Science

4:37pm

Mon December 10, 2012
Shots - Health News

What Porcupines Can Teach Engineers

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 8:04 am

The barbs on porcupine quills make it easier from them to penetrate the skin.
National Park Service

Pulling out a porcupine quill is painful and slow, as many a dog discovers to its dismay after tangling with the big rodent. But those tenacious quills are inspiring efforts to develop better medical devices, including less painful needles.

It turns out that no one had really picked apart why it's so hard to remove a porcupine quill. Barbs, sure. But the barbs not only stick like mad. They also make it much easier for the quill to pierce skin and flesh.

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3:04pm

Mon December 10, 2012
Shots - Health News

How A Superbug Traveled The World

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 8:06 am

Clostridium difficile bacteria produce a toxin that damages the intestine and causes severe diarrhea.
Courtesy of David Goudling/Nature Genetics.

Just as the name implies, Clostridium difficile is a difficult pathogen to beat. It causes a nasty infection in your gut, and it's often resistant to many antibiotics.

But C. difficile got even more troublesome about 10 years ago when a particularly virulent form of the bug cropped up in hospitals across the U.S and was no longer vulnerable to one of the most common classes of antibiotics.

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9:50am

Mon December 10, 2012
Shots - Health News

Buzz Off: Bedbugs Unfazed By Ultrasonic Devices

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 8:04 am

Bedbugs are becoming a common nuisance in many places. But cheap ultrasonic devices advertised as bedbug repellents don't work, scientists say.
Carolyn Kaster AP

With bedbugs bunking just about everywhere these days, people battling the bloodsucking insects may be tempted to try their hand at driving them away.

But ultrasonic bug zappers, which retail for less than $25, aren't the solution, say entomologists who tested some of the devices.

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8:38am

Mon December 10, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

How About A Little Drive, Hmm? (A Horror Story)

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 6:12 pm

mandatory.com

5:06pm

Sun December 9, 2012
Science

Forget Extinct: The Brontosaurus Never Even Existed

Originally published on Sun December 9, 2012 7:09 pm

This photograph from 1934 shows the Carnegie Museum's Apatosaurus skeleton on the right — wearing the wrong skull.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History

It may have something to do with all those Brontosaurus burgers everyone's favorite modern stone-age family ate, but when you think of a giant dinosaur with a tiny head and long, swooping tail, the Brontosaurus is probably what you're seeing in your mind.

Well hold on: Scientifically speaking, there's no such thing as a Brontosaurus.

Even if you knew that, you may not know how the fictional dinosaur came to star in the prehistoric landscape of popular imagination for so long.

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5:17pm

Fri December 7, 2012
Environment

At Doha Climate Talks, Modest Results At Best

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 11:50 pm

Delegates attend the last day of the U.N. climate talks in Doha, Qatar, on Friday. U.N. climate negotiators locked horns on the final day of talks in Doha to halt the march of global warming, deeply divided on extending the greenhouse gas-curbing Kyoto Protocol and funding for poor countries.
Karim Jaafar AFP/Getty Images

United Nations climate talks ran into overtime on Friday night, as diplomats pressed for whatever small advantage they could achieve.

As usual, the talks, which are being held in Doha, Qatar, involve closely interwoven issues. They include the usual wrangling over money, as well as early efforts in a multiyear process that is supposed to result in a new climate treaty.

Part of that involves finding a graceful way to phase out the Kyoto treaty, which has not proved to be a successful strategy for dealing with a warming planet.

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4:37pm

Fri December 7, 2012
Energy

Conflicts, Errors Revealed In Positive Fracking Study

Originally published on Sat December 8, 2012 6:52 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A University of Texas study that says hydraulic natural gas fracturing is safe has been withdrawn, and its author has retired and left the university. From Dallas, NPR's Wade Goodwyn has the story.

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3:50pm

Fri December 7, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Brain Scans Don't Catch The Brain In Action

A visitor to the Wellcome Collection's 2012 exhibition "Brains: The mind as matter" looks at a functional magnetic resonance image (fMRI) showing a human brain as it listens to Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" and Kant's third Critique.
Miguel Medina AFP/Getty Images

The backlash has begun! After years of overselling neuroscience and its results in the popular media, we are now finally beginning to hear public voices of dissent.

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12:07pm

Fri December 7, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

A View From Doha: The Time To Tackle Climate Change Is Now

Originally published on Fri December 7, 2012 12:20 pm

Climate activists at a rally in Doha on December 1, 2012.
Karim Jaafar AFP/Getty Images

The failure so far of a decades-long process to confront man-made climate change on a global level through a meaningful, effective and fair commitment to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions poses a serious dilemma for the survival of human civilization on this planet.

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12:00pm

Fri December 7, 2012
NPR Story

Blue Whale Barrel Roll Caught On Camera

Transcript

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: We're ending this hour into the sea, Ira. Could you tell?

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Ooh, yeah. I like it.

LICHTMAN: The noise you're hearing comes from a blue whale; that's an animal that can reach 90 feet in length, which is longer than a tennis court. Biologist...

JEREMY GOLDBOGEN: Hands down, these are largest animals of all time. And so one of the questions we're interested in is how do they sustain such an extreme body mass and why don't we see anything bigger than a blue whale?

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