Wed November 13, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Science Doesn't Want To Take God Away From You

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 2:01 pm

Can science inspire the same level of passion as religion?
Mauricio Lima AFP/Getty Images

I was once invited to give a live interview on a radio station in Brasília, the capital of Brazil. The interview took place at rush hour in the city's very busy bus terminal, where poor workers come in from rural areas to perform all sorts of jobs in town, from cleaning the streets to working in factories and private homes.

The experience would mark me for the rest of my life and set a new professional goal that I had not anticipated early in my career: to bring science to the largest number of people possible.

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Tue November 12, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Are Scientists Naive About Politics?

We face real-world decisions now about everything from sea level rise, to energy infrastructure to what food is best for you.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Climate change is not the only place scientists and politicians get in trouble with each other. Energy policy, endangered species, stem cells, heck, even defining what constitutes a healthy diet can cause tension between the domains of policy and the domains of research.

Scientists say they just want to stick to the data and politicians say the world isn't that simple. So, who is right and who is really being simplistic about the way the world works?

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Mon November 11, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Could One Word Unite The World?

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 4:49 pm

The word for milk in German is "Milch." In French it is "lait." Two quite different words — Milch, lait — for one thing. This is the basic observation that supports the linguistic principle that the relation between words and their meanings is arbitrary. You can't read the meaning off the word. And what a word means doesn't determine or shape the word itself. The bottom line: you need to learn words.

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Mon November 11, 2013

Why Typhoon Haiyan Caused So Much Damage

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 7:13 pm

This map from the NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory shows the amount of heat energy available to Typhoon Haiyan between Oct. 28 and Nov. 3. Darker purple indicates more available energy. Typhoons gain their strength by drawing heat out of the ocean. The path of the storm is marked with the black line in the center of the image.
NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

The deadly typhoon that swept through the Philippines was one of the strongest ever recorded. But storms nearly this powerful are actually common in the eastern Pacific. Typhoon Haiyan's devastation can be chalked up to a series of bad coincidences.

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Mon November 11, 2013
The Two-Way

'Ferrari Of Space' Crashes And Burns In Earth's Atmosphere

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 3:41 pm

An artist's rendition of the GOCE satellite shows the craft in its orbit around Earth. After four years of studying oceans and gravity fields, GOCE re-entered the atmosphere over the Southern Atlantic Ocean Sunday night.
ESA /AOES Medialab

More than a ton of advanced electronics, including an ion engine and sensors that help detect variations in gravity, crashed into Earth's atmosphere Sunday night, when the European GOCE satellite ended its four-year mission. Most of the 2,425-pound craft disintegrated when it re-entered the atmosphere over the South Atlantic Ocean; about 25 percent did not.

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Mon November 11, 2013

Lessons In Leadership: It's Not About You. (It's About Them)

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 7:15 pm

Ronald Heifetz draws on his training as a psychiatrist to coach aspiring leaders at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Ben de la Cruz NPR

Ronald Heifetz has been a professor of public leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School for three decades, teaching classes that have included aspiring business leaders and budding heads of state. Each year, he says, the students start his course thinking they'll learn the answer to one question:

As leaders, how can they get others to follow them?

Heifetz says that whole approach is wrong.

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Sun November 10, 2013

Lighting Up The Investigative Path With Polonium-210

Originally published on Sun November 10, 2013 6:58 pm

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat boards a helicopter in Ramallah, the West Bank, for the start of his journey to a hospital in France on Oct. 29, 2004. He died 2 weeks later.
Scott Nelson Getty Images

With a Swiss forensics investigation pointing to polonium-210 as a possible cause of Yasser Arafat's death, the radioactive element is back in the news.

Confirming whether the Palestinian leader died from an assassination attempt will be difficult, given polonium's short half-life and the fact that Arafat has been dead nine years, science writer Deborah Blum says.

Whatever happened to Arafat, polonium does have a deadly history.

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Sun November 10, 2013

Billions Of Planets Could Support Life

Originally published on Sun November 10, 2013 12:54 pm



Have you ever gazed out your window on a clear, star-filled night and wondered are we really alone?


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Fri November 8, 2013
The Salt

Can We Eat Our Way To A Healthier Microbiome? It's Complicated

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 10:27 am

While no one's sure which foods are good for our microbiomes, eating more veggies can't hurt.

When our colleague Rob Stein got his microbiome analyzed recently in the name of science journalism, we were totally fascinated.

As Stein noted, it may be possible to cultivate a healthier community of bacteria on and inside us by modifying our diets.

Stein was advised to eat more garlic and leeks for his. But we wondered: Are there other foods that promote a healthy microbiome in most people?

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Fri November 8, 2013
The Two-Way

Which Is It? Hurricane, Typhoon Or Tropical Cyclone?

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 5:21 pm

Typhoon Bhopa scene over the Philippine island of Palawan last December.
NASA Goddard's MODIS Rapid Response Team

What's the difference between a hurricane, a typhoon and a cyclone? Nothing more than location.

As Super Typhoon Haiyan slams into the Philippines, we here at the Two-Way found ourselves revisiting old ground about the nature of tropical storms. In case you need a refresher (as we did), here is the lowdown:

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