Science

NASA / AP

The iconic Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit 25 years ago this week. Since 1990, it’s been capturing crystal clear images of stellar nurseries, planetary rings and much more. It has been responsible for some major astronomical breakthroughs and has helped shape our knowledge of the universe.

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Many of New England's native plants are in serious trouble, according to a new report released today by the New England Wildflower Society.

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Alan Alda spoke at UVM last week to address a subject about which he is quite passionate: teaching scientists to communicate their findings with the general public. His speech came at a time when the Center for Communicating Science that bears his name at Stony Brook University was announcing a working relationship with UVM.

JPL-Caltech/MSSS / NASA, public domain

Community college students across the nation are getting an opportunity to study Mars exploration through a special NASA program. That includes six Vermont students who are designing their own missions to Mars.

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The brain is the most complex, important organ in the body and local high school students who want to learn more about it, or show off their knowledge of neuroscience, can compete in the annual Brain Bee. It's an all-day competition held each year in Vermont. The winner gets to go to the national Brain Bee in Baltimore, Md.

Lisa Bernardin, organizer for the Brain Bee in Vermont, and Tim Gallagher, a high school student in Stowe and competitor, joined VPR to talk about the upcoming competition. 

Toby Talbot / AP/file

How would you like to be part of the world's longest running citizen science program? Sunday kicks off the 115th annual Christmas Bird Count, and birders throughout the state are invited to participate.

The count is conducted in specific areas, known as Christmas Bird Count circles. Each 15-mile diameter circle is managed by an experienced birder. Leaders and their contact information are listed on the website Vermont ebird.

John Raoux / AP

NASA’s plans to launch their new space craft, Orion, on Friday, Dec. 5 at 7 a.m. It is set to travel 3,600 miles from earth, orbiting the planet two times, before returning to land in the Pacific Ocean approximately five hours later.


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To the casual observer, Lake Champlain might seem pretty calm right now. But lake scientists know that it is kicking up a storm. It's undergoing turnover and seiche (sounds like saysh) as we speak.

What, exactly, are these phenomena? Breck Bowden, director of the Lake Champlain Sea Grant program, explains.

What's turnover?

Turnover is "one of the most unusual and least-known properties of water," Bowden says. It starts with the lake's stratification; the warmer water sits on top, and the cooler water sinks to the bottom.

Toby Talbot / AP

When scientists need massive volumes of data or they need data collected over a huge geographic range, they often turn to well-trained citizen scientists for help. From counting the populations of species, to monitoring water quality, citizen scientists are contributing to research and learning about science in the process. We dive into some of the research projects in Vermont that are boosted by citizen-gathered data. Our guest is Larry Clarfeld, an environmental educator at the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

Budding scientists from the Upper Valley are getting thrills and chills - literally - at youth camps hosted in Hanover by the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, or CRREL.  It’s run by the Army Corps of Engineers. Researchers often work in Greenland and Antarctica, but this summer a few have stayed here to teach young people how to conduct experiments about climate change.

flickr / stinkenroboter / 13954037792

When the sun comes up, the dawn chorus erupts! Birds break out in song early in the morning, showing off their varied tunes and amazing vocal abilities. Biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra were at the UVM Jericho Research Forest at 5:30 a.m. to listen, record and explain why and how birds sing. The program may help you identify some of the birds you can pick out of the chorus.  And Kent McFarland will demonstrate how the Wood Thrush can actually sing two notes at once!

BostonTx / Flickr

To wonder about the world around us is an essential part of being human. “We are that very rare aggregate of molecules that is able to ask questions about our existence and about the universe,” says physicist Marcelo Gleiser.

He contends that our quest for scientific understanding is like an island of knowledge: the more we know, the larger the island grows, but as the island grows, so too does the shoreline. The limits of our understanding increase even as our comprehension grows.

Piedmont Pharmaceuticals / PRNewsFoto/AP

When you mention head lice to most parents, many have an emotional reaction or horror story to share. But the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that schools end the practice of sending kids with lice home from school.

Dr. Barbara Frankowski, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Vermont was the lead author of the study the policy was based on.

Charlotte Albright

It’s been a snowy February, and that’s got lots of kids outdoors building forts and snowmen. But what’s in that stuff, and how does it work?  During school vacation week, the Montshire Museum, in Norwich, invited some young scientists to experiment with winter’s chemistry set.

Just outside the back door of the museum, there’s a small snowdrift. It’s also an archeology dig for construction materials.  Montshire science educator Mike Fenzel gives three students, aged 8, 9 and 10, small hand saws, as he excavates layers of snow, then ice.

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