Science

9:45am

Tue September 17, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Always, Always There

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 2:26 pm

An Iraqi civilian walks through the vault of the National Museum in Baghdad, Iraq, on April 12, 2003. Looters opened the museum vault, went on a rampage breaking ancient artifacts stored there by museum authorities before the war started.
Jerome Delay AP

I'm going to tell two stories here, two very different stories. One's about bad guys hurting good guys that made me think the world is going to hell; the other is about good guys outfoxing bad guys and made me smile — made me think there's hope, always hope. I found them in different books.

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8:12am

Tue September 17, 2013
Research News

Telomeres May Hold Clues To Effects Of Aging

Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 9:38 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Scientists are reporting an advance in the science of aging and maybe even a clue how to reverse some of aging's effects. They have evidence that lifestyle changes already known to be good for you, like healthy diet, exercise, reducing stress may prevent the chromosomes in our cells from unraveling.

NPR's Richard Knox reports that it's all about little caps on our chromosomes called telomeres.

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7:52pm

Mon September 16, 2013
Animals

Earwax From Whales Keeps Record Of Ocean Contaminants

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 8:07 am

A blue whale (and human diver) swimming off the coast of Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, in April 2011.
Amos Nachoun Barcroft Media/Landov

How often do whales clean their ears? Well, never. And so, year after year, their earwax builds up, layer upon layer. According to a study published Monday, these columns of earwax contain a record of chemical pollution in the oceans.

The study used the earwax extracted from the carcass of a blue whale that washed ashore on a California beach back in 2007. Scientists at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History collected the wax from inside the skull of the dead whale and preserved it. The column of wax was almost a foot long.

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5:55pm

Mon September 16, 2013
Energy

Natural Gas May Be Easier On Climate Than Coal, Despite Methane Leaks

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 7:11 pm

A rig drills a hydraulic fracturing well for natural gas outside Rifle, Colo., in March.
Brennan Linsley AP

From the standpoint of global warming, burning natural gas can be better than burning coal, a study published this week suggests.

This is a contentious issue among people who are opposed to the natural gas drilling practice known as fracking. That technique involves injecting water, sand and chemicals into wells to release far more gas than conventional drilling can. Opponents of fracking have been concerned not only about local environmental issues, but also about the potential for methane leaks to make global warming worse.

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10:29am

Mon September 16, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Can Faith Ever Be Rational?

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 3:23 pm

Boyer d'Agen Getty Images

Some people have faith that their spouse won't cheat on them. Some have faith that things happen for a reason. Some have faith in God.

Is there a common commitment underlying these disparate declarations of faith? And can such faith ever be rational?

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4:12am

Mon September 16, 2013
Environment

Debate Revs As Decision Stalls Over Oil Pipeline From Canada

Originally published on Mon September 16, 2013 12:56 pm

A 60-foot section of pipe is lowered into a trench during construction of the Gulf Coast Pipeline in Prague, Okla., in March. The Gulf Coast Pipeline, a 485-mile crude oil line, is part of the Keystone XL project and will run from Cushing, Okla. to Nederland, Texas. Although this southern stretch of the pipeline is nearly finished, the northern stretch is still under study.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Five years ago this week, a Canadian company proposed building a pipeline to send heavy crude oil from Alberta to U.S. refineries. Although the Obama administration's answer on the Keystone XL pipeline is not expected anytime soon, politicians in Washington and Canada are ramping up the pressure for the project, while environmentalists are pushing hard against it.

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5:14am

Sun September 15, 2013
Environment

Remote Antarctic Trek Reveals A Glacier Melting From Below

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 8:50 am

The surface tower at a drill site, under construction during blistering Antarctic winds. Data from instruments, deployed through 450 meters of ice, is transmitted from the tower by satellite back to the Naval Postgraduate School.
Image courtesy of Tim Stanton

Scientists watching Antarctica's Pine Island Glacier from space have noticed with some alarm that it has been surging toward the sea.

If it were to melt entirely, global sea levels would rise by several feet.

The glacier is really, really remote. It's 1,800 miles from McMurdo, the U.S. base station in Antarctica, so just getting there is a challenge. Scientists have rarely been able to get out to the glacier to make direct measurements.

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6:12pm

Fri September 13, 2013
The Two-Way

Judge Rules 'Ikea Monkey' To Remain In Animal Sanctuary

A still from news video of Darwin's great escape in December.
ABC News

Darwin the 'Ikea monkey' will no longer be hitting the superstores with a Canadian woman who calls him her son after a judge in Ontario ruled that the primate is not a pet and should remain at an animal sanctuary.

As we wrote in December, Darwin, a Japanese macaque dressed in a heavy shearling coat, attracted considerable attention when he escaped from a locked crate in owner Yasmin Nakhuda's car in Toronto. He made his way through rows of parked cars and ended up inside a nearby Ikea store before staff there cornered him and called in animal control officials.

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6:04pm

Fri September 13, 2013
Shots - Health News

After Disasters, DNA Science Is Helpful, But Often Too Pricey

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 7:32 pm

A Thai medic checks bodies for forensic identity in Phang Nga province in southern of Thailand on Jan. 11, 2005. Thousands of people were killed in Thailand after a massive tsunami struck on Dec. 26, 2004.
Pornchai Kittiwongsakul AFP/Getty Images

Human DNA is the ultimate fingerprint. A single hair can contain enough information to determine someone's identity — a feature that's been invaluable for identifying the unnamed casualties of natural disasters and war. But forensic scientists who use DNA say the technology isn't always available where it's most needed, like in poor countries, or in war zones like Syria.

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6:04pm

Fri September 13, 2013
Environment

Spy Drones Turning Up New Data About Hurricanes And Weather

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 6:57 pm

A Global Hawk unmanned aircraft comes in for a landing at the Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., on Sept. 7, 2012, after studying Hurricane Leslie. The remotely controlled planes can stay in the air for as long as 28 hours and fly over hurricanes at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet.
NASA

For several weeks now, two unmanned spy planes have been flying over the Atlantic on an unusual mission: gathering intelligence about tropical storms and hurricanes.

The two Global Hawk drones are a central part of NASA's five-year HS3 (Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel) Mission investigating why certain weather patterns become hurricanes, and why some hurricanes grow into monster storms.

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