Science & Health

The Salt
3:30 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

GMO Potatoes Have Arrived. But Will Anyone Buy Them?

After a turn in the tumbling machine, these conventional russet Burbank potatoes are starting to show signs of bruising. New GMO potatoes called Innate russet Burbanks have been bred not to bruise as easily as these.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 1:43 pm

On the face of it, the new potato varieties called "Innate" seem attractive. If you peel the brown skin off their white flesh, you won't find many unsightly black spots. And when you fry them, you'll probably get a much smaller dose of a potentially harmful chemical.

But here's the catch: Some of the biggest potato buyers in the country, such as Frito-Lay and McDonald's, seem afraid to touch these potatoes. Others don't even want to talk about them because they are genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

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Space
3:16 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Stars Shine Bright In Ireland's Dark Sky Reserve

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 5:45 pm

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
12:00 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

U.S. Funding of Health Research Stalls As Other Nations Rev Up

U.S. funding for medical research by source, 1994-2012. (Data were adjusted to 2012 dollars using the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index.)
American Medical Association

Originally published on Thu January 15, 2015 7:32 am

Though the United States is still leading the world in research related to diseases, it is rapidly losing its edge, according to an analysis in the American Medical Association's flagship journal JAMA.

If you look at biomedical research around the globe, the United States funded 57 percent of that work a decade ago. The U.S. share has since dropped to 44 percent, according to the study published online Tuesday.

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Animals
2:33 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Good News For Bats! Things Are Looking Up For Stemming Disease Spread

This October 2008 photo, provided by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, shows a brown bat with its nose crusted in fungus.
Ryan von Linden AP

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 7:01 am

The bat disease known as white-nose syndrome has been spreading fast, killing millions of animals. But for the first time, scientists are seeing hopeful signs that some bat colonies are recovering and new breakthroughs could help researchers develop better strategies for helping bats survive.

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The Two-Way
7:19 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

3 Kings Holiday Cake Laced With Synthetic Drugs Makes Dozens Hallucinate

Synthetic drugs, gathered in evidence bags, sit on a white counter.
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 2:18 pm

Updated at 3:18 p.m. on Jan. 13.

Last week Southern California Public Radio reported that dozens of people became ill from a Rosca de Reyes, a Three Kings Day bread that is traditional in various Hispanic communities. The sick patrons of Cholula's Bakery in Santa Ana, Calif., and its retail outlets complained of heart palpitations and hallucinations.

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Shots - Health News
9:46 am
Mon January 12, 2015

Your Online Avatar May Reveal More About You Than You'd Think

iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 9:49 am

My Nintendo Wii character, my Mii, looks a lot like me. She has the same haircut, the same skin tone and even the same eyebrow shape. And while my Mii plays tennis slightly better than I do, I designed her to be a real, virtual me (albeit with balls for hands).

But it turns out I might not have needed to mimic my appearance to let people know what I'm like.

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The Salt
2:26 am
Mon January 12, 2015

Iowa's Largest City Sues Over Farm Fertilizer Runoff In Rivers

The city of Des Moines, Iowa, sits on the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers. The city's water works says it will sue three neighboring counties for high nitrate levels in these waterways.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon January 26, 2015 6:09 pm

Des Moines, Iowa, is confronting the farms that surround it over pollution in two rivers that supply the city with drinking water. Des Moines Water Works says it will sue three neighboring counties for high nitrate levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers. It's a novel attempt to control fertilizer runoff from farms, which has been largely unregulated.

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Shots - Health News
2:22 am
Mon January 12, 2015

The Doctor Who Championed Hand-Washing And Briefly Saved Lives

Semmelweis considered scientific inquiry part of his mission as a physician.
De Agostini Picture Library Getty Images

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 9:49 am

This is the story of a man whose ideas could have saved a lot of lives and spared countless numbers of women and newborns' feverish and agonizing deaths.

You'll notice I said "could have."

The year was 1846, and our would-be hero was a Hungarian doctor named Ignaz Semmelweis.

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The Two-Way
6:08 pm
Sun January 11, 2015

Ancient Scottish Sea Reptile Not 'Nessie,' But Just As Cute

An artist's rendering of what Dearcmhara shawcrossi probably looked like in dinosaur times.
Todd Marshall/University of Edinburgh

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 12:21 pm

Scientists in Scotland have found a prehistoric behemoth: a previously unknown species of reptile that lived in the oceans during the time of dinosaurs. And before you ask, no, scientists do not believe this new fossil has anything to do with the Loch Ness monster.

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The Salt
5:02 am
Sun January 11, 2015

'Tasty': How Flavor Helped Make Us Human

"Flavor is the most important ingredient at the core of what we are. It created us," John McQuaid writes in his book Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat.
Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 10:43 am

Our current cultural obsession with food is undeniable. But, while the advent of the foodie may be a 21st century phenomenon, from an evolutionary standpoint, flavor has long helped define who we are as a species, a new book argues.

In Tasty: the Art and Science of What We Eat, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John McQuaid offers a broad and deep exploration of the human relationship to flavor.

"Flavor is the most important ingredient at the core of what we are. It created us," McQuaid writes.

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Science
4:43 am
Sun January 11, 2015

A Musical Memorial For The Face Of Extinction

Adam Cole NPR

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 11:05 am

Lonesome George was a celebrity tortoise. Millions of humans made the pilgrimage to see him while he lived, and his death was international news.

Why?

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Author Interviews
4:26 pm
Sat January 10, 2015

'Blood Of The Tiger': Shedding Light On China's Farmed-Tiger Trade

Joanne Stemberger iStockphoto

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 5:47 pm

In 1991, wildlife investigator J. A. Mills went to China to verify rumors about tiger farming. She worked undercover, for the World Wildlife Fund and an organization called Traffic.

"I mainly pretended I was a student of traditional Chinese medicine to try to figure out not only what was being traded, but why it was being traded," Mills tells NPR's Arun Rath.

She says she found China's first tiger farm — complete with a hand-written ledgers filling up with orders for tiger bone.

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Research News
4:19 pm
Sat January 10, 2015

DNA, It Turns Out, Is A Lot More Loopy

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 5:47 pm

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

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

We may have mapped the human genome, but what we don't know about our own genetic code could fill libraries. For example, how do you fit a really long strand of DNA into a tiny cell nucleus?

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Goats and Soda
12:03 pm
Sat January 10, 2015

Bill Gates Raises A Glass To (And Of) Water Made From Poop

Bill Gates takes a sip of water that came out of the new Janicki Omniprocessor, which turns human waste into clean drinking water in minutes.
Courtesy of the Gates Foundation

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 11:04 am

In places where fresh water is hard to come by, how do you come up with clean drinking water? Easy — get the water from poop.

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The Two-Way
11:58 am
Sat January 10, 2015

SpaceX Launch Successful; Recovery Attempt 'Close, But No Cigar'

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Saturday.
John Raoux AP

Originally published on Sat January 10, 2015 5:46 pm

SpaceX has successfully launched another resupply mission to the International Space Station months after a competitor in the private space-launch business suffered a catastrophic lift-off that resulted in the unmanned rocket's destruction.

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