Tue December 10, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

What Happened On Easter Island — A New (Even Scarier) Scenario

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 4:39 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

We all know the story, or think we do.

Let me tell it the old way, then the new way. See which worries you most.

First version: Easter Island is a small 63-square-mile patch of land — more than a thousand miles from the next inhabited spot in the Pacific Ocean. In A.D. 1200 (or thereabouts), a small group of Polynesians — it might have been a single family — made their way there, settled in and began to farm. When they arrived, the place was covered with trees — as many as 16 million of them, some towering 100 feet high.

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Mon December 9, 2013
The Two-Way

Israel, Jordan, Palestinians Strike Water-Sharing Deal

Originally published on Sun December 15, 2013 10:59 am

The Gulf of Aqaba, near the Jordanian city of the same name. Under a new agreement, Jordan would build a desalination plant near here.
Jamal Nasrallah AFP/Getty Images

Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians have agreed to a water-sharing pact that would see the construction of a desalination plant on the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea and bring "a long-awaited Red Sea-Dead Sea pipeline one step closer to completion," according to Reuters.

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Mon December 9, 2013
The Two-Way

Curiosity Finds Evidence Of Ancient Freshwater Lake On Mars

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 4:41 pm

NASA's Curiosity rover has found evidence of an ancient (nearly) freshwater lake on Mars that could have sustained life billions of years ago.

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Mon December 9, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Solving The Conundrum Of Multiple Choice Tests

Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 3:53 pm


Multiple choice tests are:

A. Only effective for assessing superficial, rote memorization

B. Only effective for assessing deep, conceptual understanding

C. Best at promoting short-term retention of material (e.g., for an upcoming exam)

D. A good way to ensure long-term retention of material

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Sun December 8, 2013
The Salt

Between Pigs And Anchovies: Where Humans Rank On The Food Chain

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 10:28 am

An animal's ranking on the food chain depends on where its meals place on the ladder. That puts plants on the bottom (they make all their food), polar bears on top and people somewhere between pigs and anchovies.
Lisa Brown for NPR

When it comes to making food yummy and pleasurable, humans clearly outshine their fellow animals on Earth. After all, you don't see rabbits caramelizing carrots or polar bears slow-roasting seal.

But in terms of the global food chain, Homo sapiens are definitely not the head honchos.

Instead, we sit somewhere between pigs and anchovies, scientists reported recently. That puts us right in the middle of the chain, with polar bears and orca whales occupying the highest position.

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Sat December 7, 2013
The Salt

Fishery Closure Puts New England's Shrimp Season On Ice

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 9:56 pm

Northern shrimp are shoveled into a holding chamber on a trawler in the Gulf of Maine in 2012. Stocks of the shrimp have been declining for several years, leading regulators to cancel the New England shrimping season.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

New England chefs like Andrew Taylor and Mike Wiley are still coming to terms with the news: No more shrimp until further notice.

This week, regulators shut down the New England fishery for Gulf of Maine shrimp for the first time in 35 years. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission judged the stocks of the popular shrimp, also known as northern shrimp, to be dangerously low.

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Fri December 6, 2013
The Two-Way

Shanghai's Choking Smog Registers 'Beyond Index'

A building under construction is covered with haze in Shanghai on Friday. The city's pollution index is at its highest ever, officials say.
Eugene Hoshiko AP

In the latest smog-related health scare in China, officials in Shanghai on Friday ordered schoolchildren to stay indoors, halted all construction and even delayed flights in and out of the city, which has been enveloped in a thick blanket of haze, reducing visibility in places to less than 150 feet.

NPR's Frank Langfitt reports from Shanghai that the commercial capital's Air Quality Index soared above 500 for the first time ever, according to government sensors. He says officials described the readings as "beyond index" — in layman's terms, off-the-charts awful.

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Fri December 6, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Science And Its Reality: Take 2

Will it always rise?
ISS/Expedition 7 NASA

I agree with commenters on my post last week who challenged the idea that religion and science are competing theories. They are not.

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Fri December 6, 2013
Health Care

Dissecting America's $3 Trillion Medical Bill

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 11:54 am



This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Do you know that what the number one reason for people filing bankruptcy in this country is? What's the number one reason? Not a lost job. It's not damage from earthquakes or floods. It's medical bills. My next guest says our high-priced medical treatments are responsible for some 60 percent of personal bankruptcies. And if you think you're safe because you have insurance, he says think again.

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Fri December 6, 2013

Speech Science: Tongue Twisters and Valley Girls

Drawing from research presented at this year's Acoustical Society of America conference, psycholinguist Stefanie Shattuck-Hufnagel untangles tongue twisters to look at speech planning patterns, and professor Amalia Arvaniti discusses the "Valley Girl" dialect.