Science

5:34pm

Thu August 22, 2013
Environment

'Uncertain' Science: Judith Curry's Take On Climate Change

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 5:10 pm

Judith Curry with her dogs, Rosie (left) and Bruno, in the mountains near Lake Tahoe. The climatologist focuses on the uncertainties of climate change far more than on the consensus of climate scientists.
Richard Harris NPR

While the Obama administration presses forward with plans to deal with climate change, Congress remains steadfast against taking action. It's not easy to find a scientist who will agree with that point of view. But Republicans have found an ally in a climate scientist by the name of Judith Curry.

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5:28pm

Thu August 22, 2013
Research News

The World's Most Precise Clock Could Prove Einstein Wrong

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 7:00 pm

This may look like a mad scientist's garage sale, but it's actually the most precise clock ever built.
Jim Burrus NIST

What a makes a good clock? Andrew Ludlow, a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, says one of the most important criteria is stability.

"If you could imagine a grandfather clock and see the pendulum swinging back and forth, ideally that pendulum would swing back and forth very uniformly," Ludlow says. "Each swing would take exactly the same amount of time."

That's stability. But what if something perturbs the system, like a mischievous toddler?

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12:10pm

Thu August 22, 2013
The Salt

Stone Age Chefs Spiced Up Food Even 6,000 Years Ago

Originally published on Mon August 26, 2013 8:36 am

Prehistoric Deer Stew? A fragment of pottery found in Neustadt, Germany, is coated in the microscopic remains of crushed mustard seeds and roasted fish and ruminant meat, possibly deer. This shard dates back to about 5,900 years ago.
Courtesy of University of York, BioArch

The French may have coined the term "gourmand" a few hundred years ago, but it looks like humans were flexing their foodie muscles thousands of years before that.

Scientists have found the first direct evidence that European hunter-gatherers flavored their roasted fish and meat — probably deer — with at least one spice: garlic mustard seeds.

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10:36am

Thu August 22, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Human Made From Paper Eats Pepperoni Pizza — And Lives!

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 2:03 pm

Courtesy of Kelli Anderson

Remember those frog transparencies from biology class? The ones in the textbook where you could lay the circulatory system on top of the digestive system on top of the skeleton system? Here's that same idea, updated and gently presented for kids, from a company called Tinybop. This time, the layers are cut from colored paper, exquisitely designed by Kelli Anderson. And this time (unlike that sadly frozen frog) it moves! Watch it eat a pizza slice ...

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10:00am

Thu August 22, 2013
The Two-Way

Comet Flies Into The Sun, Goes Out In A Blaze Of Glory

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 2:13 pm

Like Icarus, the mythological character who plunged to his death after flying too close to the sun, a comet took a solar swan dive earlier this week. NASA has captured its final moments on video.

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3:01am

Thu August 22, 2013
Animals

Where The Whale Sharks Go

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 3:17 pm

A whale shark dives near the surface in waters off the coast of Mexico.
Marj Awai Georgia Aquarium

Of all the creatures in the sea, one of the most majestic and mysterious is the whale shark. It's the biggest shark there is, 30 feet or more in length and weighing in at around 10 tons.

Among the mysteries is where this mighty fish migrates and where it gives birth. Now scientists have completed the biggest study ever of whale sharks, and they think they have some answers to those questions.

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6:03pm

Wed August 21, 2013
The Salt

Inside The Beef Industry's Battle Over Growth-Promotion Drugs

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 4:39 pm

Beef cattle stand in a barn on the Larson Farms feedlot in Maple Park, Ill.
Daniel Acker Landov

When the drug company Merck Animal Health announced plans to suspend sales of its Zilmax feed additive last week, many observers were shocked.

Yet concern about Zilmax and the class of growth-promotion drugs called beta agonists has been building for some time. In an interesting twist, the decisive pressure on Zilmax did not come from animal welfare groups or government regulators: It emerged from within the beef industry itself, and from academic experts who have long worked as consultants to the industry.

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5:38pm

Wed August 21, 2013
Science

Defining A Hole Presents A Philosophical Quandary

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 11:24 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

I'm Melissa Block. And a radio confession here. We had a hole in our program right here. We didn't have a piece just the right length to fill out this segment. It happens occasionally. Well, all summer, NPR science correspondent Joe Palca has been helping us get rid of these little holes with some short stories about holes.

JOE PALCA, BYLINE: Today, we're going to examine the question, what is a hole anyway? What's it made of?

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4:55pm

Wed August 21, 2013
Shots - Health News

Deadly Middle East Coronavirus Found In An Egyptian Tomb Bat

Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 7:09 am

So cute, but not cuddly. The Egyptian tomb bat, Taphozous perforatus, is a likely carrier of the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus, or MERS.
Courtesy of Jonathan H. Epstein/EcoHealth Alliance

For nearly a year, disease detectives around the world have been trying to track down the source of a mysterious new virus in the Middle East that has infected 96 people and killed 47 since September.

Now it looks like they've pinpointed at least one place where the virus is hiding out.

Scientists at Columbia University have detected the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus, or MERS, in a bat near the home of a man who died from the disease. The team found a small fragment of the virus's genes in the animal that matches perfectly with those seen in the patient.

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3:35pm

Wed August 21, 2013
Animals

On A Rocky Maine Island, Puffins Are Making A Tenuous Comeback

Originally published on Wed August 21, 2013 8:12 pm

A puffin prepares to land with a bill full of fish on Eastern Egg Rock, off the Maine coast in July. Last year young puffins died at an alarming rate from starvation because of a shortage of herring.
Robert F. Bukaty AP

Rocky, windswept Eastern Egg Rock, about 6 miles off the coast of Maine, was once a haven for a hugely diverse bird population. But in the 1800s, fishermen decimated the birds' ranks — for food and for feathers.

When ornithologist Stephen Kress first visited 40 years ago, the 7-acre island was nearly barren, with only grass and gulls left. Not a puffin in sight. Not even an old puffin bone.

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