Science

10:35am

Mon August 12, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Is There Existential Meaning Beyond Religion?

A man reaches for a wooden cross in the sea during an Epiphany ceremony in the Greek port of Thessaloniki on January 6, 2011.
Sakis Mitrolidis AFP/Getty Images

Religious beliefs are often (though not always) comforting. The idea of an afterlife can be attractive. Ideas like fate and destiny — or simply things happen for a reason — can make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It's nice to think that humans have a purpose, that we were put here for some reason, that the natural world is meaningful.

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8:31am

Mon August 12, 2013
Monkey See

Can You Really Dissolve A Guy In A Bathtub? 'Mythbusters' Tackles 'Breaking Bad'

Adam Savage and Aaron Paul trade some information on Monday night's Mythbusters.
Don Feria Discovery

Perhaps you heard that last night, a plucky little drug dealer named Walter White returned to television for his last eight episodes of the award-hoarding Breaking Bad.

But before he began his life of crime, Walter White was a chemistry teacher, and chemistry is what originally made him such a great meth cook. Breaking Bad has always included a lot of science talk, especially in the early days, and the time has come for someone to see whether it holds up.

And by "someone," I mean "Mythbusters."

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5:49pm

Sun August 11, 2013
Environment

The Algae Is Coming, But Its Impact Is Felt Far From Water

Chinese beachgoers walk by an algae-covered public beach in Qingdao, China, in July. The seas off China have been hit by their largest-ever growth of algae, ocean officials say, with waves of green growth washing onto the shores.
AFP/Getty Images

Algae blooms are green or red or brown, slimy, smelly and you don't want it coming soon to a waterfront near you.

Most of us don't give a lot of thought to algae until the furry-like monstrosity is spreading over beaches, rivers, lakes and bays, but gigantic algae blooms have become an increasing problem around the world.

The danger algae blooms pose is that they sap the body of water where they are growing of nutrients and oxygen; they then die, decompose and rot.

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7:10am

Sun August 11, 2013
Space

Sending Poetry To Mars

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 2:09 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now, to a story I'll do entirely in haiku, so bear with me. And just in case you need a primmer: just three lines of verse. Syllables are what counts here - five, seven, then five. For the last few months, scientists have collected haikus meant for Mars. Thousands of poets, pros and amateurs alike, submitted their work. The public then picked their favorite Mars haikus. We are fans of these, by Anonymous.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Reading) Mars, oh. Do forgive. We never meant to obstruct Your view of Venus.

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7:10am

Sun August 11, 2013
Food

With Ice Cubes, The Larger The Better

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 2:09 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. It is August. Chances are where you are it's hot. So, maybe you want a drink to cool off. Will it be fruity or fizzy, maybe boozy? Whatever it is, Dan Pashman, host of the Sporkful podcast, thinks you may be overlooking one key ingredient: the ice. He joins us now from our New York studios. Hey Dan.

DAN PASHMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Rachel.

MARTIN: So, ice. This seems like a fairly forgettable part of a beverage experience. You say, no. Why?

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7:10am

Sun August 11, 2013
Science

An Engineer Beats The Physics Of Traffic

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 2:09 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Ah, the road trip - one of the great American summer rituals. But sharing this great tradition with other road trippers can also be intensely frustrating. Perhaps you've found yourself wondering why traffic jams take so long to clear up or why they seem to last so much longer than a crash. Well, Bill Beaty is a research engineer at the University of Washington. He has a little advice about that.

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6:12pm

Sat August 10, 2013
Shots - Health News

Booze Restores Vigor, Nine Of 10 Charlatans Agree

Originally published on Sat August 10, 2013 8:05 pm

When dealing with aches and pains, sometimes the best way to get better is to feel better — and fast. Some popular medicines of old favored additives like cocaine.
Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine

Feeling bilious? Have a swig of tonic. Got a kid with a toothache? A dab of cocaine tooth powder could do the trick.

Much to the shock of our 21st-century sensibilities, popular remedies of the late 19th century often contained strong mind-altering substances like cocaine and opium. And while patients may not have understood what the ingredients were or what they did, these heavy-hitting patent drugs could deliver a feeling of well-being, which may, in some cases, have led to actual well-being.

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12:24pm

Sat August 10, 2013
Digital Life

TED Radio Hour: The Hackers

Originally published on Sun August 11, 2013 7:43 am

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

Time now for an idea worth spreading from the TED Radio Hour. What if there were a way to hack into your brain and make your life better. Neurosurgeon Andres Lozano is doing just that. He told host Guy Raz how.

DR. ANDRES LOZANO: We are able to adjust the activity of circuits in the brain by using electricity...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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7:41am

Sat August 10, 2013
Science

When Power Goes To Your Head, It May Shut Out Your Heart

Originally published on Sun August 11, 2013 9:52 am

Neuroscientists have found evidence to suggest feeling powerful dampens a part of our brain that helps with empathy.
Vladgrin istockphoto.com

Even the smallest dose of power can change a person. You've probably seen it. Someone gets a promotion or a bit of fame and then, suddenly, they're a little less friendly to the people beneath them.

So here's a question that may seem too simple: Why?

If you ask a psychologist, he or she may tell you that the powerful are simply too busy. They don't have the time to fully attend to their less powerful counterparts.

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12:40pm

Fri August 9, 2013
The Salt

Wine Waste Finds Sweet Afterlife In Baked Goods

Originally published on Sat August 10, 2013 11:26 am

At her bakery in Costa Mesa, Calif., Rachel Klemek sells cabernet brownies made with a flour substitute derived from grape pomace, a byproduct of winemaking packed with nutrients known as polyphenols.
Mariana Dale NPR

When winemakers crush the juice from grapes, what's left is a goopy pile of seeds, stems and skins called pomace. Until several years ago, these remains were more than likely destined for the dump.

"The pomace pile was one of the largest problems that the wine industry had with sustainability," says Paul Novak, general manager for WholeVine Products, a sister company to winemaker Kendall-Jackson in Northern California.

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