Science

8:04am

Wed July 31, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Genetically Modified Organisms: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

An Argentine farmer stands by his field of trangenic soy, designed for resistance to drought and salinity.
Juan Mabromata AFP/Getty Images

Rarely is the relationship between science and everyone so direct as it is in the case of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), in particular foods. It is one thing to turn on your plasma TV or talk on your iPhone; it is an entirely different proposition to knowingly ingest something that has been modified in the lab.

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1:28pm

Tue July 30, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Mysterious Dancing Lights In Afghanistan

Courtesy of Michael Yon

This isn't a painting. It's not from a movie. It's not a strange astronomical event. This is real — what you can see when certain helicopters in Afghanistan touch down on sandy ground, raising dust, causing mysterious arcs of light to loop and dance through the air.

This doesn't always happen. "The halos usually disappear as the rotors change pitch," wrote war photographer Michael Yon. "On some nights, on this very same landing zone, no halos form." How come?

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10:30am

Tue July 30, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Black Holes + Wormholes = Quantum Answers

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 9:37 pm

An artist's impression shows the area around a supermassive black hole at the heart of the galaxy NGC 3783 in the southern constellation of Centaurus. Could a wormhole connect one black hole to another elsewhere in the Universe, creating an entangled pair?
M. Kornmesser ESO

If physicists had a holy grail it would go by the name of Quantum Gravity.

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3:15am

Tue July 30, 2013
Research News

For Some Mammals It's One Love, But Reasons Still Unclear

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 11:11 am

Golden lion tamarins are one species that are largely monogamous.
Felipe Dana AP

Fewer than 10 percent of all mammal species are monogamous. In fact, biologists have long disagreed over why monogamy exists at all. That's the subject of two studies published this week — and they come to different conclusions.

Animals that leave the most offspring win the race to spread their genes and to perpetuate their lineage. So for most mammals, males have a simple strategy: Mate with as many females as possible.

"Monogamy is a problem," says Dieter Lukas, a biologist at Cambridge University. "Why should a male keep to one female?"

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5:27pm

Mon July 29, 2013
Law

Legal Battles Over Land Rights, Pipelines Are On The Rise

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 9:01 pm

The Crosstex NGL Pipeline is just one such project in the country that has forced long, unwanted legal battles between oil companies and landowners.
Mose Buchele KUT

At Margaret O'Keefe's farm in East Texas, they grow high-quality Bermuda grass. The fields are flat and vibrant green, surrounded by woods of a darker, richer green. The family loves this land. O'Keefe inherited it from her mother, who divided it among eight children.

"She used to call it 'enchanted valley,' " O'Keefe says.

But her "enchanted valley" also lies in the path of the Crosstex NGL Pipeline.

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4:50pm

Mon July 29, 2013
Environment

Once Resilient, Trees In The West Now More Vulnerable To Fires

Originally published on Thu August 22, 2013 2:24 pm

The remains of a tree are seen in front of a boulder in the Dome Wilderness area of New Mexico in August 2012. The Las Conchas Fire torched the land in 2011, burning through more than 150,000 acres of forest.
David Gilkey NPR

On any given day, there's a wildfire burning somewhere in the U.S. — and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Many western forests have evolved with fire, and actually benefit from the occasional wildfire.

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12:35pm

Mon July 29, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

What It's Like To Drop 150,000 Feet Straight Down

Originally published on Mon July 29, 2013 1:55 pm

YouTube

If I say "meet me 28 miles from here," that doesn't seem very far, right? You could take a taxi, a bus; if pushed you might even make it on a bike.

But what if the 28 miles is not on a road or a highway, but straight up, 150,000 feet — that's high. So high, we're out of the life zone. Up in the silence.

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12:17pm

Mon July 29, 2013
The Salt

Farm To Fido: Dog Food Goes Local

Originally published on Wed July 31, 2013 9:53 am

Producers of farm-to-dog-bowl food say the concept is more about locavorism and sustainability than about pampering pooches.
Heather Rousseau NPR

The email read: "We signed a contract for farm-to-bowl dog food product development today, I kid you not :)"

The note was from a friend, Wendy Stuart, who consults on food access and sustainability issues. Even so, our first reaction was: Really?

It's easy to dismiss the concept as the culinary equivalent of a diamond dog collar or a Versace pet bowl.

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10:02am

Mon July 29, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The 'Prisoner's Dilemma' Tests Women In And Out Of Jail

iStockphoto.com

I just learned something interesting about women in prison, and it wasn't by watching Orange is the New Black.

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3:00am

Mon July 29, 2013
Energy

Massive Solar Plant A Stepping Stone For Future Projects

Originally published on Mon July 29, 2013 12:33 pm

The Ivanpah solar project in California's Mojave Desert will be the largest solar power plant of its kind in the world.
Josh Cassidy KQED

The largest solar power plant of its kind is about to turn on in California's Mojave Desert.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System will power about 140,000 homes and will be a boon to the state's renewable energy goals, but it was no slam dunk. Now, California is trying to bring conservationists and energy companies together to create a smoother path for future projects.

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