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PBS Newshour - Science


The latest news, analysis and reporting about Science & Technology from the PBS NewsHour and its website, the feed is updated periodically with interviews, background reports and updates to put the news in a larger context.


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The latest news, analysis and reporting about Science & Technology from the PBS NewsHour and its website, the feed is updated periodically with interviews, background reports and updates to put the news in a larger context.






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How Einstein’s theory of relativity changed the world

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioJUDY WOODRUFF: But, first, this week marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Albert Einstein’s greatest work, a series of papers laying out the general theory of relativity. Gwen has a look at how it changed our understanding of the cosmos and the man behind the ideas. She recorded this conversation earlier this week. GWEN IFILL: His work transformed our way of living at the cosmos. When Einstein put forward his general theory of relativity, that...


3-D printers put limb prosthetics for kids in reach

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioGWEN IFILL: A professor from Upstate New York is using technology to transform the world, especially for young people in need of limbs. He shares his experience in his own words as part of this trip down innovation trail, a series of reports on the economy and technology in Upstate New York. This report was produced by WXXI in Rochester. JON SCHULL, Rochester Institute of Technology: I’m Jon Schull. I’m a research scientist here at the Rochester Institute...


What made the West explode in flames

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioGWEN IFILL: Crews battling wildfires in California seem to have turned the corner against two of the most difficult and destructive blazes. Progress was reported in containing the Valley Fire, which erupted this weekend north of Napa Valley, which torched nearly 600 homes and left many homeless. That and a second fire have scorched more than 140,000 acres in just a matter of days, much of it exacerbated by California’s continuing drought. Hari Sreenivasan,...


Teaching girls to write the rules at video game coding camp

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioGWEN IFILL: Now: giving girls access to a more level playing field in an area formerly dominated by boys, making video games. Special correspondent Sandra Hughes has the story. SANDRA HUGHES: It’s no secret that video gaming is aimed at a male audience. From creation to design to playing the games, the mostly violent first-person shooter games target boys, not girls. No wonder. In 2013, women accounted for just 11 percent of computer game designers and only...


Trove of fossils from a long-lost human ancestor is greatest find in decades

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioGWEN IFILL: Researchers announced a fossil discovery today that some consider one of the greatest in the last 50 years, and one that could provide an important link in the family tree for all humans. Jeffrey Brown has the story. JEFFREY BROWN: The bones were found in a deep cave 30 miles northwest of Johannesburg. And the way they were found and then gathered is another incredible part of the story. In all, 1,500 fossil remains were brought up and contained...


Why California’s fires are burning longer and harder

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioGWEN IFILL: Twelve thousand firefighters are battling 14 active wildfires in California, and the state, which is in its fourth year of drought, is on track to have one of its worst fire seasons ever. The NewsHour’s Cat Wise spent time this week in one of the hardest-hit areas, Lake County, north of San Francisco. WOMAN: Is there a fire by you? Someone just called one in. And they said they’re seeing flames and black smoke. CAT WISE: Rancher Lonne Sloan is...


To find life in the universe, a new initiative to help us hear the signals

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioGWEN IFILL: The search for signs of intelligent life in the universe may have been a fruitless one so far, but the effort got a major boost today with a new initiative from scientists Stephen Hawking and others. Using some of the world’s biggest radio telescopes, the project will spend the next 10 years surveying a million of the closest stars to Earth, trying to find any signals from the 100 closest galaxies. It’s called the Breakthrough Initiative and...


To study Earth’s most extreme environment, researchers wire up an undersea

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioGWEN IFILL: For generations, scientists have had to undertake long voyages across the sea to try to better understand the mysteries of volcanic activity and the oceans themselves. But now scientific advances and technology have changed the game. Hari Sreenivasan has our story. HARI SREENIVASAN: What if a volcano erupted and nobody knew about it? That used to be the case 300 miles off the coast of Oregon and Washington for undersea volcano known as Axial...


Two cities, two very different responses to rising sea levels

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioJUDY WOODRUFF: Tonight, the NewsHour begins a series on the way communities prepare and survive disasters, both natural and manmade. NewsHour special correspondent Jackie Judd brings us a tale of two cities, both on the Atlantic Seaboard. JACKIE JUDD: The crane towering over Rockaway Beach is a symbol of New York City’s urgent, almost frantic effort to prevent a repeat of what happened in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy nearly brought the city to its knees....


From the big bang to cosmic vibrations, Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart plays t

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioJUDY WOODRUFF: Tonight, we begin a two-part look at the iconic music group the group Grateful Dead, who are this week preparing for their final reunion concerts in Chicago. First up, we focus on longtime Dead drummer Mickey Hart and his fascination with finding sounds in the most unlikely places. Special correspondent Mike Cerre takes us on a very special trip to learn more. MICKEY HART, Drummer, Grateful Dead: This is really the sounds of the universe....


