Science

16 stories
Get off my lawn
Astronomers: Keep iRobot's lawnmower bot out of our back yard
Stripes mowed into a lawn
iRobot, the maker of the Roomba, is hoping to find another consumer hit with robots that can mow your lawn. But those plans are causing some friction with astronomers who are mapping the galactic regions that produce new stars. Read More
Heart Beats
Music as medicine? The Sync Project will use big data to study the healing power of melody
Does your heart rate kick up with Taylor Swift comes on? A new app will measure the effect music has on health. Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File
You may keep your Taylor Swift obsession hidden from your co-workers, but not from science. A new research initiative called the Sync Project aims to track how the brain and body respond to music through an app that collects biological data while your favorite jams stream on loop. So when a person plugs in their headphones and heads to work, their activity tracker on their wrist will be able to see how their heart rate changes when Swift’s "Shake It Off" transitions to One Directions’ "Steal My Girl." Read More
Smart science
Apple, Boston hospitals partner to launch ResearchKit for medical research
Family of healthkit apps
An ultra-thin Macbook laptop and the Apple Watch were the stars of Apple’s Monday media event in San Francisco. But the company also introduced a new suite of apps for the iPhone that could turn the device into a research tool and transform the way researchers study disease. Massachusetts General Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute were among the partners who worked with Apple on the five inaugural research apps. They will track asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, and were built with Apple’s new tool, ResearchKit. Read More
Cambridge students study science with a CSI-inspired crime lab
Cambridge eighth graders Nellisha Leonce  and Patrina Eugene examined their fingerprints on a brushed plastic cup during a week-long forensics workshop at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge. (Wendy Maeda/Boston Globe)
A little after noon on Wednesday last week, two technicians from the Cambridge Police Department crime lab arrived at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, kits in tow. But the famed center was not the scene of a crime. Rather, it was hosting a four-day vacation science camp for middle-schoolers, and the two crime-lab techs were participating in a session called “Get A Clue” to introduce 22 adolescents to scientific skills such as microscopy and dissections. And to make the session all the more engaging for the kids, the Whitehead and its partner in the program, the educational group Science from Scientists, had cooked up a whodunit: the theft of a candy recipe they would solve using technical sleuthing taught by real-life CSI types. Read More
'Tiny Giants' exhibition at District Hall to showcase the ocean's smallest and weirdest creatures
Tiny Giants #16 Img0325
For one evening in the middle of this month, District Hall is going to be transformed into a science museum and gallery space. The New England Aquarium and Maine’s Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences are teaming up for an exhibit that will give guests a close-up look at some of the tiniest and weirdest creatures living in the world’s oceans. Read More
not too hot not too cold
This self-powered boiler can help you survive New England winters
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When the next cold snap cuts downs power lines and leaves New Englanders disconnected from the grid, a quarter-sized device could help them tap their boilers for electricity. The same technology—a precise combination of materials sandwiched together—is poised to impact larger markets, and make cars and heavy industries more energy-efficient.  Read More
Now you see it
Magic materials fold themselves at MIT exhibition this month
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Time is the fourth dimension. That's the first thing you need to know before you enter the 3-D/4-D exhibition that opened this week at an MIT gallery this week. Sheets of wood, metal and cloth that are 3-D printed into fantastic structures are on display at the Keller Gallery on campus, but the real twist is this: They are programmed to shape-shift over time. Read More