Science & Health

Environment
5:12 pm
Sun May 24, 2015

A Home Air Quality Monitor That Can Be Checked Out From The Library

The Speck air quality monitor costs $200, but is available to all through Pittsburgh's public library system.
Carnegie Mellon University CREATE Lab

Originally published on Sun May 24, 2015 5:54 pm

Air pollution comes from many sources — power plants, industrial production and fires, to name a few. In Pittsburgh, the most polluted city east of California, according the American Lung Association, avoiding dirty air while outdoors can be difficult, if not impossible. But a new device, available through the public library system, helps people identify and reduce bad air quality inside their homes.

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The Salt
6:03 am
Sat May 23, 2015

Clean Your Grill, And Other Hot Holiday Tips From Alton Brown

Planning to grill this Memorial Day? Below, Food Network chef Alton Brown has some tips to keep your flavor from going up in smoke.
iStockphoto

Editor's note: A version of this story was originally published in May 2012.

If there's one grilling tip to remember this Memorial Day weekend, it should be this: Flame is bad.

"Flame does nasty things to food," food historian and science guy Alton Brown tells NPR's Scott Simon.

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The Two-Way
12:48 pm
Fri May 22, 2015

Who Let The Dogs In? We Did, About 30,000 Years Ago

Josh Brones walks his hunting dogs, Dollar (from left), Sequoia and Tanner, near his home in Wilton, Calif., in 2012.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 6:36 pm

It looks like dogs might well have been man's (and woman's) best friend for a lot longer than once thought.

The long-held conventional wisdom is that canis lupus familiaris split from wolves 11,000 to 16,000 years ago and that the divergence was helped along by Stone Age humans who wanted a fellow hunter, a sentry and a companion.

Now, DNA evidence suggests that the split between dogs and their wild ancestors occurred closer to 30,000 years ago.

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Shots - Health News
9:46 am
Fri May 22, 2015

Covered California Votes To Cap What Patients Pay For Pricey Drugs

Retired California school teacher Mikkel Lawrence sits with his cat, Max. Lawrence has hepatitis C and has struggled to afford the medicine he needs to treat it.
April Dembosky KQED

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 11:01 am

In recent years, expensive specialty medicines used to treat cancer and chronic illnesses have forced some very ill Americans to choose between getting proper treatment and paying their rent.

To ease the financial burden, the California agency that governs the state's Obamacare plans issued landmark rules Thursday that will put a lid on the amount anyone enrolled in one of those plans can be charged each month for high-end medicine.

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The Two-Way
8:04 am
Fri May 22, 2015

Pipeline Operator: Possibly Months To Determine Cause Of Calif. Spill

A bird covered in oil flaps its wings at Refugio State Beach, north of Goleta, Calif., on Thursday. More than 9,000 gallons of oil have been raked, skimmed and vacuumed from a spill that stretched across 9 miles of California coast, just a fraction of the sticky, stinking goo that escaped from a broken pipeline, officials said.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 5:35 pm

It could be months before investigators can determine what caused a pipeline leak that has fouled a stretch of coast in Southern California, the company that operates the oil conduit says.

Since the leak was discovered earlier this week, more than 9,000 gallons of oil have been raked, skimmed or vacuumed from a 9-mile stretch of California shoreline near Santa Barbara, officials say.

"We have not even uncovered the pipe yet," said Patrick Hodgins, senior director of safety for Texas-based Plains All American, according to The Associated Press.

The AP reports:

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TED Radio Hour
8:01 am
Fri May 22, 2015

How Could Technology Change The Way We Evolve?

Medical ethicist Harvey Fineberg says "neo-evolution" is on the horizon.
James Duncan Davidson Courtesy of TED

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Fountain Of Youth

About Harvey Fineberg's TED Talk

Medical ethicist Harvey Fineberg says "neo-evolution" is on the horizon. When it becomes easier to eliminate disease through gene therapy, will we change the trajectory of evolution?

About Harvey Fineberg

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TED Radio Hour
8:01 am
Fri May 22, 2015

How Do You Make An Elderly Worm Feel Young Again?

"We can harness our bodies' own abilities that are kind of kept under wraps to allow the aging process to be slowed down." - Biochemist Cynthia Kenyon
James Duncan Davidson Courtesy of TED

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Fountain Of Youth

About Cynthia Kenyon's TED Talk

What controls aging? Biochemist Cynthia Kenyon has found a genetic mutation that can more than double the lifespan of a tiny worm, which points to how we might one day significantly extend human life.

