Science

5:27am

Thu July 25, 2013
The Two-Way

Steam And Groundwater Raise Concern At Japanese Nuclear Plant

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 10:01 am

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) workers work on waste water tanks at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in the town of Okuma, Fukushima prefecture in Japan on June 12, 2013.
Noboru Hashimoto AFP/Getty Images

3:38am

Thu July 25, 2013
Environment

La. Flood Board Sues Oil Industry Over Wetlands

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 11:49 am

Canals created for navigation and oil and gas pipelines cut through the marsh off the coast of Louisiana, seen in 2010.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Since the 1930s, Louisiana has lost roughly as much land as makes up the state of Delaware.

"If you put the state of Delaware between New Orleans and the ocean, we wouldn't need any levees at all," says John Barry, vice president of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. "There is this large buffer of land that has disappeared, and that buffer makes New Orleans much more vulnerable to hurricanes."

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5:48pm

Wed July 24, 2013
Environment

What's Swimming In The River? Just Look For DNA

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 7:34 pm

Biologists normally look for the hellbender slamander, which is known by the nickname "snot otter," under rocks in streams. But now there's a gentler way: They can take water samples and look for traces of the animals' DNA.
Robert J. Erwin Science Source

If you want to protect rare species, first you have to find them. In the past few years, biologists have developed a powerful new tool to do that. They've discovered that they can often find traces of animal DNA in streams, ponds — even oceans.

The idea took root just five years ago, when biologists in France found they could detect invasive American bullfrogs simply by sampling pond water and looking for an exact genetic match to the frogs' DNA.

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12:44pm

Wed July 24, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The World's Oldest Known Calendar Discovered In Scotland

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 1:11 pm

The moon is one of the most obvious natural indicators that the passing of time follows a pattern and can be tracked in a useful way.
Bill McKelvie iStockphoto.com

In general terms, there are two eras that characterize the 200,000 years or so of human presence on Earth: first, and for most of this time, the hunter-gatherers, nomadic groups that roamed the land in search of food and shelter. Then came what we call "civilization," product of the fixation of larger groups around fertile areas. Presumably, the first were the Natufians some time around 10,000 BCE, along the swath of land between Israel and Jordan.

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8:13am

Wed July 24, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Who Does A Better Wave? Sports Fans Or Hippos?

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 10:43 am

Robert Krulwich NPR

Professor William Barklow was on vacation when this happened. He was in Tanzania sitting on a river bank gazing about, when all of a sudden a hippopotamus pushed its head out of the river right in front of him, opened its huge mouth and bellowed.

It was really loud. Barklow could feel sound waves hitting his chest, his neck; he could hear the cry echoing along the riverbank. He knew next to nothing about hippos being himself a bird man, a specialist on the North American loon, but he was intrigued by what happened next.

Hippo Chorusing

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3:04am

Wed July 24, 2013
Code Switch

Being In The Minority Can Cost You And Your Company

Originally published on Wed July 24, 2013 11:59 am

The racial wage gap in the United States — the gap in salary between whites and blacks with similar levels of education and experience — is shaped by geography, according to new social science research.

The larger the city, the larger the racial wage gap, according to researchers Elizabeth Ananat, Shihe Fu and Stephen L. Ross, whose findings were recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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6:16pm

Tue July 23, 2013
Animals

Nevada Wildfire Could Snuff Out A Rare Butterfly

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 7:10 pm

The Mount Charleston blue butterfly is a rare species found only in a few small areas high up in Nevada's Spring Mountains.
Corey Kallstrom USFWS

A big wildfire in a mountain range just west of Las Vegas has put at risk the Mount Charleston blue butterfly, a rare species found in the U.S.

The fire is dying down, but it may be weeks before experts can get to the remarkable area where this butterfly lives to see if it made it through.

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4:30pm

Tue July 23, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Can You Trust A Robot? Let's Find Out

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 4:47 pm

While Hollywood has firmly planted the idea in our minds that robots may very well turn out to be evil, academic research into dangerous interactions between humans and robots has only just begun.
The Halcyon Company The Halcyon Company

When they come — and they are coming — will the robots we deploy into human culture be capable of evil? Well, perhaps "evil" is too strong a word. Will they be capable of inflicting harm on human beings in ways that go beyond their programing?

While this may seem like a question for the next installment of The Terminator franchise (or The Matrix or whatever, pick your favorite), it's a serious question in robotics and it's being taken up by researchers now.

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4:13pm

Tue July 23, 2013
Space

NASA Uses Photo Of Earth From Saturn To Boost Space Interest

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 11:29 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This week, NASA is trying to do its part to raise science literacy. To give people a better understanding of Earth's position in the solar system, the agency's posted a picture of our planet taken from a billion miles away, give or take 100 million miles or so. And joining me now to talk about the picture, and why NASA took it, is NPR's Joe Palca. Joe, good to see you.

JOE PALCA, BYLINE: Good to see you.

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3:54pm

Tue July 23, 2013
The Two-Way

The Big Stink: D.C.'s Corpse Flower Put On A Show

Originally published on Tue July 23, 2013 8:50 pm

The color of the corpse flower is meant to mimic the color of rotting flesh and raw meat.
Heather Rousseau NPR

The line to see the thing that was supposed to smell like rotting flesh wrapped around the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., on Monday night. Most folks who braved the heat and hourlong wait weren't greeted with the overwhelming stench of death, but rather the smell of sweat and intense, intense humidity.

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