Science & Health

Shots - Health News
5:33 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Genetic Code Shows Bird Flu In China Spread Between People

A man who just recovered from the H7N9 bird flu leaves a hospital in Bozhou, China, in April. Since early May, the number of new H7N9 cases has dramatically declined.
AFP Getty Images

When a new strain of bird flu cropped up in China last winter, the billion-dollar question was whether the deadly virus could transmit between people.

Now, Chinese scientists offer the first clear evidence that the bird flu is indeed contagious, although only slightly.

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Alabama Sturgeon
4:39 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Wildlife Service Has Plan To Save Ala. Sturgeon

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a plan to build up the population of the Alabama Sturgeon, one of the rarest fish in America.
Credit U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service / Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a plan to build up the population of the Alabama Sturgeon, one of the rarest fish in America.

Fish and wildlife officials say an Alabama Sturgeon was last captured in 2007.

Fish and Wildlife officials say the purpose of the new plan is to build up the population of the fish to the point that it no longer needs to be protected by the Endangered Species Act.

The Alabama Sturgeon has been listed as endangered since 2000 due to over-fishing and the loss of habitat in south Alabama rivers.

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Environment
4:12 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Earth Scientists Pin Climate Change Squarely On 'Humanity'

Pedersen Glacier, 1917
Louis H. Pedersen climate.gov/National Snow and Ice Data Center

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 7:12 pm

The weather is one of those topics that is fairly easy for people to agree on. Climate, however, is something else.

Most of the scientists who study the Earth say our climate is changing and humans are part of what's making that happen. But to a lot of nonscientists it's still murky. This week, two of the nation's most venerable scientific institutions tried to explain it better.

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Environment
4:12 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Wells Are Running Dry In Parts Of Kansas

Nate Pike fears that wells, like this one that supplies his ranch with water, will dry up completely after years of water pumping and irrigation in Kansas.
Frank Morris KCUR

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 6:27 pm

Imagine enough water to fill a couple of Great Lakes, but spread under some of the driest parts of eight Western states. That was the High Plains Aquifer 60 years ago.

But now, Nate Pike, whose been riding the dry rolling ranch lands south of Dodge City, Kan., for most of his 80 years, can't even go fishing at his favorite spring called St. Jacob's Well.

"And that thing had a lot of water in it. It never went down, never changed," he says. "But as you can see now, I can't believe I can't see the water from up here."

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The Salt
3:54 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Heck No Or Let's Go? Your Thoughts On Lab-Grown Meat

The scientists who developed the in vitro beef say it could help solve the coming food crisis and combat climate change.
David Parry / PA Wire

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 4:52 pm

Would you taste or buy a lab-grown hamburger if you could? That's the question we posed Monday at the end of our report on the world's first in vitro burger, launched this week at a tasting event in London that was streamed via the Internet.

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Research News
3:08 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Study: Rising Military Suicide Rate Not Linked To Deployment

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 6:25 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A new study out today finds that the rising number of suicides in the military is not caused by deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The paper says mental health and alcohol abuse are much stronger indicators that a service member will commit suicide. As NPR's Larry Abramson reports, that finding runs smack into other evidence that says there is a connection.

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The Salt
10:46 am
Tue August 6, 2013

The Cotton Candy Grape: A Sweet Spin On Designer Fruit

The Cotton Candy grape looks and smells like a regular green grape. But the taste will evoke memories of the circus.
Courtesy of Spencer Gray

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 12:48 pm

Can't we just leave our fruit alone?

Last year, apple farmers were soaking their fruit in grape flavor to make them more attractive to kids. Now, plant breeders in California have created a grape that tastes like — well, spun sugar and air.

That's right, Salties. Say hello to the Cotton Candy grape.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:33 am
Tue August 6, 2013

The Subtle Mysteries Of Dinosaur Sex

Robert Krulwich NPR

They dominated our planet for 130 million years. You can't do that without having babies, and to have babies, dinosaurs had to have sex. The mystery is — and this is still very much a mystery — we don't really know how they did it.

The key problems being:

First, dinosaur ladies and dinosaur gentlemen were roughly the same size. No big/little asymmetry as with spiders. With spiders, the little fellow mounts the big lady. There are no body-crushing weight issues.

