Science & Environment

The Salt
9:17 pm
Sat December 20, 2014

In Wineries Vs. Weather, Drones To The Rescue?

An unmanned aerial vehicle films vineyards in France. Drones like this one are also being used in Califiornia, as part of a broader "precision farming" movement designed to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Sami Sarkis Ocean/Corbis

Originally published on Sun December 21, 2014 1:43 pm

Tucked behind a hill in Sebastopol, Calif., with a 5,400-square-foot cave that holds some 500 barrels of wine, DRNK Wines exudes the quiet charm that a visitor might expect. But the grapes in some of the wines that are sold here are under a growing threat — which is why DRNK's winemaker, Ryan Kunde, can sometimes be seen in various vineyards testing his fleet of drones. Their mission? To one day collect aerial images that will help determine the vines' vigor, ripeness, flavor and harvest dates, which due to rising soil temperatures have inched up in Sonoma County over the past few years.

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The Salt
6:40 pm
Sat December 20, 2014

Want To Enhance The Flavor Of Your Food? Put On The Right Music

Researchers at the University of Oxford have been looking for a link between sound and taste.
iStockphoto.com

Here's an experiment: take a bite of whatever food you have nearby and listen to some music, something with high notes. Now, take another bite, but listen to something with low notes.

Notice anything?

Researchers at the University of Oxford have been looking for a link between sound and taste. They've found that higher-pitched music — think flutes — enhances the flavor of sweet or sour foods. Lower-pitched sounds, like tubas, enhance the bitter flavors.

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Animals
9:13 am
Sat December 20, 2014

A Snail So Hardcore It's Named After A Punk Rocker

This spiky mollusk is called Alviniconcha strummeri, named after Joe Strummer, the late frontman for the Clash.
Taylor & Francis Online

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 11:39 am

Shannon Johnson, a researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, found that when she talked to youngsters about sea snails, she communicated a little more effectively if she skipped the technical description and called them "punk-rock snails."

"Their entire shells are covered in spikes," Johnson explains. "And then the spikes are actually all covered in fuzzy white bacteria."

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Science
7:47 am
Sat December 20, 2014

3-D Scanning Sonar Brings Light To Deep Ocean Shipwrecks

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 11:39 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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The Two-Way
4:50 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

New EPA Standards Label Toxic Coal Ash Nonhazardous

Smoke rises from the Colstrip Steam Electric Station, a coal burning power plant in in Colstrip, Mont., in September. New EPA guidelines treat toxic coal ash from such plants much the same as common household garbage.
Matt Brown AP

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 11:58 am

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued new national standards designating coal ash — a nearly ubiquitous byproduct of coal-fired power plants that contains arsenic and lead — as nonhazardous waste.

NPR's Christopher Joyce reports that coal-fired power plants produce more than 130 million tons of the coal ash each year, and they have long stored millions of tons of it in giant ponds.

But many of those ponds have failed in recent years, allowing contaminated water to get into rivers and streams, and ultimately into drinking water.

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Shots - Health News
2:00 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

At Last, I Meet My Microbes

Lactobacillus acidophilus, which is one variety of the genus Lactobacillus is one of the common active cultures found in yogurt and in the human gut.
Scimat Scimat Getty Images/Photo Researchers

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 3:13 pm

A veritable jungle of organisms is helping keep each of us alive. But we've been rather negligent hosts. For starters, we don't even know who has shown up for the party.

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The Salt
12:00 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

How Peppermint Tricks Us Into Feeling (Deliciously) Cold

Even in the coldest months, we relish the refreshing, icy taste of peppermint — in seasonal treats like peppermint bark, peppermint schnapps, even peppermint beer.

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It's All Politics
11:38 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Advocacy Groups Tell Lawmakers To Back Off

Workers with the Pebble Mine project test-drill in July 2007 in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska near the village of Iliamma.
Al Grillo AP

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 4:00 pm

Three advocacy organizations — across ideological lines — are telling congressional investigators to back off in a probe of EPA ties to a leading environmental group, the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana are leading the investigation. They contend that NRDC lobbyists have exerted too much influence over EPA on the issues of carbon reduction and the proposed Pebble Mine at Bristol Bay, Alaska.

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Extras: TED Radio Hour
9:49 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Playlist: Science!

The TED Radio Hour gets scientific.
A.J. Rich iStock

Break out the chemistry set and safety goggles. From monkeys to microbes, TED speakers in this playlist illuminate different realms of the scientific world.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

TED Radio Hour
9:34 am
Fri December 19, 2014

Are We Wired To Be Compassionate?

"We're designed to convince ourselves that our very selective deployment of compassion is thoroughly justified" — Robert Wright
courtesy of TED

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 1:02 pm

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Just A Little Nicer.

About Robert Wright's TED Talk

Author Robert Wright says humans are not simply wired to be compassionate — we have evolved to feel compassion out of self-interest.

About Robert Wright

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