Science & Environment

Research News
5:13 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

How'd They Do That? The Story Of A Giant Rock And A Road Of Ice

The Large Stone Carving is the heaviest stone in the Forbidden City in Beijing. It was believed to have weighed more than 300 tons when it was first transported to the site between 1407 and 1420.
DEA/ W. Buss De Agostini/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 7:42 pm

Great works of ancient engineering, like the Pyramids or Stonehenge, inspire awe in every beholder. But some onlookers also get inspired to figure out exactly how these structures were made.

Howard Stone, an engineer from Princeton University, had such a moment in Beijing's Forbidden City — a city-within-a-city of palaces and temples built in the 15th and 16th centuries. A carved, 300-ton slab that formed a ramp to one structure particularly caught Stone's eye. "How in the world did it get here?" he wondered.

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The Salt
4:09 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Why Are Pig Farmers Still Using Growth-Promoting Drugs?

In recent years, pork producers have found ways to keep the animals healthy through improved hygiene.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 7:42 pm

It's one of the most controversial practices in agriculture: feeding small amounts of antibiotics to animals in order to make them grow faster.

But what if the drugs don't even work very well?

There's some good evidence that they don't, at least in pigs. They used to deliver a boost in growth, but that effect has disappeared in recent years or declined greatly.

The reason for this is interesting and even paradoxical.

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World
5:07 pm
Sun November 3, 2013

As Mirrors Beam Light To Town, Norwegians Share Patch Of Sun

People gather in the central square of Rjukan, Norway, on Wednesday to bask in the sun reflected by mirrors on a nearby mountainside.
NTB Scanpix/Reuters/Landov

The small town of Rjukan has long had to make do without sunlight during the cold Norwegian winters.

But that changed Wednesday, when the town debuted a system of high-tech mirrors to reflect sunlight from neighboring peaks into the valley below.

Rjukan, originally founded 100 years ago as an industrial outpost for the energy company Norsk Hydro, is nestled between several mountains and does not receive direct sunlight from late September to mid-March — nearly six months out of the year.

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NPR Story
5:07 pm
Sun November 3, 2013

How An Aqueduct Turned Los Angeles Into A 'Garden Of Eden'

Los Angeles saw a dramatic boom in growth after the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913. The system delivers water from the Owens River in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains to the city.
Mark J. Terrill AP

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 12:36 pm

Today the beauty of Los Angeles is dramatically symbolic of the ancient prophecy the desert shall "blossom like a rose."

This blossoming was made possible by the birth of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, opened 100 years ago this month. The opening of the aqueduct might as well have been the birth of the modern West and the image of the city as a Garden of Eden.

The vast quantities of water the aqueduct moved made Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and other cities across the region possible.

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Space
3:09 pm
Sun November 3, 2013

Space Agencies Of The World, Unite: The U.N.'s Asteroid Defense Plan

This mosaic image from NASA's Dawn spacecraft, captured between 2011 to 2012, shows the giant asteroid Vesta. The mountain at the south pole, seen at the bottom of the image, is more than twice the height of Mount Everest.
NASA

The United Nations General Assembly may approve a plan soon for the world's space agencies to defend the Earth against asteroids.

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Shots - Health News
1:34 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Sorry, Red Sox, Heavy Stubble Beats Beards For Attractiveness

Hey man, that's sensitive: Mike Napoli of the Boston Red Sox pulls teammate Jonny Gomes' beard after hitting a three-run homer in Game 4 of the 2013 World Series in St. Louis.
Jamie Squire Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 4:02 pm

When Mike Napoli got up to bat in Game 6 of the World Series, my first thought was, "Oh my goodness, that beard is awful." But after the Red Sox's first baseman laid off a few bad pitches, I started liking the hair on his chin.

All that got me thinking about beards.

Sometime during evolution women lost their facial hair. This strong difference between the sexes implies that facial furriness, or the lack thereof, has played a role in how we picked our partners, at least at one point in human history.

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Technology
12:26 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

To Learn How Your Camera Works, Try Building One

Digital cameras are ubiquitous today — even $20 cell phones have them built in. But few people actually know how a digital camera works. Shree Nayar, a computer scientist at Columbia University, set out to change that with his Bigshot Do-It-Yourself Digital Camera kit, which gives tinkerers a view of a camera's anatomy.

Environment
12:26 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Hurricane Sandy Recovery, One Year Later

A year after Hurricane Sandy, recovery efforts are still ongoing, and questions remain about how to rebuild and prepare the coastlines for the next storm. A group of experts discusses rebuilding and protective options — from sea walls to "oyster-tecture" — and considers calls for a "managed retreat" from the shore.

Space
12:26 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Chris Hadfield's Lessons from Life in Orbit

Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield, author of the new book An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, has flown three space missions, including 144 days on the International Space Station. Hadfield talks about life in zero gravity, his one fear while in orbit, and how he went from test pilot to astronaut.

Author Interviews
12:26 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Einstein's Real Breakthrough? Quantum Theory

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. When you think about Albert Einstein, the words E=MC squared and Theory of Relativity naturally come to mind. But Einstein did not win his Nobel Prize for that work. Instead, he won the prize for figuring out how light interacts with objects and for believing, when almost no one else did, that light and energy are carried as discreet packets called quanta.

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