Science & Health

NPR Story
12:48 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Logging In to the Brain's Social Network

Does the pain we feel from rejection and loss have the same effect as physical pain? How does our brain respond to social interactions? In his new book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect , social neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman describes the biology behind how our brains engage with the social world.

NPR Story
12:48 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

New Fossil May Trim Branches of Human Evolution

Writing in Science , researchers say a 1.8 million-year-old skull found in Dmanisi, Georgia indicates that early humans may have evolved from a single lineage rather than from multiple species. Anthropologist Adam Van Arsdale tells us what this could mean for the way we view human evolution.

Science
12:48 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Vines Choking Out Trees in the Tropics

Transcript

JOHN DANKOSKY, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm John Dankosky.

If you've ever walked through the jungle, you'll know it can be surprisingly dark down on the forest floor. You see trees soaring up all around. You're creating a dense canopy overhead. And climbing toward that canopy, snaking up the trees are the vines.

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The Salt
11:18 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Scratch 'N' Sniff Your Way To Wine Expertise ... Or At Least More Fun

Scratch 'n' sniff technology hasn't changed much in the last few decades. So the peach cartoon still smells artificial and not what you'll find in a glass of sauvignon blanc.
Text copyright 2013 by Richard Betts. Illustrations copyright (c) 2013 by Wendy MacNaughton. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 7:58 pm

Knock wine off its pedestal. That's the goal of wine expert Richard Betts. And he has come up with a brilliant way to do it: a scratch n' sniff guide to the aromas and flavors of the wine world.

With beautiful illustrations from Wendy MacNaughton, the 10-page board book looks like it belongs with your kid's toys instead of next to The Joy of Cooking.

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Humans
4:54 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Fossil Find Points To A Streamlined Human Lineage

Researchers excavated the remains of five creatures who lived 1.8 million years ago, including this adult male skull. The excavation site, in Georgia in the former Soviet Union, was home to a remarkable cache of bones.
Courtesy of Georgian National Museum

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 4:35 pm

Fossils of human ancestors are rare. You could pile all the ones that scientists have found in the back of a pickup truck.

But a remarkable site in Georgia, in the former Soviet Union, has produced a rich group of bones dating back almost 2 million years — and the discovery is shaking the family tree of human evolution.

The fossil hunters found the cache of bones more than a decade ago in a place called Dmanisi, but kept most of the find under wraps.

Now, they've lifted the veil, revealing the fossilized remains of five creatures who lived 1.8 million years ago.

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Shots - Health News
3:59 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Brains Sweep Themselves Clean Of Toxins During Sleep

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 4:35 pm

While the brain sleeps, it clears out harmful toxins, a process that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, researchers say.

During sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases dramatically, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells during waking hours, a study of mice found.

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The Salt
11:21 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Pucker Up, America: Beers Are Going Sour

Hold Your Horses: The main flavor of a sour beer is tartness, like a strawberry or lemon. But many sours also have a "funky" taste that some say smells like a horse blanket or a barnyard.
Morgan Walker NPR

Originally published on Mon October 21, 2013 9:57 am

Move over, bitter IPAs and chocolaty stouts. There's a new kid on the craft brewing block, and it's going to knock your salivary glands into action.

It's called "sour beer." When you take a sip, it's like biting into a Granny Smith apple that's soaked in a French red wine: crisp, refreshing and a bit odd.

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Environment
3:38 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Fuel Efficiency Standards Live On After 1973 Oil Embargo

Originally published on Thu October 17, 2013 9:23 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This year is the 40th anniversary of the OPEC oil embargo - an event that has shaped our nation's politics and the cars we drive ever since. In 1973, the Arab world decided to cut oil exports to punish nations that supported Israel during its war with Egypt and Syria. While the embargo only lasted several months, it triggered an energy crisis that lasted for years. NPR's Richard Harris reports on the ways we are still feel those effects today.

