Science

4:13am

Fri March 6, 2015
The Two-Way

NASA Probe Reaches Orbit Around Dwarf Planet

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 12:38 pm

Astronomers have known about Ceres for centuries, but they don't really know what to make of it.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Updated at 9:45 a.m. ET.

This morning, a plucky NASA spacecraft has entered the orbit of one of the oddest little worlds in our solar system.

Ceres is round like a planet, but really small. Its total surface would cover just a third of the United States.

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3:36am

Fri March 6, 2015
Animals

Could A Quokka Beat A Numbat? Oddsmakers Say Yes

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 3:14 pm

One possible result in the Mighty Mini Mammals division of 2015's Mammal March Madness tournament. If the species that's seeded highest always wins its bracket, the fennec fox will beat out the rest of the division and advance to the final four.
Adam Cole NPR

It's March, and that means college basketball fans are gearing up for the NCAA tournament. But there's another tournament taking place this month — and animals aren't the mascots, they're the competitors.

"Mammal March Madness" is organized by a team of evolutionary biologists. They choose 65 animal competitors and then imagine the outcome of a series of simulated interspecies battles. Who would win if a kangaroo took on a warthog? Or if an orca fought a polar bear?

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4:57pm

Thu March 5, 2015
The Salt

Eat Your Veggies! Even The Ones From Fukushima

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 11:24 am

Farmer Magoichi Shigihara checks on his cucumber farm in Nihonmatsu in Fukushima prefecture, about 31 miles west of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, in May 2011. Testing shows radiation in foods grown and raised in Fukushima is back to pre-accident levels.
Yoshikazu Tsuno AFP/Getty Images

Nearly four years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, people in Japan are still hesitant to eat foods grown around the site of the accident. They worry that anything grown in the region will contain dangerous levels of radioactive elements, increasing their risk of cancer.

Sometimes, food from Fukushima will bear a photo of the farmer who grew it or a number to dial to learn more about each bag of rice or vegetables, just to ease customers' concerns.

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4:56pm

Thu March 5, 2015
Goats and Soda

Arsenic Antidote Hidden In Our Genes

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 6:59 pm

At more than 12,000 feet above sea level, the town of San Antonio de los Cobres, Argentina, sits on volcanic bedrock, which leaches arsenic into the drinking water.
Guigue/Wikimedia

For centuries, arsenic was the go-to poison for murder.

If you wanted to knock off an heir to the throne or speed up the arrival of your inheritance, all you had to do was add a dollop of rat poison to your rival's food. They wouldn't see or taste it. And the police wouldn't detect it — at least not until a chemist developed a test for the element in the early 19th century.

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2:39pm

Thu March 5, 2015
Code Switch

Study: At 'Rate My Professors,' A Foreign Accent Can Hurt A Teacher's Score

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 7:21 pm

The biggest gaps overall were in the South.
Kat Chow/NPR

"So-and-so is really, really hard to understand." Or: "His accent is so distracting." I remember hearing off-the-cuff remarks like this a few times in college, complaints by classmates about teaching assistants and instructors, almost all of them of Asian descent and non-native English speakers.

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10:51am

Thu March 5, 2015
The Salt

We're Not Taking Enough Lunch Breaks. Why That's Bad For Business

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 2:17 pm

Did you take a lunch break yesterday? Are you planning to take one today?

Chances are the answer is no. Fewer American workers are taking time for lunch. Research shows that only 1 in 5 five people steps away for a midday meal. Most workers are simply eating at their desks.

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4:40am

Thu March 5, 2015
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Winter Zen: Taking A Cue From Snow Monkeys

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 4:33 pm

iStockphoto

We are about 15 days away now from the spring equinox — but winter is not yet done with us.

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3:45am

Thu March 5, 2015
Science

Jaw Fossil In Ethiopia Likely Oldest Ever Found In Human Line

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 12:55 pm

With the help of researcher Sabudo Boraru (right), anthropologist Chris Campisano, of Arizona State University, takes samples from the fossil-filled Ledi-Geraru project area in Ethiopia. The jawbone was found nearby.
Courtesy of J Ramón Arrowsmith

Scientists working in Ethiopia say they've found the earliest known fossil on the ancestral line that led to humans. It's part of a lower jaw with several teeth, and it's about 2.8 million years old. Anthropologists say the fossil fills an important gap in the record of human evolution.

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3:43am

Thu March 5, 2015
Shots - Health News

Fertility Clinic Courts Controversy With Treatment That Recharges Eggs

Originally published on Fri March 6, 2015 4:57 pm

Along with sperm, the in vitro procedure adds fresh mitochondria extracted from less mature cells in the same woman's ovaries. The hope is to revitalize older eggs with these extra "batteries." But the FDA still wants proof that the technique works and is safe.
Chris Nickels for NPR

Melissa and her husband started trying to have a baby right after they got married. But nothing was happening. So they went to a fertility clinic and tried round after round of everything the doctors had to offer. Nothing worked.

"They basically told me, 'You know, you have no chance of getting pregnant,' " says Melissa, who asked to be identified only by her first name to protect her privacy.

But Melissa, 30, who lives in Ontario, Canada, didn't give up. She switched clinics and kept trying. She got pregnant once, but that ended in a miscarriage.

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8:15pm

Wed March 4, 2015
Shots - Health News

Justices Roberts And Kennedy Hold Key Votes In Health Law Case

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 9:28 am

Fans and foes of Obamacare jockeyed for position outside the Supreme Court Wednesday. Inside, the justices weighed arguments in the case of King v. Burwell, which challenges a key part of the federal health law.
Pete Marovich UPI/Landov

With yet another do-or-die test of Obamacare before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, the justices were sharply divided.

By the end of the argument, it was clear that the outcome will be determined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy. The chief justice said almost nothing during the argument, and Kennedy sent mixed signals, seeming to give a slight edge to the administration's interpretation of the law.

Judging by the comments from the remaining justices, the challengers would need the votes of both Roberts and Kennedy to win.

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