Scientists estimate that Mars has been an arid and dusty planet for at least the last two billion years. But this week, NASA’s Curiosity rover uncovered more evidence that a gigantic lake—possibly the size of Utah’s Great Salt Lake—could have once existed in Gale Crater. Ashwin Vasavada, deputy project scientist for the Curiosity Mission, discusses the clues that are leading scientists to believe that this lake, or series of lakes, may have been on the Martian surface for millions of years.
Actor Alan Alda created the “Flame Challenge” in 2012 to promote better science communication. Each year, he asks scientists to explain a question that keeps them up at night to 11-year-olds around the world, who choose the winning entry. This year’s question: What is sleep?
No one will ever agree on what makes the perfect cookie. But two widely identified components of cookie quality are crispy, buttery edges, and a soft, molten, chewy center. In this episode of our Food Failures series, Jeff Potter, author of Cooking for Geeks, talks about the cookie tech wars of the 1980s, when food companies fought over their crispy, chewy formulations. And he advises home bakers on what sugars, fats, and flours to use for the perfect holiday cookie—including a special SciFri recipe based on Procter & Gamble's original 1984 cookie patent. Plus, we asked SciFri fans for their secrets to making the perfect cookie.
Avoid the long lines this season and hack your holiday gifts. Want to try making your own perfume or turning a scarf into a surround sound speaker system? Eric Wilhelm, founder of Instructables, and Astrida Valigorsky, a member of NYC Resistor, share their favorite holiday hacks and do-it-yourself geeky gifts.
We’re making our book list and checking it twice. Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Deborah Blum and io9.com editor Annalee Newitz join Ira Flatow to share their top science, technology, and environmental books of 2014. Have a favorite? Share it in the comments and add your pick to the list!