Science & Health

Science
4:13 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Atomic Scientists' 'Doomsday Clock' Ticks Forward

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 5:28 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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The Doomsday Clock is not an alarm clock, but it is meant to be alarming.

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Shots - Health News
2:45 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

Maybe Early Humans Weren't The First To Get A Good Grip

An example of a human precision grip — grasping a first metacarpal from the thumb of a specimen of Australopithecus africanus that's thought to be 2 to 3 million years old.
T.L. Kivell & M. Skinner

Originally published on Fri January 23, 2015 11:55 am

The special tool-wielding power of human hands may go back farther in evolutionary history than scientists have thought.

That's according to a new study of hand bones from an early relative of humans called Australopithecus africanus. Researchers used a powerful X-ray technique to scan the interior of the bones, and they detected a telltale structure that's associated with a forceful precision grip.

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The Two-Way
2:38 am
Thu January 22, 2015

X-Rays Open Secrets Of Ancient Scrolls

The ancient scrolls look and feel more like blocks of charcoal. A new technique gives a peek inside.
Salvatore Laporta AP

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 11:06 am

Researchers in Europe have managed to read from an ancient scroll buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. The feat is all the more remarkable because the scroll was never opened.

The Vesuvius eruption famously destroyed Pompeii. But it also devastated the nearby town of Herculaneum. A villa there contained a library stacked with papyrus scrolls, and the hot gas and ash preserved them.

Sort of.

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The Two-Way
8:36 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Rare And 'Horrific': Frilled Shark Startles Fishermen In Australia

A frilled shark swims in a tank after being found by a fisherman off Japan's coast in 2007. One of the rare creatures was recently caught in Australia, shocking fishermen.
Awashima Marine Park Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 7:23 am

Normally, we wouldn't call something a living fossil. But the name seems tailor-made for the frilled shark, whose roots are traced to 80 million years ago. Its prehistoric origins are obvious in its primitive body; nearly all of the rare animal's closest relatives are long extinct.

In the most recent of those 80 million years, the frilled shark has been scaring the bejeezus out of humans who pull it out of the water to find an animal with rows of needle-like teeth in a gaping mouth at the front of its head.

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The Salt
5:13 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Why Some GMO Foods Don't Have Genetically Modified DNA

While reporting my story on how foods earn a label certifying them as "non-GMO," I came across a comment that struck me – and it might surprise you, too.

The comment came from Ken Ross, the CEO of Global ID. (He didn't make it into the final story.) Global ID is the parent company of FoodChain ID, one of the companies that traces ingredients to determine whether they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

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Shots - Health News
4:08 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

E-Cigarettes Can Churn Out High Levels Of Formaldehyde

Vapor from an e-cigarette obscures the user's face in a London coffee bar.
Dan Kitwood Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 22, 2015 3:55 pm

Vapor produced by electronic cigarettes can contain a surprisingly high concentration of formaldehyde — a known carcinogen — researchers reported Wednesday.

The findings, described in a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, intensify concern about the safety of electronic cigarettes, which have become increasingly popular.

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Shots - Health News
2:03 pm
Wed January 21, 2015

Scientists Give Genetically Modified Organisms A Safety Switch

Scientists reprogrammed the common bacterium E. coli so it requires a synthetic amino acid to live.
BSIP UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 6:37 pm

Researchers at Harvard and Yale have used some extreme gene-manipulation tools to engineer safety features into designer organisms.

This work goes far beyond traditional genetic engineering, which involves moving a gene from one organism to another. In this case, they're actually rewriting the language of genetics.

The goal is to make modified organisms safer to use, and also to protect them against viruses that can wreak havoc on pharmaceutical production.

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Research News
4:20 am
Wed January 21, 2015

After Congressional Green Light, Scientists Begin Hemp Studies

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 7:40 am

Copyright 2015 KUNC-FM. To see more, visit http://kunc.org.

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NPR Story
4:02 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Scandium Middleman Is A Rare Guy Selling A Rare Element

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 12:35 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Around the Nation
3:28 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Montana Governor Declares State Of Emergency After River Oil Spill

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 10:25 am

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Law
3:28 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

BP Back In Court For Final Phase Of Gulf Oil Spill Trial

Originally published on Wed January 21, 2015 10:25 am

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The Two-Way
3:28 pm
Tue January 20, 2015

Scientists Say The NFL's 'Deflate-Gate' Isn't All Hot Air

A deflated football would have been easier for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) to grip in Sunday's rain.
Charles Krupa AP

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 1:21 pm

The New England Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl.

But there is a flat, squishy cloud over the Patriots' 45-7 victory against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday: The NFL is looking into allegations that the Patriots deflated the football to give themselves an advantage.

Two scientists say that "deflate-gate" isn't entirely hot air.

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The Salt
11:48 am
Tue January 20, 2015

How Your Food Gets The 'Non-GMO' Label

Demand is growing for GMO-free labels on food products, according to the Non-GMO Project, one of the principal suppliers of the label.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 1:41 pm

Demand for products that don't contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, is exploding.

Now many food companies are seeking certification for products that don't have any genetically modified ingredients, and not just the brands popular in the health food aisle. Even Cheerios, that iconic cereal from General Mills, no longer contains GMOs.

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The Two-Way
1:49 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

Origin Unknown: Study Says Blast Of Radio Waves Came From Outside Our Galaxy

Australia's giant Parkes radio telescope detected a "fast radio burst," or FRB, last May. Researchers call FRBs, whose origins haven't been explained, "tantalizing mysteries of the radio sky."
CSIRO EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue January 20, 2015 8:52 am

On a graph, they look like detonations. Scientists call them "fast radio bursts," or FRBs: mysterious and strong pulses of radio waves that seemingly emanate far from the Milky Way.

The bursts are rare; they normally last for only about 1 millisecond. In a first, researchers in Australia say they've observed one in real time.

NPR's Joe Palca reports:

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Environment
3:03 am
Mon January 19, 2015

New Justice Department Environment Chief Takes Helm Of Gulf Spill Case

Cruden ranks the Gulf oil spill as one of the most significant environmental disasters of our time. It "deserves ... all of our energy to make sure nothing like this ever happens again," he says.
Gerald Herbert AP

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 6:37 am

John Cruden served with U.S. Special Forces in Vietnam, taking his law school aptitude test in Saigon and eventually becoming a government lawyer.

Earlier this month, he started a new job running the environment and natural resources division at the Justice Department. For Cruden, 68, the new role means coming home to a place where he worked as a career lawyer for about 20 years.

Cruden has been around long enough to have supervised the Exxon Valdeez spill case, a record-setter. That is, until the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

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