Science & Environment

The Two-Way
10:28 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Divers Find 65-Foot Crack In Columbia River Dam

Divers found a 2-inch-wide crack at the bottom of the fourth spillway pier from the left in this photo of the Wanapum Dam.
Grant County Public Utility District

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 11:39 am

A large dam in Washington state has a 65-foot-long crack below its waterline, say officials who are planning repairs at the Wanapum Dam, which is owned by a county utility. Divers found the 2-inch-wide crack that runs sideways after an engineer noticed an odd curve in a conduit near the dam's roadway.

Officials have said the public is not at risk.

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The Salt
3:50 am
Tue March 4, 2014

In The New Globalized Diet, Wheat, Soy And Palm Oil Rule

The world is increasingly relying on a few dozen megacrops, like wheat and potatoes, for survival. Above, a wheat field in Arkansas.
Danny Johnston AP

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 9:21 am

These days you can fly to far corners of the world and eat pretty much the same food you can get back home. There's pizza in China and sushi in Ethiopia.

A new scientific study shows that something similar is true of the crops that farmers grow. Increasingly, there's a standard global diet, and the human race is depending more and more on a handful of major crops for much of its food.

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The Salt
2:38 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

The Secret Lives Of Cows: Jumping For Joy

Not quite jumping over the moon but ... : An animal named Luna (get it?) jumps over an obstacle with rider Regina Mayer on her back in the Bavarian town of Traunstein, in southern Germany.
Michael Hudelist AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 11:26 am

Ah, cows. They're big, lumbering, earthbound beasts, right? But sometimes, Bessie and pals just have to get airborne.

That gif of dairy cows "jumping for joy" is from a video that's been making the rounds on the Internet. We spotted it last week when food journalist Michael Pollan tweeted it out:

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The Salt
5:12 pm
Sun March 2, 2014

Even In A Desert, Drought Spells Trouble For Ranchers

No snowpack, no hay: In the northern Nevada, cattle feed is getting hard to come by, as sources of water diminish in supply.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 7:09 pm

In northern Nevada, a place famous for its wide, open spaces and expansive cattle operations, ranchers are in a bind due to the historic drought.

Much of the state is desert, so when people talk about drought, they're really talking about the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. It's at barely 20 percent of average.

This is a huge concern for farmers and ranchers like Julie Wolf, because the mountains store the snow that melts and feeds rivers and reservoirs. These bodies of water then allow the desert to bloom with grass and alfalfa for her cattle.

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History
7:20 am
Sun March 2, 2014

Ecological Stories Uncovered With Whale Bones In Chile

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 11:30 am

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

Now some years ago, road workers in the South American country of Chile discovered something big, really big - whale bones. And not just one or two of them, 40 giant skeletons including those of adult whales cradled together with juveniles. Scientists were called in, including my guest, Nick Pyenson.

Nick is the curator of Fossil Marine Mammals at the Smithsonian. He has to look after these things there. And this past week, he and his colleagues released their most comprehensive review yet of the site in Chile.

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Around the Nation
7:20 am
Sun March 2, 2014

Throw Me Something (Again), Mister: Mardi Gras Beads Revived

Beads are essential to celebrating Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, but what happens to the tokens when the revelry ends?
Sean Garnder Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 11:30 am

In Louisiana, Mardi Gras comes each year with dozens of parades filled with marching bands, colorful floats and parade-goers who scream, "Throw me something, Mister!"

That "something" the crowd wants are beads. The goal of any Mardi Gras parade is to catch as many as possible. After the revelry, people often have so many beads around their necks they can barely turn their heads.

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The Two-Way
12:26 pm
Sat March 1, 2014

Creation Museum: Bill Nye Debate Sparked Funding 'Miracle'

TV's "Science Guy" Bill Nye speaks during a debate on evolution with Creation Museum head Ken Ham on Feb. 4 at the Petersburg, Ky, museum.
Dylan Lovan AP

Originally published on Sat March 1, 2014 2:12 pm

Ken Ham, the founder of the Creation Museum who last month debated TV personality Bill Nye "The Science Guy" pitting his Biblical literalism against Darwinian evolution, says the highly publicized showdown has been like manna from heaven for a foundering $73 million Noah's Ark theme park.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:03 am
Sat March 1, 2014

Polar Bear Flip-Flop: People Hated, Then Loved These Photos. What Changed?

Norbert Rosing National Geographic/Getty

Originally published on Sun March 2, 2014 12:56 am

This couldn't be.

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Animals
7:57 am
Sat March 1, 2014

In The Arizona Wilds, Burro Murders Baffle Investigators

In Oatman, Ariz., burros are likely to nuzzle with tourists and are notoriously difficult to move out of harm's way.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sat March 1, 2014 11:03 am

In the desert outside of Phoenix, there have been 18 shootings in the last five years, a series of mysteries that has stumped federal investigators.

Let's be clear, we're talking about donkeys: specifically, wild burros, the federally protected asses of the Old West. In late January, out among the desert scrub and beavertail cactus, two from the Lake Pleasant herd were found dead.

"We consider that a murder scene," says Steve Bird, a burro specialist with the Bureau of Land Management.

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The Two-Way
9:17 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

A Pelican Shows Us What It's Like To Fly

A peli-cam captures the flight of a bird on Tanzania's Lake Tanganyika.
YouTube

Pelicans have the life. They live by the water, fly over the ocean, and eat lots of fish. Among humans, only T.C. from Magnum P.I. comes close to matching them. And he's just a fictional character, played by Roger E. Mosley.

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