Science

8:48am

Fri August 9, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Beach Beasts On The Move

The Strandbeest pays a visit to Melbourne, Australia, in 2012.
Scott Barbour Getty Images

Theo Jansen, the artist, writes on his website that he is occupied with creating new forms of life:

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3:05am

Fri August 9, 2013
The Salt

Old Hawaiian Menus Tell Story Of Local Fish And Their Demise

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 3:53 pm

Colorful covers of menus from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (left) and the Monarch Room Royal Hawaiian Hotel.
New York Public Library

In the early to mid-1900s, the islands of Hawaii were a far-away, exotic destination. People who managed to get there often kept mementos of that journey including kitschy menus from Hawaiian fine dining restaurants and hotels like like Trader Vic's and Prince Kuhio's.

Now these old menus are serving a purpose beyond colorful relics from the past. Kyle Van Houtan, an ecologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says he's found a scientific purpose for the menus.

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3:03am

Fri August 9, 2013
All Tech Considered

Why Aren't More Girls Attracted To Physics?

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 9:05 pm

Girls are more likely to take high school physics if they see women in their communities working in science, technology, engineering and math, a new study finds.
Dominik Pabis iStockphoto.com

You don't need to be a social scientist to know there is a gender diversity problem in technology. The tech industry in Silicon Valley and across the nation is overwhelmingly male-dominated.

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7:04pm

Thu August 8, 2013
Shots - Health News

Experimental Malaria Vaccine Shows Promise In Human Test

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 11:02 am

A red blood cell infected with malaria parasites (blue) sits next to normal cells (red).
NIAID Flickr.com

A viable, effective vaccine against malaria has long eluded scientists. Results from a preliminary study have ignited hope that a new type of vaccine could change that.

The experimental vaccine offered strong protection against malaria when given at high doses, scientists report Thursday in the journal Science.

The study was extremely small and short-term. And the candidate vaccine still has a long way to go before it could be used in the developing world.

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5:06pm

Thu August 8, 2013
Environment

Swinging CO2 Levels Show The Earth Is 'Breathing' More Deeply

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 9:34 pm

Plants accumulate carbon in the spring and summer, and they release it back into the atmosphere in the fall in winter. And a change in the landscape of the Arctic tundra, seen here, means that shrubs hold onto snow better, which keeps the organic-rich soils warmer and more likely to release carbon dioxide that's stored there.
Jean-Erick Pasquier Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Plant life on our planet soaks up a fair amount of the carbon dioxide that pours out of our tailpipes and smokestacks. Plants take it up during the summer and return some of it to the air in the winter. And a new study shows that those "breaths" have gotten deeper over the past 50 years.

This isn't just a curiosity. Plant life is helping to reduce the speed at which carbon dioxide is building up in our atmosphere. That's slowing the global warming, at least marginally, so scientists are eager to understand how this process works. The new study provides some clues.

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2:27pm

Thu August 8, 2013
The Two-Way

U.S. 'Space Fence' Will Cease To Operate, Site Says

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 4:54 pm

A rendering of objects currently in Low Earth Orbit (not illustrated to scale). According to NASA, "approximately 95 percent of the objects in this illustration are orbital debris, i.e., not functional satellites."
NASA

A U.S. radar system that tracks thousands of objects orbiting Earth — from satellites to harmful debris — has been slated for shutdown, according to the Space News site. The ground-based network known as the "Space Fence" may cease to operate in October.

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1:27pm

Thu August 8, 2013
The Salt

Can Chocolate Boost Brain Health? Don't Binge Just Yet

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 2:10 pm

Researchers say one particular flavanol, (-)-epicatechin, may be the source of the brain benefits seen from consuming cocoa.
Philippe Huguen AFP/Getty Images

Wouldn't it be grand (and delicious) if we could boost our brain power with a daily dose of chocolate?

At first blush, a study published in the journal Neurology this week appears to offer tantalizing evidence that this may be the case, at least when it comes to seniors.

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12:44pm

Thu August 8, 2013
The Two-Way

NASA: Sun Getting Ready For A 'Field Flip'

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 3:05 pm

NASA/SDO

Our nearest star is about to pull a once-in-11-years move by swapping its north and south magnetic poles.

The sun's polarity switch is a natural part of "solar max" — the period of peak activity during what averages out to be roughly an 11-year cycle. According to NASA, this year will mark the fourth time since 1976 that scientists have observed the 180-degree pole flip.

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11:06am

Thu August 8, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Gigging The Edible Frog: An Inhumane Tradition

iStockphoto.com

Late last Friday afternoon, just about to relax into the weekend, I checked NPR.org to see what was new and ran smack into a story about a cruel tradition here in the American South: frog gigging.

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10:29am

Thu August 8, 2013
The Two-Way

Stars And Stripes: Pair Of Sumatran Tigers Born At National Zoo

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 1:03 pm

A Tigercubcam view of the new cubs, born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo on Monday.
Smithsonian's National Zoo

The Smithsonian's National Zoo has announced the birth of a pair of Sumatran tigers, a species that has dwindled to less than 500 in the wild. Both mother and cubs are reportedly doing well.

There was no immediate word Thursday on the sex of the cubs.

Four-year-old Damai gave birth on Monday. The new arrivals appear healthy, and so far, "Damai is being a great mom, and is nursing and grooming both cubs," the zoo says on its website.

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