Science & Environment

TED Radio Hour
10:00 am
Fri March 8, 2013

How Can We Defend Earth From Asteroids?

Phil Plait knows the secrets to avoiding a big asteroid catastrophe.
Courtesy of TED

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 10:24 am

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Peering Into Space.

About Phil Plait's TED Talk

What's six miles wide and can end civilization in an instant? An asteroid — and there are lots of them out there. With humor and great visuals, Phil Plait enthralls the TEDxBoulder audience with all the ways asteroids can kill, and what we must do to avoid them.

About Phil Plait

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TED Radio Hour
10:00 am
Fri March 8, 2013

How Did A Mistake Unlock One Of Space's Mysteries?

Nobel Prize winner Saul Perlmutter explains part of his research in astrophysics.
Kimberly White/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 10:50 am

Part 1 of TED Radio Hour episode Peering Into Space.

Physicist Brian Greene explains how the prevailing theories about the fabric of space changed dramatically in the last century — twice. The most recent shift in thinking came about from a strange mistake, and revealed hidden truths about the nature of our universe. Later in this episode, Greene talks more about why this discovery hints at the existence of other universes.

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Environment
2:23 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Past Century's Global Temperature Change Is Fastest On Record

Scientists say they have put together a record of global temperatures dating back to the end of the last ice age, about 11,000 years ago. This historical artwork of the last ice age was made by Swiss geologist and naturalist Oswald Heer.
Oswald Heer Science Source

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 10:40 pm

There's plenty of evidence that the climate has warmed up over the past century, and climate scientists know this has happened throughout the history of the planet. But they want to know more about how this warming is different.

Now a research team says it has some new answers. It has put together a record of global temperatures going back to the end of the last ice age — about 11,000 years ago — when mammoths and saber-tooth cats roamed the planet. The study confirms that what we're seeing now is unprecedented.

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The Salt
5:20 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

If Caffeine Can Boost The Memory Of Bees, Can It Help Us, Too?

Adam Cole/NPR iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 6:13 pm

Who knew that the flower nectar of citrus plants — including some varieties of grapefruit, lemon and oranges — contains caffeine? As does the nectar of coffee plant flowers.

And when honeybees feed on caffeine-containing nectar, it turns out, the caffeine buzz seems to improve their memories — or their motivations for going back for more.

"It is surprising," says Geraldine Wright at Newcastle University in the the U.K., the lead researcher of a new honeybee study published in the journal Science.

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Shots - Health News
2:47 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

To Make Mice Smarter, Add A Few Human Brain Cells

These drawings by Santiago Ramon y Cajal, published in 1899, show cortex neurons.
Santiago Ramon y Cajal Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 6:13 pm

For more than a century, neurons have been the superstars of the brain. Their less glamorous partners, glial cells, can't send electric signals, and so they've been mostly ignored.

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Energy
3:07 am
Thu March 7, 2013

BP Bows Out Of Solar, But Industry Outlook Still Sunny

As BP leaves the solar industry, Asian countries such as China are taking a lead role in production.
Xinhua News Agency AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 12:50 pm

The solar energy business is growing quickly, but future growth will not include oil giant BP.

At the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, BP's CEO made it clear the company is done with solar.

"We have thrown in the towel on solar," Bob Dudley said after delivering a wide-ranging speech Wednesday.

"Not that solar energy isn't a viable energy source, but we worked at it for 35 years, and we really never made money," he added.

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The Salt
2:59 am
Thu March 7, 2013

In A Grain Of Golden Rice, A World Of Controversy Over GMO Foods

Genetically modified to be enriched with beta-carotene, golden rice grains (left) are a deep yellow. At right, white rice grains.
Isagani Serrano International Rice Research Institute

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 10:44 am

There's a kind of rice growing in some test plots in the Philippines that's unlike any rice ever seen before. It's yellow. Its backers call it "golden rice." It's been genetically modified so that it contains beta-carotene, the source of vitamin A.

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Animals
4:30 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Modern Camels Can Be Traced To Giant Creatures That Once Roamed Canada

Researchers have discovered the remains of a giant camel in the far northern arctic regions of Canada. Scientists say today's modern can trace their origins back to these Canadian camels. Melissa Block speaks with scientist Natalia Rybczynski who wrote about the findings in the online journal Nature Communications.

Shots - Health News
4:30 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Hear That? In A Din Of Voices, Our Brains Can Tune In To One

Scientists say that understanding how the cocktail party effect works could help people who have trouble deciphering sounds in a noisy environment. Guests make it look easy at a Dolce and Gabbana Lounge party in London in 2010.
Paul Jeffers AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 11:49 am

Scientists are beginning to understand how people tune in to a single voice in a crowded, noisy room.

This ability, known as the "cocktail party effect," appears to rely on areas of the brain that have completely filtered out unwanted sounds, researchers report in the journal Neuron. So when a person decides to focus on a particular speaker, other speakers "have no representation in those [brain] areas," says Elana Zion Golumbic of Columbia University.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:54 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Neil Tyson Pounds The Table, Demanding A Future, Now!

Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

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