Science & Environment

Around the Nation
5:58 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Drought Forces Restrictions On Colorado River Water Releases

Relentless drought will force the government to cut back on water releases between Glen Canyon and Lake Mead. It's the first time that's happened since dams were built on the Colorado River. Reduction starts next year, and the announcement gives the 40 million water users in the Southwest time to plan.

Space
5:45 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Kepler Space Telescope Is Beyond Repair, NASA Says

An artist's illustration of Kepler-22b, a planet that circles its star in the "goldilocks" zone.
Ames/JPL-Caltech/NASA Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 10:31 am

There's some sad news from NASA: The space agency says its Kepler space telescope is beyond repair.

The $600 million planet-hunting probe whose mission was to search other solar systems for Earth-like planets has lost its ability to keep its gaze on target.

Two of the four gyroscope-like reaction wheels that keep Kepler pointed in the right direction have broken down and can't be fixed, but NASA is still hoping it can find some less-stressful work for the orbiting observatory.

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Environment
5:11 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

EPA To Crack Down On Accuracy Of MPG Claims By Car Makers

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 5:43 pm

For auto companies, that Environmental Protection Agency-approved MPG sticker on a new car is a high stakes and expensive process. These days it can be damaging to a company's image if customers can't achieve that great fuel economy in their own commutes.

The Two-Way
3:54 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Meet The Olinguito, The Newest Member Of The Raccoon Family

The olinguito is the first carnivore species to be discovered in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years.
Courtesy of Mark Gurney

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 5:44 pm

Scientists have just solved a case of mistaken identity. It involves a creature that looks like a cross between a house cat and a teddy bear, and it lives high up in the cloud forests of the Andes.

For over 100 years, scientists thought this animal was a well-known member of the raccoon family. Specifically, they thought it was a critter called the "olingo." But one scientist recently took another look and realized he had an entirely new species on his hands.

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Shots - Health News
2:16 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Chronic Insomnia? Hitting The Treadmill Could Help ... Eventually

Can't sleep? Run down? Keep exercising.
CSA_Images iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 10:32 am

Studies on exercise and sleep come up with the same conclusion time after time: If you want to hit the hay earlier and sleep better, get a good cardio workout.

But if you're already sleep-deprived, don't expect a 30-minute run or stint on the elliptical to knock you out quicker tonight.

The sleep-boosting effects of exercise can take a few months to kick in for people who suffer insomnia, scientists report Thursday in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

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Author Interviews
1:41 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

Of Neurons And Memories: Inside The 'Secret World Of Sleep'

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 2:13 pm

What happens in our brains while we're asleep? That's one question neuroscientist Penelope Lewis is trying to answer. She directs the Sleep and Memory Lab at the University of Manchester in England. Her new book is The Secret World of Sleep: The Surprising Science of the Mind at Rest.

Lewis joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross to talk about how sleep affects memory, and how REM sleep can affect depression.


Interview Highlights

On how sleep makes memory stronger

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The Two-Way
1:00 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

What's Up With That, Doc? Researchers Make Bunnies Glow

Those are bright bunnies. (The photo shows the two that have the "glowing gene," along with their siblings.)
University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 1:44 pm

Like cats and other animals before them, a couple of rabbits are now among the animals that have been genetically manipulated so that they glow green under a black light.

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The Two-Way
12:49 pm
Thu August 15, 2013

'Mature' Galaxies Around Not Long After Big Bang, Study Says

Chart showing galaxy formation 11 billion years ago.
ESA/Hubble

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 3:42 pm

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope to peer some 11 billion light-years into space and as many years back in time have seen something they didn't expect: fully formed galaxies when the universe was still quite young.

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Joe's Big Idea
5:20 am
Thu August 15, 2013

Scientists Reach Milestone In Quest For Smart Windows

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 5:24 am

Smart windows change how much sunlight they let through on a hot day. Such windows could reduce the demand for energy by reducing the need for air conditioning. This quest has been going on for years but it's got years to go before the project becomes a reality.

Energy
5:27 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

The Grid Of The Future Could Be Brought To You By ... You

Wind turbines at the Kahuku wind farm on Oahu's North Shore in 2011. Hawaiian energy managers are hoping to build stronger connections with customers to better manage renewable sources of energy on the grid.
Yuriko Nakao Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 8:40 am

The electricity system is experiencing growing pains these days. But it's not only demand for electricity that's expanding — it's the sources of electricity, particularly unpredictable kinds, like wind farms and solar panels.

And grid operators know that we're just at the beginning. States are requiring more renewable power to fight climate change, and it may be the customers who will play a big role in helping grid operators manage these clean, but finicky, sources of power.

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