Science & Health

The Two-Way
2:16 pm
Tue June 30, 2015

Venus And Jupiter Set For A Close Encounter Tuesday Night

A NASA projection shows the path of Venus and Jupiter; the two planets will converge in the Earth's sky Tuesday night.
YouTube

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 3:31 pm

It's not as if two worlds will collide tonight — Venus and Jupiter are only converging into a small area of the Earth's sky. NASA says the two bright planets will be "a jaw-dropping one-third of a degree apart."

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The Two-Way
11:58 am
Tue June 30, 2015

11:59:60 — Look For An Extra Tick Of The Clock Tonight

Clocks around the world, like Big Ben, will have an extra second added tonight.
Oli Scarff Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 6:38 pm

If you're worried about finishing everything on your to-do list, you'll get an extra second today to cram it all in.

The extra second is called a "leap second." At the very end of the day, the clock will read 11:59:60 Universal Time (the official time that international timekeepers use) or 7:59:60 p.m. ET.

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Shots - Health News
11:31 am
Tue June 30, 2015

Branding Teen Drivers As Newbies Doesn't Prevent Crashes

Marking novice drivers' cars doesn't help reduce crash rates when it comes to learner's permit holders, study finds.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed July 1, 2015 3:44 pm

Nothing says "I'm a new driver" more than a fire-red label stuck to your license plate for all to see. That's what happens in New Jersey to anyone with a learner's permit under age 21. But identifying these newest drivers doesn't necessarily help reduce crash rates, research finds.

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Science
4:50 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Supreme Court Rules In Industry's Favor. What's EPA's Next Move?

A plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. in January 2015.
Jim Cole AP

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 5:37 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Environmental Protection Agency made a mistake when it told electric power plants to reduce mercury emissions. The high court says the EPA should first have considered how much it would cost power plants to do that.

The decision comes too late for most power companies, but it could affect future EPA regulations.

Mercury in the air is a health risk. When you burn coal or oil, you create airborne mercury that can end up in fish we eat and cause serious health problems.

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Environment
4:41 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

U.N. Holds Climate Talks In New York Ahead Of Paris Meeting

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 5:32 pm

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

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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The Salt
2:57 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Why You Should Thank A Caterpillar For Your Mustard And Wasabi

A cabbage butterfly caterpillar. For tens of millions of years, these critters have been in an evolutionary arms race with plants they munch on. The end result: "mustard oil bombs" that also explode with flavor when we humans harness them to make condiments.
Courtesy of Roger Meissen/Bond LSC

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 3:16 pm

The next time you dab wasabi on your sushi or spread mustard on your hot dog, take a moment to thank a caterpillar. It may sound unlikely, but the critters play a critical role in creating the sharp, pungent flavors that give those condiments a savory kick.

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Shots - Health News
2:50 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Medical School Hopefuls Grapple With Overhauled Entrance Exam

Travis Driscoll, a medical school applicant from Berkeley, Calif., studies for the revamped MCAT.
April Dembosky/KQED

Originally published on Tue June 30, 2015 9:53 am

It's T minus four days until exam day, and Travis Driscoll is practically living at his desk.

"Each day, I'm easily here for five hours," he says. "I haven't done much of anything else but studying for the last two months."

Driscoll is one of 13,000 medical school applicants across the U.S. taking the new Medical College Admissions Test, or MCAT. He's got stacks of science books on his desk to help him prepare and a rainbow of biochemistry charts pasted to the walls: glycolysis, citric acid cycle, electron transport chain, mitosis, meiosis and DNA replication.

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The Salt
2:04 pm
Mon June 29, 2015

Curb Your Appetite: Save Bread For The End Of The Meal

Bite into that bread before your main meal, and you'll spike your blood sugar and amp up your appetite. Waiting until the end of your dinner to nosh on bread can blunt those effects.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed July 1, 2015 2:56 pm

Ah, the bread basket. You sit down for a nice meal out, and there it appears: piping hot, giving off a waft of yeasty divinity.

Who can resist?

There's a reason this age-old tradition prevails. Even in the era of paleo and gluten-free, there are still hordes of us who will gladly nosh on crusty, chewy, soul-warming bread.

But the downside may be more than just some extra calories. Turns out, eating all those carbs before a meal can amp up our appetites and spike our blood sugar.

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The Two-Way
10:33 am
Mon June 29, 2015

Supreme Court Blocks Obama Administration Plan On Power Plant Emissions

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 2:36 pm

Updated at 1:45 p.m. ET

The Supreme court has ruled against an Obama administration effort to limit toxic mercury emissions from power plants, saying the costs of compliance should be taken into account at the very earliest stages of the regulatory process.

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Space
4:05 am
Mon June 29, 2015

SpaceX Rocket Breaks Up On Liftoff

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 5:33 pm

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And in other news, an unmanned supply rocket blasted off yesterday in Florida headed to the International Space Station.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROCKET LAUNCH)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Three, two, one. Mission sequence start and lift off.

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Shots - Health News
2:28 am
Mon June 29, 2015

Vaccine Against Meningitis B Gets A Boost From CDC

Stuart Kinlough Getty Images/Ikon Images

Originally published on Mon June 29, 2015 11:22 am

Parents, take note! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's vaccine committee has expanded its recommendation for immunization against meningitis B, a rare but potentially deadly strain of meningitis.

The committee's revised guidance, issued late last week, broadens the group of young people that the CDC thinks should consider getting the shot, and increases the likelihood that health insurance policies will pay for the injection.

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The Two-Way
2:40 pm
Sun June 28, 2015

Multiple Shark Attacks On Carolina Beaches

For the second time in as many days, a swimmer off North Carolina's Outer Banks has been attacked by a shark.

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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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Environment
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 Sat July 4, 2015 10:04 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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