Nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s and '60s pumped a lot of radiocarbon into the atmosphere. It went everywhere, including into plants that elephants eat. By measuring the levels of this carbon in elephant tusks, scientists can tell when an elephant died — and whether the ivory is being traded illegally.
Traditional hearing aids can be too expensive for many people. But a new type that uses Bluetooth technology costs only about $300. The company that makes the new devices aims to reach millions of people around the world who need hearing aids but have trouble paying for them.
Many violent crimes are hastily planned and poorly considered, researchers at the University of Chicago's Crime Lab find. Training troubled teens to slow down and put a more benign spin on what they imagine the other guy is thinking significantly reduced the kids' likelihood of committing a crime.
This week President Obama announced his plan to tackle climate change, including proposals to regulate gas and coal emissions, and brace the nation for rising seas. David Roberts, who covers energy and climate change for Grist.org, talks about what to expect from the plan — and how much the president can accomplish without the help of Congress.
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.
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