Science & Health

The Salt
3:16 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Meat Mummies: How Ancient Egyptians Prepared Feasts For Afterlife

Anyone up for meat mummies? Above, a mummified beef rib from the tomb of Tjuiu, an Egyptian noblewoman, and her husband, the powerful courtier Yuya, circa 1386-1349 BC.
Image courtesy of PNAS

Originally published on Wed November 20, 2013 11:25 am

Meat mummies.

It's a word pairing that is, I dare say, pretty rare. Who among us has heard those two words together? What, indeed, could a "meat mummy" be?

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The Two-Way
2:33 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

First Fuel Rods Plucked From Tsunami-Damaged Fukushima Plant

Workers remove nuclear fuel rods from a pool at the Unit 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daii-chi nuclear power plant on Monday.
Handout TEPCO

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 5:30 pm

Workers at Japan's Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station successfully completed the first day of a delicate operation to remove radioactive fuel rods from a reactor damaged in the March 2011 tsunami.

The fuel rods were removed from the Unit 4 reactor, which was offline at the time the tsunami smashed into the plant, overwhelming its backup systems. Although Unit 4 was spared the fate of three other reactors that melted down, a fire in its containment building weakened the structure.

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The Two-Way
2:05 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

MAVEN Lifts Off On Nearly Half-Billion-Mile Trip To Mars

NASA's MAVEN, short for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, with a capital "N" in EvolutioN, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, lifts off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, on Monday.
John Raoux AP

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 4:38 pm

NASA's MAVEN explorer blasted off Monday on the first leg of its 440-million-mile journey to Mars, where scientists hope it will answer an ancient question: why the red planet went from warm and wet to cold and dry in a matter of just a billion years.

The robot orbiter, called the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution probe, launched aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 1:28 p.m. EST. It will take 10 months to reach Mars.

The Associated Press writes:

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The Two-Way
4:22 pm
Sat November 16, 2013

That Clam In Your Chowder Might Be Hundreds Of Years Old

Mike Cardew MCT/Landov

Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 4:25 pm

First we heard on Morning Edition that a clam scientists had opened up turned out to have been 507 years old.

That led us to stories with headlines like this: "Scientists accidentally kill world's oldest animal at age 507."

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Shots - Health News
2:25 pm
Sat November 16, 2013

New Medical Device Treats Epilepsy With A Well-Timed Zap

The device sits under a patient's skull and tracks brain activity.
Courtesy of NeuroPace

Originally published on Tue November 19, 2013 8:35 am

Imagine a tiny computer embedded under your scalp that's constantly tracking your brain activity and zapping you when it senses something awry.

That might sound like science fiction, but a medical device that does that was just approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an option for people with epilepsy that's resistant to treatment with drugs.

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Humans
7:03 am
Sat November 16, 2013

'Huh': A Word Uttered By The Bewildered, Worldwide

Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 10:22 am

Transcript

DON GONYEA, HOST:

OK. So, let's say you're at work. Someone comes up while you're doing something else and says, hey, did you get that e-mail I sent you yet? And you have no idea what they're talking about, so you spin around and say, huh? But what if you were in Spain?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Eh?

GONYEA: Or Ghana?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Ah?

GONYEA: Or Laos?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Heh?

GONYEA: Turns out, anywhere really, there's some form of the word huh?

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE OF HUH)

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Humans
7:03 am
Sat November 16, 2013

The Importance Of Diet In The First 1,000 Days

Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 10:22 am

Transcript

DON GONYEA, HOST:

One thousand calories, vitamins and minerals, 13 grams of fat every day. Those are the specific ingredients needed to avoid stunting a child's growth physically and mentally in the 1,000 days after conception. New research from the International Food Policy Research Institute looks at the economic rationale for investing in those first few years.

And senior researcher, John Hoddinott, explains some of the consequences for undernourished children in the world's poorest countries.

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The Two-Way
5:18 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

EPA Proposes Reducing Ethanol Requirements For 2014

The EPA proposes reducing the requirement for ethanol-blended gasoline.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Bowing to industry complaints, the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday proposed cutting back the amount of renewable fuels, such as corn-based ethanol, that refiners must blend with gasoline.

The draft rule would roll back the 2014 requirement for renewables from 18.15 billion gallons to between 15 billion and 15.52 billion gallons.

According to Bloomberg:

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The Two-Way
3:41 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Study: Odds Of Being Murdered Closely Tied To Social Networks

Chicago police investigate a shooting in front of the Uptown Baptist Church in August. Five people were shot, one fatally, during the drive-by, in which gunmen fired more than 20 rounds.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 4:06 pm

A team of scientists has confirmed something your parents probably warned you about as a teenager — that hanging out with the wrong crowd can be dangerous.

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NPR Story
3:34 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Is Running Your Car On Rubbish The Future Of Fuels?

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 7:07 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The Environmental Protection Agency today proposed to scale back the amount of renewable fuels in our nation's gasoline supply, biofuels like ethanol made from corn. The EPA is responding, in part, to oil companies that say they're already taking as much ethanol as they can. They say any more and it will hurt quality. But there's another reason for the EPA's action. As NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports, cheap biofuels haven't been developed as quickly as hoped.

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Shots - Health News
3:34 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Federal Brain Science Project Aims To Restore Soldiers' Memory

President Obama has pledged millions of dollars to fuel research into understanding the workings of the human brain.
Zephyr Science Source

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 7:07 pm

When President Obama announced his plan to explore the mysteries of the human brain seven months ago, it was long on ambition and short on details.

Now some of the details are being sketched in.

The BRAIN Initiative will include efforts to restore lost memories in war veterans, create tools that let scientists study individual brain circuits and map the nervous system of the fruit fly.

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Digital Life
12:17 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Should Sending Cash Be As Easy As Sending E-mail?

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Now up, it's time for another episode of our App Chat series, where we review the latest apps and talk about new ways to use your smartphone. And today, we're going to talk about mobile payments. Ever gone out to eat with your friends and when the bill arrives, you realize it's cash only and, oh, you have no cash. What are you going to do?

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Author Interviews
12:16 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Early Balloonists Took Science 'Up, Up and Away'

In Falling Upwards, writer Richard Holmes tells the story of early balloon flight--and of the nervy scientists who risked life and limb to take their experiments into the air. Among their discoveries? Insect migration and the stratosphere. Falling Upwards chronicles the balloonists who took science into the stratosphere.

Space
12:16 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Searching for Earth 2.0

One in every five sunlike stars in the Milky Way may have an Earth-sized planet circling it in the Goldilocks zone--the sweet spot where liquid water could exist. That's according to a new analysis of data from the Kepler spacecraft. Sara Seager, an exoplanet hunter at MIT, talks about what's next in the hunt for Earth 2.0.

Animals
12:16 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

The Other Golden Rule

Did you know that most mammals, from a house cat to an elephant, take roughly the same amount of time to urinate? Researchers at Georgia Tech collected data from real-life and online video streams, and discovered that a combination of physiology and gravity enable this feat of fluid dynamics.

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