Joe Palca

Joe Palca appears in the following:

Shall I Compare Thee To An Algorithm? Turing Test Gets A Creative Twist

Friday, August 07, 2015

Can a computer program craft passable prose — something readers can't distinguish from human-authored stuff? How about poetry, or dance mixes? New contests pose those challenges.


Snail Venom Yields Potent Painkiller, But Delivering The Drug Is Tricky

Monday, August 03, 2015

The drug derived from the venom of cone snails must be injected into the spinal column to get beyond a patient's blood-brain barrier and bring relief. But scientists think they may have a workaround.


How A Scientist's Slick Discovery Helped Save Preemies' Lives

Monday, August 03, 2015

Sometimes one person's insight transforms medicine. Dr. John Clements is one of those people. In the 1950s he discovered a slippery lung substance key to breathing, and to the survival of tiny babies.


'Buckyballs' Solve Century-Old Mystery About Interstellar Space

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Scientists have long wondered what's in the wispy cloud of gas floating in the space between the stars, absorbing starlight. Turns out it's a form of carbon named after architect Buckminster Fuller.


Progress In The Fight Against A Parasite That Causes Diarrheal Disease

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Scientists have had a hard time finding the weak spots of Cryptosporidium parvum, but now that's changing. It's not a common killer in the U.S., but it's a different story in the developing world.


Flood Maps Can Get Much Sharper With A Little Supercomputing Oomph

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Entrepreneurs are turning to Oak Ridge National Lab's supercomputer to make all sorts of things, including maps that are much more accurate in predicting how a neighborhood will fare in a flood.


Scientists Investigate What Makes Us Itch

Friday, June 12, 2015

Scientists found a molecule crucial to perceiving the sensation of itching. It affects how the brain responds to serotonin, and may explain why anti-depressants that boost serotonin make some itch.


How A Drunken Chipmunk Voice Helps Send A Public Service Message

Monday, June 01, 2015

First you get a crazy message from a friend. Then you get a not-so-crazy message that could help you find a job or fight a disease.


'Playing Around With Telescopes' To Explore Secrets Of The Universe

Saturday, May 16, 2015

For astrophysicist Shrinivas Kulkarni, "The sky is so much richer and so much more imaginative than the imagination."


California Observatory Discovers Two Large Planets Orbiting Nearby Star

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Two new large planets have been found orbiting a nearby star. But what makes the discovery interesting is they were found using a telescope at an observatory that was slated to be shuttered.


Welcome To The Neighborhood: 2 Super-Earths Discovered

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Astronomers using telescopes in Hawaii and California have found two exoplanets orbiting a star a mere 54 light-years away. The discovery is important for two big reasons.


Hubble's Other Telescope And The Day It Rocked Our World

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Amid this week's hoopla celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope, don't forget the clever astronomer for whom the space scope was named. In the 1920s, he changed our sense of ourselves and the universe.


3D Printers Are Changing The Way People Think About Manufacturing

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

At the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, the future of manufacturing is taking shape. At the lab, 3D printers offer some unique design opportunities as well as interesting challenges.


Doctors Test Tumor Paint In People

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

A modified venom from scorpions that carries a dye into the brain and makes tumors glow has cleared its latest hurdle. But will this attempt to improve brain surgery work in humans as well as animals?


Want To Do A Little Astrophysics? This App Detects Cosmic Rays

Monday, March 30, 2015

Two physicists keen to detect a a very rare, high energy particle think you and I can help. The researchers are working on an app that would allow any smartphone to detect rare particles from space.


Safer Anthrax Test Aims To Keep The Bioweapon From Terrorists

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Current tests require growing anthrax in the lab, which isn't the best option for labs in Afghanistan. So engineers have come up with a credit-card-size test that could make the world a safer place.


Fossil Collection Calls Berkeley's Clock Tower Home

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Why are 20 tons of fossils being stored in the bell tower at the University of California at Berkeley? A look into the world's only paleontological collection that has its own carillon.


Speeding Up Yeast's Evolution And What It Says About Cancer

Monday, March 09, 2015

Scientists in California report they are using the rapidly reproducing organism to track evolutionary changes. The twist is that the new work on evolution has implications for human cancers.


Climate Scientist Tries Arts To Stir Hearts Regarding Earth's Fate

Monday, February 16, 2015

Physicist Robert Davies worked with a classical quartet and two visual artists to create a musical performance about climate change. The music and images, he says, help the information take hold.


On The Ant Highway, There's Never A Backup

Monday, January 26, 2015

A team of Indian physicists has made a mathematical model that purports to explain why ants don't have traffic jams. NPR's Joe Palca explains as part of his series, Joe's Big Idea.