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Last update: 2013-07-01

A Beautiful Notion: That Caterpillars Killed Off The Dinosaurs

2013-07-01

One of the great dinosaur puzzles, the dinosaur mystery, is why did they suddenly die off? Scientists have been debating this question for almost a hundred years and one of the most beautiful notions came from an insect scholar who thought maybe caterpillars did it. I'm not making this up.…

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Your Choice In Utensils Can Change How Food Tastes

2013-06-30
Length: 4m 33s

Cutlery, dishes and other inedible accoutrements to a meal can alter our perceptions of taste, according to researchers. And it might be more about our brains than our tongues.…

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The Latest Research On Alzheimer's

2013-06-29
Length: 3m 37s

The largest gains in treatment of the disease have been made in the psycho-social realm — preparing the patient and the caregiver for what to expect. Dr. Jason Karlawish of the University of Pennsylvania tells guest host Lynn Neary what else researchers are learning.…

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Shuttle Atlantis Lands For Good At Kennedy Space Center

2013-06-29
Length: 2m 48s

After traveling 125 million miles in orbit, the shuttle is now on display about 10 miles from where it launched and landed on its final mission just under two years ago.…

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Stroke, Stroke, Stroke — The Atlantic Ocean's Dazzling Oarsmen

2013-06-28

At night, in the ocean, they look like little Broadway billboards with dazzling trills of rainbow colored light. They have eight little runways on their bodies for light display. What are they?…

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Not One, but Three 'Goldilocks Planets'?

2013-06-28
Length: 17m 50s

In a study published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, researchers say that they've discovered a solar system with not just one, but three planets that could support life only 22 light-years away from Earth. Rory Barnes, the lead U.S. author of the study, talks about how it's possible to find multiple "Goldilocks planets" around one star.…

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'Brainwashed' Examines the Value of Brain Scans

2013-06-28
Length: 30m 19s

In the new book Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience, co-authors Sally Satel and Scott Lilienfeld examine the science behind some recent brain imaging research. Satel joins host Ira Flatow and other guests for a look at what brain scans can — "and cannot — "tell us about human behavior and how the mind works.…

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Living Large in 140 Square Feet

2013-06-28
Length: 6m 1s

Chris Tack made seven unloading trips to Goodwill before moving into the tiny home he and his wife Malissa designed and built. Constructed on a trailer bed and parked in Snohomish, Washington, the house is more than enough space for them, the couple says. And one advantage of an abode on wheels is that you can always move, says Malissa.…

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Aiming For 'Wild and Crazy' Energy Ideas

2013-06-28
Length: 29m 40s

The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E, backs energy technologies that are too risky for investors, but offer a potentially huge payoff — if they work. The agency has gambled on flywheels, compressed air energy storage, lithium-air batteries, even wind-energy kites.…

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Obama: U.S. Should Lead Assault on Climate Change

2013-06-28
Length: 12m 29s

This week President Obama announced his plan to tackle climate change, including proposals to regulate gas and coal emissions, and brace the nation for rising seas. David Roberts, who covers energy and climate change for Grist.org, talks about what to expect from the plan — and how much the president can accomplish without the help of Congress.…

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Artist Plays Detective: Can I Reconstruct A Face From A Piece Of Hair?

2013-06-28

You find a hair on a table top. A cigarette butt on the street. You take it home, and using not especially sophisticated tools, you recover traces of DNA. Can you now reconstruct the face of the person whose hair that was? Who smoked that cigarette? Here's an artist who says, "you can." And here's her evidence.…

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Put Down Oil Drill, Pick Up The Test Tube: Making Fuel From Yeast

2013-06-28
Length: 5m 23s

Synthetic biologist Jay Keasling has already taught yeast to make the leading anti-malarial drug. His next project takes the technology a step further, using yeast to turn plant waste into diesel — and maybe gasoline and jet fuel, too.…

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Tips For Surviving A Mega-Disaster

2013-06-28
Length: 3m 58s

NASA has a plan to fend off giant asteroids, but what about tsunamis, earthquakes, storms that last 45 days and mammoth floods? Earth scientists say science-based strategies can help communities prepare for the worst of the worst.…

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Economists Have A One-Page Solution To Climate Change

2013-06-28
Length: 4m 42s

Tax fossil fuels in proportion to the amount of carbon they release. That's it; that's the whole plan.…

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A Look At The Nastiest And Cleanest U.S. Beaches

2013-06-27

The Natural Resources Defense Council released its annual beach report card, detailing the levels of bacteria measured at beaches across the nation. Several beaches on the East Coast get gold stars.…

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7 Billion People And Trillions Of Creatures To Be Photographed Together On July 19

2013-06-27

Carl Sagan once wrote a mischievous paper called "A Search for Life on Earth from the Galileo Spacecraft". Being a living Earthling, he knew he'd find life here. So what was he really up to? The experiment he ran in 1990 is about to be repeated in a few weeks. Here's my closer look.…

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Pitch-Perfect: Why Our Shoulders Are Key To Throwing

2013-06-26

Being able to throw stones with power and precision must have been fun for humans' early ancestors. It was essential, too, since we lack the the fangs and claws of other predators. A recent study suggests the ability to fire rocket fastballs depends on shoulder anatomy that chimps don't share.…

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Can You Be Addicted To Carbs? Scientists Are Checking That Out

2013-06-26

Researchers are trying to figure out if it really is possible to be addicted to food. A study of brain activity finds there's more going on in areas linked to reward and addiction after people drink a shake with lots of refined carbohydrates. But it's not clear how that factors into overeating.…

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NIH Takes Another Step Toward Retirement Of Research Chimps

2013-06-26

The vast majority of the animals are used in studies of things like genetics and behavior. But in recent years, the scientific community has begun to feel even these studies are unnecessary.…

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New Bugs In Florida Stymie Researchers, Threaten Crops

2013-06-26
Length: 4m 45s

Researchers usually identify natural predators or parasites to combat invasive bugs like the brown marmorated stink bug and the psyllid. But after not finding immediate solutions, they are turning to pesticides and nutrient sprays.…

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Black Bear Roams In D.C., Days After Red Panda's Jaunt

2013-06-26

First there was Rusty, the red panda. Now there are reports that a bear was captured in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, prompting (mostly unserious) concerns of a possible ursine siege on the nation's capital.…

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'The Lyme Wars' That Tiny Ticks Have Wrought

2013-06-26
Length: 37m 36s

Since Lyme disease was first identified in the late 1970s, it has become the most commonly reported tick-borne illness in the country. Journalist Michael Specter talks about his New Yorker article on the disease and its controversial history.…

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Fruity With A Hint Of Bologna: A Slacker's Guide To Wine Tasting

2013-06-26

Science is a beautiful thing — especially when it helps you impress your foodie friends. Here we present five easy party tricks — based on science, natch — that will make you look like a wine tasting pro. Do try this at home.…

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This Climate Fix Might Be Decades Ahead Of Its Time

2013-06-26
Length: 7m 47s

Researchers are developing a technology that could draw carbon dioxide directly out of the air. It's very expensive now, but it works, and one company is already trying to identify a market for all that captured greenhouse gas.…

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Ultramarathoners: Faster, Higher, Stronger And Sleepier

2013-06-26

An experiment with runners in the Italian Alps finds that extremely long races don't always lead to more muscle fatigue than those that were merely very long. Smart pacing and strategic naps help ultramarathoners cope with the challenges.…

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Pitch Perfect: Why Our Shoulders Are Key To Throwing

2013-06-26
Length: 3m 57s

Being able to throw stones with power and precision must have been fun for humans' early ancestors. It was essential, too, since we lack the the fangs and claws of other predators. A recent study suggests the ability to fire rocket fastballs depends on shoulder anatomy that chimps don't share.…

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How Well Do You Know Your Fish Fillet? Even Chefs Can Be Fooled

2013-06-25

Oceana, a conservation group, has been beating the drum about seafood mislabeling. An interactive dinner hosted by the group helped prove how easy it is for anyone to become a victim of seafood fraud.…

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Obama's Climate Strategy Doesn't Require Congressional Approval

2013-06-25
Length: 4m 18s

The sweeping plan calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to tighten carbon dioxide emissions on power plants and is designed to foster cleaner forms of electricity. The initiative also aims to help the nation cope with droughts and other weather related changes that are already happening.…

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The Man With A 'Battery Operated Brain'

2013-06-25

Every so often you see something deeply, truly, can't-believe-they-can-do-this astonishing. This is one of those. A small invention, inserted into a brain, that can silence a neural nightmare with the push of a button. Andrew Johnson is going to push that button.…

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Obama Lays Out Broad Plan To Address Climate Change

2013-06-25

For the first time, the government plans to limit how much carbon dioxide existing power plants can put into the air. It's a key element of the president's plan, but it's also unclear how aggressive the restrictions will be.…

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Sea Lamprey Nosed Into Controlled Areas By Scent

2013-06-25
Length: 3m 57s

Researchers in the Great Lakes are trying to control an ancient fish with a new approach. Sea lamprey are notorious for latching onto other fish and literally sucking the life out of them.…

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Our Beef With BuzzFeed's Viral Article On 8 Dangerous Foods

2013-06-24

BuzzFeed's article on dangerous ingredients we eat in the U.S. has gotten millions of eyeballs. But don't panic: We take a closer look at the facts and the science behind the claims.…

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Congress Not Likely To Pass Sweeping Climate Legislation

2013-06-24
Length: 3m 48s

As President Obama prepares to unveil his executive strategy on climate change, we look at the politics of the issue in Congress. …

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Can An Old Massachusetts Fishing Port Light The World Again?

2013-06-24
Length: 5m 0s

Once known as the City That Lit the World, New Beford's whale oil powered candles and lamps around the country. Now, the Massachusetts city wants to become an energy capital again, but this time with offshore wind.…

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For Sharpest Views, Scope The Sky With Quick-Change Mirrors

2013-06-24
Length: 7m 47s

A technology called adaptive optics is enabling astronomers to peer into space as never before. The specialized telescopes, which have mirrors that can adjust their shapes up to 1,000 times per second, compensate for the blurring that happens when light passes through Earth's atmosphere.…

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Tawny Crazy Ants Invade Southern States

2013-06-22
Length: 3m 0s

Tawny crazy ants are invading ecosystems and homes in states including Texas and Florida, wiping out other ant species and overwhelming homeowners. Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon talks to Texas A&M research scientist Robert Puckett, who says the ants are "ecological steamrollers" that reproduce so fast they are nearly impossible to get rid of.…

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Supermoon To Dominate Weekend Sky

2013-06-21

The full moon will be at its closest to the Earth all year, making it appear 14 percent to 30 percent brighter than normal.…

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Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Math

2013-06-21
Length: 7m 8s

Should you skip the bedtime stories and do math problems instead? Laura Overdeck, the founder of "Bedtime Math," thinks so. Overdeck discusses her program for tucking kids in with equations, and tells why she thinks it helps kids keep up their math skills over summer vacation.…

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Beaming Internet to the Boondocks, Via Balloon

2013-06-21
Length: 10m 3s

Rather than relying on cell towers, phone lines, or fiber optics, Google plans to beam 3G-speed Internet to the world's most inaccessible corners using helium balloons. The experiment is called "Project Loon." Leader Mike Cassidy talks about the project's first step: providing balloon Internet to New Zealand and the 40th parallel south.…

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E.O. Wilson's Advice for Future Scientists

2013-06-21
Length: 23m 10s

In his new book, Letters to a Young Scientist, biologist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Edward O. Wilson aims to inspire a new generation of scientists. Among his observations and advice: Geniuses don't make the best scientists, and don't worry if you aren't good at math.…

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Coffee's Natural Creamer

2013-06-21
Length: 7m 56s

Coffee beans are filled with oils that emerge from coffee grounds under high pressure. These oils form the crema�"the frothy stuff on top of an espresso. In the last installment of Science Friday's series on coffee, food-science writer Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking, explains the chemistry of crema.…

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Vegetables Respond to a Daily Clock, Even After Harvest

2013-06-21
Length: 9m 54s

Vegetables plucked from grocery store shelves can be made to respond to patterns of light and darkness, according to a report in the journal Current Biology. Janet Braam and colleagues found that cabbages change their levels of phytonutrients throughout a daily cycle.…

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Physicists Find New Particle, Look for Answers

2013-06-21
Length: 17m 50s

Researchers say that they've discovered a new subatomic particle�"one that appears to contain four quarks bound together. Physicist Sean M. Carroll describes the significance of the find, and talks about the ongoing effort in physics to explain why the universe is the way it is.…

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A Calculating Win for China's New Supercomputer

2013-06-21
Length: 20m 6s

China's "Tianhe-2" (Milky Way 2) supercomputer took first place in one recent speed test, clocking in at 30 quadrillion calculations per second--about twice as fast as the best American machines. The U.S. still has more supercomputers than any other nation, but some experts say computer speed is a measure of a country's scientific innovation, and worry the U.S. is lagging behind.…

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Every Night You Lose More Than A Pound While You're Asleep (For The Oddest Reason)

2013-06-21

Every night you lose weight while you sleep. Everybody does. Sometimes two pounds. Something inside you when you close you eyes is gone by morning. It's not bathroom-related. It's something else. What could it be?…

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The Business And Politics Of Air Quality Regulation

2013-06-20
Length: 30m 19s

In a speech in Germany Wednesday, President Barack Obama said it's time to take "bold action" on climate change. Many believe that major changes to policies on carbon emissions lie ahead, which would mean a host of new regulations for businesses.…

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Singapore Endures Record Smog

2013-06-20

The choking haze that's enveloped the city state is being caused by brush fires in Indonesia, and Singapore's premier says it could last for weeks.…

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What Makes Rituals Special? Join Us For A Google+ Conversation

2013-06-19
Length: 5m 25s

From savoring a morning coffee to lighting a candle each night, people employ rituals all over the world. NPR science correspondent Shankar Vedantam speaks with behavior scientist Francesca Gino and Slate columnist William Saletan about the role of rituals in human life.…

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Will The Court's Gene Ruling Stifle Bio Innovation?

