Science & Environment

NPR Story
2:21 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

Phantom Traffic Jams: What Causes Mysterious Highway Backups?

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 6:49 pm

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

If you find yourself stuck in holiday traffic this weekend, our next story won't help you much, but it does bring hope for a less stressful future. A computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology thinks he's found a way to eliminate at least one kind of really annoying traffic jam. NPR's Joe Palca explains.

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Shots - Health News
2:03 pm
Thu November 28, 2013

Brain Cells 'Geotag' Memories To Cache What Happened — And Where

Benjamin Arthur for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 6:13 am

Think back to an important event in your life: a graduation, a birth, a special Thanksgiving dinner. Chances are you're remembering not only what happened, but also where it happened. And now scientists think they know why.

As we form so-called episodic memories, the brain appears to be using special cells in the hippocampus to "geotag" each event, researchers report in Science. The process is similar to what some digital cameras do when they tag each picture with information about where the image was taken.

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Science & Environment
10:11 am
Thu November 28, 2013

City Makes First Land Purchase From Tree Mitigation Fund

In 2011, Charlotte city council members set a goal of having 50 percent tree cover by the year 2050. The tree ordinance mitigation fund is another way for developers to help reach that goal.
Credit Flickr/Erik Cleves Kristensen

 For the last two years, as part of its ordinance, the city of Charlotte has given some developers the option of saving a portion of the trees on their property or to pay. The fund they pay into now has more than half-a-million dollars. And the city just made its first land purchase using some of that money.


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Krulwich Wonders...
8:08 am
Thu November 28, 2013

On Thanksgiving, Everybody Needs A Friend — And That Means Everybody

Blue_Cutler iStockphoto

Last December, a website called The Morning News asked me to describe the most important and unimportant events of my year. So I sent them a story that felt like both to me, something slight but at the same time deeply rich. Now that it's Thanksgiving, I'm going to post it here because it's about two girls who want the best for everybody — and that can get complicated.

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World
4:45 am
Thu November 28, 2013

By Accident, Scientists Discover Lakes Beneath Greenland

Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 5:34 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Flying to or from Europe, many a transatlantic traveler has gazed down at the brilliant white surface of Greenland and maybe wondered what is beneath those massive sheets of ice. Well, scientists have discovered jagged mountains, ravines that rival the Grand Canyon.

And now NPR's Richard Harris reports that for the first time they've come across some lakes under the ice as well.

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U.S.
3:06 am
Thu November 28, 2013

How Fracking In Pennsylvania Helps Clear The Air In New York

The building at 120 East 81st Street is among those converting from an oil- to natural-gas-burning furnace.
Jeff Brady NPR

Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 4:45 am

The state of New York effectively has a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing as the government figures out how to regulate the controversial drilling technology. Still, the state is benefiting from a fracking-fueled drilling boom in next-door Pennsylvania.

For decades, oil has been the fuel of choice for thousands of residential buildings in New York City. But now there are fewer chimneys spewing black smoke. That's because the city has a program encouraging owners to convert to cleaner-burning natural gas.

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Shots - Health News
3:05 am
Thu November 28, 2013

'The Coolest Thing Ever': How A Robotic Arm Changed 4 Lives

Dee Faught tests a robotic arm installed on his wheelchair in September. Commercially produced robotic arms can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but three Rice engineering students built one for Dee for about $800.
Eric Kayne for NPR

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 10:00 am

Three engineering undergrads at Rice University gave a teenager with a rare genetic disease something he'd always wished for: the ability to turn off the light in his room.

It may not seem like much, but for 17-year-old Dee Faught, it represents a new kind of independence.

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Shots - Health News
10:46 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Estrogen May Not Help Prevent Fuzzy Thinking After Menopause

Hormones clearly influence a women's health, but figuring out how is a tricky business.
Andrew Ostrovsky iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 11:16 am

There's a widely held belief that women experience moodiness and fuzzy thinking because of the drop in estrogen during menopause. And women have looked to hormone replacement therapy for relief.

But researchers increasingly think there's not much of a link between declining levels of estrogen during menopause and cognition.

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Research News
4:43 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Study Finds Plan B Pill Less Effective In Overweight, Obese Women

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 5:56 pm

Even as the Supreme Court takes up the issue of emergency contraception coverage, a new study suggests the most popular form of the drug might not work for most American women. It seems one formulation of the popular drug loses effectiveness in women who are obese or who weigh over a certain amount.

Energy
4:43 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Colo. Fracking Votes Put Pressure On Energy Companies

A vote to ban fracking in Broomfield, a suburb of Denver, headed to a recount this month after the measure failed by just 13 votes. Broomfield was one of four Front Range towns considering limits or bans on the drilling procedure some fear may not be safe.
Kristen Wyatt AP

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 8:45 pm

The 2013 election marked a victory for foes of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Colorado. Voters in three Front Range communities decided to put limits on the practice.

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