Science & Health

All Tech Considered
1:36 pm
Sun June 28, 2015

When It Comes To Learning For The Deaf, 'It's A 3-D Language'

Melissa Malzkuhn, director of the Motion Light Lab at Gallaudet University, suits up in motion capture to record a nursery rhyme for deaf children.
Emma Bowman NPR

In a small, sparse makeshift lab, Melissa Malzkuhn practices her range of motion in a black, full-body unitard dotted with light-reflecting nodes. She's strapped on a motion capture, or mocap, suit. Infrared cameras that line the room will capture her movement and translate it into a 3-D character, or avatar, on a computer.

But she's not making a Disney animated film.

Three-dimensional motion capture has developed quickly in the last few years, most notably as a Hollywood production tool for computer animation in films like Planet of the Apes and Avatar.

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The Two-Way
9:10 am
Sun June 28, 2015

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Breaks Up On Liftoff

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft breaks apart shortly after liftoff Sunday at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
John Raoux AP

Originally published on Sun June 28, 2015 3:58 pm

Updated at 4:55 p.m. ET

An unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket experienced what the private space launch company calls "some type of anomaly in first-stage flight" about two and a half minutes into its flight.

NASA commentator George Diller confirmed that "the vehicle has broken up."

Pieces could be seen raining down on the Atlantic Ocean over the rocket's intended trajectory. More than 5,200 pounds of cargo, including the first docking port designed for NASA's next-generation crew capsule, were aboard.

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4:12 am
Sun June 28, 2015

Wildlife Forensics Lab Uses Tech To Sniff, Identify Illegal Wood

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Forensics Lab Director Ken Goddard holds a wood sample used in the lab's forensic work in Ashland, Ore.
Jes Burns OPB/EarthFix

Originally published on Wed July 1, 2015 8:48 am

Before you prosecute thieves, you have to know what they stole. It's the same for crimes against nature.

The world's only lab dedicated solely to wildlife forensics is in southern Oregon. The lab usually specializes in endangered animal cases, but armed with a high-tech device, it's now helping track shipments of contraband wood.

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7:11 am
Sat June 27, 2015

Puerto Rico's Monkey Island Lures Scientists For Generations

Family means a lot on Cayo Santiago, an island and monkey research colony off the coast of Puerto Rico. The colony of rhesus macaques living on the island since the 1930s has allowed scientists to trace kinship ties and effects across an extended community.
Anders Kelto/NPR

Originally published on Sat June 27, 2015 9:30 pm

Imagine you're on a tropical island in the Caribbean. There are coconut trees, rocky cliffs, blue-green waters. But now, imagine there are hundreds of monkeys on this island. And, these monkeys have a disease that could kill you, if you're not careful. What you're picturing is a real-life island off the coast of Puerto Rico.

The island of Cayo Santiago hosts the oldest research center in the world for wild primates. Scientists from all over the world come to the island to study questions of primate behavior, cognition and ecology.

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3:38 pm
Fri June 26, 2015

New Research Finds Lonely People Have Superior Social Skills

Originally published on Sat June 27, 2015 2:53 pm

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Goats and Soda
10:36 am
Fri June 26, 2015

Save Wildlife, Save Yourself?

Originally published on Fri June 26, 2015 5:57 pm

Everyone knows that keeping our forests and grasslands full of wolves, bald eagles and honeybees is good for the environment.

But could protecting animals and preserving ecosystems also help people not catch Lyme disease or West Nile virus?

Earlier this month, scientists at the University of South Florida reported evidence that higher biodiversity in environments, such as forests in the northeastern U.S. and the Amazon basin in South America, may lower people's chances of getting animal-borne diseases.

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Shots - Health News
8:34 am
Fri June 26, 2015

To Master Stage Fright, Practice Makes Imperfect OK

Sara Solovitch plays the piano in the Terminal B baggage claim area at San Jose International Airport.
Chloe Veltman/KQED

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 8:47 am

In the past, if Sara Solovitch tripped up while playing the piano she would get flustered and stop. Especially in front of an audience.

"I felt like I had to correct everything and each note had to be perfect," the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based author and pianist. But now, she can breeze through a few bum notes while playing Claude Debussy's lyrical piano piece Reflections on the Water as if no one were listening.

"One of the things I've really worked on has been continuing to play," Solovitch says.

