Science

10:45am

Fri October 19, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Charles Darwin And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Aaron Birk

I guess everybody, even the smartest people who ever lived, have days when they feel dumb — really, really dumb. Oct. 1, 1861, was that kind of day for Charles Darwin.

In a letter to his friend Charles Lyell, Darwin says, "I am very poorly today," and then — and I want you to see this exactly as he wrote it, so you know this isn't a fake; it comes from the library of the American Philosophical Society, courtesy of their librarian Charles Greifenstein. Can you read it?

It says:

Whoah! You know the feeling, right?

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11:53am

Thu October 18, 2012
The Salt

Top Five Myths Of Genetically Modified Seeds, Busted

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 5:49 pm

Central Illinois corn and soybean farmer Gary Niemeyer readies his genetically modified seed corn for spring planting at his farm near Auburn, Ill.
Seth Perlman AP

Having just stepped into the shouting match over patents on genetically engineered crops, there are a few small things that I, too, would like to get off my chest.

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9:37am

Thu October 18, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

So, Would You Eat A Panda?

Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

A Chinese scientist recently suggested that prehistoric humans ate pandas. The evidence, based on cut marks on panda bones, strikes me as thin, but the report led me to a thought experiment.

How would people in the modern world react if the some population or subculture today made panda-foraging a goal? I imagine most of us would be horrified, and not only because the panda is an endangered species. The panda has become a symbol of cuteness, an animal we love to love.

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5:49pm

Wed October 17, 2012
Space

Scientist Find Nearest Planet Outside Solar System

Originally published on Fri October 19, 2012 3:37 pm

An artist's impression shows a planet, right, orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B, center, a member of the triple star system that is the closest to Earth.
ESO/L. Calcada AP

Scientists say they have detected the nearest planet outside of our solar system, an alien world about the size of Earth that's orbiting a star called Alpha Centauri B.

Imaginary planets in the Alpha Centauri star system have been a staple of science fiction for decades. That's because the three stars in this system—Alpha Centauri A, B, and C—are only about four light years from our Sun. That's far away, but it's still closer than everything else beyond our solar system, so Alpha Centauri has long been a tempting destination for storytellers who dream of interstellar travel.

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4:00pm

Wed October 17, 2012
The Salt

Test Your Food IQ: Do We Need More Farms To Grow Fruits And Veggies For All?

Orchards like this one in Adams County, PA, and other U.S. farms face worldwide competition for their apples and apple products due to imports.
Brad C. Bower AP

Think you're part of the food-literati? True or false: 13 million more acres of farmland would be required to produce enough fruit and vegetables for the daily diets of all Americans to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture nutrition guidelines.

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2:00pm

Wed October 17, 2012
Solve This

Climate Politics: It's Laugh Lines Vs. 'Not A Joke'

Originally published on Thu October 18, 2012 12:11 pm

This Sept. 16 image released by NASA shows the amount of summer sea ice in the Arctic, at center in white, and the 1979 to 2000 average extent for the day shown, with the yellow line. Scientists say sea ice in the Arctic shrank to an all-time low of 1.32 million square miles on Sept. 16, smashing old records for the critical climate indicator.
NASA AP

Scientists view climate change as one of the world's most pressing long-term problems. But the issue has barely surfaced in the U.S. presidential race. President Obama has taken steps to address climate change during his time in office. Republican challenger Mitt Romney would not make it a priority in his administration.

In fact, as Romney stood on the stage to accept his nomination at the Republican National Convention, he used global warming as a laugh line.

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1:31pm

Wed October 17, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

One Step Closer To The Quantum Future

Serge Haroche
Patrick Kovarik AFP/Getty Images

This year's Nobel Prize for physics was given to Serge Haroche of Collège de France and Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, and to David Wineland from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Both have pioneered methods to manipulate quantum systems, that is, entities living in the world of atoms, electrons and other particles.

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11:20am

Wed October 17, 2012
Krulwich Wonders...

Tough Old Lizard To Face Grave Romantic Troubles, Say Scientists

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 11:44 am

Courtesy of Piotr Naskrecki

Oh, dear.

First off, this lizard? It's not really a lizard. It's an almost vanished species, a reptile like no other.

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10:38am

Tue October 16, 2012
Shots - Health News

Teenage Brains Are Malleable And Vulnerable, Researchers Say

Brain scans are showing researchers why it's important to treat problems like depression in teens.
iStockphoto.com

Adolescent brains have gotten a bad rap, according to neuroscientists.

It's true that teenage brains can be impulsive, scientists reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans. But adolescent brains are also vulnerable, dynamic and highly responsive to positive feedback, they say.

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1:13pm

Mon October 15, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Energy Perception And Policy Reality

Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

As the election nears, energy policy remains a regular topic on the campaign trail. Controversial subjects like arctic drilling and hydraulic fracturing continue making headlines as the political class debate our nation's changing energy mix. But let's not deceive ourselves, or the public at large, about a president's real role and reach.

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