Every few million years or so, the Earth burps up a gargantuan volcano.
These aren't like volcanoes in our lifetimes; these "super volcanoes" can erupt continuously for thousands of years. While they might be rare, you'd best look out when one hits.
The ash and volcanic gases from these volcanoes can wipe out most living things over large parts of the planet. Michael Thorne, a seismologist at the University of Utah, has some clues about what causes these big eruptions.
It sounds like a horror story: Every few years, usually in the winter months, residents of the town of Leesburg, Va., come home from work to find their backyards overrun with turkey vultures. Not just a few birds, but hundreds of them. Everywhere.
Lt. Jeff Dube is with the town's police department. For a whole week, he spent every evening driving around town, looking for the latest vulture hotspots.
"They like Leesburg. There's really no rhyme or reason. Every three to five years they come back en mass, like this year, 2- to 300," Dube says.
Drop a cat and it will swing its head to a horizontal, rearrange its rear, arch its back, splay its legs, and — amazingly often — land on its feet.
This is what cats do. They're famous for it. But now they have a rival.
This is an aphid.
Aphids spend their days sucking sap from leaves. Those leaves can be high off the ground. "High" of course, being a relative term, but think of it this way: Five feet high up is 381 aphids tall. Which is why things get so dicey when a ladybug comes by.
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham say smoking synthetic marijuana — known as Spice or K2 — has been linked to kidney injury.
UAB researchers conducted four case studies involving four young men who smoked synthetic marijuana and suffered kidney injuries afterward. Researchers say the men visited the hospital weeks after using the drug and suffered from abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Joe Palca, sitting in for Ira Flatow. If you add it up, we spend a lot of time sleeping, about a third of our lives, actually, and it turns out our bodies don't just power down as we slumber. Research is showing that sleep plays an important role in how our brains process and store the information that we learn throughout the day.
You know the theory that a big collision, a comet or an asteroid, something like that, helped kill off the dinosaurs? The idea has been around for a while. But this week, new research published in journal Science provides more accurate dates for the giant impact and the dino demise.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY; I'm Joe Palca. Do you ever get the feeling you're being watched? These days if you're not careful, your phone knows where you are, and there's a good chance somebody else does, too. Or you've noticed that the ads on sites you visit are starting to look a little too personalized, like how did they know I was planning a vacation to New Orleans.
Toyota and BMW have formed an alliance to work on fuel cell cars. So have Daimler, Ford, and Nissan, with hopes of having cars on the road by 2017. But why now, and what obstacles still stand in the way? Jennifer Kurtz discusses the current state of hydrogen fuel technology.
Deep-fried foods may be causing trouble in the Deep South. A study finds that people who consume a lot of fried foods and drinks like sweet tea and soda were 41 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than people who ate that way about once a month.
Researchers say the study might help explain why blacks in the Southeast suffer more strokes. Blacks were five times more likely than whites to have the Southern dietary pattern.
An asteroid the size of an office building will zoom close by Earth next week, but it's not on a collision course, NASA says.
Still, some people think this near-miss should serve as a wake-up call.
"It's a warning shot across our bow that we are flying around the solar system in a shooting gallery," says Ed Lu, a former astronaut and head of the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting humanity from asteroids.
The asteroid known as 2012 DA14 was first spotted last year by astronomers in Spain. It's thought to be about 150 feet across and made of rock.
Fried chicken washed down with sweet tea — it's a classic Southern lunch. That fat/sweet nexus is also a recipe for a stroke, according to a recent study.
Researchers at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, have been trying to nail down how diet relates to stroke, particularly in the "Stroke Belt" — the Southeastern states that have the dubious distinction of hosting the nation's highest stroke rates.
Originally published on Fri February 8, 2013 1:50 pm
Before they end up filleted and sautéed on your dinner plate, salmon lead some pretty extraordinary, globe-trotting lives.
After hatching in a freshwater stream, young salmon make a break for the ocean, where they hang out for years, covering thousands of miles before deciding its time to settle down and lay eggs in their natal stream.
So how do these fish find their way back to their home river?
Some 66 million years ago, about 75 percent of species on Earth disappeared. It wasn't just dinosaurs but most large mammals, fish, birds and plankton. Scientists have known this for a long time just from looking at the fossil record. If you dig deep enough, you find lots of dinosaur bones. And then a few layers up, they're gone.
But scientists couldn't figure out exactly what had caused this phenomenon. Of course, there were lots of theories.