Wed March 6, 2013

Elephant Poaching Pushes Species To Brink Of Extinction

Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 11:18 am

A new study of Central African forest elephants has found their numbers down by 62 percent between 2002 and 2011. The study comes as governments and conservationists meet in Thailand to amend the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

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Tue March 5, 2013

'Extinction Looms' For Forest Elephants Due To Poaching

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 6:20 pm



Now, to some alarming findings about wildlife in Africa. A 10-year survey looked at the population of forest elephants and found that it fell 62 percent in that time. The study is the largest of its kind, spanning five countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, its neighbor the Republic of Congo and Gabon. The Wildlife Conservation Society, which helped organize the effort, is saying that extinction looms for the forest elephant because of poaching.

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Tue March 5, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Want to Find Aliens? Look For Their Detritus

In this illustration, debris along the outer reaches of a planet-forming disk orbits in the glare of a distant sun.
T. Pyle NASA

From science fiction movies, we all know how it happens. Astronomers working with huge telescopes detect an object at the edge of the solar system. It's coming our way and it's moving fast. Working feverishly, they apply the latest image-enhancement techniques, revealing super-sharp pictures of interstellar garbage.

No, wait. That's not how the movies work.

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Tue March 5, 2013
The Two-Way

Study Finds Climate Change To Open Arctic Sea Routes By 2050

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 1:22 pm

An iceberg in or just outside the Ilulissat fjord, which likely calved from Jakobshavn Isbrae, the fastest glacier in western Greenland, in May 2012. Polar ice sheets are now melting three times faster than in the 1990s.
Ian Joughin AP

Climate change will make commercial shipping possible from North America to Russia or Asia over the North Pole by the middle of the century, a new study says.

Two researchers at the University of California ran seven different climate models simulating two classes of vessels to see if they could make a relatively ice-free passage through the Arctic Ocean. In each case, the sea routes are sufficiently clear after 2049, they say.

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Tue March 5, 2013
Joe's Big Idea

Wanna Play? Computer Gamers Help Push Frontier Of Brain Research

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 3:39 pm

This image represents a chunk, or "cube," of brain. Each different color represents a different neuron, and the goal of the EyeWire game is to figure out how these tangled neurons connect to each other. Players look at a slice from this cube and try to identify the boundaries of each cell. It isn't easy, and it takes practice. You can try it for yourself at

People can get pretty addicted to computer games. By some estimates, residents of planet Earth spend 3 billion hours per week playing them. Now some scientists are hoping to make use of all that human capital and harness it for a good cause.

Right now I'm at the novice level of a game called EyeWire, trying to color in a nerve cell in a cartoon drawing of a slice of tissue. EyeWire is designed to solve a real science problem — it aims to chart the billions of nerve connections in the brain.

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Mon March 4, 2013
Medical Treatments

Mississippi Toddler Could Be First Child Cured Of HIV

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 5:34 pm

A child born with HIV has been cured of the virus, researchers say. Audie Cornish talks to Richard Knox about what was different about this child among the millions who've been treated in the past and what it means for the prospect of an HIV cure in adults.


Mon March 4, 2013

Kentucky City Fights Migratory Bird Invasion With Air Cannons, Lasers

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 5:34 pm

Audie Cornish talks with Geoff LaBaron, an ornithologist with National Audubon Society, about a strange blackbird invasion in the town of Hopkinsville, Ky.


Mon March 4, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

How To Produce A Billion Flowers On The Very Same Day

Robert Krulwich NPR

Before we get to today's topic (flower blooming), let's take a Sloth Break. I know this isn't usual, but hey, I think everybody should see this adorable baby sloth named Matty giving his human caretaker, Claire, a flower. If you've already seen it, jump ahead to my essay. But if you haven't? Well, your day is about to get a wee bit lovelier.

OK, I just had to. Now we can start.

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Mon March 4, 2013
Shots - Health News

Mouse Study Sheds Light On Why Some Cancer Vaccines Fail

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 2:31 pm

A simple switch of ingredients made a big difference in how mice responded to experimental cancer vaccines.
Andrei Tchernov

In the quest for better cancer medicines, vaccines that treat rather than prevent disease are getting lots of attention.

More than 90 clinical trials have tested therapeutic vaccines in cancer patients, but the results have been a mixed bag.

A recent study in mice suggests that changing a traditional ingredient in the vaccines could make a big difference.

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Mon March 4, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Can We Ever Explain Human Tragedy?

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 1:43 pm

Cousin Kyle Balcom (L) and brother Dustin Bush console each other after the disappearance of Jeffrey Bush into a Seffner, Florida, sinkhole.
Edward Linsmier Getty Images

Sinkholes can occur when porous limestone or other soluble bedrock dissolves in water, creating underground caverns that collapse.

Last Thursday evening, a man was in the bedroom of his home in Seffner, Florida.

These are typical narratives — one about scientific facts, the other about everyday life. We accept each narrative as neither shocking nor mysterious. Water and rock interact in particular ways. People go about their daily lives. This is familiar.

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