Science

3:21am

Fri June 27, 2014
The Salt

As Pig Virus Spreads, The Price Of Pork Continues To Rise

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 8:31 am

Michael Yezzi raises 1,000 pigs a year in Shushan, N.Y. He's worried about how to keep his farm safe from a disease that has no proven cure.
Abbie Fentress Swanson for NPR

If you're bringing home the bacon, you may have noticed a price tag inching upward.

Consumers are paying nearly 13 percent more for pork at the supermarket than they were this time last year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A deadly pig disease is partially to blame.

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4:44pm

Thu June 26, 2014
Shots - Health News

A CRISPR Way To Fix Faulty Genes

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 7:47 am

The CRISPR enzyme (green and red) binds to a stretch of double-stranded DNA (purple and red), preparing to snip out the faulty part.
Illustration courtesy of Jennifer Doudna/UC Berkeley

Scientists from many areas of biology are flocking to a technique that allows them to work inside cells, making changes in specific genes far faster — and for far less money — than ever before.

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3:29pm

Thu June 26, 2014
The Salt

Did Neanderthals Eat Plants? The Proof May Be In The Poop

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 5:35 pm

A rendering of Neanderthals cooking and eating. The ancient humans inhabited Europe and western Asia between 230,000 and 29,000 years ago.
Mauricio Anton Science Source

Neanderthals clubbed their way to the top of an ancient food chain, slaying caribou and mammoths. But a peek inside their prehistoric poop reveals that the meat-loving early humans may have also enjoyed some salad on the side.

Researchers excavating a site in southern Spain where Neanderthals lived 50,000 years ago were initially looking for remnants of food in fireplaces. Then they stumbled upon tiny bits of poop — which turned out to be the oldest fecal matter from a human relation ever discovered.

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3:08pm

Thu June 26, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Outliving Our Pets: A Tribute To Pilar

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 4:52 pm

Pilar
Barbara J. King

Poppy, the world's oldest known cat, died earlier this month in England at the age of 24.

Near San Francisco, a homeless woman named Roza Katovitch and a cat named Miss Tuxedo met in a cemetery and bonded with each other, changing both of their lives for the better.

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2:03pm

Thu June 26, 2014
Science

A Shocking Fish Tale Surprises Evolutionary Biologists

Originally published on Sat July 12, 2014 12:39 pm

A 6-foot-long electric eel is basically a 6-inch fish attached to a 5-1/2-foot cattle prod, researchers say. The long tail is packed with special cells that pump electricity without shocking the fish.
Mark Newman Getty Images/Lonely Planet Image

The electric eel's powerful ability to deliver deadly shocks — up to 600 volts — makes it the most famous electric fish, but hundreds of other species produce weaker electric fields. Now, a new genetic study of electric fish has revealed the surprising way they got electrified.

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1:48pm

Thu June 26, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

What Not To Serve Buzzards For Lunch, A Glorious Science Experiment

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 5:07 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

OK, I'm doing great science experiments. We've done sex (see previous post). On to lunch!

This is the story of a bird, a puzzle, and a painting. The painting, curiously, helped solve the puzzle, which is: How do vultures find food?

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7:10am

Thu June 26, 2014
Research News

How To Sell Green Products To The Self-Regarding Consumer

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 9:40 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

When consumers think about green products, they often face a dilemma - that car that uses less gasoline or a more efficient refrigerator tends to cost more. Buyers have to choose whether money is more important to them than public good. Now new research shows there might be a way to boost interest in these products, at least among a core group of consumers. NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is here to talk with us about that. Hi Shankar.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: Hi Steve.

INSKEEP: What consumers?

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11:59am

Wed June 25, 2014
The Salt

Kandinsky On A Plate: Art-Inspired Salad Just Tastes Better

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 8:35 am

Kandinsky's Painting No. 201, on the left, was the inspiration for the salad on the right, which was used to test diners' appreciation of the dish.
Museum of Modern Art; Crossmodal Research Laboratory

We eat first with our eyes. When strawberries are perfectly red, they seem to taste sweeter. When chicken is painted blue, it's disturbing. The ancient Romans understood that, and certainly today's top chefs exploit it when they plate their food.

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11:21am

Wed June 25, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Two Glorious Science Experiments: One About Sex, The Other About Lunch

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 4:19 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

Done right, a good science experiment is simple, clear and revealing. Done splendidly, it's a tale you don't forget. Let's do the sex one first. It took place in Italy, in the 1760s, when a Catholic priest and scholar, Lazzaro Spallanzani, was thinking about sperm — which is why he decided to dress frogs in pants, like this ...

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11:01am

Wed June 25, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Cosmic Confusion: It's How Science Gets Done

The sun rises behind the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation telescopes at the National Science Foundation'€™s South Pole Station.
Steffen Richter Harvard University

The reader may remember the news from around mid-March: a dramatic discovery made by scientists from the BICEP2 experiment, measuring what could be a signal from the very earliest times after the Big Bang, the closest we could hope to get to "creation" itself.

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