Science & Environment

Humans
5:54 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Fossil Find Points To A Streamlined Human Lineage

Researchers excavated the remains of five creatures who lived 1.8 million years ago, including this adult male skull. The excavation site, in Georgia in the former Soviet Union, was home to a remarkable cache of bones.
Courtesy of Georgian National Museum

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 5:35 pm

Fossils of human ancestors are rare. You could pile all the ones that scientists have found in the back of a pickup truck.

But a remarkable site in Georgia, in the former Soviet Union, has produced a rich group of bones dating back almost 2 million years — and the discovery is shaking the family tree of human evolution.

The fossil hunters found the cache of bones more than a decade ago in a place called Dmanisi, but kept most of the find under wraps.

Now, they've lifted the veil, revealing the fossilized remains of five creatures who lived 1.8 million years ago.

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Shots - Health News
4:59 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Brains Sweep Themselves Clean Of Toxins During Sleep

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 5:35 pm

While the brain sleeps, it clears out harmful toxins, a process that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, researchers say.

During sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases dramatically, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells during waking hours, a study of mice found.

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The Salt
12:21 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Pucker Up, America: Beers Are Going Sour

Hold Your Horses: The main flavor of a sour beer is tartness, like a strawberry or lemon. But many sours also have a "funky" taste that some say smells like a horse blanket or a barnyard.
Morgan Walker NPR

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 10:57 am

Move over, bitter IPAs and chocolaty stouts. There's a new kid on the craft brewing block, and it's going to knock your salivary glands into action.

It's called "sour beer." When you take a sip, it's like biting into a Granny Smith apple that's soaked in a French red wine: crisp, refreshing and a bit odd.

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Environment
4:38 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Fuel Efficiency Standards Live On After 1973 Oil Embargo

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 10:23 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This year is the 40th anniversary of the OPEC oil embargo - an event that has shaped our nation's politics and the cars we drive ever since. In 1973, the Arab world decided to cut oil exports to punish nations that supported Israel during its war with Egypt and Syria. While the embargo only lasted several months, it triggered an energy crisis that lasted for years. NPR's Richard Harris reports on the ways we are still feel those effects today.

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The Salt
3:20 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Here's A Reason To Love Disco Again: Stopping Food Waste

Tristram Stuart, founder of Feeding the 5000, is helping to organize several disco soup events across Europe for World Food Day.
Courtesy of Feeding the 5000

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 6:33 pm

Wednesday is World Food Day, an occasion food activists like to use to call attention to world hunger. With 842 million chronically undernourished people on Earth, it's a problem that hasn't gone away.

This year, activists are trying to make the day a little spicier with pots full of disco soup to highlight the absurd amount of food thrown away that could feed people: one-third of all the food produced every year.

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Parallels
12:51 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

As Greenland Seeks Economic Development, Is Uranium The Way?

Workers stand inside the gold mine in Greenland's Nulanaq mountain in 2009. The Danish territory's underground wealth was at the forefront of elections in March. Now, Greenland faces another dilemma: whether to end a zero-tolerance policy on uranium extraction.
Adrian Joachim AP

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 6:39 pm

Karen Hanghoj, a scientist with Denmark's Geological Survey, points to the southern tip of Greenland on a colorful map hanging in her office.

"What you can see here in the southern region here is you have a big pink region," she says. "And then within the pink region, you see you have all these little purple dots.

"And what the purple dots are is a later period of rifting. These complexes have these weird chemistries and have these very, very strange minerals in them," she adds.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:09 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Successful Children Who Lost A Parent — Why Are There So Many Of Them?

Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 1:22 pm

She was 9 when it happened. She says she was at school, in the school yard at recess, standing by the fence, when a thought passed through her "like the barest shadow of a mood." All of a sudden, and for no clear reason, she found herself thinking of her "Papi," her father, who'd been drunk, self-destructive and difficult for as long as she could remember.

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Research News
4:11 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Why College Freshmen May Feel Like Impostors On Campus

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 11:47 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Tens of thousands of freshman have just finished their first month in college. They've signed up for classes, met a bunch of other people and, if history is any guide, asked themselves a question: What am I doing here? Everyone else is smarter and better adjusted than I am. And for some, that question totally changes the college experience, may even cause them to drop out, which is why a researcher was determined to intervene. He told his story to NPR's Shankar Vedantam, who's here to tell it to us. Hi, Shankar.

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Environment
2:57 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Fuel In The Fire: Burn Wood For Power Or Leave It To Nature

At more than 400 square miles, the Rim Fire is the largest Sierra Nevada fire in recorded history.
Mike McMillan US Forest Service

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 12:59 pm

The record-breaking wildfire in Yosemite National Park is almost fully contained, two months after it started. The blaze calls attention to a problem across the western U.S.: After a century of having its fires routinely extinguished, the forests are overloaded with fuel.

A heated debate has flared up about what to do with that forest fuel. California is hoping to reduce its fire risk through renewable energy, but some worry about the environmental costs of thinning the forests.

'It Was Torched'

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Shots - Health News
4:20 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Bioethicists Give Hollywood's Films A Reality Check

Directors and bioethicists hashed out how moral medical issues should be depicted on screen during a meeting in Los Angeles.
Courtesy of Colin Crowley

A life-threatening pandemic occurs. You're a doctor in the ER and can save a 9-year-old or a 63-year-old doctor. Whom do you choose? How do you choose?

Questions like that can crop up in real life and also on the silver screen. So how good a job do filmmakers do at portraying these moral dilemmas? Some do fairly well, but there's also room for improvement.

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