The 2010 bestseller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks highlighted ethical controversies surrounding scientists' use of HeLa cells. The cells are descended from a tumor taken without consent from Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman who died in 1951. Ethical concerns resurfaced with the publication of the HeLa cell's genome. The National Institutes of Health has now issued guidelines. For an explanation, Linda Wertheimer talks to NIH director Francis Collins.
More than 40 years ago, the EPA banned oil companies from releasing wastewater into the environment, but made an exception for the arid West. If livestock and wildlife can use the water, companies can release it. Cows like these grazing near a stream of waste on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming are supposedly the reason the EPA lets oil companies release their waste into the environment.
The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to let oil companies continue to dump polluted wastewater on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. This includes chemicals that companies add to the wells during hydraulic fracturing, an engineering practice that makes wells produce more oil.
Scientists have known for years that dolphins recognize each other by the sound of each animal's signature whistle. But it wasn't known for just how long dolphins could remember these whistle calls.
The individually specific whistle that each dolphin generates before its first birthday "for them functions like a name," says Jason Bruck, who studies animal behavior at the Institute for Mind and Biology at the University of Chicago.
Late summer tends to be a slow month for news. But at All Things Considered, we put on a two hour program, no matter what. So — without a trace of irony — one of our science correspondents offered to help fill some holes in the show with a series of stories about holes. In this edition: Black holes.
The Cascades frog is found only in the alpine wetlands of the Pacific Northwest, though its range used to extend down to Northern California and up to British Columbia. Scientists are concerned its range will continue to shrink with climate change.
How does our subjective reality emerge from the physical structures of the brain and body?
Today I'd like to go back to a topic that leaves most people perplexed, me included: the nature of consciousness and how it "emerges" in our brains. I wrote about this a few months ago, promising to get back to it. At this point, no scientist or philosopher in the world knows how to answer it. If you think you know the answer, you probably don't understand the question: