Tue July 16, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Reading Science: A Story Of Consensus And Community

Located 1,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Perseus, a reflection nebula called NGC 1333 epitomizes the beautiful chaos of a dense group of stars being born. Most of the visible light from the young stars in this region is obscured by the dense, dusty cloud in which they formed.
Spitzer Space Telescope NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. A. Gutermuth

How does science make progress? How do scientists know what they claim to know? What does it mean when scientists say they have come to a consensus?

These questions are far more than academic. We live in a world where issues of science and technology dominate headlines and policy. In that way, science and its claims effect the very real world choices we all face in domains as varied as climate change, genetically modified foods and the uses of Big Data.

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Tue July 16, 2013

Om Nom Nom: T. Rex Was, Indeed, A Voracious Hunter

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 10:44 am

Mind The Teeth: Fossils indicate that Tyrannosaurus rex was an active hunter, in addition to being a scavenger. And in Jurassic Park, it also had a sweet tooth for lawyers.
Universal Pictures Getty Images

Tyrannosaurus rex is perhaps one of the most famous animals to have ever roamed the Earth. This huge, fierce meat-eater has graced Hollywood films as the perpetual villain, and it has played a notorious role in the science community that studies it, too.

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Mon July 15, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Human Emotions Explained In 60 Short Interviews

In some sense we're all experts in emotion. We experience emotion every day, all the time. We constantly observe the emotional responses of others, and we often make decisions based on anticipated emotions: we pursue something because we think it will make us happy, or avoid something because we worry it will anger someone else.

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Mon July 15, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

I Bet I Can Create A 25 Million-Year-Old False Alarm, Says Biologist E.O. Wilson

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 4:33 pm

Noah Poritz Science Source

The world's most famous ant-scholar likes to daydream. "So much good science — and perhaps all of great science," he writes in his new book "has its roots in fantasy."

Here's his.

After seeing Jurassic Park, where scientists clone dinosaurs from the blood of ancient dino-biting mosquitoes,Wilson thought: Hmmm, that's a little far-fetched, but I bet I can do a version that might be "really and truly possible."

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Mon July 15, 2013
Shots - Health News

BPA-Free Plastics Going On Trial In Texas

Originally published on Mon July 15, 2013 10:05 am

PlastiPure helps manufacturers create water bottles and other plastic products that have no estrogenic activity.

Scientists and lawyers are scheduled to debate the safety of certain "BPA-free" plastics this week in a U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas.

At issue is whether a line of plastic resins marketed by Eastman Chemical contains chemicals that can act like the hormone estrogen, and perhaps cause health problems.

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Sat July 13, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Keeping Score: How To Understand Baseball

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 7:13 am

Mike Ehrmann Getty Images

In Thursday's New York Times there's an article on keeping a score card by hand at baseball games. Who does it anymore? Fewer and fewer people, according to the article. Why bother when you can enjoy a live play-by-play on your handheld device? And if you insist on keeping score yourself, there are apps you can download that make it much easier than doing it by hand.

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Sat July 13, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

'Why You? Why Now?' A Med Student's Journal

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 8:02 am

I guess doctors, especially doctors-in-training, have to get used to sudden, inexplicable endings. You are trained to heal. That's the goal, that's the point. But every so often, you don't win. Something you didn't see coming, comes. I don't know which hurts more, the 'suddenly' or the 'why?" If the patient is clearly dying, it's easier. You can prepare.

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Fri July 12, 2013
The Two-Way

5 Stars: A Mosquito's Idea Of A Delicious Human

Originally published on Fri July 12, 2013 2:48 pm

Many criteria — from blood type to body temperature — can play a role in affecting who attracts mosquitoes.

If mosquitoes used Yelp, they might look for their next meal by searching nearby for a heavy-breathing human with Type O blood, sporting a red shirt and more than a smattering of skin bacteria. Preferably either pregnant or holding a beer.

That's some of what we take away from a post today on the Surprising Science blog from the Smithsonian.

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Fri July 12, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

The Hardest Thing To Find In The Universe?

Originally published on Sat July 13, 2013 3:06 am

What is rarer than a shooting star?

Rarer than a diamond?

Rarer than any metal, any mineral, so rare that if you scan the entire earth, all six million billion billion kilos or 13,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pounds of our planet, you would find only one ounce of it?

What is so rare it has never been seen directly, because if you could get enough of it together, it would self-vaporize from its own radioactive heat?

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Fri July 12, 2013
The Salt

Heavy Rains Send Iowa's Precious Soil Downriver

Originally published on Tue July 16, 2013 1:33 pm

Soil erosion after five inches or more of rain fell in one hour across portions of Western Iowa in 2013.
USDA Natural Resources Conservation

What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, the Midwest was heading into one of the worst droughts in decades. Now much of the region is soggy.

But the biggest loser from this year's heavy rains? The land itself.

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