SCIENCE -- May 5, 2011 at 2:33 PM EDT
3D Transistors, Fertilizer Runoff and Frappuccino Straws
Intel* announced today it will base all upcoming processors on 3D, or tri-gate transistors. This marks a move toward computers getting cheaper and faster. But we're waging that not a lot of folks outside computerland understand what it all means. CNET's provided us a primer here. (Brooke Crothers, CNET)
Here's a bright, smart, funny article on the Gravity Probe B, a set of orbiting gyroscopes that confirms some of the weirdest aspects of Einstein's general relativity theory. The article describes the experiment, founded, it says, "on a tour de force of technology and just plain stubbornness," but also provides some helpful reminders, with metaphors of sagging mattresses and frappuccino straws, on the science behind Einstein's theories. (Dennis Overbye, The New York Times)
The Wall Street Journal addresses one possible unwanted outcome from this week's series of flood control breaches along the Mississippi River Valley. Unleashing torrents of water into farmland could result in deangerous amounts of fertilizer runoff washing into the Mississippi. And in turn, "the largest-ever summertime depletion of oxygen in the Gulf of Mexico, posing a substantial risk to marine life." (Jeffrey Ball, The Wall Street Journal)
Researchers are working to find the cause of widespread fur loss among young Australian fur seals. About half of the females studied had the mysterious condition. The animals rely on thick fur coats for maintaining body temperature and regulating energy. (Jane J. Lee, Wired Science)
Browse more coverage on our science page.
*For the record, Intel is an underwriter of the NewsHour.