About Cynthia Kenyon

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Goats and Soda
6:36 am
Fri May 22, 2015

How Do You Motivate Kids To Stop Skipping School?

Hanna Barczyk for NPR

It seems like a no-brainer: Offer kids a reward for showing up at school, and their attendance will shoot up. But a recent study of third-graders in a slum in India suggests that incentive schemes can do more harm than good.

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The Salt
2:55 am
Fri May 22, 2015

Revealed: The Ocean's Tiniest Life At The Bottom Of The Food Chain

Plankton collected in the Pacific Ocean with a 0.1mm mesh net. Seen here is a mix of multicellular organisms — small zooplanktonic animals, larvae and single protists (diatoms, dinoflagellates, radiolarians) — the nearly invisible universe at the bottom of the marine food chain.
Christian Sardet/CNRS/Tara Expeditions

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 4:54 pm

What's at the bottom of the bottom of the food chain? Well, think small ... smaller than you can see.

Tiny life forms in the ocean, too small for the naked eye to see.

There are (and scientists have done the math) trillions of microorganisms in the ocean: plankton, bacteria, krill (they're maybe bigger than "micro," but not by much), viruses, protists and archaea (they're like bacteria, but they aren't bacteria).

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The Salt
3:31 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

Chew On This: The Science Of Great NYC Bagels (It's Not The Water)

Steaming-hot bagels are scooped out of the water in which they were boiled and dumped onto a stainless steel drain board at a bagel bakery in Queens, New York City, 1963. Traditionally, bagels were boiled, but bakers who use the modern method skip this step.
Dan Grossi AP

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 5:30 pm

One of the first life lessons I picked up in college was this: The secret to the shiny crust and chewy bite prized in New York bagels is boiling. Any other way of cooking them, my Brooklyn born-and-raised, freshman-year roommate told me, is simply unacceptable.

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Shots - Health News
1:10 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

You And Yeast Have More In Common Than You Might Think

This fungus among us — baker's yeast, aka Saccharomyces cerevisiae — is useful for more than just making bread.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 3:02 pm

Rip open a little package of baker's yeast from the supermarket, peer inside, and you'll see your distant cousin.

That's because we share a common ancestor with yeast, and a new study in the journal Science suggest that we also share hundreds of genes that haven't really changed in a billion years.

Edward Marcotte, a biologist at the University of Texas at Austin, knew that humans and yeast have thousands of similar genes. But, he wondered, how similar are they?

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The Salt
10:57 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Urban Food Forests Make Fruit Free For The Picking

A morning's berry harvest from West Philadelphia's Ogden Orchard includes raspberries, gooseberries, currants, goumis and mulberries.
Courtesy of Philadelphia Orchard Project

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 12:06 pm

To discover the new frontier of urban farming, you'll have to look up — and look sharp — for hanging fruit.

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The Two-Way
6:37 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Pipeline Operator In Calif. Spill Reportedly Had History Of Infractions

A helicopter coordinates ships below pulling booms to collect oil from a spill near Refugio State Beach, north of Goleta, Calif., on Wednesday.
Michael A. Mariant AP

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 3:29 pm

Updated at 11 a.m. ET

The Texas-based company responsible for the undersea pipeline that has leaked tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the sea near the coast at Goleta, Calif., has a history of federal safety violations, The Los Angeles Times reports.

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The Salt
2:40 am
Thu May 21, 2015

Avian Flu Outbreak Takes Poultry Producers Into Uncharted Territory

"No trespassing" signs are posted on the edge of a field at a farm operated by Daybreak Foods near Eagle Grove, Iowa, which has been designated "bio security area," on May 17.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 3:25 pm

An avian flu outbreak is sweeping across the Midwest at a frightening pace, ravaging chicken and turkey farms and leaving officials stumped about the virus's seemingly unstoppable spread.

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Science
6:13 pm
Wed May 20, 2015

Chipping Away At The Mystery Of The Oldest Tools Ever Found

An ancient stone tool unearthed at the excavation site near Kenya's Lake Turkana. It's not just the shape and sharp edges that suggest it was deliberately crafted, the researchers say, but also the dozens of stone flakes next to it that were part of the same kit.
MPK-WTAP

Originally published on Thu May 21, 2015 6:07 pm

A scientific discovery in Kenya, first reported in April, challenges conventional wisdom about human history, say the scientists who made the discovery and are now releasing the details. The scientists say the collection of stone tools they turned up near Lake Turkana were made long before the first humans are thought to have evolved.

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