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The Salt
2:20 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Here's A Reason To Love Disco Again: Stopping Food Waste

Tristram Stuart, founder of Feeding the 5000, is helping to organize several disco soup events across Europe for World Food Day.
Courtesy of Feeding the 5000

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 5:33 pm

Wednesday is World Food Day, an occasion food activists like to use to call attention to world hunger. With 842 million chronically undernourished people on Earth, it's a problem that hasn't gone away.

This year, activists are trying to make the day a little spicier with pots full of disco soup to highlight the absurd amount of food thrown away that could feed people: one-third of all the food produced every year.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:09 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Successful Children Who Lost A Parent — Why Are There So Many Of Them?

Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 12:22 pm

She was 9 when it happened. She says she was at school, in the school yard at recess, standing by the fence, when a thought passed through her "like the barest shadow of a mood." All of a sudden, and for no clear reason, she found herself thinking of her "Papi," her father, who'd been drunk, self-destructive and difficult for as long as she could remember.

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Research News
3:11 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Why College Freshmen May Feel Like Impostors On Campus

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 10:47 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Tens of thousands of freshman have just finished their first month in college. They've signed up for classes, met a bunch of other people and, if history is any guide, asked themselves a question: What am I doing here? Everyone else is smarter and better adjusted than I am. And for some, that question totally changes the college experience, may even cause them to drop out, which is why a researcher was determined to intervene. He told his story to NPR's Shankar Vedantam, who's here to tell it to us. Hi, Shankar.

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Environment
1:57 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Fuel In The Fire: Burn Wood For Power Or Leave It To Nature

At more than 400 square miles, the Rim Fire is the largest Sierra Nevada fire in recorded history.
Mike McMillan US Forest Service

Originally published on Wed October 16, 2013 11:59 am

The record-breaking wildfire in Yosemite National Park is almost fully contained, two months after it started. The blaze calls attention to a problem across the western U.S.: After a century of having its fires routinely extinguished, the forests are overloaded with fuel.

A heated debate has flared up about what to do with that forest fuel. California is hoping to reduce its fire risk through renewable energy, but some worry about the environmental costs of thinning the forests.

'It Was Torched'

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Shots - Health News
3:11 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Bioethicists Give Hollywood's Films A Reality Check

Directors and bioethicists hashed out how moral medical issues should be depicted on screen during a meeting in Los Angeles.
Courtesy of Colin Crowley

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 3:20 pm

A life-threatening pandemic occurs. You're a doctor in the ER and can save a 9-year-old or a 63-year-old doctor. Whom do you choose? How do you choose?

Questions like that can crop up in real life and also on the silver screen. So how good a job do filmmakers do at portraying these moral dilemmas? Some do fairly well, but there's also room for improvement.

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The Two-Way
12:01 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

18-Foot Oarfish Livens Up A 'Leisurely Snorkel' In California

People hoist the body of an 18-foot oarfish that was discovered in Toyon Bay at Catalina Island off the California coast.
Courtesty of Catalina Island Marine Institute

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 4:43 pm

A snorkeler off the coast of California found more than she bargained for on the ocean floor Sunday, when she saw the large eyes of an 18-foot fish staring back at her. It turned out to be a dead oarfish, a mysterious creature known to live in waters thousands of feet deep.

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The Salt
9:44 am
Tue October 15, 2013

Farm Families Pick Massive Corn Harvest As Prices Shrink

Curt Friesen is a fourth-generation farmer in central Nebraska.
Grant Gerlock for NPR

Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 1:39 pm

Corn prices are down and the farm bill is stalled in Congress. So there's a lot of uncertainly in the air as harvest season gets into full swing across the Midwest. But this is a time of year when farm families like the Friesens in Henderson, Neb., come together to focus on the big task at hand: the corn harvest.

Everyone in the family has a job to do.

"Like my dad — he drives auger wagon," Curt Friesen says. "He drives auger wagon only. That's all he's done since 1976, I think. ... My wife, Nancy, she drives the combine; that's her job."

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