Thu August 9, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Olympic Bodies: They Just Don't Make Them Like They Used To

Originally published on Tue August 14, 2012 12:55 pm

Adam Cole NPR

The Olympic Games seem to celebrate the extremes of athletic physique — from tiny gymnasts to impossibly huge shot-putters. But why are they shaped that way?

We've put together an infographic that explores how athletes' bodies have changed over the last century, and the role physics plays in each event. Here on Shots, we're taking a look at some of the athletes featured in the graphic.

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Thu August 9, 2012

Building For Birds: Architects Aim For Safer Skies

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 1:07 pm

Architect Guy Maxwell holds a printout of his proposed design for the new Bridge Building at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
John W. Poole NPR

Second of a two-part series. Read Part 1.

Modern architecture's love affair with tall glass buildings takes a toll. Every year, millions of birds crash into glass windows in North America.

These collisions may seem like an intractable problem. But in New York City, an architect is trying to find a solution.

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Thu August 9, 2012

INFOGRAPHIC: The Physics Of Olympic Bodies

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 1:57 pm

Adam Cole NPR

Olympians from the 1912 games seem a bit shorter, a bit scrawnier, a bit more ... average. Over the past century, elite athletes' bodies have changed a lot, and this evolution has been propelled by the laws of physics.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit


Wed August 8, 2012
The Salt

Here's Where Farms Are Sucking The Planet Dry

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 5:49 pm

Click to see a high-resolution version of this map." href="/post/heres-where-farms-are-sucking-planet-dry" class="noexit lightbox">
Check out some of the world's most important - and threatened - aquifers. Click to see a high-resolution version of this map.

This map is disturbing, once you understand it. It's a new attempt to visualize an old problem — the shrinking of underground water reserves, in most cases because farmers are pumping out water to irrigate their crops.

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Wed August 8, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Discussing The Mars Landing With My 137-Year-Old Grandfather

Originally published on Wed August 8, 2012 12:23 pm

Percival Lowell's drawings of "canals" on Mars.
Universal History Archive Getty Images

Yes, it was an amazing landing, an engineering triumph, a 150-million-mile slam dunk, spectacular in every way, except ... I think my grandpa would be disappointed. I'm not sure of this, since he died 50 years ago, but I have a hunch.

It starts with a handwritten letter he wrote back in 1907. He was a travelling salesman. He sold men's hats, and his job was to visit retailers all over the country. "One evening," he wrote, "train riding between Chicago and Kansas City or St. Louis, sitting the club car, I read a magazine, The Century..."

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Wed August 8, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Science Is Sometimes Wrong, For All The Right Reasons

A copy of Philosphiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Sir Isaac Newton at the Science Museum Library and Archives in Swindon, England.
Daniel Berehulak Getty Images

Can we make sense of the world without belief? This is the central question behind the faith and science dichotomy, and one that informs how an individual chooses to relate to the world. Contrasting mythic and scientific explanations of reality, we could say that at the extreme, religious myths attempt to explain the unknown with the unknowable, while science attempts to explain the unknown with the knowable. Much of the tension springs from the belief that there are two mutually inconsistent realities, one within this world (and thus knowable) and one without (and thus unknowable).

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Wed August 8, 2012

Sky-High Design: How To Make A Bird-Friendly Building

Originally published on Thu August 9, 2012 10:44 am

Ayodha Ouditt NPR

Shiny glass buildings are a hallmark of modern architecture, but for birds, that shimmer can be deadly. Every year, an estimated 100 million to 1 billion birds die by flying into glass windows. By studying how birds interact with buildings, architects and ornithologists are trying to create special features designed to keep birds alive.

Below, click around to see architectural features that can make buildings safer for birds — or more deadly.

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Wed August 8, 2012

A Clear And Present Danger: How Glass Kills Birds

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 12:05 pm

Experts say glass buildings kill millions of birds every year. Scientists at Powdermill Avian Research Center are studying ways to help prevent this. Here, a volunteer tags a black hooded warbler in Rector, Pa., in May.
Maggie Starbard NPR

First of a two-part series. Read Part 2.

Modern architecture loves glass. Glass makes interiors brighter and adds sparkle to cityscapes. But glass also kills millions of birds every year when they collide with windows. Biologists say as more glass buildings go up, more birds are dying.

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Tue August 7, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

'Curiosity' Signals From Mars That We Can Solve Our Problems On Earth

Originally published on Tue August 7, 2012 9:36 pm

This artist concept shows NASA's Curiosity rover as it will look once it starts investigating the Martian surface for the ability to sustain microbial life — past or present.
JPL-Caltech NASA

Our world seems so broken now and so much of it seems our own fault. The whole of our infrastructure — from highways to high schools, power-grids to public universities — seem on the verge of crumbling. The resources to repair or expand these arteries of public life are gone, we are told, in part because four years ago the economy was jerked to halt through (what appear to be) selective acts of titanic greed and apocalyptic mismanagement.

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Tue August 7, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

The Worst Way To Stay Alive Forever

Robert Krulwich NPR

Some say it will happen soon.

Critics say it will take a long, long, time.

Many neuroscientists and philosophers think it ain't gonna happen, ever.

We're talking about building a machine that functions as the equivalent, or maybe as superior to, a human mind.

A synthetic brain doesn't have to be the exact equivalent of a human brain, but there are humans, the brilliant inventor Ray Kurzweil in particular, who hope one day to dump their minds into such a machine, boot up and go on living, disembodied, but mentally intact, forever.

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