Science & Tech

Coverage of current events and announcements in the world of science, technology, engineering, software, and computing with an emphasis of focus on the MN scene.

5 Kinds of People Who Don’t Get Vaccines But Aren’t Anti-Vaxxers

The cases of measles in Minnesota have grown to 32, and as someone who has a hereditary rubella vaccine allergy, I’m worried. The measles and mumps vaccines are no longer available separately, which means that I have only had one dose of the MMR vaccine—the dose that almost killed me as a baby. Basically, I am probably not immune. So if you like having geeky science and technology articles from this nice person, please get vaccinated, as I could...

NASA’s Cassini Begins Its Grand Finale with a Grand Discovery

Beginning this month, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will begin its final journey, fatefully dubbed its Grand Finale. On April 26, Cassini will make the first of what should be several intrepid new orbits around Saturn that will ultimately result in 22 dives within the 2,400-kilometer gap between the planet and its innermost rings. Throughout these final orbits, the spacecraft will gather new pieces of information that will ideally reveal the inner composition of the sixth planet as well as the material...

Weather Geeks Wanted for a Local Storm Spotting Initiative

On March 6, 2017, the earliest tornado in Minnesota’s history struck the state. With climate change threatening to extend the tornado season, the need for trained volunteer storm spotters to keep the storm warning system accurate is greater than ever before. People who know the basics of storms and clouds and can tell the difference between scary clouds and a tornado are crucial to the storm-warning system. A few weeks ago, I attended a training session at Ridgedale Library...

Glitch’s Gamecraft Is a Digital Whirlwind of Minnesotan Game Creation

Over the weekend of January 20–22, 2017, over 200 artists, programmers, writers, and video-game fans gathered at Rapson Hall on the University of Minnesota campus. Their shared goal would propel them through sleepless nights and countless bottles of energy drinks and cups of coffee. They had signed up for Gamecraft, the local site for the 2017 Global Game Jam—an international festival of creativity that encourages creators to produce and prototype games in all media. According to the Global Game...

Minnesota’s 2017 FIRST Robotics Season Begins

As the FIRST Robotics Competition build season comes to a close and the competition season comes to an open, high-school students across the globe are frantically putting the finishing touches on their robots. The sound of drills and the smell of pizza fill the air. FIRST Robotics Competition is a high-school-level robotics competition where teams of high school students build a robot in six weeks to compete in a game, which changes annually. This year’s game is FIRST Steamworks. The build...

Free Code Camp Twin Cities Brings Local Geeks Together to Learn

On a brisk Sunday afternoon, I got off the bus and headed toward the Minneapolis Central Library to meet some Internet strangers from Free Code Camp Twin Cities, a local community for people who are learning code on the website Free Code Camp. The site is exactly what it sounds like: a place to learn to code for free. It’s similar to Codecademy in general format but much more employment oriented, and thus much more oriented toward networking and community....

Fact or Fiction? A Scientist Puts a Minnesota Monster Book to the Test

After completing M. P. Johnson’s latest novella, Lake Lurkers, I felt like I needed to reach out to confirm a few points in the book that rang a little too true to be fiction. While there is nothing in Minnesota that quite rises to the level of the Loch Ness Monster, there have been a few lake creatures spotted in our 10,000 lakes. I knew a story as frightening and engaging as this had to have some grounding in...

Driving the Social Software Movement in the Twin Cities

My last article, “Taking Software Social in Minnesota“,  covered local groups banding together to connect and collaborate over software. How are these groups driven and what is it like to lead one of these groups? Facilitators from a couple of local independent tech groups, Joel Miller of AngularMN and Kevin Whinnery of JavaScriptMN, were kind enough to provide some insight into what their groups are about. Chris Meyer (TCG): What draws members to a group? A commonality between the two groups...

Astronaut Karen Nyberg Shows us How She Washes Her Hair in Space

It’s not surprising to hear that astronaut and Minnesota native Karen Nyberg gets a lot of questions about washing her long, blonde hair in outer space. After all, long hair maintinence can be enough of an endeavor with the benefit of gravity and a shower. So when Nyberg was a flight engineer on the International Space Station in 2013, she took the time to shoot this video demonstrating how she washes her long hair while in orbit.  It’s pretty...

Taking Software Social in Minnesota

When it comes to the tech scene, the Twin Cities are not to be ignored. The area has been given the nickname Silicon Prairie for good reason—from Best Buy to Medtronic, many large organizations call this area their home. Minnesota tech start-ups are in the news every day, and their number is growing. This means that the Twin Cities are home to a vast number of skilled technologists who work daily on technology to improve our world. Many of...
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