Science & Health

TED Radio Hour
8:11 am
Fri March 6, 2015

How Can Math Help You Imagine The Impossible?

Writer Randall Munroe answers bizarre questions with math, like what would happen if a baseball pitcher threw a ball at 90 percent the speed of light?
James Duncan Davidson Courtesy of TED

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Solve For X

About Randall Munroe's TED Talk

Writer Randall Munroe doesn't love math, but has made a career out of solving equations. By answering outlandish hypotheticals, he uses numbers as a playground for the imagination.

About Randall Munroe

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TED Radio Hour
8:10 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Can Math Help You Fall in Love?

"I struggle to find anything in the world that you can't that you can't get an interesting perspective on by using maths." - Hannah Fry
Courtesy of TED

Part 7 of the TED Radio Hour episode Solve For X

About Hannah Fry's TED Talk

Mathematician Hannah Fry says math can help you find love. Using mathematical models, she explains how to find an ideal mate and the secret to maintaining a healthy relationship.

About Hannah Fry

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TED Radio Hour
8:10 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Should We Be Wary of Algorithms?

"Decisions are made automatically by machines, increasingly without human supervision." - Kevin Slavin
James Duncan Davidson TED

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Solve For X

About Kevin Slavin's TED Talk

Netflix, Uber, and the stock market are governed by algorithms. Entrepreneur and artist Kevin Slavin shows how these formulas can reshape finance, culture, and physical environments, with potentially harmful consequences.

About Kevin Slavin

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TED Radio Hour
8:10 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Why Do We Solve For 'X'?

"A mathematical proof appears as a thing of beauty. It speaks of a higher truth. It speaks of a harmony to knowledge." - Terry Moore
James Duncan Davidson TED

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Solve for X

About Terry Moore's TED Talk

Polymath Terry Moore wondered why "X" is the universal unknown in algebra. He dove into the history of numbers to come up with an unexpected answer.

About Terry Moore

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TED Radio Hour
8:10 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Can Math Answer Absurd Questions?

"To me what's exciting is the answers that math can get you to." - Randall Munroe
James Duncan Davidson TED

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Solve For X

About Randall Munroe's TED Talk

When Randall Munroe volunteered to teach physics to high schoolers, his textbook approach to teaching the subject fell flat. Then he realized a way to get the kids excited about math -- Star Wars.

About Randall Munroe

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The Two-Way
3:13 am
Fri March 6, 2015

NASA Probe Reaches Orbit Around Dwarf Planet

Astronomers have known about Ceres for centuries, but they don't really know what to make of it.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 9:40 am

Updated at 9:45 a.m. ET.

This morning, a plucky NASA spacecraft has entered the orbit of one of the oddest little worlds in our solar system.

Ceres is round like a planet, but really small. Its total surface would cover just a third of the United States.

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Animals
2:36 am
Fri March 6, 2015

Could A Quokka Beat A Numbat? Oddsmakers Say Yes

One possible result in the Mighty Mini Mammals division of 2015's Mammal March Madness tournament. If the species that's seeded highest always wins its bracket, the fennec fox will leave the division and advance to the final four.
Adam Cole NPR

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 9:40 am

It's March, and that means college basketball fans are gearing up for the NCAA tournament. But there's another tournament taking place this month — and animals aren't the mascots, they're the competitors.

"Mammal March Madness" is organized by a team of evolutionary biologists. They choose 65 animal competitors and then imagine the outcome of a series of simulated inter-species battles. Who would win if a kangaroo took on a warthog? Or if an orca fought a polar bear?

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The Salt
3:57 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Eat Your Veggies! Even The Ones From Fukushima

Farmer Magoichi Shigihara checks on his cucumber farm in Nihonmatsu in Fukushima prefecture, about 31 miles west of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, in May 2011. Testing shows radiation in foods grown and raised in Fukushima is back to pre-accident levels.
Yoshikazu Tsuno AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 10:24 am

Nearly four years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, people in Japan are still hesitant to eat foods grown around the site of the accident. They worry that anything grown in the region will contain dangerous levels of radioactive elements, increasing their risk of cancer.

