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.
"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?.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.