Science

11:32am

Thu June 13, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Why Dolphins Make Us Nervous

Robert Krulwich NPR

What is it about dolphins? They have very, very big brains, and that makes we humans, whose brains are nothing to sniff at, nervous. We don't know what to make of them.

The latest example: On May 17 in India, the Ministry of Environment and Forests issued an order to all Indian states banning dolphin amusement parks. No leaping out of pools to catch balls, no jumping through hoops. Forcing dolphins to entertain humans, the ministry said, was morally unacceptable.

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4:34am

Thu June 13, 2013
Animals

Fancy Feet: Wild Cheetahs Excel At Acceleration

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 6:02 am

Moyo, a 3-year-old male cheetah from South Africa, chases a lure during the Cheetah Dash event at the Animal Ark in Reno, Nev.
Kevin Clifford AP

Nature documentaries always go on and on about how fast a cheetah can run. Cats in captivity have been clocked at 65 miles an hour, the highest speed recorded for any land animal.

And yet, scientists know very little about how the animal runs in the wild, especially when on the hunt.

"You can look at it and say, 'Oh that's fast,' " says Alan Wilson, a veterinarian at the Royal Veterinary College, London. "But you can't actually describe what route it follows, or how quickly it's gone, or the details of [the] forces it has to exert to do that."

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4:20pm

Wed June 12, 2013
Movies

20 Years Later, Science In 'Jurassic Park' Shows Its Age

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 6:56 pm

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the classic film, Jurassic Park. Michael Dhar, a science writer and contributor to the website Live Science, tells Melissa Block and Audie Cornish about how the science featured in the movie holds up to what we know about dinosaurs today.

4:20pm

Wed June 12, 2013
Research News

AAA Study Finds Hands-Free Tech Dangerously Distracting

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 6:20 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The connected car promises voice-activated systems that let drivers dictate emails and texts, make a dinner reservation or update their Facebook page, all while behind the wheel. Some cars already have these options. Many more are on the way. Carmakers say it's safer than fiddling around with a smartphone.

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1:14pm

Wed June 12, 2013
Shots - Health News

Chopped: How Amputated Fingertips Sometimes Grow Back

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 3:38 pm

A little bit of nail can help a fingertip regrow.
Heather Rousseau NPR

When a kid lops off a fingertip with a cleaver or car door, there's a chance the end of the digit will grow back. The fingerprint will be gone, and the tip may look a bit strange. But the flesh, bone and nail could return.

Now biologists at New York University have figured out just how this lizard-like regeneration happens in mice. There's some secret sauce at the nail cuticle that makes it possible, scientists report Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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12:40pm

Wed June 12, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Modern Science And Our Sense Of Wonder

Reality? Of a kind.
iStockphoto.com

We think we know the real world; it's the one we perceive around us. All we have to do is open our eyes, sharpen our ears and we have a portrait of reality based on our senses. Most of us are perfectly happy with this construction, not knowing or caring that there is a whole lot of reality lurking beyond our senses, invisible and essential.

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9:48am

Wed June 12, 2013
Shots - Health News

Hands-Free Gadgets Don't Mean Risk-Free Driving

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 11:49 am

A University of Utah volunteer drives through Salt Lake City's Avenues neighborhood as a camera tracks her eye and head movement. Another device records driver reaction time, and a cap fitted with sensors charts brain activity.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

If you've felt smug and safe using built-in, voice-controlled technology for text messages, email and phone calls while driving, forget it. There are some sobering findings about the risk of distraction from the American Automobile Association and the University of Utah.

The proliferation of hands-free technology "is a looming public safety crisis," AAA CEO Robert Darbelnet says. "It's time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental distractions built into cars."

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5:16pm

Tue June 11, 2013
Around the Nation

Massive Bat Cave Stirs Texas-Size Debate Over Development

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 6:28 pm

Millions of bats live in Bracken Cave, in a rural area near San Antonio. Conservationists are worried that plans for a multithousand-unit housing development will disrupt the bat colony.
Eric Gay AP

The Bracken Bat Cave, just north of San Antonio, is as rural as it gets. You have to drive down a long, 2-mile rocky road to reach it. There's nothing nearby — no lights, no running water. The only thing you hear are the katydids.

The cave houses a massive bat colony, as it has for an estimated 10,000 years. Bat Conservation International, the group that oversees the Bracken Cave Reserve, wants it to stay secluded, but the area's rural nature could change if a local developer's plan moves forward.

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4:13pm

Tue June 11, 2013
Animals

To Crack Down On Rhino Poaching, Authorities Turn To Drones

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 6:20 pm

This young female rhinoceros, photographed in Kenya in 2011, was killed by ivory poachers a few months after this photo was taken.
Courtesy of Tom Snitch

A crowd of wildlife rangers gathered on a woody hillside in Nepal last year to try something they'd never done before. A man held what looked like an overgrown toy airplane in his right hand, arm cocked as if to throw it into the sky. As his fellow rangers cheered, he did just that. A propeller took over, sending it skyward.

The craft was an unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as a drone, though not the military kind. Its wingspan was about 7 feet, and it carried only a video camera that filmed the forest below.

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2:41pm

Tue June 11, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

A Brave New World: Big Data's Big Dangers

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 4:12 pm

Big Data may not be much to look at, but it can be powerful stuff. For instance, this is what the new National Security Agency (NSA) data center in Bluffdale, Utah, looks like.
George Frey Getty Images

New technologies are not all equal. Some do nothing more than add a thin extra layer to the top-soil of human behavior (i.e., Teflon and the invention of non-stick frying pans). Some technologies, however, dig deeper, uprooting the norms of human behavior and replacing them with wholly new possibilities. For the last few months I have been arguing that Big Data — the machine-based collection and analysis of astronomical quantities of information — represents such a turn.

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