Fri June 6, 2014
TED Radio Hour

Is Space Tourism Finally About To Take Off?

"When the rocket stops, you will be in space, there will be complete silence, you will unbuckle, you will float around" — Richard Branson
Robert Leslie TED

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Getting There.

About Richard Branson's TEDTalk

Entrepreneur Richard Branson shares his vision for private, commercial space travel.

About Richard Branson

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Thu June 5, 2014
The Two-Way

Tracking Roadkill? There's An App For That, Too

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 12:54 pm

Adult bison and calves cross a dirt road on Antelope Island, northwest of Salt Lake City. A team of scientists from Utah State University has developed a smartphone app to track animal-vehicle collisions.
Douglas C. Pizac AP

Want to know where most motorists hit deer? To answer such a question, at least in Utah, used to involve the laborious task of sifting through mountains of paperwork. And the results weren't even all that accurate.

But a team of scientists at Utah State University has developed a smartphone application to make the task easier, and is hoping that "citizen scientists" will help compile a roadkill database.

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Thu June 5, 2014
Shots - Health News

Quick DNA Tests Crack Medical Mysteries Otherwise Missed

Originally published on Sat June 7, 2014 9:07 am

Doctors used a rapid DNA test to identify a Wisconsin teen's unusual infection with Leptospira bacteria (yellow), which are common in the tropics.
CDC/Rob Weyant

Researchers are developing a radical way to diagnose infectious diseases. Instead of guessing what a patient might have, and ordering one test after another, this new technology starts with no assumptions.

The technology starts with a sample of blood or spinal fluid from an infected person and searches through all the DNA in it, looking for sequences that came from a virus, a bacterium, a fungus or even a parasite.

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Thu June 5, 2014
The Two-Way

Wall Of Ice Surrounding Fukushima Will Contain Radioactive Water

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 4:56 pm

Members of a local government council check an outlet of a so-called groundwater bypass system as they inspect the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station earlier this week.

Earlier this week, workers in Japan began constructing an underground "ice wall" around the melted-down nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The wall is designed to stop hundreds of tons of radioactive groundwater from leaking into the nearby Pacific Ocean.

Building a subterranean wall of ice sounds a little crazy. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel, who's been covering the story, says it is a little crazy — but not as far-fetched as it sounds.

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Thu June 5, 2014
Shots - Health News

The GPS In Your Head May Work A Lot Better Than That Phone

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 11:11 am

If I tell you to make your way to NPR's headquarters from the NOMA Metro stop a few blocks away, odds are you'll get yourself here, no problem. But how?

By using two GPS systems in the brain, one that determines the direct distance to the destination, and another that calculates the twists and turns you'll need to take along the way.

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Thu June 5, 2014
The Salt

At 'Pestaurant,' Grasshopper Burgers Win Over Eaters Who Say 'Yuck'

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 8:17 am

A Grasshopper Burger topped with Mexican spice mealworms.
Maggie Starbard NPR

If you're a scientist and you work for a pest control company, you're used to thinking about bugs as the enemy you're trained to kill.

Now try putting one in your mouth.

It took some mental rearranging for Nancy Troyano, an entomologist for Ehrlich Pest Control. But on Wednesday she did it for the first time in her life.

"I'm used to looking at grasshoppers under a microscope," Troyano tells The Salt. "I know what their internal organs and the spines on their legs look like, so I was kind of thinking about them."

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Thu June 5, 2014

The Birds And The Bees ... And iPads

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 1:03 pm

"The talk." The facts of life. The birds and the bees. Whatever you call it, do you remember when and how you first learned about human sexuality? For me, it was a series of conversations in school and with my parents that began in third grade with the classic picture book Where Did I Come From?.

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Thu June 5, 2014

Ice Wall May Stop Radioactive Leak At Japanese Nuclear Plant

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 4:02 pm



Earlier this week, workers in Japan began construction of an underground ice wall around the melted-down nuclear reactors at Fukushima. It is hard to even say that sentence without feeling like you're relating some science fiction tale. But it's true. The ice wall is designed to stop hundreds of tons of radioactive groundwater from leaking into the nearby Pacific Ocean. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel has been covering this story for a long time. Welcome back to the program.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: Thank you, nice to be here.

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Wed June 4, 2014
Shots - Health News

The Camel Did It: Scientists Nail Down Source Of Middle East Virus

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 4:40 pm

A Saudi Arabian man wears a mask to protect against the Middle East respiratory syndrome at his farm outside Riyadh, May 12.
Fayez Nureldine AFP/Getty Images

In the two years since Middle East respiratory syndrome was first diagnosed in people, scientists have struggled to figure out how we catch the deadly virus. Some blamed bats. Others pointed at camels.

Now scientists in Saudi Arabia offer the strongest evidence yet that the one-humped dromedaries can indeed spread the MERS virus — which has infected more than 800 people on four continents, including two men in the U.S.

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Wed June 4, 2014
Around the Nation

An Underwater Race To Transplant Miami's Rare Corals

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 7:18 pm

Close-up of a star coral rescued by Coral Morphologic from a reef in Miami's shipping channel.
Courtesy of Coral Morphologic

A lab just off Florida's Miami River has become the base for an unusual lifesaving operation.

A group of scientists there is on an urgent mission to save as many corals as it can before the marine creatures are destroyed as part of an underwater excavation of Miami's shipping channel. The channel — set to be dredged and deepened on Saturday — is home to a thriving coral reef.

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