Science

2:02pm

Wed April 10, 2013
The Two-Way

Test-Tube Baby Pioneer Dies

Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 2:27 pm

Dr. Robert Edwards holds the world's first "test-tube baby," Louise Brown, on July 25, 1978. A midwife stands in the center, with gynecologist Patrick Steptoe on the right.
Keystone Getty Images

The man whose research led to the world's first test-tube baby more than three decades ago, has died at age 87.

Robert Edwards, who later won the Nobel Prize, began experimenting with in vitro fertilization, or IVF, in the late 1960s. His work, controversial at the time, eventually led to the birth of the world's first "test tube baby," Louise Brown, on July 25, 1978.

Since then, IVF has resulted in about 5 million babies worldwide, according to the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology.

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12:33pm

Wed April 10, 2013
The Salt

A Battle Over Antibiotics In Organic Apple And Pear Farming

Originally published on Sun April 14, 2013 11:31 am

Note: We've updated the headline on this post for the sake of clarity. To be clear, it's the apple and pear tree blossoms that get sprayed with antibiotics, not the fruit itself.

Apples and especially pears are vulnerable to a nasty bacterial infection called fire blight that, left unchecked, can spread quickly, killing fruit trees and sometimes devastating whole orchards.

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12:24pm

Wed April 10, 2013
Shots - Health News

Patent Medicines Get A Belated Chemical Checkup

Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 9:04 am

Dr. Sawen's Magic Nervine Pills contained calcium, iron, copper and potassium. Despite advertising claiming they were free of lead and mercury, both elements were found in the pills.
Courtesy of Mark Benvenuto

The patent medicines sold in days gone by may, contrary to the name, not have had real government patents. But that didn't stop their makers from claiming the concoctions could cure ailments ranging from indigestion to jaundice and fever.

Now, researchers have put some of these old elixirs and pills in the Henry Ford Museum's large collection of patent medicines to a modern test. They found a mix of potentially harmful metals like lead and mercury along with benign ingredients, including calcium and iron.

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9:08am

Wed April 10, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Our Dark Materials

Science has been working to shed light on the nature of the Universe for 400 years.
Alberto Pomares iStockphoto.com

The history of science is filled with obscure and bizarre substances. Despite all that we have learned in the past 400 years, the trend continues. Perhaps it's unavoidable, being the way we figure things out. We need to find some apparently weird stuff — playing a game of cat and mouse with Nature — in order to make sense of what's out there.

With time, most strange substances disappear as we understand what is going on. But, hard as we try, we always seem to be surrounded by some unknown material. It is a fog that doesn't ever seem to fully dissipate.

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5:34pm

Tue April 9, 2013
Shots - Health News

Genetically Modified Rat Is Promising Model For Alzheimer's

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 7:34 pm

Scientists hope a new genetically modified rat will help them find Alzheimer's drugs that work on humans.
Ryumin Alexander ITAR-TASS/Landov

A rat with some human genes could provide a better way to test Alzheimer's drugs.

The genetically modified rat is the first rodent model to exhibit the full range of brain changes found in Alzheimer's, researchers report in The Journal of Neuroscience.

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4:38pm

Tue April 9, 2013
Environment

Energy Secretary Nominee Dodges Question On Gas Exports

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 7:34 pm

A U.S. Senate committee held a confirmation hearing for Ernest Moniz on Tuesday, who has been nominated to be the U.S. Energy Secretary. Moniz says he will retire from MIT, where he's a professor of physics and energy systems. He would advocate for the Obama administration's "all of the above" energy strategy, which calls for continued fossil fuels development and supports nuclear energy, wind and solar.

4:38pm

Tue April 9, 2013
Animals

Monkey Calls Could Offer Clues For Origin Of Human Speech

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 7:34 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is not the sound of the ALL THINGS CONSIDERED staff morning meeting.

(SOUNDBITE OF WOBBLE)

BLOCK: It's not Justin Timberlake doing his vocal warm-up. And it's not a celebration of hedge fund managers.

(SOUNDBITE OF WOBBLE)

BLOCK: It is the sound of the wild gelada monkey. And why are we bringing you the sound of the wild gelada monkey? Well, because a new study finds the vocalization of these monkeys could tell us something about the beginning of human speech.

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9:03am

Tue April 9, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Second Genesis: Looking For Aliens Here, There And Everywhere

Will we need to tread lightly, in deference to the locals, when finally do make it to Mars?
Pat Rawlings/SAIC NASA

Not too long ago I asked an astrobiologist colleague if he thought the search for life on Mars would be successful. His answer, delivered deadpan, stunned me.

"Oh I think we will find life on Mars," he said. "But the real question will be: Is it our life?" The point my friend was raising is the fundamental question of the solar system's second genesis.

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2:58am

Tue April 9, 2013
Animals

Starving Baby Sea Lions Flood Southern California Shores

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 9:14 am

More and more starving sea lions are being found stranded on California shores, and animal rehabilitation centers are at their maximum capacity. Experts say there are fewer fish for these mammals to feed on, but they don't know why.
Gloria Hillard NPR

In recent months, more than 1,000 starving baby sea lions have been found on Southern California beaches, from Santa Barbara to San Diego. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just declared the crisis an "unusual mortality event."

On a recent early morning, Peter Wallerstein is on the job on a beach near Marina del Rey, Calif. His white truck is a familiar sight along this coastline. Next to him, a small blond dog named Pumpkin rides shotgun.

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2:56am

Tue April 9, 2013
Research News

To Find Insider Trading, Follow The Kids' Money

Originally published on Tue April 9, 2013 9:14 am

iStockphoto.com

In New York and Washington, government regulators are cracking down on insider trading, the illegal practice in which people with internal information about important company events make stock market trades before ordinary investors find out what's happening.

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