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Potential Research Topics: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

This guide will help with settling on a research topic for class.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Early British People
TOPIC:
Two studies of the DNA of early humans have yielded new information on the population
of Great Britain. The first to be announced stated that the DNA of the oldest human found in
England, the Cheddar Man, had dark skin and blue eyes. The second showed that the Beaker
Culture supplanted the people who built Stonehenge. Can skin color or eye colors really be
determined from a DNA sequence? Who were the Beaker people, where did they come from, and
why are they called that? Has it been determined how they supplanted the native inhabitants?

SEARCH TERMS: DNA AND Cheddar Man OR Beaker Culture

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Evidence of First Stars
TOPIC:
Scientists have detected a radio signal that they identified as evidence of the first stars that
appeared in the universe about 180 million years after the big bang. Who are these scientists,
where do these radio signals come from and how did they match them to the earliest stars? How
does this discovery change the way scientists view dark matter?
SEARCH TERMS: stars AND spectrometer AND Judd Bowman

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Fitness Apps and the Military
TOPIC:
Fitness apps that attach to soldiers have been proven to allow enemies to track troop
movements and leave soldiers vulnerable. What was discovered about these apps that showed
they could be used as tracking devices? How has the military responded to this and how have
companies that make these apps responded?
SEARCH TERMS: fitness apps AND (military OR Army)

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: China and Cloning
TOPIC:
Chinese scientists have successfully cloned a macaque, producing two identical babies.
They were not able to clone an adult however, unlike others did with the sheep Dolly. What
techniques did they use? Will these techniques be successful in humans? Why did they choose
primates and what do they ultimately hope to use the clones for? What are the ethical debates
regarding the cloning of primates and humans?
SEARCH TERMS: primates AND cloning

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: FCC and Net Neutrality
TOPIC:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it plans to roll back
some net neutrality regulations. What are these regulations and when and why were they
imposed? Why is the FCC planning to roll the regulations back? What are the most compelling
arguments for each side?
SEARCH TERMS: FCC AND net neutrality

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Neolithic Women
TOPIC:
By studying arm bones from Neolithic women, scientists have determined that their daily
tasks made them stronger than professional female athletes. How did they go about doing this?
What daily tasks do they see as contributing to this muscle growth? What do present-day athletes
have to say about this?
SEARCH TERMS: women AND Neolithic AND arm*

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Solar Eclipse
TOPIC:
On August 21, there was a solar eclipse that cast its strongest shadow diagonally across
the United States. What states did the eclipse pass through and what cities and towns were known
to offer the best view? What is a solar eclipse and what are some examples of non-solar eclipses?
Why is it dangerous to look directly at the eclipse even though the sun is blocked? What are the
safest ways to view an eclipse?
SEARCH TERMS: solar eclipse


SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Origin of Life Explained
TOPIC:
German and Australian scientists have come up with a new theory of how life began on
Earth. Around 700 million years ago, the Earth became a gigantic snowball, covered by a heavy
layer of ice. The ice ground up the mountains beneath it, which meant that nutrients within the rock
were released. Finally, a massive warming event melted the ice and the water absorbed the
nutrients and carried them down rivers into the sea, where life begins. What do they present as
proof for this theory? What nutrients do they think came from the ground up mountains?
SEARCH TERMS: lie AND snowball Earth

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Mars Rover AI     
TOPIC: A software update to the Curiosity Mars Rover has given it the artificial intelligence to select its own targets for exploration.  What process does the rover use to make decisions and what are some examples of criteria applied to specific areas of decision making? What is AEGIS software and how does it work?
SEARCH TERMS: Mars Rover AND Curiosity AND (AI OR Artificial Intelligence)

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Scientists Meet in Boston
TOPIC:
Scientists from around the U.S. attended a meeting by the American Association for the
Advancement of the Sciences in Boston to discuss policy in the changing political climate. What
were the chief concerns expressed by the scientists, and what strategies and policies were
discussed? Who were some of the leading scientists at the meeting, what were some of the points
of debate and what were some of the points of agreement?
SEARCH TERMS: American Association for the Advancement of Sciences AND Boston

