Science & Health

Krulwich Wonders...
8:51 am
Tue May 14, 2013

What Is It About Bees And Hexagons?

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 12:26 pm

Solved! A bee-buzzing, honey-licking 2,000-year-old mystery that begins here, with this beehive. Look at the honeycomb in the photo and ask yourself: (I know you've been wondering this all your life, but have been too shy to ask out loud ... ) Why is every cell in this honeycomb a hexagon?

Bees, after all, could build honeycombs from rectangles or squares or triangles ...

But for some reason, bees choose hexagons. Always hexagons.

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The Salt
4:42 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Why Humans Took Up Farming: They Like To Own Stuff

Prehistoric "pantries": This illustration is based on archaeological findings in Jordan of structures built to store extra grain some 11,000-12,000 years ago.
Illustration by E. Carlson Courtesy of Dr. Ian Kuijt/University of Notre Dame

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 10:06 am

For decades, scientists have believed our ancestors took up farming some 12,000 years ago because it was a more efficient way of getting food. But a growing body of research suggests that wasn't the case at all.

"We know that the first farmers were shorter, they were more prone to disease than the hunter-gatherers," says Samuel Bowles, the director of the Behavioral Sciences Program at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, describing recent archaeological research.

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The Salt
3:27 pm
Sun May 12, 2013

Is It Safe To Use Compost Made From Treated Human Waste?

Originally published on Wed May 15, 2013 10:46 am

Any gardener will tell you that compost is "black gold," essential to cultivating vigorous, flavorful crops. But it always feels like there's never enough, and its weight and bulk make it tough stuff to cart around.

I belong to a community garden in Washington, D.C., that can't get its hands on enough compost. So you can imagine my delight when I learned that the U.S. Composting Council was connecting community gardeners with free material from local facilities through its Million Tomato Compost Campaign.

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Around the Nation
12:47 pm
Sun May 12, 2013

For Year-Round Buzz, Beekeepers 'Fast-Forward Darwinism'

The Plymouth County Beekeepers Association distributed more than 500 crates of honeybees this spring.
Katherine Perry for NPR

Originally published on Sun May 12, 2013 5:51 pm

Beekeepers In Massachusetts are taking the mission to save the bees into their own hands.

There has been a dramatic disappearance of honeybees across the U.S. since 2006. A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report blamed a combination of problems, including mites, disease, poor nutrition and pesticides.

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The Two-Way
8:22 am
Sat May 11, 2013

Schools? How About A Science Laureate At The Super Bowl?

Beyonce took the stage at this year's Super Bowl halftime show. Imagine a scientist instead. Perhaps dressed differently.
Michael DeMocker The Times-Picayune /Landov

Originally published on Sat May 11, 2013 9:11 am

The same scientist who famously "killed Pluto" (as a planet, that is) says it's "brilliant" that there's an effort underway in Congress to name a science laureate.

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The Two-Way
7:34 am
Sat May 11, 2013

Astronauts Go On Spacewalk To Fix Ammonia Leak

NASA.gov

Originally published on Sat May 11, 2013 4:11 pm

Two astronauts went on a last-minute spacewalk Saturday to replace a pump suspected of being the source of a serious ammonia leak.

It was unclear what caused the ammonia leak, NASA spokesman Rob Navias said, "but the installation of this spare pump package — at least at the moment — seems to have done the trick."

NASA officials called the spacewalk a success, but said it would take time to see if the leak was indeed stopped. Engineers will review photos the astronauts took at the site.

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Krulwich Wonders...
5:02 am
Sat May 11, 2013

Astronomy's Little Secret: The Hidden Art Of 'Moonsweeping'

La Luna

A few nights ago, (Wednesday, I think, around midnight), I was by my window looking up, and there, hanging in the sky, I saw the moon. Not all of it, just what the almanac used to call "a crescent" — what my mom called a "toenail moon." The whole moon, I knew, was up there, hidden in shadow. The crescent part was facing the sun. That's the part you can see at the beginning of each month, my second grade teacher, Mrs. Elkins taught us, using a flashlight and a tennis ball to demonstrate the phases of the moon. Scotty Miller, I remember, got to hold the tennis ball. Mrs.

