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Science Behind The News


March 22, 2013

Science Behind The News is a relatively new, fast-paced video series supported by NSF that explores the science, technology, engineering and mathematics behind current events. Each video features at least one interview with an NSF-funded scientist or researcher.

The five new videos highlight work funded by NSF's Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences. The scope of scientific and educational activity supported in the directorate is enormous, ranging from phenomena at cosmological distances, to environmental science on the human scale, through quantum mechanical processes in atomic and subatomic physics, to phenomena of the unimaginably small.

The five episodes are:

Quantum Computing
Imagine if engineers could build a computer to be millions of times faster than anything that exists today, yet so small it’s microscopic. John Preskill, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, explains the science behind quantum computing, the next great frontier in computer science.

Predictive Policing
The LAPD is using a new tactic in their fight against crime called “predictive policing.” It’s a computer program that was originally developed by a team at UCLA, including mathematician Andrea Bertozzi and anthropologist Jeff Brantingham.

Impacts on Jupiter
The impact of comets on the surface of Jupiter are a fairly common experience. At the University of Central Florida, astronomers Joseph Harrington and Csaba Palotai are leading a project that studies precisely how these impacts happen, and also provides valuable information about what might happen if such a comet struck Earth.

Drug-Resistant Bacteria
As disease-causing bacteria becomes increasingly resistant to antibiotics, scientists like Erin Carlson from Indiana University are turning to naturalsources to find new medicines.

Bio-Inspired Materials
In the search for the next groundbreaking tough material, scientists like David Kisailus from the University of California, Riverside, are looking to nature for inspiration,including under the sea where one little crustacean packs a walloping punch – the peacock mantis shrimp.

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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