Wed August 29, 2012
Around the Nation

Fracking Activists Try To Sway N.Y. Gov. Cuomo

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 4:04 am



Hundreds of protestors rallied, this week, in Albany, New York. They are trying to put pressure on New York's Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo. They want him to reject a plan to expand natural gas drilling. Specifically, Cuomo's expected to decide in the coming days whether to allow more aggressive hydraulic fracturing to reach gas deposits that are locked deep underground. As North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann reports, people on both sides are mounting eleventh-hour campaigns to try and sway the governor.

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Tue August 28, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Why Does Pregnancy Last 9 Months?

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 9:42 am

How much longer could Junior really stay in there?
Olivier Lantzendorffer

Babies are lovely but altogether helpless creatures.

Wouldn't it be better if tiny humans were born able to walk, like horses, or generally were readier for the rigors of the world, like, say, chimps?

Among primates, human have the least developed brains at birth, at least when compared to adult human brains. If humans were born as far along on cognitive and neurological scales as rough and ready chimps are, though, human pregnancy would have to last at least twice as long. Eighteen months in the womb, anyone?

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Tue August 28, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Reading Up On Thermodynamics

Originally published on Tue August 28, 2012 1:26 pm

Pierre Andrieu AFP/Getty Images

Thermodynamics — the branch of physics dealing with heat and its relation to other forms of energy — is profound stuff.

Rooted in the engineering realities of engines and air conditioners, it also rises above these day-to-day realities to embrace heady, universal principles in complexity, order, chaos and organization. Thermodynamics touches everything that really matters in human life, including — most famously — the nature of time. It is profound and slippery.

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Tue August 28, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Can You Learn While You're Asleep?

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 9:44 am

Research suggests basic forms of learning are possible while snoozing.

If you're a student, you may have harbored the fantasy of learning lessons while you sleep. Who wouldn't want to stick on a pair of headphones, grab some shut-eye with a lesson about, say, Chinese history playing in his ears — and wake up with newly acquired knowledge of the Ming Dynasty?

Sadly, it doesn't work. The history lesson either keeps you from going to sleep, or it doesn't — in which case you don't learn it.

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Tue August 28, 2012

Methane Making An Appearance In Pa. Water Supplies

Originally published on Tue August 28, 2012 3:03 pm

Ted and Gale Franklin live in Leroy Township, Pa., where people have been dealing with flammable gas puddles and tainted well water.
Becky Lettenberger NPR

Mike and Nancy Leighton's problems began on May 19, just as Mike was settling in to watch the Preakness Stakes. A neighbor in Leroy Township, Pa., called Mike and told him to check the water well located just outside his front door.

"I said, 'I'll be down in 15 minutes.' I wanted to see the race," Leighton said. But as the horses were racing, Leighton's well was overflowing. Typically, there's between 80 to 100 feet of head space between the top of the well and its water supply. But when Leighton went outside, the water was bubbling over the top.

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Mon August 27, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Neil Armstrong Comes Home

Timothy Hughes Rare & Early Newspapers

About 10,000 people live in Wapakoneta, Ohio — half that in the 1960s. In 1969, the town wanted to honor the most famous Wapakonetan (so far), the first man to step on the moon, Neil Armstrong. So they had a parade. Here's the front page of the paper that day.

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Sun August 26, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Neil Armstrong, Curiosity And The Challenge Of The Endless Frontier

The Earth rises behind the Apollo 11 lunar module during its return flight from the Moon's surface. The audacity of what can be done far way sometimes puts earthly challenges in perspective.
Astronaut Michael Collins NASA

It seems like another era. It feels like another age.

It was the DayGlo world of variety TV: Dean Martin, the Smothers Brothers. It was billowing smoke of riots on campus and in the ghettos. Looking back at images of beehive hairstyles and hippy bellbottom pants it all seems so clearly like our past, something tinged with the sepia colors of old Polaroids — something we left behind.

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Sun August 26, 2012

A Pachyderm's Ditty Prompts An Elephantine Debate

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 8:06 pm

Shanthi explores her yard at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C., in 2010. The 36-year-old Asian elephant loves blowing into a harmonica.
Mehgan Murphy Smithsonian Institution


Sun August 26, 2012
Megafires: The New Normal In The Southwest

'Torture Lab' Kills Trees To Learn How To Save Them

Originally published on Sun August 26, 2012 6:03 pm

Powers walks along plastic gutters designed to keep rain away from tree roots to simulate drought. Scientists here are studying the effects of sustained drought conditions on the tree species of the Southwest.
David Gilkey NPR

Last of a five-part series

The droughts that have parched big regions of the country are killing forests.

In the arid Southwest, the body count is especially high. Besides trying to keep wildfires from burning up these desiccated forests, there's not much anyone can do. In fact, scientists are only now figuring out how drought affects trees.

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Sun August 26, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Making Peace With Our Cyborg Nature

Originally published on Mon August 27, 2012 8:51 am

Lance Armstrong competes in the Ironman Panama 70.3. triathlon in Panama City, Panama.
Arnulfo Franco AP

I loved the TV show The Six-Million Dollar man growing up. For me, Steve Austin (played by Lee Majors) wasn't less cool because he had bionic implants that enabled him to perform superhuman feats. He was more cool.

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