Science & Environment

Science & Environment
6:11 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Arctic Spring: Chasing an Elusive Algal Bloom

Top: Ken Golden and Chris Polashenski measure the ice core temperature. Bottom: Melosira, an ice algae diatom that lives in the sea ice and forms long chains.
Credit Amanda Kowalski & Chelsea Clarke

Science - like life - doesn't always go according to plan. An Arctic expedition this year met with political and meteorological obstacles, and ended with a Coast Guard rescue.

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Science & Environment
9:57 am
Mon October 13, 2014

Science at Burning Man

Alecia looks at a Circuit Tree out on the Playa
Carl Rhodes

Each year, tens of thousands of people from around the country make their way to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert for a week-long festival known as Burning Man. It’s a celebration of art and self-expression, but it’s also permeated with science and technology. WCAI on-air host and Living Lab production assistant Alecia Orsini went to Burning Man this year with a mission – to find all the science she could. 

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Science & Environment
8:52 am
Mon October 13, 2014

Breaking Down the Dust

What is Playa Dust made of?
Alecia Orsini

Burning Man is a week long festival in August that takes place in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. It's a harsh environment to live and camp for a week, but Burners (what you call someone who goes to Burning Man) live for the challenge. One of the defining elements of the experience is the Black Rock Playa, the desert itself. Unlike most deserts, it is a dusty alkali flat from an ancient ocean or lake bed.

Two Burners from Medford Massachusetts, upon studying the chemicals that make up the dusty playa, concluded that they should be able to make glass from the dust. 

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Weekly Bird Report
6:20 pm
Wed October 8, 2014

Falcon Migration a Highlight of Early October Birding

American Kestrel in flight
Credit Kenneth Cole Schneider / flickr

This time of year is so good for birding that it is hard not to get “spoiled.” There are mornings when the sky is roiling with migrant birds and it creates a sort of birding frenzy, with the observer just wanting to see more and more. This past week, with the weather being just OK, most days with more easterly wind direction than one hopes for, was really good for birding. Several mornings, seemingly inexplicably to the human observer and weather watcher, there were large numbers of migrant landbirds on the Cape and Islands.

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Weekly Bird Report
5:58 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Location, Location, Location: Why Cape-and-Islands Birders Have the Best Views of Fall Migration

American Redstart
Credit Vern Laux

It is hard not to notice the change going on in the natural world as we enter the month of October. The first of October heralds a major shift in bird migration and bird populations. As hours of light rapidly decreases, ambient temperatures begin to plummet and signs of the upcoming winter obvious and everywhere-birds are either on the move or preparing to stick out the rather brutal northeast winter. Either way for the birds-there is lots to do and lots going on.

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Science & Environment
12:45 pm
Mon September 29, 2014

How Online Video Games Could Change the World

FoldIt is an online game in which players try to fold proteins into the functional forms.
Credit foldit.wikia.com

Americans spend billions - in both dollars and hours - on video games each year. What if all that time and money produced knowledge that could benefit humanity?

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Science & Environment
11:35 am
Mon September 29, 2014

And The Nobel Prize Goes To ...

The 2014 Nobel Laureates will be announced next week. Here are some of the names you might expect to hear.

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Science & Environment
1:25 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

Building Moral Robots, With Whose Morals?

BEAR, or Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot, is designed to help soldiers in need. But other robots could take on roles as combatants.
Credit Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Center

Giving robots morals may sound like a good idea, but it's a pursuit fraught with its own moral dilemmas. Like, whose morals?

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Science & Environment
12:18 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

LISTEN: Can You Name These Sci Fi Robots?

The Star Trek android, Data, and his emotionally unstable brother, Lore.
Credit en.memory-alpha.org

Science fiction is full of robots, and many of them are murderous nightmares.

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Weekly Bird Report
5:53 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Fall Bird Migration Quickens with the Approach of Solstice

Credit Greg Schechter

Next week the Autumnal Solstice will occur and with it the change from more hours of darkness than light. All wildlife but especially birds are tuned into this, and with the passage of the solstice the fall migration quickens, as colder temperatures and shorter days foretell the coming winter.

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