Science & Environment

The Two-Way
6:50 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Tonight's Meteor Shower: Live, From Space, It's The Quadrantids

The Quadrantid meteor shower is seen shortly after 5 a.m. on Jan 3, 2013. This year's shower will be helped by a new moon that will keep the night sky dark.
Mike Lewinski Flickr

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 8:07 pm

It's early January, and that means it's time for the Quadrantid meteor shower to peak. Despite winter weather that might cloud the skies in some areas, forecasters say this year's event is worth getting up for, citing lunar conditions that will darken the night sky.

If you haven't heard of the Quadrantids, don't worry. Even NASA calls them "a little-known meteor shower named after an extinct constellation."

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Around the Nation
6:18 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

A Sharp Rise In Earthquakes Puts Oklahomans On Edge

Chad Devereaux cleans up bricks that fell from his in-laws' home in Sparks, Okla., in November 2011, after two earthquakes hit the area in less than 24 hours.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 7:29 am

For the past three decades, Oklahoma averaged about 50 earthquakes a year. But that number has skyrocketed in the past few years. In 2013 — the state's most seismically active year ever — there were almost 3,000.

The quakes are small, and they're concentrated in the central part of the state, where the Erwins live.

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Space
4:27 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

On Planet GJ1214 B, Expect Exotic Cloud Cover

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 6:18 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In recent years, scientists have discovered around a thousand planets orbiting other distant stars, including some called super-Earths. These planets are bigger than our rocky hole but smaller than any of our solar system's gas giants. Not much is known about these mysterious worlds.

NPR is Nell Greenfieldboyce reports on new evidence that one super-Earth is shrouded in clouds.

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Energy
4:27 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

Move Over Electric Car, Auto Companies To Make Hydrogen Vehicles

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 10:56 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. Toyota, Honda, Hyundai recently announced that they're planning to build hydrogen-powered cars in the next few years. These cars could rival all electric and plug-ins as cleaner alternatives to gasoline-powered cars. NPR's Richard Harris took a drive in a hydrogen car to learn about the advantages and drawbacks of the technology.

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Shots - Health News
2:31 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

How Language Seems To Shape One's View Of The World

"It's on the left," he says. "No, it's southeast of here," she says.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 8:05 am

Lera Boroditsky once did a simple experiment: She asked people to close their eyes and point southeast. A room of distinguished professors in the U.S. pointed in almost every possible direction, whereas 5-year-old Australian aboriginal girls always got it right.

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Code Switch
12:11 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

A Graduate Program Works To Diversify The Science World

Fisk University physics student Terreka Hart (foreground, left) looks on with a group of students from the Bridge Program — Melanie Brady, Bobby Jones, Rose Perea (seated) and Brenden Wiggins (pointing).
C. Coca Fisk University

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 6:06 pm

There is a widespread narrative in higher education that goes something like this: Colleges and universities have always accepted the best and brightest students; then, due to pressure from outside forces (some of them named "John F. Kennedy"), diversity was thrust upon the academy. In turn, schools meted out race-based scholarships, relaxed standards for certain students in order to fulfill quotas and — poof! — diversity.

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Research News
6:25 am
Thu January 2, 2014

How Scarcity Trap Affects Our Thinking, Behavior

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 7:52 am

A Harvard economist finds there are psychological connections between the bad financial planning of many poor people and the poor time management of busy professionals. In both cases, he finds the experience of scarcity causes biases in the mind that exacerbate problems.

Planet Money
5:59 am
Thu January 2, 2014

A Bet, Five Metals And The Future Of The Planet

James Cridland Flickr

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 11:24 am

This famous bet — between a biologist and an economist — was over population growth. It started three decades ago, but it helped set the tone for environmental debates that are still happening today.

The biologist at the heart of this bet was Paul Ehrlich at Stanford. He wrote a best-selling book in 1968 called The Population Bomb. It was so popular he appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

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The Salt
5:22 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Why The Cod On Cape Cod Now Comes From Iceland

With local cod so scarce, Chef Toby Hill of Lyric Restaurant in Yarmouth Port, Mass., tries out a dogfish salad — served here with garlic aioli on toast — instead. Dogfish is still plentiful in New England waters, but wholesale fisheries say there's not much demand for it in the U.S.
Christine Hochkeppel Courtesy of Cape Cod Times

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 2:53 pm

Good luck finding local cod in Cape Cod, Mass.

The fish once sustained New England's fishing industry, but in recent years, regulators have imposed severe catch limits on cod, and the fish remain scarce.

"I've never seen cod fishing this bad," says Greg Walinsky, who has been fishing on Cape Cod for more than 30 years. "It looks to me like it's over. And I can't catch any codfish."

It's so bad, many fishermen say, that for the first time, they cannot catch enough cod to even reach shrinking government quotas.

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The Salt
5:22 am
Thu January 2, 2014

How Mass-Produced Meat Turned Phosphorus Into Pollution

A dead carp floats in water near the shore at Big Creek State Park on Sept. 10 in Polk City, Iowa. Like many agricultural states, Iowa is working with the EPA to enforce clean-water regulations amid degradation from manure spills and farm-field runoff.
Charlie Neibergall AP

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 10:27 am

It's a quandary of food production: The same drive for efficiency that lowers the cost of eating also can damage our soil and water.

Take the case of one simple, essential chemical element: phosphorus.

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