Science

12:00pm

Fri December 28, 2012
NPR Story

Chef Jack Bishop on 'The Science of Good Cooking'

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 1:03 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY; I'm Ira Flatow. Chefs are like, a little bit like golfers: They're always looking for tips to improve their game. So as you prepare for the last big party of 2012 or the first one of 2013, we have some gastronomical tips to improve your cooking and baking skills and the reasons behind why they actually work.

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9:56am

Fri December 28, 2012
The Salt

An Evolutionary Whodunit: How Did Humans Develop Lactose Tolerance?

Originally published on Fri December 28, 2012 12:41 pm

Thousands of years ago, a mutation in the human genome allowed many adults to digest lactose and drink milk.
iStockphoto.com

Got milk? Ancient European farmers who made cheese thousands of years ago certainly had it. But at that time, they lacked a genetic mutation that would have allowed them to digest raw milk's dominant sugar, lactose, after childhood.

Today, however, 35 percent of the global population — mostly people with European ancestry — can digest lactose in adulthood without a hitch.

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4:20pm

Thu December 27, 2012
Research News

Birds Hang Around Mistletoe For More Than A Kiss

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 9:40 pm

Researchers in Australia found that when they removed mistletoe from large sections of forests, vast numbers of birds left.
BSIP UIG via Getty Images

For the Druids, mistletoe was sacred. For us, it's a cute ornament and maybe an excuse to steal a kiss. And of course it's a Christmas tradition.

But for a forest, mistletoe might be much more important. It's a parasite, shows up on tree branches and looks like an out-of-place evergreen bush hanging in the air.

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3:31pm

Thu December 27, 2012
U.S.

An Abundance Of Extreme Weather Has Many On Edge

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 9:40 pm

A parking lot full of yellow taxis is flooded as a result of Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 30 in Hoboken, N.J.
Charles Sykes AP

Opinion polls show 2012's extreme weather — producing wildfires, floods and drought — has more people making a connection with climate change. For Marti Andrews in southern New Jersey, a turning point was the summer's hurricane-like derecho.

"I don't want to say I freaked out about it, but holy crap, it scared me," she says. It packed winds up to 90 miles per hour and nonstop lightning, which Andrews says looked like some wild disco display in the sky.

"I've never seen anything like that," she says. "I sat there on the couch thinking, 'Oh my God, we're all gonna die!' "

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2:48pm

Thu December 27, 2012
The Picture Show

The Mars Rover Takes A Selfie

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 4:45 pm

Curiosity's self-portrait, captured on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
NASA/JPL/Caltech

Who hasn't turned a camera around at arm's length to snap a picture to send to friends or family? It always seems like it takes a few tries to frame the shot just right to capture both you and that awesome mountain summit behind you.

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10:39am

Thu December 27, 2012
Shots - Health News

Random Acts Of Kindness Can Make Kids More Popular

A hug is good for Mom, and good for her daughter.
iStockphoto.com

In the aftermath of Christmas, a parent could be forgiven for thinking that materialism has trumped human kindness.

Take heart. Children can easily become kinder and more helpful. And that behavior makes them more positive, more accepting and more popular.

At least that's how it worked for fourth- and fifth-graders in Vancouver, Canada. Researchers there have been studying empathy and altruism in schoolchildren for decades.

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3:26am

Thu December 27, 2012
Joe's Big Idea

The Quest For The Perfect Toothbrush

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 4:34 am

A drawing from Michael Davidson's 2012 patent for "Toothbrush And Method Of Using The Same."
Patent 8,108,962 U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

There are some consumer products where every year brings new innovations. Computers get faster, cellphones get lighter, cars get new bells and whistles.

It's easy to imagine why inventors are drawn to redesigning these products — the technology for making them is changing all the time.

But what about consumer products that have been around for a long time? For the toothbrush, the answer is a resounding yes.

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3:22pm

Wed December 26, 2012
Shots - Health News

Despite Uneven Results, Alzheimer's Research Suggests A Path For Treatment

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

Brain scans using Amyvid dye to highlight beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. Clockwise from top left: a cognitively normal subject; an amyloid-positive patient with Alzheimer's disease; a patient with mild cognitive impairment who progressed to dementia during a study; and a patient with mild cognitive impairment.
Slide courtesy of the journal Neurology

It's been a mixed year for Alzheimer's research. Some promising drugs failed to stop or even slow the disease. But researchers also found reasons to think that treatments can work if they just start sooner.

Scientists who study Alzheimer's say they aren't discouraged by the drug failures. "I actually think it was a phenomenal year for research," says Bill Rebeck, a brain scientist at Georgetown University.

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9:53am

Wed December 26, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Holiday Foods Tempting You? These Ancient Monks Would Have Understood

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 10:44 am

For those of us who've succumbed to food temptations this holiday season, there's comfort in knowing we're in good historical company.

Archaeologists have published a paper suggesting that some Byzantine monks in 6th-century Jerusalem consumed foods that fell outside their proscribed diet.

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3:22am

Wed December 26, 2012
The Salt

Don't Fear That Expired Food

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 8:57 am

The expiration date on foods like orange juice and even milk aren't indicators of when those products will go bad.
iStockphoto.com

Now that the Christmas feast is over, you may be looking at all the extra food you made, or the food that you brought home from the store that never even got opened.

And you may be wondering: How long can I keep this? What if it's past its expiration date? Who even comes up with those dates on food, anyway, and what do they mean?

Here's the short answer: Those "sell by" dates are there to protect the reputation of the food. They have very little to do with food safety. If you're worried whether food is still OK to eat, just smell it.

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