Science & Health

The Salt
12:23 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Golden Rice Study Violated Ethical Rules, Tufts Says

Genetically modified to be enriched with beta-carotene, golden rice grains (left) are a deep yellow. At right, white rice grains.
Isagani Serrano International Rice Research Institute

Originally published on Thu September 19, 2013 5:30 pm

Tufts University announced Tuesday that one of its researchers broke ethical rules while carrying out a study of genetically modified "golden rice" in China.

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Shots - Health News
11:39 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Healthful Living May Lengthen Telomeres And Lifespans

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 2:22 pm

Scientists claim they have evidence that explains why lifestyle changes known to be good for you — low-fat diets, exercise, reducing stress — can lengthen your life.

Based on a small, exploratory study, researchers say these good habits work by preventing chromosomes in our cells from unraveling. Basically, they assert that healthy living can reverse the effects of aging at a genetic level.

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Krulwich Wonders...
8:45 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Always, Always There

An Iraqi civilian walks through the vault of the National Museum in Baghdad, Iraq, on April 12, 2003. Looters opened the museum vault, went on a rampage breaking ancient artifacts stored there by museum authorities before the war started.
Jerome Delay AP

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 1:26 pm

I'm going to tell two stories here, two very different stories. One's about bad guys hurting good guys that made me think the world is going to hell; the other is about good guys outfoxing bad guys and made me smile — made me think there's hope, always hope. I found them in different books.

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Research News
4:36 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Telomeres May Hold Clues To Effects Of Aging

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 8:38 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Scientists are reporting an advance in the science of aging and maybe even a clue how to reverse some of aging's effects. They have evidence that lifestyle changes already known to be good for you, like healthy diet, exercise, reducing stress may prevent the chromosomes in our cells from unraveling.

NPR's Richard Knox reports that it's all about little caps on our chromosomes called telomeres.

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Animals
6:52 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Earwax From Whales Keeps Record Of Ocean Contaminants

A blue whale (and human diver) swimming off the coast of Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, in April 2011.
Amos Nachoun Barcroft Media/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 7:07 am

How often do whales clean their ears? Well, never. And so, year after year, their earwax builds up, layer upon layer. According to a study published Monday, these columns of earwax contain a record of chemical pollution in the oceans.

The study used the earwax extracted from the carcass of a blue whale that washed ashore on a California beach back in 2007. Scientists at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History collected the wax from inside the skull of the dead whale and preserved it. The column of wax was almost a foot long.

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Energy
4:55 pm
Mon September 16, 2013

Natural Gas May Be Easier On Climate Than Coal, Despite Methane Leaks

A rig drills a hydraulic fracturing well for natural gas outside Rifle, Colo., in March.
Brennan Linsley AP

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 6:11 pm

From the standpoint of global warming, burning natural gas can be better than burning coal, a study published this week suggests.

This is a contentious issue among people who are opposed to the natural gas drilling practice known as fracking. That technique involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into wells to release far more gas than conventional drilling can. Opponents of fracking have been concerned not only about local environmental issues, but also about the potential for methane leaks to make global warming worse.

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Environment
3:12 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Debate Revs As Decision Stalls Over Oil Pipeline From Canada

A 60-foot section of pipe is lowered into a trench during construction of the Gulf Coast Pipeline in Prague, Okla., in March. The Gulf Coast Pipeline, a 485-mile crude oil line, is part of the Keystone XL project and will run from Cushing, Okla. to Nederland, Texas. Although this southern stretch of the pipeline is nearly finished, the northern stretch is still under study.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 11:56 am

Five years ago this week, a Canadian company proposed building a pipeline to send heavy crude oil from Alberta to U.S. refineries. Although the Obama administration's answer on the Keystone XL pipeline is not expected anytime soon, politicians in Washington and Canada are ramping up the pressure for the project, while environmentalists are pushing hard against it.

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Environment
4:14 am
Sun September 15, 2013

Remote Antarctic Trek Reveals A Glacier Melting From Below

The surface tower at a drill site, under construction during blistering Antarctic winds. Data from instruments, deployed through 450 meters of ice, is transmitted from the tower by satellite back to the Naval Postgraduate School.
Image courtesy of Tim Stanton

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 7:50 am

Scientists watching Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier from space have noticed with some alarm that it has been surging toward the sea.

