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Friday, April 4, 2014 Permalink

Politics And Space, Saturn's Moon's Underground Oceans, The Origin Of Violence

Adam Summers / Science Friday

Adam Summers / Science Friday

How Will Russian-U.S. Politics Affect Our Relationship in Space?

NASA suspended a majority of its communications with Russia in response to the conflict in Crimea.

In response to the conflict in Crimea, the United States has imposed sanctions on a select group of Russian officials, and NASA has suspended some of its activities with the country. Space policy analyst Marcia Smith discusses the U.S.’s dependence on the Russians in space and what might be behind NASA’s response.

Sir Roger Penrose: Cosmic Inflation Is ‘Fantasy’

What's wrong with modern physics—and could alternative theories explain our observations of the universe?

Sir Roger Penrose calls string theory a "fashion," quantum mechanics "faith," and cosmic inflation a "fantasy." Coming from an armchair theorist, these declarations might be dismissed. But Penrose is a well-respected physicist who co-authored a seminal paper on black holes with Stephen Hawking. What's wrong with modern physics—and could alternative theories explain our observations of the universe?

Inside Insight

Clearing and staining gobies, stingrays, and sharks has revealed to scientist Adam Summers critical data, as well as the beauty of each fish’s unique form.

Biomechanists use many high-tech tools such as MRI or CT scanning to visualize the connective tissues of specimens. But for Adam Summers of Washington University’s Friday Harbor Labs, none of these methods provide the inspiration that clearing and staining does. Using a cocktail of chemicals, clearing and staining turns soft tissues transparent, while tinting bones and cartilage bright red and blue. Preparing gobies, stingrays, and sharks in this manner has revealed to Summers critical data while allowing him—and us—to appreciate the beauty of each fish’s form.

Diving Into the Underground Ocean of One of Saturn’s Moons

Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, may have an underground ocean the size of Lake Superior. 

Reporting in Science, researchers say Saturn’s sixth largest moon, Enceladus, may contain a large reservoir of water below its surface at its southern pole. Planetary scientist David Stevenson describes how this underground ocean got there and the possibility of life on the moon.

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The Origins of Violence

An anthropologist, a psychologist, and a crime writer ask: Are humans hard-wired for violence?

We’ve heard that human violence is on the rise, that it’s on the wane, that it’s hard-wired, and that it’s learned. But what do we really know about where violence comes from and how to stop it? Psychologist Steven Pinker, anthropologist Richard Wrangham, and crime writer Harold Schechter discuss the origins of mankind’s most troubling characteristic.