Science & Environment

Shots - Health News
12:39 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

For A Price, Volunteers Endure Scientists' Flu Spritzes

How much would a scientist have to pay you to get sick with the flu?
F.T. Werner iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 3:01 pm

What would it take to persuade you to allow government researchers to squirt millions of live flu viruses up your nose?

A recently concluded project at the National Institutes of Health found, among other things, that $3,400 each was enough to attract plenty of volunteers.

"I am happy I could contribute in some way," says Kelli Beyer, 24, one of 46 healthy people who volunteered for the project. To get the money, the research subjects had to commit to several days of testing, then nine days in a hospital isolation ward once the virus was administered in a nasal spray.

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Animals
5:06 am
Thu September 26, 2013

Ancient Fish Fossil Sheds Light On Modern Jaws

A newly discovered fossil of a fish in China changes what scientists know about the origins of jaws. It turns out, human jaws are remarkably similar to the jaw of this 419-million-year-old fish. That suggests jaws evolved much earlier than previously thought.

Environment
3:42 am
Thu September 26, 2013

With Murky Water And Manatee Deaths, Lagoon Languishes

Biologists Laura Herren and Brian Lapointe bag red sea grass at Shorty's Pocket, a site in the Indian River lagoon. Manatees have died from eating the toxic macro algae.
Courtesy Brian Cousin FAU Harbor Branch

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 5:06 am

Something is wrong in Florida's Indian River Lagoon.

Over the past year, record numbers of dolphins, manatees and pelicans have turned up dead in the 150-mile-long estuary that runs along Florida's Atlantic Coast. Bouts of algal blooms have flourished in the waters. All the signs point to an ecosystem that is seriously out of balance. The crisis has mobilized scientists, residents and elected officials in Florida.

An Ailing Lagoon

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The Two-Way
4:18 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Ancient Fish With Strong Jawline Could Rewrite History Of Faces

A reconstruction of Entelognathus primordialis, with the fossil find highlighted above.
Nature

As faces go, Entelognathus primordialis isn't much to look at, even for a fish.

But consider that the 419 million-year-old, armor-plated fish is the earliest known creature to have what humans might recognize as a face, according to research published Wednesday in Nature. That's mostly due to its bony, modern jaw.

As USA Today reports:

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The Salt
10:48 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Rooftop Farming Is Getting Off The Ground

Stacey Kimmons and Audra Lewicki harvest lettuce at the Chicago Botanic Garden's 20,000-square-foot vegetable garden atop McCormick Place West in Chicago.
Courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 3:03 pm

From vacant lots to vertical "pinkhouses," urban farmers are scouring cities for spaces to grow food. But their options vary widely from place to place.

While farmers in post-industrial cities like Detroit and Cleveland are claiming unused land for cultivation, in New York and Chicago, land comes at a high premium. That's why farmers there are increasingly eyeing spaces that they might not have to wrestle from developers: rooftops that are already green.

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The Two-Way
7:24 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Latest MacArthur Geniuses Include Sound Savior

Carl Haber, 2013 MacArthur fellow.
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 11:59 am

This year's 24 recipients of MacArthur Foundation "genius grants" include a physicist whose work was inspired in part by an NPR report he heard a decade ago.

As Carl Haber of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory explains in a video posted by the foundation with Wednesday's awards announcements:

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Environment
3:43 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Wild Weather Tied To Unusual Jet Stream Activity

Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio NASA

Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 6:25 am

There has been a lot of extreme weather in the Northern Hemisphere this year, including the recent torrential rains in Colorado, flooding in Europe, bitter cold in Florida and a heat wave in Alaska. And scientists say all of it is related to some odd behavior by the powerful air currents called the polar jet stream.

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Science
5:52 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

E-Readers Make Reading Easier For People Who Are Dyslexic

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Here's another example of tech helping people. In this case, people who struggle with dyslexia. For some, the act of reading a book can be dispiriting. Just ask Matthew Schneps, he directs the Laboratory for Visual Learning at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

MATTHEW SCHNEPS: I'll open the book and I'll start reading it. And then I'll very quickly realize, you know, I'm never going to get through this thing, and I just give up.

SIEGEL: But when Schneps reads on a small handheld device, like a smartphone...

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NPR Story
5:17 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Quake In Central Pakistan Makes New Island

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 5:52 pm

A large earthquake shook a remote part of central Pakistan Tuesday, and so far local authorities have only reported a few dozen fatalities so far. But according to estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey, the death toll could be far higher. The quake also gave rise to a mysterious island off the coast of Pakistan. The island was likely created by frozen methane that was shaken loose by the shaking. It pushed its way to the surface and created a muddy piece of land that will soon be washed away.

The Salt
5:17 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Global Love Of Bananas May Be Hurting Costa Rica's Crocodiles

A Costa Rican banana worker carries a stalk of freshly harvested fruit on a plantation in Costa Rica, where many of the bananas that Americans eat are grown.
Kent Gilbert AP

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 2:22 pm

Americans love bananas. Each year, we eat more bananas than any other fruit. But banana growers use a lot of pesticides — and those chemicals could be hurting wildlife. As a new study shows, the pesticides are ending up in the bodies of crocodiles living near banana farms in Costa Rica, where many of the bananas we eat are grown.

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