Science

3:21am

Fri December 21, 2012
The Salt

Drought, Economics And Your Holiday Feast

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:16 am

Think your prime rib holiday dinner is more pricey this year? You're right. But maybe not for the reason you think.
Todd Patterson iStockphoto.com

Nobody really wants to think about economics, the famously dismal science, while sitting down at a table loaded with love and calories. Like it or not, though, supply and demand drive food production and set the price of dinner.

So, in a season of feasts, what are the business stories on your holiday menu?

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5:03pm

Thu December 20, 2012
Energy

Next In Line For A Fracking Boom, California Looks At The Rules

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

Most hydraulic fracturing in California is done to extract to oil in areas like this field in Kern County. The state is drafting fracking regulations for the first time.
Craig Miller KQED

The controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing has created an oil and gas boom around the country. In states like Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado, there's been heated debate about rules that protect groundwater and public health.

California is now wading into that arena with the release of the state's first fracking regulations. The state's earthquake-prone geology, however, could bring particular concerns.

Fracking itself isn't new. The technology behind it, though, has changed.

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4:23pm

Thu December 20, 2012
Space

In Calif. Gold Country, A Rush That's Out Of This World

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

A section of the Sutter's Mill meteorite, dubbed "Darth Vader," is studied at a lab at the University of California, Davis. The meteorite is made of carbonaceous chondrite, which contains materials that formed the planets of the solar system.
UC Davis

On the crisp, clear morning of April 22, a 50-ton asteroid slammed into the Earth's atmosphere and shattered into countless pieces. Remarkably, they rained down onto Sutter's Mill, Calif., the exact spot where gold was discovered back in 1848, triggering the gold rush. And so follows a story of serendipity and scientific discovery.

"I was out on my hillside burning some branches and so forth, and I heard this sonic boom," says Gold Country resident Ed Allen. "It wasn't just one boom. It was a series of booms, literally right over my head."

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4:02pm

Thu December 20, 2012
The Salt

Big Food And The Big, Silent Salt Experiment

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 10:18 pm

Food companies have begun quietly reducing salt in regular foods because low-salt items like these don't sell as well.
Mel Evans AP

Have you noticed, perhaps, that some of your store-bought salad dressings or spaghetti sauces taste a little less salty lately?

Probably not. The companies that make those products are doing their best to keep you from noticing. Yet many of them are, in fact, carrying out a giant salt-reduction experiment, either because they want to improve their customers' health or because they're worried that if they don't, the government might impose regulations that would compel more onerous salt reductions.

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3:35pm

Thu December 20, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

A Holiday Wish: 2013, The Year Of The Chimpanzee

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 5:50 pm

Rufus, 46, now lives on an island in a Florida sanctuary run by Save the Chimps. Before his rescue, Rufus lived in a facility Save the Chimps calls "the dungeon."
Courtesy of Save the Chimps

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2013 will be "The Year of the Snake." I'm hopeful that in the United States it will become "The Year of the Chimpanzee."

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12:44pm

Thu December 20, 2012
The Salt

Elixirs Made To Fight Malaria Still Shine On The Modern Bar

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 10:23 am

Shaken with splash of malaria drug, please. The original James Bond martini is made with gin, vodka and Kina Lillet, a French aperitif wine flavored with a smidge of the anti-malaria drug quinine.
Karen Castillo Farfan NPR

This week, our colleagues over at the Shots blog have been talking a lot about malaria. And, here at The Salt, that got us thinking about one thing: gin and tonics.

As you probably know, tonic is simply carbonated water mixed with quinine, a bitter compound that just happens to cure a malaria infection, albeit not so well.

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12:34pm

Thu December 20, 2012
Environment

A 3.8 Billion-Pixel Tour Of Mount Everest

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 2:57 pm

A screen grab of an interactive image of Mount Everest by GlacierWorks
GlacierWorks

Photographer David Breashears of GlacierWorks was on All Things Considered Monday to talk about a new way of photographing the Himalayan region: By stitching together 400-plus images into one giant, zoomable, interactive image — or a "gigapan" containing more than a billion pixels.

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12:24pm

Thu December 20, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

The End Of The World, My Way

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 11:06 am

YouTube

The Mayans being before my time, I'm too young for their End of the World.

Theirs comes from an ancient calendar that says "the fourteenth baktun" — a new era --will commence on Dec. 21, 2012.

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3:28am

Thu December 20, 2012
The Salt

The Paradox And Mystery Of Our Taste For Salt

Originally published on Thu December 20, 2012 11:37 am

Bali sea salt and a spoonful of Hawaiian red alae salt.
Jim Noelker AP

Salt is one of those dangerously tasty substances. We add the magical crystals of sodium chloride to almost everything that we cook or bake, and according to many public health experts, we add too much.

They want us to cut back, to lower our risk of heart attacks or strokes.

Yet when you really start looking for ways to do this, you run into a paradox and a scientific puzzle.

First, the paradox. Too much salt may kill us, but our bodies need some of it to survive.

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11:52am

Wed December 19, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

A Guarantee: The World Will Not End On Friday

A replica Mayan Calendar Round showing the date September 21, 2004, opening day for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.
Molly Stephey Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian

According to countless prophecies, terrorizing people across the world, this will be my last contribution to 13.7. On Friday, December 21, the world will come to an end. I have been receiving dozens of concerned email messages from otherwise reasonable people, convinced that this time it is for real, that there is no escape.

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