Joe Palca Joe Palca is a science correspondent for NPR.
Joe Palca 2010
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Joe Palca

A thermoelectric PowerCard like this one can be used to convert waste heat into an electric power source, Alphabet Energy says. Alphabet Energy hide caption

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Alphabet Energy

A Lot Of Heat Is Wasted, So Why Not Convert It Into Power?

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Scientists Develop App To Turn Smartphones Into Cosmic Ray Detectors

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Can people tell a computer-generated story from a human-authored one? How about a poem, or a playlist? Three new contests hope to find out. ImageZoo/Corbis hide caption

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ImageZoo/Corbis

Shall I Compare Thee To An Algorithm? Turing Test Gets A Creative Twist

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The sea snail Conus magus looks harmless enough, but it packs a venomous punch that lets it paralyze and eat fish. A peptide modeled on the venom is a powerful painkiller, though sneaking it past the blood-brain barrier has proved hard. Courtesy of Jeanette Johnson and Scott Johnson hide caption

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Courtesy of Jeanette Johnson and Scott Johnson

Snail Venom Yields Potent Painkiller, But Delivering The Drug Is Tricky

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Researcher John Clements in the early 1980s, after he figured out that lungs need surfactants to breathe. David Powers/Courtesy of UCSF hide caption

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David Powers/Courtesy of UCSF

How A Scientist's Slick Discovery Helped Save Preemies' Lives

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Harry Kroto, pictured in 1996, displays a model of the geodesic-shaped carbon molecules that he helped discover. Michael Scates/AP hide caption

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Michael Scates/AP

'Buckyballs' Solve Century-Old Mystery About Interstellar Space

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The Cryptsporidium parasite emerges from the oocyst ready to infect. Muthgapatti Kandasamy & Boris Striepen/Courtesy of University of Georgia hide caption

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Muthgapatti Kandasamy & Boris Striepen/Courtesy of University of Georgia

Progress In The Fight Against A Parasite That Causes Diarrheal Disease

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This is a calculated flood map for the city of St. Louis. Water depth goes from deep (dark blue) to shallow (white, light blue). Floodwater can come from the Illinois, Upper Mississippi and Missouri rivers, as well as from heavy local precipitation. Courtesy of Dag Lohmann/Katrisk hide caption

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Courtesy of Dag Lohmann/Katrisk

Flood Maps Can Get Much Sharper With A Little Supercomputing Oomph

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Scientists Investigate What Makes Us Itch

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Illlustration by Hanna Barczyk

How A Drunken Chipmunk Voice Helps Send A Public Service Message

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The 200-inch Hale Telescope, a masterpiece of engineering at Caltech's Palomar Observatory, was the world's largest telescope until 1993. Scott Kardel/Palomar Observatory/Courtesy of Palomar Observatory/California Institute of Technology hide caption

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Scott Kardel/Palomar Observatory/Courtesy of Palomar Observatory/California Institute of Technology

'Playing Around With Telescopes' To Explore Secrets Of The Universe

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California Observatory Discovers Two Large Planets Orbiting Nearby Star

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An artist's rendition of the HD 7924 planetary system — just 54 light-years away from Earth — shows newly discovered exoplanets c and d, which join Planet b. Karen Termaura, BJ Fulton/UH IfA hide caption

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Karen Termaura, BJ Fulton/UH IfA

Welcome To The Neighborhood: 2 Super-Earths Discovered

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The Hooker 100-inch reflecting telescope at the Mount Wilson Observatory, just outside Los Angeles. Edwin Hubble's chair, on an elevating platform, is visible at left. A view from this scope first told Hubble our galaxy isn't the only one. Courtesy of The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science Collection at the Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif. hide caption

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Courtesy of The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science Collection at the Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.

Hubble's Other Telescope And The Day It Rocked Our World

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3-D Printers Are Changing The Way People Think About Manufacturing

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