2013-06-15
Length: 5m 19s

Weekend Edition Saturday Host Scott Simon talks with bioethicist Arthur Caplan of New York University about Thursday's Supreme Court ruling that isolated human genes may not be patented — and the implications for that ruling.…

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Archaeologists Discover Lost City In Cambodian Jungle

2013-06-14

The Australian researchers found a jungle-covered metropolis that predates the country's famous Angkor Wat complex by some 350 years.…

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Rule Would List All Chimps As Endangered, Even Lab Animals

2013-06-14
Length: 3m 47s

Though the regulation proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service would make it more difficult to use chimpanzees for research purposes, that may not be a problem, some scientists say. Scientific advances show the animals are less medically useful than previously thought.…

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With Climate Change, No Happy Clams

2013-06-14
Length: 19m 18s

Carbon emissions are slowly acidifying ocean waters, forcing marine life to adapt. Oysters and other shellfish, for example, may have a harder time building their shells, according to NOAA's Richard Feely. At Quilcene, Washington's Taylor Shellfish Hatchery, research director Benoit Eudeline says he's already seeing those effects.…

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Rolling Out Bamboo Bicycles

2013-06-14
Length: 5m 35s

Valid Cycles specializes in handcrafted bamboo bicycle frames. To be bike-ready, the bamboo must be cooked in an oven, stripped, and sealed. But after that, the founders of Valid Cycles say the bikes last as long as a metal one. We stopped by their shop — a barn in Woodinville, Washington — for a look at how the bikes are put together.…

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Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn Talks Climate and Carbon

2013-06-14
Length: 13m 30s

Like any major city near a coast, Seattle likely won't be immune from rising sea levels and other effects of global warming. Mayor Mike McGinn discusses the city's plans for addressing climate change, including his push to divest Seattle's pension funds from fossil fuel investments, and the city council's plan to make Seattle carbon neutral by 2050.…

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Decoding 'the Most Complex Object in the Universe'

2013-06-14
Length: 23m 5s

The human brain contains some 100 billion neurons, which together form a network of Internet-like complexity. Christof Koch, chief scientific officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, calls the brain "the most complex object in the known universe," and he's mapping its connections in hopes of discovering the origins of consciousness.…

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Looking Back, and Up, at a Seattle Icon

2013-06-14
Length: 12m 22s

Seattle's Space Needle opened in 1962 as part of the World's Fair. Knute Berger, author of Space Needle: The Spirit of Seattle, discusses the history and engineering behind the tower, and explains why a symbol of "the future" from days gone by still has relevance today.…

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Human Genes Not Patentable, Supreme Court Says

2013-06-14
Length: 4m 57s

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that the mere act of isolating a DNA sequence does not make human genes patentable. Mary-Claire King, who helped discover the breast cancer gene at the center of the court dispute, discusses the ruling and its implications for genetics.…

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Denis Hayes on Being Green

2013-06-14
Length: 18m 1s

Since his days as head of the Solar Energy Research Institute under President Jimmy Carter, Denis Hayes has been pushing to add more renewable energy sources to the country's energy portfolio. Hayes discusses the current U.S. market for renewables such as solar and wind, and gives his take on where he sees America's energy future headed.…

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Sorry, Dr. Oz, Green Coffee Can't Even Slim Down Chubby Mice

2013-06-14

An extract from raw, green coffee beans has been called a "miracle" weight-loss aid. But a study in mice casts doubt on the supplement's fat-burning effects — and even offers preliminary evidence that it could be harmful.…

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Scientists Go Medieval To Solve Ancient Leprosy Puzzle

2013-06-14

Looking for clues to to modern-day leprosy, scientists dig up a 500-year-old mass grave and scan for ancient strains of bacteria in human remains. They find that the bacteria that cause leprosy haven't changed, humans have.…

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Why Bill Gates Is Investing In Chicken-Less Eggs

2013-06-13
Length: 5m 26s

Investors like Gates are betting that our planet can't sustain the current rate of growth in animal-based foods for too much longer. Products like Beyond Eggs, a plant-based substitute, are designed to fill the void.…

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Hands-Free Gadgets In Car Don't Mean Driving Is Risk-Free

2013-06-12

Systems that turn a driver's speech into text are the most distracting. Drivers in a University of Utah test experienced a kind of inattention blindness that mean they sometimes overlooked potential hazards.…

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China Launches Crew Into Space, Starting 15-Day Mission

2013-06-11

China's leaders and media outlets are calling the launch the next step in China's "space dream," which began in earnest 10 years ago with the country's first manned spaceflight.…

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Massive Bat Cave Stirs Texas-Size Debate Over Development

2013-06-11
Length: 3m 53s

Every night for thousands of years, bats have poured out of the Bracken Cave Reserve, near San Antonio, by the millions. But conservationists are worried that plans for a housing development nearby will disrupt the bats' rural habitat.…

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To Crack Down On Rhino Poaching, Authorities Turn To Drones

2013-06-11
Length: 4m 33s

Sky-high prices for elephant ivory and rhino horn have pushed wildlife poaching to a fever pitch. So in attempt to outfox the sophisticated poaching operations, conservationists and government rangers are teaming up to launch small, camera-carrying drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, above southwest Africa.…

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Za'atar: A Spice Mix With Biblical Roots And Brain Food Reputation

2013-06-11

This alluring spice mix has an incredible aroma and deep roots in the Middle East. For centuries, people have been eating za'atar not just for its savory taste but also for its reputed health benefits. Modern research confirms it's packed with antioxidants.…

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The Most Dangerous Traffic Circle In The World?

2013-06-11

Moving north: two vans. Moving east: three taxis, a peddle cab and one lady walking. Moving west: six motorcyles, another taxi, a truck and a van. Moving south: a bicyclist, two cabs and a truck. All of them meet and there are no rules. Who lives? Who dies?…

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The Gamma Delphinids Are Coming: 'Elusive' Meteor Shower Tonight

2013-06-10

They travel at about 127,500 miles per hour, and NASA calls them "elusive" and "scarcely known." Tonight could bring the best views of the gamma Delphinid meteor shower since 1930.…

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Triple Threat: Middle East Respiratory Virus And 2 Bird Flus

2013-06-10
Length: 4m 49s

Is the world on the verge of a pandemic? There are three reasons to think so. Two flu viruses are active, and a virus that bears a resemblance to SARS has cropped up in the Middle East. Each has devastating potential, but many early warnings of past pandemics have failed to materialize.…

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Watts For Lunch? (Or Why Humans Are Like Light Bulbs)

2013-06-10

Take a bunch of broccoli, or make it a Slurpee, burger, pizza and fries, swallow, and ask yourself, "How much energy did I just consume?" Enough to light a flashlight? Run an electric toothbrush? If I were a lunch-eating light bulb, how long would I glow? Here's the answer.…

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City Life Disrupts Daily Rhythm Of Birds

2013-06-10
Length: 3m 56s

City life can be harsh on people. For example, it pushes people to work longer and sleep less. A new study suggests that city life can have a somewhat similar effect on birds too. It shows urban blackbirds wake up earlier and go to bed later than their forest dwelling cousins.…

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With Epilepsy Treatment, The Goal Is To Keep Kids Seizure-Free

2013-06-09
Length: 8m 35s

For children with epilepsy, doctors now try to prevent seizures altogether. It's a big switch in thinking from the days when seizures weren't considered such a bad thing. That changed due to research showing that seizures can affect learning and memory.…

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For London Zoo Patrons, It's A Case Of Once Bitten, Twice Shy

2013-06-08

Squirrel monkeys in a "walk-through" enclosure bit more than a dozen visitors over a year-long period, according to a report.…

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Aquarium Sculptors Create Coral For Conservation Awareness

2013-06-08
Length: 5m 3s

Colorful, fake coral gives aquarium visitors an eco-friendly glimpse inside a reef. At the National Aquarium in Baltimore, a new reef exhibit presents an artistic challenge to the coral fabrication team.…

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'Not Fighting For Just Sarah': Rating Transplant Priorities

2013-06-08
Length: 11m 30s

Sarah Murnaghan's family took up a legal fight to push the 10-year-old higher on the adult organ waitlist. In addition to trying to secure new lungs, mother Janet Murnaghan says the system needs to change.…

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Report: Accidents Likely In Environmentally Fragile Seas

2013-06-07

The WWF study says that the delicate South China Sea, Mediterranean and North Sea are also among the most prone to shipwrecks.…

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Plug Pulled On California Nuclear Plant, For Good

2013-06-07
Length: 2m 47s

Southern California Edison announced Friday morning that it will not restart the troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant. The facility has been offline for a year and a half after a leak in a steam tube created safety concerns.…

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How To Survive A Mass Extinction

2013-06-07
Length: 17m 49s

In her new book Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction writer Annalee Newitz looks back at Earth's previous mass extinctions to see what lessons might be learned, and how earthlings might prepare themselves to survive a future planet-wide catastrophe.…

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California Nuclear Plant Slated For Permanent Shut Down

2013-06-07

The plant's twin reactors went offline last year because of a small radiation leak, and the operator has been unable to get approval to restart them.…

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Tracing The Origins Of French Winemaking

2013-06-07
Length: 12m 30s

Many people associate France today with the production of great wines. But winemaking isn't native to the French. Patrick McGovern, an archaeologist of fermented beverages, has dated the beginning of viniculture in France to around 500 B.C. and contact with the Etruscans.…

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Comet Shines Light on Sun Dynamics

2013-06-07
Length: 6m 24s

In 2011, Comet Lovejoy traveled through the sun's corona and lived to tell the tale. But its tail was the most telling. Reporting in the journal Science, Cooper Downs, an astrophysicist at Predictive Science Inc., says that the wiggly path of the comet's tail helps explain the sun's magnetic field.…

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Promising Results In Early Trial of Novel MS Treatment

2013-06-07
Length: 11m 25s

Reporting in the journal Science Translational Medicine researchers say a new method for essentially resetting the immune systems of patients with multiple sclerosis appears to be safe. Study co-author Stephen D. Miller of Northwestern University, describes the novel approach tested in this small, phase 1 clinical trial and explains how it might one day also be used to treat other autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes.…

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Navy Studies Cicadas For Their Amplifying Sound Technique

2013-06-06
Length: 2m 4s

From southern Virginia to New England, lots of people are being treated to a cicada serenade. If these insects sound loud to you, that's because they are. They're so loud that some Navy engineers are trying to borrow their technique.…

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Vilsack: Farmers Must Respond To Rising Temperatures

2013-06-05

Farmers, foresters, and ranchers need to respond now to the impact of climate change on their businesses, says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "You're going to see crops produced in one area no longer able to be produced, unless we mitigate and adapt now," he says.…

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Tiny, Ancient Tree-Dweller Was One Of Earth's Earliest Primates

2013-06-05
Length: 2m 32s

About 55 million years ago, a teacup-sized critter in China was helping to pave the way for apes and humans. This insect eater had fingernails and stereo vision, a newly published analysis of a fossil suggests. And it weighed just 1 ounce.…

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Let Them Eat Wood! (If It's Turned Into Starch)

2013-06-05

A scientist has developed a technology to turn the cellulose in nonfood plants like trees and grasses into edible starch. Sounds zany, but guess what? Cellulose products are already commonly used as food additives in hundreds of processed and fast food items.…

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MIT's Magic Bag Of Sand

2013-06-05

What can you do with beach sand? Build a sand castle. Dig a canal. Make a snake. What can you do with MIT's "smart" sand? One day, you will turn it into a hammer, fork, chair, anything you want. And when you're done? Poof! It's sand again.…

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Can Going Vegetarian Help You Live Longer? Maybe

