Nifty Fifty

USA Science and Engineering Festival: The Blog

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In her quest to study the fundamentals of climate change, prominent geochemist and climatologist Kim Cobb has sailed on six oceanographic research voyages and led five caving expeditions to the rainforests of Borneo. Her challenge: working out of her primary research base in the tropical Pacific, how to better understand and reconstruct climate variability of…

Meet Nifty Fifty speaker Ben Dubin-Thaler. With a refreshing measure of ingenuity, Ben Dubin-Thaler is proving that some of the most exciting lessons in science can occur outside the classroom – in a bus. That’s the Cell Motion BioBus, a self-powered, fully-equipped mobile microscopy lab that Ben developed and operates to bring hands-on science education…

As a young student growing up in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Charles (Chuck) Vest remembers taking endless aptitude tests in school – all of them indicating that he should become a journalist, a psychologist or a historian. Engineer was way down on the list, test results always revealed, strongly suggesting he had little…

How does the brain create and perceive music? More specifically, what goes on inside the heads of musicians when they’re in the groove composing a song or improvising with their instruments or voice? These questions have long intrigued researcher Charles Limb, and to find answers he’s turned to studying the brains of some likely individuals:…

If researcher Angela Belcher has her way, electric cars of the future will be equipped with lightweight, inexpensive batteries that can store enough electricity to make driving such vehicles even more practical. Also on her laboratory “to do” list: developing tougher electronic material so that you’ll never lose your computer again to an errant glass…

Microbes Rule the World

Watch a little about Microbes from the Fall 2010 USA Science and Engineering Festival. The average science student knows that microbiology is the study of bacteria and other microorganisms, especially those that cause disease and other threats to health. But what the public often does not realize is that the work of the microbiologist is…

For David Bolinsky – the co-creator, with his talented team, of the highly-acclaimed computer animated science film, The Inner Life of a Cell – the plunge into the wonders of medical animation began at age four when he went to see the movie Fantasia. From that moment, he was hooked. “That did it for me,”…

She has developed some of the world’s most famous robots – humanoid creatures like “Kismet” (a robotic head that has been widely featured in international media) and “Nexi,” a mobile dexterous social robot that learns from and interacts with people in an intelligent, life-like and sociable manner. But Cynthia Breazeal, associate professor of Media Arts…

Nominated by: Marine scientist and deep-sea explorer Edith (Edie) Widder sometimes can’t believe the beautiful, natural rewards of her job. Deep beneath the surface of the ocean in her submersible vehicle where the marine world is dark, quiet and peaceful, often all she has to do is sit back and be treated to a spectacular…

Nominated by The world deep beneath the surface of the ocean is a dark, mysterious, and fascinating place. Renowned oceanographer David Gallo should know — he’s been there numerous times. “Sea life at those depths — two to three miles down– is also bizarre, resilient, beautiful and shockingly abundant,” he adds. A pioneer in ocean…