Two self-styled amateur archeologists from Germany, who filmed themselves scraping off pieces of Egypt's Great Pyramid in hopes of proving that the ancient wonder was built by people from the legendary city of Atlantis, are now facing possible criminal charges in their home country.
During a trip to Egypt in April 2013, Dominque Goerlitz and Stephan Erdmann, along with a German filmmaker, were granted access to parts of the Great Pyramid at Giza that are normally off-limits to the public. They smuggled their samples back to Germany with plans to produce a documentary.
WhatsApp may be Facebook's latest prize, but it's not the company's most ambitious investment. In recent months, the social networking giant has begun funding something potentially far more revolutionary: artificial intelligence.
Scientists are raising the alarm about the possible environmental consequences of a huge shipping canal that could cut across Nicaragua, from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
The government of this Central American nation has signed a deal with a Chinese company that is planning to build a maritime shortcut that would compete with the Panama Canal. Construction could begin next year — yet there's no official route for the canal and no assessment of its potential impacts on the environment.
Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 10:43 am
The company in charge of the Keystone XL extension said Thursday that it is considering its next move now that a Nebraska judge has struck down a law that allowed the pipeline to be routed through that state.
"We are disappointed and disagree with the decision of the Nebraska district court and will now analyze the judgment and decide what next steps may be taken," TransCanada Corp. said in a statement. "Nebraska's attorney general has filed an appeal."
Now, health and electrical lighting. Last month, Mariana Figueiro showed me something she has developed to help seniors avoid falls in the night. Figueiro researches health applications at the Lighting Research Center at Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Her project is a nightlight. But it's not just a single bulb. It's a string of yellow lights that border the darkened entrance to, say, a bathroom.
It's a doorway and around the frame of the doorway are the yellow LEDs?
Along with plenty of ice, sleet and snow, much of the country has also been blanketed this winter by an avalanche of names. When winter storms assault us, they now come with names like Hercules, Janus and, the most recent storm, Pax.
Here's NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam on why we name winter storms and how those names might affect us.
SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: We've been naming hurricanes for many years.
Sunset on the Firehole River, Yellowstone National Park.
Credit Bill Young / Flickr
Hot steam and gas emerge from a fumarole where the boiling-temperature vapor is diverted into an evacuated sample bottle. Freshwater cools the outside of the bottle, making it easier to collect a complete sample.
Credit J. Lowenstern / U.S. Geological Survey
Gas passes through a hot spring at the Shoshone Geyser Basin in Yellowstone. A funnel is used to transfer the gas to an evacuated sampling bottle.
The world's largest oyster is nearly 14 inches long and resides in Denmark, according to the folks at Guinness World Records. And it's still alive and growing, according to Christine Ditlefsen, the biologist at the Wadden Sea Centre whose world record was recently certified.
The oyster was found in October in Wadden Sea National Park, a shallow area off of the North Sea on Denmark's southwestern coast. Its size and shape could be said to resemble a huge plaintain. But when they found it, the Wadden staff compared the oyster to a large and sturdy shoe.
Why does thunder rumble? Acoustic professor Trevor Cox explains that it has to do with the way lightning is a jagged line. "Each little kink is actually generating the sound, and the reason thunder rumbles is because the sound takes different time to come from different kinks because they're all slightly different distances from you," he says.
Ever wonder why your voice sounds so much better when you sing in the shower? It has to do with an acoustic "blur" called reverberation. From classical to pop music, reverberation "makes music sound nicer," acoustic engineer Trevor Cox tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. It helps blend the sound, "but you don't want too much," he warns.
Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 1:26 pm
The more you sit, the less physically active you are, which can lead to all sorts of health problems, including an early death.
But too much sitting increasingly looks like a health risk all its own. Researchers at Northwestern University say that for people 60 and older, each additional hour a day spent sitting increases the risk of becoming physically disabled by about 50 percent — no matter how much exercise they get.
A University of Alabama researcher and his team believe they’ve been able to observe a black hole destroying a star in a galaxy far, far away. Peter Maksym led the study of data from NASA’s Chandra telescope that observed a large x-ray flare.
Peter Maksym:“You have this tiny little galaxy that appears to have had a really huge x-ray flare. This is really solid evidence that it’s got a massive black hole of some sort.”
Maksym says the flare was probably created when a star got too close to the black hole and was destroyed.