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Nell Greenfieldboyce

Nell Greenfieldboyce is a NPR science correspondent.

With reporting focused on general science, NASA, and the intersection between technology and society, Greenfieldboyce has been on the science desk's technology beat since she joined NPR in 2005.

In that time Greenfieldboyce has reported on topics including the narwhals in Greenland, the ending of the space shuttle program, and the reasons why independent truckers don't want electronic tracking in their cabs.

Much of Greenfieldboyce's reporting reflects an interest in discovering how applied science and technology connects with people and culture. She has worked on stories spanning issues such as pet cloning, gene therapy, ballistics, and federal regulation of new technology.

Prior to NPR, Greenfieldboyce spent a decade working in print, mostly magazines including U.S. News & World Report and New Scientist.

A graduate of Johns Hopkins, earning her Bachelor's of Arts degree in social sciences and a Master's of Arts degree in science writing, Greenfieldboyce taught science writing for four years at the university. She was honored for her talents with the Evert Clark/Seth Payne Award for Young Science Journalists.

Scientists may have detected the first moon orbiting a planet in a far-off solar system, though they caution that they still want to confirm the finding with another round of telescope observations.

"The fact is, it's so strange and it's the first of its kind," says David Kipping, an astronomer at Columbia University. "That demands a higher level of rigor and skepticism than you would normally apply to a run-of-the-mill detection."

The psychoactive drug known as ecstasy can make people feel extra loving toward others, and a study published Thursday suggests it has the same effect on octopuses.

Hurricane Florence has captured people's attention this week, and it's a sure bet that this unusual weather is also being closely monitored by hundreds of millions of migrating birds.

This is the peak of the fall migration season, after all, and birds avoid bad weather — which is helping scientists predict migration patterns.

An intriguing study published this week suggests that bonobos, among the closest relatives to humans, are surprisingly willing to hand over food to a pal. But they didn't share tools.

The discovery adds a new wrinkle to scientists' efforts to understand the evolutionary origins of people's unusual propensity to help others.

Insects and birds might have an innate drive to migrate at certain times and in certain directions, but a new study suggests that large mammals such as moose and bighorn sheep have to learn to do it.

In fact, it takes decades for cultural knowledge about migration to build up before populations can effectively move across the land to find the best food, according to a report in the journal Science.

Sarah Anne, a 59-year-old chimpanzee, is famous enough to have her own Wikipedia page. That's because she was captured from the wild as an infant and raised in the home of a language researcher who taught her to use symbols for words. These days, she lives at Chimp Haven, a wooded sanctuary for former research chimps in Louisiana, along with a new pal named Marie.

Everybody loves a winner — even toddlers, according to a study published Monday. But even though kiddos tend to like high-status individuals, they don't like those who win conflicts by using force.

"It seems like toddlers care about who wins, but they also care about how they win," says Ashley Thomas, now a researcher in cognitive development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.

Early Saturday morning, if all goes as planned, 91-year-old Eugene Parker will watch a NASA spacecraft named after him blast off on an unprecedented mission to study the sun.

"It's my first rocket launch, so that will be very interesting," says Parker, a retired astrophysicist who lives in Chicago.

NASA has announced the names of the astronauts who will be the first people in history to ride to orbit in private space taxis next year, if all goes as planned.

Leaders can have many different styles — just compare President Donald Trump to Malala Yousafzai to your boss or the coach of your kid's soccer team.

Many spiders fly long distances by riding "balloons" of silk, and a new study suggests that they're propelled by more than just the wind.

Electric fields at strengths found in nature can also trigger the spiders' ballooning behavior. And electrostatic forces can lift up the spiders even when the air is still, according to a newly published report in the journal Current Biology.

Rhino embryos created in a lab are raising hopes that high-tech assisted reproduction may help save the northern white rhino, the most endangered mammal in the world.

Only two of these rhinos are still alive, both females living in a sanctuary in Kenya and protected around the clock by armed guards.

New genetic tools are making it easier and cheaper to engineer viruses and bacteria, and a report commissioned by the Department of Defense has now ranked the top threats posed by the rapidly advancing field of "synthetic biology."

One of the biggest concerns is the ability to recreate known viruses from scratch in the lab. That means a lab could make a deadly virus that is normally kept under lock and key, such as smallpox.

