Nell Greenfieldboyce | KBIA

Nell Greenfieldboyce

Nell Greenfieldboyce is a NPR science correspondent.

With reporting focused on general science, NASA, and the intersection between technology and society, Greenfieldboyce has been on the science desk's technology beat since she joined NPR in 2005.

In that time Greenfieldboyce has reported on topics including the narwhals in Greenland, the ending of the space shuttle program, and the reasons why independent truckers don't want electronic tracking in their cabs.

Much of Greenfieldboyce's reporting reflects an interest in discovering how applied science and technology connects with people and culture. She has worked on stories spanning issues such as pet cloning, gene therapy, ballistics, and federal regulation of new technology.

Prior to NPR, Greenfieldboyce spent a decade working in print, mostly magazines including U.S. News & World Report and New Scientist.

A graduate of Johns Hopkins, earning her Bachelor's of Arts degree in social sciences and a Master's of Arts degree in science writing, Greenfieldboyce taught science writing for four years at the university. She was honored for her talents with the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for Young Science Journalists.

Mike Morrison hardly looks like a revolutionary. He's wearing a dark suit and has short hair. But we're about to enter a world of conformity that hasn't changed in decades — maybe even a century. And in there, his vision seems radical.

"We are about to walk into a room full of 100 scientific posters, where researchers are trying to display their findings on a big poster board," says Morrison, a doctoral student in psychology at Michigan State University.

At the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., there's a room filled with burbling aquariums. A lot of them have lids weighed down with big rocks.

"Octopuses are notorious for being able to, kind of, escape out of their enclosures," says Bret Grasse, whose official title at MBL is "manager of cephalopod operations" — cephalopods being squid, cuttlefish and octopuses.

Imagine spending 40 years and more than a billion dollars on a gamble.

That's what one U.S. government science agency did. It's now paying off big time, with new discoveries about black holes and exotic neutron stars coming almost every week.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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The asteroid is in a horrible orbit and has a 1% chance of striking Earth in just eight years. And — thank goodness — it doesn't really exist.

It's a fictitious asteroid that's the focus of a realistic exercise devised for scientists and engineers from around the world who are attending the 2019 Planetary Defense Conference being held this week outside Washington, D.C.

A real asteroid of this size, should it ever hit the planet, could wipe out an entire city.

The brains of dead pigs have been somewhat revived by scientists hours after the animals were killed in a slaughterhouse.

The Yale University research team is careful to say that none of the brains regained the kind of organized electrical activity associated with consciousness or awareness. Still, the experiment described Wednesday in the journal Nature showed that a surprising amount of cellular function was either preserved or restored.

Salt has existed for millions of years. The Salt Institute has existed for just over a century. And now it has dissolved.

Mosquitoes searching for a meal of blood use a variety of clues to track down humans, including our body heat and the carbon dioxide in our breath. Now, research shows that a certain olfactory receptor in their antennae also serves as a detector of humans, responding to smelly chemicals in our sweat.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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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.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

On a launch pad in Florida, SpaceX is getting ready for the first flight test of its new space capsule designed to carry astronauts.

Even though the Crew Dragon capsule won't have any people on board when SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasts off Saturday morning, assuming the schedule doesn't slip, it's still a huge deal for U.S. spaceflight.

Historic preservationists are hoping that the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing this summer will persuade the United Nations to do something to protect Neil Armstrong's footprints in the lunar dust.

Hungry deer in the northeastern U. S. are likely changing the acoustics of their forests by eating up bushes, small trees and other leafy plants that normally would affect the transmission of natural sounds such as bird calls.

Registered nurse Ebony Monroe of Houston recently went through a period of being quick to anger about every little thing. She didn't realize then what it might mean for her health.

"If you had told me in the beginning that my irritability was related to depression, I would probably be livid," Monroe says with a laugh. "I did not think irritability aligned with depression."

Saturn is famous for its lovely rings, but a new study suggests the planet has spent most of its 4.5 billion years without them.

