Science & Environment

Space
5:24 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Scientist Find Nearest Planet Outside Solar System

An artist's impression shows a planet, right, orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B, center, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth.
ESO/L. Calcada AP

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 3:37 pm

Scientists say they have detected the nearest planet outside of our solar system, an alien world about the size of Earth that's orbiting a star called Alpha Centauri B.

Imaginary planets in the Alpha Centauri star system have been a staple of science fiction for decades. That's because the three stars in this system—Alpha Centauri A, B, and C—are only about four light years from our Sun. That's far away, but it's still closer than everything else beyond our solar system, so Alpha Centauri has long been a tempting destination for storytellers who dream of interstellar travel.

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The Salt
4:00 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Test Your Food IQ: Do We Need More Farms To Grow Fruits And Veggies For All?

Orchards like this one in Adams County, PA, and other U.S. farms face worldwide competition for their apples and apple products due to imports.
Brad C. Bower AP

Think you're part of the food-literati? True or false: 13 million more acres of farmland would be required to produce enough fruit and vegetables for the daily diets of all Americans to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition guidelines.

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Solve This
2:00 pm
Wed October 17, 2012

Climate Politics: It's Laugh Lines Vs. 'Not A Joke'

This Sept. 16 image released by NASA shows the amount of summer sea ice in the Arctic, at center in white, and the 1979 to 2000 average extent for the day shown, with the yellow line. Scientists say sea ice in the Arctic shrank to an all-time low of 1.32 million square miles on Sept. 16, smashing old records for the critical climate indicator.
NASA AP

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 12:11 pm

Scientists view climate change as one of the world's most pressing long-term problems. But the issue has barely surfaced in the U.S. presidential race. President Obama has taken steps to address climate change during his time in office. Republican challenger Mitt Romney would not make it a priority in his administration.

In fact, as Romney stood on the stage to accept his nomination at the Republican National Convention, he used global warming as a laugh line.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:02 am
Wed October 17, 2012

Tough Old Lizard To Face Grave Romantic Troubles, Say Scientists

Courtesy of Piotr Naskrecki

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 11:44 am

Oh, dear.

First off, this lizard? It's not really a lizard. It's an almost vanished species, a reptile like no other.

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Shots - Health News
10:38 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Teenage Brains Are Malleable And Vulnerable, Researchers Say

Brain scans are showing researchers why it's important to treat problems like depression in teens.
iStockphoto.com

Adolescent brains have gotten a bad rap, according to neuroscientists.

It's true that teenage brains can be impulsive, scientists reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans. But adolescent brains are also vulnerable, dynamic and highly responsive to positive feedback, they say.

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The Two-Way
12:29 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

NOAA: Around World, September Tied Record For Warmest Temperatures

The redder the shading, the further above average were the temperatures in September.
NOAA's National Climatic Data Center

This chart offers another perspective on just how warm it was around the world last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says.

The agency has been keeping records since 1880 and the "average combined global land and ocean surface temperature for September 2012 tied with 2005 as the warmest September on record."

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:43 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Be Nice To The Moon. Stop Writing On It

Kathy Lynch via Panoramio

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 12:09 pm

Dot

Dash

Dot

Dash

This is the moon as Morse code.

Beautiful, yes, but not right. The moon isn't a dot. It's too elegant, too pale, too ghostly to be a bit of "information." It's got moods, changes, and on certain nights it's got a man on it, with eyes and a mouth, and yet some people treat the moon as if it's something you can write on.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:29 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Spray Lights Up The Chemical That Causes Poison Ivy Rash

Urushiol, the chemical in poison ivy, is also harvested from the Japanese lacquer tree to coat lacquerware. Here, a rash caused by lacquerware that likely was not properly cured.
Kenji Kabashima

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 2:17 pm

You'd think that someone who is a science correspondent and is as allergic to poison ivy as I am would have heard of urushiol, but no. I didn't recognize the word when I saw it a week or so ago. Now, thanks to my new beat (Joe's Big Idea), I'm allowed to dig a little deeper into stories, and what I learned about urushiol is pretty amazing.

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Shots - Health Blog
3:28 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Doctors Strike Mutating Bacteria In Teen Acne Battle

A tiny bacteriophage virus can cripple the bacteria that cause troublesome acne on teens' skin.
Charles Bowman University of Pittsburgh

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 7:59 am

Acne, the scourge of many an adolescent life, is getting harder to treat, but 80 percent of teenagers have some form of it.

Conventional treatment includes topical and oral antibiotics. Studies are now finding the bacteria that cause acne are increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatment. Alternatively, there are effective laser treatments. But these are costly and typically not covered by insurance.

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It's All Politics
4:09 pm
Sun October 14, 2012

On The Campaign Trail, Regulations Dominate The Environmental Debate

Smoke rises from the stacks of the La Cygne Generating Station coal-fired power plant in La Cygne, Kan. President Obama's regulation of the coal industry has come under fire from his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.
Charlie Riedel AP

Originally published on Sun October 14, 2012 5:02 pm

In previous elections, candidates from both parties have campaigned on pledges to be environmental presidents. This time, neither candidate is talking much about cleaning up the air or protecting scenic lands.

Instead, the debate has focused on whether and how much environmental regulations hurt businesses, especially the energy industry.

Mostly it's been GOP candidate Mitt Romney criticizing President Obama for what he sees as overzealous environmental regulations that strangle the economic recovery.

Environmental Rules

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