Science

Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Pittsburgh-area scientists are part of an international group to discover a new squirrel-like mammal from the time of the dinosaurs. 

Ambolestes zhoui it is the most complete fossil of a relative of placental mammals found from the Mesozoic Era. It was unearthed in Inner Mongolia, a region of northeast China, in a quarry that, 126 million years ago, was a lake.

Southwestern Pennsylvania BotsIQ

Robots designed by teams of teens from 53 schools in southwestern Pennsylvania will compete in a two-day, gladiator-style tournament starting Friday.

The aim of the Southwestern Pennsylvania BotsIQ competition, which is being hosted at California University of Pennsylvania, is to get high schoolers to think creatively and collaboratively, while also exposing them to careers in manufacturing.

BotsIQ executive director Michel Conklin said the robots are judged on a variety of criteria.

Schools Encourage Girls To Get Involved In Science, Tech

Mar 27, 2018
Charlie Riedel / AP

Don't bring that "a woman's place is in the kitchen" kind of stuff around Jessica Perfetto.

There aren't very many scientists who achieved rock star status. Stephen Hawking, who has died at the age of 76, family members told British media early Wednesday, was definitely a contender.

University of Pittsburgh

A new biotech incubator specializing in immunology will open in around two years at the site of a former Ford auto plant on Baum Boulevard.

 

This Ancient Penguin Was As Big As Pittsburgh Penguin Sidney Crosby

Dec 12, 2017
Gerald Mayr / Senckenberg Research Institute via AP

Fossils from New Zealand have revealed a giant penguin that was as big as a grown man, roughly the size of the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The creature was slightly shorter in length and about 20 pounds heavier than the official stats for hockey star Sidney Crosby. It measured nearly 5 feet, 10 inches long when swimming and weighed in at 223 pounds.

If the penguin and the Penguin faced off on the ice, however, things would look different. When standing, the ancient bird was maybe only 5-foot-3.

North Dakota Department of Agriculture via AP

The number of acres permitted to grow industrial hemp in Pennsylvania is going to increase 100-fold in 2018, from less than 50 to possibly more than 5,000.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

At least 49 genes contribute to whether one’s earlobes are attached or detached.

That's what researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found in a new study. Lead author John R. Shaffer says this work could help shed light on serious genetic syndromes.

"Some of these conditions, like an example is Mowat-Wilson syndrome, the ear involves earlobe malformations," said Shaffer. "In the same genes that affect normal variation in the morphology, when they're disrupted, they lead to genetic syndromes."

As women go through menopause they may express greater interest in trying new ways of being intimate with their partners as a way to adapt to changes in sexual function.

That's according to a new UPMC study, published online this month in the journal Menopause, which looked at 39 women ages 45 to 60, most of whom were heterosexual. During hour-long interviews with researchers, the women answered questions including, "How do you define satisfying sex?" or "What does 'sex' mean to you?"

screengrab via nasa.gov

There’s no shortage of excitement surrounding Monday’s solar eclipse.

Though Pittsburghers won’t be able to view a total eclipse (states south of Pittsburgh will get the full experience), we’ll still get about 80 percent coverage, according to NASA.

If you’re in the city or outside, you can check out what your view will look like on this Jet Propulsion Laboratory app:

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Asia Parker wants to be a mathematics professor.

“Math is just amazing. You can do anything,” she said.

Parker, 17 from Carrick, waited in a Duquesne University laboratory near a kiln heating materials she was using in semi-conductor experiments. Semi-conductors are often used in computers and solar panels. The high school senior wants to make new compounds for Jennifer Aitken’s research, which is looking at shifting the wavelength of lasers.

NASA Picks Up 12 New Astronauts, Including 2 From Pennsylvania

Jun 8, 2017
Bill Ingalls / NASA via AP

NASA chose 12 new astronauts Wednesday from its biggest pool of applicants ever, hand-picking seven men and five women who could one day fly aboard the nation's next generation of spacecraft.

The astronaut class of 2017 includes doctors, scientists, engineers, pilots and military officers from Anchorage to Miami and points in between. They've worked in submarines, emergency rooms, university lecture halls, jet cockpits and battleships. They range in age from 29 to 42, and they typically have led the pack.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The University of Pittsburgh is taking steps to promote and grow the region's life sciences industry, which includes medical research, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and information technology.

Vice Chancellor for Economic Partnerships Rebecca Bagley said, despite being among the top five recipients of National Institutes of Health funding, the university has struggled to commercialize the technologies its researchers develop.

Charles Krupa / AP

President Donald Trump has called for a return to “law and order” policing and shown support for stop and frisk and heavy use of force. Many modern police leaders aren’t buying in.

This week on 90.5 WESA’s Criminal Injustice podcast, University of Pittsburgh law professor and host David Harris looks at one non-member, nonpartisan organization that conducts field studies with real cops to find more nuanced data-driven ways to reduce crime.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are using light to see inside the brains of subjects in ways traditional static imaging scanners cannot.

Functional near infrared spectroscopy, or NIRS, is portable and can measure brain activity while subjects are moving around. It can also be used in remote situations when people can’t get to an MRI scanner, which requires patients lie down and remain very still to get a usable image.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, is called The Nation's Report Card for good reason; the tests are administered the same way year after year, using the same kind of test booklets, to students across the country.

