Science & Environment

The Salt
12:42 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

How A Seed Saver Discovered One Of Our Favorite Tomatoes

A Cherokee purple tomato grown in Alaska in 2011.
Sherry Shiesl Tatiana's TOMATObase

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 3:04 pm

Fortunately for those of us who are suckers for novelty, every year fruits and vegetables seem to come in more bewitching colors, shapes and flavors. Lately, we've been tickled by the cotton candy grape and the vibrant orange Turkish eggplant.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:13 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Is There A Giant Life Form Lurking In Our Solar System? Possibly, Say Scientists

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 11:29 am

What if — just maybe — we find extra-terrestrial life in the oceans of Europa, a little moon circling Jupiter? If we do, says writer Caspar Henderson, don't expect that oceanic alien to be very big. Or very scary. Or even very visible. Nothing like this ...

The "top predator" on Europa, Henderson reports, is likely to be "a fearsome creature with the mass of one gram." That's three one-hundredths of an ounce.

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The Picture Show
9:18 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Capturing The Complexities Of The Colorado River

A major tributary of the Colorado River, the Dolores River Basin, is seen south of Grand Junction, Colo. Ken Neubecker, executive director of the Western Rivers Institute, talks about the connection of water and energy. "Water takes a lot of energy, a huge amount of energy; people don't realize it. We tend to take water for granted."
Heather Rousseau

As a photographer, how do you visualize something that can't always be seen? Like, how do you show the complex relationships between water, energy and modern society?

It's not easy, but that was my task as I worked on a photo essay for a capstone class at Ohio University last fall about life along the upper Colorado River.

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Energy
5:36 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Complex Networks Make Up U.S. Power Grid

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 9:16 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And whether it's worth paying to avoid all blackouts is a theme that has been on the mind of Steven Weissman, he's a professor of Electricity Law at the University of California, Berkeley. We reached him on this blackout anniversary to learn about how the nation's energy system is structured. Weissman says the grid is really made up of several complex networks.

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Energy
3:01 am
Wed August 14, 2013

10 Years After The Blackout, How Has The Power Grid Changed?

The sun sets over the Manhattan skyline during a major power outage affecting a large part of the Northeastern United States and Canada on Aug. 14, 2003. Ten years later, some improvements have been made to the grid to prevent another large-scale blackout.
Robert Giroux Getty Images

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 12:58 pm

Ten years ago, a sagging power line hit a tree near Cleveland, tripping some circuit breakers. To compensate, power was rerouted to a nearby line, which began to overheat and sink down into another tree, tripping another circuit. The resulting cascade created a massive blackout in the Northeast U.S., affecting power in eight states and part of Canada.

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The Two-Way
12:36 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Federal Court Says U.S. Must Complete Yucca Mountain Review

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 12:50 pm

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Obama administration is breaking the law by delaying its review of a plan to store nuclear waste in Nevada. The court ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must complete its licensing process — that is, approve or reject — the Energy Department's plan for the waste site in Nevada.

NPR's Geoff Brumfiel filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's original job was to issue or deny a license to build a nuclear waste dump inside Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

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The Salt
10:49 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Why Urban Beekeeping Can Be Bad For Bees

Beehive designer Johannes Paul (right) and Natural England's ecologist Peter Massini, with a brood frame colonized with bees from the "beehaus" beehive on the roof of his house in London in 2009.
Sang Tan AP

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 5:27 pm

Two British scientists are dumping cold water on campaigns to promote urban beekeeping. They say that trying to "help the bees" by setting out more hives is naive and misguided if the bees can't find enough flowers nearby to feed on. You'll just end up with sick and starving bees.

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All Tech Considered
3:03 am
Tue August 13, 2013

A Closer Look At Elon Musk's Much-Hyped Hyperloop

A rendering of a Hyperloop pod.
Courtesy of Elon Musk

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 7:59 am

You can thank brainy billionaire Elon Musk's Hyperloop proposal for bringing electro-magnetic-powered transportation and the linear induction motor back into the public consciousness.

The Hyperloop is a system for really-really rapid transit. If built, Musk claims it can carry people about 800 miles per hour, which could get you from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about 30 minutes.

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The Salt
3:02 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Colorado Vault Is Fort Knox For The World's Seeds

Dave Dierig, research leader at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation, stands among the ceiling-high shelves that hold the 600,000 seed packets in this cold storage vault.
Grace Hood KUNC

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 7:59 am

When unapproved genetically modified wheat was found growing in Oregon earlier this year, it didn't take long for accusations to start flying. A flurry of initial finger-pointing cast potential blame on a federal seed vault in Fort Collins, Colo., which housed the same strain of wheat, developed by Monsanto Corp., for about seven years up until late 2011.

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Science
5:27 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

A Ball Dropped Through The Earth Becomes A Permanent Pendulum

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 6:03 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Occasionally, when it's a slow news day, we wind up with holes in the show; gaps of a minute or two that the news of the day doesn't quite fill.

NPR science correspondent Joe Palca offered to fill those with science stories about holes.

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