From physics to social studies, and paleontology to computers, science is important to our everyday lives. This page is a collection of such topics and stories.

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New research out of the University of Utah today examines how long it takes poached elephant tusks to reach the illegal ivory market. Researchers used a technique known as bomb-curve radiocarbon dating to age the tusks.

Scientists from the University of Utah will be studying the Salt Flats in Utah for the next two years. 

The Bonneville Salt Flats have attracted racers who want to break a land speed record for years. The texture and thickness of the salt is perfect for going fast—really fast.

But beyond just the racing, the area has one of the largest potash mines. Potash has a lot potassium and is sold as a fertilizer. The flats also offer a unique recreational area.

New Monticello Science Center Raises Overcrowding Concerns

Aug 18, 2016

A new science discovery center will open this weekend just outside of the southeastern Utah city of Monticello. Founders hope the $8 million center will bring tourists to Monticello without causing overcrowding.

Out of Thin Air: Making Fertilizer with Sunlight

Aug 18, 2016
Al Hicks / National Renewable Energy Laboratory

A new scientific discovery may change the way we make fertilizer. A team of researchers have found a new way to produce Ammonia (NH3) from atmospheric Nitrogen (N2) using sunlight instead of fossil fuels. The discovery may have profound effects on the sustainability of food production.

Katie Peikes / UPR

The ability to assess water supply is becoming increasingly important, especially since data shows statewide reservoir storage is lower than last year. Utah State University soil scientists and climatologists have created a device to track snowmelt, that could lead to better assessments on water supply. 

Andrew Crusoe

A few months ago, gravitational waves from a black hole collision were measured by scientists, a discovery many have predicted to win the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2016. One Utah author wrote about this discovery in his science fiction novel—five years before it happened.

A researcher studying how desert soils can help combat climate change will visit Utah State University this week. 

Many people think of the Utah desert as devoid of life. But deserts are complex ecosystems full of plants, animals, and other less visible microbial fauna that play major roles in the ecosystem.

Utah State Researchers Search for Zika Virus Cure

Feb 24, 2016

Researchers at the Utah State University Institute for Antiviral Research are out in front of the global outbreak of Zika virus.

Yesterday’s announcement of the discovery of gravitational waves, a phenomenon that Einstein predicted, but which he thought humans could never detect, rocked the scientific world.

On Tuesday, undergraduates from Utah State University had the opportunity to present their research to the Utah legislature on topics ranging from synthetic spider silk to using mathematics to convict repeat sex offenders. For university research departments, this is good publicity, but it’s also a valuable opportunity for young researchers.

For his first movie about a mouse, Walt Disney showcased Mickey navigating the river waters by steamboat. But for Dr. Laurie Dizney, the filming of mice happened in the dry Utah desert. Her work shows how using mice and cameras could help protect people from hantavirus and other deadly diseases.

Utah Museum Highlights Modern Uses of Ancient Mummies

Jan 17, 2016

Mummies of the World is on view at The Leonardo museum in Salt Lake City, with recently discovered mummies from Hungary, as well as mummies from Ancient Egypt and South America. 

Algae As A Source Food For Livestock

Sep 28, 2015
Diego Mendiola

Friday, in a follow up to Growing Algae From Fracking Wastewater As A Biofuel, the research team at USU is finding new ways to feed the world as well, they have found that algae is high in protein and in nutrients.


In a small, shanty greenhouse a churning machine spins disks and barrels covered in black green colored algae. The researchers here are testing the most efficient way of growing these multipurpose organisms.

USU Professor Launches Exploration Of Northern Lights

Feb 9, 2015
Jamie Adkins/NASA

In the early hours of Jan. 28, NASA launched a rocket from Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska as part of the Auroral Spatial Structures Probe mission. The rocket’s trajectory was aimed at the Aurora Borealis in an effort to learn more about how solar events affect earth’s atmosphere. Attached to the rocket were six payloads consisting of probes built at the Space Dynamics Laboratory at Utah State University. There to lead the mission was Charles Swenson, director of the Center for Space Engineering at USU.

USU Opens New Synthetic Spider Silk Facility

Feb 6, 2015
Evan Hall

Thursday saw the opening of the USTAR Bioproducts Scale Up facility on the Innovation Campus of Utah State University. The facility was designed for the mass production of material and chemicals derived from renewable biological materials. One of the major areas of interest at the research facility will be synthetic spider silk.