Susan Walsh / AP

The National Department of Transportation announced Thursday that Pittsburgh had received an $11 million grant for advanced technology transportation projects. The announcement was made shortly before Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx joined Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto in a panel discussion during the White House Frontiers Conference at Carnegie Mellon University.

The Science Of Making Rain

Oct 1, 2016
Charlie Riedel / AP

  For as long as humans have been around, we’ve been at the mercy of the weather. And as long as that’s been the case, we’ve wanted a way out—a way to control the weather to suit our needs. In the distant past, we used sacrifices and rain dances. Today, we turn to science.

This is where cloud seeding comes in. It’s humanity’s attempt to do what has always seemed impossible: To harness the clouds and make them rain.

Let’s begin in Fargo, North Dakota, at the headquarters of Weather Modification Incorporated, WMI. It’s the largest cloud seeding company in the world.

National Human Genome Research Institute / genome.gov

At the most basic level cancer can be defined as the DNA of a normal cell going haywire. 

It looks like it could be a cartoon character, but it's real. And this little squid is making waves on the internet.

Researchers from the Nautilus exploration vessel were cruising along the deep sea floor off California's coast when they came upon the bright purple creature with giant, stuffed-animal-like eyes.

"Whoa!" they exclaim in unison.

Three college-age scientists think they know how to solve a huge problem facing medicine. They think they've found a way to overcome antibiotic resistance.

Many of the most powerful antibiotics have lost their efficacy against dangerous bacteria, so finding new antibiotics is a priority.

It's too soon to say for sure if the young researchers are right, but if gumption and enthusiasm count for anything, they stand a fighting chance.

What Your Kids Are Learning About Climate Change

May 18, 2016
NL Monteiro / Flickr

So how—and what—are kids learning about climate change? Well, a survey published in the journal Science earlier this year revealed that students might not be taking home all that much from school. In fact, most science teachers spend just an hour or two on the subject every year.

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

Saint Bartholomew School student Daryl Jean, of Penn Hills said she can’t understand why more girls don’t get excited about science and technology.

“I feel like girls, they can like science and stuff, but they don’t understand it, and some boys can be intimidating,” she said. “But I think you should try your best, because there’s a lot of inspiration out there.”

The American Association of University Women tried to kick start some of that inspiration in young Pittsburghers last weekend with its “Tech Savvy” computer coding workshop at La Roche College.

ESA/Hubble & NASA; Acknowledgement Judy Schmidt

The recent discovery of 1,284 new planets by NASA has increased interest in astronomy nationwide. And while many enjoy a clear night sky with stars too numerous to count, for some, stargazing is more than a hobby.

Fighting An Airplane's Natural Enemy: Ice

Dec 23, 2015
Jennifer Szweda Jordan / 90.5 WESA

A Canonsburg-based company’s superfast computer simulations are helping airplane designers learn about something that the rest of us might not want to think about: how ice forms on airplane wings and engines.

Once an airplane takes off, it soars into hard-to-predict natural elements. One of the most dangerous of those elements is ice. A technology stalwart in the region called ANSYS is addressing this problem.

    Even with the fire alarm going, Josh and Rachel are DETERMINED to bring you all things social going on in Pittsburgh. They are so brave.

Carnegie Science Center 21+ Night- Robots is happening Friday, September 18th.  Learn about all things robotic, check out some of the most famous robots around, see the Omnimax theater, listen to live music and enjoy some great food. The Omnimax will be showing the film ROBOTS. It’s only $10!

The Carnegie Science Center has received a $614,000 grant to promote education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The two-year grant, from The Heinz Endowments, will benefit the Carnegie STEM Excellence Pathway, which offers schools resources to improve their STEM classes.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA News

Teens from around the world were in Pittsburgh this week presenting projects at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair hosted Downtown at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Forget electromagnets and mouse trap cars. Many of these high-level high-schoolers are published authors and hold patents. Last year’s winner created a test for pancreatic cancer now headed toward clinical trial. 

ISEF, a program of Society for Science & the Public, is the world’s largest international pre-college science competition. Approximately 1,700 high school students from over 75 countries, regions and territories compete to attend the fair. Showcases of independent research result in nearly $4 million in prizes.

Indiana freshman Noor Abdullah examined how a sweet-smelling shrub affects nearby soil.

Intel Free Press / Flickr

About 1,700 high school students from around the world will be in Pittsburgh starting Sunday for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the largest pre-college science competition in the world.

Twenty percent of the competitors hold patents or have published papers — this fair features high-level science.

Walt Urbina / Courtesy Photo

With women earning less than 20 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in physics, engineering and computer science, some might consider Becca Volk an anomaly, but among her teammates on Pittsburgh’s all-female Girls of Steel competitive robotics team, Volk fits right in. The 16 yr. old junior at Avonworth High School knows she wants to be an engineer someday.

On March 28, Girls of Steel won the Chairman’s Award at the Buckeye Regional FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) in Cleveland, which qualifies the team to compete in the FRC Championship April 22-25 in St. Louis.

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