The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, backs energy technologies that are too risky for investors, but offer a potentially huge payoff — if they work. The agency has gambled on flywheels, compressed air energy storage, lithium-air batteries, even wind-energy kites.
Synthetic biologist Jay Keasling has already taught yeast to make the leading anti-malarial drug. His next project takes the technology a step further, using yeast to turn plant waste into diesel — and maybe gasoline and jet fuel, too.
NASA has a plan to fend off giant asteroids, but what about tsunamis, earthquakes, storms that last 45 days and mammoth floods? Earth scientists say science-based strategies can help communities prepare for the worst of the worst.
Many people know how to buy things in cyberspace. But what about doing business in outer space? That's the question PayPal wants to answer. Citing the looming era of space tourism, the company is starting the Galactic project with the SETI Institute, to "make universal space payments a reality."
Being able to throw with power and precision must have been advantageous to our early ancestors. And essential, too, since we don't have natural weapons found in other species, like fangs and claws. A recent study suggests our ability to throw so well depends on uniquely human shoulder anatomy.
An experiment with runners in the Italian Alps finds that extremely long races don't always lead to more muscle fatigue than those that were merely very long. Smart pacing and strategic naps help ultramarathoners cope with the challenges.
Researchers are trying to figure out if it really is possible to be addicted to food. A study of brain activity finds there's more going on in areas linked to reward and addiction after people drink a shake with lots of refined carbohydrates. But it's not clear how that factors into overeating.
When you give to WAMU, your tax-deductible membership gift helps make possible award-winning programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered, The Diane Rehm Show, The Kojo Nnamdi Show, and other favorites.