Science & Environment

The Salt
5:44 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Could African Crops Be Improved With Private Biotech Data?

The baobob fruit is one of the 100 traditional African food crops that a group of scientists want to learn more about to improve nutrition.
Alexander Joe AFP/Getty Images

"I'm shocked by the optimism here," Howard Yana-Shapiro, the chief agricultural officer for Mars Inc. said Tuesday to the audience of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Global Food Security Symposium in Washington, D.C.

Seated there before him were some of the leaders from the wealthiest international organizations and multinational companies of the fight to end hunger. And Shapiro told them they weren't even close.

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Shots - Health News
1:18 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Research Reveals Yeasty Beasts Living On Our Skin

Fungi (cyan) surround a human hair within the skin. A study in the journal Nature shows the population of fungi on human skin is more diverse that previously thought.
Alex Valm, Ph.D.

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 11:20 am

Scientists have completed an unusual survey: a census of the fungi that inhabit different places on our skin. It's part of a big scientific push to better understand the microbes that live in and on our bodies.

"This is the first study of our fungi, which are yeast and other molds that live on the human body," says Julie Segre, of the National Human Genome Research Institute, who led the survey.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:03 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

What Would Ben Franklin Do With A Bunch Of Balloons? Everything

Robert Krulwich and Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 5:40 pm

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The Salt
10:00 am
Wed May 22, 2013

How Genomics Solved The Mystery Of Ireland's Great Famine

This illustration from 1846 shows a starving boy and girl raking the ground for potatoes during the Irish Potato Famine, which began in the 1840s.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 10:52 am

An international group of plant pathologists has solved a historical mystery behind Ireland's Great Famine.

Sure, scientists have known for a while that a funguslike organism called Phytophthora infestans was responsible for the potato blight that plagued Ireland starting in the 1840s. But there are many different strains of the pathogen that cause the disease, and scientists have finally discovered the one that triggered the Great Famine.

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Research News
3:03 am
Wed May 22, 2013

Quantum Or Not, New Supercomputer Is Certainly Something Else

Google and NASA are betting that quantum forces are at work inside D-Wave's 512-bit chip.
Courtesy of D-Wave

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 11:33 am

It's exactly the sort of futuristic thinking you'd expect from Google and NASA: Late last week, the organizations announced a partnership to build a Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at NASA's Ames Research Center.

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The Two-Way
5:43 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Storm Chasers Seek Thrills, But Also Chance To Warn Others

A tornado moves past homes in Moore, Okla. on Monday.
Alonzo Adams AP

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 6:33 pm

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The Salt
5:18 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

African Cities Test The Limits Of Living With Livestock

Sheep graze in the street last year in Cairo.
Gianluigi Guercia AFP/Getty Images

Raising chickens has become so fashionable among some urban Americans that there's now a market for chicken diapers, as we reported this month.

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The Salt
3:35 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

Vertical 'Pinkhouses:' The Future Of Urban Farming?

This "pinkhouse" at Caliber Biotherapeutics in Bryan, Texas, grows 2.2 million plants under the glow of blue and red LEDs.
Courtesy of Caliber Therapeutics

Originally published on Thu May 23, 2013 5:58 pm

The idea of vertical farming is all the rage right now. Architects and engineers have come up with spectacular concepts for lofty buildings that could function as urban food centers of the future.

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The Picture Show
12:55 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

'Nanogardens' Sprout Up On The Surface Of A Penny

Nanoflowers, each smaller than the thickness of a dollar bill, sprout up spontaneously on a surface dipped in salts and silicon.
Courtesy of Wim Noorduin/Harvard University

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 5:36 pm

April showers bring May flowers. But in this case, the blossoms are too small for even a bumblebee to see.

Engineers at Harvard University have figured out a way to make microscopic sculptures of roses, tulips and violets, each smaller than a strand of hair.

To get a sense of just how small these flower sculptures are, grab a penny and flip it on its back. Right in the middle of the Lincoln Memorial, you'll see a faint impression of Abraham Lincoln. These roses would make a perfect corsage for the president's jacket lapel.

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The Two-Way
6:39 pm
Mon May 20, 2013

Measuring The Power Of Deadly Tornadoes

John Warner surveys the damage near a friend's mobile home in the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park, destroyed in Sunday's tornado, near Shawnee, Okla., on Monday.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 4:59 am

Damaging tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma on Sunday and Monday, causing widespread damage that is still being assessed, and additional severe weather is expected.

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