Far above the Earth's surface, two doughnuts of radiation surround the planet, charged particles zipping around in stable belts - that's the shape of them - and they were discovered in 1958 by James Van Allen and now bear his name. They are the Van Allen Belts.
Robert Langer is sort of a modern-day Thomas Edison. He holds over 800 patents. He's launched two dozen startups making an eclectic variety of stuff from tumor-zapping nanoparticles to biosensors and blood tests, synthetic spinal cords, even anti-frizz hair products, all of this originating from the same lab. And recently, President Obama awarded him the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. He's already won the National Medal of Science, after all.
Comedian Joshua Walters, who's bipolar, walks the line between mental illness and mental "skillness." He asks: What's the right balance between medicating craziness away, and riding the manic edge of creativity and drive?
"Is it OK if I totally trash your office?" It's a question Elyn Saks once asked her doctor, and it wasn't a joke. A legal scholar, Saks came forward in 2007 with her own story of schizophrenia, controlled by drugs and therapy but ever-present. In this powerful talk, she asks us to see people with mental illness clearly, honestly and compassionately.
Wild bees, such as this Andrena bee visiting highbush blueberry flowers, play a key role in boosting crop yields.
Credit Left photo by Rufus Isaac/AAAS; Right photo courtesy of Daniel M.N. Turner
Hired beekeepers work to pollinate an almond orchard near Snelling, Calif. Wild bees play a critical role in helping honeybees pollinate crops, but they often can't survive on modern monoculture farms.
Some of the most healthful foods you can think of — blueberries, cranberries, apples, almonds and squash — would never get to your plate without the help of insects. No insects, no pollination. No pollination, no fruit.
There are few things in life more joyful than discovering a giant oil or natural gas field in Texas. You're suddenly rich beyond your wildest dreams. When the scope and size of the natural gas reservoir in the Barnett Shale in North Texas first became apparent, there were predictions that the find would last 100 years.
Well, that was over the top. But University of Texas geology professor Scott Tinker, who designed and authored a new study of the Barnett Shale, says there's still a lot of gas down there, even after a decade of drilling.
The outgoing energy secretary, Steven Chu, got a rousing ovation this week when he spoke at a summit on energy innovation. But his tenure has been clouded by the department's investment in alternative energy companies that later failed, most notably Solyndra. As Chu leaves office, his real legacy may be the government's ongoing search for energy breakthroughs. NPR's Scott Horsley tells us more.
Tell Me More has been honoring Black History Month by speaking with African-Americans who've excelled in STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math. Sylvester James Gates Jr. spent his career researching string theory. He explains to host Michel Martin that, while it seems like science fiction, it's really anything but.
My pal Erik Olsen at The New York Times has just described an extraordinary new way to look at people. You point a camera at someone, record the image and then, using an "amplifier," you can discover things you've never seen before.
The world's first space tourist is financing a project that aims to launch an American man and woman on a mission to fly by Mars in 2018.
Back in 2001, businessman Dennis Tito shelled out about $20 million to ride a Russian spaceship up to the International Space Station. Now he's unveiled a new nonprofit group called the Inspiration Mars Foundation.