Science

1:21pm

Thu October 25, 2012
Humans

Decision Time: Why Do Some Leaders Leave A Mark?

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 12:56 pm

Abraham Lincoln, circa 1850. Lincoln was a political non-entity before he was elected. Why is he more widely known to history than the presidents who came immediately before and after him?
Hulton Archive Getty Images

As part of NPR's coverage of this year's presidential election, All Things Considered asked three science reporters to weigh in on the race. The result is a three-part series on the science of leadership. In Part 1, Alix Spiegel looked at the personalities of American presidents. In Part 2, Jon Hamilton examined leadership in the animal kingdom.

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7:05am

Thu October 25, 2012
Science

Algae As Car Fuel: Possible, But Not Sustainable?

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Let's take a look at alternative energy now. There's growing interest and investment in the process of extracting oil from algae and turning it into fuel for vehicles and airplanes. It requires a lot of water, nutrients and land. And a new report from the National Research Council says that will make it challenging to turn algae into a sustainable source of energy.

NPR's Richard Harris reports.

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6:06pm

Wed October 24, 2012
The Salt

Data Linking Aspartame To Cancer Risk Are Too Weak To Defend, Hospital Says

Diet soda
Maggie Starbard NPR

We almost brought you news today about a study that appeared to raise some troubling questions about aspartame, the popular sugar substitute found in many common foods like diet soda. Note the key word — almost.

A study due to be published at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and released to reporters earlier in the week under embargo found some correlation between drinking diet soda and an increased risk of leukemia and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, as well as a few other rare blood-related cancers.

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4:32pm

Wed October 24, 2012
Animals

In Animal Kingdom, Voting Of A Different Sort Reigns

Originally published on Thu October 25, 2012 9:57 am

A school of manini fish passes over a coral reef at Hanauma Bay in 2005, in Honolulu. Researchers say schooling behavior like the kind seen in fish helps groups of animals make better decisions than any one member of the group could.
Donald Miralle Getty Images

As part of NPR's coverage of this year's presidential election, All Things Considered asked three science reporters to weigh in on the race. The result is a three-part series on the science of leadership. In Part 1, Alix Spiegel looked at the personalities of American presidents.

Voters could learn some things about choosing a leader from a fish. Or a chimp. Or an elephant.

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4:32pm

Wed October 24, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Should Scientists Promote Results Over Process?

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 11:46 am

Don't touch that! It's hot! Well, actually, there's a good chance it's hot.
Three Lions Getty Images

Consider: two scientists are asked whether there's any doubt that humans are responsible for climate change. The first says, "It's a fact humans are causing climate change – there's no room for doubt." The second replies, "The evidence for anthropogenic climate change is overwhelming, but in science there's always room for doubt."

The first scientist is probably a more effective spokesperson for the scientific consensus. But the second scientist is providing a more accurate representation of how science works.

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12:48pm

Wed October 24, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Moving Beyond Political Correctness

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 5:01 pm

Adaptation or biological imperative?
Simon Maina AFP/Getty Images

I grew up in Greenwich Village, not that far from the campus of New York University. Back in the 1970s campus demonstrations were pretty common, but I remember one in particular. I was walking by myself toward Washington Square Park and I came upon what was a small but very energetic and frightening protest. I think what made the encounter scary for me was that the students were objecting to the presence on campus of a "Nazi," who, apparently, was coming to give a lecture. Or maybe what I found disturbing was that I found it hard to believe the protesters.

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12:30pm

Wed October 24, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

When You're Almost Extinct, Your Price Goes Up

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 12:35 pm

Illustration by NPR

When a species gets rare, its market value rises. The higher its price, the more it's hunted. The more it's hunted, the rarer it gets. Not a happy cycle, and this keeps happening ...

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10:45am

Wed October 24, 2012
The Salt

When Fire Met Meat, The Brains Of Early Humans Grew Bigger

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 1:08 pm

Actors Stan Laurel and Edna Marlon play at socializing around the campfire. It turns out that early man's brain developed in part thanks to cooking.
Hulton Archive Getty

If you're reading this blog, you're probably into food. Perhaps you're even one of those people whose world revolves around your Viking stove and who believes that cooking defines us as civilized creatures.

Well, on the latter part, you'd be right. At least according to some neuroscientists from Brazil.

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5:21pm

Tue October 23, 2012
Science

Italian Seismologists Convicted Of Manslaughter

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 4:18 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Scientists around the world were stunned yesterday when a judge in Italy found six Italian earthquake experts and a government official guilty of manslaughter. The judge found that the men downplayed the risk of a major earthquake in the city of L'Aquila. A 6.3 magnitude quake struck in early April 2009 and killed more than 300 people. Shortly before that earthquake struck, the scientists had held a meeting in L'Aquila to examine a recent spate of tremors, a so-called swarm of seismic activity.

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1:53pm

Tue October 23, 2012
Animals

Baby Beluga, Swim So Wild And Sing For Me

Originally published on Wed October 24, 2012 4:18 am

This image, from an archival video, shows the white whale NOC swimming around and under researchers' boats.
Current Biology

Whales are among the great communicators of the animal world. They produce all sorts of sounds: squeaks, whistles and even epic arias worthy of an opera house.

And one whale in particular has apparently done something that's never been documented before: He imitated human speech.

The beluga, or white whale, is smallish as whales go and very cute, if you're into marine mammals. Belugas are called the "canaries of the sea" because they're very vocal.

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