Science & Environment

Environment
6:55 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Changing Climate In Argentina Is Killing Penguin Chicks

A penguin nestling sounds off at the Punta Tombo reserve. Young birds that haven't yet traded a down coat for juvenile plumage "aren't waterproof — at all," says biologist Dee Boersma.
Maxi Jonas Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:00 pm

There's a patch of seashore along the coast of Argentina where hundreds of thousands of penguins make their home. It's called Punta Tombo. Dee Boersma, a conservation biologist at the University of Washington, has been going there for 30 years, and she's discovered that a changing climate is killing those penguins.

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Science
5:09 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Researchers Watch As Our Brains Turn Sounds Into Words

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 7:19 pm

Researchers are a bit closer to understanding one of the brain's greatest accomplishments: making sense out of spoken language.

An area of the brain that interprets speech contains cells that respond to the dozen or so basic units of sound we use to form words, according to a team from the University of California, San Francisco.

Some of these cells respond specifically to plosives, like the initial "puh" sounds in "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers," the team found. Other neurons respond to fricative consonants, like the "f" sound in the word "fish."

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Around the Nation
5:09 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

SpaceX Could Give Struggling Texas City A Boost

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft atop rocket Falcon 9 lifts off from Cape Canaveral in Florida in May 2012. The launch made SpaceX the first commercial company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station.
Roberto Gonzalez Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:00 pm

The space company SpaceX has identified a remote spot on the southern tip of Texas as its finalist for construction of the world's newest commercial orbital launch site.

The 50-acre site really is at the end of the road. Texas Highway 4 abruptly ends at the warm waves of the Gulf surrounded by cactus, Spanish dagger and sand dunes.

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The Two-Way
12:59 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

This Photo Of Lake Michigan Will Make You Shiver

Lake Michigan, now partially frozen, as snow and clouds blow over.
NOAA

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 1:35 pm

A photo posted by our friends at Michigan's Interlochen Public Radio is so cool we just had to know more about it and about what's going on with the Great Lakes during this extra-frigid winter.

As you'll see, the satellite image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows clouds and snow blowing across the now partially ice-covered Lake Michigan.

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The Salt
12:23 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Your Nose Knows Which Foods Are Fattiest

Charles, Prince of Wales, smells before tasting some ice cream during a visit to Gloucestershire. Maybe he was sniffing for fat?
Barry Batchelor/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 11:11 am

A lot of us can agree that low-fat ice cream is a sad substitute for the real deal. It's not as creamy, and it just doesn't taste as good.

Now researchers are saying it may even smell different.

Researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center have found that people can actually smell differences in dietary fat in food.

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Shots - Health News
10:13 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Popular Testosterone Therapy May Raise Risk Of Heart Attack

Some men take testosterone hoping to boost energy and libido, or to build strength. But at what risk?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 12:06 pm

There's new evidence that widely prescribed testosterone drugs — touted for men with flagging libidos and general listlessness — might increase the risk of heart attacks.

A study of more than 55,000 men found a doubling of heart attack risk among testosterone users older than 65, compared with men who didn't take the drug.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:07 am
Thu January 30, 2014

The Starling That Dared To Be Different

Dennis Hlynsky Vimeo

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 5:17 pm

You've seen them. We've all seen them.

Hundreds of starlings are sitting side by side by side — up on a power line yakking, preening — when all of a sudden, boom! Up they go, all of them. What happened? A sudden noise? A falcon in the neighborhood? Whatever it was, all the birds know. All the birds go. Starlings find safety in numbers. They like sameness. Exceptional starlings, I imagine, get eaten.

Well, that's what I used to think. Then, today, I saw my first unlike-all-the others starling. At least I think I did.

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The Two-Way
3:30 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Asteroid Belt May Be Just One Big Melting Pot Of Space Rocks

An artist's concept of a narrow asteroid belt orbiting a star similar to our own sun.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:32 am

The asteroid belt, a ring of rubble between Mars and Jupiter, has sometimes been written off as discarded leftovers from the solar system's start. But new research published in the journal Nature shows that the belt actually formed during an unruly later era, when planets themselves were on the move.

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The Great Plains Oil Rush
3:27 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Much Of North Dakota's Natural Gas Is Going Up In Flames

Gas flaring near Highway 85 southwest of Williston. Analysts estimate that almost 30 percent of the gas being produced in the state is burned off.
Jeff Brady/NPR

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 11:44 am

A remarkable transformation is underway in western North Dakota, where an oil boom is changing the state's fortunes and leaving once-sleepy towns bursting at the seams. In a series of stories, NPR is exploring the economic, social and environmental demands of this modern-day gold rush.

North Dakota's oil boom isn't just about oil; a lot of natural gas comes out of the ground at the same time. But there's a problem with that: The state doesn't have the pipelines needed to transport all of that gas to market. There's also no place to store it.

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Shots - Health News
5:30 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Adult Obesity May Have Origins Way Back In Kindergarten

Playing outside can help kids — and their parents — maintain a healthy weight.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 3:20 pm

A lot of parents like to think their kids will simply outgrow baby fat. But the risk of becoming a severely overweight adult can actually start as early as kindergarten, research suggests.

"As parents, as a society, as clinicians, we need to think about a healthy weight really early on," says Solveig Cunningham, who led the study. But that doesn't mean putting young children on calorie-restricted diets.

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