Science & Environment

Shots - Health News
3:57 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Perfection Is Skin Deep: Everyone Has Flawed Genes

When researchers looked at the genetic sequences of 179 individuals, they found far more defects in the patterns of As, Ts, Gs, and Cs than they expected.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 10:19 pm

We all know that nobody's perfect. But now scientists have documented that fact on a genetic level.

Researchers discovered that normal, healthy people are walking around with a surprisingly large number of mutations in their genes.

It's been well known that everyone has flaws in their DNA, though, for the most part, the defects are harmless. It's been less clear, however, just how many mistakes are lurking in someone's genes.

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The Salt
12:29 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Fruitfly Nose Says Steer Clear Of Deadly Food, Human Nose Not So Reliable

Now we know why we'll never see a common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) sitting on a beet.
Jan Polabinski iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 4:10 pm

The earthy smell of a fresh beet may spark delicious thoughts for us, but for a fruit fly, that smell screams danger.

Geosmin, a naturally occurring chemical that gives beets, fresh soil and corked wine their distinctive smell, is also cranked out by bacteria deadly to fruit flies. And it turns out that the tiny flies have a direct pathway from nose to brain made just to detect that smell — and avoid the toxic microbes that produce it.

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The Salt
9:57 am
Thu December 6, 2012

Hours After A Meal, It's The Memory That Matters

In an experiment, people who saw a picture of a big bowl of soup before eating lunch were less hungry a few hours later than those who saw a smaller bowl, regardless of how much they ate at the meal.
stuart burford photography iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 1:50 pm

It's no surprise that how much a person eats determines how full they feel right after a meal. But it's the memory of that meal, and not the meal itself, that matters a couple of hours later. So does this mean you trick yourself into thinness? Probably not. But it does tell us something about the role that manipulating memory may play in calorie intake.

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Shots - Health News
3:32 am
Thu December 6, 2012

Why It's Easier To Scam The Elderly

Fraud victims are more likely to have opened official-looking sweepstakes notices and other mailings. A new study says the elderly are more susceptible than the young to being swindled.
Allen Breed AP

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 4:23 pm

Lots of scams come by phone or by mail, but when the scam artist is right in front of you, researchers say the clues are in the face.

"A smile that is in the mouth but doesn't go up to the eyes, an averted gaze, a backward lean" are some of the ways deception may present itself, says Shelley Taylor, a psychologist at UCLA.

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Environment
4:47 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

In Arid West, Cheatgrass Turns Fires Into Infernos

The Constantina Fire burning in Long Valley, Calif., in 2010, very likely started in cheatgrass.
Courtesy of Nolan Preece

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 6:36 pm

Cheatgrass is about as Western as cowboy boots and sagebrush. It grows in yellowish clumps, about knee high to a horse, and likes arid land.

One thing cheatgrass does is burn — in fact, more easily than anyone realized. That's the conclusion from a new study that says cheatgrass is making Western wildfires worse.

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The Picture Show
4:11 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

New NASA Images Show The Earth's Electric Light Show

Northern Africa
Suomi NPP Satellite NASA Earth Observatory

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 9:44 am

"The night is nowhere as dark as we might think."

That's the word from Mitch Goldberg, program scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's Joint Polar Satellite System. Together with NASA, scientists have unveiled a new composite, cloud-free image of our planet at night.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:26 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Strange Looking Tombstone Tells Of Moving Ice, Ancient Climates And A Restless Mind

Encyclopaedia Britannica UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 12:39 pm

With glaciers melting and crumbling all over the world, let me tell you the story of the man who first imagined ice ages, the man buried under this stone in Cambridge, Mass. It's an odd gravestone; a rough, clumpy hunk of granite that doesn't look at all like the other markers at Mt. Auburn Cemetery.

That's because it isn't. It's an erratic. A single stone found sitting downhill from a glacier in Switzerland that was lifted, packed, shipped to all the way to Massachusetts to honor this man.

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Mental Health
2:18 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

The Challenges Of Treating Personality Disorders

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 3:33 pm

Personality disorders represent some of the most challenging and mysterious problems in the field of mental health. People suffering from antisocial personality disorder or obsessive compulsive personality disorder are often misdiagnosed. The effects on the sufferers and their families can be wrenching.

Krulwich Wonders...
11:47 am
Tue December 4, 2012

New Superhero, 3,200 Years Old, Turns Air Into Wood Superfast

Robert Krulwich NPR

This is for you, Martina Navratilova, for you, Nolan Ryan, for you, Methuselah, for you, Jimmy Carter, and for all of you reading this if you're on the "wrong" side of 50 but still pumping. This week, we've got ourselves a role model, a poster boy for robust old age.

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Space
5:03 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

NASA Scientists 'Very Careful' With New Mars Data

This photo, taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, shows Mars' Gale Crater, where the rover has taken samples for chemical analysis. Scientists believe that at some point in the very distant past, there was a riverbed here.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 6:22 pm

NASA is finally receiving data on Martian soil samples from Curiosity, its rover currently traversing the red planet. The results from the soil samples hint at something exciting, but rover scientists are making very sure not to raise expectations.

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