science

Billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk says his space transport company, SpaceX, will build a rocket system capable of bringing people to Mars and supporting a permanent city on the red planet.

"It's something we can do in our lifetimes," he said in a speech at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico that was streamed online and watched by more than 100,000 people. "You could go."

Congratulations are in order, kind of, for a few exemplary researchers and one massive multinational corporation.

This year's Ig Nobel awards — the rather-less-noble-than-the-Nobel awards for "improbable" research and accomplishments — were announced Thursday night.

The honorees included a man who lived as a goat, a man who lived as a badger, a man who put tiny pants on rats and tracked their sex lives, a team who investigated the personalities of rocks, and Volkswagen.

People born without sight appear to solve math problems using visual areas of the brain.

A functional MRI study of 17 people blind since birth found that areas of visual cortex became active when the participants were asked to solve algebra problems, a team from Johns Hopkins reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers from the University of Washington and NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center found the opposite of what they expected when they used a new scientific method to sample the waters of Puget Sound.

From anthrax outbreaks in thawing permafrost to rice farms flooded with salty water, climate change seems to play a bigger and bigger role in global health each year.

Saying it wants to make football safer for current and future athletes, the NFL is pledging to spend $100 million for "independent medical research and engineering advancements." A main goal will be to prevent and treat head injuries.

Announcing the pledge Wednesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said it is in addition to the $100 million the league already committed toward medical research of brain injuries and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the progressive degenerative disease that has been found in football players.

Sugar shocked.

That describes the reaction of many Americans this week following revelations that, 50 years ago, the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists for research that shifted the focus away from sugar's role in heart disease — and put the spotlight squarely on dietary fat.

What might surprise consumers is just how many present-day nutrition studies are still funded by the food industry.

Five people. Ten bears. One desperate call for help.

On a remote Arctic island, five researchers at a weather station found themselves "besieged" by polar bears over the weekend, Russia's TASS news agency reports.

Vadim Plotnikov, the head of the weather station on Troynoy Island, told the news agency on Monday that the staff there had seen 10 adult bears around the station, as well as several cubs.

Two weeks ago, a polar bear ate one of the weather station's two dogs — and hadn't left the station since.

Doctors Test Drones To Speed Up Delivery Of Lab Tests

Sep 13, 2016

Three years ago, Geoff Baird bought a drone. The Seattle dad and hobby plane enthusiast used the 2.5-pound quadcopter to photograph the Hawaiian coastline and film his son's soccer and baseball games.

In the 1960s, the sugar industry funded research that downplayed the risks of sugar and highlighted the hazards of fat, according to a newly published article in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Five states are voting this fall on whether marijuana should be legal, like alcohol, for recreational use. That has sparked questions about what we know — and don't know — about marijuana's effect on the brain.

Like so many brilliant innovations, the idea seems obvious in hindsight. Just combine college, coffee, and chemical engineering. Of course!

If you've ever wanted to watch a superbug evolve before your very eyes, you're in luck. Researchers filmed an experiment that created bacteria a thousand times more drug-resistant than their ancestors. In the time-lapse video, a white bacterial colony creeps across an enormous black petri dish plated with vertical bands of successively higher doses of antibiotic.

Writer Charles Mudede at Smoke Farm.
Courtesy of Jason Evans

The 8th Smoke Farm Symposium featured talks by professor Tanya Erzen, writer and filmmaker Charles Mudede, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Ken Williford and historian and MacArthur Fellow Mott Greene.

Topics included prison reform by Erzen, global migration and citizenship by Mudede, the search for microscopic life on Mars by Williford and science history by Greene.

How A Dog In An MRI Scanner Is Like Your Grandma At A Disco

Sep 8, 2016

Dogs can be trained to do a multitude of tasks. Most can learn to sit, lie and stay; others can guide the blind, rescue the injured and maybe even detect cancer. But the hardest thing of all might be to train them to do nothing. Stop scratching. Don't wag your tail. Don't drool. Don't even lick your chops.

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