It used to be that if astronomers wanted to get rid of the blurring effects of the atmosphere, they had to put their telescopes in space. But a technology called adaptive optics has changed all that.
Adaptive optics systems use computers to analyze the light coming from a star, and then compensate for changes wrought by the atmosphere, using mirrors that can change their shapes up to 1,000 times per second. The result: To anyone on Earth peering through the telescope, the star looks like the single point of light it really is.
Tawny crazy ants are invading ecosystems and homes in states including Texas and Florida, wiping out other ant species and overwhelming homeowners. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon talks to Texas A&M research scientist Robert Puckett, who says the ants are "ecological steamrollers" that reproduce so fast they are nearly impossible to get rid of.
Editor's Note: Robert has added an update to this post. Scroll down to read it.
Here's a simple question: Why do you weigh more when you go to sleep than when you wake up? Because you do. In the video below, you'll see the evidence. You can check this yourself. Somehow, while doing absolutely nothing all night but sleep, you will wake up lighter.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. If you have a smartphone, you might take the Internet for granted, right? It's always there. But around the world, some four and a half billion people still are not connected. Google, being in the Internet business, has a plan to expand its reach, bring Internet to all these people, but it's not by spooling out fiber-optic cable or building cell towers. It's using a technology that, well, sort of sounds like it belongs in another century: free-floating balloons. They call it Project Loon.