Science

1:30pm

Tue May 28, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The 'Brilliant Blunders' Of Science: Success Through Failure

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 4:03 pm

William Thomson Kelvin (1824 - 1907) who proposed the absolute or Kelvin temperature scale. He also established the second law of thermo-dynamics. He was brilliant. But he wasn't perfect.
W. & D. Downey Getty Images

"Experience is the name everyone gives their mistakes" said Oscar Wilde and it is true that, hopefully, we all learn from our mistakes. But what about science?

In school we learn about the scientific method and its emphasis on observation, hypothesis and experiments. Clearly mistakes are an important part of the process. It has even been said that the point of science is to make as many mistakes as possible as fast as possible. Still, what about the really big mistakes?

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12:04pm

Tue May 28, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Not Winging It, But Ringing It

YouTube

Humans do it with smoke.

Dolphins do it with air.

With a little snort, dolphins can produce a nearly perfect "air" rings, (sophisticated non-dolphins called them toroidal vortices) which they turn into underwater toys.

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4:53am

Tue May 28, 2013
Research News

Why Do Whistle-Blowers Become Whistle-Blowers?

Originally published on Tue May 28, 2013 7:58 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene, good morning

Let's say you're at work and you find a document that shows your company has been giving out misleading information. Or, let's say you see a co-worker act in an abusive or unethical manner. Would you speak up? Well, social scientists have been asking why whistle-blowers become whistle-blowers.

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5:17pm

Mon May 27, 2013
The Two-Way

Beneath A Glacier's White, Researchers See Green

Originally published on Wed May 29, 2013 8:52 am

The small patch in the middle of the image is Aulacomnium turgidum, a type of bryophyte plant. Researchers in the Canadian Arctic say they are surprised the bryophytes were still green, even after being covered by ice.
Courtesy of Caroline La Farge

In the news business, an evergreen is a story that doesn't have to run on a particular day, but can stay fresh for a long time.

This is an evergreen story about an evergreen. In particular, a group of plants called bryophytes. Turns out they may be evergreen quite a bit longer than most people thought.

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8:33am

Mon May 27, 2013
Author Interviews

Questions For Barbara J. King, Author Of 'How Animals Grieve'

iStockphoto.com

Attributing human characteristics to animals makes for great cartoons, but it's not usually considered rigorous science. Now, a new book argues that animals do think and feel in ways similar to humans.

Barbara J. King is a professor of anthropology and a commentator on NPR's science blog, 13.7. And her book, How Animals Grieve, makes a powerful case for the presence of love, affection and grief in animals — from a house cat mourning her lost sister to elephants who pay respects to the bones of their matriarchs.

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8:03am

Mon May 27, 2013
The Salt

A Hungarian Cherry Tree's Long Trek To Michigan

Amy Iezzoni of Michigan State University brought Balaton cherries to America.
Dan Charles NPR

Once upon a time, there was a small Hungarian village that was very proud of its sour cherries. The village was called Újfehértó. As in many Hungarian villages, tall cherry trees lined the streets and provided welcome shade in the summertime.

When communism came to Hungary after World War II, the government introduced big collective farms, and Hungarian scientists had to decide which cherries the farms should grow.

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4:55pm

Sun May 26, 2013
Science

Scientists Trace Source Of Famed Irish Potato Famine

Originally published on Sun May 26, 2013 5:25 pm

We now know what caused the Irish potato famine. Scientists have pinpointed the pathogen by using plant samples collected in the mid-19th century. Weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden talks about it with the study's co-author, Sophien Kamoun of the Sainsbury Lab in the United Kingdom.

6:28am

Sat May 25, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

What If There's No Internet?

Originally published on Sat May 25, 2013 3:38 pm

Vimeo

I email. I search. I shop. I Facebook. I stream. I Skype. Every year I seem to do these things a little bit more. Stroke by stroke, as I slip deeper into the Internet's embrace, I find myself wondering:

"What would happen if the Internet went away?"

Can it? It was famously built to be indestructible, with no center, no hub, no "off" or "on" switch. It is, after all, a creature of the U.S. Defense Department, designed, supposedly, to survive a global war.

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4:08pm

Fri May 24, 2013
The Two-Way

Ring Nebula Is More Like A Jelly Doughnut, NASA Says

The famous Ring Nebula is shown here in striking detail, in a composite image made from images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and infrared data from telescopes on Earth.
NASA, ESA, C.R. Robert O'Dell, G.J. Ferland, W.J. Henney and M. Peimbert

The Ring Nebula, whose iconic shape and large size make it a favorite of amateur astronomers, can now be seen in new detail, after NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a sharp image of the nebula. Researchers say the new clarity reveals details that were previously unseen, and a structure that's more complex than scientists had believed.

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4:08pm

Fri May 24, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Who Defines Who We Are?

Istanbul
Mustafa Ozer AFP/Getty Images

In The Third Chimpanzee, Jared Diamond offers a clever — if speculative — theory of the origins of race. After first dismissing the idea that racial differences are functional adaptations to different climates, he proposes that the tendency for certain people to look alike in respect of facial features, skin color, body type, etc., is a consequence of the fact that people mostly choose to reproduce with people like themselves.

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