Science & Technology

Once upon a time, there was one screen that TV broadcasters needed to fill. These days, it's all about the two-screen experience.

People have been watching television with their laptops, smartphones and tablets in hand for a while now. But this year, big business tried harder than ever to bring television to a second screen.

Gadget Watch: Samsung shows bendable phone screen

Jan 10, 2013
Jen Consalvo / Tech Cocktail

LAS VEGAS (AP) - By showing off a phone with a flexible screen, Samsung is hinting at a day when we might fold up our large phone or tablet screens as if they were maps.

The Korean electronics company provided a glimpse of such a device at a keynote speech Wednesday at the International CES gadget show in Las Vegas. It's an annual showcase of the latest TVs, computers and other consumer-electronic devices.

Apple's Schiller: A cheaper iPhone? Um, no

Jan 10, 2013

Yesterday, reports circulated about Apple possibly releasing a less expensive iPhone. Today, Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, said there's no truth in those reports.

Google's Schmidt Urges Internet Openness in North Korea

Jan 10, 2013
Jolie O'Dell / Flickr

BEIJING (AP) -- Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Thursday it's up to North Korea to shed its self-imposed isolation and allow its citizens to use the Internet and connect with the outside world, or risk remaining way behind other countries.

Schmidt was returning from a private trip to North Korea with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson that was not sanctioned by the U.S. government and has been criticized for appearing to boost Pyongyang's profile after its widely condemned rocket launch put a satellite into space last month.

Apple Still Casts a Long Shadow Over CES

Jan 10, 2013

For a company that hasn’t attended CES since 1992, Apple dominates the show.

Report: Apple may build less expensive iPhone

Jan 10, 2013
Matthew Pearce / Flickr

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Apple is trying to decide whether it makes sense to offer a cheaper iPhone as it tries to boost sales in less-affluent countries and reclaim some of the market share lost to cheaper phones running Google's Android software, according to a published report.

Wednesday's report in The Wall Street Journal speculated that Apple could lower the iPhone's price by equipping the device with an exterior that costs less than the aluminum housing on current models.

Are You Eating Too Fast? Ask Your Fork

Jan 7, 2013

What's the coolest new gadget at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week? It's too soon to tell. But I have an early favorite for the title of oddest new gadget: the HAPIfork and HAPIspoon. They may sound like characters from a nursery rhyme, but this fork and spoon connect to the Internet and can monitor and record how you eat.

The HAPI utensils measure how long your meals last, how long you pause between each bite and how many mouthfuls of food you consume.

It's a year-end tradition to cobble together a list of the most important advances in science. But, truth be told, many ideas that change the world don't tend to spring from these flashy moments of discovery. Our view of nature — and our technology — often evolve from a sequence of more subtle advances.

Even so, chances are good that this year's list-makers will choose the discovery of the Higgs boson as the most important discovery of 2012.

It is the end of a calendar year and that time when the media makes lists. Best of the year, worst of the year and the, ever fun, predictions for the New Year. The 2013 tech predictions are already in and our Jesse Feiler is here to help us handicap the future.

Science And The Allure Of 'Nothing But'

Dec 16, 2012

Science has yet to produce any robust theory of how neural activity gives rise to thought, feeling, emotion, personality, conscious experience.

Indeed, at the present time, we don't even have a good sketch of what such a brain-based theory would look like.

This not a controversial claim.

And yet it counts as one of the dogmas of our time that, in Francis Crick's words, you are your brain.

Developers of smartphone and tablet apps aimed at children have done little in the past year to give parents "the information they need to determine what data is being collected from their children, how it is being shared, or who will have access to it," the Federal Trade Commission reports.

A hacker associated with the collective Anonymous has been convicted in Britain today for attacks against the websites of PayPal, Mastercard and Visa.

Christopher Weatherhead was found guilty following the guilty pleas of three others — Jake Birchall, Ashley Rhodes and Peter Gibson. If you remember, the four were arrested for orchestrating denial of service attacks against the companies because they had stopped processing payments for WikiLeaks.

Could there be yet another computer chip manufacturer looking to build in Upstate New York? Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas explores the possibility.

Half of all U.S. adults now have a mobile connection to the web through either a smartphone or tablet, significantly more than a year ago, and this has major implications for how news will be consumed and paid for, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center's Project. We’ll go behind the numbers this morning with Jesse Feiler.

How much of a "public relations disaster" has Apple's new mapping software been?

Big enough that the famously proud company has apologized — and suggested that users can turn to arch rival Google Maps instead.

