Science & Environment

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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Shots - Health News
5:03 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Dementia Test Tweaked For Gen X: Hirohito Out, Oprah In

Is Oprah Winfrey a celebrity for the ages?
Surian Soosay Flickr

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 7:56 am

It's bad enough to have to be tested for dementia. It's even worse if the test isn't fair. Researchers in Chicago found they needed to update the screening test for a type of early onset dementia so that the measure would more accurately pick up symptoms among a new wave of patients — baby boomers and Gen Xers.

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Research News
4:42 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Particle Physicists Want A New Collider To Study The Higgs

This simulated image shows what information about a Higgs particle would look like in the proposed International Linear Collider.
Norman Graf interactions.org

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

"It's a very curious time in high-energy physics," says Michael Peskin, a researcher at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. On the one hand, researchers have just made the most significant discovery in decades: In July of last year, they announced they had found the Higgs particle at a collider in Switzerland. The Higgs is part of the mechanism that gives mass to everything. It is so fundamental that without it, we wouldn't exist.

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Shots - Health News
3:03 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Brains Of Dying Rats Yield Clues About Near-Death Experiences

Could the images common in accounts of near-death experiences be explained by a rush of electrical activity in the brain?
Odina iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 7:57 am

A burst of brain activity just after the heart stops may be the cause of so-called near-death experiences, scientists say.

The insight comes from research involving nine lab rats whose brains were analyzed as they were being euthanized. Researchers discovered what appears to be a momentary increase in electrical activity in the brain associated with consciousness.

Although the experiment relied on animals, the results could apply to humans, too, the researchers say.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:00 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

This Pulsing Earth

John Nelson IDV Solutions

It's breathing, he thought. "All of a sudden I see a thing with a heartbeat."

John Nelson is a designer, well known for tracing complex weather patterns or cultural information on maps, so considering what he usually does, this was easy. NASA's Visible Earth team publishes pictures of our planet every month of the year, so John thought, why not stitch them together, and see what the seasons look like from outer space?

So he stitched, and then looked.

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The Two-Way
9:23 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Resort Villa Collapses Into Sinkhole Near Disney World

An aerial view of the Summer Bay Resort in Clermont, Fla., shows a villa that collapsed into a sinkhole Sunday night.
WFTV AP

Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 11:49 am

Vacationers staying in a luxury villa in central Florida awoke to creaking and crashing sounds Sunday night, as the three-story building they were staying in began to collapse. A large portion of the structure was pulled into a sinkhole at the Summer Bay Resort near Disney World. It seems the process was slow enough that it allowed everyone in the building to get out safely.

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Monkey See
8:31 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Can You Really Dissolve A Guy In A Bathtub? 'Mythbusters' Tackles 'Breaking Bad'

Adam Savage and Aaron Paul trade some information on Monday night's Mythbusters.
Don Feria Discovery

Perhaps you heard that last night, a plucky little drug dealer named Walter White returned to television for his last eight episodes of the award-hoarding Breaking Bad.

But before he began his life of crime, Walter White was a chemistry teacher, and chemistry is what originally made him such a great meth cook. Breaking Bad has always included a lot of science talk, especially in the early days, and the time has come for someone to see whether it holds up.

And by "someone," I mean "Mythbusters."

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Environment
5:23 pm
Sun August 11, 2013

The Algae Is Coming, But Its Impact Is Felt Far From Water

Chinese beachgoers walk by an algae-covered public beach in Qingdao, China, in July. The seas off China have been hit by their largest-ever growth of algae, ocean officials say, with waves of green growth washing onto the shores.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun August 11, 2013 5:49 pm

Algae blooms are green or red or brown, slimy, smelly and you don't want it coming soon to a waterfront near you.

Most of us don't give a lot of thought to algae until the furry-like monstrosity is spreading over beaches, rivers, lakes and bays, but gigantic algae blooms have become an increasing problem around the world.

The danger algae blooms pose is that they sap the body of water where they are growing of nutrients and oxygen; they then die, decompose and rot.

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Food
7:10 am
Sun August 11, 2013

With Ice Cubes, The Larger The Better

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 2:09 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. It is August. Chances are where you are it's hot. So, maybe you want a drink to cool off. Will it be fruity or fizzy, maybe boozy? Whatever it is, Dan Pashman, host of the Sporkful podcast, thinks you may be overlooking one key ingredient: the ice. He joins us now from our New York studios. Hey Dan.

DAN PASHMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.

MARTIN: So, ice. This seems like a fairly forgettable part of a beverage experience. You say, no. Why?

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