The Week: Most Recent Science Posts recent posts.en-usWed, 26 Nov 2014 15:00:00 -0500http://theweek.com Recent Science Posts from THE WEEKWed, 26 Nov 2014 15:00:00 -0500Your state bird could be extinct by 2080<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>By 2080, the skies over North America could be much emptier. A recent report from the National Audubon Society, compiled from data collected over 30 years of bird counts and surveys, shows that more than half of North America's most iconic birds are in serious danger. Of the 588 bird species surveyed, 314 are at risk for losing significant amounts of their habitat to a changing climate.</p><p>"Birds are a good barometer of the overall health and wellbeing of the natural systems we depend on for food, water, and clear air," Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham wrote in an email. "If half the birds...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Roxanne PalmerWed, 26 Nov 2014 15:00:00 -0500How to survive a spaceship disaster<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Falling from 10 miles up, with no spacesuit on, in air that's 70 degrees below zero and so thin you can hardly draw breath&hellip;Conditions were not ideal for Peter Siebold, a test pilot flying on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two, to survive. But he did. Siebold told investigators that he was thrown from the plane as it broke up, and unbuckled from his seat at some point before his parachute deployed automatically. It's unclear at this point why the same thing didn't happen for his copilot, Michael Alsbury.</p><p>Now, as spaceflight goes commercial, the destruction of both Spaceship Two and the Antares...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Roxanne PalmerWed, 26 Nov 2014 08:48:00 -0500What would it take for humans to build a settlement on Mars?<img src="" /></P><p>Do we have the technological know-how to send humans on a one-way trip to Mars? Bas Lansdorp, cofounder and CEO of Mars One, seems to think so. The Dutch entrepreneur and his Mars One team plan on establishing what could be the first human colony on Mars.</p><p>"The first humans that are going to Mars are going there to stay," said Lansdorp. "They need to stay in order for this mission to be feasible."</p><p>The plan is to send robotic rovers out in 2020 to find the best location for a settlement. Rovers will prepare the location for the arrival of life support units, space suits, and living units, which...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Linda ThrasybuleMon, 24 Nov 2014 06:05:00 -0500Why insects are the future of food<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><strong><span class="s1">AT FIRST MY </span></strong>meal seems familiar, like countless other dishes I've eaten at Asian restaurants. A swirl of noodles slicked with oil and studded with shredded chicken, with the aroma of ginger and garlic. And then I notice the eyes. Dark, compound orbs on a yellow speckled head, joined to a winged, segmented body. I hadn't spotted them right away, but suddenly I see them everywhere &mdash; my noodles are teeming with insects.</p><p class="p2"><span class="s1">I can't say I wasn't warned. On this warm May afternoon, I've agreed to be a guinea pig at an experimental insect tasting in Wageningen, a university town in the central Netherlands...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By Emily AnthesSun, 23 Nov 2014 08:00:00 -0500Why we gossip, according to science<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Did you hear what happened at yesterday's meeting? Can you believe it?</p><p>If you find those sort of quietly whispered questions about your co-workers irresistible, you're hardly alone. But why are we drawn to gossip?</p><p>A new study suggests it's because the rumors, innuendo, and hearsay are ultimately all about us &mdash; where we rate in the unofficial local hierarchy, and how we might improve our standing.</p><p>"Gossip recipients tend to use positive and negative group information to improve, promote, and protect the self," writes a research team led by Elena Martinescu of the University of Groningen...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Tom JacobsSat, 22 Nov 2014 14:00:00 -0500How science is accelerating our search for alien life<img src="" /></P><p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong> Why are scientists so optimistic?</strong><br /> The Kepler space telescope gets much of the credit. Before it was launched into orbit in 2009, astronomers couldn't be sure whether planets existed outside our solar system. The search for extraterrestrial life was mostly focused on our own solar system &mdash; on Mars and a number of moons around Jupiter and Saturn &mdash; and on an intergalactic eavesdropping project known as SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). For 50 years, SETI has been using radio telescopes to listen for signals from an alien civilization somewhere out there in the cosmos...</span></p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffSat, 22 Nov 2014 11:00:00 -05006 tiny scientific mistakes that created huge disasters<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>Even when things go according to plan, applied science is rarely cheap and always complicated &mdash; and when things go badly, the smallest mistake can end up costing millions or billions of dollars, and even, sometimes, human lives. Here are six reminders of why it's always good to double-check your work, especially when dealing with spaceflight.</p><p><em>(Note: Numbers are not adjusted for inflation.)</em></p><p><strong>The crash of NASA's Genesis probe</strong></p><p><em>The mistake:</em> A pair of parts were installed backwards</p><p><em>Estimated cost: </em>Over $260 million</p><p>(<strong>More from <em>World Science Festival</em>:</strong> Alan Turing vs. the mechanical Nazi)</p>... <a href="">More</a>By Alison BruzekFri, 21 Nov 2014 08:36:00 -0500The psychology of bribery and corruption<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p>This one's a head-shaker. In 2011 and 2012, Robert Lustyik, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent on the counterintelligence squad in White Plains, New York (now retired), and his childhood friend Johannes Thaler, a shoe salesman at a Macy's, solicited bribes in exchange for confidential government information that Lustyik had access to at work &mdash; and they texted and emailed about the plan in great detail the entire time.</p><p>An acquaintance of Thaler's from Macy's, Rizve Ahmed, paid the pair $1,000 for the FBI's "Suspicious Activity Report" about his political rival back in his home of Bangladesh...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Lauren KirchnerThu, 20 Nov 2014 15:46:00 -0500How neuroscience can help us understand political partisanship<img src="" /></P><p>"Read Montague" is not some command your prelapsarian political science professor gives you. It's the name of a computational neuroscientist who studies decision-making. He's the latest to release research showing something unusual going on in the brains of people who affiliate with a particular ideology.</p><p>Specifically, he reports that Democrats and Republicans have different reactions when they're shown disgusting pictures, so much so that the reactions themselves can predict, reliably, whether the person looking at the image identifies voluntarily as liberal or conservative.</p><p>He recruited a random...</p> <a href="">More</a>Marc AmbinderThu, 20 Nov 2014 08:50:00 -0500Meet one of the greatest living scientists you've never heard of<img src="" /></P><p><br /></p><p class="TextBlock" data-role="paragraph" data-type="text" data-align="left" data-effect="dropcaps">When Isabella Lugoski Karle makes her weekly errand run to Shoppers Food Warehouse, she navigates the store quietly, weaving her cart through aisles of canned goods and around the produce section. At ninety-one, her cropped white hair is neatly combed and she holds herself up straight, loading the ingredients for a braised chicken recipe into her cart.</p><p class="TextBlock" data-role="paragraph" data-type="text" data-align="left">What Isabella Karle's fellow shoppers don't know as they wait beside her in the checkout line is that she revolutionized the method of discovering the medicines that many of them regularly purchase over at the pharmacy counter. In the narrowly...</p> <a href="">More</a>By Antonia MassaSat, 15 Nov 2014 14:00:00 -0500