Science & Environment

Krulwich Wonders...
12:40 pm
Mon February 11, 2013

The Egg Makes Its Move In A New Version Of Which Came First: The Chicken Or the Egg?

Robert Krulwich NPR

Which came first? I just bumped into a new take on this old puzzler.

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Energy
5:26 am
Mon February 11, 2013

U.S. Natural Gas Exports Stirs Debate

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 11:41 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, tomorrow President Obama delivers his State of the Union address, and may well discuss energy, as he did four years ago. But energy analyst Sarah Ladislaw says a daunting goal is getting trickier.

SARAH LADISLAW: This administration did not come in with small plans for energy markets or for energy policy. Their big plan was to try and de-carbonize the energy sector.

INSKEEP: Reduce carbon emissions by relying less on coal, oil and gas.

LADISLAW: Primarily done for the purpose of battling climate change.

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Space
4:58 pm
Sun February 10, 2013

Want To Create A Space Symphony? Wait For A Solar Storm

In photo from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, a major solar eruption is shown in progress Oct. 29, 2003. A large coronal mass ejection is being hurled toward the Earth.
NASA Getty Images

In 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick evokes the immense and powerful nature of outer space with Richard Strauss' score, Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

The music is now inextricably linked to the idea of space exploration. But what if, instead, you could create music from solar eruptions?

That's exactly what sonification specialist Robert Alexander does.

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Space
4:49 pm
Sun February 10, 2013

To Infinity And Beyond: Would-Be Astronauts Keep Faith In Uncertain Era

A child poses for a picture in front of an astronaut space suit at the Kennedy Space Center on the eve of the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour July 14, 2009 in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Sun February 10, 2013 4:58 pm

Space exploration has stirred imaginations and piloted hopes and dreams, but the future of space travel looks very different from the age in which Neil Armstrong made it to the moon.

Since NASA is no longer doing manned missions, astronaut hopefuls have turned their sites on the private sector.

Private Adventurism

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Environment
5:03 am
Sun February 10, 2013

Is The Earth Cooking Up A Super Volcano?

Plosky Tolbachnik volcano erupts in Russia's Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula on Jan. 6, 2013. It's not a so-called "super volcano," but every million years or so scientists say the Earth burps up volcanoes that can erupt for thousands of years.
Alexander Petrov AP

Originally published on Sun February 10, 2013 8:38 am

Every few million years or so, the Earth burps up a gargantuan volcano.

These aren't like volcanoes in our lifetimes; these "super volcanoes" can erupt continuously for thousands of years. While they might be rare, you'd best look out when one hits.

The ash and volcanic gases from these volcanoes can wipe out most living things over large parts of the planet. Michael Thorne, a seismologist at the University of Utah, has some clues about what causes these big eruptions.

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NPR Story
5:02 pm
Sat February 9, 2013

Vultures Beware: Virginia Town Targets Flock Of Unwanted Visitors

Turkey vulture droppings can strip paint, kill grass and sicken pets. The droppings also smell really bad.
Holly Kuchera iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 7:34 am

It sounds like a horror story: Every few years, usually in the winter months, residents of the town of Leesburg, Va., come home from work to find their backyards overrun with turkey vultures. Not just a few birds, but hundreds of them. Everywhere.

Lt. Jeff Dube is with the town's police department. For a whole week, he spent every evening driving around town, looking for the latest vulture hotspots.

"They like Leesburg. There's really no rhyme or reason. Every three to five years they come back en mass, like this year, 2- to 300," Dube says.

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Krulwich Wonders...
4:59 am
Sat February 9, 2013

Yes, Cats Know How To Fall On Their Feet. But These Guys Do It Better

Agence Nature Science Source

The champ has met its challenger.

Drop a cat and it will swing its head to a horizontal, rearrange its rear, arch its back, splay its legs, and — amazingly often — land on its feet.

This is what cats do. They're famous for it. But now they have a rival.

This is an aphid.

Aphids spend their days sucking sap from leaves. Those leaves can be high off the ground. "High" of course, being a relative term, but think of it this way: Five feet high up is 381 aphids tall. Which is why things get so dicey when a ladybug comes by.

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Around the Nation
5:06 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Growing University Highlights Connecticut's Water Woes

The expanding University of Connecticut is looking at the Farmington River as a water source, but some say recent weather fluctuation paints an uncertain picture for the river.
Neena Satija WNPR

Originally published on Fri February 8, 2013 11:03 pm

Lack of water supply isn't just an issue in hot spots like Texas, Colorado and the Mississippi; it has also become a problem in the Northeast, where rivers are drying out in the summers and infrastructure developments are competing more for resources.

One of the area's biggest public universities, the University of Connecticut, needs more water. But plans to obtain it are generating controversy in a region where the availability of water is becoming more and more unpredictable.

The Water Source

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Technology
1:16 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Automakers Drive Towards Hydrogen Cars

Toyota and BMW have formed an alliance to work on fuel cell cars. So have Daimler, Ford, and Nissan, with hopes of having cars on the road by 2017. But why now, and what obstacles still stand in the way? Jennifer Kurtz discusses the current state of hydrogen fuel technology.

NPR Story
12:57 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Tracking Privacy and Ownership In An Online World

Originally published on Mon February 11, 2013 1:03 pm

Transcript

JOE PALCA, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY; I'm Joe Palca. Do you ever get the feeling you're being watched? These days if you're not careful, your phone knows where you are, and there's a good chance somebody else does, too. Or you've noticed that the ads on sites you visit are starting to look a little too personalized, like how did they know I was planning a vacation to New Orleans.

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