In a message "to our customers" posted this morning, CEO Tim Cook says:

Apple sold more than 5 million iPhones this weekend, the company said in a press release. That surpasses the initial sales of the previous version.

As Bloomberg news reports, demand for the new phone quickly exceeded the initial supply, but some analysts expected bigger sales.

They report:

With the release this week of Apple’s iPhone 5, the Pew Research Center reports 45% of American adults own smartphones. They are particularly popular with young adults and those living in relatively higher income households; 66% of those ages 18-29 own smartphones, and 68% of those living in households earning $75,000 also own them. Duh, right?

Our tech guru Jesse Feiler says there is more to the story.

Arctic sea ice has melted dramatically this summer, smashing the previous record. The Arctic has warmed dramatically compared with the rest of the planet, and scientists say that's what's driving this loss of ice.

To be sure, ice on the Arctic Ocean always melts in the summer. Historically, about half of it is gone by mid-September. But this year, three-fourths of the ice has melted away, setting a dramatic new benchmark.

It was the absence of feathers that got conservation biologist Thor Hanson thinking about the significance of them. Hanson was in Kenya studying the feeding habits of vultures, and he noticed the advantages that vultures had relative to other birds because of their bare, featherless heads.

"Having lost their feathers allows [vultures] to remain much cleaner and more free from bacteria and parasites and disease," Hanson tells Fresh Air contributor Dave Davies.

Jesse joins us to talk about technology use at the national political conventions.

It didn't go far, but the NASA rover Curiosity has taken its first test drive on Mars.

"This is how I roll," NASA writes (speaking for Curiosity) with a photo it has released showing the rover's first tracks. "Forward 3 meters, 90 [degree] turn, then back. Electric slide, anyone?"

"We have a fully functioning mobility system," NASA engineer Matt Heverly just told reporters. He said Curiosity ended up moving about 4 1/2 meters during today's test. It also did a full revolution going forward, backed up and did another revolution.



An experimental aircraft that designers hoped would hit 3,600 mph in a test flight over the Pacific on Tuesday "suffered a control failure" and failed in its attempt to go hypersonic, The Associated Press writes.

Its report follows earlier word from Wired magazine's Danger Room blog that it had been told by an "insider familiar with the test" that:

How Forensic Psychiatry Informs Trials

Jul 30, 2012

James Holmes, the former neuroscience student accused of killing 12 people and injuring 58 others in the Colorado movie theater massacre, has been formally charged with 24 counts of murder. The case will likely involve questions about Holmes' psychiatric condition and competency to stand trial.

Apple Vs. Samsung Showdown Heads To Trial

Jul 29, 2012
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Ask An Astrophysicist

Jul 27, 2012

The universe is being pushed apart at a faster and faster rate. And the culprit? Dark energy. Astrophysicist Adam Riess shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for that discovery, and now's your chance to ask him about it--or anything else you've been wondering about the cosmos.

A recently released study says that daydreaming may actually be beneficial to high-level brain activity. WAMC’s Melissa Bunning reports.…

Contrary to popular belief, our brains are functioning at higher levels when our minds wander.  Dr. Jonathan Schooler of the University of California, Santa Barbara, explains……

Schooler, and Kalina Christoff of the University of British Columbia, took functional magnetic resonance images, or fMRI scans, of subjects as they were instructed to press a button when numbers appeared on a screen.

Ford Motor Co. intends to prove that good things come in small packages — really small packages. The company has taken engine downsizing to a new level with its new three-cylinder EcoBoost engine, which has been introduced in Europe and is set to hit the U.S. market next year.

The EcoBoost offers more power than many conventional four-cylinder engines, with fuel economy numbers a hybrid could envy. Early fans are calling it a modern "little engine that could," and Ford is betting that American customers are ready to embrace a three-cylinder engine.

Mark Thomas is using a pay phone, but he isn't paying. And physically, he's not even that close to the phone.

He's sitting on a bench on the street in Astoria, Queens, checking email on his netbook. It's grabbing an Internet signal from a military-grade antenna on top of a pay phone down the block.

"It's not the speediest but you can't complain about free, right?" Thomas says.

Why We Must Keep Reaching For The Stars

Jul 24, 2012

Field Log, Imperial Archeological Expedition IV-V, May 21, 2750 CE: Spent the better part of the day bringing artifacts up from the mud-caves. It's hard to believe what we are finding. It's impossible really. Lifan-Alfred says she has deciphered a good portion of the documents. They speak of rockets and journeys into space. There are even detailed accounts of trips to the moon, seven of them! Some of the technology described in the documents matches closely with the artifacts we are finding. These stories, they could be true.