2013-06-04

Fresh research finds that men who ate vegetarian diets were less likely to die from heart disease and other heart conditions. But if you're looking for the definitive study that might persuade meat lovers to become vegetarian, this may not be it.…

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The French Learned To Make Wine From Italians 2,400 Years Ago

2013-06-04

These days, French vintners are globally renowned for their fine wines. And now, thanks to some nifty molecular archaeology, we know they picked up those winemaking skills from some helpful ancient Italians as early as 425 B.C.…

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Grass: It's What's For Dinner (3.5 Million Years Ago)

2013-06-03

If you want to go paleo in your diet, invest in a lawn mower. An examination of fossilized teeth from early humans and their ancient forebears reveals our ancestors switched from an ape diet of fruits and leaves to eating grasses and sedges about 3.5 million years ago.…

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Miss. Turns To Cord Blood To Track Down Statutory Rapists

2013-06-03
Length: 4m 0s

Starting in July, doctors and midwives in Mississippi will be required by law to collect samples of umbilical cord blood from babies born to some girls under the age of 16. Officials will analyze the samples and try to identify the fathers through matches in the state's DNA database.…

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What Did Rachel Carson Hear? The Mystery Of The 'Fairy Bell Ringer'

2013-06-03

It's not easy making friends with wild animals, especially when the animal is impossibly small, very shy, hiding under a pile of leaves. But when the writer Rachel Carson heard a "ting! ting! ting!" coming from her backyard — like someone ringing a teeny bell — she had to meet this creature, the one she called "the Fairy Bell Ringer."…

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No 'Universal' Best Practice To Save Yourself From Tornadoes

2013-06-01
Length: 11m 29s

When you're caught in a tornado's path, should you run or hide? The tornado in Moore, Okla., and the storms that tore through the Oklahoma City area Friday provide contradictory answers.…

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After Years Of War, Ugandan Children Face New Deadly Threat

2013-06-01
Length: 7m 12s

Uganda has lost one generation to a brutal, decades-long war. Now, a second generation is jeopardized by a strange disease known as nodding syndrome, which affects only children in parts of Africa and has no known cause.…

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Remapping Our Awareness Of Storm Surge Danger

2013-06-01
Length: 5m 25s

As with Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, nearly all deaths from hurricanes come from storm surge. The danger isn't well understood by the public, however, so the National Hurricane Center is retooling its forecast and warning systems to better track and alert vulnerable residents.…

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Report Of Liquid Woolly Mammoth Blood Prompts Clone Talk

2013-05-31

Scientists in Siberia say they've extracted blood samples from the carcass of a 10,000-year-old woolly mammoth, leading to speculation that a clone of the extinct animal might someday walk the earth. But researchers say the find must be studied further to know its potential.…

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Gizmo Uses Lung Cells To Sniff Out Health Hazards In Urban Air

2013-05-31
Length: 6m 10s

Scientists are trying to figure out how chemicals in the air interact with each other to make people sick. So they're building an instrument — a "lung in a box" — that goes way beyond the usual chemical monitors.…

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Bad Diagnosis For New Psychiatry "Bible"

2013-05-31
Length: 35m 0s

The new edition of the DSM, the so-called "Bible" of psychiatry, is out. But many psychiatrists and psychologists say the manual's approach is outdated, boxing mental illness into discrete categories like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, when very little is known about the underlying causes of disease.…

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Teacher Feature: Ethnobotanist Tom Carlson

2013-05-31
Length: 4m 18s

"Office hours are some of my favorite hours of the week," says professor Tom Carlson, a medical doctor, ethnobotanist and instructor of 1700 students annually at the University of California, Berkeley. One of Carlson's former students, SciFri associate senior producer Christopher Intagliata, says Carlson's class got him on the path toward science. In this "Teacher Feature," Intagliata tells his former teacher what the class meant to him.…

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Researchers Revive A Plant Frozen In Time

2013-05-31
Length: 12m 30s

It sounds like something from the movies — scientists uncover a sample of plant material frozen inside a glacier for hundreds of years, bring it back to the lab, and watch as it comes back to life. Catherine LaFarge describes the work, and what it means for plant scientists.…

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With Chemical Tweaks, Cement Becomes A Semiconductor

2013-05-31
Length: 8m 48s

With the right chemistry, cement can take on some of the properties of a metal, researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Chris Benmore, a physicist at Argonne National Laboratory, explains why a semiconducting cement might be useful.…

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The SciFri Book Club Takes a Hike

2013-05-31
Length: 35m 37s

The book club regulars gather to chat about the best-sellingA Walk in the Woods, writer Bill Bryson's 1998 account of a hiking trip along the Appalachian Trail. Plus, journalist Deborah Blum joins the club to talk about the best science books to stash in your beach bag (or backpack).…

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Huge Asteroid Makes Its Closest Pass To Earth Today

2013-05-31

The space rock, which is nine times the size of a cruise ship, is dropping by Earth and it's not coming alone. Asteroid 1998 QE2 has already given scientists a surprise: It has its own moon, measured at about 2,000 feet wide.…

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Big-Mouthed Toucans Key To Forest Evolution

2013-05-31
Length: 3m 20s

As humans have cut into Brazil's forests, the toucan population has taken a dive. The trees, in turn, have changed, too: Without large-billed birds to eat fruit with big seeds, only trees with small seeds thrive. Eventually, one scientist says, "the impacts on the forest could be quite dramatic."…

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Houston's Petrochemical Industry, Source Of Jobs And Smog

2013-05-31
Length: 7m 46s

Houston's air quality improved dramatically over the past decade, but the city is still short of meeting the latest smog standards. Getting there isn't simply a matter of cracking down more on the petrochemical industry — the city needs to deal with cars on its sprawling roads, and bad air blowing from out of town.…

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Michigan Tracks Cattle From Birth To Plate

2013-05-31
Length: 4m 12s

Would you like to know the life history of that steak before you eat it? Technology exists to give you that information, at least in Michigan, where the state government requires all cattle to carry an electronic tag for tracking purposes.…

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Breathing Easier: How Houston Is Working To Clean Up Its Air

2013-05-30

Intensely smoggy days are striking less often thanks to better technology that pinpoints problems, and laws that have prompted fixes. Still, scientists say they haven't yet tracked down all the sources of the pollution fouling the region's air.…

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GMO Wheat Found In Oregon Field. How'd It Get There?

2013-05-30

An Oregon farmer discovered the genetically engineered wheat growing in his field about a month ago. Nobody knows how it got there, how widely it has spread, or whether it's been in fields harvested for food. GMO wheat is not approved for sale in the U.S.…

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New Discovery Knocks 'Oldest Bird' Off Its Perch

2013-05-29

Scientists writing in Nature magazine say they've discovered the fossil of a bird-like creature that existed millions of years before Archaeopteryx.

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Cooking With Cicadas: No Weirder Than Eating Cheese?

2013-05-29
Length: 4m 46s

We know, eating bugs sounds strange, but 2 billion people already do it — and the U.N. has made the case for insects as a key protein source. For U.S. East Coasters, the coming of the 17-year cicadas provides an opportunity to cook with bugs. If you want to try your hand at it, there's a cookbook to guide your way.…

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How OxyContin's Pain Relief Built 'A World Of Hurt'

2013-05-29
Length: 27m 42s

New York Times reporter Barry Meier's new e-book explores opiate painkillers and the consequences that come with long-term use. He focuses in particular on OxyContin, how it came to be prescribed for chronic pain, what the consequences have been, and how it became a street drug.…

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Scientists Discover Rip Van Winkle Of The Plant World

2013-05-29
Length: 2m 21s

Nothing lives forever, but bryophytes come close. Scientists have found a kind of plant in the Canadian Arctic that started growing again after being buried under a glacier for 400 years.…

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Why Do Whistle-Blowers Become Whistle-Blowers?

2013-05-28
Length: 4m 34s

Management gurus have long preached the value of ethical leadership. In the presence of ethical leadership — but the absence of ethical co-workers — what happens to people's honesty?…

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The Business And Science Of Storm Shelters

2013-05-28
Length: 30m 20s

There are no definitive numbers on how many people were saved by storm shelters in the deadly tornado in Moore, Okla. There's little doubt that those who sought cover in previously-installed underground shelters and safe rooms were protected. Still, most people in high-risk areas don't have them.…

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Wal-Mart To Pay $81 Million For Hazardous Waste Dumping

2013-05-28

The retail giant pleaded guilty to improperly disposing of toxic pollutants in California and Missouri in the period 2003 to 2005.…

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Not Winging It, But Ringing It

2013-05-28

Dolphins make their own toys. They do this by producing perfect little air rings in the water, which they then shove, bite, sculpt and swallow. And they aren't the only ones. Today we celebrate (you should pardon the expression) toroidal vortices.…

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A Hungarian Cherry Tree's Long Trek To Michigan

2013-05-27

Hungary loves its sour cherries the way some countries love their wines. And after World War II, Hungarian scientists scoured the country to find the tree with the tastiest fruit. Thanks to a passionate scientist, this tree, the Balaton, made its way stateside.…

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Questions For Barbara J. King, Author Of 'How Animals Grieve'

2013-05-27

Do animals grieve? A new book says yes: While there's little clinical research on animal grief, observation suggests that many animals, including ducks, cats, rabbits, horses and more, are capable of loving other animals, and grieving their loss.…

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Beneath A Glacier's White, Researchers See Green

2013-05-27

Underneath a receding glacier in the Canadian Arctic, researchers found something surprising: a kind of plant related to moss that was not only still green, but also growing.…

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Scientists Trace Source Of Famed Irish Potato Famine

2013-05-26
Length: 3m 19s

We now know what caused the Irish potato famine. Scientists have pinpointed the pathogen by using plant samples collected in the mid-19th century. Weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden talks about it with the study's co-author, Sophien Kamoun of the Sainsbury Lab in the United Kingdom.…

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What If There's No Internet?

2013-05-25

It has no center. No "off" switch. No brain. The Internet was designed to be virtually indestructible. But what if, one day, somehow, it stops? We can't have it anymore. What would that be like? Here's a short video about a French couple. She's ready. He's not.…

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Who's The Best Drinker? Dogs? Cats? Or Pigeons?

2013-05-24

You, you with your lips, throat, cheek muscles and hands, you, with no effort can drink a glass of water. But what about your cat? Your dog? They don't have the advantages you do. Nor do pigeons. And yet, through ways both brilliant and mysterious, they too can drink. Here are their secrets.…

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Memory Games

2013-05-24

Memory is malleable, dynamic and elusive. When we tap into our memories, where's the line between fact and fiction? Can our memory play tricks on us? Can we train it to be more accurate? TED speakers discuss how a nimble memory can improve your life, and how a frail one might ruin someone else's.…

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Can Anyone Learn To Be A Master Memorizer?

2013-05-24
Length: 18m 21s

Some people can memorize thousands of numbers, the names of dozens of strangers or the precise order of cards in a shuffled deck. Science writer and U.S. Memory Champion Joshua Foer shows how anyone can become a memory virtuoso, including him.…

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Study Is First To Chart Amphibian Populations' Decline In U.S.

2013-05-24

Populations of frogs, salamanders and other amphibians are declining at an average rate of 3.7 percent each year, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study released this week.…

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Can Eyewitnesses Create Memories?

2013-05-24
Length: 17m 28s

Forensic psychologist Scott Fraser studies how we remember crimes. He describes a deadly shooting and explains how eyewitnesses can create memories that they haven't seen. Why? Because the brain is always trying to fill in the blanks.…

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How Do Experiences Become Memories?

