Science & Health

The Salt
3:28 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

The Science Of Twinkies: How Do They Last So Darned Long?

Unlike the dodo that sits next to it on an NPR Science Desk shelf, this year-and-a-half-old Twinkie is still around — but that doesn't mean you want to eat it.
Heather Rousseau NPR

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 11:56 am

We have to confess: When we heard that Twinkies will have nearly double the shelf life, 45 days, when they return to stores next week, our first reaction was — days? Not years?

Urban legend has long deemed Twinkies the cockroaches of the snack food world, a treat that can survive for decades, what humanity would have left to eat come the apocalypse. The true shelf life — which used to be 26 days — seems somewhat less impressive by comparison.

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Shots - Health News
12:43 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

When Choirs Sing, Many Hearts Beat As One

Members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir raise their voices in unison — and perhaps unify their heart rates, too.
George Frey Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 7:33 am

We open our hymnals to Hymn 379, and we begin to sing. "God is Love, let heav'n adore him / God is Love, let earth rejoice ..."

Lifting voices together in praise can be a transcendent experience, unifying a congregation in a way that is somehow both fervent and soothing. But is there actually a physical basis for those feelings?

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The Salt
11:32 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Do Diet Drinks Mess Up Metabolisms?

Some researchers think that artificial sweeteners, most frequently consumed in diet drinks, may confuse the body.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 4:10 pm

It may seem counterintuitive, but there's a body of evidence to suggest that the millions of Americans with a diet soda habit may not be doing their waistlines — or their blood sugar — any favors.

As the consumption of diet drinks made with artificial sweeteners continues to rise, researchers are beginning to make some uncomfortable associations with weight gain and other diseases.

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Science & Health
8:23 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Sixth Graders Need to Get Whooping Cough Vaccine

Alabama health officials say most students going into the 6th grade will need to get the whooping cough vaccine.
healthyliving.blog.ocregister.com

Alabama health officials say most students entering the sixth grade this year will have to get a vaccination to protect them against whooping cough.

   The Montgomery Advertiser reports (http://on.mgmadv.com/15eh31S ) the state health department says the tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis, or Tdap, vaccine will be required for students entering the sixth grade who are 11 and older.

   Pertussis, a bacterial disease also known as whooping cough, is highly contagious and can be fatal.

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Environment
2:01 am
Wed July 10, 2013

In Montana Wilds, An Unlikely Alliance To Save The Sage Grouse

Bryan Ulring (left), ranch hand Graham Fulton (right) and Nature Conservancy ecologist Nathan Korb (center) install a pipe on a new well dug for the cattle Ulring manages for J Bar L Ranch. The ranch is working with The Nature Conservancy to try to preserve sage grouse habitat.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 12:46 pm

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Shots - Health News
4:07 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Harmful Parasites In Cat Poop Are Widespread

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 7:34 am

That cat poop can pose a health risk to humans no longer surprises us.

Some cats carry a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Infected cats shed embryonic T. gondii, called oocysts, in their feces.

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Environment
3:54 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Uncovering The Mystery Behind An Atlantic Tsunami

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 5:00 pm

Scientists in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are still trying to understand what exactly caused a tsunami to strike the East Coast in June. There was no seismic record of the incident. But a team of scientists came together to analyze tidal and weather data. They believe the tsunami may have been caused by a weather phenomenon known as a "derecho."

All Tech Considered
11:40 am
Tue July 9, 2013

The 'Sink-Urinal' Saves Water, Encourages Men To Wash Hands

The design, called Stand, is already in use in several European countries.
Ingus Bajars Courtesy of Kaspar Jursons

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 11:53 am

In a blog series we're calling "Weekly Innovation," we'll explore an interesting idea, design or product that you may not have heard of yet. (Have an innovation to share? Use this quick form.)

A Latvian designer named Kaspars Jursons is trying to help solve European water shortages by redesigning the men's restroom. His new urinal design includes a tap and sink right over it.

