science

Here in California we worry a lot about the "Monkey Mind." You know, the noisy thoughts that jump and trip and interrupt your meditation.

But what's really going on inside the mind of a monkey?

A bunch of my Facebook friends — cognitive scientists, professors, students of the mind, one and all — were more excited than a barrel of monkeys this week over some videos of monkeys and apes confronted with stage magic that have been making the rounds.

Take exhibit one, for example, here.

NASA has released a new gravity map of Mars, providing a detailed look at the Red Planet's surface and revealing new information about what lies beneath it.

Thirty-four water systems in Washington state were found to have unacceptable levels of lead. Most of those systems are now in compliance, although four of them are still working toward lower lead levels.
Flickr Photo/Christina Spicuzza (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Flint, Michigan, isn't the only place with lead in its drinking water: 34 water systems in Washington state have tested above acceptable levels of the toxic metal, according to a new investigation from USA Today.

The list includes water systems at five schools: Maple Valley Elementary, Griffin School near Olympia, Shelton Valley Christian School, Skamania Elementary and Washington State Patrol Academy.

Juvenile penguin on Genovesa Island. Click on this image to see more penguin photos.
Patricio Maldonado/Courtesy of iGalapagos.org

Bill Radke speaks with University of Washington researcher Dee Boersma about her website iGalapagos, where she is asking Galapagos Islands tourists to share their photos of penguins to help with her research. 

Humans like to place things in categories and can struggle when things can't easily be categorized. That also applies to people, a study finds, and the brain's visual biases may play a role in perceptions of mixed-race people.

Author Kara Platoni
Courtesy of Justine Quart Photography

Kara Platoni took a year off to travel around the world searching for cutting edge investigations into sensory perception -- including what the taste of fatty acids does to mice and us and how scent triggers memories in Alzheimer’s patients.

The lessons she learned inspired her new book “We Have the Technology: How Biohackers, Foodies, Physicians, and Scientists Are Transforming Human Perception One Sense at a Time.”

Recently returned from a groundbreaking 340-day space mission, astronaut Scott Kelly announced Friday he will retire from NASA on April 1, but still continue to participate in research related to his space travel.

Blue Origin team members Bretton Alexander and Jeff Ashby, founder Jeff Bezos, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, and team members Rob Meyerson and Robert Millman at the company’s headquarters in Kent in 2011.
Flickr Photo/NASA HQ Photo (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/aSA5N4

Bill Radke interviews reporter Alan Boyle about his recent tour of Blue Origin -- the Jeff Bezos' space tourism and rocket factory that opened its doors to reporters for the first time this week.  

Plastic makes great food packaging. It's waterproof and flexible. And best of all, it's impervious to all known bacteria — until now. Researchers have found a bacterium in the debris fields around a recycling plant in Japan that can feed off a common type of plastic used in clothing, plastic bottles and food packaging.

Tuesday's solar eclipse as seen from Alaska Airlines flight 870
Courtesy of American Astronomical Society/Mike Kentrianakis

The view of a lifetime: That's what passengers on board Alaska Airlines flight 870 got on Tuesday.

A group of astronomers convinced the airline to change the flight plan for a plane headed from Anchorage to Honolulu. Why, you ask? So they could get a perfect view of a solar eclipse in progress. 

Miss Manners and skilled prep cooks should be pleased: Our early human ancestors likely mastered the art of chopping and slicing more than 2 million years ago. Not only did this yield daintier pieces of meat and vegetables that were much easier to digest raw, with less chewing — it also helped us along the road to becoming modern humans, researchers reported Wednesday.

And our ancestors picked up these skills at least 1.5 million years before cooking took off as a common way to prepare food, the researchers say.

In the ocean near Hawaii, more than 2 1/2 miles underwater, scientists have discovered a small, delicate-looking and ghostlike little octopod — possibly a new species.

The animal was discovered by Deep Discoverer, a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV — picture a small, unmanned submarine equipped with cameras and a robotic arm — that was working to collect geological samples.

We know we should put the cigarettes away or make use of that gym membership, but in the moment, we just don't do it. There is a cluster of neurons in our brain critical for motivation, though. What if you could hack them to motivate yourself?

These neurons are located in the middle of the brain, in a region called the ventral tegmental area. A paper published Thursday in the journal Neuron suggests that we can activate the region with a little bit of training.

Retired soccer player Brandi Chastain, who became a superstar when she scored the game-winning goal for the U.S. in the 1999 World Cup final against China, says she will donate her brain to science.

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