According to Scott Hinton, Director of the Synthetic Biomanufacturing Institute at USU, synthetic spider silk derived from the silk of the banana spider has a wide variety of applications.

How Climate Change Is Altering Western Winters

Feb 5, 2015

You don’t need me to tell you that the winter in Utah has been rather lackluster this year. While our mountain peaks are still white, any snow we have seen in the valleys has all but melted off. According to Simon Wang, assistant director of the Utah Climate Center, this is due to how weather patterns coming inland from the Pacific Ocean have changed.

Jennifer Pemberton

On a cold and clear night in Logan there’s a low-hanging crescent moon, Venus is shining bright above the horizon, and on the side of the Caine Performance Hall on the main campus of Utah State University, there’s an animated waterfall of light. This is Particle Falls, a large-scale work of public art created by Andrea Polli. Polli was invited to display Particle Falls as part of ARTsySTEM, a semester long project initiative to integrate Art & Design with the STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

NASA Sends USU-made Probes Into Northern Lights

Jan 29, 2015
rocket launch

A rocket launched yesterday morning with help from Utah State University in partnership with NASA. The Oriole IV rocket blasted off just before 4 a.m. at the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska as part of NASA's Auroral Spatial Structures probe mission.

The rocket's trajectory was aimed for the aurora borealis, better known as the northern lights, in an effort to understand more about solar events and how they affect satellites and other instruments.

Jon Kovash / Utah Public Radio

On the Logan main campus, work is underway on a permaculture teaching garden, which will demonstrate alternatives for dealing with storm water in the city. A USU Professor is now doing the same thing in Moab.

Like many Utah towns, Moab struggles to conserve water. There’s still a lot of Kentucky bluegrass, with the sprinkler runoff flowing down the gutters, heavy irrigation for hobby alfalfa farms, aggressive storm drainage, and the city still sells tap water to oil and gas drillers. Enter Dr. Roslynn Brain, USU professor in Sustainable Communities. During the last year Brain has helped launch an effort to build “rain gardens” all over Moab. She says she was inspired by local bee keeper Jerry Shue.

"He had an idea to put in pollinator gardens throughout the town. Then we found out that people with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the BLM, there are individuals throughout the community of Moab who are interested in these concepts. And so we all met together and came up with the idea of collaborating on an initiative to put in bee-inspired gardens. There’s already a strong movement in Moab of gardeners and of sustainability. People seem to understand these concepts," Brain said.

More than a decade after it went missing, British scientists say they have found a small spacecraft on the surface of Mars.

This year’s flu has been hitting the nation especially hard, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has listed the virus’ hold on Utah as widespread. In Utah County alone there have been nine flu-related deaths.

To help counteract the illness, hospitals across the state have been turning to a Utah-developed technology that has drastically cut the time it takes doctors to learn whether at patient is sick with the flu, or not.

Earthquakes Felt Near Nephi Over The Weekend

Dec 29, 2014
earthquake seismology
University of Utah Seismograph Stations

Small earthquakes were reported in Juab County over the weekend. The U.S. Geological Survey says two small earthquakes larger than 3.0 magnitude hit central Utah late Sunday night about eight miles southwest of Nephi.

The first earthquake of 3.7 magnitude occurred at 11:08 p.m. Just before midnight, an aftershock registered at 3.2. The shakes were felt in Nephi but it wasn't clear Monday if any damage or injuries were reported.

A ship full of marine scientists is floating over the deepest part of the world: the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. They're sending down probes to study life in one of the most hostile environments on the planet.

This week the researchers are targeting the two deepest spots in the trench — the Sirena Deep and the Challenger Deep — which each extend down about 7 miles beneath the ocean's surface.

Utah's First Wild-Hatched California Condor Dies

Dec 17, 2014
Fish and Wildlife Service

In a Wednesday press release, program biologists from The Peregrine Fund and Zion National Park announced Utah’s first wild-hatched California condor since the reintroduction of the bird to California and Arizona has died.

Chris Parish, Condor Program Director for The Peregrine Fund, which manages the wild Arizona-Utah flock, said investigators were able to determine the status of the fledgling by observing parental visits to the cave it inhabited.

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