Science & Environment

Animals
3:06 am
Wed January 1, 2014

RoboCop? How About RoboPenguin!

Two African penguins stretch their flippers at the Maryland Zoo.
Adam Cole NPR

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 11:42 am

At the American Physical Society's fluid dynamics conference this winter, there was a healthy infusion of biology. In between talks on propellers and plane wings, there were presentations about flying snakes, fire ants, humpback whales and hummingbirds. Physicists from all over the world are turning to the natural world to help them solve engineering problems.

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The Salt
3:04 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Malawian Farmers Say Adapt To Climate Change Or Die

Villages in the Lower Shire valley of Malawi, like this one named Jasi, rely heavily on subsistence farming and steady rainfall, and are struggling to produce steady harvests.
Jennifer Ludden/NPR

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 11:42 am

Rain is so important in Malawi's agriculture-based economy that there are names for different kinds of it, from the brief bursts of early fall to heavier downpours called mvula yodzalira, literally "planting rain." For generations, rainfall patterns here in the southeast part of Africa have been predictable, reliable. But not now.

In the village of Jasi, in the hot, flat valley of Malawi's Lower Shire, farmer Pensulo Melo says 2010 was a disaster.

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Media
3:04 am
Wed January 1, 2014

In Troubled Magazine World, 'La Hulotte' Is One Rare Bird

Pierre Deom has been writing and illustrating La Hulotte since 1972. He released his 100th issue (lower right) in November.
Francois Nascimbeni AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 11:42 am

The journalism world may be in crisis, but one magazine in France has been steadily gaining subscribers for 40 years. It's a nature journal called La Hulotte, and twice a year it focuses on an animal or plant indigenous to the French countryside. The magazine published its 100th issue in November. It has more than 150,000 subscribers in many countries and is doing terrific financially.

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Environment
3:03 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Federal Flood Insurance Program Drowning In Debt. Who Will Pay?

Even when a flood obliterates homes, as Superstorm Sandy did in 2012 in the Rockaway neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., the urge to rebuild can be strong.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 11:42 am

Millions of American property owners get flood insurance from the federal government, and a lot of them get a hefty discount. But over the past decade, the government has paid out huge amounts of money after floods, and the flood insurance program is deeply in the red.

Congress tried to fix that in 2012 by passing a law to raise insurance premiums. Now that move has created such uproar among property owners that Congress is trying to make the law it passed disappear.

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Environment
5:00 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Florida's Mangroves Move North As Temperatures Rise

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 6:56 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The world's climate is warmer on average than it was a hundred years ago. Plants in some places are emerging earlier in the spring and insects that like warm weather are on the move. But scientists are finding out that the culprit isn't just warmth. As NPR's Christopher Joyce reports, it's also the absence of cold snaps.

CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: The idea that a warmer planet could mean avocados in Scotland or bananas in Montana may sound silly. But in fact, tropical plants are moving north. For instance, mangroves in Maryland.

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The Salt
2:15 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Does Champagne Actually Get You Drunk Faster?

Each bottle of Champagne contains around 50 million bubbles. But will any of them accelerate the inebriation process?
Victor Bezrukov Flickr.com

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 3:39 pm

Every time I spend New Year's Eve with my mom, she tells me the same thing: "Be careful with that Champagne, honey. The bubbles go straight to the head. And it won't be pretty tomorrow."

Thanks, Mom. Glad you're looking after me after all these years.

But is she right?

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Number Of The Year
10:40 am
Tue December 31, 2013

From Pandas To Health Care: The 13 Numbers Of 2013

Johann Balleis / Adam Cole Wikimedia Commons / NPR

0: Twitter collected no profit, Snapchat collected no revenue, and Apple's stock has roughly stayed flat over the past year. But in Silicon Valley, where companies are judged by potential, zero is still something.

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:43 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Animal Loses Head But Remembers Everything

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 12:28 pm

When I first saw this," says cell biologist Alejandro Sanchez Alvarado, "it was with total amazement."

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Shots - Health News
3:27 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Nothing Focuses The Mind Like The Ultimate Deadline: Death

Could a countdown to death help you lead a more ecstatic life?
Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 3:38 pm

Ticktock. Ticktock. Ticktock.

The seconds left in 2013 are slipping away. And you know what else is slipping away? The seconds left in your life.

Luckily for you, there's a new product called Tikker, a wristwatch that counts down your life, so you can watch on a large, dot-matrix display as the seconds you have left on Earth disappear down a black hole.

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Space
3:26 am
Tue December 31, 2013

Bon Voyage, Voyager: Old Friends Take Stock

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 9:37 am

For the scientists who have emotionally traveled with NASA's Voyager mission for decades, 2013 will be remembered as the year they knew Voyager 1 had finally become the first explorer from Earth to enter the mysterious realm of interstellar space.

Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, both blasted off in 1977, more than 35 years ago. Voyager 1 flew by Jupiter, then Saturn — and then on toward the unknown region that lies between stars.

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