2013-05-24
Length: 13m 21s

Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman goes through a series of examples from vacations to colonoscopies. He explains how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently.…

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Reinventing Farming For A Changing Climate

2013-05-24
Length: 27m 46s

Scientists say climate change could increase pests and weeds, lengthen growing seasons and turn dry soil to dust. Farmers are already on the offensive, adopting no-till cropping methods to conserve water and experimenting with different seeds. And scientists are using a technique called gene silencing to develop new crops--without tinkering with the plants' DNA.…

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'Crazy Ants' Spreading In The Southeastern US

2013-05-24
Length: 7m 53s

In parts of the southeastern US, aggressive fire ants have been driven out by an even more recent arrival, the tawny crazy ant. Edward LeBrun, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, describes the newcomers and how one invasive species can out-invade another.…

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Studies Question Potential Alzheimer's Treatment

2013-05-24
Length: 13m 29s

Last year scientists reported that a skin cancer drug appeared to reverse the effects of an Alzheimer's-like disease in mice. But four studies out this week in Science question the original results. Ronald Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, talks about the new findings, and the hunt for Alzheimer's drugs.…

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Tracking Killer Tornadoes

2013-05-24
Length: 8m 46s

A series of tornadoes struck the central United States this week, including a powerful storm in Oklahoma that killed at least 24 people. Marshall Shepherd, the president of the American Meteorological Society, describes the ingredients of major tornadoes, and how they are predicted.…

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Tackling New Tech In The Golden Years

2013-05-24
Length: 26m 52s

Smartphones, tablets and computers could help seniors stay connected to their communities and families. But a hefty price tag, steep learning curves, and designs meant for younger eyes and hands could keep some older adults from logging on. Guests discuss the best ways for seniors to tackle new technology, and how devices can be adapted to accommodate older users.…

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Ring Nebula Is More Like A Jelly Doughnut, NASA Says

2013-05-24

The Ring Nebula, whose iconic shape and large size make it a favorite of amateur astronomers, can now be seen in new detail, after NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a sharp image of the nebula. Researchers say the new clarity reveals details that were previously unseen, and a structure that's more complex than scientists believed.…

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Having a Dog May Mean Having Extra Microbes

2013-05-24
Length: 13m 30s

North Carolina State University biologist Rob Dunn and colleagues surveyed people's pillow cases, refrigerators, toilet seats, TV screens and other household spots, to learn about the microbes that dwell in our homes. Among the findings, reported in the journal PLoS One, homes with dogs had more diverse bacterial communities, and higher numbers of "dog-associated" bacteria.…

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Why You Have To Scratch That Itch

2013-05-23
Length: 3m 41s

Itch can be a useful warning sign, or a maddening symptom with no cure. But the origins of itch have long been a mystery. Scientists think they've come closer to understanding the origins of itch in a molecule that makes mice scratch like mad.…

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The Weight Of A Med Student's Subconscious Bias

2013-05-23

A test of third-year medical students in North Carolina revealed biases against the obese. The author of the study says these thoughts, often subconscious, could affect how doctors treat their patients and whether those patients trust them.…

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Why You Have To Scratch That Itch

2013-05-23

Itch can be a useful warning sign, or a maddening symptom with no cure. But the origins of itch have long been a mystery.Scientists think they've come closer to understanding the origins of itch in a molecule that makes mice scratch like mad.…

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Seeing Double: Errors In Stem-Cell Cloning Paper Raise Doubts

2013-05-23

Biologists said last week that they had overcome a major obstacle in stem-cell research by cloning human embryos. But several images in the published study were duplicated and labeled incorrectly, prompting questions about the authenticity of the results.…

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Descending Into The Mariana Trench: James Cameron's Odyssey

2013-05-23
Length: 8m 21s

At nearly seven miles below the water's surface, the Mariana Trench is the deepest spot in Earth's oceans. And the site north of Guam is where director and explorer James Cameron fulfilled a longtime goal of reaching the bottom in a manned craft.…

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Inside A Tart Cherry Revival: 'Somebody Needs To Do This!'

2013-05-23
Length: 5m 54s

The revival is partly based on the humble sour fruit's growing reputation as a superfood. And in Michigan, a scientist is on a quest to introduce a whole new world of hardier, tastier tart cherries by breeding American trees with ancestral varieties from Eastern Europe.…

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'Extremely Active' Atlantic Hurricane Season Predicted

2013-05-23
Length: 4m 0s

Officials are forecasting that hurricane activity will be "above normal" this season, with 13 to 20 named storms. As many as six of those could be major hurricanes. Warm ocean waters and the lack of El Nino conditions are partly to blame.…

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Researchers Find Bird Flu Is Contagious Among Ferrets

2013-05-23

The virus's ability to move between these mammals might not bode well for humans. So far, it appears that H7N9 doesn't pass easily between people, but it could mutate over time and pose more of a threat.…

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NOAA Predicts Above-Average Hurricane Season

2013-05-23

Forecasters predict as many as six major hurricanes in the Atlantic this year due in part to warmer-than-average ocean temperatures.…

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Evolution Saves Cockroaches From Taking The Bait

2013-05-23

A new study unravels the mystery of a peculiar transformation: sometime in the 1990s, the insects developed a sudden aversion to sweet-tasting poisons.…

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Quantum Or Not, New Supercomputer Is Certainly Something Else

2013-05-22

NASA and Google have come together to buy a new kind of computer that the manufacturer says runs on the strange laws of quantum mechanics. But some physicists counter that the machine, known as the D-Wave Two, has never demonstrated a phenomenon known as "quantum entanglement."…

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Could African Crops Be Improved With Private Biotech Data?

2013-05-22

A plant scientist at Mars Inc. has appealed to the world's biggest life sciences companies to help him — by sharing what they already know about 100 crops that could provide better nutrition in Africa. But can the kings of agricultural intellectual property get onboard with open source agricultural information for Africa?…

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How Benjamin Franklin Invented A Weight Loss Program, Using Balloons

2013-05-22

"Someone asked me," Benjamin Franklin once said, "what's the use of a balloon?" They don't do much. They just float. What are they good for? And Franklin replied, "What's the use of a new-born baby?" They just sit there. They don't do much. You have to imagine possibilities. This is Franklin, in the 1780s, thinking about balloons.…

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The First Web Page, Amazingly, Is Lost

2013-05-22
Length: 4m 51s

Ironically, there's one piece of Web history that can't be found online: the very first page. Now, a team at the lab where the World Wide Web was born is on a hunt for old hard drives and floppy disks that might hold copies of the missing files.…

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Research Reveals Yeasty Beasts Living On Our Skin

2013-05-22
Length: 4m 37s

While studying microorganisms on humans is not new, tracking fungi is. In a census of sorts, scientists checked the skin of healthy volunteers. They found an expansive ecosystem of silent inhabitants.…

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How Genomics Solved The Mystery Of Ireland's Great Famine

2013-05-22

Although scientists have known that a funguslike organism caused the potato blight that triggered the Great Famine in Ireland in the 1840s, they didn't know which strain was the culprit. But they do now, thanks to the genes in some 19th century potato samples.…

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Scientific Tooth Fairies Investigate Neanderthal Breast-Feeding

2013-05-22
Length: 3m 43s

Our closest relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas, breast-feed their offspring for several years. Some baby orangutans nurse until they are 7 years old. Researchers found a way to test ancient teeth for clues about when humans cut nursing short.…

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Vertical 'Pinkhouses:' The Future Of Urban Farming?

2013-05-21

Architects have come up with spectacular concepts for vertical farms that would grow crops in city skyscrapers. But many horticulturists think the future of vertical farming isn't in skyscrapers, but rather in large, indoor warehouses lit up magenta by superefficient LEDs.…

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Storm Chasers Seek Thrills, But Also Chance To Warn Others

2013-05-21
Length: 4m 14s

When disaster strikes, our natural instinct is to take cover and seek shelter. But in severe weather, especially the type that breeds tornadoes like we saw in Oklahoma and parts of the Midwest this week, there are those who ride toward the storm.…

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'Nanogardens' Sprout Up On The Surface Of A Penny

2013-05-21

Engineers have figured out a way to get crystals to form rose and tulip sculptures, each smaller than a strand of hair. The gardens sprout up on a penny dipped in a salt solution. The technique is similar to 3-D printing and could one day be used to make any complex shape.…

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Measuring The Power Of Deadly Tornadoes

2013-05-20

Tornado strength is currently measured on what is called the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which gives the tornado a rating from 0 to 5 based on estimated wind speeds and the severity of the damage.…

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Bans Of Same-Sex Marriage Can Take A Psychological Toll

2013-05-20
Length: 4m 31s

When several states passed laws banning same-sex marriages, researchers found that the mental health of gay residents seemed to suffer. Conversely, stress-related disorders dropped after the legalization of gay marriage in one state. Researchers say negative media portrayals and loss of safety were contributing factors.…

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Forecasters Had Chance To Warn Moore, Okla., Before Tornado

2013-05-20
Length: 3m 39s

Melissa Block talks to Jon Hamilton about the science of tornadoes.…

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The Little Metronome That Wouldn't

2013-05-20

Take a metronome. Then take another. Then another. Set them ticking at different times. Look. Lift. (That's the key part.) Watch. Then Laugh. Because you will be dumbfounded.…

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Can A Piece Of Hair Reveal How Much Coke Or Pepsi You Drink?

2013-05-20

People are notorious for under-reporting what they consume — they lie, forget or just guess wrong. For researchers who want to know how much soda we're drinking, a high-tech analysis technique could help.…

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If Your Shrink Is A Bot, How Do You Respond?

2013-05-20
Length: 8m 56s

A computer-simulated woman named Ellie is designed to talk to people who are struggling emotionally and take their measure — 30 times per second. Researchers hope their technology, which reads a person's body language and inflections, will yield diagnostic clues for clinical therapists.…

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If Your Shrink Is A Bot, How Do You Respond?

2013-05-20

A computer-simulated woman named Ellie is designed to talk to people who are struggling emotionally and take their measure — 30 times per second. Researchers hope their technology, which reads a person's body language and inflections, will yield diagnostic clues for clinical therapists.…

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The Unsuccessful Quest For A Universal Language

2013-05-19
Length: 3m 53s

Within science circles, trying to come up with a new universal language was a trendy past-time in the 17th Century. Even the man who discovered gravity, Sir Isaac Newton, took a stab at it. Arika Okrent, editor-at-large at TheWeek.com, talks about its failure to catch on with Weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden.…

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David Foster Wallace Tells Us About Freedom

2013-05-18

What do you get when you get a college diploma? To hear David Foster Wallace tell it, you get a muscle that will help you forever after — in shopping lines, overcrowded parking lots, in traffic jams. This muscle, he says, frees you when the world gets painfully dull.…

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Not Your Grandpa's RV: This Roving Lab Tracks Air Pollution

2013-05-18
Length: 5m 29s

Atmospheric scientist Ira Leifer installed special air sensors on a camper, then drove from Florida to California, measuring methane levels all along the way. More than 6,000 readings later, he found some noticeable spikes, especially around petrochemical plants and urban areas like Los Angeles.…

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Scientists Agree On Climate Change, Why Doesn't The Public?

2013-05-17

A new study confirms that the vast majority of scientists who research the climate accept that the planet is warming and human beings are largely responsible. Yet a large slice of the American public believes that scientists are deeply split about global warming.…

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Resetting the Theory of Time

2013-05-17
Length: 21m 2s

Generations of physicists have claimed that time is an illusion. But not all agree. In his book Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe, theoretical physicist Lee Smolin argues that time exists--and he says time is key to understanding the evolution of the universe.…

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Researchers Report Cloning Advance For Producing Stem Cells

2013-05-17
Length: 20m 11s

Scientists reported this week in the journal Cell that they had used somatic cell nuclear transfer techniques to create a source of embryonic stem cells from the skin cells of a patient. George Daley, director of the stem cell transplantation program at Boston Children's Hospital, and Josephine Johnston of the Hastings Center discuss the research.…

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Insects May Be The Taste Of The Next Generation, Report Says

2013-05-17
Length: 20m 52s

A report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization says insects offer a huge potential for improving the world's food security. Peter Menzel, co-author of Man Eating Bugs, describes some insect-based cuisine and the western aversion to creepy-crawly snacks.…

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Desktop Diaries: Daniel Kahneman

2013-05-17
Length: 7m 4s

Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman is the latest subject in our Desktop Diaries series, although he has no desk. Kahneman, professor emeritus at Princeton University, won the Nobel Prize in economic sciences in 2002 for his research with the late Amos Tversky on our sometimes irrational intuitions and how they affect decision-making.…

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When Great Scientists Got It Wrong

2013-05-17
Length: 27m 6s

In Brilliant Blunders: From Darwin to Einstein, astrophysicist Mario Livio explores the colossal errors committed by scientific greats, from chemist Linus Pauling's botched model of DNA, to Charles Darwin's failure to understand genetics--the very mechanism of natural selection.…

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Giving It Away

2013-05-17

You can give away almost anything — your time, money, food, your ideas. Giving helps define who we are and helps us connect with others. Thanks to the Internet and a rise in social consciousness, there's been a seismic shift not only in what we're giving, but how. In this hour, stories from TED speakers who are "giving it away" in new and surprising ways, and the things that happen in return.…

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Do We Have The Wrong Idea About Charity?

2013-05-17
Length: 18m 21s

Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and accomplishments.

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How Can You Give A Community Better Health?

2013-05-17
Length: 7m 11s

Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. He hopes to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys."…

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When Is the Right Time To Give?

2013-05-17
Length: 5m 18s

Volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos tells a story of an act of heroism that didn't go quite as expected — but that taught him a big lesson: Don't wait — give now.

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What Did I Do Last Summer? Oh, I Discovered How To Make Babies Without Sex. And You?

