Science

Science news

A new super-efficient vertical farming system in Singapore is producing greens for the 5 million residents of the crowded city-state. The system is helping increase Singapore’s food security, while also helping cut down on the climate impact of food production. Sam Eaton reports, in the first part of our “What’s for Lunch” series.

Rapid City Airport Roof Gets Green Makeover

Oct 17, 2018
Lee Strubinger / SDPB

A maze of hearty, green sedum plants is installed on the rooftop deck that extends over the main terminal of the Rapid City Airport.

The plants require little maintenance and are expected to do well in the regional climate.

But the grid of plants are for more than just looks.

It’s called a green roof, and is a part of Jason Phillips’ civil engineering doctorate degree. Phillips says a green roof has social, environmental and economic benefits. He says countries like Germany have utilized green roofs for the last four decades.

Dateline:
A dozen graduate students sitting in a large hall nervously listen to the long list of rules for the science communication contest they've entered.

"One slide and one slide only, no animation, no flashing lights," says Mark Rutherford, associate dean for graduate programs in the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary Medicine. "No interpretive dance."

Nervous laughs.

"Are we ready?" Rutherford asks.

Dateline: St. Paul
There is something new in the world of things millions of years old: the Science Museum of Minnesota has a new curator of paleontology, Alex Hastings.

Hastings is taking over for Bruce Erickson, a veteran curator at the Museum who retired in 2017, after 58 years of service.

• 2017: New idea shakes up dinosaur family tree for T. Rex and pals

New lab takes students on virtual field trips

Oct 9, 2018

Dateline: Hawley, Minn.
Students in a northwest Minnesota school can now fly an Apollo space mission to the moon for history class, dissect a pig for science or paint a picture for art, just by strapping on a set of high-tech goggles.

Hawley Public Schools is introducing its students — and their teachers — to the district's new virtual reality lab, one of only a few hundred around the country.

• Full coverage: Education

She was 23 and not allowed to work in 2005 when she first came to the United States. Now 36, Archana Vaidyanathan is interviewing with major technology firms in Northern California to see if her expertise is still in demand.

Vaidyanathan holds an H-4 visa, given to family of those who come to the US with H-1B visas, sponsored by employers. The Department of Homeland Security filed an update in federal court on Aug. 20 that a new rule to rescind the right to work for spouses of H-1B visa holders is in its final stages of “clearance review.”

Wisconsin school districts ban cellphones in classroom

Sep 15, 2018

Dateline: Madison, Wis.
School districts across Wisconsin are banning cellphones in the classroom in an effort to reduce distractions during class time.

The Portage Community School District approved adopting such a policy last year, Wisconsin Public Radio reported .

Teachers previously had the ability to shape their classroom's cellphone policy, said Portage High School Principal Robin Kvalo. The new standardized policy has been effective because teachers and administrators are consistent with discipline, she said.

California emerges as a leader at climate summit

Sep 14, 2018

When President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Paris climate change agreement last summer, cities, states and business leaders quickly tried to jump into the leadership void.  

Chief among them was California Gov. Jerry Brown, who announced just weeks later he would gather leaders from around the world for a high-level climate summit in San Francisco.

Chris Laughery

Tuesday, September 25 is the South Dakota Technology Showcase where some of the state’s top innovators are on hand to discuss their latest technology successes and take away lessons. My guests to talk about this are Vernon Brown with SDN Communications and Cheryl Riley, the AT&T’s Northern Plains President. Both AT&T and SDN plan this event. 

Biomaterials Day

Sep 14, 2018
Chris Laughery

Tayler Hoekstra is a PhD Candidate and Graduate Research Assistant in the Biomedical Engineering Department and Courtney Kinser is also a graduate student in the program discuss USD Biomaterials Day. This is a chance for students to highlight research. The topic for the September 21 event is Immunology and Regenerative Medicine.

Dr. Jennifer Benning, Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. She is also a leader of the Engineering and Science Projects in Community Service Projects (EPICS). Dr. Benning is the featured speaker at the STEAM Café at the Hay Camp Brewing company on Tuesday, September 18th. The EPICS program provides students an opportunity to partner on community projects and earn course credits. Projects include tackling homelessness by designing tiny houses; building greenhouses or saving historic buildings.

Most summer days, 14-year-old Manal Taragroum says she would be stuck at home, helping with chores around the house.

But not today. That’s because the energetic teenager is one of 20 young girls who has been selected to participate in a tech camp where they are learning the fundamentals of social media, digital photography and even basic coding.

Dateline:
Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns is out with a new documentary about the Mayo Clinic, which he calls Minnesota's "Grand Canyon."

The two-hour film, "Mayo Clinic: Faith, Hope, Science" charts the trajectory of the hospital from its start as a small hospital employing Catholic nuns as nurses to its world-class ranking today.

Burns, a Mayo patient himself, offers a glowing portrait of the Rochester-based hospital as the best medical care provider in the world.

Dateline:
Duluth students will no longer have to keep track of a library card — and they won't have to pay late fees — thanks to a new collaboration between the Duluth school district and the Duluth Public Library.

