Science & Health

Science & Health
7:50 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Tornado Watches Issued in Alabama

The National Weather Service has issued tornado watches covering most of the state.

One watch set to expire at 1 a.m. Friday includes Bibb, Dallas, Tuscaloosa Counties and others. Another watch set to expire at 3 a.m. includes Cullman, Etowah, Jefferson, Limestone and Montgomery counties, among others.

A storm system moving eastward out of Mississippi will mean a threat of strong storms beginning in central Alabama Thursday night. The National Weather Service says chances are greatest northwest of a line extending roughly from Selma to Anniston.

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The Salt
6:26 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

'Piglet Smoothie' Fed To Sows To Prevent Disease; Activists Outraged

A screen grab from an undercover video released by the Humane Society of the U.S. shows a pig in a gestation crate at Iron Maiden Farms in Owensboro, Ky.
Courtesy of The Humane Society of The United States

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 1:37 pm

Animal welfare groups go to great lengths to show us how "the sausage" is made inside the factory-style farms that produce most of our meat. For the past few years, they've armed activists with video cameras and sent them undercover to document alleged abuses or risky practices.

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The Two-Way
4:41 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Men Who Vandalized Egyptian Pyramid To Prove Theory Face Charges

Domique Goerlitz shown in one of the pyramid's chambers in this screen grab from their video, which has apparently been removed.
YouTube

Two self-styled amateur archeologists from Germany, who filmed themselves scraping off pieces of Egypt's Great Pyramid in hopes of proving that the ancient wonder was built by people from the legendary city of Atlantis, are now facing possible criminal charges in their home country.

During a trip to Egypt in April 2013, Dominque Goerlitz and Stephan Erdmann, along with a German filmmaker, were granted access to parts of the Great Pyramid at Giza that are normally off-limits to the public. They smuggled their samples back to Germany with plans to produce a documentary.

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Environment
3:18 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Keystone Greens See Pipeline As Crucial Test For Obama

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 7:02 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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All Tech Considered
3:18 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Deep Learning: Teaching Computers To Tell Things Apart

Cat Or Dog? Sure, you can easily tell the difference. But a machine may not be able to guess on the first try.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 8:03 pm

WhatsApp may be Facebook's latest prize, but it's not the company's most ambitious investment. In recent months, the social networking giant has begun funding something potentially far more revolutionary: artificial intelligence.

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Science
3:18 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Scientists Fear Ecological Disaster In Nicaragua's Planned Canal

A channel big enough to handle global shipping would require deep dredging throughout Lake Nicaragua, the largest source of fresh water in Central America.
Esteban Felix AP

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 7:02 pm

Scientists are raising the alarm about the possible environmental consequences of a huge shipping canal that could cut across Nicaragua, from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

The government of this Central American nation has signed a deal with a Chinese company that is planning to build a maritime shortcut that would compete with the Panama Canal. Construction could begin next year — yet there's no official route for the canal and no assessment of its potential impacts on the environment.

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The Two-Way
9:52 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Nebraska To Appeal Ruling That Blocks Keystone Pipeline In State

TransCanada President and CEO Russ Girling comments on the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline route through Nebraska during a January 2013 news conference in Calgary, Alberta.
Todd Korol Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 10:43 am

The company in charge of the Keystone XL extension said Thursday that it is considering its next move now that a Nebraska judge has struck down a law that allowed the pipeline to be routed through that state.

"We are disappointed and disagree with the decision of the Nebraska district court and will now analyze the judgment and decide what next steps may be taken," TransCanada Corp. said in a statement. "Nebraska's attorney general has filed an appeal."

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Science
3:52 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

As Execution Drugs Run Dry, Attention Turns To Source Of Shortage

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 7:02 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish.

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Health
3:52 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

'Bluish' Light May Help Alzheimer's Patients Find Bearings

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 8:59 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now, health and electrical lighting. Last month, Mariana Figueiro showed me something she has developed to help seniors avoid falls in the night. Figueiro researches health applications at the Lighting Research Center at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Her project is a nightlight. But it's not just a single bulb. It's a string of yellow lights that border the darkened entrance to, say, a bathroom.

It's a doorway and around the frame of the doorway are the yellow LEDs?

MARIANA FIGUEIRO: That's correct.

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Science
3:52 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

What Is The Psychological Effect Of Naming Storms?

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 7:02 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Along with plenty of ice, sleet and snow, much of the country has also been blanketed this winter by an avalanche of names. When winter storms assault us, they now come with names like Hercules, Janus and, the most recent storm, Pax.

Here's NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam on why we name winter storms and how those names might affect us.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: We've been naming hurricanes for many years.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS CLIP)

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The Two-Way
2:39 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

If Yellowstone Could Talk, It Might Squeak. Blame The Helium

Sunset on the Firehole River, Yellowstone National Park.
Bill Young Flickr

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 7:02 pm

A huge amount of ancient helium is rising up from the rocks beneath Yellowstone National Park — about enough to fill up a Goodyear blimp every week.

The gas comes from a vast store of helium that's accumulated in the Earth's crust for hundreds of millions of years, scientists report in the journal Nature this week.

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The Two-Way
1:18 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

World's Largest Oyster Is Size Of A Man's Shoe

It's alive: At nearly 14 inches long, this oyster has been certified as the world's largest. It's also around the same size as a man's size 10-1/2 or 11 shoe here in the U.S.
Wadden Sea Centre

The world's largest oyster is nearly 14 inches long and resides in Denmark, according to the folks at Guinness World Records. And it's still alive and growing, according to Christine Ditlefsen, the biologist at the Wadden Sea Centre whose world record was recently certified.

The oyster was found in October in Wadden Sea National Park, a shallow area off of the North Sea on Denmark's southwestern coast. Its size and shape could be said to resemble a huge plaintain. But when they found it, the Wadden staff compared the oyster to a large and sturdy shoe.

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Author Interviews
1:11 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

One Man's Quest To Find The 'Sonic Wonders Of The World'

Why does thunder rumble? Acoustic professor Trevor Cox explains that it has to do with the way lightning is a jagged line. "Each little kink is actually generating the sound, and the reason thunder rumbles is because the sound takes different time to come from different kinks because they're all slightly different distances from you," he says.
Mariana Suarez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 1:38 pm

Ever wonder why your voice sounds so much better when you sing in the shower? It has to do with an acoustic "blur" called reverberation. From classical to pop music, reverberation "makes music sound nicer," acoustic engineer Trevor Cox tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. It helps blend the sound, "but you don't want too much," he warns.

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Shots - Health News
11:48 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Sit More, And You're More Likely To Be Disabled After Age 60

Sure, it's relaxing. But all those hours on the sofa may make it hard to actually stand up on your own.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 1:26 pm

The more you sit, the less physically active you are, which can lead to all sorts of health problems, including an early death.

But too much sitting increasingly looks like a health risk all its own. Researchers at Northwestern University say that for people 60 and older, each additional hour a day spent sitting increases the risk of becoming physically disabled by about 50 percent — no matter how much exercise they get.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:19 am
Wed February 19, 2014

Trees On The Move As Temperature Zones Shift 3.8 Feet A Day

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 1:46 pm

You are a snail. You are a plant. You like where you are. The temperature's right. It suits you.

But then, gradually, over the years, it gets warmer. Not every day, of course, but on more and more days, the temperature climbs to uncomfortable highs, drying you out, making you tired, thirsty.

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