Science & Environment

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

The Biology Of Birds Of Prey

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 3:30 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Up next, the biology of raptors, moving from giant animals to the birds, we're going to talk about here in Boise. Just outside of town is the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. And that park has one of the highest concentrations of nesting raptors in the world, more than 20 different birds of prey, including golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, screech owls.

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NPR Story
12:04 pm
Fri September 28, 2012

Analysing The Evidence On DNA

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 1:57 pm

When police find DNA at a crime scene, the amount and how it's handled are crucial components in solving a case. Greg Hampikian, Director of the Idaho Innocence Project, discusses the use and misuse of DNA analysis, and why he says all DNA evidence is not created equal.

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.

Krulwich Wonders...
10:37 am
Fri September 28, 2012

The Best College Prank Of The 1790s (With Bats, Poop & Grass)

Benjamin Arthur for NPR

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 12:03 pm

In yesterday's post, I crowned an Oxford geologist William Buckland as Most Daring Eater Ever. And he was. But I think he deserves one additional, albeit smaller, honor.

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Space
3:22 am
Fri September 28, 2012

NASA's Curiosity Finds Water Once Flowed On Mars

NASA says it has found proof that water shaped the rocks on the left, in a photograph taken by the Mars rover Curiosity (left). For comparison, the agency released an image of rocks from Earth (right).
NASA

Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 8:29 am

NASA's newest Mars rover, Curiosity, has snapped photos of rocky outcroppings that jut out from the alien soil, and scientists say they look like the remnants of an ancient stream bed where water once flowed on the surface of the red planet.

The exposed rocks look like broken slabs of concrete sidewalk, about four inches thick, and are made of rounded bits of gravel in a sandy matrix. The rock has eroded a little bit, and some of the smooth pebbles — about the size of M&M candies — have fallen down into a little pile.

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