Science & Environment

Space
12:42 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Could Life Exist on Newfound Alien Planet?

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 1:08 pm

In a paper to be published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, researchers identified five possible planets around the star Tau Ceti. One of these alien worlds is within the star's habitable zone. Study co-author Steven Vogt discusses whether life could exist on the planet.

NPR Story
12:02 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

The SciFri Book Club Tours 'The Planets'

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 1:08 pm

The SciFri Book Club is touring the solar system, with Dava Sobel's 2005 The Planets. Call in with a review of the book. Plus Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA, joins the club to give an update on what's happened planet-wise since the book was published.

NPR Story
12:02 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Birding for the Holidays

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 1:08 pm

The Audubon's 113th Christmas Bird Count is underway, and thousands of volunteers are taking part this year. Ornithologist David Bonter, and Gary Langham, Audubon's chief scientist, share tips on which species to look out for, and how even birding beginners can get involved.

NPR Story
12:02 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Stem Cells Treat Lou Gehrig's Disease, In Mice

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 1:08 pm

Reporting in Science Translational Medicine, researchers write that neural stem cell implants were able to slow the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, in mice. Study author Evan Snyder discusses the stem cells' protective effect, and why human trials may not be far behind.

Research News
3:52 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Why Some Kids Have An Inflated Sense Of Their Science Skills

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 8:49 pm

If you're a student at the halfway point of the academic year, and you've just taken stock of your performance, perhaps you have reason to feel proud of yourself.

But a recent study suggests some of the pride you feel at having done well — especially in science — may be unfounded. Or at least your sense of your performance may not be a very accurate picture of how good you actually are.

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The Salt
3:21 am
Fri December 21, 2012

Drought, Economics And Your Holiday Feast

Think your prime rib holiday dinner is more pricey this year? You're right. But maybe not for the reason you think.
Todd Patterson iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am

Nobody really wants to think about economics, the famously dismal science, while sitting down at a table loaded with love and calories. Like it or not, though, supply and demand drive food production and set the price of dinner.

So, in a season of feasts, what are the business stories on your holiday menu?

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Space
4:58 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

In Calif. Gold Country, A Rush That's Out Of This World

A section of the Sutter's Mill meteorite, dubbed "Darth Vader," is studied at a lab at the University of California, Davis. The meteorite is made of carbonaceous chondrite, which contains materials that formed the planets of the solar system.
UC Davis

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

On the crisp, clear morning of April 22, a 50-ton asteroid slammed into the Earth's atmosphere and shattered into countless pieces. Remarkably, they rained down onto Sutter's Mill, Calif., the exact spot where gold was discovered back in 1848, triggering the gold rush. And so follows a story of serendipity and scientific discovery.

"I was out on my hillside burning some branches and so forth, and I heard this sonic boom," says Gold Country resident Ed Allen. "It wasn't just one boom. It was a series of booms, literally right over my head."

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Energy
4:58 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Next In Line For A Fracking Boom, California Looks At The Rules

Most hydraulic fracturing in California is done to extract to oil in areas like this field in Kern County. The state is drafting fracking regulations for the first time.
Craig Miller KQED

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

The controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing has created an oil and gas boom around the country. In states like Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado, there's been heated debate about rules that protect groundwater and public health.

California is now wading into that arena with the release of the state's first fracking regulations. The state's earthquake-prone geology, however, could bring particular concerns.

Fracking itself isn't new. The technology behind it, though, has changed.

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The Salt
4:02 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Big Food And The Big, Silent Salt Experiment

Food companies have begun quietly reducing salt in regular foods because low-salt items like these don't sell as well.
Mel Evans AP

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

Have you noticed, perhaps, that some of your store-bought salad dressings or spaghetti sauces taste a little less salty lately?

Probably not. The companies that make those products are doing their best to keep you from noticing. Yet many of them are, in fact, carrying out a giant salt-reduction experiment, either because they want to improve their customers' health or because they're worried that if they don't, the government might impose regulations that would compel more onerous salt reductions.

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The Picture Show
2:02 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

An (Amazing) Interactive Tour Of Everest

David Breashears GlacierWorks

Wow. Photographer David Breashears and his team at GlacierWorks are working on an interactive tour of Mount Everest. Basically, you start with a wide view, then click any of the hot spots — or little green boxes — and off you go.

That's all I'll say. Just go look at it and you'll see what I mean.

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