This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I am Ira Flatow. When we talk about Mars, you know, it's usually about the search for life or water or something like that on the red planet that might be similar to life on earth, right? Is there life on Mars? Was there life on Mars? Was it similar to life on earth? But what if life came from Mars to earth? What if earth was seeded by Martian life forms three billion years ago? It's not a new idea, Martian life forms hitching a ride on a meteorite. But there is a new theory to support it.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I am Ira Flatow. Did you know that trillions of bacteria live in your gut, happily dining on the food you eat? And your bacteria community, well, it's different than mine; everyone has a different community and that is important because as a new study published in Science points out, the specific bacteria you shelter can alter your metabolism. It can help determine your health. How do you get the bacteria in your gut? What connection do they have to our well-being?
Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 11:25 am
One of the most famous scenes in the movie Rain Man unfolds when a waitress drops a box of toothpicks on the floor. Dustin Hoffman's character, Ray, takes a look and says, "82, 82, 82." He quickly sums the numbers, declaring, "Of course, 246 total."
Last year, 2012, the Earth experienced a record melt of Arctic ice, torrential rainfall in Australia, and withering droughts in the United States and elsewhere. Scientists are beginning to figure out why. Here's NPR's Richard Harris
Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 11:52 am
Here's a bit of news that might make you drop that chicken nugget midbite.
Just before the start of the long holiday weekend last Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quietly announced that it was ending a ban on processed chicken imports from China. The kicker: These products can now be sold in the U.S. without a country-of-origin label.
There's a hole in the sun's corona. But don't worry — that happens from time to time.
"A coronal hole is just a big, dark blotch that we see on the sun in our images," says Dean Pesnell, project scientist for NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. "We can only see them from space, because when we look at them [through] a regular telescope, they don't appear."
Cats have come a long way from being animals charged with catching mice to treasured, adorable creatures that snuggle with us in our beds. But this relatively new arrangement is creating issues for cats and the people who live with them.
John Bradshaw has studied the history of domesticated cats and how the relationship between people and cats has changed. He's the author of the new book Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, which is a follow-up to his book Dog Sense.
Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 12:56 pm
Most parents yell at their kids at some point. It often feels like the last option for getting children to pay attention and shape up.
But harsh verbal discipline may backfire. Teenagers act worse if they're yelled at, a study finds.
Researchers asked parents of 13-year-olds in the Philadelphia area how often in the past year they'd yelled, cursed or called the kid "dumb or lazy or some other word like that" after he or she had done something wrong.
Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 9:45 am
Stanley Kunitz, one of our great poets, planted a spruce tree next to his house in Provincetown, Mass., and over the years that tree attracted some tenants, a family of garden snakes. I didn't know garden snakes climb trees, especially needly ones like a spruce, but they do.
A brain that trains can stay in the fast lane. That's the message of a study showing that playing a brain training video game for a month can rejuvenate the multitasking abilities of people in their 60s, 70s and 80s.
"After training, they improved their multitasking beyond the level of 20-year-olds," says Adam Gazzaley, one of the study's authors and a brain scientist at the University of California, San Francisco.
Originally published on Wed September 4, 2013 7:48 pm
Scientists have demonstrated the ability to scale-up an 'uncrackable' computer encryption system that utilizes quantum physics to ensure security.
The technique is based on information that is carried by photons, the basic particles of light. While it's been demonstrated on a small scale, the team headed by Andrew Shields and publishing in Nature says they've shown that up to 64 users can share a single photon detector, eliminating the need for each one to have such an (expensive) device.
Hot summer days often mean air pollution warnings in big cities. But the air inside your kitchen can sometimes be just as harmful. Cooking fumes from your stove are supposed to be captured by a hood over the range — but even some expensive models aren't that effective.
Jennifer Logue spends a lot of time thinking about what happens when she cooks. She's a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, where she studies indoor air pollution.