Science

1:39pm

Fri August 31, 2012
Space

Gazing Up At A Double Sun

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

If you headed outside this Labor Day weekend, besides seeing that second blue moon of the month, just look up at the sky, would you believe that about half of those stars you see are actually two stars or more, the kind of double star system that's quite common? And this week, astronomers reported on the discovery of a planetary system orbiting such a binary star, two planets orbiting two suns. It's called Kepler-47 after the Kepler planet-hunting mission that spotted it.

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1:36pm

Fri August 31, 2012
Space

The World Remembers Neil Armstrong

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

On March 16, 1966, a potentially fatal problem gripped the Gemini 8 space capsule. Orbiting high above the Earth, it began spinning out of control. Spiraling towards unconsciousness and, perhaps, death, Neil Armstrong shut down the malfunctioning thrusters and wrestled Gemini back to stability. This was neither the first nor the last time that Neil Armstrong had escaped disaster. As an Naval pilot in Korea, he managed to guide a bullet-ridden aircraft, missing three feet of wing, back to friendly territory.

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1:30pm

Fri August 31, 2012
NPR Story

Unwinding The Cucumber Tendril Mystery

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 2:04 pm

How a cucumber creates its curling tendril has stumped scientists for centuries, including Charles Darwin and Asa Gray. With the help of time-lapse photography and prosthetic tendril fabricated in the lab, physicist Sharon Gerbode, biologist Joshua Puzey and colleagues figured out why tendrils twist, according to a new study in Science.

9:55am

Fri August 31, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Doping: It's Just Part Of The Game

Are performance enhancing drugs just part of the game, proscribed by the rules but understood by all to be a gray area open to interpretation, like a tough call by a referee or umpire?
Doug Pensinger Getty Images

I would like to begin by thanking readers, so many of whom took the effort to express their outrage at my suggestion, posted here last week, that perhaps the widespread criticism of Lance Armstrong, and other athletes who have been

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2:51pm

Thu August 30, 2012
Humans

Pinky DNA Points To Clues About Ancient Humans

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 6:09 pm

A replica of the pinky bone fragment found in a Siberian cave. Researchers used the bone bit to extract and sequence the genome of a girl who lived tens of thousands of years ago.
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Scientists in Germany have been able to get enough DNA from a fossilized pinky to produce a high-quality DNA sequence of the pinky's owner.

"It's a really amazing-quality genome," says David Reich of Harvard Medical School in Boston. "It's as good as modern human genome sequences, from a lot of ways of measuring it."

The pinky belonged to a girl who lived tens of thousands of years ago. Scientists aren't sure about the exact age. She is a member of an extinct group of humans called Denisovans. The name comes from Denisova cave in Siberia, where the pinky was found.

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10:03am

Thu August 30, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Do Vegetarians And Vegans Think They Are Better Than Everyone Else?

Originally published on Thu August 30, 2012 11:58 am

Asparagus and tofu
iStockphoto.com

Do vegetarians and vegans think they are better than the rest of us? Judging from personal experience, a good number of people who aren't vegetarian or vegan would offer a resounding "Yes" to this question.

Those individuals who publicly tout eating no meat, especially when their stated reason has to do with caring about animals, are thought to be telegraphing a message of superiority: My dietary choices make me a better person than you.

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6:24pm

Wed August 29, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Mysterious New 'Heartland Virus' Discovered In Missouri

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

Two men from northwestern Missouri became ill after tick bites infected them with a previously unknown virus.
iStockphoto.com

Two Missouri farmers have been infected with a brand-new tick-borne virus that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling the Heartland virus.

The men recovered but suffered serious illness that required hospital care and weeks of convalescence. Symptoms included fever, severe fatigue, headache and nausea. Their platelet counts plummeted, but even though platelets are necessary for blood clotting, the men didn't suffer abnormal bleeding.

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3:42pm

Wed August 29, 2012
Around the Nation

Isaac's Size, Speed Help It Pack A Heavyweight Punch

Originally published on Fri October 26, 2012 12:28 pm

People walk in the storm surge from Hurricane Isaac along Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans. Isaac was later downgraded to a tropical storm as it continued to grind its way through the Gulf Coast, dropping torrential rain and generating dangerous storm surges.
Gerald Herbert AP

Isaac might not be in the same league as Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, but the latest storm to batter Louisiana's Gulf Coast is punching above its weight class in more ways than one, scientists say.

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3:00pm

Wed August 29, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

With West Nile On The Rise, We Answer Your Questions

Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 9:45 am

A Beechcraft airplane sprays insecticide over Dallas early Monday morning to curb the spread of West Nile virus.
LM Otero AP

This year is on track to be the worst ever for West Nile virus in the United States. Here are the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • 1,590 reported cases, nearly 500 more than a week ago for a rise of 44 percent.
  • 889 cases, or 56 percent, involve severe neurological disease.
  • 66 deaths, compared to 41 last week.
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11:15am

Wed August 29, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Dreams Of Travel To The Moon, And Beyond

X-15 rocket plane at Edwards Air Force Base in California." href="/post/dreams-travel-moon-and-beyond" class="noexit lightbox">
Neil Armstrong stands next to his X-15 rocket plane at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
NASA

The recent passing of Neil Armstrong brings back vivid memories of being huddled with my cousins in front of a large b&w TV on July 20, 1969, incredulous eyes popping out of our heads.

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