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The Salt
3:29 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

Long Awaited Lab-Grown Burger Is Unveiled In London

Scientists say commercial production of cultured beef could begin within 10 to 20 years.
David Parry / PA Wire

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 4:04 pm

After three months, $330,000 and a high-profile media blitz, the world's first hamburger grown in a lab made its worldwide debut Monday.

The unveiling of "cultured beef," as the burger is branded, was a production worthy of the Food Network era, complete with chatty host, live-streamed video, hand-picked taste testers, a top London chef and an eager audience (made up mostly of journalists). Rarely has a single food gotten such star treatment.

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Space
2:28 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

No Tax Dollars Went To Make This Space Viking Photo

The Vikings Have Landed: Photographer Ved Chirayath staged this photograph in Palo Alto Foothills Park in California last December.
Courtesy of Ved Chirayath

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 3:02 pm

Scrutinizing the books of government agencies can turn up lavish parties or illicit trips at the taxpayers' expense. But not every investigation turns out that way. And when they don't, the hunt for waste can appear to be a waste itself.

Such appears to be the case with a recent inquiry involving NASA and Viking re-enactors. This whole saga began with an idea from Ved Chirayath, an aeronautics graduate student at Stanford University who loves photography. He was talking over what to shoot one day with a colleague, and thought of Vikings.

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Space
2:22 am
Mon August 5, 2013

A Year On Mars: What's Curiosity Been Up To?

This self-portrait of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity combines dozens of exposures taken by the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager during the 177th Martian day, or sol, of Curiosity's work on Mars, plus three exposures taken during Sol 270 to update the appearance of part of the ground beside the rover.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Originally published on Mon August 5, 2013 9:55 am

Imagine winning the World Series, the lottery and a Nobel Prize all in one day. That's pretty much how scientists and engineers in mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., felt one year ago when the 1 ton, six-wheeled rover named Curiosity landed safely on Mars.

Within minutes, the rover began sending pictures back to Earth. In the past year it has sent back a mountain of data and pictures that scientists are sorting through, trying to get a better understanding of the early climate on Mars.

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The Two-Way
12:16 pm
Sun August 4, 2013

Talking Robot Astronaut Heads To International Space Station

Kirobo, a small talking humanoid robot, is unveiled by a team of Japanese researchers in Tokyo on June 26.
Kyodo /Landov

HAL 9000 he's not. But Kirobo, the first-ever talking robot in space is heading to the International Space Station this week ahead of his human companion, Japanese astronaut Kochi Wakata, who takes over as ISS commander in November.

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Nuclear Plant
10:36 pm
Sat August 3, 2013

Ala. Nuclear Plant Ends Alert Over CO2 Leak

Alabama Power has lifted an alert caused by a carbon dioxide leak at a nuclear power plant.
Credit nrc.gov

Alabama Power has lifted an alert caused by a carbon dioxide leak at a nuclear power plant.

The utility said the alert was lifted Saturday at 11:10 a.m., about five hours after it was first declared.

Alabama Power spokesman Ike Pigott said the carbon dioxide release was detected in an auxiliary building of the Unit 1 reactor at Plant Farley. The leak was then contained.

It appears the gas came from a fire suppression system, though no fires were detected. Pigott said the volume of gas was equivalent to what might be released from a large fire extinguisher.

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Research News
3:30 pm
Sat August 3, 2013

Worms' Bright Blue Death Could Shed Light On Human Aging

A nematode worm glows as it nears death in this screenshot from a YouTube video showing the work of researchers in London.
Wellcome Trust YouTube

Originally published on Sat August 3, 2013 6:50 pm

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NPR Story
6:01 am
Sat August 3, 2013

Wildlife Sound Archivist Remembered

Originally published on Sat August 3, 2013 12:46 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Twenty years ago today, Ted Parker, one of the world's great ornithologists and sound recordists died in a plane crash in Equator. He was only 40. Parker contributed nearly 11,000 wildlife recordings to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay library.

He could identify some 4,000 different bird species by sound alone. In this audio montage, the lab's director, John Fitzpatrick offers a remembrance.

JOHN FITZPATRICK: I've rarely met anybody as passionate about his love of nature and of birds than Ted Parker.

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