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Exoplanets Found
TOPIC:
Seven exoplanets have been found orbiting the dwarf star Trappist 1, named after the Chilean telescope that discovered it. Three of them are in the star’s habitable zone where life could exist. Trappist 1 is about 40 light years away. What technological advances could help determine whether there is life on those planets? How far is that light year distance expressed as miles?
SEARCH TERMS: Trappist 1 AND exoplanets

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Smart Stores
TOPIC:
Retail stores are increasingly testing new technologies that move them toward automated
systems that will provide help and aid to customers and charge them for the goods they buy
without interaction with human employees. What kinds of robots and apps are being tested and
how do they work? What are some concerns about retail moving in this direction?
SEARCH TERMS: (Smart Stores OR smartstores) AND retail AND robots

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Human Cells Grown in Pig Embryo
TOPIC:
The growth of human cells in pig embryos is being tested in an effort to eventually be able
to grow human organs in animals for transplant. What ethical concerns have been raised and how
are they being addressed? What are some of the other benefits to medical research that can come
from growing human cells in animals?
SEARCH TERMS: human cells AND pig embryo*

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Baboon Vocalizations
TOPIC:
Guinea baboons make vowel sounds when they vocalize, according to a new study. Their
tongue musculature is similar to humans and tongues play a role in creating vowels. How did the
scientists conduct this study? Do their conclusions seem reasonable?
SEARCH TERMS: baboons AND vowels

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Robotic Hands
TOPIC:
A small scale study involving robotic hands for paralyzed people shows that using the
hands increases their quality of life. Participants were able to move their shoulders, but not their
hands or fingers. How did trial participants control the robotic hands? What is next for this
technology?
SEARCH TERMS: robotic hands AND research

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Vera Rubin and Dark Matter
TOPIC:
Dr. Vera Rubin was a scientist whose work on investigating dark matter greatly advanced
our understanding of physics and how the universe works. What is dark matter and how did Dr.
Rubin’s work advance our understanding of it? What other advances did Rubin make to enhance
our understanding of physics and astronomy?
SEARCH TERMS: Vera Rubin AND (astronomy OR physics)

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Hard Landing on Mars
TOPIC
: Soon after the European Space Agency’s Trace Gas Orbiter released the Schiaparelli
lander to begin a slow descent to the surface of Mars, the ESA lost contact with the lander. It is
now believed to have crashed on Mars. What was it supposed to do once it got to the surface of
the planet? What is the Trace Gas Orbiter going to do as it orbits Mars? What other ESA attempt to
explore Mars ran into trouble?
SEARCH TERMS: Trace Gas orbiter OR Schiaparelli lander

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Cyber Attacks on Both Coasts
TOPIC
: A massive hacker attack on Friday October 21st disrupted many services starting in the
eastern US and then spreading to other parts of the US and Europe. What has been discovered
about how these attacks were set up and deployed? What has been discovered about who is
behind them? What kind of protection is necessary to insure safety from these attacks?
SEARCH TERMS: hack* AND attack AND Mirai

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Water on Mars    
TOPIC:  NASA has found strong evidence of water on Mars.  What was seen in photos that strongly suggests areas where water flows in certain seasons?  What are the implications that water can have for life on Mars and what kind of life given the conditions on Mars?
SEARCH TERMS: Mars AND water

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Teenagers and Social Media     
TOPIC:  A recent study has shown that teenagers spend way too much time on social media.  How much time did the study say they averaged on social media and why?  What have been the negative and positive impact of this on their lives?
SEARCH TERMS: (teens OR teenagers) AND social media 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: A Big Anniversary
TOPIC:  Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity has turned 100 years old. This was Einstein’s attempt to reconcile Newton’s simultaneity of gravity to the fact objects cannot exceed the speed the light per his special theory of relativity. What 1919 observations made scientists accept his general theory? What other concepts arose from his theory?
SEARCH TERMS: Einstein AND (relativity OR Gravity)

