Science

4:11pm

Tue March 11, 2014
Asia

Three Years From Meltdown, Japanese Nuclear Plant Still Struggles

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 6:51 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Three years ago today, a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan killed thousands of people. It also triggered the meltdown of reactors at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The cleanup is ongoing and has been problematic, with power failures and leaks of contaminated water. And the technical difficulties involved in closing the facility are compounded by serious labor issues.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken)

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4:11pm

Tue March 11, 2014
All Tech Considered

Evolved Science: Crowds Can Catalog Bugs Faster

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 7:55 pm

Notes From Nature allows volunteers to digitally catalog thousands of scientific specimens, like this insect from the Calbug project.
Screengrab NotesFromNature.org

The next evolution of science is not happening in a lab, but in a basement in a rural Florida county. Thanks to online crowdsourcing, thousands of non-scientists can visit a site called Notes From Nature and lend a hand to university researchers cataloging their collections, from bark to bugs.

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2:25pm

Tue March 11, 2014
The Salt

For A Faster-Aged Bourbon, You Need The Motion Of The Ocean

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 10:48 am

Jefferson's Ocean bourbon is aged on the high seas, a technique that takes advantage of basic physical chemistry. The bottles sell for $200 a piece.
Courtesy of OCEARCH

From its earliest days as America's homegrown whiskey elixir, Kentucky bourbon has been traveling on boats.

In fact, boats were a key reason why Kentucky became the king of bourbon. In the late 1700s, trade depended on waterways, and distillers in the state had a big advantage: the Ohio River. They'd load their barrels onto flatboats on the Ohio, which flowed into the Mississippi, taking their golden liquor as far down as New Orleans.

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11:32am

Tue March 11, 2014
The Two-Way

NASA Offers $35,000 For Help In Tracking Asteroids

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 11:58 am

For helping to find asteroids, NASA has set up a contest with cash awards. In 2012, the agency said that "more potentially hazardous asteroids, or PHAs, are closely aligned with the plane of our solar system than previous models suggested."
NASA

Cash prizes await "citizen scientists" who can improve algorithms that help NASA find and identify asteroids in our solar system, the agency says. A contest to find more asteroids begins next week, in what NASA calls an attempt to crowdsource innovation.

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3:36am

Tue March 11, 2014
Science

Trapping And Tracking The Mysterious Snowy Owl

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 11:02 am

Meredith Rizzo/NPR

This is Hungerford, a large female snowy owl. Last summer she was just a hatchling — a gray ball of fuzz in the middle of the Arctic tundra. In the fall, newly equipped with adult plumage, she flew thousands of miles south until she reached the coast of Maryland. And this winter, she became an important part of an unprecedented research project.

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3:06am

Tue March 11, 2014
The Salt

Turning Food Waste Into Fuel Takes Gumption And Trillions Of Bacteria

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 1:12 pm

The digester eggs at Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn contain millions of gallons of black sludge.
Courtesy of New York City Department of Environmental Protection

Every year, Americans send millions of tons of food to the landfill. What if you could use all of those pizza crusts and rotten vegetables to heat your home? That's already happening in one unlikely laboratory: the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Brooklyn.

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5:57pm

Mon March 10, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Plane Lost, Uncertainties Regained

Originally published on Tue March 11, 2014 10:56 am

Uncertainty is the order of the day as officials in Kuala Lumpur brief the media on a missing Malaysia Airlines jet.
How Foo Yeen Getty Images

We are rarely lost anymore.

In a foreign city or just a drive out of town, our GPS-enabled smartphones pin our positions on digital maps to within a few meters. We are rarely without facts anymore. Any question that has an objective answer — from the last day of the Civil War to the maximum speed of a Boeing 777 — is as close as Google. For a broad class of experience in modern life we have become very used to "knowing." Events a world away may be subject to our opinions, but rarely anymore are they cloaked in an enveloping darkness.

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4:58pm

Mon March 10, 2014
All Tech Considered

SXSW: Software, Apps Still Rule But A Hardware Resurgence Is On

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 7:59 pm

A set of littleBits comes with more than 40 different types of electronic pieces that connect with magnets.
NPR

The task of building your very own toy, or robot, or radio can seem daunting for someone without much background in engineering. But a set of color-coded electronic bits that can be magnetically snapped together called littleBits is aiming to make creating your own electronics easy for everyone. It's like Legos, if only Legos could be connected into circuits that light up, move or make music.

"Circuits in seconds," promises the outside of the box.

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4:02pm

Mon March 10, 2014
Space

Earthbound Tensions Don't Reach Russian-American Space Partnership

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 5:20 pm

U.S. astronaut Mike Hopkins is expected to land in Kazakhstan, and despite diplomatic tensions the Russians plan to pick him up. It's another sign that U.S. and Russia remain tied at the hip in space.

4:02pm

Mon March 10, 2014
Children's Health

Casinos, Sites Of Excess, Might Actually Help Families Slim Down

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 7:59 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

When you think about casinos, you probably think about excess: smoke-filled rooms, too much alcohol, and endless buffets filled with piles of high-fat and high sugar foods.

But as NPR's Patti Neighmond reports, a new study suggests casinos may actually have a health benefit for children who live in nearby communities.

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