Science & Environment

Krulwich Wonders...
12:25 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

When Numbers Bleed, Freeze, Starve And Die On A Battlefield: The Dark Poetry Of Data

Roger Viollet Collection Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 4:43 pm

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The Two-Way
8:32 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Russian Rocket Fails After Launch, Breaking Up Over China

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 10:54 am

With an expensive communication satellite as its payload, a Russian Proton-M rocket broke apart during its third stage last night. The unmanned rocket failed at an altitude of 100 miles — video of the launch showed it flaring across the night sky.

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Shots - Health News
3:44 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Corruption In Ukraine Robs HIV Patients Of Crucial Medicine

The mask of this Kiev protester (at a 2012 demonstration demanding more funding for HIV treatment) reads "quarantine." There are enough drugs to treat only half the HIV patients in Ukraine.
Sergei Supinsky AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 12:07 pm

I recently took a Ukrainian taxi from the airport to my hotel. The fare should have been $20. The cab driver was adamant that I pay $30. When I finally paid him $30, the driver gave me a receipt with a wink. He'd made it out for $40.

The driver got a cut by overcharging me, and assumed that I would take a cut by overcharging NPR (which I did not).

In Ukraine, corruption is a daily fact of life. It reaches into big business, law enforcement, education and even the smallest transactions between people on the street.

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The Two-Way
6:31 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Why Jupiter's Red Spot Isn't As Great As It Used To Be

NASA images showing Jupiter's gradually shrinking Great Red Spot.
Hubble Space Telescope NASA

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 8:04 pm

Jupiter's Great Red Spot might be, quite literally, the perfect storm: It's a swirling, anti-cyclonic vortex that's big enough to engulf three Earths and has been raging in the atmosphere of the solar system's largest planet for at least 400 years.

Even in a backyard telescope, the Great Red Spot shows up as easily the planet's most prominent feature, sporting "a conspicuous deep red eye embedded in swirling layers of pale yellow, orange and white," as NASA describes it.

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The Salt
5:28 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Organic Produce Is A Tough Sell In The Gaza Strip

Rami al-Naffar is the clerk at a small organic produce shop in Gaza City.
Emily Harris/NPR

Outside a small organic produce shop in Gaza City, a large sidewalk placard reads "Good Earth" in Arabic in big red letters, followed by "Organic produce, free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides." The same message is on the shop's awning.

But "people don't notice the signs, they come in and ask, 'Why these [high] prices?,' " says Rami al-Naffar, the clerk here.

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The Two-Way
4:37 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Those California Wildfires Viewed From Space

An image shot by NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite on Wednesday. It shows multiple wildfires in Calif. trailing smoke into the Pacific Ocean.
Lynn Jenner NASA/Goddard

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 12:12 pm

Multiple wildfires in California, fueled by strong Santa Ana winds and scorching temperatures, are so massive that they can easily be seen from space.

As NPR's Alan Greenblatt reports, the fires have affected thousands of acres and put lives and property in jeopardy.

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Shots - Health News
2:18 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Medicine Needs More Research On Female Animals, NIH Says

Sex can matter, whether you're looking at drug side effects, the response to treatment, or the progression of a disease.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 3:22 pm

Many potential new drugs look like they could be big winners — at least when judged by how well they work in mice or other lab animals. Over the years, there have been a number of promising cancer "cures," possible Alzheimer's treatments, and candidate drugs for holding back the ravages of various degenerative diseases.

But, time after time, these great promises fade away once the potential treatments are tried in people. There are lots of reasons for that. Humans aren't rodents, for starters.

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Science
12:18 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

Why This Octopus Isn't Stuck-Up

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 8:18 pm

Octopus arms keep from getting all tangled up in part because some kind of chemical in octopus skin prevents the tentacles' suckers from grabbing on.

That was the surprise discovery of scientists who were trying to understand how octopuses manage to move all their weird appendages without getting tied in knots.

Unlike humans, octopuses don't have a constant awareness of their arms' locations. It's kind of like the eight arms have minds of their own. And as an octopus arm travels through the water, its neighboring arms are constantly in reach.

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Shots - Health News
8:37 am
Thu May 15, 2014

Just One-Third Of People Can Tell If You're Faking That Laugh

Does she really think you're funny, or is she just being polite?
Jon Feingersh/Getty Getty Images/Blend Images RM

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 11:42 am

  • Researcher Greg Bryant Speaks To NPR's Robert Siegel

Scene: The happy-hour office party.

Your boss is relaxed, drink in hand. A little liquid courage of your own, and you approach her, taking a shot at an opportunity to impress. You open with a quip. She chuckles.

But does she really mean it? Or is she faking?

Only one-third of people can tell the difference between a fake laugh and the real deal, according to a study by Greg Bryant, a professor of communication at University of California, Los Angeles.

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Krulwich Wonders...
6:49 am
Thu May 15, 2014

How To Marry The Right Girl: A Mathematical Solution

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Thu May 15, 2014 2:34 pm

Poor Johannes Kepler. One of the greatest astronomers ever, the man who figured out the laws of planetary motion, a genius, scholar and mathematician — in 1611, he needed a wife. The previous Mrs. Kepler had died of Hungarian spotted fever, so, with kids to raise and a household to manage, he decided to line up some candidates — but it wasn't going very well.

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