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: SpaceX     
TOPIC:  SpaceX has successfully launched and landed a Falcon rocket on a mission that put 11 small satellites into orbit.  What was unique about the landing of the rocket and what are the implications of this for the future?  What are some recent incidents where the landing did not work? SEARCH TERMS: SpaceX 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: CERN Leadership Change
TOPIC:  Fabiola Gianotti has become the leader at CERN, who's Large Hadron Collider has been responsible for advances in physics. What in her career led to this appointment? How does she differ from the typical stereotypes of scientists? What role did she play in the discovery by CERN of the Higgs boson, the so-called God particle?
SEARCH TERMS: Fabiola Gianotti AND CERN

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: AlphaGo
TOPIC:  Google's software AlphaGo has defeated a human opponent in the ancient Chinese strategy game of go. This is seen as an advance in artificial intelligence. It has also played multiple games against other programs that play go and defeated them. How do you play go? How difficult is it to become a good player and how good was the player AlphaGo defeated? Why is this achievement an advance in AI?
SEARCH TERMS: go AND AlphaGo

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: New Fossils Found
TOPIC:  1,500 fossil elements from in a cave in South Africa have introduced a new member of human evolution. Scientists have named the fossils Homo Naledi. Naledi means star in Sesotho, the local language. How were the fossils discovered? What was notable about the team that was able to work with them in place? What about the fossils led to their inclusion in the Homo family rather than one of our earlier relatives?
SEARCH TERMS: Homo Naledi

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: IBEX Space Data     
TOPIC:  NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), launched in 2008, is proving to be the best tool so far for retrieving good accurate data on local interstellar space.  What is considered local interstellar space?  What are some key examples of space data attained by IBEX that has allowed scientists to improve their analysis and theories?  How does the technology on the IBEX work and how does it map and track local interstellar space?  
SEARCH TERMS: (Interstellar Boundary Explorer OR IBEX) AND NASA

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Nobel Prize in Physics
TOPIC:  Researchers from Japan and Canada who discovered that neutrinos change from one type to another and have mass were awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in physics. What are neutrinos, when were they discovered, and how numerous are they in the universe? Why does their having mass seem so important? Who were the researchers and what were their careers like?
SEARCH TERMS: Nobel Prize AND physics

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Wendelstein 7X Fusion Reactor
TOPIC:  The Wendelstein 7X fusion reactor in Germany has produced its first evidence of hydrogen plasma.  What is the Wendelstein 7X fusion stellarator, what are its capabilities and what is its purpose?  What scientific function did it perform last December and what is the significance of that to its recent discovery of hydrogen plasma?  What is the overall significance of both experiments to science?
SEARCH TERMS: Wendelstein 7X fusion AND hydrogen plasma

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Gravitational Waves      
TOPIC:  Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory detectors (LIGO) have observed gravitational waves, thus confirming Einstein's theory of relativity.  What are gravitational waves and how do they confirm this theory?  How were they recently viewed and what do they tell us about the universe?  What potential discoveries do these hold for the future?
SEARCH TERMS: gravitational waves AND Einstein 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Eye in the Sky
TOPIC: Satellite infrared images that showed possible human habitations may have led archaeologists to a second Viking community in North America, on the southwestern side of Newfoundland. Sarah H. Parcak, who has used satellite imagery to track looting of sites in Egypt, led the team whose excavations discovered proof of iron working there. Where is this in relation to the Viking site discovered in 1960? Why is iron working seen as proof of Viking presence?
SEARCH TERMS: Newfoundland AND Vikings

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Daylight Savings
TOPIC: The benefits and downfalls of moving the clock ahead in the Spring and back in the Fall are being debated. What is the basis of daylight savings? What is it intended to do? What are the benefits? What are the downfalls? How does the turning ahead and behind of the clock affect our health?
SEARCH TERMS: Daylight Saving

