Science

3:26am

Thu December 27, 2012
Joe's Big Idea

The Quest For The Perfect Toothbrush

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 4:34 am

A drawing from Michael Davidson's 2012 patent for "Toothbrush And Method Of Using The Same."
Patent 8,108,962 U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

There are some consumer products where every year brings new innovations. Computers get faster, cellphones get lighter, cars get new bells and whistles.

It's easy to imagine why inventors are drawn to redesigning these products — the technology for making them is changing all the time.

But what about consumer products that have been around for a long time? For the toothbrush, the answer is a resounding yes.

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3:22pm

Wed December 26, 2012
Shots - Health News

Despite Uneven Results, Alzheimer's Research Suggests A Path For Treatment

Originally published on Wed December 26, 2012 7:24 pm

Brain scans using Amyvid dye to highlight beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. Clockwise from top left: a cognitively normal subject; an amyloid-positive patient with Alzheimer's disease; a patient with mild cognitive impairment who progressed to dementia during a study; and a patient with mild cognitive impairment.
Slide courtesy of the journal Neurology

It's been a mixed year for Alzheimer's research. Some promising drugs failed to stop or even slow the disease. But researchers also found reasons to think that treatments can work if they just start sooner.

Scientists who study Alzheimer's say they aren't discouraged by the drug failures. "I actually think it was a phenomenal year for research," says Bill Rebeck, a brain scientist at Georgetown University.

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9:53am

Wed December 26, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Holiday Foods Tempting You? These Ancient Monks Would Have Understood

Originally published on Thu January 3, 2013 10:44 am

For those of us who've succumbed to food temptations this holiday season, there's comfort in knowing we're in good historical company.

Archaeologists have published a paper suggesting that some Byzantine monks in 6th-century Jerusalem consumed foods that fell outside their proscribed diet.

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3:22am

Wed December 26, 2012
The Salt

Don't Fear That Expired Food

Originally published on Wed January 2, 2013 8:57 am

The expiration date on foods like orange juice and even milk aren't indicators of when those products will go bad.
iStockphoto.com

Now that the Christmas feast is over, you may be looking at all the extra food you made, or the food that you brought home from the store that never even got opened.

And you may be wondering: How long can I keep this? What if it's past its expiration date? Who even comes up with those dates on food, anyway, and what do they mean?

Here's the short answer: Those "sell by" dates are there to protect the reputation of the food. They have very little to do with food safety. If you're worried whether food is still OK to eat, just smell it.

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3:59pm

Tue December 25, 2012
The Salt

Computers May Someday Beat Chefs At Creating Flavors We Crave

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 10:06 am

Does bell pepper and black tea sound appetizing? A computer may think so.
Ryan Smith NPR

Mario Batali, watch your back.

Computer scientists at IBM have already built a computer that can beat human contestants on the TV quiz show, "Jeopardy." Now it appears they're sharpening their intellectual knives to make a computer that might someday challenge the competitors on "Iron Chef."

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2:25pm

Tue December 25, 2012
Energy

Texas Man Takes Last Stand Against Keystone XL Pipeline

Originally published on Tue December 25, 2012 4:20 pm

David Daniel, an east Texas landowner, was so determined to block the Keystone XL pipeline from coming through his forest that he built an elaborate network of treehouses eight stories above the ground.
Maggie Starbard NPR

An east Texas landowner was so determined to block the Keystone XL pipeline from coming through his forest that he took to his trees and built an elaborate network of treehouses eight stories above the ground.

"It popped into my head a long time ago, actually," says 45-year-old David Daniel. "If I had to climb my butt on top of a tree and sit there, I would. It started with that."

It turned out to be Daniel's last stand in a long battle against the Keystone XL, a pipeline project that would bring oil from Canada all the way to refineries in the Texas Gulf Coast.

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7:48am

Tue December 25, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Instant Christmas? A Snowless Snowstorm Turns Downtown Snowy White

Originally published on Tue December 25, 2012 8:33 am

Kut/Vimeo

This isn't snow.

It looks like snow.

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5:45pm

Mon December 24, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

We're Taking A Holiday Break

With Christmas upon us and the New Year just around the corner, we're taking a two-week break from regular posting on 13.7. You may still see a few "micro posts" over the next two weeks. But we won't be back to our regular schedule until Monday, January 7. We hope to see you again then.

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3:53pm

Mon December 24, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Which Is There More Of: Kindness Or Unkindness? A Christmas Accounting

Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 11:57 am

Robert Krulwich NPR

Here's a notion. It comes from Kevin Kelly, author, editor and friend. He was imagining this:

Suppose, he said, that you could count every kindness, every good deed, every smile, every caress, every act of charity, love, tenderness, every generous moment that occurred on the planet this year, and add them all up so you'd have a Total Incidence of Goodness for 2012, a grand sum.

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6:30am

Mon December 24, 2012
Science

The Science Behind Santa's Christmas Eve Journey

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 7:11 am

With billions of children to visit in just one night, how does Santa make it to every house? And how does he fit down the chimney — assuming your house has one. Astrophysicist Neil De Grasse Tyson talks to David Greene about the science of Santa.

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