Science

5:12pm

Thu March 28, 2013
Animals

What's Behind The 'Fairy Circles' That Dot West Africa?

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 7:19 pm

Thousands of "fairy circles" dot the landscape of the NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia. Why these barren circles appear in grassland areas has puzzled scientists for years.
N. Juergens AAAS/Science

There's a mystery in West Africa that's puzzled scientists for years. Strange circles of bare soil appear in grassland; they're commonly called "fairy circles." These naturally occurring shapes last for decades, until the grass eventually takes over and the circles fade.

Now German scientists think they have an explanation — a horde of insects seems to be bioengineering thousands of miles of desert.

Read more

5:12pm

Thu March 28, 2013
Shots - Health News

Sand From Fracking Could Pose Lung Disease Risk To Workers

Originally published on Mon April 1, 2013 1:50 pm

A worker stands on top of a storage bin on July 27, 2011, at a drilling operation in Claysville, Pa. The dust is from powder mixed with water for hydraulic fracturing.
Keith Srakocic AP

When workplace safety expert Eric Esswein got a chance to see fracking in action not too long ago, what he noticed was all the dust.

It was coming off big machines used to haul around huge loads of sand. The sand is a critical part of the hydraulic fracturing method of oil and gas extraction. After workers drill down into rock, they create fractures in that rock by pumping in a mixture of water, chemicals and sand. The sand keeps the cracks propped open so that oil and gas are released.

Read more

3:53pm

Thu March 28, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Want To Help Animals? No Vegan Extremism Required

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 4:16 pm

Ron Chapple iStockphoto.com

You're "an animal person." You care about animals, and not only the furry, cute ones. You strive to make personal choices that don't contribute to animals' suffering.

Maybe you stopped eating meat from factory farms first. Before long, as you experimented successfully with vegetarian foods, you decided to stop eating meat altogether.

Now you're thinking about taking the next step: going vegan. You're ready to give up dairy and eggs. But something worries you. Can you ever be vegan enough?

Read more

12:18pm

Thu March 28, 2013
The Salt

Mapping The Microbes That Flourish On Fruits And Veggies

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 1:06 pm

You call it salad. The bacteria call it home.
iStockphoto.com

Deadly microbes like salmonella and E. coli can lurk on the surface of spinach, lettuce and other fresh foods. But many more benign microbes also flourish there, living lives of quiet obscurity, much like the tiny Whos in Dr. Seuss' Whoville. Until now.

Scientists at the University of Colorado have taken what may be the first broad inventory of the microbes that live on strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes and eight other popular fresh foods.

It turns out the invisible communities living on our food vary greatly, depending on the type and whether it's conventional or organic.

Read more

12:00pm

Thu March 28, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Six-Legged Critters In Dicey Places: What Science Reporters Do To Get Your Attention

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 7:19 pm

YouTube

We're not as daring as Magellan (who died) or Columbus (who went crazy) or Henry Hudson (who froze), but in our dainty little way, we take astonishing risks. Well, maybe not astonishing. Maybe just embarrassing.

Read more

5:51am

Thu March 28, 2013
Science

Why A Hoosier State Scientist Is Stuck On Oysters

Originally published on Sat March 30, 2013 12:53 pm

Jonathan Wilker holds up a group of oysters from a tank in his lab at Purdue University.
Rebecca Davis NPR

How do oysters attach themselves to rocks? They need a glue, but a glue that can set in a watery environment. In this installment of "Joe's Big Idea," NPR's Joe Palca reports that glue could lead to medical advances.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Read more

6:16pm

Wed March 27, 2013
Shots - Health News

'Sponge' Drug Shows Promise For Treating Hepatitis C

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 1:31 pm

Particles of the hepatitis C virus are imaged with an electron microscope.
James Cavallini Science Source

With an estimated 2 million baby boomers infected with hepatitis C, the disease has reached epidemic levels among Americans age 48 to 68.

Doctors can now cure about 70 percent of hepatitis C cases, but the drugs' side effects can be severe. And many Americans are still left with a disease that can cause liver failure and cancer.

So doctors have been desperate for better treatment options.

Read more

4:30pm

Wed March 27, 2013
Energy

Is The Sky The Limit For Wind Power?

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 9:55 pm

Wind turbines at the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm in Whitewater, Calif., in 2012.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Wind power is growing faster than ever — almost half of the new sources of electricity added to the U.S. power grid last year were wind farms.

But is the sky the limit? Several scientists now say it's actually possible to have so many turbines that they start to lose power. They steal each other's wind.

Read more

3:55pm

Wed March 27, 2013
The Two-Way

Astronomers Say They've Discovered New Type Of Supernova

Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 7:30 pm

Artist's conception showing the suspected progenitor of a new kind of supernova called Type Iax.
Christine Pulliam Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

A group of astronomers believe they have found a new kind of "mini" supernovae that appear to share traits with other previously known types.

Until now, only core-collapse supernovae, the grand finale of stars approximately 10 to 100 times more massive than our sun, and Type Ia, which occur when certain conditions exist in binary (two-star) systems, were known to exist.

Read more

11:14am

Wed March 27, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Socrates (In The Form Of A 9-Year-Old) Shows Up In A Suburban Backyard In Washington

Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 12:16 pm

YouTube

Pages