The district's roughly 8,500 students will be able to access live homework help and tutoring, flash cards, e-books and magazines, DVDs, research databases, practice ACT/SAT tests, and other resources at the public library.

If you’ve been on Instagram in the past few days—and, let’s be real, a majority of Instagram users check it at least once a day—you might have gotten notice that you’ll soon be able to know exactly how much time you’re spending on the app. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who already has access to this tool since it started rolling out to users August 1.

The YouTube app will now ping you when you’ve watched videos for too long.

Discovering New (and Old) Worlds Through 3-D Tech

Aug 28, 2018

Most of us will never be able to stand in the interior rooms of an ancient temple, climb on hands and knees through a millennium-old mine or visit a marina lost to time.

Dateline: Maplewood, Minn.
Robotics teams from dozens of local high schools showed off their machines at 3M's Maplewood headquarters Friday. The robots are diverse and the teams are increasingly so, too.

More young women and students of color are getting involved with robotics.

Don Bossi is president of FIRST, an organization that sponsors robotics competitions nationwide and encourages students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Five Things to Know About About Blockchain and Bitcoin

Aug 16, 2018

As innovative as space flight, as paradigm-shifting as the invention of the internet: blockchain technology is quickly becoming a topic that Millennials need to understand in order to make sense of the world. But blockchain technology is so unprecedented that many people don’t quite have the words to describe it.

The idea behind "smart guns" is that only the registered owners of firearms are able to unlock and use them. The idea goes back to the 1970s, to a design that used a magnetic ring system that owners could match to their guns. The idea has evolved to use digital innovations. But even though the concept has been around a long time, smart guns still aren't on the market.

Dr. Ranjit Koodali is the Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Chemistry at the University of South Dakota. He joins us each month to discuss the latest research in chemistry. We dicsuss nanomedicine and the versatility of materials contributing to this fast and emerging area of research to find novel solutions and cures for diseases. 

Students take the lead in campus mental health programs

Aug 8, 2018

Dateline:
The demand for mental health treatment on college campuses is skyrocketing across the country, but schools are struggling to keep up. Students seeking out treatment often face obstacles such as stigma, long waiting lists, and a looming generational gap of mental health understanding. How can schools address this problem? Where do students fit into the solution?

A team at Stanford University has started using a genetic editing tool called CRISPR to identify the genes that make corals more heat-tolerant.

As the climate changes, warming oceans pose a huge threat to coral reefs. In 2016, nearly a third of the corals on the Great Barrier Reef died off. A quarter of all the fish species in the sea rely on corals for habitat, so die-offs aren’t just bad news for corals.

It's an obscure ocean current in a remote part of the world. But what happens to it as the planet and the oceans warm up could affect the lives of people everywhere.

That’s why Bob Pickart, a physical oceanographer from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, traveled to Ísafjörður, Iceland, in the middle of the harsh North Atlantic winter, planning to head into the teeth of some of the worst weather imaginable.

Muslim group welcomes probe of Minnesota student's suicide

Jul 31, 2018

Dateline: Chisago Lakes, Minn.
A Muslim advocacy group says it welcomes the Minnesota Department of Education's decision to investigate a school district's anti-bullying policy after a student's suicide earlier this year.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations requested the investigation after 15-year-old Jacob LeTourneau-Elsharkawy killed himself.

Chynna Lockett

An international team of scientists have found the first evidence of a source of high-energy cosmic neutrinos. This team includes researchers at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Associate Professor of Physics Xinhua Bai and PhD grad student Emily Dvorak are working on research using the South Pole detector called IceCube.

Mars In The Night Sky

Jul 27, 2018
NASA, ESA, and STScI

The last weekend in July is the best opportunity to view Mars in 15 years. Saturn is also prominent in the night sky. NASA Planetary Scientist Dr. Geronimo Villanueva discusses how to spot the planets and shares what scientists are learning from images taken by the Hubble telescope. 

Sanford Researach Scientist Kristi Egland evisioned a "better way" to detect breast cancer while she was being treated for her own breast cancer. She developed a blood test that uses a patient's own immune system as a biosensor. The medical technology company Inanovate specializes in screening and analysis of proteins and will begin a clinical trial, collect and store blood samples as it works to validate the accuracy of the test. Rob Nelson, Chief Operating Officer for Inanovate says they will use a patented technology platform called the Bio-ID.

Dateline:
Three young people whose lives have been forever changed by gun violence spoke out at this summer's Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. Kayla Schaefer and Olivia Wesch are high school students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Ke'Shon Newman is a high school student in Chicago whose brother was shot and killed a few years ago. He's a youth leader of Bold Resistance Against Violence Everywhere (B.R.A.V.E.)

Something was not making sense.

The Montreal Protocol had been in effect for more than 30 years to rid the planet of products that emit chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons — or CFCs, as most people know them.

Dateline:
FBI director Christopher Wray speaks at the Aspen Security Forum about Russian interference in US elections, and also says the Mueller investigation is not a "witch hunt."

He spoke in Aspen, Colorado on July 18th with moderator Lester Holt of NBC

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