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Giant chocolate industry depends on tiny insects for survival

15 hours ago

Chocolate is a global industry worth about $100 billion a year. What gets overshadowed in all those sweet treats and big profits are the bugs responsible for it all.

Yes, bugs.

Chocolate comes from cacao beans, which come from the tiny flower of the cacao plant. Those plants are pollinated by even smaller flies called biting midges. For years, the flies have been the focal point of research by Samantha Jay Forbes, a doctoral candidate in agriculture and environment at James Cook University in Australia.

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Google is facing diverse diversity lawsuits.

A former employee is suing the company for allegedly discriminating against white and Asian male applicants as it tries to boost the number of black, Latino and female staffers.

It's a long way, metaphorically speaking, from the campus of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., to the Sonic Drive-In burger joints that line America's highways and small towns, particularly in the South.

The two well-preserved mummies from Egypt's Gebelein site – a male and a female — have been in the British Museum's collection for more than 100 years.

But thanks to new technology, archaeologists have just discovered that they have some of the world's oldest tattoos – and what they say are the earliest known to contain figures.

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"Feels great to have the cat out of the bag. Transparency breeds trust," Spotify CEO Daniel Ek tweeted Wednesday, just after the Securities and Exchange Commission published his company's 256-page financial opus.

Climate change could decrease the yield of some crops in California by up to 40 percent by 2050. That's a big deal for farmers in the state, which provides about two-thirds of the nation's produce.

Last year, according to government figures, there were 16 "climate disaster events" with losses exceeding $1 billion each in the U.S.

So the weather is something to keep an eye on, and since 1870 what's now known as the National Weather Service has been doing that. But for the last several years, it's been doing so with serious staff shortages.

Now, it faces the prospect of permanent job losses.

The Trump administration wants to eliminate 355 jobs, and $75 million from the weather service budget.

An analysis published Friday confirms the state of American gun policy science is not good, overall.

The nonprofit RAND Corporation analyzed thousands of studies and found only 63 that establish a causal relationship between specific gun policies and outcomes such as reductions in homicide and suicide, leaving lawmakers without clear facts about one of the most divisive issues in American politics.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched a broad investigation into the companies and financial professionals behind many recent initial coin offerings, or ICOs.

The investigation was first reported by the Wall Street Journal and independently confirmed by NPR. According to the Journal, the SEC has sent out "dozens of subpoenas and information requests" in recent months to companies and individuals who have facilitated ICOs.

Editor's note: As the Oscars approach, we're celebrating America's favorite movie snack by bringing back this story, first published in 2014.

Western Illinois might be close to the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, but it's the driest part of the state this year.

"We really haven't really had any measurable rain since the middle of October," says Ken Schafer, who farms winter wheat, corn and soybeans in Jerseyville. "I dug some post-holes this winter, and it's just dust."

Tania Lombrozo is a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley. She writes about psychology, cognitive science and philosophy, with occasional forays into parenting and veganism. You can keep up with more of what she is thinking on Twitter: @TaniaLombrozo

Could you teach computer class without a computer?

For Owura Kwadwo Hottish, 33, an information and communications technology teacher in Ghana, it's his only option. At the middle school where he works, there are no computers. So using colored chalk, he painstakingly draws a version of the computer screen onto the blackboard.

Uber wants to get you from your home to your doctor's office and you won't even need to open the Uber app. The company announced Thursday that it's teaming up with health care organizations to provide transportation for patients going to and from medical appointments.

The rides can be scheduled for patients through doctor's offices, by receptionists or other staffers. And they can be booked for immediate pickup or up to 30 days in advance. That means patients without a smartphone — who wouldn't be able to use Uber otherwise — can become Uber customers.

Germany says it managed to fend off a cyberattack against key ministries, but declined to confirm media reports that the culprit was the Russian intelligence operation blamed for interference in U.S. elections.

"We can confirm that the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) and intelligence services are investigating a cybersecurity incident concerning the federal government's information technology and networks," an Interior Ministry spokesman said Wednesday.