Mon, 06/26/2017 - 4:38pm

NC Science Now Reporter's blog

National Hurricane Center Debuts New Look for Cone of Uncertainty

You know you’ve seen it. A hurricane is approaching and the National Hurricane Center issues a forecast cone in their report to indicate the possible path and impact area of the tropical cyclone. 

Maybe you have wondered about this “cone of uncertainty.” 

It turns out a lot of people have wondered about what exactly the cone means. The problem is that the public’s understanding of the its meaning is usually wrong. So forecasters are trying to improve the tool. 

But first, just what is the cone? 

Losing weight isn't about having a fast metabolism

Yes, I’m writing this blog because I am trying to lose some weight. It's not easy, as you have probably heard many people complain. And it’s likely that you have also heard people place the blame for this difficulty on a slow metabolism. I’m not exactly sure what that might mean, but, hey, the excuse made sense. That is, until I asked the researchers at Metabolon. 

Bottom line: I lost my excuse. 

Spotting a galaxy, and other discoveries that were total accidents

Astrophysicist Patrick Treuthardt wasn’t looking for a rare galaxy. But while gazing at a cluster of galaxies, he happened to notice a small, unobtrusive speck. The speck turned out to be PGC 10000714, an elliptical galaxy surrounded by two rings of stars. It’s one of the rarest types of galaxies in the universe and Treuthardt found it by chance. 

A lot of major scientific discoveries can happen by accident, failure or just plain dumb luck. 

3D Printed Organs aren’t just for People

Dr. Anthony Atala says the promise behind regenerative medicine is that it harnesses the body’s natural healing powers to actually cure, rather than just treat, a disease. 

There are several areas of study and treatment: injectable cell therapies to promote healing; replacement tissues and organs produced in the lab; and the use of bio-compatible materials that promote tissue regeneration from within the body. 

And it turns out this groundbreaking medicine isn’t limited to humans. 

Superbugs are on the Rise, and the Future of Antibiotics is at Stake

Ouch. I scratched myself shaving this morning. 

It stung a little. Just to be safe I washed it off and then put a dab of antibiotic ointment on it. No problem. 

But the question being asked more and more is: for how long will the antibiotic method continue to work? 

The sad fact is we may be entering what scientists are calling the post-antibiotic era. If this is the case, that scratch I happened to get while shaving this morning could turn out to be fatal. It’s all thanks to superbugs—more formally known as drug-resistant bacteria.  

The Iconic Earthrise Photo that Almost Never Happened

Have you ever had one of those days when almost nothing goes the way you planned and you just want to get away from it all? 

I know, Southwest Airlines has an advertising campaign centered around that same theme, but nevertheless, you know the feeling. 

It turns out, 1968 was an entire year like that. The Vietnam war was raging, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated, and there were riots in many American cities. 

On the Edge: Life on North Carolina's Reefs

Most people associate reef systems with tropical islands and warm, shallow waters. 

However, those are coral reefs—reefs made of living creatures.

Believe it or not, there are two unique reef systems off the North Carolina coast. They are made of rock but they are still reefs, and while they aren't made of ocean life, they are covered with it. 

The first system is found primarily on the edge of the continental shelf, about 75 miles offshore. There are smaller systems rising periodically from the ocean floor about 40 miles off the coast as well. 

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