Science & Environment

Science
4:57 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

If They Want To Make Anything, Proteins Must Know How To Fold

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 10:46 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Events unfold. Plots unfold. And this summer, NPR science correspondent Joe Palca has been telling us how science unfolds. It's series we're creatively calling Unfolding Science.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME SONG)

BLOCK: Today, Joe tells us about large biological molecules called proteins that have to fold and unfold properly to keep us alive.

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Shots - Health News
2:49 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

When Heat Stroke Strikes, Cool First, Transport Later

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo takes a water break during the 2014 World Cup soccer match between Portugal and the U.S. in Manaus, Brazil, on June 22.
Siphiwe Sibeko Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 5:38 pm

The first-ever World Cup water break (taken during the game between Portugal and the United States this week) is a reminder that we all need to take extra precautions when playing in the heat.

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The Salt
10:38 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Chemist With Visual Flair Answers Burning Food Science Questions

Courtesy of Compound Interest

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 3:24 pm

Chemistry teachers don't need to go the way of Breaking Bad's Walter White and make methamphetamine if they're looking for a compelling side gig.

Andy Brunning, a high school chemistry teacher in the U.K., makes beautiful infographics on everyday chemistry on his blog, Compound Interest. Thanks in part to the American Chemical Society, which has turned several of his posts into videos, his clever visuals have been going viral.

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The Salt
3:21 am
Fri June 27, 2014

As Pig Virus Spreads, The Price Of Pork Continues To Rise

Michael Yezzi raises 1,000 pigs a year in Shushan, N.Y. He's worried about how to keep his farm safe from a disease that has no proven cure.
Abbie Fentress Swanson for NPR

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 8:31 am

If you're bringing home the bacon, you may have noticed a price tag inching upward.

Consumers are paying nearly 13 percent more for pork at the supermarket than they were this time last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A deadly pig disease is partially to blame.

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Shots - Health News
4:20 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

A CRISPR Way To Fix Faulty Genes

The CRISPR enzyme (green and red) binds to a stretch of double-stranded DNA (purple and red), preparing to snip out the faulty part.
Illustration courtesy of Jennifer Doudna/UC Berkeley

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 7:47 am

Scientists from many areas of biology are flocking to a technique that allows them to work inside cells, making changes in specific genes far faster — and for far less money — than ever before.

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The Salt
3:29 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Did Neanderthals Eat Plants? The Proof May Be In The Poop

A rendering of Neanderthals cooking and eating. The ancient humans inhabited Europe and western Asia between 230,000 and 29,000 years ago.
Mauricio Anton Science Source

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 5:35 pm

Neanderthals clubbed their way to the top of an ancient food chain, slaying caribou and mammoths. But a peek inside their prehistoric poop reveals that the meat-loving early humans may have also enjoyed some salad on the side.

Researchers excavating a site in southern Spain where Neanderthals lived 50,000 years ago were initially looking for remnants of food in fireplaces. Then they stumbled upon tiny bits of poop — which turned out to be the oldest fecal matter from a human relation ever discovered.

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Science
2:03 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

A Shocking Fish Tale Surprises Evolutionary Biologists

A 6-foot-long electric eel is basically a 6-inch fish attached to a 5-1/2-foot cattle prod, researchers say. The long tail is packed with special cells that pump electricity without shocking the fish.
Mark Newman Getty Images/Lonely Planet Image

Originally published on Sat July 12, 2014 12:39 pm

The electric eel's powerful ability to deliver deadly shocks — up to 600 volts — makes it the most famous electric fish, but hundreds of other species produce weaker electric fields. Now, a new genetic study of electric fish has revealed the surprising way they got electrified.

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:48 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

What Not To Serve Buzzards For Lunch, A Glorious Science Experiment

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 5:07 pm

OK, I'm doing great science experiments. We've done sex (see previous post). On to lunch!

This is the story of a bird, a puzzle, and a painting. The painting, curiously, helped solve the puzzle, which is: How do vultures find food?

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Parallels
7:15 am
Thu June 26, 2014

Oil Off The Coast Of Ibiza? Protesters Don't Want To Know

Ibiza
David Ramos Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 11:03 am

Ibiza — famous for wild, all-night parties — is home to some of the Mediterranean's most pristine beaches and thriving marine ecosystems. But these could soon be endangered by more than the island's hedonism.

Spain's central government is considering whether to allow oil prospecting near the coasts of Ibiza and its neighboring island, Formentera. The proposed survey area is about 1,500 square miles and starts around 30 miles off the coastline.

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Research News
7:10 am
Thu June 26, 2014

How To Sell Green Products To The Self-Regarding Consumer

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 9:40 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

When consumers think about green products, they often face a dilemma - that car that uses less gasoline or a more efficient refrigerator tends to cost more. Buyers have to choose whether money is more important to them than public good. Now new research shows there might be a way to boost interest in these products, at least among a core group of consumers. NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is here to talk with us about that. Hi Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi Steve.

INSKEEP: What consumers?

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