If it were to melt entirely, global sea levels would rise by several feet.

The glacier is really, really remote. It's 1,800 miles from McMurdo, the U.S. base station in Antarctica, so just getting there is a challenge. Scientists have rarely been able to get out to the glacier to make direct measurements.

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The Two-Way
5:12 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Judge Rules 'Ikea Monkey' To Remain In Animal Sanctuary

A still from news video of Darwin's great escape in December.
ABC News

Darwin the 'Ikea monkey' will no longer be hitting the superstores with a Canadian woman who calls him her son after a judge in Ontario ruled that the primate is not a pet and should remain at an animal sanctuary.

As we wrote in December, Darwin, a Japanese macaque dressed in a heavy shearling coat, attracted considerable attention when he escaped from a locked crate in owner Yasmin Nakhuda's car in Toronto. He made his way through rows of parked cars and ended up inside a nearby Ikea store before staff there cornered him and called in animal control officials.

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Shots - Health News
5:04 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

After Disasters, DNA Science Is Helpful, But Often Too Pricey

A Thai medic checks bodies for forensic identity in Phang Nga province in southern of Thailand on Jan. 11, 2005. Thousands of people were killed in Thailand after a massive tsunami struck on Dec. 26, 2004.
Pornchai Kittiwongsakul AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 6:32 pm

Human DNA is the ultimate fingerprint. A single hair can contain enough information to determine someone's identity — a feature that's been invaluable for identifying the unnamed casualties of natural disasters and war. But forensic scientists who use DNA say the technology isn't always available where it's most needed, like in poor countries, or in war zones like Syria.

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Environment
5:04 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Spy Drones Turning Up New Data About Hurricanes And Weather

A Global Hawk unmanned aircraft comes in for a landing at the Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., on Sept. 7, 2012, after studying Hurricane Leslie. The remotely controlled planes can stay in the air for as long as 28 hours and fly over hurricanes at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet.
NASA

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 5:57 pm

For several weeks now, two unmanned spy planes have been flying over the Atlantic on an unusual mission: gathering intelligence about tropical storms and hurricanes.

The two Global Hawk drones are a central part of NASA's five-year HS3 (Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel) Mission investigating why certain weather patterns become hurricanes, and why some hurricanes grow into monster storms.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:25 am
Fri September 13, 2013

A Most Delightful Map

Courtesy of Massimo Pietrobon

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 1:07 pm

Think about this: You wake up in New York City, decide to go for a stroll, head east after breakfast, and a short time later, still on foot, you find yourself in Morocco. Three hundred million years ago, you could have done that! There was no civilization back then, no cities, no countries, no people, but the land was there, so take a look at this map.

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The Two-Way
11:23 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Hawaii: 'Let Nature Take Its Course' On Molasses Spill

John Hernandez of Kailua, Hawaii, who owns John's Fresh Fish, is shown on Thursday. In the background at right is a container ship owned by Matson Navigation Co. A pipe maintained by the company cracked and caused the molasses spill.
Eugene Tanner AP

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 2:58 pm

State officials in Hawaii say there's little they can do to clean up a 223,000-gallon molasses spill that has killed thousands of fish, as swimmers, surfers and snorkelers were being warned that the massive die-off could attract sharks.

So many fish have been killed by the 1,400-ton leak from a pipeline, first spotted on Tuesday, that it could result in an increase in predator species such as sharks, barracuda and eels, state health officials warned.

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Interviews
11:01 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Stephen Hawking Looks Back

Stephen Hawking is known for his research into relativity, black holes, and quantum mechanics, as well as for the disease that has left him almost entirely paralyzed. But the theoretical cosmologist says that, were he to start from scratch, he wouldn't focus on physics.

Science
11:01 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Chemistry Research Roundup

Why are bed bugs so resistant to pesticides? How do whiskey, rye, and bourbon develop their unique flavor profile? What compounds in the natural world could be used for insect repellant or for treating AIDS? For the answers, we turn to the American Chemical Society conference. We'll discuss a few of the highlights presented at this week's meeting.

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