2013-05-17

Sex is nice, but can animals make babies without it? One summer, two little boys, their tutor and the tutor's two friends did an experiment to explore this question. What they discovered, back in 1740, shocked the world.…

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Water Trapped For 1.5 Billion Years Could Hold Ancient Life

2013-05-16
Length: 3m 56s

Scientists have discovered water that was sealed in Canadian bedrock for nearly half of Earth's history. It may contain the descendants of ancient microbes. The discovery could give scientists new insights into early life on Earth and inform the search for life on other planets.…

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Cloning, Stem Cells Long Mired In Legislative Gridlock

2013-05-16
Length: 3m 55s

The news that scientists have successfully cloned a human embryo seems almost certain to rekindle a political fight that has raged, on and off, since the creation of Dolly the sheep. It's a fight that has, over the past decade and a half, produced a lot of heat and light and not a lot of policy.…

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Human Scent Is Even Sweeter For Malaria Mosquitoes

2013-05-16

Scientists used a Dutch woman's dirty stocking to learn that mosquitoes infected with malaria find humans hard to resist. Like a fungus that turns ants into zombies, the parasite seems to change the behavior of the mosquitoes for its own benefit.…

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Looking Ahead With The Wonders Of Krulwich

2013-05-16
Length: 30m 20s

In the latest installment of our "Looking Ahead" series, NPR science correspondent and Radiolab co-host Robert Krulwich talks about reporting on big ideas in imaginative ways, the old days at NPR and what he's wondering about today.…

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Stem Cell Milestone Revives Intense Ethical Debate

2013-05-16
Length: 5m 1s

Scientists in Oregon have achieved something that has eluded researchers for years. They have created stem cells that are tailored to individual patients, made from cloned embryos. That would open the door to treating many diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and many others. But researchers face ethical dilemmas.…

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A Small Shock To The System May Help Brain With Math

2013-05-16

The results are preliminary, and alpha parents seeking an edge for their children shouldn't risk electrocution. Still, the findings are provocative and may lead researchers down a new road.…

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Go Fish (Somewhere Else): Warming Oceans Are Altering Catches

2013-05-15
Length: 3m 57s

Fish are moving away from the equator and toward the poles to maintain their preferred water temperature. That means, for example, that fishermen are seeing swordfish normally found in the Mediterranean swimming near Denmark. But in the tropics, there are no fish to replace the ones that are leaving.…

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How Researchers Cloned Human Embryos

2013-05-15

After decades of trying, scientists say they've finally figured out how to make personalized embryonic stem cells. One day, these designer cells may help treat an array of diseases. A jolt of caffeine and and a little electric shock helped to do the trick.…

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Analyzing The Language Of Suicide Notes To Help Save Lives

2013-05-15
Length: 16m 55s

About a third of people who attempt suicide leave a note. John Pestian and others at Cincinnati Children's Hospital are merging psychology and computer analysis to see if such notes can help diagnose suicidal tendencies in the living.…

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Dam Removal Ushers In New Life In Washington State

2013-05-15
Length: 4m 22s

New life is coming to Washington State's Olympic Peninsula. Two dams along the Elwha River are being removed, bringing a rush of sediment downstream and exposing hundreds of acres of once-submerged land. The dams were built in the early 1900s to power nearby timber mills. But they blocked salmon migration and their power is no longer needed, so they're coming out. This story originated as part of the public media collaboration, EarthFix.…

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NASA Says Kepler's Planet-Searching Days May Be Numbered

2013-05-15

The mission launched in 2009 to hunt for Earth-like planets circling distant stars may be coming to an end because of a faulty part in the space telescope.…

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Scientists Clone Human Embryos To Make Stem Cells

2013-05-15
Length: 5m 23s

The achievement is a long-sought step toward harnessing the potential power of such cells to treat diseases. But the discovery raises ethical concerns because it brings researchers closer to cloning humans.…

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Road Crew In Belize Destroys Ancient Pyramid

2013-05-14

Only a small core of the 2,300-year-old Mayan structure remains after earth-moving equipment destroyed the rest, archaeologists say.…

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Huge Boost In U.S. Oil Output Set To Transform Global Market

2013-05-14

The International Energy Agency says U.S. shale output and petroleum from Canada's tar sands are transforming global energy markets.…

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With Rising Seas, America's Birthplace Could Disappear

2013-05-14
Length: 8m 19s

By the end of the century, ocean levels could rise by 2 or 3 feet. That's enough to flood the colonists' first settlement at Jamestown, Va. And it's putting pressure on archaeologists to get as many artifacts out of the ground as quickly as possible — before it's too late.…

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Why Humans Took Up Farming: They Like To Own Stuff

2013-05-13

The appeal of owning your own property — and all the private goods that came with it — may have convinced nomadic humans to settle down and take up farming. So says a new study that tried to puzzle out why early farmers bothered with agriculture.…

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Is It Safe To Use Compost Made From Treated Human Waste?

2013-05-12

Treated human waste has been used on farmland for decades, but the ick factor has not entirely faded. Some environmentalists think the treatment process may not get rid of all the harmful contaminants that could be in the waste.…

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Is It Safe To Use Compost Made From Treated Human Waste?

2013-05-12

Treated human waste has been used on farmland for decades, but the ick factor has not entirely faded. Some environmentalists think the treatment process may not get rid of all the harmful contaminants that could be in the waste.…

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For Year-Round Buzz, Beekeepers 'Fast-Forward Darwinism'

2013-05-12
Length: 3m 32s

Honeybees are in trouble across the U.S., but one association in Massachusetts is hoping to boost the population in its own area. The bees it currently uses have a hard time surviving the winter and battling other foes that have been killing bees nationwide. So beekeepers in Plympton decided to breed their own.…

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Astronauts Go On Spacewalk To Fix Ammonia Leak

2013-05-11

NASA sent two astronauts on a spacewalk Saturday to fix an ammonia leak in one of International Space Station's power systems.…

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Schools? How About A Science Laureate At The Super Bowl?

2013-05-11
Length: 2m 15s

There's a move in Congress to name a science laureate. Astronomer Mike Brown hopes that person would do much more than visit schools to encourage kids to consider careers in science. He'd like to see a laureate reach out to the public in all sorts of ways.…

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Astronauts Plan Spacewalk To Plug Space Station Leak

2013-05-11

The leak in a cooling system was discovered Thursday when "snowflakes" of ammonia were seen flying away from the station. Engineers on Earth were up overnight plotting an impromptu spacewalk.…

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Tiny Mites Spark Big Battle Over Imports Of French Cheese

2013-05-11
Length: 4m 22s

Microscopic bugs called cheese mites are responsible for the distinctive rind and flavor of the bright orange French cheese Mimolette. But now, the FDA has blocked more than a ton of Mimolette from entering the country, because the agency says the mites left on it make it unfit for consumption.…

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Astronomy's Little Secret: The Hidden Art Of 'Moonsweeping'

2013-05-11

If you live in North America, this week we had a crescent moon — a skinny sliver of light shaped like a toenail in the sky. Why that shape? Astronomers say it's a "phase." Most of the moon is in shadow. Pixar knows better. Meet the Moon Sweepers. A Grandpa, a dad and a boy.…

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Experts Percolate on How To Brew Coffee

2013-05-10
Length: 6m 7s

Sam Penix and Sam Lewontin, of Everyman Espresso in New York City, and Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking, explain how to get the most out of your grounds. The brewmasters discuss brewing devices, from wood necks to chemex, and filter out reasons you might choose one over another.…

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Hello....Is There Anybody Out There?

2013-05-10
Length: 17m 50s

The SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute's Jill Tarter has spent decades searching for the signals that would tell us we aren't alone in the cosmos. Tarter discusses the hunt, and what the presence of intelligent life elsewhere might tell us about our own future on Earth.…

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Exploring An Ever-Expanding Universe

2013-05-10
Length: 30m 14s

Saul Perlmutter shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics for his discovery that the universe was expanding at an accelerating rate. Perlmutter explains how supernovae and other astronomical artifacts are used to measure the expansion rate, and explains what physicists are learning about "dark energy" — the mysterious entity thought to be driving the acceleration.…

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The Myth Of Multitasking

2013-05-10
Length: 18m 11s

How long can you go without checking email, or glancing at your smartphone? Clifford Nass, a psychology professor at Stanford University, says today's nonstop multitasking actually wastes more time than it saves--and he says there's evidence it may be killing our concentration and creativity too.…

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Atop A Hawaiian Mountain, A Constant Sniff For Carbon Dioxide

2013-05-10
Length: 3m 43s

Since 1958, researchers have been measuring the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at the Mauna Loa Observatory. The remote outpost has just reported a carbon dioxide level of 400 parts per million — the highest it has climbed in the modern age.…

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'Dangerous Territory': Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach Milestone

2013-05-10
Length: 4m 47s

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has crossed the "psychological threshold" of 400 parts per million. That number is one of the clearest measures of how humans are changing the planet by burning fossil fuels.…

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What Does 'Sexual Coercion' Say About A Society?

2013-05-10

Anthropologists have long documented the differences in the extent of sexual coercion — including rape — in different human societies. But is it a vestige of evolutionary history, indicative of cultural activity or governed by power dynamics between females and males?…

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College Divestment Campaigns Creating Passionate Environmentalists

2013-05-10

Taking a page from the playbook of decades past, college students are once again pressuring schools to pull investment funding from specific sectors. This time it's big oil and coal companies. But these campaigns have effects beyond the university — they're launching a new generation of activists.…

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Microexpressions: More Than Meets The Eye

2013-05-10
Length: 23m 33s

David Matsumoto, a psychology professor at San Francisco State University, trains national security officials and police officers to recognize "microexpressions"--fleeting, split-second flashes of emotion across someone's face. Matsumoto says those subtle cues may reveal how an interview subject is feeling, helping officials to hone their line of questioning.…

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Kids With Autism Quick To Detect Motion

2013-05-10

To test a common theory about the cause of autism, researchers recently studied how kids with autism process moving images. They found that the kids saw simple movements twice as fast as their typically developing peers.…

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Using Bacteria To Swat Malaria Inside Mosquitoes

2013-05-09

Infecting mosquitoes with a specific type of bacteria makes the insects resistant to malaria. Now scientists have figured out how to get the mosquitoes to pass the infections on to their offspring. If it can done reliably, it might help interrupt transmission of malaria to humans.…

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Big Ag Agrees to Conserve Cropland, But At What Cost?

2013-05-09

Farmers say they are ready to compromise with some environmental groups on the issue of conservation compliance. But critics say the price tag for the taxpayer may be too high.…

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How Can Identical Twins Turn Out So Different?

2013-05-09
Length: 4m 1s

Scientists used to think that identical twins turned out differently because they were treated differently by friends, teachers or their parents. A study of mice supports the idea that small changes in behavior can lead to larger ones and eventually even resculpt brains in different ways.…

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Could You Talk To A Caveman? Scientists Say It's Possible

2013-05-09
Length: 5m 2s

Researchers at the University of Reading are speculating that today's languages share a common root dating as far back as the last Ice Age. Words like "mother," "man" and "ashes" are categorized as "ultraconserved," meaning they are survivors of a lost language from which many modern tongues are descended.…

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Moths That Drive Cars (Really)

2013-05-09

Welcome to the New World in which, no kidding, insects run robots. In this case, 14 moths take 14 drives in a wheeled vehicle and steer right to the target. Seeing is believing.…

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No Longer Experimental, Egg Freezing May Appeal To More Women

2013-05-09
Length: 16m 56s

By age 38, Sarah Elizabeth Richards had spent $50,000 to freeze 70 of her own eggs. Richards, author of Motherhood, Rescheduled, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that egg freezing put an end to the sadness she was feeling "at losing my chance" to have a child.…

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Wildlife That Isn't Wild And Isn't Alive

2013-05-08

They're out of the lab now, flying through the air, crawling in the grass, buzzing near you, swimming in the ocean. They're robots. They're among us. We don't notice yet. But we will.…

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With Warming Climes, How Long Will A Bordeaux Be A Bordeaux?

2013-05-08

Climate change is already creating new winners among Europe's winemaking regions. (Great bubbly from Britain — who knew?) But those changes have also put in doubt the rules and traditions that have defined the continent's top winemakers for centuries.…

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Study: 'Fossil' Words Are Older Than We Thought

2013-05-07

Certain words that have been conserved in the global lexicon suggest an underlying proto-language that goes back to the Ice Age, scientists say.…

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Bee Deaths May Have Reached A Crisis Point For Crops

2013-05-07
Length: 4m 19s

The number of honeybees has now dwindled to the point where there may not be enough to pollinate some major U.S. crops, including almonds, blueberries and apples. And this year brought farmers closer than ever to a true pollination crisis.…

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Are Those North Korean Long-Range Missiles For Real?

