood called a kampung. The area’s unpaved paths are jammed with people selling snacks and cell phone credits out of carts, residents hang laundry out to dry between bamboo shacks and small brick homes, and the river crossing is a wooden boat pulled along a wire strung between the banks.

Do dogs understand what we're saying to them?

Sep 18, 2016
Anastasia Basano/<a href="">CC BY 2.0</a>. Image cropped.

Ever gotten the feeling that your dog is listening not just to what you say, but how you say it? You’re not alone among pet owners — and a new study in Science suggests that you’re not wrong, either.

Law enforcement DNA databases draw scrutiny, controversy

Sep 16, 2016
Michaela Rehle/Reuters

Imagine you are the victim of a crime: a burglary or a sexual assault.

DNA is taken from the crime scene and compared against a federally regulated FBI-run database used to process DNA evidence, called CODIS. The process can take as long as 18 months before a match is identified. In the meantime, the perpetrator has committed a string of other crimes.

But some local police departments claim they can get faster results — as little as 30 days — by using private labs and local DNA databases.

Giorgos Moutafis// Reuters

When it comes to rescue missions, Mehdi Salehi says every second counts, and he would know.

More than a decade ago he fled the Taliban in Afghanistan. He made his way to Turkey, and later rode a flimsy boat to Greece. Now Salehi is working to help other refugees survive the perilous sea crossings to Europe that have claimed thousands of lives.

To do that, he's become a drone expert.

I personally remember the huge train schedule board located in Grand Central Terminal in New York. I'd just stand there, mesmerized as the panels flipped and the sounds they made flapped. 

And apparently, I'm not the only one with fond memories like this.

Sounds can take us back in time, into a kind of memory time travel. And soon, the "flapping" sound travelers now hear at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station will become an aural memory.

Transforming Energy Will Require A Biomass Movement

Sep 13, 2016

In spite of their rich history, biologically derived sources of energy like wood, grass, dung and alcohol have failed to ignite the public "buzz" of the other renewables: solar, wind or even geothermal.

The University of Minnesota opens a new multi-million dollar bee research facility next month.

The nearly $5 million academic research laboratory on campus in St. Paul will consolidate lab space, honey extraction, observation hive space and office space. Construction of the new lab began a year ago.

• U study: Nicotine-based insecticides inhibit bee reproduction

If other animals can regenerate their limbs, why can’t humans?

Sep 11, 2016
Pogrebnoj-Alexandroff/<a href="">CC-BY-SA 3.0</a>. Image cropped.

Have you ever watched a fish swim and thought that all of the long, tiny bones in its pectoral fin looked a bit — just a little bit — like fingers? Or seen a salamander that’s regrown its tail after a close call with a predator, and wondered why we can’t regenerate our limbs? As scientists learn more about the genes that shape animal musculoskeletal systems, they’re uncovering clues about how our own limbs developed — and may someday regenerate.

US officials are rushing to develop a Zika vaccine by 2017

Sep 10, 2016
Cynthia Goldsmith/CDC. Image cropped.

The Rio Olympics have come and gone, but the spread of Zika virus internationally remains a threat for the United States. The CDC is actively monitoring two clusters of the virus in Florida. Government officials expect that Zika will eventually spread. Meanwhile, vaccine candidates are being rushed through clinical trials, but won't be available at least until the spring of 2017. 

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says that for now, it’s important to contain Zika and to raise public awareness about its effects.

How realistic are the hacks in 'Mr. Robot'?

Sep 10, 2016
Courtesy Universal Cable Productions.

Fans of the show "Mr. Robot" know that cybersecurity programmer Elliot Alderson is no character to mess with. As a member of the cyber-vigilante group "fsociety," Elliot is dedicated to bringing down E Corp, the company responsible for his father’s death, through technological sleights of hand. Elliot’s hacks have made use of Raspberry Pi computers, DeepSounds discs, and DDoS attacks, and recently even targeted the FBI.

Melting glaciers and bleached corals: We hear about them a lot when it comes to the effects of global warming on our oceans.

But other impacts aren’t so visible — like whole species of fish, seabirds and turtles moving to live in cooler waters closer to the poles.

Medical marijuana just became more accessible to US scientists

Sep 4, 2016
Evan-Amos/<a href="">Wikimedia Commons</a>

Medical marijuana is legal in 25 states and Washington, DC, but scientists studying the drug still face tough government regulations limiting its growth and distribution.

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently removed one hurdle for medical marijuana researchers. It announced that it would increase the number of manufacturers that are allowed to grow and provide marijuana to scientists.

Daniel A. Gross/PRI

Just after noon on Thursday, a shadow passed in front of the sun, and the skies above East Africa dimmed. It was the middle of the day, yet it looked like evening.

As the solar eclipse began, I was in a tiny Tanzanian village called Lupiro, with a group of Danish and Swedish laser scientists and local experts on the behavior of malaria mosquitoes. We were joined by a throng of excited children who lived nearby. Together, with the help of dark tinted plates of glass, we stared up at the sun.