That's because the rings are likely only 10 million to 100 million years old, according to a newly published report in the journal Science that's based on findings from NASA's Cassini probe.

Tiny bits of blue pigment found in the teeth of a medieval skeleton reveal that more than 850 years ago, this seemingly ordinary woman was very likely involved in the production of lavishly illustrated sacred texts.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

New images of a mysterious world at the far reaches of our solar system show that it's shaped much like a snowman, with one large icy sphere attached to a smaller one.

The shape indicates that a rotating cloud of innumerable tiny objects must have coalesced into two balls that slowly spiraled closer and closer together until they gently touched, forming the object out beyond Pluto that scientists have nicknamed "Ultima Thule," which means "beyond the known world."

About a billion miles beyond Pluto, a spacecraft is closing in on an icy minor planet — a mysterious little place that's only about 20 miles across.

If all goes well, NASA will start the new year with the most far-off exploration of a world ever, flying past it about 2,200 miles from the surface while taking images with an onboard telescope and camera. The closest approach will be at 12:33 a.m. ET on Jan 1.

The next time you swat a fruit fly in your kitchen, take heart from the fact that people have apparently been struggling with these fly infestations for around 10,000 years.

A study published Thursday suggests Drosophila melanogaster first shacked up with humans when the insects flew into the elaborately painted caves of ancient people living in southern Africa.

That's according to a report published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson has responded to recent allegations of sexual misconduct by posting a lengthy statement online, in which he denies wrongdoing and says he welcomes an impartial investigation by the producers of his show Cosmos.

Updated at 8:40 a.m. ET, Friday

The vote to redefine the kilogram was, as expected, unanimous, with representatives from more than 50 countries saying "yes" or "oui" at the historic meeting in Versailles, France.

Bill Phillips, a Nobel laureate from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland, told the assembled delegates that basing the kilogram's official definition on a hunk of metal held in a vault was "a situation that is clearly intolerable."

The oldest evidence of life on Earth probably isn't found in some 3.7 billion-year-old rocks found in Greenland, despite what a group of scientists claimed a couple of years ago.

That's according to a new analysis, published Wednesday in the journal Nature by a different team of experts.

Scientists may have detected the first moon orbiting a planet in a far-off solar system, though they caution that they still want to confirm the finding with another round of telescope observations.

"The fact is, it's so strange and it's the first of its kind," says David Kipping, an astronomer at Columbia University. "That demands a higher level of rigor and skepticism than you would normally apply to a run-of-the-mill detection."

The psychoactive drug known as ecstasy can make people feel extra loving toward others, and a study published Thursday suggests it has the same effect on octopuses.

Hurricane Florence has captured people's attention this week, and it's a sure bet that this unusual weather is also being closely monitored by hundreds of millions of migrating birds.

This is the peak of the fall migration season, after all, and birds avoid bad weather — which is helping scientists predict migration patterns.

An intriguing study published this week suggests that bonobos, among the closest relatives to humans, are surprisingly willing to hand over food to a pal. But they didn't share tools.

The discovery adds a new wrinkle to scientists' efforts to understand the evolutionary origins of people's unusual propensity to help others.

Insects and birds might have an innate drive to migrate at certain times and in certain directions, but a new study suggests that large mammals such as moose and bighorn sheep have to learn to do it.

In fact, it takes decades for cultural knowledge about migration to build up before populations can effectively move across the land to find the best food, according to a report in the journal Science.

Sarah Anne, a 59-year-old chimpanzee, is famous enough to have her own Wikipedia page. That's because she was captured from the wild as an infant and raised in the home of a language researcher who taught her to use symbols for words. These days, she lives at Chimp Haven, a wooded sanctuary for former research chimps in Louisiana, along with a new pal named Marie.

Everybody loves a winner — even toddlers, according to a study published Monday. But even though kiddos tend to like high-status individuals, they don't like those who win conflicts by using force.

"It seems like toddlers care about who wins, but they also care about how they win," says Ashley Thomas, now a researcher in cognitive development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.

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