Science & Health

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You may think of ants as picnic pilferers. After all, who hasn't had to ward off ants stealing crumbs from picnic tables or hoarding tiny pieces of food from kitchens? But a new study shows that they're in fact hard working farmers. Or at least one species of ants is. It lives in Fiji and has been farming plants for some 3 million years.

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Heritage breed turkeys are making a comeback.

These birds taste more like the turkeys that Native Americans and settlers ate in the 17th century, compared to today's Butterball turkeys.

Just 20 years ago, some heritage turkey breeds were nearly extinct. For instance, in 1997 there were fewer than 10 Narragansett breeding birds left. Today, there are more than 2,000, according to a new census from The Livestock Conservancy.

A team of atmospheric scientists researching pollution in China say they've cracked a 60-year-old mystery — with research that explains not only the haze over Beijing, but also the remarkably toxic Great Smog of London from 1952.

By examining conditions in China and experimenting in a lab, the scientists suggest that a combination of weather patterns and chemistry could have caused London's fog to turn into a haze of concentrated sulfuric acid.

You may not remember what you were doing a few minutes ago. But your dog probably does.

A study of 17 dogs found they could remember and imitate their owners' actions up to an hour later. The results, published Wednesday in Current Biology, suggest that dogs can remember and relive an experience much the way people do.

When the asteroid believed to have killed off the dinosaurs smashed into Earth some 66 million years ago, its sheer force made the planet's surface momentarily act like a liquid.

The asteroid ripped open a 60-mile-wide hole. From miles deep in that abyss, rock hurtled upward to a height twice that of Mount Everest and then collapsed outward to form a ring of mountains.

And it all happened within 5 minutes — 10 tops, as Sean Gulick, a geophysicist at the University of Texas, Austin, tells The Two-Way.

It's around 6 o'clock on a Sunday evening, and Anne-Charlotte Mornington is running around the food market in London's super-hip Camden neighborhood with a rolling suitcase and a giant tarp bag filled with empty tupperware boxes. She's going around from stall to stalll, asking for leftovers.

Mornington works for the food-sharing app Olio. "If ever you have anything that you can't sell tomorrow but it's still edible," she explains to the vendors, "I'll take it and make sure that it's eaten."

Grant Ernhart works with the U.S. Biathlon Team, so he spends a lot of time among snow-capped mountains. From the Canadian Rockies, he lobbed a question to Skunk Bear, NPR's science YouTube channel.

Every holiday season, things get a "bit tricky," says Risa Greene, 53, from New York City. "You have one child who is a human garbage disposal and will eat anything you put in front of him, and you have another child who is more restricted than [the] TSA."

Greene's son is an omnivore — he eats everything. Her daughter, Jessica, is a vegan. She stopped eating meat when she was in high school years ago, then dropped dairy products and eggs in college and eventually gave up gluten, too.

In 1941, science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov stated "The Three Laws of Robotics," in his short story "Runaround."

Law One: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Law Two: A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Law Three: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Some encouraging news in the battle against Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia: The rate at which older Americans are getting these conditions is declining. That's according to a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers say one reason for the improved outlook is an increase in education.

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Just over a week ago, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake shook New Zealand.

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson arrived at the International Space Station this weekend, making her the oldest woman in space at age 56. On the mission, she's projected to once again become the U.S. astronaut with the most time spent in orbit.

This is Whitson's third mission on the space station; she'll soon become its commander for the second time. Collectively, she's spent more than a year of her life in space.

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In the Florida Keys on Election Day, along with the presidential race, one of the most controversial items on the ballot dealt with Zika. In a nonbinding vote countywide, residents in the Florida Keys approved a measure allowing a British company to begin a trial release of genetically modified mosquitoes. Armed with that approval, local officials voted Saturday to try out what they hope will be a new tool in the fight against Zika.

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There's new evidence that excessive screen time early in life can change the circuits in a growing brain.

Scientists disagree, though, about whether those changes are helpful, or just cause problems. Both views emerged during the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego this week.

The Obama administration has removed the Arctic Ocean from any new offshore oil and gas leasing for the next five years.

This month's Marrakech Climate Change Conference, the first major meeting to follow a landmark climate agreement last year in Paris, had been billed as a gathering of "action." But a day after the conference began, the surprise election of Donald Trump as U.S. president threw the action into doubt, as representatives from about 200 nations struggled to regroup and assess the future of last year's climate deal.

Every morning in a government office building in Boulder, Colo., about a dozen people type a code into a door and line up against a wall on the other side. There are a couple of guys in military uniform, and some scientists in Hawaiian shirts. They work at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and they're here for a daily space weather forecast.

The golden poison dart frog is about an inch long and banana yellow. By some estimates, the skin of one little frog contains enough toxin to kill 10 adult men.

"Oh yeah, it's one of the more lethal poisons on the planet," says Justin Du Bois, a synthetic chemist at Stanford University.

What Defines The Perfect Meal?

Nov 17, 2016

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Food We Eat

About Charles Spence's TED Talk

Professor Charles Spence studies what makes for a great eating experience. He says it's far more dependent on 'the everything else' that surrounds the meal, rather than the food itself.

About Charles Spence

It's a cool August morning as I ride in Magnus Hansen's dented pickup truck through the verdant hills of south Greenland. We're in search of his flock of 500 sheep grazing on the slopes. Soon we encounter three animals grazing by the gravel on the dirt road. The two ewes and a lamb first eye us warily from the bushes, then scurry across the road. Nearby is a shimmering fjord, but less than 10 miles away, though we can't see it, lies Greenland's mighty ice cap, a mile thick in the center of the island.

The U.S. Geological Survey says a deposit in West Texas is the largest continuous oil and gas deposit ever discovered in the United States.

On Tuesday, the USGS announced that an area known as the Wolfcamp shale contains 20 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

That is nearly three times more petroleum than the agency found in North Dakota's Bakken shale in 2013.

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