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The Two-Way
2:55 pm
Thu June 25, 2015

Study Reveals What Happens During A 'Glacial Earthquake'

One of the 20 GPS sensors deployed on Greenland's Helheim Glacier to track its movement.
Alistair Everett/Swansea University

Originally published on Fri June 26, 2015 6:35 am

When giant icebergs break off of huge, fast-moving glaciers, they essentially push back on those rivers of ice and temporarily reverse the flow.

That's according to a new study of "glacial earthquakes," an unusual kind of temblor discovered just over a decade ago.

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2:12 pm
Thu June 25, 2015

Make Lava, Not War

The Two-Way
9:33 am
Thu June 25, 2015

'Stealthy' Giant Rhea Eludes Police In U.K.

The female partner of the missing rhea bird that has been on the loose from a private collection in Carlton-in-Lindrick near Worksop, Nottinghamshire, U.K.
Joe Giddens PA Photos/Landov

Originally published on Thu June 25, 2015 12:45 pm

The giant ostrich-like rhea, despite its largely useless vestigial wings, seems to be something of a flight risk.

Last year, we brought you the story of one of the birds — native to South America — that escaped from a farm in the U.K., startling cyclists and otherwise wreaking mayhem in the English countryside.

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The Salt
5:04 pm
Wed June 24, 2015

Dynamic Duos: How To Get More Nutrition By Pairing Foods

Eating eggs with your salad helps boost absorption of carotenoids — the pigments in tomatoes and carrots.
Photo illustration by Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 3:00 pm

What are the makings of a great salad? You need fresh greens, of course, and then a layer of colorful vegetables like tomatoes and carrots.

That's a good start. But to help the body absorb more of the nutrients packed into this medley, you may want to add something else: a cooked egg.

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The Two-Way
12:13 pm
Wed June 24, 2015

How The Turtle Got Its Shell

An illustration of Pappochelys, based on its 240-million-year-old fossilized remains. This ancestor to today's turtle was about 8 inches long.
Rainer Schoch/Nature

Originally published on Wed June 24, 2015 7:01 pm

The fossilized remains of a bizarre-looking reptile are giving scientists new insights into how turtles got their distinctive shells.

Some 240 million years ago, this early turtle-like creature lived in a large lake, in a fairly warm, subtropical climate. But it didn't have the kind of shell modern turtles have, says Hans-Dieter Sues, a curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

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The Salt
11:14 am
Wed June 24, 2015

Survival Of The Greenest Beer? Breweries Adapt To A Changing Climate

The Smuttynose Towle Farm brewery in Hampton, N.H., has an invisible but tight envelope that keeps the interior temperature consistently cool or warm, prevents energy loss and ultimately saves money.
Courtesy of Smuttynose Brewing Company

Originally published on Thu June 25, 2015 3:05 pm

When you hear the words "green brewery," you might picture gleaming solar panels or aerodynamic wind turbines. But the most valuable piece of technology at the $24 millionheadquarters of Smuttynose Brewing Co. on the seacoast of New Hampshire isn't quite as sexy.

"The place you have to start is the building envelope," says Smuttynose founder Peter Egelston.

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The Salt
11:09 am
Wed June 24, 2015

Genetically Modified Salmon: Coming To A River Near You?

AquaBounty's salmon (background) has been genetically modified to grow bigger and faster than a conventional Atlantic salmon of the same age (foreground.)
Courtesy of AquaBounty Technologies, Inc.

Originally published on Thu June 25, 2015 3:25 pm

While the debate over whether to label foods containing GMO ingredients plays out across the country, another engineered food has long been waiting to hit grocery stores: genetically modified salmon.

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Shots - Health News
7:54 am
Wed June 24, 2015

That's Not Fair! Crime And Punishment In A Preschooler's Mind

By age 3, kids already have a burgeoning sense of empathy, ownership and justice.

Originally published on Wed June 24, 2015 9:59 am

Toddlers can throw their fair share of tantrums, especially when you don't yield to their will. But by age 3, it turns out, the little rug rats actually have a burgeoning sense of fairness and are inclined to right a wrong.

When they see someone being mistreated, children as young as 3 years old will intervene on behalf of others nearly as often as for themselves, a study published this month in Current Biology suggests. Just don't ask them to punish the perpetrator.

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