Science & Health

Krulwich Wonders...
12:58 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Sing, Fly, Mate, Die — Here Come The Cicadas!

Joel Anderson Copyright 2013 Anderson Design Group

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 11:33 am

If you live in Missouri, they've already gone.

But back East, cicadas are about to climb out of their little holes in the ground, wriggle out of their skins, like this ...

... so after 17 years of getting ready, they can now do the thing they hope, hope, hope to do — which is, if at all possible, make a baby.

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The Salt
12:32 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

From Pets To Plates: Why More People Are Eating Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs on the grill
Courtesy of Curtiss Calleo

Originally published on Thu April 4, 2013 1:00 pm

You may best know the guinea pig as a nervous little pet that lives in a cage and eats alfalfa pellets.

Now, the rodents are increasingly showing up on plates in the United States.

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Alabama Traffic Deaths
5:55 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Seatbelts Not Worn In 59 Percent Of Car Fatalities

Alabama Highway Patrol traffic statistics show that seatbelts weren't worn in 59 percent of traffic fatalities in 2012
Credit Press-Register/Mike Kittrell

Alabama Department of Transportation officials say more than half of the people killed in car crashes last year were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.


State officials Monday released a report based on preliminary data from the Alabama State Troopers indicating that 59 percent of people who died in traffic accidents in 2012 were not wearing seatbelts.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:06 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Trapped By The Web — But For How Long? Take the Kelberman Challenge

I'm Google Dina Kilberman

You sit down, turn on the computer, up comes an image, could be anything, a cloud, a koala bear, a video. On the right side of the screen there are more images like it, or almost like it, so you click on one of those, just because ... because what? Because it's there? Because it's waiting? Because, for no conceivable reason, you suddenly have a yearning for balloon pictures? You don't plan this, you have no plan, but you keep going, gently pulled by the lure of "next."

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Business
2:23 am
Mon April 1, 2013

EPA's Push For More Ethanol Could Be Too Little, Too Late

A decal advertising E85 ethanol is displayed on a pump at a gas station in Johnston, Iowa.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 7:50 am

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could soon issue a final ruling that aims to force oil companies to replace E10, gasoline mixed with 10 percent ethanol, with E15.

This move could come just as widespread support for ethanol, which is made from corn, appears to be eroding.

Mike Mitchell was once a true believer in ethanol as a homegrown solution to foreign oil imports. He owns gas stations, and he went further than most, installing expensive blender pumps that let customers choose E15, E20 and all the way up to E85.

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Research News
2:16 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Why Not Apologizing Makes You Feel Better

Illustration by NPR

Originally published on Fri April 5, 2013 7:50 am

To err is human.

So is refusing to apologize for those errors.

From toddlers and talk show hosts to preteens and presidents, we all know people who have done stupid, silly and evil things, then squared their jaws and told the world they've done nothing wrong.

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Science
4:22 pm
Sun March 31, 2013

Somewhere Over The Brainbow: The Journey To Map the Human Brain

More than 100 years ago, Golgi staining on nerve cells opened the gates to modern neuroscience. Scientists recently developed the Technicolor version of Golgi staining, Brainbow, allowing more detailed reconstructions of brain circuits.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 31, 2013 8:55 pm

During the State of the Union, President Obama said the nation is about to embark on an ambitious project: to examine the human brain and create a road map to the trillions of connections that make it work.

"Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy — every dollar," the president said. "Today, our scientists are mapping the human brain to unlock the answers to Alzheimer's."

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Environment
3:46 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

EPA Proposes New Rule To Clean Up Gasoline And Reduce Smog

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 6:55 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new rule to clean up gasoline. The regulation would reduce ozone and other air pollutants by close to 30 percent. That would benefit 100 million people who now live in areas that at times have unhealthful air. NPR's Richard Harris reports.

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Science
3:46 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

'Biotech Rider' In Budget Angers Opponents Of Genetically-Modified Crops

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 6:55 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Tucked away inside the new federal budget for this year - which President Obama signed yesterday - is one, small paragraph dealing with genetically engineered crops. That paragraph - actually, one long, complicated sentence - has the biotech industry smiling. But opponents of biotech crops are hopping mad. They say this biotech rider, as they call it, is a blatant attempt to shield biotech crops from all judicial oversight.

Joining me now to talk about this is NPR's Dan Charles. Welcome, Dan.

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The Two-Way
2:15 pm
Fri March 29, 2013

U.S. Navy Funding Development Of Giant Jellyfish Robot

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 3:09 pm

We've already seen drones shaped like various animals, including humming birds and dogs. Next is one made to look (and swim) like a jellyfish.

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The Two-Way
11:10 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Commute From Earth To Space Station Just Got Shorter

U.S. astronaut Chris Cassidy gestures before Thursday's launch of the Soyuz from the Russian-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Natalia Kolesnikova AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 1:09 pm

Three astronauts have arrived at the International Space Station after being the first to try out a new "express" route that slashes their launch-to-docking commute from two days to just six hours.

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Shots - Health News
2:08 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Number Of Early Childhood Vaccines Not Linked To Autism

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds no link between the number of vaccinations a young child receives and the risk of developing autism spectrum disorders.
Jeff J. Mitchell Getty Images

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 3:33 pm

A large new government study should reassure parents who are afraid that kids are getting autism because they receive too many vaccines too early in life.

The study, by researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, found no connection between the number of vaccines a child received and his or her risk of autism spectrum disorder. It also found that even though kids are getting more vaccines these days, those vaccines contain many fewer of the substances that provoke an immune response.

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Research News
2:05 am
Fri March 29, 2013

Tiny DNA Switches Aim To Revolutionize 'Cellular' Computing

NPR Illustration

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 10:14 am

If you think programming a clock radio is hard, try reprogramming life itself. That's the goal of Drew Endy, a synthetic biologist at Stanford University.

Endy has been working with a laboratory strain of E. coli bacteria. He sees the microbes as more than just single-cell organisms. They're little computers.

"Any system that's receiving information, processing information and then using that activity to control what happens next, you can think of as a computing system," Endy says.

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Animals
4:12 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

What's Behind The 'Fairy Circles' That Dot West Africa?

Thousands of "fairy circles" dot the landscape of the NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia. Why these barren circles appear in grassland areas has puzzled scientists for years.
N. Juergens AAAS/Science

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 6:19 pm

There's a mystery in West Africa that's puzzled scientists for years. Strange circles of bare soil appear in grassland; they're commonly called "fairy circles." These naturally occurring shapes last for decades, until the grass eventually takes over and the circles fade.

Now German scientists think they have an explanation — a horde of insects seems to be bioengineering thousands of miles of desert.

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Shots - Health News
4:12 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Sand From Fracking Could Pose Lung Disease Risk To Workers

A worker stands on top of a storage bin on July 27, 2011, at a drilling operation in Claysville, Pa. The dust is from powder mixed with water for hydraulic fracturing.
Keith Srakocic AP

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 12:50 pm

When workplace safety expert Eric Esswein got a chance to see fracking in action not too long ago, what he noticed was all the dust.

It was coming off big machines used to haul around huge loads of sand. The sand is a critical part of the hydraulic fracturing method of oil and gas extraction. After workers drill down into rock, they create fractures in that rock by pumping in a mixture of water, chemicals and sand. The sand keeps the cracks propped open so that oil and gas are released.

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