Science & Environment

The Picture Show
5:12 am
Fri March 15, 2013

It's Called 'De-Extinction' — It's Like 'Jurassic Park,' Except It's Real

The bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex, lived high in the Pyrenees until its extinction in 2000. Three years later, researchers attempted to clone Celia, the last bucardo. The clone died minutes after birth. Taxidermic specimen, Regional Government of Aragon, Spain
Robb Kendrick National Geographic

Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 9:30 am

Sorry to disappoint, but science writer Carl Zimmer says we're not going to bring back dinosaurs. But, he says, "science has developed to the point where we can actually talk seriously about possibly bringing back more recently extinct species."

It's called "de-extinction" — and it's Zimmer's cover story for National Geographic's April issue.

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Science
5:27 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

'God Particle' Discovery Disappoints Some Physicists

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 6:49 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Scientists in Switzerland have reinforced a huge discovery they announced last summer. They said today that they've almost certainly found the Higgs particle, the long-sought missing link that helps explain the basic nature of our universe. This firms up similar results they unveiled with great fanfare in July.

But NPR's Richard Harris reports, it's actually disappointing news for some scientists.

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Environment
4:34 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

As His Home Melts Away, Teenager Sues Alaska

Nelson Kanuk, a senior at Mt. Edgecumbe High School, is one of six Alaskan youth suing the state, asking it to pay more attention to climate change.
Ed Ronco for NPR

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 6:49 pm

Nelson Kanuk's house is built on a melting tundra. In a year or two, it could be gone.

So the 18-year-old Yup'ik Eskimo is suing the state of Alaska, arguing the state needs to take more action on climate change.

"The river that runs in front of my house is called the Kugkaktlik River, and it means 'the middle one' in the Yup'ik language," Kanuk says.

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The Two-Way
12:33 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Monarch Butterfy Population Falls To Record Low, Mexican Scientists Say

Monarch butterflies in December 2008 at the Sierra del Chincua sanctuary in Angangueo, in the Mexican state of Michoacan.
Mario Vazquez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 2:47 pm

Monarch butterflies that once covered 50 square acres of forest during their summer layover in central Mexico now occupy fewer than 3 acres, according to the latest census.

The numbers of the orange-and-black butterflies have crashed in the two decades since scientists began making a rough count of them, according to Mexico's National Commission of Natural Protected Areas.

At a news conference Wednesday, the commission said the count was down 59 percent from December 2011 levels, when the insects filled 7.14 acres of fir trees in central Mexico.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:39 am
Thu March 14, 2013

Let's Get Literal: Calculating Pi With Pies. Actual Pies

YouTube

Today is March 14, or "3/14," the first three digits of Pi. It's a day celebrated around the (geek) world as "Pi Day." Pi, of course, is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. It was first recorded by Archimedes, but you can replicate his discovery in all kinds of ways.

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The Two-Way
10:03 am
Thu March 14, 2013

'God Particle' Update: Scientists Think They've Pinned Down The Higgs Boson

This is what researchers at the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider expect a Higgs boson to look like. The Higgs boson is the subatomic particle that scientists say gives everything in the universe mass.
ATLAS Experiment/CERN

"Scientists working with data from a large particle accelerator in Europe are now almost certain they have pinned down the elusive sub-atomic particle known as the Higgs Boson," NPR's Joe Palca tells our Newscast Desk.

Or, as it's also known, the "God Particle" (more on that moniker below).

Joe reports that:

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The Salt
5:13 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

Sorry, But Bananas Won't Calm Your Caffeine Jitters

Some baristas swear that bananas can cure your coffee jitters, but the science just doesn't add up.
Daniel M.N. Turner NPR

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 9:43 am

It happens to the best of us. You drink one too many cups of coffee and, for the next few hours, you end up acting like a hyper preschooler who just can't sit still.

Which can be pretty inconvenient if it's, say, noon and you're at the office, or if it's midnight and you can't fall asleep.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were something quick and easy that you could take to combat the effects of over-caffeination? Something like ... a banana?

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Europe
1:59 pm
Wed March 13, 2013

German Prince Plans To Put Bison Back In The Wild

European bison, or wisents, keep a safe distance from human visitors to their enclosure on the property of Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg in Germany's densely populated state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson NPR

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 5:17 pm

A small herd of European bison will soon be released in Germany's most densely populated state, the first time in nearly three centuries that these bison — known as wisents — will roam freely in Western Europe.

The project is the brainchild of Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. He owns more than 30,000 acres, much of it covered in Norwegian spruce and beech trees in North Rhine-Westphalia.

For the 78-year-old logging magnate, the planned April release of the bull, five cows and two calves will fulfill a decade-old dream.

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The Salt
6:24 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Can Dunkin' Donuts Really Turn Its Palm Oil Green?

Dunkin' Donuts plans to go green by committing to purchasing all of its palm oil from sustainable sources.
Andrew Huff/via Flickr

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 7:13 pm

Dunkin' Donuts is changing its recipes — though you may not notice much difference the next time you bite into a cruller. In response to pressure from one of New York's top elected officials, the company recently announced that it will set a goal of using only 100 percent sustainable palm oil in making its donuts.

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Animals
4:45 pm
Tue March 12, 2013

Quick Brown Fox Can't Find Camouflaged Quail Eggs

Researchers wanted to know if Japanese quail were aware of the colors and patterns on their eggs.
Courtesy of Lovell et al.

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 1:57 am

It's almost spring, and for many animals, warmer weather means it's time to find a mate. If you're a bird, finding that mate means a new clutch of eggs won't be far behind.

But keeping those eggs safe until they hatch can be a challenge, especially if you're a Japanese quail — a small ground-nesting bird that counts foxes among its predators.

The eggs of Coturnix japonica are tiny — not much bigger than a quarter. They're off-white or tan in color, with darker speckles.

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