Science & Innovation

News about science and innovation

Carnegie Mellon University is issuing a large bond and accepting gifts from private donors to pay for a $62 million research facility to be constructed on campus over the next few years.

The university hopes to open the Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott Hall in 2015 with office and lab space for nanotechnology, biomedical engineering, and energy research. Helium.mp3

When asked what comes to mind when the word “helium” is uttered, everyone I asked had the same answer – balloons, second only to references of the “chipmunk voice” sucking on the gas gives you. Balloons and silly voices are, so far, the two things being hit hardest by the helium shortage. Rhonda Bastolla is the owner of Odd and Unique Furnishings in Homestead, which sells helium balloons.

Too Much Work+Truancy=Antisocial Behavior?

Jan 7, 2013 Workers Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

Sending a high-risk teen to work won't necessarily keep him or her out of trouble, according to a recent University of Pittsburgh study.  The research indicates  high school-age juvenile offenders who are employed during the academic year and do not attend school regularly are more likely to engage in antisocial, or destructive, behavior.

Environmental New Year's Resolutions?

Dec 31, 2012

With the New Year comes resolutions. While many people are sticking to the old "losing weight" or "getting healthy" resolution, the Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) hopes some New Year’s resolutions will include actions that will be good for the environment.  

PRC Western Regional Director Dave Mazza said you can “reduce” by buying only what you need, whether it’s paint, fertilizer, cleanser, etc.

“Reuse” means finding a group that will take used building materials, medical equipment—even pet supplies.

What's Everyone Looking At?

Dec 24, 2012 Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

A robot that can understand human social situations is a technological curiosity that has been explored in many entertainment classics, like Star Wars, Star Trek, and Doctor Who.  The exploration into the possibility didn’t stop there.  WALL-E, I Robot, and other pop-culture motion pictures have looked into the possibility of artificial intelligence interacting with humans.

At Toy Lending Library, Play Reigns Supreme

Dec 19, 2012

It’s the Holiday season and stores and companies are trying to outdo each other in toy sales. But at the Toy Lending Library in Shadyside, it’s not about buying or selling or what the hottest toy of the season is. It’s just about play. 

Are Electronic Health Records Safe, Secure?

Dec 12, 2012 Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

The increasing use of electronic health records (EHRs) raises a concern for patient safety and their sensitive medical information.  Some claim it's just as easy for a doctor to write a prescription for the wrong drug on paper than it is to pick the wrong medication from a drop-down menu on a computer.  Critics of EHRs claim that patient safety and confidentiality is compromised when records are put on a computer server.

What Goes On At Google's Pittsburgh Office?

Dec 11, 2012

Google is one of the most high-profile companies contributing to Pittsburgh's resurrection as a tech industry hub, its familiar multicolored logo unmistakable atop the Bakery Square development its offices anchor. 

New Center Opens for Heath Care Tech-Ed

Dec 5, 2012 Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

A ceremonial ribbon cutting today marked the official opening of a new facility, funded by the public and private sectors, intended to meet a demand for greater technology training for healthcare professionals.

Governor Tom Corbett today honored three Pennsylvania companies for their work in developing a 21st century  innovation called "additive manufacturing", or 3D printing.

Energy and Innovation the Focus of 2-Day Conference

Nov 28, 2012

The 2nd annual Energy and Innovation Conference brings together officials from the energy industry, manufacturing, and environmental groups, to examine how all the sectors can work together. The conference also examines the country’s place in terms of oil, natural gas, and coal development.

With so much commerce done online, like shopping, banking, and bill paying, everyone is a potential target for cyber thieves. According the National Security Council, President Obama has declared that “cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation” and that “America's economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.” Cybercrime can be big – targeting countries, but it can also affect individuals.

One of the mysteries of paleontology has persisted for more than 100 years – the classification of the Necrolestes patagonensis fossil. An international team of researchers, including Carnegie Museum of Natural History scientist John Wible, has found an answer – it’s a mammal. What it was has remained an enigma, even though three “beautiful” fossils of it were found in South America in 1891.

Ever wonder where an earthquake could strike in Pennsylvania and its magnitude?

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has centralized that data along with information about the commonwealth's bedrock geology, waterfalls, rock formations and other features into the interactive geographic information systems map (GIS).

The International Space Station is coming to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh in the form of a new permanent exhibit.  The new “Spaceplace” will feature hands-on simulated experiments and a real-life replica of the International Space Station (ISS).

Effect of Hurricane Sandy on Migratory Birds

Nov 5, 2012

In the past, hurricanes have blown migrating birds from the East Coast all the way to the Great Lakes and into Canada, according to Peg Abbott, owner of Naturalist Journeys.  As Sandy hit, she said the warblers and smaller birds had already gotten where they were going, and it was the eagles, hawks and larger birds of prey who were on the move.