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The Salt
2:39 am
Tue July 9, 2013

As Biotech Seed Falters, Insecticide Use Surges In Corn Belt

Crop consultant Dan Steiner inspects a field of corn near Norfolk, Neb.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 1:56 pm

Across the Midwestern corn belt, a familiar battle has resumed, hidden in the soil. On one side are tiny, white larvae of the corn rootworm. On the other side are farmers and the insect-killing arsenal of modern agriculture.

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Alabama Traffic Deaths
4:39 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

4 Killed In Ala. Fourth Of July Weekend Crashes

Alabama Department of Public Safety officials say four people were killed in crashes during the Fourth of July travel period.
Credit dailyhome.com

Alabama Department of Public Safety officials say four people were killed in crashes during the Fourth of July travel period.

The holiday travel period began at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and ended at midnight on Sunday. State patrol officials say they investigated 434 traffic crashes, which resulted in 154 injuries.

The four traffic fatalities don't include traffic accidents that were investigated by other law enforcement agencies. Officials say they're unsure of whether alcohol was linked to any of the crashes and seatbelts were used in one of the four deadly accidents.

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Brown's Ferry
4:33 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Engineer Warns Of Problems At Ala. Nuclear Plant

A Tennessee Valley Authority engineer and federal regulators have warned the largest nuclear plant in Alabama has been operating without a fully functioning failsafe system.
Credit tva.com / Tennessee Valley Authority

A Tennessee Valley Authority engineer and federal regulators have warned the largest nuclear plant in Alabama has been operating without a fully functioning failsafe system.


The engineer and regulators have warned problems at Browns Ferry reported by regulators have included that a cooling pump didn't work and cooling lines sat blocked and unnoticed for years.


A TVA engineer, Joni Johnson, says mechanical and managerial shortcomings at the nuclear plant on the Tennessee River in Limestone County could have led to a meltdown.

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NPR Story
3:15 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Abundance Of Elephants Strains South African Game Reserves

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 11:36 am

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In many parts of Africa, elephants are threatened by poaching. But in South Africa, they're doing so well that some game reserves say they're overpopulated. Now, many of those reserves are trying to limit elephant reproduction even while some ecologists believe it's the wrong approach. Willow Belden reports.

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Krulwich Wonders...
1:04 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

Where's My Dinner? It Was Here A Second Ago — The Sandpiper's Dilemma

Robert Krulwich NPR

They scuttle, peck, scuttle, peck, then they dash up the shoreline, dodging waves, heads down, concentrating. What are they doing? They're "looking for something, something, something," writes the poet Elisabeth Bishop.

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The Salt
10:42 am
Mon July 8, 2013

Math Class Made Delicious: Learn About Cones Through Scones

If only Algebra II class had been this tasty ...
Courtesy Lenore M. Edman

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 11:19 am

Cooks use math to make beautiful food all the time: Slicing eight perfect pieces of pie or doubling a recipe requires basic knowledge of fractions, for example.

But how many cooks think about using beautiful food to illustrate the math itself?

Lenore M. Edman and Windell H. Oskay of the blog Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories do. Feast your eyes on their latest work, "Sconic Sections," pictured above.

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Shots - Health News
2:42 am
Mon July 8, 2013

Finding Simple Tests For Brain Disorders Turns Out To Be Complex

Anne Jones, 62, and Robin Jones, 73, at their home in Menlo Park, Calif. He took a test that revealed proteins typical of Alzheimer's disease.
Ramin Rahimian for NPR

Originally published on Mon July 8, 2013 12:17 pm

If you're having chest pain, your doctor can test you for a heart attack. If you're having hip pain, your doctor could test for osteoarthritis.

But what if you're depressed? Or anxious? Currently there are no physical tests for most disorders that affect the mind. Lab tests like these could transform the field of mental illness. So far efforts to come up with biomarkers for common mental health disorders have proved largely fruitless.

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