Sometimes, food from Fukushima will bear a photo of the farmer who grew it or a number to dial to learn more about each bag of rice or vegetables, just to ease customers' concerns.

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Goats and Soda
3:56 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Arsenic Antidote Hidden In Our Genes

At more than 12,000 feet above sea level, the town of San Antonio de los Cobres, Argentina, sits on volcanic bedrock, which leaches arsenic into the drinking water.
Guigue/Wikimedia

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 5:59 pm

For centuries, arsenic was the go-to poison for murder.

If you wanted to knock off an heir to the throne or speed up the arrival of your inheritance, all you had to do was add a dollop of rat poison to your rival's food. They wouldn't see or taste it. And the police wouldn't detect it — at least not until a chemist developed a test for the element in the early 19th century.

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Code Switch
1:39 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Study: At 'Rate My Professors,' A Foreign Accent Can Hurt A Teacher's Score

The biggest gaps overall were in the South.
Kat Chow/NPR

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 6:21 pm

"So-and-so is really, really hard to understand." Or: "His accent is so distracting." I remember hearing off-the-cuff remarks like this a few times in college, complaints by classmates about teaching assistants and instructors, almost all of them of Asian descent and non-native English speakers.

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The Salt
9:51 am
Thu March 5, 2015

We're Not Taking Enough Lunch Breaks. Why That's Bad For Business

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 1:17 pm

Did you take a lunch break yesterday? Are you planning to take one today?

Chances are the answer is no. Fewer American workers are taking time for lunch. Research shows that only 1 in 5 five people steps away for a midday meal. Most workers are simply eating at their desks.

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Science
2:45 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Jaw Fossil In Ethiopia Likely Oldest Ever Found In Human Line

With the help of researcher Sabudo Boraru (right), anthropologist Chris Campisano, of Arizona State University, takes samples from the fossil-filled Ledi-Geraru project area in Ethiopia. The jawbone was found nearby.
Courtesy of J Ramón Arrowsmith

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 11:55 am

Scientists working in Ethiopia say they've found the earliest known fossil on the ancestral line that led to humans. It's part of a lower jaw with several teeth, and it's about 2.8 million years old. Anthropologists say the fossil fills an important gap in the record of human evolution.

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Shots - Health News
2:43 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Fertility Clinic Courts Controversy With Treatment That Recharges Eggs

Along with sperm, the in vitro procedure adds fresh mitochondria extracted from less mature cells in the same woman's ovaries. The hope is to revitalize older eggs with these extra "batteries." But the FDA still wants proof that the technique works and is safe.
Chris Nickels for NPR

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 10:24 am

Melissa and her husband started trying to have a baby right after they got married. But nothing was happening. So they went to a fertility clinic and tried round after round of everything the doctors had to offer. Nothing worked.

"They basically told me, 'You know, you have no chance of getting pregnant,' " says Melissa, who asked to be identified only by her first name to protect her privacy.

But Melissa, 30, who lives in Ontario, Canada, didn't give up. She switched clinics and kept trying. She got pregnant once, but that ended in a miscarriage.

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Shots - Health News
7:09 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Justices Roberts And Kennedy Hold Key Votes In Health Law Case

Fans and foes of Obamacare jockeyed for position outside the Supreme Court Wednesday. Inside, the justices weighed arguments in the case of King v. Burwell, which challenges a key part of the federal health law.
Pete Marovich UPI/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 8:28 am

With yet another do-or-die test of Obamacare before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, the justices were sharply divided.

By the end of the argument, it was clear that the outcome will be determined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy. The chief justice said almost nothing during the argument, and Kennedy sent mixed signals, seeming to give a slight edge to the administration's interpretation of the law.

Judging by the comments from the remaining justices, the challengers would need the votes of both Roberts and Kennedy to win.

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Science
3:30 pm
Wed March 4, 2015

Archaeologists Use Moles To Solve Mysteries Of Middle Ages' Fort

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 7:29 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Moles get a bad rap. They dig tunnels destroying gardens and lawns.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

They're not particularly cute or cuddly - I mean, come on, there are games where the goal is to hit plastic moles on the head.

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