Science & Environment

U.S.
5:20 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

BP Wants To Halt Deepwater Horizon Claims Process

Crude oil that leaked from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig sits on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.
Chris Graythen Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 5:21 pm

BP is fighting the settlement it agreed to last summer that let the oil company avoid thousands of potential lawsuits over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Just after the spill, when oil was still gushing into the Gulf, BP touted the $20 billion it set aside for claims. But now it says the claim process is corrupt and is hoping a court will overturn the settlement that established the claims fund.

Ending the claims would mean stopping a well-oiled machine.

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Joe's Big Idea
3:38 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Coronal Holes: The (Rarely Round) Gaps In The Sun's Atmosphere

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this picture of the sun on June 18. The dark blue area in the upper left quadrant of the sun is a huge coronal hole more than 400,000 miles across. Coronal holes are areas of the sun's outermost atmospheric layer — the corona — where the magnetic field opens up and solar material quickly flows out.
NASA/SDO

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 5:21 pm

There's a hole in the sun's corona. But don't worry — that happens from time to time.

"A coronal hole is just a big, dark blotch that we see on the sun in our images," says Dean Pesnell, project scientist for NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. "We can only see them from space, because when we look at them [through] a regular telescope, they don't appear."

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Author Interviews
1:46 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

What's Mittens Thinking? Make 'Sense' Of Your Cat's Behavior

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 6:43 pm

Cats have come a long way from being animals charged with catching mice to treasured, adorable creatures that snuggle with us in our beds. But this relatively new arrangement is creating issues for cats and the people who live with them.

John Bradshaw has studied the history of domesticated cats and how the relationship between people and cats has changed. He's the author of the new book Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, which is a follow-up to his book Dog Sense.

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Shots - Health News
11:54 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Tuberculosis Hitched A Ride When Early Humans Left Africa

Signs of tuberculosis have been found in ancient Egyptian mummies, such as this one in London's British Museum.
Klafubra Wikimedia.org

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 1:55 pm

Dogs often get credit for being humans' constant companions. But dogs have nothing on tuberculosis bacteria.

TB and people have been trapped in a relationship that's been going on for thousands of years — perhaps even tens of thousands of years, scientists said earlier this week.

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Shots - Health News
10:28 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Parents' Harsh Words Might Make Teen Behaviors Worse

Sure you're steamed. But teenagers tend to meet harsh words with even worse behavior, a study says.
Katherine Streeter

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 1:56 pm

Most parents yell at their kids at some point. It often feels like the last option for getting children to pay attention and shape up.

But harsh verbal discipline may backfire. Teenagers act worse if they're yelled at, a study finds.

Researchers asked parents of 13-year-olds in the Philadelphia area how often in the past year they'd yelled, cursed or called the kid "dumb or lazy or some other word like that" after he or she had done something wrong.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:33 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Wild Things Hanging From Spruce Trees

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 10:45 am

Stanley Kunitz, one of our great poets, planted a spruce tree next to his house in Provincetown, Mass., and over the years that tree attracted some tenants, a family of garden snakes. I didn't know garden snakes climb trees, especially needly ones like a spruce, but they do.

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Shots - Health News
5:40 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Multitasking After 60: Video Game Boosts Focus, Mental Agility

Strenuous mental exercise like reading difficult books, solving tricky math problems — or, maybe, playing the right video game — can help keep a healthy brain sharp, research suggests.
Images.com/Corbis

Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 5:22 pm

A brain that trains can stay in the fast lane. That's the message of a study showing that playing a brain training video game for a month can rejuvenate the multitasking abilities of people in their 60s, 70s and 80s.

"After training, they improved their multitasking beyond the level of 20-year-olds," says Adam Gazzaley, one of the study's authors and a brain scientist at the University of California, San Francisco.

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The Two-Way
5:33 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Scientists Demonstrate Leaner System For Quantum Encryption

Navajo encryption boxes seen at right in 2003 employ principles of quantum physics. The latest research has shown the ability to run larger networks with less such hardware.
Elise Amendola Associated Press

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 8:48 pm

Scientists have demonstrated the ability to scale-up an 'uncrackable' computer encryption system that utilizes quantum physics to ensure security.

The technique is based on information that is carried by photons, the basic particles of light. While it's been demonstrated on a small scale, the team headed by Andrew Shields and publishing in Nature says they've shown that up to 64 users can share a single photon detector, eliminating the need for each one to have such an (expensive) device.

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Food
5:27 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Fixing Stove Hoods To Keep Pollution Out Of The Kitchen

Cooking on gas and electric stoves can create indoor air pollution. The best way to avoid it is to buy a good range hood that vents outside, experts say.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 6:47 pm

Hot summer days often mean air pollution warnings in big cities. But the air inside your kitchen can sometimes be just as harmful. Cooking fumes from your stove are supposed to be captured by a hood over the range — but even some expensive models aren't that effective.

Jennifer Logue spends a lot of time thinking about what happens when she cooks. She's a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, where she studies indoor air pollution.

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Shots - Health News
3:45 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

The Inside Story On The Fear Of Holes

Beautiful or creepy? A recent survey found that an image of a lotus seed head makes about 15 percent of people uncomfortable or even repulsed.
tanakawho Flickr.com

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 9:25 am

Trypophobia may be moving out of the urban dictionary and into the scientific literature.

A recent study in the peer-review journal Psychological Science takes a first crack at explaining why some people may suffer from a fear of holes.

Trypophobia may be hard to find in textbooks and diagnostic manuals, but a brief Web search will show that plenty of people appear to have it.

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