Science

11:39am

Thu March 14, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Let's Get Literal: Calculating Pi With Pies. Actual Pies

YouTube

Today is March 14, or "3/14," the first three digits of Pi. It's a day celebrated around the (geek) world as "Pi Day." Pi, of course, is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. It was first recorded by Archimedes, but you can replicate his discovery in all kinds of ways.

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10:03am

Thu March 14, 2013
The Two-Way

'God Particle' Update: Scientists Think They've Pinned Down The Higgs Boson

This is what researchers at the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider expect a Higgs boson to look like. The Higgs boson is the subatomic particle that scientists say gives everything in the universe mass.
ATLAS Experiment/CERN

"Scientists working with data from a large particle accelerator in Europe are now almost certain they have pinned down the elusive sub-atomic particle known as the Higgs Boson," NPR's Joe Palca tells our Newscast Desk.

Or, as it's also known, the "God Particle" (more on that moniker below).

Joe reports that:

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10:01am

Thu March 14, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Flexible Gender Identities Confound Expectations Of A Male And Female World

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 11:00 am

iStockphoto.com

Last month, a traveler from California named Riya Suising came to Virginia (where I live) on business. While here, Suising decided to visit a spa and relax in its communal, sex-segregated baths, something she, a marathon runner, often does at home.

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5:13pm

Wed March 13, 2013
The Salt

Sorry, But Bananas Won't Calm Your Caffeine Jitters

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 9:43 am

Some baristas swear that bananas can cure your coffee jitters, but the science just doesn't add up.
Daniel M.N. Turner NPR

It happens to the best of us. You drink one too many cups of coffee and, for the next few hours, you end up acting like a hyper preschooler who just can't sit still.

Which can be pretty inconvenient if it's, say, noon and you're at the office, or if it's midnight and you can't fall asleep.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were something quick and easy that you could take to combat the effects of over-caffeination? Something like ... a banana?

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4:42pm

Wed March 13, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Is Mathematics A Criterion For Truth In The Natural World?

Originally published on Thu March 14, 2013 9:49 am

Math and sports are expressions of our controlled creativity. Above, Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar watches as the ball sails past for an England goal by Frank Lampard during a friendly at London's Wembley Stadium on February 6, 2013.
Adrian Dennis AFP/Getty Images

Some results in mathematics have the force of real truths, being independent of interpretation or context. When we state that 2 + 2 = 4 we know that this will be correct for any intelligent entity able to count. In algebra, given an equation, say, x + 3 = 4, we know that there is only one solution, x = 1. The same with Euclidean geometry that we learn in high school. Given certain axioms (assertions taken to be true that are the starting point to obtain results), we can prove a series of theorems that are unique.

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6:24pm

Tue March 12, 2013
The Salt

Can Dunkin' Donuts Really Turn Its Palm Oil Green?

Originally published on Tue March 12, 2013 7:13 pm

Dunkin' Donuts plans to go green by committing to purchasing all of its palm oil from sustainable sources.
Andrew Huff/via Flickr

Dunkin' Donuts is changing its recipes — though you may not notice much difference the next time you bite into a cruller. In response to pressure from one of New York's top elected officials, the company recently announced that it will set a goal of using only 100 percent sustainable palm oil in making its donuts.

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4:55pm

Tue March 12, 2013
Animals

Quick Brown Fox Can't Find Camouflaged Quail Eggs

Originally published on Wed March 13, 2013 1:57 am

Researchers wanted to know if Japanese quail were aware of the colors and patterns on their eggs.
Courtesy of Lovell et al.

It's almost spring, and for many animals, warmer weather means it's time to find a mate. If you're a bird, finding that mate means a new clutch of eggs won't be far behind.

But keeping those eggs safe until they hatch can be a challenge, especially if you're a Japanese quail — a small ground-nesting bird that counts foxes among its predators.

The eggs of Coturnix japonica are tiny — not much bigger than a quarter. They're off-white or tan in color, with darker speckles.

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12:38pm

Tue March 12, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Big Data Is The Steam Engine Of Our Time

Originally published on Sat April 13, 2013 1:48 pm

Big Data: trying to make sense of the numbers
Kazuhiro Nogi AFP/Getty Images

We inhabit a world of blinding technological change. New devices, new programs and new infrastructure rise up, dominate discourse and pass away before we even have time to comprehend their intent. But for all the change we've experienced, the the most profound transformation of the digital era is really just getting started. Welcome to the era of Big Data.

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6:26pm

Mon March 11, 2013
The Two-Way

Claims Of A Meteorite's Ancient Aquatic Fossils Spark Debate

Images show what researchers say could be a "hystrichosphere," a fossilized dinoflagellate cyst.
Journal of Cosmology

A meteorite that lit the sky over Sri Lanka with a yellow and green flame when it fell to earth on Dec. 29, 2012, contains "fossilized biological structures," according to researchers in Britain, Sri Lanka, and the United States. Elaborating on claims they first made in January, the scientists are also seeking to answer critics who are skeptical of their findings.

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5:36pm

Mon March 11, 2013
Research News

Mummy Study Shows Heart Disease Could Be A Natural Human Condition

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Ever wonder why mummies always sound like they're suffering from serious indigestion?

(SOUNDBITE OF SCOOBY DOO SEGMENT)

CARTOON CHARACTER #1: Golly, look.

CARTOON CHARACTER #2: That's a mummy and it's moving.

CORNISH: A little "Scooby Doo" for you there. But that mummy sounds like a cry for some Tums, right?

(SOUNDBITE OF A GROWL)

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