Joe Palca

Joe Palca appears in the following:

How Can Robots Learn New Tasks? Practice, Practice, Practice

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Even the smartest robot does a miserable job picking up objects it hasn't been programmed to recognize. One way robots may get better at it is to learn by experience, a researcher says.


A Discoverer Of The Buckyball Offers Tips On Winning A Nobel Prize

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Harold Kroto shared a Nobel in 1996 for finding a new type of carbon molecule that ignited the field of nanotechnology. Find a passion where — with hard work — you can be the best, he advises.


Nobel Prize In Chemistry Awarded To 3 Scientists For DNA Repair Discovery

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry will be shared by three scientists for their work on how cells repair damage to DNA. They have discovered DNA damage can lead to mutations, which in turn can lead to cancer.


3 Scientists Win 2015 Nobel Chemistry Prize

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The work of Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar details how cells repair damaged DNA and preserve genes.


When Baby Sleeps Near Mom, Guess Who Doesn't Sleep Well?

Friday, October 02, 2015

Mothers have been warned for years that sleeping with their newborn infant is a bad idea because it increases the risk the baby might die unexpectedly during the night. But now Israeli researchers are reporting that even sleeping in the same room can have negative consequences: not for the child, ...


Why NASA Didn't Just Send Over A Rover To Look For Water On Mars

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Mars is basically a pretty arid place, so it's pretty astonishing that the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was able to spot signs of liquid water on the planet's surface.

But even more astonishing in a way is that one of the places where signs of water was spotted is a ...


Why Nonstop Travel In Personal Pods Has Yet To Take Off

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Personal rapid transit was supposed to be the future of public transport: lightweight pods on elevated tracks, on-demand destinations. But funding issues make cities reluctant to change course.


#NPRreads: Senator In Prison, Pitchers Who Hit, Ice Cream, And Overwork

Friday, September 04, 2015

NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. On Fridays, we highlight some of the best stories.

This week, we bring you three ...


A Lot Of Heat Is Wasted, So Why Not Convert It Into Power?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What if there were a way to take the waste heat that spews from car tailpipes or power plant chimneys and turn it into electricity? An entrepreneur says something called thermoelectrics is the key.


Scientists Develop App To Turn Smartphones Into Cosmic Ray Detectors

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

If scientists can convince people to use the app, they hope it will help them solve a cosmic mystery. This story originally aired on March 27, 2015 on All Things Considered.


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

Shrinivas Kulkarni, an astronomy and planetary science professor at the California Institute of Technology, is a serious astronomer. But not too serious.

"We astronomers are supposed to say, 'We wonder about the stars and we really want to think about it," says Kulkarni — in other words, think deep ...


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.