Science & Health

Goats and Soda
1:39 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

From Blue Bleach To Hazmat Hacks, Students Take On Ebola Challenges

Students taking part in Columbia University's Ebola design challenge demonstrated for judges how to use a special chamber for decontaminating small items.
Courtesy of Columbia Engineering

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 11:24 am

If there's one thing college kids do best, it's thinking creatively. Often operating with limited resources and tight deadlines, they're used to coming up with ingenious solutions to life's everyday problems (usually on little sleep). So it's no surprise that experts are turning to students for help in battling one of this year's most pressing global health issues: the Ebola outbreak.

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Goats and Soda
2:30 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Why Your Brain Wants To Help One Child In Need — But Not Millions

Saah Exco was found alone on a beach in Liberia's West Point slum, naked and abandoned and likely an Ebola victim.Research suggests the story of one needy individual motivates charitable donors more than statistics about millions of sufferers.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Thu November 6, 2014 3:14 pm

Why do people sometimes give generously to a cause — and other times give nothing at all?

That's a timely question, because humanitarian groups fighting the Ebola outbreak need donations from people in rich countries. But some groups say they're getting less money than they'd expect from donors despite all the news.

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Shots - Health News
4:17 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Researchers Tap Web Chatter To Figure Out Who's Sick

Hotspots show where the common cold is popping up across the U.S.
via Sickweather

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 8:03 am

What if you could track people getting sick just by analyzing how they surf the Web?

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3:27 pm
Tue November 4, 2014

Let's Clear This Up — In New York City, There's Only 1 Rat For Every 4 People

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 5:32 pm

Audie Cornish speaks with Jonathan Auerbach, a PhD student in statistics at Columbia University who endeavored to get a better estimate of the New York City rat population. Auerbach use data from reports of rats called in on the city's non-emergency number to arrive at his number: 2 million rats in a city of more than 8 million people.

7:16 am
Tue November 4, 2014

Alvin: The Little Submarine That Could

Alvin returns to research ship Lulu after a dive in the Atlantic Ocean over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, southwest of the Azores, in 2001.
Emory Kristof National Geographic/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 6:54 am

As the world races to outer space, a submarine about the size of a delivery truck has explored what some consider the real final frontier: the deep blue sea.

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2:23 am
Tue November 4, 2014

Falling Oil Prices Make Fracking Less Lucrative

Pumpjacks at the Inglewood oil fields in California in March. Some of the most controversial methods of oil extraction, like fracking, oil sands production and Arctic drilling, are also expensive. That's made them less profitable as the price of oil continues to fall.
Richard Vogel AP

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 11:35 am

Oil prices are down than more than 25 percent since June and are staying low for now. Drivers may appreciate that, but for oil companies, it's making some of the most controversial methods of producing oil less profitable — and in a few cases, unprofitable.

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The Two-Way
6:44 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

Invasive Bug Prompts Quarantine In Pennsylvania Townships

An adult spotted lanternfly is seen, its wings spread to show a colorful hind wing. The invasive pest has sparked a quarantine in Pennsylvania.
Holly Raguza Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 2:07 pm

The spotted lanternfly has officially arrived in the U.S., and leaders in Pennsylvania are hoping it won't be staying long. The invasive pest poses a threat to fruit orchards and grape vines, along with forests and the timber industry. It was detected in Berks County, northwest of Philadelphia.

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3:33 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

Incorrect Command May Have Doomed Virgin Spaceship

Originally published on Mon November 3, 2014 5:23 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit



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The Salt
12:46 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

On The Trail To Preserve Appalachia's Bounty Of Heirloom Crops

Edgar Meadows has been growing Bloody Butcher corn, an heirloom variety, for generations. The name Bloody Butcher refers to the flecks of red mixed onto the white kernels, like a butcher's apron, Meadows says.
Roxy Todd West Viginia Public Broadcasting

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 12:00 pm

Appalachia may be one of the poorest regions of the U.S., but when it comes to heirloom crops, it's got the riches.

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The Salt
11:33 am
Mon November 3, 2014

A Non-GMO Way To Get More, Tastier Tomatoes

Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory say their new genetic toolkit to improve tomato yield without compromising flavor can be used in all varieties, from plum to cherry.
Courtesy of Zach Lippman/Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

People who grow tomatoes want varieties that produce as much saleable crop as possible. People who eat tomatoes are less interested in yield, and more in taste. The tension between taste and yield can get pretty intense. What's a poor tomato plant to do?

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Research News
5:08 am
Mon November 3, 2014

New Clock May End Time As We Know It

Strontium atoms floating in the center of this photo are the heart of the world's most precise clock. The clock is so exact that it can detect tiny shifts in the flow of time itself.
Courtesy of the Ye group and Brad Baxley/JILA

Originally published on Tue November 4, 2014 1:51 pm

"My own personal opinion is that time is a human construct," says Tom O'Brian. O'Brian has thought a lot about this over the years. He is America's official timekeeper at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado.

To him, days, hours, minutes and seconds are a way for humanity to "put some order in this very fascinating and complex universe around us."

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NPR Story
4:04 am
Mon November 3, 2014

U.N. Report Warns Of 'Irreversible' Damage To Earth's Climate

Originally published on Mon November 3, 2014 7:57 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit



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The Two-Way
1:39 pm
Sun November 2, 2014

U.N.: End Greenhouse Emissions By 2100 Or Risk 'Irreversible' Damage

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru's Minister of Environment, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Chairman Rajendra Pachauri and Renate Christ, Secretary of the IPCC present the Synthesis Report during a news conference in Copenhagen on Sunday.
Scanpix Denmark Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun November 2, 2014 2:03 pm

A new United Nations report is warning that fossil fuels must be entirely phased out by the end of the century in order to avoid dangerous and irreversible damage to the Earth's climate.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the world faces "severe, pervasive and irreversible" consequences if greenhouse gas emissions are not cut to zero by 2100.

Examples of "irreversible" change include a runaway melt of the Greenland ice cap that would trigger devastating sea-level rise and could swamp coastal cities and disrupt agriculturally critical monsoons.

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9:27 am
Sun November 2, 2014

Standard Time Starts, And The Summer-Haters Celebrate

Daylight Saving Time is so last month. Some people can't wait for this kind of weather.
T.J. Kirkpatrick Getty Images

You know what today is, right?

That whole Daylight Saving thing is over, which means it gets darker earlier.

For a lot of people that might be a downer. You get home from work and it's pitch black outside. Maybe you skip that run because it just feels too cold and dark. Then you feel bad because you skipped your run, and you open a bottle of whiskey instead.

Ok, we're getting carried away, but you get the point. Some people are SAD in the winter months — literally SAD — they have seasonal affective disorder. They'd much rather frolic in the summer sun.

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The Two-Way
7:42 am
Sun November 2, 2014

Co-Pilot Killed In SpaceShipTwo Crash Was Experienced And Steady

In a photo released by Scaled Composites, Michael Alsbury, who was killed while co-piloting the test flight of Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014, is shown.
Scaled Composites AP

Originally published on Sun November 2, 2014 2:45 pm

Michael Alsbury, the co-pilot killed during a test flight of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo is being described as an expert pilot and engineer who had 15 years of flying experience, much of it on experimental aircraft.

Alsbury, 39, was killed Friday when the prototype of the reusable space plane, designed for suborbital tourist flights, apparently broke apart in midair over the Mojave Desert. Pilot Peter Siebold, 43, managed to eject and parachuted to safety. Siebold is described as alert and talking.

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