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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When a rocket carrying the first module of the International Space Station blasted off from Kazakhstan in November of 1998, NASA officials said the station would serve as an orbiting home for astronauts and cosmonauts for at least 15 years.

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.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

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.

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."

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