Science & Health

The Salt
1:59 am
Thu March 7, 2013

In A Grain Of Golden Rice, A World Of Controversy Over GMO Foods

Genetically modified to be enriched with beta-carotene, golden rice grains (left) are a deep yellow. At right, white rice grains.
Isagani Serrano International Rice Research Institute

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 9:44 am

There's a kind of rice growing in some test plots in the Philippines that's unlike any rice ever seen before. It's yellow. Its backers call it "golden rice." It's been genetically modified so that it contains beta-carotene, the source of vitamin A.

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Shots - Health News
3:30 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Hear That? In A Din Of Voices, Our Brains Can Tune In To One

Scientists say that understanding how the cocktail party effect works could help people who have trouble deciphering sounds in a noisy environment. Guests make it look easy at a Dolce and Gabbana Lounge party in London in 2010.
Paul Jeffers AP

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 10:49 am

Scientists are beginning to understand how people tune in to a single voice in a crowded, noisy room.

This ability, known as the "cocktail party effect," appears to rely on areas of the brain that have completely filtered out unwanted sounds, researchers report in the journal Neuron. So when a person decides to focus on a particular speaker, other speakers "have no representation in those [brain] areas," says Elana Zion Golumbic of Columbia University.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:54 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Neil Tyson Pounds The Table, Demanding A Future, Now!

Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

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Research News
3:45 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Deciphering Hidden Biases During Interviews

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 10:18 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Benjamin Franklin said the only certain things are death and taxes. Let's add a third thing: Interviews. At many points, starting with school admissions or a new job, you're going to sit down before someone else and answer their questions.

Which is what NPR's Shankar Vedantam is about to do with us because he's got some new research relating to this topic. Hi, Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: And let's begin this interview. What's the new research about?

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Animals
2:44 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Elephant Poaching Pushes Species To Brink Of Extinction

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 10:18 am

A new study of Central African forest elephants has found their numbers down by 62 percent between 2002 and 2011. The study comes as governments and conservationists meet in Thailand to amend the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

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Animals
4:29 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

'Extinction Looms' For Forest Elephants Due To Poaching

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 5:20 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now, to some alarming findings about wildlife in Africa. A 10-year survey looked at the population of forest elephants and found that it fell 62 percent in that time. The study is the largest of its kind, spanning five countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, its neighbor the Republic of Congo and Gabon. The Wildlife Conservation Society, which helped organize the effort, is saying that extinction looms for the forest elephant because of poaching.

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The Two-Way
10:40 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Study Finds Climate Change To Open Arctic Sea Routes By 2050

An iceberg in or just outside the Ilulissat fjord, which likely calved from Jakobshavn Isbrae, the fastest glacier in western Greenland, in May 2012. Polar ice sheets are now melting three times faster than in the 1990s.
Ian Joughin AP

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 12:22 pm

Climate change will make commercial shipping possible from North America to Russia or Asia over the North Pole by the middle of the century, a new study says.

Two researchers at the University of California ran seven different climate models simulating two classes of vessels to see if they could make a relatively ice-free passage through the Arctic Ocean. In each case, the sea routes are sufficiently clear after 2049, they say.

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Joe's Big Idea
2:39 am
Tue March 5, 2013

Wanna Play? Computer Gamers Help Push Frontier Of Brain Research

This image represents a chunk, or "cube," of brain. Each different color represents a different neuron, and the goal of the EyeWire game is to figure out how these tangled neurons connect to each other. Players look at a slice from this cube and try to identify the boundaries of each cell. It isn't easy, and it takes practice. You can try it for yourself at eyewire.org.
EyeWire

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 2:39 pm

People can get pretty addicted to computer games. By some estimates, residents of planet Earth spend 3 billion hours per week playing them. Now some scientists are hoping to make use of all that human capital and harness it for a good cause.

Right now I'm at the novice level of a game called EyeWire, trying to color in a nerve cell in a cartoon drawing of a slice of tissue. EyeWire is designed to solve a real science problem — it aims to chart the billions of nerve connections in the brain.

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Medical Treatments
4:17 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Mississippi Toddler Could Be First Child Cured Of HIV

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 4:34 pm

A child born with HIV has been cured of the virus, researchers say. Audie Cornish talks to Richard Knox about what was different about this child among the millions who've been treated in the past and what it means for the prospect of an HIV cure in adults.

Animals
4:17 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Kentucky City Fights Migratory Bird Invasion With Air Cannons, Lasers

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 4:34 pm

Audie Cornish talks with Geoff LaBaron, an ornithologist with National Audubon Society, about a strange blackbird invasion in the town of Hopkinsville, Ky.

Krulwich Wonders...
11:49 am
Mon March 4, 2013

How To Produce A Billion Flowers On The Very Same Day

Robert Krulwich NPR

Before we get to today's topic (flower blooming), let's take a Sloth Break. I know this isn't usual, but hey, I think everybody should see this adorable baby sloth named Matty giving his human caretaker, Claire, a flower. If you've already seen it, jump ahead to my essay. But if you haven't? Well, your day is about to get a wee bit lovelier.

OK, I just had to. Now we can start.

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Shots - Health News
10:19 am
Mon March 4, 2013

Mouse Study Sheds Light On Why Some Cancer Vaccines Fail

A simple switch of ingredients made a big difference in how mice responded to experimental cancer vaccines.
Andrei Tchernov iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 1:31 pm

In the quest for better cancer medicines, vaccines that treat rather than prevent disease are getting lots of attention.

More than 90 clinical trials have tested therapeutic vaccines in cancer patients, but the results have been a mixed bag.

A recent study in mice suggests that changing a traditional ingredient in the vaccines could make a big difference.

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Environment
11:52 pm
Sun March 3, 2013

After Keystone Review, Environmentalists Vow To Continue Fight

Demonstrators carry a mock pipeline as they pass the White House to protest the Keystone Pipeline, in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 18, 2012.
Rod Lamkey Jr. The Washington Times /Landov

Originally published on Mon March 25, 2013 1:33 pm

Environmentalists have a hope.

If they can block the Keystone XL pipeline, they can keep Canada from developing more of its dirty tar sands oil. It takes a lot of energy to get it out of the ground and turn it into gasoline, so it has a bigger greenhouse gas footprint than conventional oil.

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Shots - Health News
3:41 pm
Sun March 3, 2013

Scientists Report First Cure Of HIV In A Child, Say It's A Game-Changer

HIV particles, yellow, infect an immune cell, blue.
NIAID_Flickr

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 3:35 pm

Scientists believe a little girl born with HIV has been cured of the infection.

She's the first child and only the second person in the world known to have been cured since the virus touched off a global pandemic nearly 32 years ago.

Doctors aren't releasing the child's name, but we know she was born in Mississippi and is now 2 1/2 years old — and healthy. Scientists presented details of the case Sunday at a scientific conference in Atlanta.

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Energy
3:20 pm
Sun March 3, 2013

Turning It Down: Cities Combat Light Pollution By Going Dim

This summer Paris will start dimming its streetlights, though major landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, will not be affected.
Mike Hewitt Getty Images

Originally published on Sun March 3, 2013 3:35 pm

Bright lights are part of a city's ecosystem. Think of Times Square or the Las Vegas Strip or right outside your bedroom window.

Electric lighting is ubiquitous in most urban and suburban neighborhoods. It's something most people take for granted, but appreciate, since it feels like well-lit streets keep us safer. But what if all this wattage is actually causing harm?

"We're getting brighter and brighter and brighter," warns Paul Bogard, author of the upcoming book, End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light.

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