Science & Environment

Shots - Health Blog
4:07 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

Misdeeds, Not Mistakes, Behind Most Scientific Retractions

A study shows less than a quarter of retractions were the result of honest errors.
The Lancet

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 5:10 pm

When there's something really wrong with a published study, the journal can retract it, much like a carmaker recalling a flawed automobile.

But are the errors that lead to retractions honest mistakes or something more problematic?

A newly published analysis finds that more than two-thirds of biomedical papers retracted over the past four decades were the result of misconduct, not error. That's much higher than previous studies of retractions had found.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:56 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

Do You Know Where Your Children Are? Is That Always A Good Thing?

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 1:32 pm

There was a time — and it wasn't that long ago — when kids would leave home on a summer morning and roam free. "I knew kids who were pushed out the door at eight in the morning," writes Bill Bryson of his childhood in the 1950s, "and not allowed back until five unless they were on fire or actively bleeding." That's what kids did. They went out. Parents let them, and everybody did it. "If you stood on any corner with a bike — any corner anywhere — more than a hundred children, many of whom you had never seen before, would appear and ask you where you were going," Bryson writes.

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Science
5:07 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

A Tiny Ocean World With A Mighty Important Future

Plankton make up 98 percent of the biomass of ocean life and provide half of the oxygen on the planet. Scientists are working to figure out how climate change may be affecting these important microorganisms.
M. Ormestad Tara Oceans

Originally published on Sun September 30, 2012 7:11 pm

As you take in your next breath of air, you can thank a form of microscopic marine life known as plankton.

They are so small as to be invisible, but taken together, actually dwarf massive creatures like whales. Plankton make up 98 percent of the biomass of ocean life.

"This invisible forest generates half of the oxygen generated on the planet," Chris Bowler, a marine biologist, tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered.

And, as climate change alters the temperature and acidity of our waters, this mysterious ocean world may be in jeopardy.

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Shots - Health Blog
1:09 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

On The Road: Reporting On Lead Poisoning In Nigeria

Four-wheel drive is no match for the mud on the road to a gold mine in northern Nigeria.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 4:20 pm

If you want to witness the health consequences of unsafe gold mining in northwestern Nigeria, the first thing you have to do is get to the mines

There's a crisis of severe lead poisoning near the mines that's killed hundreds of children and made thousands more sick.

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Science
7:31 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Scientist Cleared In Polar Bear Controversy

Polar bears in the Beaufort Sea in northern Alaska. Scientist Charles Monnett caused a stir with a 2006 report on polar bears that were drowning, apparently owing to a lack of ice.
Steve Amstrup Fish and Wildlife Service

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 7:56 pm

A long, controversial investigation of a polar bear scientist has ended with his government employer saying it does not look like he engaged in any scientific misconduct.

Charles Monnett is a wildlife researcher with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, part of the Department of the Interior. He and a colleague, Jeffrey Gleason, wrote an influential 2006 report describing apparently drowned polar bears floating in the Arctic, which they saw during a routine aerial survey of whales.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:50 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Holy Bat Virus! Genome Hints At Origin Of SARS-Like Virus

Bats harbor many types of coronaviruses and were probably the original source of the new coronavirus that appeared in the Middle East.
iStockphoto.com

On the surface, the new coronavirus detected in the Middle East this month looks quite similar to SARS. It apparently causes severe respiratory problems, and can be lethal.

But with viruses, the devil is in their details — the genetic details.

Dutch virologists have just published the whole genome of the new coronavirus — all 30,118 letters of its code. And, the sequence reveals that the mystery virus is most closely related to coronaviruses that infect bats in Southeast Asia.

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The Picture Show
2:40 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Illuminating The Underworld In A Deep, Dark French Cave

Cavers cross Lake Cadoux in a small dingy inside the Gouffre Berger cave. A 4-meter-deep (approximately 13 feet) pool of water blocks the way forward through the Starless River.
Courtesy of Robbie Shone

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 11:11 am

Photographer Robbie Shone used a lot of flashbulbs while photographing the famous French cave Gouffre Berger. A lot of flashbulbs — more than 600 in four trips.

To get an idea of the challenge of photographing inside a pitch black space, imagine firing your flash at a subject in a dark room. The result might look something like this. The foreground is harshly lit, while the background stays dark.

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The Salt
1:59 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Grieving Pet Owners Want Imported Dog Treats Pulled From Shelves

Rita Desollar believes chicken jerky treats imported from China killed her German shepherd, Heidi.
Rita Desollar

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 4:52 pm

The Food and Drug Administration isn't sure, but Rita Desollar of Pekin, Ill., feels she knows what killed Heidi, her 7-year-old German shepherd. She feels it was the chicken jerky strips she bought at her local Walgreen's.

Desollar says on the Wednesday before Memorial Day, she gave two pieces of Waggin' Train jerky to Heidi as a treat. A few days later, Heidi was throwing up and "in a lot of distress," she says. By the time the holiday rolled around on Monday, Desollar says, Heidi was convulsing in her bed. She died that day, before Desollar could even take her to the vet.

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NPR Story
12:04 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Fires And Invasive Grass Threaten American West

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 2:02 pm

Cheatgrass, an invasive weed, is choking out native sagebrush in the Great Basin--and setting the stage for hotter, more catastrophic fires there. Jen Pierce, an expert on ancient fires, and Mike Pellant, of the Great Basin Restoration Initiative, talk about how fires are reshaping landscapes in the American West.

NPR Story
12:04 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Ice Age Co-Stars: Horses, Camels And Cheetahs

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 1:59 pm

Mammoths and saber-toothed cats may be the most famous beasts of the Ice Age. But they shared the prairie with horses and camels, too--both of which evolved in North America and crossed the ice bridge into Eurasia, before disappearing here. Matthew Kohn and Christopher Hill talk about the lesser-known fauna of the Ice Age.

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