Science & Environment

2:43 am
Mon December 29, 2014

Road Salt Contributes To Toxic Chemical Levels In Streams

Salt is unloaded at a maintenance yard in Scio Township, Mich., in September.
Carlos Osorio AP

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 10:05 am

This is the time of year when it's not uncommon to see big trucks barreling down highways and streets spreading road salt.

Steve Corsi, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, says that translates into high levels of chloride concentrations for rivers like the Milwaukee in Wisconsin or 18 other streams near urban areas in Illinois, Ohio, Colorado and several other states.

"At many of the streams, concentrations have now exceeded those that are harmful to aquatic life," he says.

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5:29 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

From One Man's Damaged Brain, A Treasure Trove Of Research On Memory

Originally published on Sun December 28, 2014 6:02 pm

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NPR Story
5:25 pm
Sun December 28, 2014

Scientists Discover That Drunk Birds Sing Like Drunks

Recent research has shown that zebra finches sing differently when drunk, but not whether they know enough of the lyrics to get through "I Will Survive" or "Don't Stop Believin'."
Liza Gross Courtesy Public Library of Science

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 1:18 pm

If you've ever listened to karaoke at a bar, you know that drinking can affect how well someone can sing. Christopher Olson and his colleagues at Oregon Health and Science University recently set out to find if the same was true for birds, specifically zebra finches.

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5:23 pm
Sat December 27, 2014

An Aspiring Martian Continues To Pursue The Red Planet

Beemer, shown at the Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station in Utah in 2011, is a candidate for both Mars One and the Mars Arctic 365 program.
Max Fagin

Originally published on Sat December 27, 2014 6:54 pm

Lt. Heidi Beemer has dreamed of going to Mars since she was 8 years old. She's carefully planned her life, from her education to her career, with a goal of getting to the red planet.

In January she got a step closer to that goal by making first cut of applicants for Mars One — a Netherlands-based nonprofit that has a goal of establishing a permanent, sustainable human settlement on Mars by 2025.

Now, she's preparing to interview for the next round.

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The Two-Way
2:48 pm
Sat December 27, 2014

Dwarf Galaxy, Long Overlooked, Discovered In Our 'Hood

A negative image of Kks3, made using the Advanced Camera for Surveys on the Hubble Space Telescope. The core of the galaxy is the right hand dark object at the top center of the image.
D. Makarov Royal Astronomical Society

The newest galaxy to be discovered is actually very old – and very small. And it's right in our neighborhood of the universe.

Although Kks3 is only 7 million light years away (about 2.5 times farther than our nearest large galaxy, Andromeda) at just 1/10,000 the stellar mass of our the Milky Way, it is tiny by galactic standards and incredibly easy to miss. About 2/3rds of the "dwarf spheroidal galaxy" is made up of star material formed 12 billion years ago, just a billion years and some change after the Big Bang.

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Arts & Life
10:10 am
Sat December 27, 2014

One Man's Trash, Another Man's Fashion Brand

Javier Goyeneche contends that trash can be transformed into beautiful cloth — with a much higher percentage of recycled materials than found in most commercially popular recycled fabrics.
Courtesy of Javier Goyeneche/

Originally published on Tue December 30, 2014 12:33 pm

Trying to save the world today can take on many forms. For Javier Goyeneche, a 44-year-old Spanish entrepreneur, it happens to involve trash — discarded tires, leftover coffee grounds, even old fishing nets from the sea. He's not just recycling them; he's using them to make a fashion statement.

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Shots - Health News
4:26 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

One More Reason To Reach For A Paper Book Before Bed

Sleepy in the day and wide awake at night? Give the screen a rest.
Guido Mieth Getty Images/Flickr RM

Originally published on Mon December 29, 2014 8:18 am

E-readers may make it particularly hard to get a good night's sleep, according to research out this week.

A study that followed every nightly twitch, turn and snore of 12 volunteers for a couple weeks found that those who read from an iPad before hitting the sack had a harder time falling asleep, spent less time in a crucial phase of sleep, and were less alert the next day.

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National Security
4:26 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

Military Policy Impedes Research On Traumatic Brain Injuries

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

4:26 pm
Fri December 26, 2014

Recordings That Made Waves: The Songs That Saved The Whales

By the 1960s, humpback whales and other whale species had been hunted extensively, sometimes to the point of near extinction. Then a recording of humpback whale songs helped shift public opinion on the hunting of all whale species.
Luis Robayo AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 6:22 pm

In the mid-20th century, whale populations were dwindling. More than 50,000 whales were killed each year by commercial whalers.

But then in the 1960s, a song — or rather, many songs — sparked a movement.

It started with some underwater equipment that, for the first time, captured the sound of humpback whales.


At his home in Vermont, biologist Roger Payne plays the audio that was discovered back then. He points out themes in the whales' song, and how they evolve over time.

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8:23 am
Fri December 26, 2014

Want To Solve The World's Most Heated Disagreements? Bring Your Wallet

A woman shouts slogans as she attends a pro-Palestinian rally July 25 in Berlin. About 1,200 pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through Berlin amid high tensions over Israel's actions in Gaza, while some 700 protesters took part in two counter-demonstrations.
Markus Schreiber AP

Conflict between Palestinians and Israelis or Republicans and Democrats appears intractable in part because of one fundamental bias: We misunderstand the other group's motives.

When Republicans attack Democrats, Democrats think they're motivated by hate, but Republicans believe they're motivated by love and "in-group" loyalty. And vice versa, of course.

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