I email. I search. I shop. I Facebook. I stream. I Skype. Every year I seem to do these things a little bit more. Stroke by stroke, as I slip deeper into the Internet's embrace, I find myself wondering:
"What would happen if the Internet went away?"
Can it? It was famously built to be indestructible, with no center, no hub, no "off" or "on" switch. It is, after all, a creature of the U.S. Defense Department, designed, supposedly, to survive a global war.
The Ring Nebula, whose iconic shape and large size make it a favorite of amateur astronomers, can now be seen in new detail, after NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a sharp image of the nebula. Researchers say the new clarity reveals details that were previously unseen, and a structure that's more complex than scientists had believed.
Populations of frogs, salamanders and other amphibians are declining at an average rate of 3.7 percent each year, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study released this week. Researchers say the study is the first to calculate how quickly amphibians are disappearing in the United States.
"If the rate observed is representative and remains unchanged, these species would disappear from half of the habitats they currently occupy in about 20 years," according to the USGS.
In parts of the southeastern US, aggressive fire ants have been driven out by an even more recent arrival, the tawny crazy ant. Edward LeBrun, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, describes the newcomers and how one invasive species can out-invade another.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Flora Lichtman, filling in for Ira Flatow today. If you could count up all the bacteria in your house, how many different species do you think you'd find - 50, a couple hundred? How about thousands, with an S at the end? My next guest had volunteers swab surfaces in their home - pillowcase, the TV screen, the toilet seat - to see what might be living there. And in each of the 40 households, the same spots were swabbed.