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The Salt
4:30 am
Sat May 11, 2013

Tiny Mites Spark Big Battle Over Imports Of French Cheese

Microscopic bugs called cheese mites are responsible for giving Mimolette its distinctive rind and flavor.
Chris Waits via Flickr

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 2:28 pm

The Food and Drug Administration is currently embroiled in a surprisingly heated culinary standoff — pitting French cheese-makers (and American cheese-lovers) against regulators, all because of one very small problem: cheese mites.

Cheese mites are microscopic little bugs that live on the surfaces of aged cheeses, munching the microscopic molds that grow there. For many aged cheeses, they're something of an industry nuisance, gently brushed off the cheeses. But for Mimolette, a bright orange French cheese, they're actually encouraged.

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Environment
1:46 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

Atop A Hawaiian Mountain, A Constant Sniff For Carbon Dioxide

Researchers use the 120-foot tower atop Mauna Loa in Hawaii to collect air samples and measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Mauna Kea looms in the distance.
Forrest M. Mims III forrestmims.org

Originally published on Tue May 14, 2013 12:22 pm

Climate scientists have a good reason to want to get away from it all. To get an accurate picture of the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, you have to find places where the numbers won't be distorted by cities or factories or even lots of vegetation that can have a major local impact on CO2 concentrations.

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Shots - Health News
11:54 am
Fri May 10, 2013

Kids With Autism Quick To Detect Motion

Did you see that?
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon May 13, 2013 6:37 am

Children with autism see simple movements twice as fast as other children their age, a new study finds.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University and the University of Rochester were looking to test a common theory about autism which holds that overwhelming sensory stimulation inhibits other brain functions. The researchers figured they could check that by studying how kids with autism process moving images.

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Environment
11:27 am
Fri May 10, 2013

'Dangerous Territory:' Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach Iconic High

Carbon dioxide readings at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii have reached what atmospheric scientist Ralph Keeling calls a "psychological threshold" of 400 parts per million. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been steadily increasing since near-constant measurements began at the observatory in 1958.
Jonathan Kingston National Geographic/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 6:26 pm

Earth's atmosphere is entering a new era. A mountaintop research station that has been tracking carbon dioxide for more than 50 years says the level of that gas in our air has reached a milestone: 400 parts per million.

That number is one of the clearest measures of how human beings are changing the planet. It shows how much carbon we have put into the air from burning fossil fuels — and that carbon dioxide drives global warming.

This measurement comes from Mauna Loa, Hawaii, a remote volcano where the air is largely free of local influences.

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Space
11:25 am
Fri May 10, 2013

Hello....Is There Anybody Out There?

The SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute's Jill Tarter has spent decades searching for the signals that would tell us we aren't alone in the cosmos. Tarter discusses the hunt, and what the presence of intelligent life elsewhere might tell us about our own future on Earth.

NPR Story
10:22 am
Fri May 10, 2013

Experts Percolate on How To Brew Coffee

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 12:22 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

And Flora Lichtman is here with our Video Pick of the Week. Hi, Flora.

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: Hi. It's multitasking's - you know, what goes best with multitasking? A big cup of coffee.

(LAUGHTER)

LICHTMAN: That's what our video is about this week. Our continuing coverage of this hard-hitting serious issue: What is the science in your morning Joe? So our video this week was put together by video producer Jenny Woodward. And this one goes into the gear.

FLATOW: The gear?

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NPR Story
10:22 am
Fri May 10, 2013

Microexpressions: More Than Meets The Eye

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 12:23 pm

David Matsumoto, a psychology professor at San Francisco State University, trains national security officials and police officers to recognize "microexpressions"--fleeting, split-second flashes of emotion across someone's face. Matsumoto says those subtle cues may reveal how an interview subject is feeling, helping officials to hone their line of questioning.

NPR Story
10:22 am
Fri May 10, 2013

The Myth Of Multitasking

Originally published on Fri May 10, 2013 12:23 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Up next, we'll be focusing on you and your true love - your smartphone. Think about it. Are you lost without it? Inconsolable if the two of you are separated? Willing to walk into a lamppost rather than look up while texting? Is it the object of your desire? Isn't it?

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