Public safety officials in Pittsburgh are encouraging residents to participate in the “Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery” program. In efforts to promote fire safety in the home, residents are encouraged to change the batteries in their smoke detectors when they turn the clocks back early Sunday Morning November 4.

Colleen Walz, the Deputy Chief of the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau, said technological improvements have greatly helped the program, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Lab Web.mp3

Stretching beyond the limits of traditional computing is the ultimate goal of researchers using new facilities at the University of Pittsburgh. A set of isolated laboratories will allow them to look at materials that show promise for quantum computing.

Aside from a few wind gusts and steady rain, Pittsburgh was spared from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.  With the worst of the storm now behind us, officials are breathing a sigh of relief.  Initially, it was feared the excessive rains would mean heavy flooding in the Pittsburgh region, but less rain over the summer helped the situation.

Despite Hurricane Sandy’s projected path through Pennsylvania, four nuclear power plants in the storm's path will remain operational throughout the duration of the storm. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is sending additional inspectors to monitor facilities in Dauphin, York, Luzerne, and Chester counties.

What do you do with a jack-o’-lantern after Halloween is over? How about rolling it off the roof of the Carnegie Science Center!

The first ever Great Pumpkin Smash will feature explosive pumpkin-related demos throughout the day and is free with paid general admission.

The Rockefeller, Russel Sage, and Carnegie Foundations were some of the biggest supporters of the eugenics movement and they need to apologize for the repercussions of their advocacy, according to William Schambra.

Schambra, the director of the Hudson Institute’s Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renwal, spoke at Duquesne University’s third annual Pascal Day Wednesday night with a focus on large philanthropic orginizations’ past support for the eugenics movement.

Researchers: When Predicting-Go with Your Feelings

Oct 22, 2012

Wondering whether the Dow Jones will make a jump in the next week? How about what the weather will be like? One study is saying you should trust your gut.

A research team comprised of professors from the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University has found that when people trust their feelings, they can more accurately predict the outcomes of future events.

Researchers, through eight studies, asked people to predict outcomes including the 2008 Democratic Presidential nominee, the score of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the winner of “American Idol.”

Building Life from Basic Blocks Focus of Weekend Event

Oct 12, 2012

Some of the best scientist on the Eastern Seaboard will gather in Pittsburgh this weekend to show off their efforts to build new synthetic organisms.  The “jamboree” is part of the international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. 

CMU Robot Will Mine the Moon in 2015

Oct 8, 2012

Ten years ago, the theory that there is water on the moon was not widely believed in the scientific community. Now, after a 2010 NASA discovery of ice in the moon's polar regions, Carnegie Mellon University and a spinoff company have designed a robot to gather the water -- and whatever else it can find in the lunar soil.

Human Workers Can Learn From Ants And Bees

Oct 1, 2012

How bees, wasps, and ants think, and how that heightens their work efficiency is the focus of a discussion Monday at Carnegie Science Center at 7 p.m.

“The Wisdom Of The Bee: How To Organize A Team When No One Knows What She Is Doing” will show how these swarm insects have one of the most successful workforces on the planet, despite every single worker not knowing all of the information required to normally make a decision.

The Mars Rover Curiosity recently used a high-powered laser beam to blast and analyze a Martian rock. 140 million miles away, an engineer at the University of Pittsburgh is working with the Department of Homeland Security to improve that technology to make Earth safer.

The blasting method used by Curiosity that employs a beam of light is called laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), which can detect the composition of soils and rocks without ever touching them.

One of the "byproducts" of the Marcellus Shale gas drilling industry is tons and tons of used well pad liners.  Now two companies have begun collecting and recycling the plastic liners from drilling sites throughout the Marcellus region.

WellSpring Environmental Services in Orwigsburg, PA and Ultra-Poly Corporation in Portland, PA hope to take at least 20 million pounds of plastic per year out of the waste stream.

Prominent government, business, and labor leaders gather in Pittsburgh today to discuss the importance of investing in the energy and manufacturing industries as part of the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) 2012 Pennsylvania Energy and Manufacturing Summit.

Mike Mikus, Executive Director of the CEA Mid-Atlantic region, said this meeting will be similar to the Colorado and Gulf Coast Energy Summits, which were held in February and March.

Drake Oil Museum Get Facelift

Sep 8, 2012

In 1859, the country's first commercial oil well was drilled by Colonel Edwin Drake, near Titusville, north of Pittsburgh. Soon the country's first oil rush ensued. More than 150 years later, Pennsylvania has another kind of drilling boom at hand, this time for natural gas. And in the middle of this boom, one museum unveiled a new exhibit that wants us to take a good look back. The Allegheny Front's Reid Frazier went to Titusville for an up-close look at the Drake Well Museum, which tries to connect our energy past to our energy present and future.