A huge study on the possible health benefits of drinking alcohol will be completely shut down, because its credibility was compromised by frequent and early interactions between alcohol industry executives, scientists and government officials.

Honeybees understand that "nothing" can be "something" that has numerical meaning, showing that they have a primitive grasp of the concept of zero.

That's according to a newly published study in Science, which shows that bees possess a mathematical ability once thought to exist only in dolphins, primates, birds and humans who are beyond the preschool years.

Suicide rates have increased in nearly every state over the past two decades, and half of the states have seen suicide rates go up more than 30 percent.

Suicide is a major public health issue, accounting for nearly 45,000 deaths in 2016 alone. That is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta decided to take a comprehensive look at suicides from 1999 to 2016.

The asteroid impact that ended the age of the dinosaurs also released so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that the planet warmed up by about 5 degrees Celsius — and the hot spell persisted for roughly 100,000 years.

That's according to a new study in the journal Science that offers a cautionary tale about how Earth's climate will react to the carbon dioxide that's being pumped into the atmosphere now by the burning of fossil fuels.

Chimps owned by the National Institutes of Health should be moved from research facilities to retirement sanctuaries unless that relocation is "extremely likely" to shorten their lives, a report issued Friday says.

"Chimpanzees should be relocated to the federal sanctuary system unless relocation would place the chimpanzee's life, safety, and welfare at extreme risk," says the report from a working group convened by the NIH to examine the safety of transferring chimps to retirement homes.

Kermit the Frog used to sing that it wasn't easy being green, but that isn't the case for some real-life lizards. They apparently find being green so easy that even their blood is green.

A study published Tuesday suggests seems that this lime-green blood has evolved independently several times in lizards.

Scientists are now trying to understand how these lizards might benefit from blood that's green. The answer could provide new insights into human illnesses like jaundice and malaria.

Ever since astronomers started to detect planets beyond our solar system, they've been trying to find another world just like Earth. And few years ago, they announced that they'd found a planet that was the closest match yet — Kepler-452b.

Trouble is, some astronomers now say it's not possible to know for sure that this planet actually exists.

Wednesday was the day astronomers said goodbye to the old Milky Way they had known and loved and hello to a new view of our home galaxy.

A European Space Agency mission called Gaia just released a long-awaited treasure trove of data: precise measurements of 1.7 billion stars.

If signs of life are found on a planet beyond our solar system sometime in the next decade, they'll most likely be on a planet discovered by a NASA satellite that's scheduled to launch on Monday.

The supermassive black hole lurking at the center of our galaxy appears to have a lot of company, according to a new study that suggests the monster is surrounded by about 10,000 other black holes.

For decades, scientists have thought that black holes should sink to the center of galaxies and accumulate there, says Chuck Hailey, an astrophysicist at Columbia University. But scientists had no proof that these exotic objects had actually gathered together in the center of the Milky Way.

Government health agencies have spent more than two decades shying away from gun violence research, but some say the new spending bill, signed by President Trump on Friday, will change that.

That is because, in agency instructions that accompany the bill, there is a sentence noting that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the authority to conduct research on the causes of gun violence.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

A Chinese space lab the size of a city bus will soon be falling back to Earth, and no one knows exactly where bits of it might crash down.

Genetic mutations are the driving force of evolution, and now scientists have managed to study the effect of mutations in exquisite detail by watching what happens as they pop up in single cells.

Only about one percent of mutations were bad enough to kill off the cell, according to a report published Thursday in Science. Most of the time, these small changes in its DNA appeared to have no effect at all.

Everyone from NASA to the cast of The Big Bang Theory is reacting Wednesday to the death of acclaimed physicist Stephen Hawking, known for his work on understanding the nature of black holes.

In the brave new world of synthetic biology, scientists can now brew up viruses from scratch using the tools of DNA technology.

The latest such feat, published last month, involves horsepox, a cousin of the feared virus that causes smallpox in people. Critics charge that making horsepox in the lab has endangered the public by basically revealing the recipe for how any lab could manufacture smallpox to use as a bioweapon.

A rocket more powerful than any other flying today is scheduled to blast off Tuesday for the first time, if all goes well.

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