2013-05-07
Length: 4m 20s

When North Korea put its missiles on parade last year, experts were surprised to see what looked to be new long-range missiles that might be powerful enough to reach the U.S. But a closer look at details in the photos suggests the missiles on display might have been a bluff.…

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Our Very Normal Solar System Isn't Normal Anymore

2013-05-07

Turns out our solar system — with its medium sized sun, its four small rocky planets, its four big gassy ones farther out — isn't like the others. We are unusual. Very unusual. Says one prominent astronomer, we are "a bit of a freak."…

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Filling In The Gap On Climate Education In Classrooms

2013-05-07
Length: 4m 3s

Science education standards, issued in April, recommend teaching climate change for the first time. But one nonprofit says kids aren't learning enough, soon enough, about how their world will change in the coming decades. The group aims to remedy this with presentations in schools nationwide.…

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Our Very Normal Solar System Isn't Normal Anymore

2013-05-07

Turns out our solar system — with its medium sized sun, its four small rocky planets, its four big gassy ones farther out — isn't like the others. We are unusual. Very unusual. Says one prominent astronomer, we are "a bit of a freak."…

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This Bat Knows How To Drink

2013-05-07
Length: 3m 57s

The Pallas' long-tongued bat has a neat trick at the tip of its tongue — tiny hairlike structures that fill with blood and stand straight out. This turns the tongue into a nectar-slurping mop at just the right time.…

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Envisioning The Future With Inventor Cori Lathan

2013-05-06
Length: 7m 47s

This enterprising technologist is designing for a future where computers are intuitive and anticipate our every need. We're not there yet, but she has started a company that aims to imagine, build and test tomorrow's gadgets today.…

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Unearthing History: How Technology Is Transforming Archaeology

2013-05-06
Length: 16m 51s

For centuries, explorers tried to find la Ciudad Blanca, a fabled city in the rain forests of Central America. Dense jungle impeded efforts to uncover it. Douglas Preston tells the story of a team who used light detection technology to survey the iconic ruins from the air.…

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A Splash Of 'Urban Ocean' On A Southern California Cruise

2013-05-05
Length: 3m 0s

Instead of traveling alongside picturesque beaches, this boat takes passengers on a tour of the nation's busiest shipping terminal. The sightseeing includes sea lions and trash, juxtaposing Long Beach's commercial might with a fragile ecosystem.…

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Michael Pollan: You Are What You Cook

2013-05-03
Length: 30m 2s

Food writer Michael Pollan once advised "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Now, he tells us how to cook it. In his new book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, he takes a tour of the most time-tested cooking techniques, from southern whole-hog barbecue and slow-cooked ragus to sourdough baking and pickle making.…

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Unstoppable Learning

2013-05-03

Learning is an integral part of human nature. But why do we — as adults — assume learning must be taught, tested and reinforced? In this hour, TED speakers explore the ways babies and children learn, from the womb to the playground to the Web.…

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To Combat Rising Seas, Why Not Raise Up The Town?

2013-05-03
Length: 16m 51s

When the Great Storm of 1900 battered Galveston, Texas, the town simply lifted itself up--in some places as much as 17 feet. Could a similar approach save cities today? Randy Behm of the US Army Corps of Engineers and Dwayne Jones of the Galveston Historical Foundation talk about the costs and feasibility of raising a town, albeit with better technology than Galveston's hand-cranked jacks and mules.…

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17-Year Cicadas Primed To Emerge

2013-05-03
Length: 17m 44s

This spring the massive "Brood II" batch of 17-year cicadas is expected to emerge from the ground in backyards and parks all along the Eastern U.S. The insects will mate, lay eggs, and start the cycle all over again. Cicada expert John Cooley explains the unusual biology and evolution of periodical cicadas.…

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NASA: Warming Climate Likely Means More Floods, Droughts

2013-05-03

The wettest regions will see more heavy rainfall and the driest regions will see even less precipitation, according to the analysis of more than a dozen climate models.…

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Ancient Earth May Have Smelled Like Rotten Eggs

2013-05-03
Length: 12m 10s

Reporting in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers write of finding fossils of bacteria-like organisms that lived nearly two billion years ago. Paleobiologist Martin Brasier of the University of Oxford explains that these ancient creatures belched hydrogen sulfide, the stench of rotten eggs, after meals--suggesting the early Earth may have been a smelly place.…

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Unraveling The Mystery Of A Rice Revolution

2013-05-03

An economist wanted to find out why some farmers in the developing world were abandoning a new way of growing rice that increases yields while reducing the need for seeds and water. He found that even while their rice fields were more productive, their household income didn't go up.…

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Living Inside the Box

2013-05-03
Length: 6m 22s

David Boyle and Michele Bertomen wanted to build their own house on a 20 by 40 foot lot they purchased in Brooklyn. Bertomen, an architect, drew up plans and the bid was over $300,000. Inspired by Bertomen's students at New York Institute of Technology, the couple built their house from five shipping containers, which cost a few thousand dollars a piece.…

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Scientists Seek To Take The Measure of Antimatter

2013-05-03
Length: 11m 17s

In 2011, researchers at CERN found a way to trap and hold particles of antihydrogen for about 15 minutes at a time. Jeffrey Hangst, spokesman for the ALPHA project at CERN, describes how scientists are trying to measure basic properties of the particles, such as their mass.…

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Can Salmon Farming Be Sustainable? Maybe, If You Head Inland

2013-05-02

For years, salmon farming has gotten a bad rap from marine biologists, who say the fish grown in open-ocean net pens generate pollution, disease and parasites. But now, a few salmon farms have moved on land. From an environmental standpoint, some scientists say, that's "a huge step forward."…

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Of Flybots And Bug Eyes: Insects Inspire Inventors

2013-05-02
Length: 4m 7s

Miniaturizing technology is really hard — gears, rotors, belts and pistons that work perfectly at human size just don't work very well at the small scale. So researchers are turning to insects for ideas about how to make tiny flying robots and cameras — and driving a new generation of gadgets.…

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Imagine A Flying Pig: How Words Take Shape In The Brain

2013-05-02
Length: 5m 6s

Linguists used to think the human brain had a specific region devoted to understanding language. But brain scans now indicate that regions controlling vision, movement, taste, smell and touch are all called into action when we think of a word, too.…

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NASA Details Space Telescope's Cosmic Near Miss

2013-05-01

Last year, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope experienced a dangerous close pass with a Cold War-era spy satellite.…

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Who Paid For Last Summer's Drought? You Did

2013-05-01

Corn and soybean farmers not only survived last year's epic drought — thanks to crop insurance, they made bigger profits than they would have in a normal year, a new analysis finds. And a big chunk of those profits were provided through taxpayer subsidies.…

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Discovery's 'Big Brain Theory': Not That Kind Of Nerd TV

2013-05-01

Discovery is debuting a new science show called The Big Brain Theory, and these aren't the parents'-basement nerds television has gotten so lazy about presenting.…

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Bones Tell Tale Of Desperation Among The Starving At Jamestown

2013-05-01
Length: 3m 46s

The winter of 1609-1610 has been called the "starving time" for the hundreds of men and women who settled the English colony of Jamestown, Va. They ate their horses, their pets — and, apparently, at least one person. Scientists say human bones recovered from the site provide the first hard evidence that the colonists may have resorted to cannibalism.…

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A Sleep Gene Has A Surprising Role In Migraines

2013-05-01
Length: 4m 8s

Disruptions of sleep are well known as migraine triggers, but now researchers have found a genetic link between the two. In studying families with lots of migraines, they also found a mutation on a gene that helps control circadian rhythms.…

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Don't Miss The Premiere Of The World's Smallest Movie

2013-05-01
Length: 2m 11s

The groundbreaking movie was made by manipulating individual atoms with a high-tech scanning tunneling microscope.…

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He Helped Discover Evolution, And Then Became Extinct

2013-04-30
Length: 7m 46s

Charles Darwin is known as the father of evolution. But another British naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, played a major role in developing the theory of natural selection before fading into obscurity. A trip to what's now Sulawesi in Indonesia, and the unique animals he found there, helped form his seminal ideas.…

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The Boomerang Rocket Ship: Shoot It Up, Back It Comes

2013-04-30

SpaceX calls it the "Grasshopper" — it's a rocket that doesn't fall back to Earth haphazardly after launch. It carefully returns itself to the launchpad standing up, right where it started.…

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Criminologist Believes Violent Behavior Is Biological

2013-04-30
Length: 40m 1s

In a new book, The Anatomy of Violence, Adrian Raine argues that violent behavior has a biological basis just like depression or schizophrenia. This raises questions about treatment, accountability and punishment, including the death penalty.…

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How Doctors Would Know If Syrians Were Hit With Nerve Gas

2013-04-30
Length: 4m 2s

An international team of doctors is helping Syrian health workers recognize the signs of a chemical attack. They're also teaching them how to collect and preserve tissues as potential evidence if war crimes charges are brought.…

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Saturn Shows Off A Massive Spinning Vortex: 'The Rose'

2013-04-29

NASA is calling it "The Rose." By any other name, it's a mammoth storm on Saturn, spanning an estimated 1,250 miles with winds swirling at hundreds of miles per hour. The "false-color" image is among the first batch of high-resolution pictures of Saturn's north pole.…

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Europe Bans Pesticides In Move To Protect Honey Bees

2013-04-29

Three popular pesticides are being banned in the European Union, where officials are hoping the change helps restore populations of honey bees, vital to crop production, to healthy levels.…

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Big Sibling's Big Influence: Some Behaviors Run In The Family

2013-04-29
Length: 4m 41s

Psychologists have long known that children often model their behavior on the actions of parents or peers. But science has only recently begun to measure the influence of siblings. An older brother's or sister's behavior can be very contagious, it turns out — for good and for bad.…

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Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Passes First Rocket Test

2013-04-29

The space tourism company says the vehicle hit Mach 1.2 and reached 56,000 feet in its first rocket-powered test.…

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What Do Babies Think?

2013-04-29
Length: 9m 35s

Alison Gopnik's research explores the sophisticated intelligence-gathering and decision-making that babies are doing when they play. She offers a glimpse into the minds of babies and young children, to show how much and how fast they learn.…

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What Do Babies Think?

2013-04-29
Length: 9m 35s

Alison Gopnik's research explores the sophisticated intelligence-gathering and decision-making that babies are doing when they play. She offers a glimpse into the minds of babies and young children, to show how much and how fast they learn.…

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First He Invented The Phone. Then, Bell Left A Voice Message

2013-04-28
Length: 3m 41s

We finally know what the inventor of the telephone sounded like. Last week, the Smithsonian unveiled recordings of Alexander Graham Bell's voice from 1885. It's the first known recording of him speaking.…

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The Sounds of Thirsty Trees

2013-04-28
Length: 2m 37s

A team of physicists at Grenoble University in France discovered that trees make different sounds when they are starved for water versus when they are simply thirsty. We hear from Dr. Alexandre Ponomarenko, the lead researcher, and hear a bit of the thirsty tree sounds.…

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From Coast To Coast with The Power Of The Sun

2013-04-28
Length: 3m 2s

Weather permitting, a solar-power airplane will embark on a cross-country trip on Wednesday. Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin speaks with Bertrand Piccard, one of pilots and creators of Solar Impulse, which will make an American tour stopping in Phoenix, Dallas, Washington, D.C. and New York.…

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Nobody Throws Balls Like Yu

2013-04-27

Ever want to look back in time? With "time merge media," you can watch athletes dribble, swing and dance, and even throw five pitches at once.…

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Freaky Friday: Autonomous Tissue Grabbers Are On Their Way

2013-04-26

Scientists have deployed hundreds of tiny, experimental robots to help with biopsies. They're as small as a speck of dust. They look like tiny ninja throwing stars. And researchers use magnets to retrieve them.…

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Navy Sonar Criticized For Harming Marine Mammals

2013-04-26
Length: 3m 45s

The U.S. Navy is planning to expand training exercises off California and Hawaii, citing the need for military readiness. That's raising concerns about threatened whales and marine mammals, because sonar is known harm and, in some cases, kill them. The state of California is fighting the Navy's plan.…

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Great Salt Lake Is No 'Dead Sea'

2013-04-26
Length: 22m 6s

Parts of Utah's Great Salt Lake are 10 times saltier than the ocean. But the lake is host to plenty of life, including salt-loving microbes that can turn the lake's water bubblegum pink. Bonnie Baxter, director of the Great Salt Lake, discusses how the bugs might hold the secrets to better sunscreen, hydrogen fuel cells--even life on Mars.…

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Studying Earth To Learn About Mars

2013-04-26
Length: 17m 50s

Southern Utah's landscape looks a lot like images from the Mars rovers. Marjorie Chan explains how Utah geology might help explain data sent back from Mars missions. Charles Killian describes how people are simulating what it might be like to one day live and work on Mars.…

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The Bird That Struts Its Stuff

2013-04-26
Length: 7m 45s

The Greater sage-grouse is a large bird that makes its living in sagebrush habitats across the western U.S. and Canada. Every year at this time, male sage-grouse perform a striking dance routine each morning at dawn. Jason Robinson, upland game coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, breaks down the dance and describes challenges the birds face in Utah.…

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Utah's Fossil Finds Describe an Ancient World

2013-04-26
Length: 30m 13s

Once upon a time, giants roamed the planet — many of them in what is now Utah. A panel of paleontology experts describes some of the state's ancient treasures, from massive long-necked sauropods to the Utahraptor, a predator that would put those in Jurassic Park to shame.…

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James Webb Space Telescope Wings It

2013-04-26
Length: 18m 2s

The James Webb Space Telescope will succeed Hubble in 2018, boasting modern computers and a mirror with seven times the viewing area. Bob Hellekson, ATK Program Manager for the telescope, discusses the telescope's newly constructed wings, designed to support the telescope's folding mirror, and astrophysicist Stacy Palen talks about what the telescope may reveal about the cosmos.…

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Failure Of Latest HIV Vaccine Test: A 'Huge Disappointment'

2013-04-26

An oversight committee halted a big clinical study of an experimental HIV vaccine after a peek at preliminary results showed there was no way the study would be able show the vaccine works. More vaccinated people became infected with HIV than those who got placebo shots.…

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Can You Hear Me Now? Cellphone Satellites Phone Home

2013-04-26
Length: 3m 56s

Never mind the big-budget NASA satellites. A team of young engineers has tricked out a few off-the-shelf cellphones and sent them to space. The smartphones are already above us, sending images and data back to ham radio operators on Earth.…

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When Does Learning Begin?

