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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Megan Jamerson, WUOT News

This week’s rain wasn’t enough to reverse the effects of a long drought in the Tennessee River basin. James Everett monitors river levels for the Tennessee Valley Authority. His job is only getting tougher as the drought lingers. WUOT’s Megan Jamerson checks in with Everett to see how TVA is keeping an eye on water levels. Antibiotic resistance is a serious problem in healthcare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate two million Americans develop infections from antibiotic...

Brandon Hollingsworth/WUOT News

Imagine being in the hospital, but unable to tell your doctor what’s wrong. WUOT’s Megan Jamerson visits Rebecca Kosalinski, a University of Tennessee nursing professor who helped invent Speak for Myself , an app that helps patients give doctors, nurses and caregivers important information. Not too long ago, a press release from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture caught Method host Brandon Hollingsworth's attention. It announced the groundbreaking of a new metrology laboratory. Metrology...

UK Department of Transportation

More than fifty years ago, The Jetsons predicted life in the 21st century would be defined by homes in the sky and flying cars. History, of course, took a different path. Today's prognosticators say the highways of the future will be filled with automated, driverless vehicles. Nineteen companies say they're working to get models to the market around 2020. But not so fast. Driverless automobile technology still has to clear several major hurdles before it becomes commonplace. Center for...

Matt Shafer Powell, WUOT News

Unmanned space probes and rovers are impressive feats of engineering, and they take great photos, but there’s something missing. The last time humans brought back a piece of the place they visited was during the Apollo program, nearly 45 years ago. Now, NASA is ready to embark on a mission that will swoop down close to the surface of an asteroid called Bennu . A long arm of the spacecraft will scoop up soil and rocks, and fly back to Earth. The mission is called OSIRIS-REx , and University of...

Peter Miller/via Flickr

Today, The Method is going batty. First up, we look at the mammalian kind of bat. There are more than 1,300 bat species, and some biologists think climate change may be the reason certain varieties are turning up in new places—including in and around Knoxville. Matt Shafer Powell reaches out to University of Tennessee Ecology and Evolutionary Biology professor Gary McCracken to see if a new habitat area might be one by-product of climate change.
Then, Brandon Hollingsworth is off to...

Matt Shafer Powell, WUOT News

This month, four new elements added to the periodic table received provisional names. One of those elements, number 117, was bestowed a name that got our attention, and perhaps yours, too: tennessine . If approved by an international body in November, Tennessine will join oxygen, carbon, helium and 114 other names on the periodic table of the elements. The name tennessine was proposed as early as 2009, and an international team of scientists who helped discover element 117 agreed, honoring...

U.S. Park Police/National Park Service

All earthquakes are products of the dynamic planet we live on. They typically occur as massive slabs of the Earth's crust, called tectonic plates, bump against, over and past each other. But the East Coast isn’t anywhere near a plate boundary. So what causes the earthquakes we feel in Appalachia? A seismologist at the University of North Carolina thinks he might know. A team led by Dr. Berk Biryol examined the patterns of seismic waves passing through the North American continent, and...

via Flickr/Creative Commons

In 2013, USA Today estimated 83 percent of Americans have at least one cup of coffee a day. Some drink way more than that. But even lifelong coffee drinkers can learn how to make a better cup through science. In this edition of The Method , Brandon Hollingsworth talks with Knoxville coffee shop owner Pierce LaMacchia about the science behind the brewing process. Then, a researcher at Vanderbilt University's Institute for Coffee Studies tells Matt Shafer Powell about the biological effects of...

WBMA Birmingham/ABC 33-40

If you grew up in the South, you grew up with tornadoes and tornado warnings. But you probably didn’t know there are some big differences between the tornadoes that happen here, and their Midwestern cousins. They’re typically deadlier. They’re harder to see. And they’re more likely to happen at night, an especially dangerous time. This month and next, meteorologists are carrying out an unprecedented study of tornadoes in the Southern states. The project is called VORTEX-Southeast , and the...

via Flickr/Creative Commons

Tennessee voters will head to the polls on primary day, Tuesday, March 1. Gone are the paper ballots of decades past – the process is virtually all electronic now. So what happens once you press the button that records your ballot? Where does the information go? To find out, Matt Shafer Powell spoke with Chris Davis of the Knox County Election Commission. Plus: Last month the New York Times pointed out something that many of us already know from experience: In a relationship, getting quality...

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