Science & Environment

Environment
5:08 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

'Uncertain' Science: Judith Curry's Take On Climate Change

Judith Curry with her dogs, Rosie (left) and Bruno, in the mountains near Lake Tahoe. The climatologist focuses on the uncertainties of climate change far more than on the consensus of climate scientists.
Richard Harris NPR

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 5:10 pm

While the Obama administration presses forward with plans to deal with climate change, Congress remains steadfast against taking action. It's not easy to find a scientist who will agree with that point of view. But Republicans have found an ally in a climate scientist by the name of Judith Curry.

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The Salt
12:10 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Stone Age Chefs Spiced Up Food Even 6,000 Years Ago

Prehistoric Deer Stew? A fragment of pottery found in Neustadt, Germany, is coated in the microscopic remains of crushed mustard seeds and roasted fish and ruminant meat, possibly deer. This shard dates back to about 5,900 years ago.
Courtesy of University of York, BioArch

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 8:36 am

The French may have coined the term "gourmand" a few hundred years ago, but it looks like humans were flexing their foodie muscles thousands of years before that.

Scientists have found the first direct evidence that European hunter-gatherers flavored their roasted fish and meat — probably deer — with at least one spice: garlic mustard seeds.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:36 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Human Made From Paper Eats Pepperoni Pizza — And Lives!

Courtesy of Kelli Anderson

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 2:03 pm

Remember those frog transparencies from biology class? The ones in the textbook where you could lay the circulatory system on top of the digestive system on top of the skeleton system? Here's that same idea, updated and gently presented for kids, from a company called Tinybop. This time, the layers are cut from colored paper, exquisitely designed by Kelli Anderson. And this time (unlike that sadly frozen frog) it moves! Watch it eat a pizza slice ...

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The Two-Way
10:00 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Comet Flies Into The Sun, Goes Out In A Blaze Of Glory

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 2:13 pm

Like Icarus, the mythological character who plunged to his death after flying too close to the sun, a comet took a solar swan dive earlier this week. NASA has captured its final moments on video.

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Animals
3:01 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Where The Whale Sharks Go

A whale shark dives near the surface in waters off the coast of Mexico.
Marj Awai Georgia Aquarium

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 3:17 pm

Of all the creatures in the sea, one of the most majestic and mysterious is the whale shark. It's the biggest shark there is, 30 feet or more in length and weighing in at around 10 tons.

Among the mysteries is where this mighty fish migrates and where it gives birth. Now scientists have completed the biggest study ever of whale sharks, and they think they have some answers to those questions.

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The Salt
5:38 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Inside The Beef Industry's Battle Over Growth-Promotion Drugs

Beef cattle stand in a barn on the Larson Farms feedlot in Maple Park, Ill.
Daniel Acker Landov

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 4:39 pm

When the drug company Merck Animal Health announced plans to suspend sales of its Zilmax feed additive last week, many observers were shocked.

Yet concern about Zilmax and the class of growth-promotion drugs called beta agonists has been building for some time. In an interesting twist, the decisive pressure on Zilmax did not come from animal welfare groups or government regulators: It emerged from within the beef industry itself, and from academic experts who have long worked as consultants to the industry.

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Science
5:38 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Defining A Hole Presents A Philosophical Quandary

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 11:24 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

I'm Melissa Block. And a radio confession here. We had a hole in our program right here. We didn't have a piece just the right length to fill out this segment. It happens occasionally. Well, all summer, NPR science correspondent Joe Palca has been helping us get rid of these little holes with some short stories about holes.

JOE PALCA, BYLINE: Today, we're going to examine the question, what is a hole anyway? What's it made of?

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Shots - Health News
4:55 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Deadly Middle East Coronavirus Found In An Egyptian Tomb Bat

So cute, but not cuddly. The Egyptian tomb bat, Taphozous perforatus, is a likely carrier of the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus, or MERS.
Courtesy of Jonathan H. Epstein/EcoHealth Alliance

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 7:09 am

For nearly a year, disease detectives around the world have been trying to track down the source of a mysterious new virus in the Middle East that has infected 96 people and killed 47 since September.

Now it looks like they've pinpointed at least one place where the virus is hiding out.

Scientists at Columbia University have detected the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus, or MERS, in a bat near the home of a man who died from the disease. The team found a small fragment of the virus's genes in the animal that matches perfectly with those seen in the patient.

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Animals
3:35 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

On A Rocky Maine Island, Puffins Are Making A Tenuous Comeback

A puffin prepares to land with a bill full of fish on Eastern Egg Rock, off the Maine coast in July. Last year young puffins died at an alarming rate from starvation because of a shortage of herring.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 8:12 pm

Rocky, windswept Eastern Egg Rock, about 6 miles off the coast of Maine, was once a haven for a hugely diverse bird population. But in the 1800s, fishermen decimated the birds' ranks — for food and for feathers.

When ornithologist Stephen Kress first visited 40 years ago, the 7-acre island was nearly barren, with only grass and gulls left. Not a puffin in sight. Not even an old puffin bone.

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All Tech Considered
3:25 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

Weekly Innovation: Hey, You're Taking Too Long In The Shower

The Uji shower head will be available for sale in early 2014. Its light turns from green to red as the shower progresses.
Courtesy of Brett Andler

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 8:16 am

This week's innovation pick is a shower head that reminds you you're taking too long. The Uji shower head gradually turns from green to red as users linger in the shower.

"It encourages [people] to take shorter and more energy efficient showers," said one of the co-inventors, Brett Andler. "By letting people become aware of how long they're in the shower, we've actually been able to cut shower time by 12 percent."

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