Science

3:25am

Wed June 18, 2014
Science

Is Collecting Animals For Science A Noble Mission Or A Threat?

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 8:29 am

DNA from these crab plovers, collected in Djibouti, Africa, should help scientists figure out how the unusual species fits into the family tree, says the Smithsonian's Helen James.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Behind the scenes at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, there's a vast, warehouse-like room that's filled with metal cabinets painted a drab institutional green. Inside the cabinets are more than a half-million birds — and these birds are not drab. Their colorful feathers make them seem to almost glow.

Read more

6:15pm

Tue June 17, 2014
Environment

Plastics Don't Disappear, But They Do End Up In Seabirds' Bellies

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 8:33 pm

Plastic floats ashore in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Bay Ismoyo AFP/Getty Images

The vast majority of debris in the ocean — about 75 percent of it — is made of plastic. It can consist of anything from plastic bottles to packaging materials, but whatever form it takes, it doesn't go away easily.

While plastic may break down into smaller and smaller pieces, some as small as grains of sand, these pieces are never truly biodegradable. The plastic bits, some small enough that they're called microplastics, threaten marine life like fish and birds, explains Richard Thompson, a professor of marine biology at Plymouth University in the U.K.

Read more

4:59pm

Tue June 17, 2014
The Two-Way

Hubble To Search For Last Stop On Pluto Probe's Itinerary

Artist concept of New Horizons spacecraft. The Hubble Space Telescope is being pressed into service to help scientists look for a post-Pluto target for the space probe.
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

The Hubble Space Telescope is being pressed into service to search for a post-Pluto "icy body" as a last stop for NASA's New Horizons probe.

The Baltimore-based committee that metes out observing time for the HST announced today that it is allotting time to look for a suitable Kuiper Belt object for New Horizons to flyby after it passes close to Pluto in July 2015.

Read more

4:20pm

Tue June 17, 2014
The Salt

'Pink Slime' Is Making A Comeback. Do You Have A Beef With That?

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 4:36 pm

South Dakota-based meat processor Beef Products Inc. shows a sample of its lean, finely textured beef in September 2012.
AP

A much-maligned beef product that was once frequently added to hamburger is making a comeback. Two years ago, beef processors cut back sharply on producing what they call "lean, finely textured beef" after the nasty nickname for it, "pink slime," caught on in the media. Now, higher beef prices are leading to increased demand for the product.

To prepare, grocery stores and beef processors are getting ready for a new round of questions from consumers.

Read more

4:06pm

Tue June 17, 2014
Shots - Health News

Your Brain's Got Rhythm, And Syncs When You Think

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 4:47 pm

"Dance for PD" classes use music to temporarily ease tremors and get Parkinson's patients moving.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Even if you can't keep a beat, your brain can. "The brain absolutely has rhythm," says Nathan Urban, a neuroscientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

When you concentrate, Urban says, your brain produces rapid, rhythmic electrical impulses called gamma waves. When you relax, it generates much slower alpha waves.

Read more

1:37pm

Tue June 17, 2014
The Salt

Red Fish, Blue Fish: Where The Fish Flesh Rainbow Comes From

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 4:36 pm

Yellowfin tuna; Chinook salmon; lingcod; Pacific halibut.
Chang/iStockphoto; Debbi Smirnoff/iStockphoto; via TeachAGirlToFish; Andrea Pokrzywinski/Flickr

From red to white to orange to blue, fish flesh can land almost anywhere on the color spectrum.

What's behind this huge variation? A lot of things — from genetics to bile pigments. And parsing the rainbow can tell us something about where a fish came from, its swimming routine and what it ate.

Red yellowfin tuna: A classic of the sashimi counter, the yellowfin tuna is also the Michael Phelps of the fish world. And its athletic prowess has a lot to do with its ruby red flesh.

Read more

4:13pm

Mon June 16, 2014
The Two-Way

Finally! A Decent Espresso On The International Space Station

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 11:31 am

The new ISSpresso orbital espresso machine.
Argotec

Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, during his stay on the International Space Station last year, said the one thing he missed was a real cup of espresso.

Engineers on the ground in Italy were way ahead of him.

They had already been hard at work solving the problems of zero-gravity espresso, and now they're ready to launch ISSpresso, "the first capsule-based espresso system able to work in the extreme conditions of space."

Read more

2:30pm

Mon June 16, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Blame Your Brain: The Fault Lies Somewhere Within

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 3:33 pm

Hulton Archive Getty Images

Science doesn't just further technology and help us predict and control our environment. It also changes the way we understand ourselves and our place in the natural world. This understanding can inspire awe and a sense of grandeur.

Read more

1:26pm

Mon June 16, 2014
Shots - Health News

Microwave Helmet Could Diagnose Strokes As Patients Ride To Hospital

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 4:21 pm

Andreas Fhager, a biomedical engineer at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, adjusts the Strokefinder device on a test subject's head.
Gunilla Brocker

When a stroke hits, brain cells perish at an alarming rate. The faster a patient gets treatment, the less likely it is that he or she will suffer permanent damage.

But to pick the right treatment, doctors must find the underlying cause of the stroke fast.

Most strokes occur when a clot blocks blood flow in the brain. For the best results, treatment of those strokes with clotbusting drugs should start less than 90 minutes after onset.

Read more

7:40am

Mon June 16, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Lights, Lights, Lights, Action! A Crazy New Light Projector

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 12:25 pm

A dandypunk Vimeo

What can you do with a spotlight?

You can light a spot.

But what if you give yourself more options and invent a tool that lets light spill, splash or tighten into a beam as thin as a pencil line — a beam of light that can draw!

Draw what? Oh my God, so many things: a galloping unicorn, a friendly girl, a guy who kicks you in the face, a wormhole, a ball that splashes into a fluid, a cube, a spiral, a rabbit, a squid, a scribble.

Read more

Pages