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