Science & Environment

Environment
6:13 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Gulf Coast States Get Creative With BP Oil Spill Money

Tourists watch as workers clean oil from the sand along a strip of oil that washed up on the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala., in 2010 after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the Louisiana coast.
Dave Martin AP

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 11:29 am

Gulf Coast states are lining up to spend $1 billion from BP on coastal restoration. The money is part of BP's legal responsibility to restore the Gulf of Mexico's natural resources in the aftermath of the worst oil disaster in U.S. history.

But the nature of some of the state projects, including boat ramps and a beachfront hotel, is raising questions about just what counts as coastal restoration.

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The Two-Way
5:25 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Wal-Mart To Pay $81 Million For Hazardous Waste Dumping

A photo from earlier this month taken in front of a Wal-Mart store in La Habra, Calif.
Jae C. Hong Associated Press

Wal-Mart Stores has agreed to pay $81 million in penalties as part of a guilty plea on criminal charges of improperly disposing of hazardous waste in California and Missouri.

Prosecutors said the violations occurred between 2003 and 2005 and included employees negligently dumping pollutants from stores into sanitation drains.

The Associated Press reports that the plea agreements announced Tuesday "end a nearly decade-old investigation involving more than 20 prosecutors and 32 environmental groups."

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:04 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Not Winging It, But Ringing It

YouTube

Humans do it with smoke.

Dolphins do it with air.

With a little snort, dolphins can produce a nearly perfect "air" rings, (sophisticated non-dolphins called them toroidal vortices) which they turn into underwater toys.

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Research News
4:53 am
Tue May 28, 2013

Why Do Whistle-Blowers Become Whistle-Blowers?

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 7:58 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene, good morning

Let's say you're at work and you find a document that shows your company has been giving out misleading information. Or, let's say you see a co-worker act in an abusive or unethical manner. Would you speak up? Well, social scientists have been asking why whistle-blowers become whistle-blowers.

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The Two-Way
5:17 pm
Mon May 27, 2013

Beneath A Glacier's White, Researchers See Green

The small patch in the middle of the image is Aulacomnium turgidum, a type of bryophyte plant. Researchers in the Canadian Arctic say they are surprised the bryophytes were still green, even after being covered by ice.
Courtesy of Caroline La Farge

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 8:52 am

In the news business, an evergreen is a story that doesn't have to run on a particular day, but can stay fresh for a long time.

This is an evergreen story about an evergreen. In particular, a group of plants called bryophytes. Turns out they may be evergreen quite a bit longer than most people thought.

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Author Interviews
8:33 am
Mon May 27, 2013

Questions For Barbara J. King, Author Of 'How Animals Grieve'

iStockphoto.com

Attributing human characteristics to animals makes for great cartoons, but it's not usually considered rigorous science. Now, a new book argues that animals do think and feel in ways similar to humans.

Barbara J. King is a professor of anthropology and a commentator on NPR's science blog, 13.7. And her book, How Animals Grieve, makes a powerful case for the presence of love, affection and grief in animals — from a house cat mourning her lost sister to elephants who pay respects to the bones of their matriarchs.

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The Salt
8:03 am
Mon May 27, 2013

A Hungarian Cherry Tree's Long Trek To Michigan

Amy Iezzoni of Michigan State University brought Balaton cherries to America.
Dan Charles NPR

Once upon a time, there was a small Hungarian village that was very proud of its sour cherries. The village was called Újfehértó. As in many Hungarian villages, tall cherry trees lined the streets and provided welcome shade in the summertime.

When communism came to Hungary after World War II, the government introduced big collective farms, and Hungarian scientists had to decide which cherries the farms should grow.

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Science
4:55 pm
Sun May 26, 2013

Scientists Trace Source Of Famed Irish Potato Famine

Originally published on Sun May 26, 2013 5:25 pm

We now know what caused the Irish potato famine. Scientists have pinpointed the pathogen by using plant samples collected in the mid-19th century. Weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden talks about it with the study's co-author, Sophien Kamoun of the Sainsbury Lab in the United Kingdom.

Krulwich Wonders...
6:28 am
Sat May 25, 2013

What If There's No Internet?

Vimeo

Originally published on Sat May 25, 2013 3:38 pm

I email. I search. I shop. I Facebook. I stream. I Skype. Every year I seem to do these things a little bit more. Stroke by stroke, as I slip deeper into the Internet's embrace, I find myself wondering:

"What would happen if the Internet went away?"

Can it? It was famously built to be indestructible, with no center, no hub, no "off" or "on" switch. It is, after all, a creature of the U.S. Defense Department, designed, supposedly, to survive a global war.

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The Two-Way
4:08 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Ring Nebula Is More Like A Jelly Doughnut, NASA Says

The famous Ring Nebula is shown here in striking detail, in a composite image made from images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and infrared data from telescopes on Earth.
NASA, ESA, C.R. Robert O'Dell, G.J. Ferland, W.J. Henney and M. Peimbert

The Ring Nebula, whose iconic shape and large size make it a favorite of amateur astronomers, can now be seen in new detail, after NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a sharp image of the nebula. Researchers say the new clarity reveals details that were previously unseen, and a structure that's more complex than scientists had believed.

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