Science & Environment

Animals
4:51 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Some Rattlesnakes Losing Their Warning Rattle In S. Dakota

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 6:01 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Here's a sound you'd rather not hear out on a hike.

(SOUNDBITE OF A RATTLE)

BLOCK: That's a Prairie Rattlesnake from western South Dakota. Well, there's only one thing worse than a rattlesnake giving you that famous warning, one that gives you no warning at all. That's what's been happening with some rattlesnakes in South Dakota's Black Hills. They have apparently lost their ability to rattle.

As South Dakota Public Broadcasting's Gary Ellenbolt reports, that may be good for those snakes but bad for people.

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Shots - Health News
4:24 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

A Single Protein May Help Explain Memory Loss In Old Age

The underlying biology of age-related memory glitches — in old mice and old people — is different from what happens with Alzheimer's, recent research suggests.
Anthony Bradshaw iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 3:26 pm

If you're finding it harder to remember where you put the car keys, the culprit could be a brain protein with a name that's easy to forget: RbAp48.

A shortage of this protein appears to impair our ability to remember things as we age, researchers report in the current issue of Science Translational Medicine. And boosting levels of RbAP48 in aging brains can reverse memory loss, at least in mice, they say.

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Shots - Health News
2:43 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

How Money Worries Can Scramble Your Thinking

Worrying about finances can tax the brain just as much as staying up all night.
Illustration by Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 3:29 pm

There's no question that dealing with mortgages, car payments and other bills takes up time and energy. But having a tight budget may also zap our ability to think clearly, scientists report Thursday in the journal Science.

In a series of clever experiments involving farmers in India and shoppers in New Jersey, scientists found that people are worse at solving puzzles — similar to those on the IQ test — when they're first reminded of money problems.

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The Two-Way
11:15 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Are We Martians? Scientist Says We Just Might Be

Mars: Our "home" planet?
NASA Getty Images

As Adam Frank has said over on the 13.7 blog, "Earth and Mars have been swapping spit (astrobiologically speaking) for eons ... [and] it is entirely possible we were Earth's first alien invasion."

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The Two-Way
10:18 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Have Your Picture Taken With Hong Kong's (Smog-Free) Skyline

Tourists from mainland China take photos in front of a large outdoor banner showing what Hong Kong looks like on a clean air day, in Hong Kong on Aug. 21.
Alex Hofford EPA/Landov

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 1:26 pm

It's not news that Hong Kong, which brags one of the world's most stunning skylines, has been gradually losing it behind a curtain of smog.

But the Chinese territory's latest solution is new: To placate camera-clicking tourists unable to get those iconic shots of the skyscraper-studded waterfront, Hong Kong has set up a panoramic backdrop with clear, blue skies.

The Chinese website Netease published a series of pictures of tourists posing in front of the backdrop.

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Environment
3:35 am
Thu August 29, 2013

A Cooler Pacific May Be Behind Recent Pause In Global Warming

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 11:47 am

A study in the journal Nature could help explain why the Earth's average temperature hasn't increased during the past 15 years — despite a long-term trend of global warming.

The Earth's average temperature has risen by more than 1 degree Fahrenheit since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. But the temperature rise has not been moving in lock step with the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide — mainly from burning fossil fuels — traps heat in the air.

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Research News
4:52 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Element 115 Could Be Near Elusive 'Island Of Stability'

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 6:39 pm

Researchers in Sweden have confirmed the existence of element 115. It sticks around for a surprisingly long time. Scientists believe it may bring them closer to the mythical "island of stability" a whole slew of super-heavy elements that could last for days or even years.

Krulwich Wonders...
12:34 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

How To Disappear When Someone's Spying On You

Courtesy of Adam Harvey

Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 6:32 pm

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The Salt
10:20 am
Wed August 28, 2013

To Grow Sweeter Produce, California Farmers Turn Off The Water

At Happy Boy Farms near Santa Cruz, Calif., Early Girl tomatoes are grown using dry-farming methods. The tomatoes have become increasingly popular with chefs and wholesalers.
Courtesy Jen Lynne/Happy Boy Farms

Originally published on Sat August 31, 2013 12:57 pm

A week without water can easily kill the average person.

But a garden that goes unwatered for months may produce sweeter, more flavorful fruits than anything available in most mainstream supermarkets — even in the scorching heat of a California summer. Commercial growers call it "dry farming," and throughout the state, this unconventional technique seems to be catching on among small producers of tomatoes, apples, grapes, melons and potatoes.

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Science
5:29 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Sophisticated Prosthetics Help Liberate Disabled Adventurers

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 6:31 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

A story now about technology and the creative ways it's being used to help people with disabilities enjoy the great outdoors - skiing, biking, even whitewater rafting, as Colorado Public Radio's Eric Whitney reports.

ERIC WHITNEY, BYLINE: In the equipment room at Telluride Adaptive Sports in Colorado, it's all about what works.

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