There's never a good week for nuclear waste, but this week has been a particularly bad one. Officials at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico have disclosed that 13 employees inhaled radioactive material after a major accident earlier this month.
While there's no risk to the public and the exposed workers did not need immediate medical treatment, the incident is shaping up to be a major setback for the nation's only dedicated nuclear waste dump.
The other morning, I found myself staring at something strange and unfamiliar: empty grocery shelves with the word "eggs" above them. The store, a Whole Foods Market in Washington, D.C., blamed, in another sign, the dearth on "increased demand for organic eggs."
This scene is unfolding in grocery stores across the country. But Whole Foods' sign wasn't telling the whole truth. Demand for organic eggs is indeed increasing, but production is also down.
The reason behind that shortfall highlights an increasingly acute problem in the organic industry.
Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 7:32 pm
The sheer volume of food wasted in the U.S. each year should cause us some shame, given how many people are hungry both in our own backyard and abroad.
Now the U.S. Department of Agriculture has provided us with a way to understand our flagrant annual waste in terms of calories, too. It's pretty mind-boggling — 141 trillion calories down the drain, so to speak, or 1,249 calories per capita per day.
When it comes to "callings" we usually think of people who feel drawn to religious career paths. But if you ask Neil deGrasse Tyson how he became an astrophysicist he says: "I think the universe called me. I feel like I had no say in the matter."
A bill now before the Alabama House would set the state’s first regulations on wind farms. The plan would mean building large wind mills to generate electricity. The plan to regulate wind power in Alabama passed the Senate last week by a vote of 24-to-6. Bill sponsor Republican Phil Williams represents Etowah and Cherokee Counties. He says he started looking into wind farms when he learned of two projects planned for his district.
Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 5:31 pm
Can drones, the small unmanned aircraft that are at the forefront of fields from warfare to commercial delivery systems, fly without human intervention? A team of Hungarian researchers answers yes, having created 10 drones that self-organize as they move through the air.
The team based its creation on birds such as pigeons, which fly in tight bunches while making adjustments and decisions. They fitted quadcopters — drones with four rotors — with GPS, processors and radios that allow them to navigate in formation or while following a leader.
The Environmental Protection Agency has a lot on its plate, now add to that budget concerns. The agency is hoping to trim its staff. Like a number of other government agencies, the EPA is offering buyouts to employees.
As NPR's Brian Naylor reports, it's all part of a shrinking federal workforce.
Desalination is just one way of tackling the drought. Another technique to conserve water is quite simply to reuse it. David Sedlak is professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California Berkeley. David, welcome to the program.
Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 3:47 pm
The job of NASA's Kepler mission is to peek at the far reaches of space in the hopes of finding potentially habitable planets. The space agency announced a stunning success, saying that Kepler had identified 715 new planets that orbit 305 stars. The discovery boosts the number of verified planets by around 70 percent.
"Four of the planets are about twice the size of Earth and orbit in their star's so-called habitable zone," NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports for our Newscast unit, "where temperatures might be suitable for liquid water."