Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 12:55 pm
The budget negotiations in Washington are not front-page news on Mars. There, millions of miles away, NASA's rovers continue to operate, taking photographs and collecting data as they prepare for the coming Martian winter.
NPR's Joe Palca has this report for our Newscast unit:
Tuesday in Geneva, negotiators from six nations will sit down to talks with Iran over that country's nuclear program. At the heart of the negotiations are Iran's centrifuges: machines that can be used to enrich uranium for use in nuclear power plants, or for use in a bomb. This double role of centrifuges has negotiators in a bind.
Scientists who study why species vanish are increasingly looking for ancient DNA. They find it easily enough in the movies; remember the mosquito blood in Jurassic Park that contained dinosaur DNA from the bug's last bite? But in real life, scientists haven't turned up multi-million-year-old DNA in any useable form.
Fortunately, a team at the Smithsonian Institution has now found something unique in a 46-million-year-old, fossilized mosquito — not DNA, but the chemical remains of the insect's last bloody meal.
Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 10:03 am
Somebody should be watching Daniela Rus and her pals at MIT, because what they are doing is so crazy, so potentially important, people need to know about them. Not because they're dangerous, but because what they're doing might be changing the world and nobody should change the world without the world noticing.
The scene: Two men in a chilly Soviet apartment converse in whispers, careful to protect their plans from enemy ears. Little do they know, the benign-looking raven outside their window is not merely a city scavenger hunting for food, but a spy for the U.S. government.
Research season was just getting started when the government shutdown put McMurdo Station into "caretaker" mode, halting data collection. Host Scott Simon speaks to Gretchen Hofmann, a professor at University of California, Santa Barbara, about the government shutdown's impact on research in Antarctica.
You've no doubt heard of Senior Meals on Wheels preparing hot meals delivered to the elderly. But there's a different meal program that's been put on hold because of the partial government shutdown. It's the USDA's Commodity Supplemental Food Program.
In Michigan's western Kent County alone, more than 1,300 low-income seniors depend on the program. For them, it's a nutrition lifeline: They can't just go to a food pantry for similar assistance.
Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 11:47 am
Alzheimer's disease can be tough to diagnose, especially early on. Doctors can order brain scans and assay spinal fluids. But existing tests are imperfect and some can be invasive.
So you might understand the appeal of an alternative that researchers at the University of Florida in Gainesville tried. They had asked patients to sniff a dab of peanut butter during a routine test of cranial nerve function. Later, the team wondered if it could help them figure of it someone might be in the early stages of Alzheimer's.
A genetic variation that protects skin against sun damage may also increase the risk of testicular cancer, at least in mice. Researcher Gareth Bond discusses why this relationship may have evolved and how the findings could help to create personalized cancer treatments for humans.
In Brave Genius: A Scientist, a Philosopher, and Their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize, Sean B. Carroll tells the story of biologist Jacques Monod and philosopher Albert Camus--two men who made significant contributions to their respective fields, and who shared an enduring friendship.
This week a handful of scientists got the wakeup call of a lifetime: news they had won the Nobel Prize. This year's recipients predicted the existence of the Higgs boson, figured out how cells transport materials, and used computer programming to map chemical reactions. Winners and experts discuss the research behind this year's awards, and what comes next.
Many baseball fans have a love affair with two things: their favorite team and statistics. Bruce Bukiet, an associate professor of mathematical sciences, shares his predictions and mathematical models for this year's Major League Baseball playoff standings.