This strangely orbiting space object could have ties to Planet Nine

Sep 3, 2016
NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI)/<a href="">CC BY 2.0</a>

Niku is the Chinese word for rebellious — and it’s the name scientists have given to a new space object that orbits wildly out of sync with the rest of our solar system. Located in the Kuiper Belt, beyond the orbit of Neptune, Niku is a piece of icy debris roughly 100 miles across. Recently, scientists discovered that Niku's orbital plane is tilted by 110 degrees to the sun. Not only that, but Niku also moves around the sun backward.

We’re finding more links between immune responses and our ‘body clocks’

Sep 3, 2016
Courtesy of PLoS journal

Earlier this year, scientists in the UK concluded that a morning flu shot may actually be more effective than the same vaccine administered in the afternoon, suggesting that our immune responses may shift throughout the day.

Why private companies are racing to build small rockets

Sep 3, 2016
Svobodat/<a href="">CC BY-SA 3.0</a>

There's a new space race underway, but this competition isn’t quite on the scale of the one that took place between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s.

This time, NASA isn’t even a key player. 

Instead, today’s space race is taking place among private companies vying to build tiny rockets.

Why the rush to deliver a smaller rocket? Tim Fernholz, a reporter for the website Quartz, says the satellite technology that depends on rockets to reach low Earth orbit is getting smaller — and more popular — all the time.

Four Visions Of Change For The Yahara Watershed

Sep 1, 2016

The year 2070 may sound like an impossibly distant date from the vantage point of 2016, but it's as near into the future as John Glenn's first orbit of the Earth is in the past. This point just over a half-century from now is the destination of Yahara 2070, a regionally oriented research effort headed by the Water Sustainability and Climate Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Sarah Menendez

In the last seven years, the population of savanna elephants in Africa has declined 30 percent, accounting for the loss of about 144,000 elephants.  According to the Great Elephant Census, the elephant population declined at a rate of eight percent a year, which they attribute to an increase in poaching between the years 2007-2014.

Spike Aerospace

A few years ago, entrepreneur Vik Kachoria was spending a lot of time up in the clouds flying from Boston to Europe to Asia. He had plenty of time to ponder this question: “Why aren’t we flying any faster?”

Computers have gotten faster, trains are faster, everything is faster. “In every industry we look at, except for aviation,” reasoned Kachoria.

Rebecca Cook/Reuters

It's been a common dilemma since the dawn of the industrial age, machines taking jobs away from people.

We call it automation. And while you likely won’t hear this spoken aloud amid all the semi-factual rhetoric of an election season, most experts say that many more jobs have been lost in the last 25 years to automation than to trade policy.

Carlo Allegri/Reuters

The election season has now been going on for more than a year, and while the candidates make lots of speeches about taxes, job creation or international trade, there’s one topic you don't hear about much on the campaign trail: science.

It certainly didn't play a role in the primaries, but might there be more of a science focus in the general election? Maybe even some science questions during the three scheduled debates?

submitted photo

Dr. Ranjit Koodali, USD Chemistry Professor and now Dean of the USD Graduate School joins us to discuss the latest in 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 is going to join Innovation once a month to talk about what’s happening around the country.

Today we discuss how Engineered Microbes make silver nanoparticles.

Charles Michael Ray

Rapid City Stevens High School opens a new science wing this school year. It features eight state of the art science classrooms with chemical resistant floors and countertops. The space has separate teaching and lab areas. SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray toured the new wing and spoke with Rapid City Schools Facilities Manager Kumar Veluswamy. 

Our closest galactic neighbor may also have a habitable planet

Aug 26, 2016
M. Kornmesser/European Southern Observatory

Earth has a new intergalactic neighbor.

On Wednesday, astronomers announced they have detected an Earth-like planet in a neighboring solar system in the so-called "Goldilocks zone” — areas of space that are neither too hot nor too cold for water to exist, something that would allow for the possibility of life.

Bombs, birds, and butterflies co-exist as Pentagon protects rare species

Aug 23, 2016
Dr. Nick Haddad catches a St. Francis' satyr on a habitat near the Fort Bragg artillery range. He's working on a project to restore the butterfly's population.
Jay Price/American Homefront

In the past two decades, the U.S. military has quietly built a huge national conservation network by developing formal -- and once unlikely -- partnerships with environmental groups, universities, local governments, zoos, and even prison systems.

They're protecting hundreds of rare species - butterflies in North Carolina, Washington, and Pennsylvania; manatees in Georgia; and dozens of birds and fish around the country.

The physics behind the world’s fastest swim strokes

Aug 21, 2016

To propel themselves through the water, swimmers use different strokes to control drag and lift. But which stroke is the fastest? Some experts have pinpointed the fish kick — a version of the dolphin kick — as the speediest swimming style.

Why? As swim coach and engineer Rick Madge explains, it's all about fluid dynamics.