Science

4:22pm

Thu July 4, 2013
Science

Exploding The Mystery Of Blue Fireworks

Originally published on Thu July 4, 2013 9:58 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

If you're watching fireworks tonight, here's how you can tell you're looking at a top-shelf display and not some cut-rate carnival sideshow. Look for the blue fireworks. Are they true blue, not pale or purple or mauve?

The color blue has been the Holy Grail for pyrotechnics experts since fireworks were invented more than a millennium ago. It's by far the hardest color to produce. But why? For that, we turn to John Conkling. He's technical director of the American Pyrotechnics Association. John Conkling, welcome.

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6:24pm

Wed July 3, 2013
Space

Why You Can't Name New Moons And Planets Anything You Want

Originally published on Tue July 9, 2013 12:38 pm

This artist's illustration shows Pluto and one of its moons, Charon. A global consortium of astronomers sets the rules for naming things like asteroids and moons throughout the solar system.
Detlev van Ravenswaay Science Source

A dispute over the names of two new moons of Pluto is highlighting a broader battle over who names what in our solar system and beyond. On one side is the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a venerable consortium of astronomers who have set the naming rules for the better part of a century. On the other side, a growing number of astronomers who feel the IAU has unfairly designated itself as the intergalactic naming police.

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4:52pm

Wed July 3, 2013
Shots - Health News

Scientists Grow A Simple, Human Liver In A Petri Dish

Originally published on Thu July 4, 2013 9:48 am

"Liver buds" grow in petri dishes. The rudimentary organs are about 5 mm wide, or half the height of a classic Lego block.
Courtesy of Takanori Takebe/Yokohama City University Graduate School of Medicine

Japanese scientists have cracked open a freaky new chapter in the sci-fi-meets-stem-cells era. A group in Yokohama reported it has grown a primitive liver in a petri dish using a person's skin cells.

The organ isn't complete. It's missing a few parts. And it will be years --maybe decades — before the technique reaches clinics.

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4:47pm

Wed July 3, 2013
Environment

Film Rankles Environmentalists By Advocating Nuclear Power

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 7:25 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In a new documentary, filmmaker Robert Stone explores this paradox. Why do so many environmentalists concerned about climate change reject the most abundant source of low-carbon energy, nuclear power? The film, "Pandora's Promise," follows five people who changed their anti-nuclear stance in light of climate change.

NPR's Richard Harris has our story.

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4:03pm

Wed July 3, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

More Is Different: Nature's Unruly Complexity

Like layers in a pizza, each layer of material organization in Nature needs to be understood on its own terms and cannot be reduced to a base that explains the whole.
iStockphoto.com

According to reductionism, every system, no matter how complex, can be understood in terms of the behavior of its basic constituents. The focus is on the bottom layer of the material chain: matter is made of molecules; molecules of atoms; atoms of electrons, protons, and neutrons; protons and neutrons of quarks; we don't know if the buck stops here or not.

At the biological level, organisms are composed of organs; organs of cells; cells of organic macromolecules; those of many atoms, etc.

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7:51am

Wed July 3, 2013
Humans

In Israel, Unearthing A Bed Of Flowers For Eternal Rest

Originally published on Wed July 3, 2013 2:37 pm

Karen Jang places flowers on the the grave of her late boyfriend, Vietnam veteran Francis Yee, during her Memorial Day visit to the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, in Dixon, Calif.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

If you died 55,000 years ago in the lands east of the Mediterranean, you'd be lucky to be buried in an isolated pit with a few animal parts thrown in. But new archaeological evidence shows that by about 12,000 years ago, you might have gotten a flower-lined grave in a small cemetery.

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5:51pm

Tue July 2, 2013
Science

15-Ton Particle Ring Travels To Chicago By Land And By Sea

Originally published on Tue July 2, 2013 8:12 pm

The Muon g-2 is very powerful electromagnet that creates a strong magnetic field, allowing scientists to store a special particle.
Charles Lane WSHU

It looks almost like the Millennium Falcon, creeping ever so slowing, taking up the entire roadway on New York's Long Island. A team of spotters walks alongside, calling out trees that need cutting and road signs that need to be taken down.

Its name is the Muon g-2 (pronounced g minus two) and it's a very powerful electromagnetic ring capable of carrying 5,200 amps of current, says Chris Polly, the lead scientist for the ring's experiments.

"It creates a very strong magnetic field that allows us to store a special particle called a muon," he says.

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4:12pm

Tue July 2, 2013
The Two-Way

NASA Has Shut Down Space Telescope Orbiting Earth

"The Galaxy Next Door" — This composite image of the Andromeda galaxy was produced by NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer, showing Andromeda's ultraviolet side. NASA sent a decommission command to the space telescope Friday.
NASA

NASA is sending a reliable servant into a retirement that will end with a fiery re-entry into Earth's atmosphere in about 65 years. That's the fate that awaits the Galaxy Evolution Explorer, the "galaxy hunter" space telescope whose original 29-month mission was extended to more than 10 years.

Along the way, the orbiting system, known as GALEX, helped scientists study how galaxies and stars are born, and how they change over time.

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1:02pm

Tue July 2, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Democracy, My Mother And Toast

Robert Krulwich NPR

When they proposed it in the 1770s, it was such a novel idea. That instead of a king anointed by God, instead of a sage, instead of one leader telling all of us what to do, we should, every four years, all of us, pick our own leader, who would serve for a season, and then, job done, gently depart.

Nothing like this had been tried for thousands of years. Somehow, together we would be wiser than a single king. We would lead ourselves.

In principle, democracy seems noble, beautiful even.

At my family dinner table, I wondered a little. More than a little.

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11:10am

Tue July 2, 2013
Shots - Health News

Savory And Sweet: A Taste For Infertility

Humans have long relied on the sense of taste in the struggle to survive and multiply. A bitter taste alerts us to a plant that may be poisonous. A sweet taste tells us that a plant is likely high in calories and can help sustain us.

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