The Method

The Method is a series that explores the intersection of science and society. In modern journalism, science reporting often repeats the material in press releases or studies without engaging in the critical thinking that defines the scientific method. The Method will look at science through a different lens. How does scientific research affect you and your community? That's the story we hope to share with you. 

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Rob Travis, University of Tennessee

On December 14, 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 was on the long homebound leg of their journey to the Moon. Astronaut Harrison Schmitt and mission commander Gene Cernan had just completed an intense, three-day exploration of a lunar valley called Taurus-Littrow. As they and command module pilot Ron Evans settled in for the comparative monotony of the three-day trip back to Earth, Mission Control in Houston radioed up a message from President Richard Nixon.

Micolo J/via Flickr Creative Commons

You probably remember from your grade-school science classes the tidbit that the growth of a tree is recorded in concentric rings visible when the tree is cut down. University of Tennessee scientist Henri Grissino-Mayer will tell you there's a lot more information encoded in those rings. The layers record climate change, forest fires, pollution and more. He talks about his research with WUOT's Megan Jamerson.

SYSTERS

On a recent Saturday morning, girls from high schools across East Tennessee gathered at the University of Tennessee. They were there to learn about careers in electrical engineering and computer science, fields that are historically male-dominated. The event was the brainchild of SYSTERS, a group of female STEM students at UT. Some of the girls that participated say they're now leaning toward careers in engineering and related fields. WUOT's Megan Jamerson has the story.

SpaceX

On Sunday, February 19, a group of students from Bearden Middle School watched as a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster lifted off from a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The children had a vested interest in the launch, because the rocket carried a science experiment they designed for use on the International Space Station.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Forty-seven years ago, filmgoers got a taste of the dark side of the burgeoning field of computer technology. In Colossus: The Forbin Project, a supercomputer gains sentience and turns on its creators – and humanity. The idea that supercomputers will eventually overwhelm the humans that created them is a common theme in science fiction and fantasy. And it usually doesn't end well for the humans.

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