science

Almost everyone gossips.

And a new study finds that people spend about 52 minutes per day, on average, talking to someone about someone else who is not present.

But here's the surprise: Despite the assumption that most gossip is trash talk, the study finds that the vast majority of gossip is nonjudgmental chitchat.

Miami Herald archives

As South Florida's ritzy coastline, bejeweled with luxury condos and posh hotels, has come under increasing threats from flooding and storm surge driven by climate change, scientists have focused on reefs to defend that wealth.

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Virtually all of us will have to endure some aches and pains in the course of growing older. Maybe a bad back that makes getting out of bed a grueling ordeal. Or arthritic knees that seem to throb in protest after the slightest attempt at bending.

Scientists who recently announced an experimental genetic test that can help predict obesity got immediate pushback from other researchers, who wonder whether it is really useful.

The story behind this back-and-forth is, at its core, a question of when it's worth diving deep into DNA databanks when there's no obvious way to put that information into use.

Emily Dennis has spent hours, if not days, watching mosquitoes buzz around her bare, outstretched arm. Carefully, she's observed the insects land, stab their mouthparts through her skin and feed.

But if her arm is slathered with DEET — shorthand for the chemical N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, the active ingredient in many insect repellents — mosquitoes stay away.

It happens all the time during basketball games. Two players are going for the ball. They touch it at the same time but neither controls it, and it flies out of bounds.

At that point, tempers rise — both are certain that the other player was the last to touch it, which should earn their own team a chance to control the ball.

Are the players just pretending to be so sure it's out on their opponent? Or could there actually be a difference in how they experience the event that has them pointing a finger at the other player?

If you have ever wanted to get paid to lie in bed, then this job is for you: NASA, the European Space Agency and the German Aerospace Center are offering $18,500 for people to lie in bed for two months.

The job is based in Cologne, Germany, and it's part of a study designed to better understand how the body adapts to weightlessness. The agencies are currently looking for people who are female, between the ages of 24 and 55 and who speak German. The official name of the study is Artificial Gravity Bed Rest Study.

But there's a catch.

Anyone who’s ever flown a drone can tell you – it’s not the easiest thing to do. Now imagine if the only way you could control that drone – is with your brain.

That’s the challenge 16 University of South Florida students faced recently at the school’s first ever Brain-Drone race.

The world is seeing the first-ever image of a black hole Wednesday, as an international team of researchers from the Event Horizon Telescope project released their look at the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy Messier 87 (M87). The image shows a dark disc "outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon," the consortium said.

"As an astrophysicist, this is a thrilling day for me," said National Science Foundation Director France A. Córdova.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that it's putting an end to a controversial research program that led scientists to kill thousands of cats over decades.

Since 1982 the USDA's Agricultural Research Services division had been conducting experiments that involved infecting cats with toxoplasmosis — a disease usually caused by eating undercooked contaminated meat — in order to study the foodborne illness. Once the cats were infected and the parasite harvested, the felines were put down.

Our thoughts and fears, movements and sensations all arise from the electrical blips of billions of neurons in our brain. Streams of electricity flow through neural circuits to govern these actions of the brain and body, and some scientists think that many neurological and psychiatric disorders may result from dysfunctional circuits.

Investigations into the causes of the two Boeing 737 Max crashes, in Indonesia and Ethiopia, have focused on software — and the possibility that it was autonomously pointing the planes' noses downward, acting without the pilots' consent.

It's a nightmare scenario. It's also a reminder that software is everywhere, sometimes doing things we don't expect.

This sank in for a lot of people four years ago, during the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. It turned out that software inside the cars had been quietly running the engines in such a way as to cheat on emissions tests.

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Michael Nuegebauer / Jane Goodall Institute

In the 1950s, Jane Goodall began to travel to Kenya for a research project on chimpanzees. Her research was fundamental to understanding how chimps make and use tools, and she founded the Jane Goodall Institute to protect chimpanzees and their habitats.

Now in her 80s, Goodall continues to dedicate her life to animals and the environment. She is a UN Messenger of Peace, a UNESCO Award Winner and has been the subject of numerous documentaries and feature films.

Scientists are about to restart the two giant facilities in the United States that register gravitational waves, the ripples in the very fabric of the universe that were predicted by Albert Einstein more than a century ago.

Einstein realized that when massive objects such as black holes collide, the impact sends shock waves through space-time that are like the ripples in water created by tossing a pebble in a pond.

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