2013-04-25
Length: 8m 46s

Science writer Annie Murphy Paul talks about how fetuses in the womb begin taking cues from the outside world, from the lilt of our native language to our favorite foods.…

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Monkeys Also Want To Eat Like The Locals

2013-04-25

When monkeys move to a new place, they want to eat what the locals are eating, a new study finds. It's among the first to see strong social behaviors in eating among wild animals.…

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When Does Learning Begin?

2013-04-25
Length: 8m 46s

Science writer Annie Murphy Paul talks about how fetuses in the womb begin taking cues from the outside world, from the lilt of our native language to our favorite foods.…

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A Tale Of Mice And Medical Research, Wiped Out By A Superstorm

2013-04-25
Length: 3m 46s

When Superstorm Sandy flooded lower Manhattan last year, thousands of lab animals drowned and many scientists lost months or even years of work. The specialty animals can be very difficult to replace, but researchers say the loss of animal life is emotionally devastating and difficult to get over.…

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From Battle To Birds: Drones Get Second Life Counting Critters

2013-04-25
Length: 3m 33s

The U.S. Geological Survey is putting remotely piloted former military planes to work in the areas of environmental and wildlife management. Earlier this month, researchers spent three days counting sage grouse in rural Colorado. Next up: a survey of pygmy rabbit habitat in Idaho.…

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Not Your Ordinary Science Fair

2013-04-25
Length: 9m 40s

Today's young people might aim for the sky, but they might not envision a visit to the White House. Host Michel Martin talks with two students, Darius Hooker and Isabella Leighton, about their interest in rocket science and the White House Science Fair.…

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Researchers Find Hormone That Grows Insulin-Producing Cells

2013-04-25

When researchers turned on a gene for the hormone in the livers of diabetic lab mice, the number of insulin-making cells in their pancreas glands tripled within 10 days. Although the research was conducted in animals, the scientists say the findings could be relevant for humans.…

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Exploring Coffee's Past To Rescue Its Future

2013-04-25
Length: 7m 50s

Today's commercial coffee production is based on only a tiny slice of the genetic varieties that have grown since prehistoric times. And that's a problem, because it leaves the world's coffee supply vulnerable to shocks like climate change, or the leaf rust currently ravaging Latin American coffee farms.…

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VIDEO: The Future Of Wearable Technology

2013-04-25

Google Glass — the glasses with a computer, Internet and camera built in — is only the latest version of wearable technology. Off Book, a Web video series from PBS, explorers the future, from "smart" fabrics in clothing to devices that help measure your sleep patterns.…

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Coffee For A Cause: What Do Those Feel-Good Labels Deliver?

2013-04-24
Length: 7m 47s

It doesn't take much effort to find bags of coffee with labels that promise social and environmental improvements. But each one of these certification programs promises something different for the farmer and the land — and every promise involves some compromises.…

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Deadly Strain Of Bird Flu Is 'Most Lethal' Flu Virus Yet

2013-04-24
Length: 17m 3s

At a briefing in Beijing Wednesday, World Health Organization officials called the H7N9 bird flu that's emerged in China one of the "most lethal" flu viruses so far. NPR science correspondent Richard Knox talks about what we know, and the questions that remain about the deadly strain.…

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For Corn, Fickle Weather Makes For Uncertain Yields

2013-04-24
Length: 3m 49s

Corn production was down last year thanks to drought. This year, conditions are too cold and wet for farmers to plant the crop. Without a break in the clouds pretty soon, there may be another shortage of the crop at harvest time.…

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1960s Satellite Images Add To Evidence Of Shrinking Sea Ice

2013-04-24

A new analysis of images taken from one of the first U.S. weather satellites appears to confirm shrinking Arctic sea ice.…

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EPA: Tar Sands Pipelines Should Be Held To Different Standards

2013-04-24
Length: 3m 55s

Up until now, the U.S. has had the same rules for all oil pipelines. But the EPA says pipelines that carry tar sands oil, like the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, should have special standards. That's because tar sands oil spills can release harmful air pollution and are vastly more difficult to clean up than conventional oil spills.…

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Mysterious Silly Putty Devours Innocent Magnets

2013-04-23

If you liked the movie The Blob, then feast your eyes on this: It's tricked-out Silly Putty in the form of a gelatinous monster that eats magnets for lunch.…

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Natural Gas Gives Maine Paper Plant A Competitive Edge

2013-04-23
Length: 4m 43s

Energy companies are using a drilling technique known as fracking to extract natural gas underground. Many people raise questions about the environmental impact, but there is no doubt fracking has produced lots of natural gas and driven down the price. That has led energy-hungry manufacturers to build plants in fracking hot spots like Texas and Pennsylvania. But even in old factories — far from the drilling or even the pipelines — cheap natural gas is providing a competitive edge.…

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'Zoobiquity': What Humans Can Learn From Animal Illness

2013-04-22
Length: 31m 39s

Animals and humans have a lot in common, including some of the health problems that plague them. In her book Zoobiquity, Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz explores how studying animal illness — from cancer to sexual dysfunction — can help us better understand human health.…

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43 Years Of Earth Day: What's Changed Since 1970

2013-04-22
Length: 8m 47s

Now in its 43rd year, Earth Day has become an international day dedicated to promoting environmental awareness and action. Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, explains what's changed, as concern about climate change and green energy have come to the forefront of the movement.…

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What Does Modern Prejudice Look Like?

2013-04-22
Length: 5m 45s

Most Americans think of prejudice as animosity toward people in other groups. But two psychologists argue that unconscious bias — often in the form of giving some people special treatment — is the way prejudice largely works in America today.…

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This One-Way Trip To Mars Is Brought To You By ...

2013-04-22

The company Mars One has launched a program that could allow you (yes you!) to make a trip to Mars. But you can't come back.…

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A Wet Towel In Space Is Not Like A Wet Towel On Earth

2013-04-21

On Earth, a really wet wash cloth, squeezed tight, will drip. Watch what happens in space.…

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Sunday Night Forecast: Cloudy With A Chance Of Meteors

2013-04-21
Length: 3m 0s

The Lyrid shower is caused by Earth passing through the orbit of a comet known as Thatcher. The best time to watch should be in the early hours of Monday morning, just before dawn.…

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Antares Rocket Launch Is A Success, In Test Of Orbital Supply Vehicle

2013-04-21

The Antares rocket launch is back on Sunday afternoon, as engineers and spectators look for the rocket to lift off from a launch pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. The mission had been postponed twice this week, due to high winds in one case and a loose cable in another.…

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Monkeys, Mai Tais And Us

2013-04-20

All animals are wired for pleasures that will lead them to reproduce, hunt for food and protect their young. The problem is, in some animals, like in some humans, the natural urge for good times gets untamed.…

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Fertilizer Shows Its Deadly Side

2013-04-19

This week's explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant in Texas reminds us of the "cursed" side of the nitrogen that powers most of agriculture around the world. Through habit or necessity, we've come to depend on it. But there are costs.…

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Breaking Into The 'Department Of Mad Scientists'

2013-04-19

What happens when scientific research borders on science fiction? Michael Belfiore, author of the new book The Department of Mad Scientists, talks about the bizarre projects happening behind the scenes at DARPA — the secretive research arm of the Department of Defense.…

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What David Lynch And Tylenol Can Tell You About The Brain

2013-04-19

Tylenol may relieve more than physical pain; it may dull existential aches, too. Researchers say their work is consistent with a growing body of research that suggests the brain processes physical and emotional pain in similar ways.…

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What Is Beauty?

2013-04-19

Beauty surrounds us, draws us in, gives joy and creates conflict. In this hour, TED speakers conjure up beauty both ancient and modern, and suggest reasons why humans are hardwired to crave and respond to beauty.…

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Trees On Top Of Skyscrapers? Yes! Yes, Say I. No! No, Says Tim

2013-04-19

Two residential towers, dense with trees, will have their official opening later this year in downtown Milan. Blogger and critic Tim De Chant thinks it's high-time we stop planting trees on skyscrapers. Krulwich disagrees.…

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Climate Change Takes Flight in New Novel

2013-04-19

Writer Barbara Kingsolver is one of a handful of novelists with a science background, and she puts it to use in her new novel Flight Behavior. Kingsolver discusses the book and why she chose to look at the the issue of climate change in a fictional work set in rural Tennessee.…

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Robert Ballard: 50 Years Exploring Deep Waters

2013-04-19

Deep-sea voyager Robert Ballard has discovered everything from 10-foot-tall tube worms to the Titanic on his ocean expeditions around the world. Ballard discusses his underwater finds and how new robotic technology allows scientists to explore the sea from ashore.…

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CDC: U.S. Hospitals Should Be Vigilant For Bird Flu

2013-04-19

While there is still conflicting reports about how easily the new strain can be transmitted between humans, the CDC says early intervention is key.…

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Oliver Sacks: Hallucinations

2013-04-19

In his latest book Hallucinations, neurologist Oliver Sacks collects stories of individuals who can see, hear and smell things that aren't really there--such as strange voices, or collages of unrecognizable faces--and explores the disorders and drugs that can produce such illusions.…

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NASA Discovers New Earth-Like Planets Around Distant Stars

2013-04-18

The three planets are not only in what's considered to be the "habitable" zone, but they are also near Earth-sized.…

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Tracking 'Killer Electrons' Help Predict Risks To Satellites

2013-04-18
Length: 4m 9s

Scientists say the sun is now in an active period, creating more space weather that could interfere with the satellites we depend on for TV, cellphones and weather forecasts. From member station KQED, Lauren Sommer reports that researchers are taking advantage of the weather to learn more about the Earth's magnetic field.…

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Kepler Telescope Spots 3 New Planets In The 'Goldilocks Zone'

2013-04-18
Length: 3m 2s

The planets orbiting far-off stars are close to Earth-sized and are a distance from their suns that makes their surfaces neither too hot nor too cold. Since launching in 2009, the Kepler telescope has identified more than 100 planets.…

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Bacteria On Dog Lovers' Skin Reveal Their Affection

2013-04-18

Dog owners have similar germs growing on their skin: a signature blend of bacteria from canines' tongues and paws. Scientists couldn't find an analogous signature for cat owners. Perhaps cats are just being selfish.…

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Are We Hard-Wired For Beauty?

2013-04-16
Length: 9m 18s

Psychologist Nancy Etcoff explains why beauty inspires and motivates us. Etcoff says our response to beauty is visceral.…

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Are We Hard-Wired For Beauty?

2013-04-16
Length: 9m 18s

Psychologist Nancy Etcoff explains why beauty inspires and motivates us. Etcoff says our response to beauty is visceral.…

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A Tax Day Story For Hard-Cider Lovers

2013-04-15

When is hard apple cider not considered hard apple cider? When it's taxed like wine or champagne. America is in the midst of a cider revival, but antiquated tax laws make it a risky business for entrepreneurs, critics say. Not to worry: Sen. Schumer is on the case.…

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Supreme Court Asks: Can Human Genes Be Patented?

