When you're in love with science, ordinary everyday stuff can suddenly seem extraordinary. At least that's how NPR blogger and astrophysicist Adam Frank sees it, even down to the dust on his car.
ADAM FRANK, BYLINE: Carl Sagan, an astronomer with the soul of a poet, liked to remind us that we are all star stuff. It was without a doubt one of his most beautiful images. But what really was Carl Sagan talking about? Well, there are two answers to this question.
Anthropologist Lynne Isbell was running through a glade in central Kenya in 1992 when something suddenly caused her to freeze in her tracks. "I stopped just in front of a cobra," she says. "It was raised with its hood spread out."
Isbell, who is at the University of California, Davis, says she has spent the past couple of decades trying to understand how she could have reacted before her conscious brain even had a chance to think — cobra!
This week, we're exploring the tech frontier through the eyes of our children. So we're starting with the littlest ones — babies. Can certain kinds of screen time help babies learn?
To find some answers, I employed the help of my 1-year-old daughter, Eva. She's still a wobbly walker and the sum total of her speaking skills sound like gibberish. But she has no problem activating Siri, the virtual assistant on my iPhone. Her 16-month-old friend, Lily, is even savvier with the gadgets.
The Alabama Obesity Task Force has launched a yearlong campaign to try to get people to make healthy choices when deciding what to drink.
Health officials say the "ReThink Your Drink" campaign is aimed at reducing the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages that Alabamians have in their diets. They say a 20-ounce soda or sweetened tea can have 240 calories from sugar.
Task force member Miriam Gaines says the campaign will promote drinking plenty of water, watching calories and replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with skim milk or 1 percent low-fat milk.
Morning recess at St. Augustine Catholic School in Culver City, Calif., is like recess in many other schools. Children run and play in the afternoon sun. But nearby, away from the basketball hoops and the games of tag, the staff is preparing.
Next to the playground sits a cargo container full of supplies: water, duct tape, an axe, a shovel and a generator along with gasoline. All of these supplies are here just in case the freeways are cut off or the power goes out — in case there is a major, destructive earthquake.
Fish sauce — that funky, flavor-enhancing fermented condiment — is part of what gives Southeast Asian cooking its distinctive taste. But it turns out, this cornerstone of Eastern cooking actually has a long history on another continent: Europe. And it goes all the way back to the Roman Empire.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: The most spectacular science shocker ever filmed. Too real to be science fiction, now science fact.
IRA FLATOW, HOST:
That theme signals a new series we're calling Science Goes to the Movies. If you ever watch sci-fi flick and think, now, com on. Did that really happen? Well, to us, that's what this series is all about. We're going to ask scientists to put on their film critic hats and help us separate the fact from Hollywood fiction.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Craig Venter was the first person to ever create a living thing from scratch, a cell, a bacterium, into which was inserted manmade genetic material - DNA. And for all intents and purposes, it was alive, moving, reproducing. It opened up a whole new world of what he and we now call synthetic biology, creating stuff from genetic code as we need it.
Sewage and fertilizer runoff into China's Lake Taihu have fed a nasty bloom: an annual explosion of frothy cyanobacteria, which release neurotoxins into the lake. Hans Paerl, a marine and environmental scientist who studies Lake Taihu, says the warmer temperatures brought by climate change only contribute to the slime's advance.
What makes someone a psychopath? Can these traits be passed through family lines? Neuroscientist James Fallon, and author of The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey Into the Dark Side of the Brain, discusses his scientific and personal exploration into the antisocial mind.
Cotard's syndrome, also known as Walking Corpse Syndrome, is a rare disorder that causes sufferers to believe they are dead. The exact cause is unknown. Doctors Thomas Linden and Andres Hellden describe effects of the syndrome that they observed in patients who took a common antiviral medication.