International ships call at the busy Port of New Orleans. It's a major shipping convergence point on the Mississippi River. Ships come upriver from the Gulf of Mexico with imports from abroad, and barges come downriver, bringing U.S. goods for export.
Credit Debbie Elliott / NPR
The Mississippi River is flowing at near normal levels again in New Orleans, as measured by this old-fashioned staff gauge behind the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District office. The Corps has been fighting saltwater encroaching up the mouth of the Mississippi because of the persistent drought.
Highly detailed sonar systems aboard the research vessel Pritchard gave researchers a clear view of the sediment on the seafloor off Long Island.
Credit Courtesy of John Goff / University Of Texas
John Goff supervises the sonar mapping of the seafloor along the south shore of Long Island. The scientists are trying to track down where Sandy deposited sediment and sand from the barrier islands from the beaches.
Congress has now agreed to give some $60 billion to states damaged by Hurricane Sandy. A lot will go to Long Island, one of the hardest hit areas. Besides damages to homes and businesses, its system of protective barrier islands and beaches were partially washed away.
Scientists are trying to find out where that sand and sediment went, and whether it can be used to rebuild Long Island's defenses.
The battle between cat lovers and bird lovers has been going on for a long time. Cats and birds just don't mix. But trying to get a handle on how many birds and other animals are being killed by cats isn't easy. Just figuring out how many cats there are is tough enough.
The eye of Hurricane Earl in the Atlantic Ocean, seen from a NASA research aircraft on Aug. 30, 2010. This flight through the eyewall caught Earl just as it was intensifying from a Category 2 to a Category 4 hurricane. Researchers collected air samples on this flight from about 30,000 feet over both land and sea and close to 100 different species of bacteria.
Credit Jane Peterson / NASA
Terry Lathem, a graduate student in Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, takes notes aboard a NASA DC-8 aircraft gathering samples of microorganisms in the atmosphere.
Microbes are known to be able to thrive in extreme environments, from inside fiery volcanoes to down on the bottom of the ocean. Now scientists have found a surprising number of them living in storm clouds tens of thousands of feet above the Earth. And those airborne microbes could play a role in global climate.
Herding cattle up the side of a mountain might seem like a lot of extra work, but for thousands of years, people have hauled their cows into the Alps to graze during the summer months. Why? It's all about great-tasting cheese.
The Defense Department's Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has incubated many important technologies over the decades in computer networking and other areas. The Energy Department wants to make similar strides with an agency called ARPA-E. Over three years now in operation, ARPA-E has spent nearly $800 million on 285 experimental projects.
We invited the agency's deputy director, Cheryl Martin, into our studio so we can find out more about these projects. Good morning.
Mention the recent surge in oil and natural gas production in the U.S. and one word comes to mind for a lot of people: "fracking." Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial technique that uses water, sand and potentially hazardous chemicals to break up rock deep underground to release oil and natural gas.
But there's another technology that is just as responsible for drilling booms happening across the country: horizontal drilling.
Maybe you already know about this, maybe I'm in love, maybe this is just me and my particular craziness, but I want you to click on the image below. It's Mathew Inman's (who calls himself "The Oatmeal") story, handwritten, hand drawn, about his cat, Domino.
There are, we all know, wonderful sites all over the web, but every so often somebody comes along and rejuggles words, pictures and plays with space, remixing elements to very quietly find new beats, new ways to tell a story. That is what Mathew did here. At least I think so.
We go now to Arizona, a magnet for retirees, and for some the answer to the question how should I spend my spare time is this: How about swinging a pick axe in the desert? NPR's Ted Robbins sent this postcard from Ironwood Forest National Monument.
TED ROBBINS, BYLINE: This must be Gary Borax's idea of a good time because he keeps coming back.
GARY BORAX: I've probably been out here 30, 40 times over the years and nearly half of those buffel grass-related.
It's that time again, the SCIENCE FRIDAY Book Club. Regulars are gathered here. With me are Flora Lichtman, correspondent and managing editor of video for SCIENCE FRIDAY, Annette Heist, our senior producer. And this month, we had a page-turner, "The Andromeda Strain."
FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: Yes.
FLATOW: It goes very quickly, that book, doesn't it? Poof.
LICHTMAN: It did. I was thinking of 300 and something-odd pages, but I, you know, in one sitting, was halfway through. I couldn't put it down.
Researchers at Rice University in Houston have discovered a cheap source of the wonder material graphene: baked goods. Marc Abrahams, editor and co-founder of The Annals of Improbable Research, talks about how to transform a box of Girl Scout cookies into $15 billion worth of graphene--in theory, at least.