Dandelions’ white puff balls are irresistible—kids delight in blowing on them until the seeds break free, floating away. But, dandelion seeds’ ability to travel through the air is not just aesthetic. Like many other plants, they rely on the wind for seed dispersal.
The traveling success of those floating dandelion seeds inspired engineers at the University of Washington to design a new ultra-light sensor. It’s solar powered and weighs just 30 milligrams. The goal is to use these sensors to do things like track temperature fluctuations and survey crops. The researchers’ findings were recently published in the journal Nature.
Ira talks with Vikram Iyer, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, based in Seattle, Washington.
The GoFundMe Healthcare Plan Doesn’t Work
Big celebrity crowdfunding campaigns often raise huge sums of money. Take for example, Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, who recently raised $20 million in a week for Ukrainian humanitarian aid.
But these types of crowdfunding campaigns are outliers. Increasingly, crowdfunding in the United States is being used as an ad-hoc social safety net. Around a third of campaigns on the most popular crowdfunding site, GoFundMe, are to cover medical costs. And most campaign goals are modest—aiming to raise a few thousand dollars. Yet 30% of campaigns to cover medical costs in 2020 raised zero dollars.
Researchers from the University of Washington crunched the data on roughly half a million GoFundMe campaigns for medical expenses to get a better picture of which campaigns are more likely to get funded and which aren’t.
Ira speaks with Nora Kenworthy, associate professor of nursing and health studies, global health and anthropology at the University of Washington and Mark Igra, sociology graduate student at the University of Washington.
The Case Of Mars’ Missing Water
In the search for life outside Earth, scientists consider having liquid water one of the foremost criteria for determining if a planet could be habitable. On Mars, the evidence for a watery past has been flooding in from rovers and other instruments over the last 30 years. The contents of that water—its temperature and salinity, how fast it moved—are all now written in the planet’s minerals and rocks.
SciFri producer Christie Taylor talks to planetary scientist Bethany Ehlmann about the hunt for Mar’s water, where it all went, and whether liquid water could still, somehow, exist on the Red Planet’s surface.