Science & Environment

Shots - Health News
6:01 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

How Being Ignored Helped A Woman Discover The Breast Cancer Gene

Mary-Claire King says obscurity gave her the freedom to spend years looking for breast cancer genes.
Mary Levin/University of Washington

Originally published on Sun March 30, 2014 9:17 am

Back in the 1970s, a geneticist named Mary-Claire King decided she needed to figure out why women in some families were much more likely to get breast cancer.

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:14 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Custom Chromo: First Yeast Chromosome Built From Scratch

The research team used yeast chromosome No. 3 as the model for their biochemical stitchery. Pins and white diamonds in the illustration represent "designer changes" not found in the usual No. 3; yellow stretches represent deletions.
Lucy Reading-Ikkanda

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 7:03 pm

Using the labor of dozens of undergraduate students, scientists have built a customized yeast chromosome from scratch.

It's a milestone in the rapidly growing field of synthetic biology, where organisms can be tailored for industrial use. In this case, the near-term goal is to understand the genetics of yeast, and eventually the genetics of us.

This was quite an undertaking. Yeast have about 6,000 genes packed in 16 tidy bundles called chromosomes. Each chromosome is an enormous molecule of DNA packed in proteins.

Read more
The Salt
12:39 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Can The Meat Industry Help Protect Wildlife? Some Say Yes

Fox Ranch, outside Yuma County, Colo., is a 14,000-acre nature preserve and working cattle ranch owned by The Nature Conservancy. The ranch is an experiment in planned grazing, which aims to improve soil health and help ranchers' bottom lines.
Luke Runyon Harvest Public Media

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 3:15 pm

Last week we reported on a new campaign from the Center for Biological Diversity that hopes to persuade Americans to cut back on their meat consumption. Their pitch? Eat less meat and you will help save wildlife.

Read more
Shots - Health News
6:56 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Brain Changes Suggest Autism Starts In The Womb

Researchers say intervention in early childhood may help the developing brain compensate by rewiring to work around the trouble spots.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 11:03 am

The symptoms of autism may not be obvious until a child is a toddler, but the disorder itself appears to begin well before birth.

Brain tissue taken from children who died and also happened to have autism revealed patches of disorganization in the cortex, a thin sheet of cells that's critical for learning and memory, researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine. Tissue samples from children without autism didn't have those characteristic patches.

Read more
Remembering The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
6:01 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Brings 'Bad Juju' And Pain 25 Years Later

Scott Pegau, a scientist at the Prince William Sound Science Center, studies the effects of spilled oil on the environment in Cordova, Alaska.
Debbie Elliott NPR

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 9:54 pm

At Ross Mullins' home in Cordova, Alaska, you have to slam the front door extra hard to make it close. The former commercial fisherman lives in a small wood-frame house that's in need of repair. Some of the windows are cracked and he leaves the water faucets dripping to protect uninsulated pipes from the harsh Alaskan winter.

When the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground and started leaking oil 25 years ago, the disaster drastically changed the fishing industry in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Mullins has never recovered from that blow.

Read more
The Two-Way
5:39 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Massive Nor'easter Rakes New England

A NOAA satellite image of the storm off the coast of New England.
NOAA

New England is getting a hard glancing blow from a huge winter storm that has generated hurricane-force winds and such adjectives as "mind-blowing" and "monster" from normally mild-mannered meteorologists.

One look at weather satellite images of North America is all it takes to understand: This is a huge, classic nor'easter. WeatherBell meteorologist Ryan Maue says the storm's "integrated kinetic energy" is four times that of superstorm Sandy.

Read more
Around the Nation
4:56 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Washington State's 'Slide Hill' Has A History Of Landslides

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 8:24 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

It's now five days into the search for survivors of the massive landslide in Oso in Washington's Snohomish County. National Guard Troops are combing the area with emergency extraction teams. The unofficial death toll so far is now 24, and authorities are promising more clarity tomorrow on the list of missing people. Some 176 persons are unaccounted for but the real number is thought to be lower than that.

Read more
The Salt
4:41 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Does Beaver Tush Flavor Your Strawberry Shortcake? We Go Myth Busting

So what's behind that strawberry flavoring?
Meg Vogel/NPR

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 7:15 pm

A few years ago, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver kicked up a foodie firestorm when he told the audience at the Late Show with David Letterman that vanilla ice cream contains flavoring from a beaver's ... um, derriere.

"Beaver anal gland — yes," Oliver shouted bluntly, as the crowd booed and hissed. "Oh, come on! You're telling me you don't like a little beaver? ... It's in cheap sorts of strawberry syrups and vanilla ice cream."

Read more
The Two-Way
3:01 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

New Dwarf Planet Found At The Solar System's Outer Limits

This diagram for the outer solar system shows the orbits of Sedna (in orange) and 2012 VP113 (in red). The sun and terrestrial planets are at the center, surrounded by the orbits (in purple) of the four giant planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The Kuiper belt, which includes Pluto, is shown by the dotted light blue region.
Scott S. Sheppard Carnegie Institution for Science

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 8:44 am

Scientists have spotted a new dwarf planet at the edge of our solar system. It's a kind of pink ice ball that's way out there, far beyond Pluto.

Astronomers used to think this region of space was a no man's land. But the new findings suggest that it holds many small worlds — and there are even hints of an unseen planet bigger than Earth.

Read more
The Two-Way
12:26 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Soyuz Misfire Delays Crew Trying To Reach Space Station

From left: U.S. astronaut Steve Swanson, and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev prior to the launch of their Soyuz-FG rocket Wednesday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Dmitry Lovetsky AP

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 1:18 pm

A problem with a thruster aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule ferrying one American and two Russians to the International Space Station has caused an unexpected delay for the crew in reaching the orbiting platform.

As NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports, it was supposed to be a six-hour journey from the launch at Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome to the ISS, but one of the thrusters didn't fire at the right time.

Read more

Pages