Wed May 22, 2013
Shots - Health News

Scientific Tooth Fairies Investigate Neanderthal Breast-Feeding

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 12:54 pm

This model of a molar shows color-coded barium banding patterns that reveal weaning age.
Ian Harrowell, Christine Austin, Manish Arora Harvard School of Public Health

When it comes to weaning, humans are weird.

Our closest relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas, breast-feed their offspring for several years. Some baby orangutans nurse until they are 7 years old.

But modern humans wean much earlier. In preindustrial societies, babies stop nursing after about two years. Which raises the question: How did we get that way? When did we make the evolutionary shift from apelike parenting to the short breast-feeding period of humans?

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Wed May 22, 2013
The Salt

Could African Crops Be Improved With Private Biotech Data?

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 5:44 pm

The baobob fruit is one of the 100 traditional African food crops that a group of scientists want to learn more about to improve nutrition.
Alexander Joe AFP/Getty Images

"I'm shocked by the optimism here," Howard Yana-Shapiro, the chief agricultural officer for Mars Inc. said Tuesday to the audience of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Global Food Security Symposium in Washington, D.C.

Seated there before him were some of the leaders from the wealthiest international organizations and multinational companies of the fight to end hunger. And Shapiro told them they weren't even close.

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Wed May 22, 2013

The First Web Page, Amazingly, Is Lost

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 6:40 pm

This computer was the first Web server. It was used by Tim Berners-Lee in 1990 to develop and run the first multimedia browser and Web editor.

Given the World Wide Web's ubiquity, you might be tempted to believe that everything is online. But there's one important piece of the Web's own history that can't be found through a search engine: the very first Web page.

Now a team at the lab where the World Wide Web was invented is seeking to restore that page, and other pieces of memorabilia from the earliest moments of the http:// era. They're on the hunt for old hard drives and floppy disks that may hold missing copies of early, valuable files.

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Wed May 22, 2013
Shots - Health News

Research Reveals Yeasty Beasts Living On Our Skin

Originally published on Fri May 24, 2013 11:20 am

Fungi (cyan) surround a human hair within the skin. A study in the journal Nature shows the population of fungi on human skin is more diverse that previously thought.
Alex Valm, Ph.D.

Scientists have completed an unusual survey: a census of the fungi that inhabit different places on our skin. It's part of a big scientific push to better understand the microbes that live in and on our bodies.

"This is the first study of our fungi, which are yeast and other molds that live on the human body," says Julie Segre, of the National Human Genome Research Institute, who led the survey.

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Wed May 22, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Inevitable Question?


Last week I gave a lecture at a corporative event for some 200 executives in the insurance business. Although this happened abroad, my experience is that things would not have been very different here. My mission was to jump-start some macro-level reflection, gently pushing people out of their comfort zone, posing questions that, in the rush of everyday life, we tend to leave aside.

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Wed May 22, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

What Would Ben Franklin Do With A Bunch Of Balloons? Everything

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 5:40 pm

Robert Krulwich and Maggie Starbard NPR


Wed May 22, 2013
The Salt

How Genomics Solved The Mystery Of Ireland's Great Famine

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 10:52 am

This illustration from 1846 shows a starving boy and girl raking the ground for potatoes during the Irish Potato Famine, which began in the 1840s.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

An international group of plant pathologists has solved a historical mystery behind Ireland's Great Famine.

Sure, scientists have known for a while that a funguslike organism called Phytophthora infestans was responsible for the potato blight that plagued Ireland starting in the 1840s. But there are many different strains of the pathogen that cause the disease, and scientists have finally discovered the one that triggered the Great Famine.

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Wed May 22, 2013
Research News

Quantum Or Not, New Supercomputer Is Certainly Something Else

Originally published on Wed May 22, 2013 11:33 am

Google and NASA are betting that quantum forces are at work inside D-Wave's 512-bit chip.
Courtesy of D-Wave

It's exactly the sort of futuristic thinking you'd expect from Google and NASA: Late last week, the organizations announced a partnership to build a Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at NASA's Ames Research Center.

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Tue May 21, 2013
The Two-Way

Storm Chasers Seek Thrills, But Also Chance To Warn Others

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 6:33 pm

A tornado moves past homes in Moore, Okla. on Monday.
Alonzo Adams AP


Tue May 21, 2013
The Salt

Vertical 'Pinkhouses:' The Future Of Urban Farming?

Originally published on Thu May 23, 2013 5:58 pm

This "pinkhouse" at Caliber Biotherapeutics in Bryan, Texas, grows 2.2 million plants under the glow of blue and red LEDs.
Courtesy of Caliber Therapeutics

The idea of vertical farming is all the rage right now. Architects and engineers have come up with spectacular concepts for lofty buildings that could function as urban food centers of the future.

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