Aquaponic farming saves water, but can it feed the country?

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioJUDY WOODRUFF: An ancient farming technique that uses far less water than traditional agriculture is getting new attention around the country, especially in the drought-stricken West. The NewsHour’s Cat Wise has our report. CAT WISE: In a greenhouse nestled in a valley near Half Moon Bay, California, farmer Ken Armstrong is tending to his herd, some 3,000 fish who are key members of a complex ecosystem that also includes some helpful bacteria and these...


Why testing an Ebola vaccine isn’t so easy

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioJUDY WOODRUFF: Now the last in our series on Ebola in West Africa — tonight, a look at new research to help stop or slow the next outbreak. The best hope may ultimately come from a new vaccine. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports, part of his series on Cracking Ebola’s Code. MILES O’BRIEN: It’s dark and early in Freetown, Sierra Leone. A team of pharmacists is in a nondescript government building preparing the day’s supply of an experimental vaccine...


Florida’s Everglades face new invasive threat: rising sea levels

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioJUDY WOODRUFF: Last month, on the anniversary of Earth Day, President Barack Obama visited Florida’s Everglades to highlight one of biggest threats from climate change: the rise in sea level that’s already impacting one of the unique natural habitats in all the world. The consequences aren’t just to the hundreds of species of animals and plants that for centuries have called the Everglades home. It’s to the economy and way of life for millions in South...


What my Ebola scare taught me

People await treatment at Redemption Hospital, formerly an Ebola holding center, in Monrovia, Liberia, earlier this year. West Africa’s Ebola outbreak has claimed thousands of lives this year. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images document.createElement('audio'); http://www.pbs.org/newshour/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/What-my-Ebola-scare-taught-me1.mp3 PBS NewsHour science correspondent Miles O’Brien has brought Shortwave listeners and NewsHour viewers a look into the heart of West Africa’s...


Why isn’t there a better test to detect Ebola?

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioJUDY WOODRUFF: We continue now our series of reports on Ebola by science correspondent Miles O’Brien. Tonight, Miles looks at efforts to create faster, more reliable testing for the virus. MILES O’BRIEN: In the dusty, crowded alleys of this market town near Kambia, Sierra Leone, people stick close together and rely on each other. Here, there is no mistaking where Ebola has taken its deadly toll. The quarantines are marked by rope and plastic bags, enforced by...


To crack Ebola’s code, scientists search for elusive animal host

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioJUDY WOODRUFF: Tonight, we launch a series of reports on the Ebola crisis. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien traveled to West Africa to examine how the deadly virus took hold. LINA MOSES, Tulane University: Kenema became the epicenter of the outbreak in July. MILES O’BRIEN: Lina Moses is back at it, on the trail of a killer virus near Kenema, Sierra Leone. She is still haunted by memories of the worst days of the Ebola epidemic last year. LINA MOSES: We...


Number of labs mistakenly shipped live anthrax by the military grows

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioJUDY WOODRUFF: The Pentagon today gave new information about that scare over live anthrax samples. Officials said 51 labs in 17 states, plus Washington, D.C., and three foreign countries received the suspected live spores. That’s a larger number than what was previously disclosed. At a news conference today, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work sought to reassure the public. ROBERT WORK, Deputy Secretary of Defense: We continue to work with the CDC to ensure...


What scientists still don’t know about Ebola might surprise you

Cinematographer Cameron Hickey films James Koninga performing a field necropsy of a Mastomys Natalensis rat near Kenema Sierra Leone. Miles O’Brien and team traveled to Sierra Leone to report on the science, medicine and human spirit behind the efforts to stop the disease. Photo by Miles O’Brien document.createElement('audio'); http://www.pbs.org/newshour/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/What-scientists-still-don_t-know-about-Ebola-might-surprise-you.mp3 Ebola has taken the lives of 11,000 people...


How to hook young people on math and science? Robots.

Watch Video | Listen to the AudioLYNN SHERR: Science and SciFi have always attracted Freya Wilhelm, whose favorite TV show as a child was this animated series set in the fantastic future. LYNN SHERR: But Freya’s life went off track her freshman year of high school, when, as a struggling art student in Manhattan, she descended into a cycle of marijuana, party drugs, psychedelics… FREYA WILHELM: I was feeling very experimental. LYNN SHERR: By her junior year, she had added cocaine. And was...


How did a fake study make it into Science magazine?

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio JUDY WOODRUFF: Next, we explore questions about how scientific findings are published and verified, and whether allegations of fraud involving a top science journal are damaging credibility with the wider public. Yesterday, “Science” magazine retracted a study published in December that found people’s attitudes toward same-sex marriage were more likely to be changed by face-to-face conversations with gay canvassers over straight ones. It was a study that got...