Sun December 23, 2012
Around the Nation

With Growth Of 'Hacker Scouting,' More Kids Learn To Tinker

Originally published on Sun December 23, 2012 12:41 pm

Kids build robots with Popsicle sticks at an Oakland meeting of Hacker Scouts, a group that encourages young people to create do-it-yourself crafts and electronics.
Jon Kalish for NPR

Countless kids have grown up with the Girl Scouts, the Boy Scouts or Campfire Girls, but for some families, the uniforms and outdoor focus of traditional Scouting groups don't appeal.

In recent months, Scoutlike groups that concentrate on technology and do-it-yourself projects have been sprouting up around the country. They're coed and, like traditional Scouting organizations, award patches to kids who master skills.

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Sat December 22, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

It's December. Brrrr. Is My House Shivering?


What if, and I'm just being silly here, but what if houses were warm-blooded, and got cold in December like we do? What if?

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Fri December 21, 2012
Shots - Health News

Killer's DNA Won't Explain His Crime

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:21 pm

A person's DNA can say a lot about a person, but not why someone has committed a horrific crime like mass murder.

Connecticut's chief medical examiner, Wayne Carver, has raised the possibility of requesting genetic tests on Adam Lanza, the man responsible for the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Carver hasn't said precisely what he may want geneticists to look for, but scientists who study the links between genes and violence say those tests won't reveal much about why Lanza did what he did.

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Fri December 21, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Riddle For A Winter Morning

Originally published on Mon December 24, 2012 5:10 pm

A sunset in Sicily

I love jokes and riddles. Today I want to share one of my favorites. I'll post the answer on Monday.

I first heard this one sitting with friends at an outdoor table during sunset at a village near the shore in Sicily back in 2008. The strange pink color of this morning's sunrise here in Berkeley reminded me of that evening, and the riddle. I think it was my friend Giovanni Frazzetto who offered up the joke. He definitely organized the evening.

What is greater than God

Worse than the Devil?

The poor have it.

The rich need it.

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Fri December 21, 2012

Future Fibers May Be Spun From Slime

The hagfish or "slime eel" shoots out slime containing silk-like fibers of remarkable strength. Douglas Fudge, a biologist at the University of Guelph, says it could be a good substitute for today's synthetic fibers--it's 10 times stronger than nylon, for example--and bacteria can be trained to make it.


Fri December 21, 2012

The SciFri Book Club Tours 'The Planets'

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 1:08 pm

The SciFri Book Club is touring the solar system, with Dava Sobel's 2005 The Planets. Call in with a review of the book. Plus Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA, joins the club to give an update on what's happened planet-wise since the book was published.


Fri December 21, 2012

Birding for the Holidays

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 1:08 pm

The Audubon's 113th Christmas Bird Count is underway, and thousands of volunteers are taking part this year. Ornithologist David Bonter, and Gary Langham, Audubon's chief scientist, share tips on which species to look out for, and how even birding beginners can get involved.


Fri December 21, 2012
NPR Story

Shooting Stars: Capturing The Night On Camera

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 4:16 pm

Photographer Colin Legg makes time-lapse movies of celestial scenes, from auroras to eclipses. Photographing mostly in remote parts of Australia, where human-made light doesn't compete with starlight, Legg describes some of the challenges of this type of photography: from babysitting cameras for days and nights on end to running electronics in the backcountry.


Fri December 21, 2012
Medical Treatments

Stem Cells Treat Lou Gehrig's Disease, In Mice

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 1:08 pm

Reporting in Science Translational Medicine, researchers write that neural stem cell implants were able to slow the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, in mice. Study author Evan Snyder discusses the stem cells' protective effect, and why human trials may not be far behind.


Fri December 21, 2012

Debunking Doomsday And Exploring Maya Science

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 1:08 pm

The ancient Maya had many scientific accomplishments: they tracked the Moon and the planets, knew a solar year was 365 days, and even invented the concept of zero. As for the 2012 apocalypse? It's simply a misinterpretation of the Maya calendar, say archaeologists Marcello Canuto and William Saturno.