Science & Environment

The Two-Way
5:41 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Descending Into The Mariana Trench: James Cameron's Odyssey

James Cameron traveled to the bottom of the Mariana Trench last year — a depth of nearly seven miles.
Courtesy of Mark Thiessen/National Geographic

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 8:44 am

At nearly seven miles below the water's surface, the Mariana Trench is the deepest spot in Earth's oceans. And the site north of Guam is where director and explorer James Cameron recently fulfilled a longtime goal of reaching the bottom in a manned craft.

For the dive, Cameron designed a 24-foot submersible vehicle, the Deepsea Challenger — "this kind of long, green torpedo that moves vertically through the water," as he tells All Things Considered's Melissa Block. Cameron was able to watch his descent, he says, through a window that was about 9-1/2 inches thick.

Read more
The Two-Way
4:10 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

NOAA Predicts Above-Average Hurricane Season

Satellite image of Hurricane Sandy in October of last year.
NOAA

With memories of last year's Superstorm Sandy still fresh, NOAA is warning East Coasters and those farther inland to brace for another active Atlantic season, predicting that as many as six major storms will develop between the beginning of June and the end of November.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:52 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Researchers Find Bird Flu Is Contagious Among Ferrets

Of ferrets, men and bird flu.
iStockphoto.com

Scientists have completed the first assessments of how readily the H7N9 flu virus in China can pass among ferrets and pigs. The mammals provide the best inkling of how dangerous these bugs may become for humans.

The news is both bad and good. They've found the new bird virus is easily passed between ferrets sharing the same cage.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:09 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Seeing Double: Errors In Stem-Cell Cloning Paper Raise Doubts

Biologist Shoukhrat Mitalipov stands outside the monkey enclosure at his lab in Oregon. He says the mistakes in his recent paper were caused by the rush to publish quickly.
Richard Clement Reuters /Landov

This feels a bit like deja vu.

Scientists report a major breakthrough in human stem-cell research. And then just a week later, the findings come under fire.

Biologists at Oregon Health & Science University said May 15 that they had cloned human embryos from a person's skin cell.

Read more
It's All Politics
3:06 am
Thu May 23, 2013

Obama Group's Climate Push Puts President Under Scrutiny

President Obama speaks at Ellicott Dredges in Baltimore on May 17. The trip followed a visit by the company's president to Capitol Hill to testify in support of the Keystone XL pipeline. The White House says Obama's speech had nothing to do with Keystone, but environmental groups have been frustrated with his stance on the issue.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 12:54 pm

Organizing for Action — a group that formed out of President Obama's re-election campaign — has posted five tweets in the past week about climate change using the @BarackObama Twitter account.

Read more
Shots - Health News
7:47 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Scientific Tooth Fairies Investigate Neanderthal Breast-Feeding

This model of a molar shows color-coded barium banding patterns that reveal weaning age.
Ian Harrowell, Christine Austin, Manish Arora Harvard School of Public Health

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 12:54 pm

When it comes to weaning, humans are weird.

Our closest relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas, breast-feed their offspring for several years. Some baby orangutans nurse until they are 7 years old.

But modern humans wean much earlier. In preindustrial societies, babies stop nursing after about two years. Which raises the question: How did we get that way? When did we make the evolutionary shift from apelike parenting to the short breast-feeding period of humans?

Read more
Science
6:40 pm
Wed May 22, 2013

The First Web Page, Amazingly, Is Lost

This computer was the first Web server. It was used by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 to develop and run the first multimedia browser and Web editor.
CERN

Given the World Wide Web's ubiquity, you might be tempted to believe that everything is online. But there's one important piece of the Web's own history that can't be found through a search engine: the very first Web page.

Now a team at the lab where the World Wide Web was invented is seeking to restore that page, and other pieces of memorabilia from the earliest moments of the http:// era. They're on the hunt for old hard drives and floppy disks that may hold missing copies of early, valuable files.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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

Ask a great inventor to invent, and that's exactly what he'll do. Sometimes the ideas pop out like cannon bursts: "consider this ... " or "maybe this?" or "Wait! How about THIS!"

Ben Franklin did that with balloons.

Read more

Pages