Science

2:23am

Fri March 8, 2013
Environment

Past Century's Global Temperature Change Is Fastest On Record

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 10:40 pm

Scientists say they have put together a record of global temperatures dating back to the end of the last ice age, about 11,000 years ago. This historical artwork of the last ice age was made by Swiss geologist and naturalist Oswald Heer.
Oswald Heer Science Source

There's plenty of evidence that the climate has warmed up over the past century, and climate scientists know this has happened throughout the history of the planet. But they want to know more about how this warming is different.

Now a research team says it has some new answers. It has put together a record of global temperatures going back to the end of the last ice age — about 11,000 years ago — when mammoths and saber-tooth cats roamed the planet. The study confirms that what we're seeing now is unprecedented.

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5:29pm

Thu March 7, 2013
The Salt

If Caffeine Can Boost The Memory Of Bees, Can It Help Us, Too?

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 6:13 pm

Adam Cole/NPR iStockphoto.com

Who knew that the flower nectar of citrus plants — including some varieties of grapefruit, lemon and oranges — contains caffeine? As does the nectar of coffee plant flowers.

And when honeybees feed on caffeine-containing nectar, it turns out, the caffeine buzz seems to improve their memories — or their motivations for going back for more.

"It is surprising," says Geraldine Wright at Newcastle University in the the U.K., the lead researcher of a new honeybee study published in the journal Science.

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2:47pm

Thu March 7, 2013
Shots - Health News

To Make Mice Smarter, Add A Few Human Brain Cells

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 6:13 pm

These drawings by Santiago Ramon y Cajal, published in 1899, show cortex neurons.
Santiago Ramon y Cajal Wikimedia Commons

For more than a century, neurons have been the superstars of the brain. Their less glamorous partners, glial cells, can't send electric signals, and so they've been mostly ignored.

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8:38am

Thu March 7, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Discuss: Is 'Humane Meat' An Oxymoron?

Visitors eat rostbratwurst sausages at the "Green Week" agriculture fair in Berlin in January 2011.
Wolfgang Kumm AFP/Getty Images

"There is no such thing as humane meat." This conclusion was drawn by Ingrid Newkirk, President of PETA, in an opinion piece published last week in The Huffington Post.

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3:07am

Thu March 7, 2013
Energy

BP Bows Out Of Solar, But Industry Outlook Still Sunny

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 12:50 pm

As BP leaves the solar industry, Asian countries such as China are taking a lead role in production.
Xinhua News Agency AP

The solar energy business is growing quickly, but future growth will not include oil giant BP.

At the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston, BP's CEO made it clear the company is done with solar.

"We have thrown in the towel on solar," Bob Dudley said after delivering a wide-ranging speech Wednesday.

"Not that solar energy isn't a viable energy source, but we worked at it for 35 years, and we really never made money," he added.

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2:59am

Thu March 7, 2013
The Salt

In A Grain Of Golden Rice, A World Of Controversy Over GMO Foods

Originally published on Fri March 8, 2013 10:44 am

Genetically modified to be enriched with beta-carotene, golden rice grains (left) are a deep yellow. At right, white rice grains.
Isagani Serrano International Rice Research Institute

There's a kind of rice growing in some test plots in the Philippines that's unlike any rice ever seen before. It's yellow. Its backers call it "golden rice." It's been genetically modified so that it contains beta-carotene, the source of vitamin A.

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4:30pm

Wed March 6, 2013
Animals

Modern Camels Can Be Traced To Giant Creatures That Once Roamed Canada

Researchers have discovered the remains of a giant camel in the far northern arctic regions of Canada. Scientists say today's modern can trace their origins back to these Canadian camels. Melissa Block speaks with scientist Natalia Rybczynski who wrote about the findings in the online journal Nature Communications.

4:30pm

Wed March 6, 2013
Shots - Health News

Hear That? In A Din Of Voices, Our Brains Can Tune In To One

Originally published on Thu March 7, 2013 11:49 am

Scientists say that understanding how the cocktail party effect works could help people who have trouble deciphering sounds in a noisy environment. Guests make it look easy at a Dolce and Gabbana Lounge party in London in 2010.
Paul Jeffers AP

Scientists are beginning to understand how people tune in to a single voice in a crowded, noisy room.

This ability, known as the "cocktail party effect," appears to rely on areas of the brain that have completely filtered out unwanted sounds, researchers report in the journal Neuron. So when a person decides to focus on a particular speaker, other speakers "have no representation in those [brain] areas," says Elana Zion Golumbic of Columbia University.

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11:54am

Wed March 6, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

Neil Tyson Pounds The Table, Demanding A Future, Now!

Frederick M. Brown Getty Images

11:43am

Wed March 6, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Is The Earth Alive? That Depends On Your Definition Of Life

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 1:17 pm

If you know the signs to look for, it becomes clear that the Earth itself is breathing.
Reto Stockli/Alan Nelson/Fritz Hasler NASA

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