2013-04-15
Length: 7m 25s

Same-sex marriage got huge headlines at the Supreme Court last month, but in the world of science and medicine, the case being argued on Monday is far more important. The lawsuit deals with a truly 21st century issue that in some cases can pit drugmakers against patients.…

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How Exercise And Other Activities Beat Back Dementia

2013-04-15
Length: 4m 8s

"What's good for the heart is good for the brain," one neuroscientist says. In addition to physical exercise, researchers say that mental exercise, socializing and a good diet can also help preserve memory in older brains.…

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Justices Appear Skeptical Of Patenting Human Genes

2013-04-15
Length: 3m 13s

A case considered pivotal to the future of science and medicine came before the Supreme Court on Monday, involving a company that has patented two genes linked to cancer. While the patent challengers lost in the lower court, they seemed to have a more receptive audience at the Supreme Court.…

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Mars Rovers Go Quiet, As Sun Blocks Transmissions

2013-04-14

Communications between the Earth and Mars are going on a month-long hiatus, thanks to interference from the sun. That means NASA's spacecraft on Mars will be on their own until NASA's radio signals can reach them again.…

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A Poker Player's Tells Are In The Hands As Much As The Face

2013-04-14
Length: 3m 0s

Michael Slepian, a graduate student in psychology at Stanford University, has been studying the way poker players communicate the value of their poker hands through non-verbal signals. He tells Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin that they give themselves away, not in their facial expressions, but with hand motions.…

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Now Endangered, Florida's Silver Springs Once Lured Tourists

2013-04-13
Length: 5m 30s

Countless movies were filmed there, including Tarzan and Creature From the Black Lagoon. With its wildlife and freshwater springs, Silver Springs in Central Florida was one of the state's most popular tourist destinations. Those waters have receded now as the delicate ecosystem suffers from problems that threaten the entire state.…

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Red Meat's Heart Risk Goes Beyond The Fat

2013-04-12
Length: 12m 28s

Reporting in Nature Medicine, researchers write that a chemical in red meat, L-carnitine, may up the risk of heart disease in people and mice--but only in frequent red-meat eaters. Study author Stanley Hazen of the Cleveland Clinic explains how diet changes the gut's bacterial flora, and how that can affect heart health.…

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The Violence Within Us

2013-04-12

Violence and brutality are grim realities of life. So why are some people violent, and others aren't? In this hour, TED speakers explore the sinister side of human nature, and whether we're all capable of violence.…

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Looking To Nature For Antibiotic Inspirations

2013-04-12
Length: 12m 28s

Bacteriophages, viruses that infect bacterial cells, employ an arsenal of chemical weapons. Microbiologist Vincent Fischetti of Rockefeller University describes using tricks learned from the phage in developing new antibiotics that may be effective even where others fail.…

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Poring Over the Science of Coffee

2013-04-12
Length: 7m 8s

Brewing coffee is a neverending science project, according to barista Sam Penix, owner of Everyman Espresso in New York City. Grind-size, brew method, coffee beans (which are really seeds), water temperature can all affect the flavors that end up in your cup. Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking, explains some of the chemistry of coffee.…

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Monitoring the Monarchs

2013-04-12
Length: 21m 27s

Last month monarch butterflies began an annual northward journey from their overwintering habitat in Mexico. Monarch expert Lincoln Brower discusses the dwindling monarch populations, and explains how habitat loss in Mexico and a decline in milkweed plant numbers in the U.S. may be harming the familiar orange and black fliers.…

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Down The Gullet: A Guided Tour Of Your Guts

2013-04-12
Length: 28m 27s

In Gulp. Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, science writer Mary Roach takes a journey through the gut, from the secret healing powers of saliva to the taxonomy of poop. Along the trip, she serves up odd medical anecdotes, such as the story of William Beaumont, an eccentric surgeon who once ate chicken from another man's stomach.…

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The Teenaged "Troublemaker" Fighting For Science

2013-04-12
Length: 12m 41s

Zack Kopplin has been fighting to have the "Louisiana Science Education Act" overturned since it was first passed in 2008, and he was in high school. Critics of the SLEA say it's used to introduce creationism and other non-scientific theories into public school science class. Kopplin, now at Rice University discusses his continuing campaign against the act.…

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Russia's Putin Announces $50 Billion In New Space Spending

2013-04-12

The Russian president says the part of the money will go to complete a new launch facility under construction in the country's far east.…

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Test-Tube Baby Pioneer Dies

2013-04-10

Sir Robert Edwards, whose research led to the world's first "test-tube baby," overcame enormous controversy surrounding his work.…

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Feds Fault Preemie Researchers For Ethical Lapses

2013-04-10

Infants received different levels of oxygen to see which was better at preventing blindness without increasing the risk of nerve damage or death. But the federal government says doctors in the study didn't tell parents enough in advance about the "foreseeable risks" to their children.…

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Cities Turn Sewage Into 'Black Gold' For Local Farms

2013-04-10
Length: 4m 48s

Cities are finding beneficial and lucrative ways to dispose of solid waste, while also helping farmers. But a lot of sewage still ends up in landfills or being processed at big, industrial incinerators.…

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Earliest Cookware Was Used To Make Fish Soup

2013-04-10

Humans were using cookware as early as 15,000 years ago, according to a new analysis of ancient Japanese ceramic pots. Those first meals? Fish soup.…

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Don't Go Near The World's Champion Rainbow Watcher. It's Mean. Very Mean

2013-04-10

Humans see seven colors. Dogs see three. But which animal sees the most colors? It's a vicious undersea critter you'll want to know more about.…

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Patent Medicines Get A Belated Chemical Checkup

2013-04-10

Researchers put some old elixirs and pills in the Henry Ford Museum's large collection of patent medicines to a modern test. They found a mix of potentially harmful metals like lead and mercury along with benign ingredients, including calcium and iron.…

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Surprise: Organic Apples And Pears Aren't Free Of Antibiotics

2013-04-10

Both fruits are vulnerable to a nasty disease called fire blight that can devastate orchards. So organic labeling standards allow for antibiotics to be used on apple and pear trees. That exemption is set to end in 2014 — but growers say they need a little more time.…

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Could An 'Artificial Leaf' Fuel Your Car?

2013-04-10
Length: 5m 41s

Right now, solar panels make electricity. But a team of engineers in California wants to take solar energy one step further. They're trying to create a device that uses sunlight to make a liquid fuel that goes in our gas tanks.…

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How Much Does It Hurt? Let's Scan Your Brain

2013-04-10

Researchers say they can measure how much pain someone is experiencing and even watch as prescription painkillers relieve it. The scanning technique could help doctors treat pain better, but the work is also fraught with questions about how the technology could interfere with the relationship between doctors and patients.…

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Genetically Modified Rat Is Promising Model For Alzheimer's

2013-04-09
Length: 3m 42s

Drug companies have developed several Alzheimer's drugs that seemed to work in mice but did not help people with the disease. So scientists inserted human genes into rats in hopes of getting a better model for testing the drugs.…

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Energy Secretary Nominee Dodges Question On Gas Exports

2013-04-09
Length: 3m 5s

A U.S. Senate committee held a confirmation hearing for Ernest Moniz on Tuesday, who has been nominated to be the U.S. Energy Secretary. Moniz says he will retire from MIT, where he's a professor of physics and energy systems. He would advocate for the Obama administration's "all of the above" energy strategy, which calls for continued fossil fuels development and supports nuclear energy, wind and solar.…

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Monkey Calls Could Offer Clues For Origin Of Human Speech

2013-04-09
Length: 3m 15s

Melissa Block talks with researcher Thore Bergman about his findings that a rare type of Ethiopian monkey, the gelada, makes a human-like sound that could offer insights into the evolution of human speech.…

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Starving Baby Sea Lions Flood Southern California Shores

2013-04-08
Length: 3m 51s

More than 1,000 sick and dying sea lion pups have been found stranded since the beginning of the year, from Santa Barbara to San Diego. As scientists try to figure out why, one animal rescue worker says that in nearly three decades on the job, he's never seen anything like it.…

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Starving Baby Sea Lions Flood Southern California Shores

2013-04-08

More than 1,000 sick and dying sea lion pups have been found stranded since the beginning of the year, from Santa Barbara to San Diego. As scientists try to figure out why, one animal rescue worker says that in nearly three decades on the job, he's never seen anything like it.…

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To Find Insider Trading, Follow The Kids' Money

2013-04-08
Length: 4m 22s

Sociologists tracked stock trades in Finland and found that accounts belonging to chlldren under 10 years old wildly outperformed the accounts of adults.…

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Reduced Guilt? Chocolate Gets A Healthy, Fruity Makeover

2013-04-08

Scientists have developed a type of chocolate infused with micro-bubbles of fruit juice that they say can replace up to half of the fat found in normal chocolate. This hybrid treat, they say, provides a tasty, more healthful alternative to regular chocolate.…

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Climate Change Could Equal Teeth-Rattling Flights

2013-04-08

Two British scientists say that increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could mean more unpredictable turbulence on trans-Atlantic flights.…

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The Big Squeeze: Can Cities Save The Earth?

2013-04-08

What if you put all 7 billion humans into one city, a city as dense as New York, with its towers and skyscrapers? How big would that 7 billion-sized city be? As big as New Jersey? Texas? Bigger? Are cities protecting wild spaces on the planet? We try a little experiment to find out.…

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Spring Blooms, And So Do The Creepy Crawlies

2013-04-06
Length: 7m 10s

Springtime means bug time. Michael Raupp, professor of entomology at the University of Maryland has the story of a big brood of cicadas that is set to emerge up and down the East Coast. We can also expect the largest infestation of stink bugs this year. USDA entomologist Tracy Leskey tells guest host Jacki Lyden about the bugs and efforts to stop them.…

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President Obama Calls For A BRAIN Initiative

2013-04-05
Length: 7m 47s

This week President Obama announced his BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative, which the White House describes as "a bold new research effort to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind." National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins describes the new research plan.…

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Bees Emerging After A Hard Winter

2013-04-05
Length: 12m 29s

After a winter that many beekeepers have described as particularly hard on their hives, Eric Mussen, extension apiculturist at the University of California, discusses the plight of the modern honeybee and the threats the tiny pollinators face from disease and pesticides.…

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'Drunk Tank Pink' Finds Clues To Behavior

2013-04-05
Length: 24m 6s

In his new book Drunk Tank Pink Adam Alter, an assistant professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, explains how subtle cues, such as the sound of someone's name or the color of a room, can influence behaviors and thoughts. Alter discusses the book, and his research on the psychology of decision-making.…

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Amyloid Proteins Help Paralyzed Mice Walk Again

2013-04-05
Length: 8m 42s

Reporting in Science Translational Medicine, researchers write that amyloid-forming proteins, traditionally thought of as enemies to the nervous system, may actually be protective 'guardians' instead. Study author Lawrence Steinman, a neurologist at Stanford University, explains how amyloid injections helped paralyzed mice with a multiple-sclerosis-like disease walk again.…

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Tracking A Rise In ADHD Diagnosis

2013-04-05
Length: 9m 56s

Surveys show a marked rise in the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, among the nation's youth. William Graf, a professor of pediatrics and neurology at Yale School of Medicine, discusses the surge in ADHD diagnosis and its potential implications.…

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Building Synthetic Tissues from Water Droplets?

2013-04-05
Length: 5m 25s

Reporting in Science, Gabriel Villar and colleagues have turned tiny water droplets into cooperating networks that can pass electrical signals and do mechanical work. Villar says that in theory, water droplet networks could be used as artificial tissues.…

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Searching For The Roots of 'Right' And 'Wrong'

2013-04-05
Length: 26m 37s

In The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates, primatologist Frans de Waal explores traits like empathy and fairness in our closest relatives, bonobos and chimpanzees, and argues that human morality is not the product of rational thought or religion, but evolved long ago.…

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Monty Python's John Cleese Almost Explains Our Brains

2013-04-05

Monty Python's John Cleese gives us a highly sophisticated, totally un-understandable, look at the human brain. The secret is, Cleese isn't speaking English. It sounds like English, but its nonsense. The closed caption English translation goes nuts, especially at the very end. It curses!…

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Freezing Food Doesn't Kill E. Coli And Other Germs

2013-04-05

An outbreak of E. coli in frozen pizza, cheesesteaks, and other foods makes it clear: Just because the freezer's frosty doesn't mean it can kill microbes that cause food-borne illness.…

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This Scientist Aims High To Save The World's Coral Reefs

2013-04-05
Length: 7m 50s

Ken Caldeira is trying to come up with a big solution to the problem of increasingly acid oceans: antacids for coral reefs. That might keep the reefs from being destroyed by humans' use of fossil fuels. And that's not his only big idea. But even Caldeira admits that his audacious plan could fail.…

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Some Deep-Sea Microbes Are Hungry For Rocket Fuel

2013-04-04
Length: 3m 11s

Some of the tiniest critters inside the harsh, otherwordly vents at the bottom of sea are unlike almost anything on Earth. They don't need oxygen to thrive — they can use rocket fuel. The discovery is a hint that our planet's first microbes probably sucked up whatever chemicals they could to survive.…

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Researchers Question Obama's Motives For Brain Initiative

2013-04-04
Length: 3m 40s

President Obama's announcement this week that he's launching a brain initiative generated widespread and enthusiastic media coverage. Researchers, however, are suggesting the initiative has more to do with politics and public relations than research.…