Science Nation - How Does Your Garden Grow?

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At first, the back room of plant physiologist Edgar Spalding's lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison might be mistaken for an alien space ship set straight out of a Hollywood movie. It's a room bathed in low-red light with camera lenses pointing at strange looking entities encased in Petri dishes. A closer inspection reveals the Petri dishes contain nothing alien at all, but rather very down-to-earth corn seedlings. They're grown in red light for optimal growth. They're just one of...

Science Nation - Africa's Drinking Water

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Access to safe drinking water is a global problem for nearly a billion people. For approximately 200 million people, many in Africa, high levels of naturally occurring fluoride in the water cause disfiguring and debilitating dental and skeletal disease. University of Oklahoma (OU) environmental scientist Laura Brunson is back from Ethiopia where, with support from the National Science Foundation, she's developing fluoride filtering devices that use inexpensive materials readily available...

Science Nation - Skin Mounted Electronics

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John Rogers and his team at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana have come up with a way to monitor the body electronically that really sticks. They have developed a small, flexible circuit device that sticks comfortably to the skin and is artfully camouflaged as a temporary tattoo. It can read a patient's brainwaves, heart rate and muscle activity while they are going about their normal activity, making it possible to cut back on visits to the doctor's office. Rogers envisions one...

Science Nation - Bionic Leg

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A shark attack survivor now knows what it feels like to be part bionic man. 23-year-old amputee Craig Hutto has volunteered to play guinea pig, testing a state-of-the-art prosthetic leg with powered knee and ankle joints. With early support from the National Science Foundation and continued support from the National Institutes of Health, Vanderbilt University mechanical engineer Michael Goldfarb has spent several years developing the leg, which operates with special sensors, an electric...

Science Nation - Early Cancer Screening

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With few early symptoms, ovarian cancer — like many cancers — can be hard to detect without invasive and expensive procedures. "Early detection is absolutely not only key but probably the only way for us to win the war on cancer," says Vadim Backman who is a biomedical engineer at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. With support from the National Science Foundation, in part funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), Backman's research is shedding...

Science Nation - Coral - White Pox

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We often hear about insects and other animals passing on diseases to humans, so-called zoonotic diseases, such as rabies, cholera, West Nile virus, etc...Now, for the first time, researchers are examining a disease that humans are spreading to an animal, specifically Elkhorn coral off the Florida Keys. With support from the National Science Foundation, Rollins College biologist Kathryn Sutherland is tracing this emerging infectious disease phenomenon, known as "reverse zoonosis." Elkhorn...

Science Nation - Large Lake Observatory

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The Large Lakes Observatory (LLO) helps an interdisciplinary group of scientists use oceanographic research approaches to investigate the mysteries of large lakes, and that includes everything from large-scale reactions to climate change to new microbes and other forms of life. With support from the National Science Foundation, LLO scientists work to better understand the biology, chemistry, physics, and geology of these bodies of water. In the summer of 2011, LLO scientists completed a 17-...

Science Nation - Firefighter Tracker

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Firefighters risk their lives every time they run into a burning building. But, new technology may soon be watching their backs, no matter how far they venture into the flames and smoke. With support from the National Science Foundation, TRX systems is developing a new sensor system that can track firefighters where GPS units often fail. Firefighters who are currently testing the new system wear a portable device called the Sentrix tracking unit, which is actually a suite of sensors that can...

Science Nation - Saving Tribal Languages

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Tribal language educator Mary Hermes at the University of Minnesota, Duluth documents endangered languages. With support from the National Science Foundation, her team is working with elders to record, translate, transcribe, and annotate conversations. At the same time she is helping train new scholars, young and old, who want to speak the Ojibwe language. Her team is going beyond just translating text; they're creating videos of conversations among the elders. The videos, which will be a...

Science Nation - Evolution in Action

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Professor Lawrence Gilbert and his team at the University of Texas at Austin have discovered a population of tropical butterflies that exemplify "evolution in action," and a rare research opportunity. Gilbert says they may be witnessing a species of butterfly splitting into two different species. For more information and more ScienceNation videos, go to http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/science_nation/index.jsp