Life Sciences

What is this thing called life? Biologists are life's detectives, discovering how life works and what makes animals, plants and microbes "alive." Organisms don't remain the same forever. Without change, life on Earth would stagnate. Species are in a constant dance with their environment. When an environment changes, the species that live within must change too, evolving to better adapt in order to survive. The end result is the diversity of life we see around us.

NSF Science Now: Episode 48

In this week's episode, we learn about a new wall-jumping robot, using sensor-integrated blocks to better identify developmental disabilities, creatures with camouflage, a new procedure to detect exposure to dangerous nuclear materials and, finally, the discovery of the oldest known fossil tumor.

Swinging hips help turtles take greater strides

Turtles have a reputation. "They're slow, they're clumsy and the shell just gets in the way of everything," said Richard Blob, a biologist at Clemson University who specializes in studying how animals have evolved to move the way they do. But, Blob adds quickly, "I don't think that's the case anymore." Fueling the pokey reputation is a long-held belief that a turtle can't move its pelvis or hips. Until recently, however, nobody has been able to see under, or through, a turtle's shell to confirm that notion.

Shark acceleration research

Students in the Small Hall maker space at William & Mary create devices for Virginia Institute of Marine Science professor Kevin Weng to use in his shark research at the Eastern Shore Lab.

Lens of time: slime lapse

What these single-celled, gelatinous blobs lack in brain power, they make up for with surprisingly complex decision-making

NSF-funded biofuel research at Kansas State

Meng "Peter" Zhang, visiting assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering at Kansas State University, describes his National Science Foundation-funded biofuel manufacturing research.

Turn your eyes to the skies for the latest explorers

In episode 68, Charlie and Jordan head outdoors to show how National Science Foundation-supported researchers are finding new ways to use small, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)--also known as drones--to gather data, improve communication and explore environments where humans and larger aircraft dare not go.

Bat ballet

Hundreds of thousands of bats emerge from a hole in the ground, and scientists with high-speed video cameras are there to make sense of the overwhelming spectacle.

NSF Science Now: Episode 46

In this week's episode, we test a shark's bite, examine the test question and discover how new computational tools can help better detect recurring brain cancer.