Science & Environment

Strange News
4:09 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Lure Of Flower's Putrid Essence Draws Crowd

Originally published on Mon July 22, 2013 9:02 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

A crowd formed today at the U.S. Botanic Garden here in Washington, D.C. It's a place to see beautiful flowers and usually ones that smell fantastic. But today, one exotic specimen on display was the opposite of that. It's the titan arum and NPR's Allison Keyes tells us people flocked to the greenhouse in hopes of getting a rare whiff of the flower's putrid essence.

ALLISON KEYES, BYLINE: From the line and the excited faces of titan arum fans hurrying down the path to the door, you'd think The Beatles were here.

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NPR Story
4:48 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Energy Standards For Ceiling Fans Spin Up D.C. Debate

Originally published on Mon July 29, 2013 11:48 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

In these dog days of summer, a ceiling fan still offers an inexpensive way to cool down - except maybe in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., where a partisan battle is heating up over efficiency standards proposed by the Obama administration. The Energy Department is in the early stages of crafting new rules to encourage the spread of ceiling fans that use less electricity, but House Republicans want to put that idea on ice. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

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Shots - Health News
3:31 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Staying Healthy May Mean Learning To Love Our Microbiomes

Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 5:07 pm

Not so long ago, most people thought that the only good microbe was a dead microbe.

But then scientists started to realize that even though some bugs can make us sick and even kill us, most don't.

In fact, in the past decade attitudes about the bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microbes living all over our bodies has almost completely turned around. Now scientists say that not only are those microbes often not harmful, we can't live without them.

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Environment
6:30 am
Sun July 21, 2013

Fighting Fire With Fire: Why Some Burns Are Good For Nature

An arborist from the Montana Conservation Corps works to clear pine trees from land in Centennial Valley, Mont.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Sun July 21, 2013 2:50 pm

Wildfires were once essential to the American West. Prairies and forests burned regularly, and those fires not only determined the mix of flora and fauna that made up the ecosystem, but they regenerated the land.

When people replaced wilderness with homes and ranches, they aggressively eliminated fire. But now, scientists are trying to bring fire back to the wilderness, to recreate what nature once did on its own.

One place they're doing this is Centennial Valley, in southwestern Montana.

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Space
5:34 pm
Sat July 20, 2013

One Small Step For Man, One Giant Lunar Park For The U.S.?

The moon, seen from the International Space Station, on July 31.
NASA

Originally published on Sat July 20, 2013 6:50 pm

Can astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's "giant leap for mankind" be permanently preserved? Two House Democrats want to do just that: They proposed a bill to create a national historic park for the Apollo 11 mission — on the moon. The legislation would designate a park on the moon to honor that first mission, as well as preserve artifacts from other lunar missions

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NPR Story
7:23 am
Sat July 20, 2013

Enlisting Passers-By In Scientific Research

Originally published on Sat July 20, 2013 4:48 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Scientific research can be expensive, but a lack of funds did not stop one scientist in Buffalo from moving forward with his project. State University of New York professor Chris Lowry came up with a creative and cheap way to get measurements on stream levels across the state by crowdsourcing his research.

Chris Lowry joins us from member station WBFO in Buffalo, New York. Professor Lowry, thank you very much for coming in.

CHRIS LOWRY: Oh, thanks for having me.

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The Two-Way
12:20 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Birds Teach The Air Force A Better Way To Fly

A pair of C-17 Globemaster IIIs on the ground at Edwards Air Force Base in California, where "vortex surfing" is being tested.
U.S. Air Force

Originally published on Fri July 19, 2013 2:36 pm

More than a century after the invention of powered flight, birds are still teaching us something about how to fly airplanes, with the Air Force studying the V-shaped formation of airborne geese as a way to save fuel.

The technical term is "vortex surfing" and it's already well-known — NASCAR drivers and Tour de France cyclists use it to "draft" off competitors.

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Space
12:03 pm
Fri July 19, 2013

Eruptions on the Sun Set Off 'Solar Tsunamis'

Two recent eruptions on the sun sent solar tsunamis sweeping across its surface. Physicist David Long reported on the tsunamis in the journal Solar Physics, and he says the waves allowed him to calculate the magnetic field of a "quiet" area on the solar surface, which is 10 times weaker than a fridge magnet.

Krulwich Wonders...
11:40 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Just Like Van Gogh, Ocean Waves Paint Clouds In The Sky

YouTube

If you can't get to a beach this weekend, you can still see waves. Just look up.

Clouds, after all, are sculpted by waves of air. These clouds, in Birmingham, Ala., were formed when two layers of air — one fast, the other slow — collided at just the right speed to create rises and dips that caused the clouds to curl in on themselves and crash, just like waves on a beach.

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