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: 3-D Printer And Motorcycle
TOPIC:  An Airbus unit has made an electric motorcycle using a 3-D printer and is going to sell a limited edition version of it. It was made using particles of an aluminum alloy. How heavy is it? How fast can it go and what is its range? How does 3-D printing work? What else does the Airbus unit hope to make with 3-D printing and show off this year?
SEARCH TERMS: Airbus AND 3-D printing AND motorcycle

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Old Government Systems  
TOPIC:  A report from the Government Accountability Office has revealed that some of the functions of U.S. nuclear forces use old floppy discs designed in the 1970s and other outdated legacy systems.  What difficulties can some government departments and companies have upgrading technologies?  What are the risks of these older systems to our nuclear program?  What are some other examples of outdated technologies used by the federal government today and what risks do they present?
SEARCH TERMS: nuclear AND floppy disk

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Solar Impulse 2
TOPIC: Solar Impulse 2, the Swiss-made solar-powered aircraft has successfully flown from Hawaii to California making a leg of its journal around the globe. What was the largest leg of its journey and how did it fare? How does the solar power work in this particular airplane? What have been some of the challenges the Solar Impulse 2 has faced in its many pieces of flight to circle the globe?
SEARCH TERMS: Solar Impulse 2

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Aging
TOPIC: A Netherlands study reports that people who look old for their age seem to have a variation in gene MC1R. The MC1R gene is also responsible for red hair and pale skin. How was this study done? What are some arguments against the way the research was done?
SEARCH TERMS: aging AND MC1R gene

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Juno Spacecraft and Jupiter
TOPIC: NASA’s Juno Spacecraft will soon arrive at its destination, Jupiter. What are its scientific
objectives and what is its process for investigating Jupiter? How long has it taken Juno to reach
Jupiter and how has the trip gone?
SEARCH TERMS: Juno Spacecraft AND Jupiter

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Helium Discovery
TOPIC: Researchers from Oxford and Dunham universities have discovered a new helium gas
field, thought to hold 56 billion cubic feet, and located in the Rift Valley in Tanzania. Ancient
volcanic activity heated crustal rocks, releasing the helium. This is the first helium field to be
discovered by searching, as opposed to by accident. What uses does helium have in high tech
industries and medical technology? Where has most of the helium come from? Given the uses
helium has, is it wise to use it filling balloons?
SEARCH TERMS: Tanzania AND helium

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Bomb Robots
TOPIC: Recently the Dallas police department used an unusual tool, often called a bomb robot, which carried and detonated by remote control a bomb that killed an armed and dangerous sniper. What are some ways these bomb robots are used and how do they work? How common are they and what are some concerns about using them?
SEARCH TERMS: bomb robots

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: A New Particle?
TOPIC: There is a chance that the Large Hadron Collider, located at the Swiss-French border, has found a particle that is six times heavier than the Higgs-Boson particle. They had seen pairs of photons with a combined mass of 750 Gigaelctronvolts (GeV). Does this presumed new particle fit into the Standard Model of particle physics? If not, what are the implications of its existence?
SEARCH TERMS: Large Hadron Collider AND 750 GeV

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Nearby Planet Discovered
TOPIC: Scientists have detected an Earth-like planet they’ve named Proxima b circling the star nearest to us, Proxima Centauri. Moreover, it is in the habitable zone, which means there is a chance that water exists on its surface. How did they determine that the planet exists, given that it is not observable using current technology? How far away from us is Proxima Centauri in light years and in miles? What is the Goldilocks zone?
SEARCH TERMS: Proxima Centauri AND Proxima b

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: Geology in our National Parks
TOPIC: While the US National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary, the role and mission of the park service is not widely known when it comes to the opportunities to study the science within our magnificent national parks. How do they reveal geological history? How do they allow one to study astronomy? Which parks can one visit to better understand the value of preserving marine species? Why is the scientific study of our parks necessary in preserving them for future generations to enjoy? What can they reveal about ecological responses to widespread environmental problems?
SEARCH TERMS: National Park* AND (science OR research)