My stepmother passed away last week. She was an extraordinary woman, full of life, who raised me since I was nine years old. In sharing the news with my older son, a graduate student in linguistics and second language acquisition at Indiana University, he said something that got me thinking: "Dad, in away, with the Internet everyone can achieve a kind of immortality. If you look for Grandma Lea I am sure you will find her. And so long as there are memory banks that are digitized, she will be there."
Check out this graph of America's "Growing Season" — it measures the number of continuous days and nights when it never gets below 32 degrees. You could call this our "frost-free" time of year. In many places, the frost-free season begins in the spring and ends somewhere in October.
As you can see, over the 20th century, it's been staying frost-free longer...and longer...and longer...
More than 20,000 high-temperature records have been broken so far this year in the United States. And the heat is especially bad in cities, which are heating up about twice as fast as the rest of the planet.
High temperatures increase the risk of everything from asthma to allergies, and can even be deadly. But a researcher in Atlanta also sees this urban heat wave as an opportunity to do something about our warming planet.
Originally published on Mon September 3, 2012 6:06 pm
The astronomer in me will tell you that summer officially ends on Sept. 22. That's the date of the Autumnal Equinox, the point in Earth's orbit where the hours of day and night are equal. That definition is fine for a scientific understanding of the cosmos, but when it comes to experience, we all know that summer really ends on Labor Day. And in that division between the ways we meter time (for science or business) and the way we actually live time, there is a Labor Day lesson we might keep close to our hearts all year long.
Originally published on Mon September 3, 2012 10:51 am
Credit Barbara J. King
Today The New York Times is running a nifty annotated list called "A History of New York in 50 Objects." Historians and museum curators chose for this project 50 objects that, to this anthropologist's eye, reflect the great significance of material culture in human life.
For each object listed, there's an interactive link.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. You've probably heard of your distant cousins the Neanderthals, but how about a more secretive member of the family tree, the Denisovans? Yeah, ring a bell? No? That's because traces of Denisovans are hard to come by.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY; I'm Ira Flatow. Five years ago this month, the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, sending a full load of rush-hour traffic into the Mississippi River. The disaster injured nearly 150 people, killed 13. The bridge was literally falling apart.