Science & Health

The Two-Way
2:34 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Wall Of Ice Surrounding Fukushima Will Contain Radioactive Water

Members of a local government council check an outlet of a so-called groundwater bypass system as they inspect the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station earlier this week.
Kyodo/Landov

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 3:56 pm

Earlier this week, workers in Japan began constructing an underground "ice wall" around the melted-down nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The wall is designed to stop hundreds of tons of radioactive groundwater from leaking into the nearby Pacific Ocean.

Building a subterranean wall of ice sounds a little crazy. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel, who's been covering the story, says it is a little crazy — but not as far-fetched as it sounds.

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Shots - Health News
1:07 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

The GPS In Your Head May Work A Lot Better Than That Phone

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 10:11 am

If I tell you to make your way to NPR's headquarters from the NOMA Metro stop a few blocks away, odds are you'll get yourself here, no problem. But how?

By using two GPS systems in the brain, one that determines the direct distance to the destination, and another that calculates the twists and turns you'll need to take along the way.

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The Salt
10:54 am
Thu June 5, 2014

At 'Pestaurant,' Grasshopper Burgers Win Over Eaters Who Say 'Yuck'

A Grasshopper Burger topped with Mexican spice mealworms.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 7:17 am

If you're a scientist and you work for a pest control company, you're used to thinking about bugs as the enemy you're trained to kill.

Now try putting one in your mouth.

It took some mental rearranging for Nancy Troyano, an entomologist for Ehrlich Pest Control. But on Wednesday she did it for the first time in her life.

"I'm used to looking at grasshoppers under a microscope," Troyano tells The Salt. "I know what their internal organs and the spines on their legs look like, so I was kind of thinking about them."

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NPR Ed
8:03 am
Thu June 5, 2014

The Birds And The Bees ... And iPads

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 12:03 pm

"The talk." The facts of life. The birds and the bees. Whatever you call it, do you remember when and how you first learned about human sexuality? For me, it was a series of conversations in school and with my parents that began in third grade with the classic picture book Where Did I Come From?.

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Asia
4:16 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Ice Wall May Stop Radioactive Leak At Japanese Nuclear Plant

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 3:02 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Earlier this week, workers in Japan began construction of an underground ice wall around the melted-down nuclear reactors at Fukushima. It is hard to even say that sentence without feeling like you're relating some science fiction tale. But it's true. The ice wall is designed to stop hundreds of tons of radioactive groundwater from leaking into the nearby Pacific Ocean. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel has been covering this story for a long time. Welcome back to the program.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: Thank you, nice to be here.

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Shots - Health News
5:35 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

The Camel Did It: Scientists Nail Down Source Of Middle East Virus

A Saudi Arabian man wears a mask to protect against the Middle East respiratory syndrome at his farm outside Riyadh, May 12.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 3:40 pm

In the two years since Middle East respiratory syndrome was first diagnosed in people, scientists have struggled to figure out how we catch the deadly virus. Some blamed bats. Others pointed at camels.

Now scientists in Saudi Arabia offer the strongest evidence yet that the one-humped dromedaries can indeed spread the MERS virus — which has infected more than 800 people on four continents, including two men in the U.S.

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Around the Nation
4:04 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

An Underwater Race To Transplant Miami's Rare Corals

Close-up of a star coral rescued by Coral Morphologic from a reef in Miami's shipping channel.
Courtesy of Coral Morphologic

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 6:18 pm

A lab just off Florida's Miami River has become the base for an unusual lifesaving operation.

A group of scientists there is on an urgent mission to save as many corals as it can before the marine creatures are destroyed as part of an underwater excavation of Miami's shipping channel. The channel — set to be dredged and deepened on Saturday — is home to a thriving coral reef.

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Remembrances
3:20 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

How A Scientist Of Psychedelics Became The 'Godfather Of Ecstasy'

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 6:18 pm

The man known as the "godfather of ecstasy" has died at the age of 88. Scientist Alexander Shulgin rediscovered a chemical known as MDMA, which was eventually adopted as the club drug ecstasy. Rick Doblin, the president of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies and a friend of Shulgin, reflects on the man's unconventional legacy.

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Business
3:08 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

New Pollution Rules Leave Utilities Frustrated, As Details Remain Up In Air

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 6:18 pm

The Obama administration has proposed rules for limiting greenhouse gases, but many of the details must still be set by states, leaving utilities unsure about specifics they'll be expected to achieve.

The Two-Way
2:44 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

1 Baby, 3 Parents: Scientists Say Due Date Is In Two Years

A British scientific panel has been reviewing treatments for mitochondrial disease that involve using material from two women and one man with the goal of producing a healthy baby.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 5:17 pm

A new medical technique that could prevent mitochondrial disease would also create babies with three parents, a British health agency says. Officials say the time is coming for a technique that would use material from two women and one man to produce a healthy embryo.

"I think that [two years] is not a bad estimation," Robin Lovell-Badge of the Medical Research Council tells the BBC. "The other sorts of experiments that we thought were necessary, again it will take about two years to complete all of those."

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The Salt
11:42 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Hydroponic Tomatoes May One Day Be Tastier Than Ones Grown Outside

Hydroponic tomatoes are now just as tasty as tomatoes grown outside in perfect summer conditions, scientists say.
iStockphoto

Peak tomato season — July through September here on the East Coast — is almost upon us, and the anticipation is palpable. Before we know it, those super sweet, juicy fruits, grown outdoors under the hot sun, will be back in abundance.

We tend to fetishize summer tomatoes, especially heirloom varieties like Brandywine and Cherokee Purple, and regard them as the pinnacle of tomato flavor.

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Krulwich Wonders...
6:03 am
Wed June 4, 2014

How Chocolate Might Save The Planet

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 11:11 am

When you unwrap it, break off a piece and stick it in your mouth, it doesn't remind you of the pyramids, a suspension bridge or a skyscraper; but chocolate, says materials scientist Mark Miodownik, "is one of our greatest engineering creations."

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Research News
4:05 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Playtime With Mom Helps Boost Toddlers' Under-Developed Brains

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 10:29 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now we have a story about the power of play. Some 200 million toddlers in poor countries are starting life with an extra burden. Because of malnourishment or disease, these kids are small for their age and their brains are underdeveloped. The consequences of this can haunt them into adulthood. But here's some positive news - there's a study in the journal Science suggesting that more play time with parents can dramatically reverse the damage suffered by these kids. NPR's Nurith Aizenman reports.

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The Salt
2:31 am
Tue June 3, 2014

How Atomic Particles Helped Solve A Wine Fraud Mystery

French physicist Philippe Hubert uses gamma rays to detect radioactivity in wine. "In the wine is the story of the Atomic Age," he says.
C J Walker Courtesy of William Koch

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 6:44 am

In a laboratory, deep under a mile-high stretch of the Alps on the French-Italian border, Philippe Hubert, a physicist at the University of Bordeaux, is testing the authenticity of a bottle of wine.

"We are looking for radioactivity in the wine," says Hubert. "Most of the time the collectors send me bottles of wine because they want to know if it is fake or not."

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The Two-Way
4:24 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Study: Americans Less Fearful Of Storms Named After Women

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed more than 25,000 homes in Florida. But its death toll was far less than "female" storms such as Audrey, Camille and Katrina.
Lynn Sladky AP

Originally published on Mon June 2, 2014 4:59 pm

A study published Monday suggests Americans are less afraid of hurricanes with female names.

This is a real study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences — not The Onion.

Researchers at the University of Illinois and Arizona State looked at deaths caused by hurricanes between 1950 — when storms were first named — and 2012.

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