Science

3:50am

Fri August 24, 2012
Science

Web Cartoonist Raises $1 Million For Tesla Museum

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 1:12 pm

Tesla reads in front of the spiral coil of his high-frequency transformer at his lab on Houston Street in New York.
Marc Seifer Archives

The only remaining laboratory of one of the greatest American inventors may soon be purchased so that it can be turned into a museum, thanks to an Internet campaign that raised nearly a million dollars in about a week.

The lab was called Wardenclyffe, and it was built by Nikola Tesla, a wizard of electrical engineering whose power systems lit up the Chicago World's Fair in 1893 and harnessed the mighty Niagara Falls.

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3:18am

Fri August 24, 2012
Megafires: The New Normal In The Southwest

In Southwest, Worst-Case Fire Scenario Plays Out

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 7:48 pm

Craig Allen, left, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, and Jorge Castro, a visiting professor of ecology from Spain, survey a plateau ravaged during last year's Las Conchas fire in New Mexico. The megafire burned over 150,000 acres of forest.
David Gilkey NPR

Third of a five-part series

As the Earth's average temperature creeps upward, climate scientists have predicted record heat waves and droughts. That's what we've seen this summer in the U.S.

The question has become, are we now seeing the real damage climate change can do?

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5:14pm

Thu August 23, 2012
Energy

Romney Energy Plan Touts Oil, Gas, Coal Production

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 7:07 pm

In unveiling his energy policy during a campaign event on Thursday, Mitt Romney says he wants to set a goal of North American energy independence by 2020.
Evan Vucci AP

Mitt Romney outlined an energy plan Thursday that would guide his Republican presidency. It focuses heavily on expanding the supply of fossil fuels. The presumptive nominee said the U.S., Mexico and Canada together could reach energy independence by 2020.

But the plan makes no mention of climate change and would end subsidies for cleaner sources of energy, such as wind and solar.

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2:30pm

Thu August 23, 2012
Megafires: The New Normal In The Southwest

Why Forest-Killing Megafires Are The New Normal

Originally published on Sun August 26, 2012 9:46 am

Jorge Castro, a visiting professor of ecology from Spain, sips water in the shade of a burnt tree in New Mexico's Bandelier Wilderness area, adjacent to the Bandelier National Monument. This site was devastated by last year's Las Conchas fire.
David Gilkey NPR

Second of a five-part series

Fire scientists are calling it "the new normal": a time of fires so big and hot that no one can remember anything like it.

One of the scientists who coined that term is Craig Allen. I drive with him to New Mexico's Bandelier National Monument, where he works for the U.S. Geological Survey. We take a dirt road up into the Jemez Mountains, into a landscape of black poles as far as you can see.

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2:23pm

Thu August 23, 2012
The Salt

So, Who Sent Those Sick Cows To The Slaughterhouse?

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 11:00 am

A security guard opens the gate at the Central Valley Meat Co., the California slaughterhouse recently shut down by federal regulators after they received a graphic video of cows being mistreated.
Gosia Wozniacka AP

Federal regulators and fast-food companies reacted with unprecedented speed this week to the release of an undercover video that animal-rights activists shot inside a California slaughterhouse. The video — which, we'll warn you, is pretty graphic — shows employees of Central Valley Meat Co. using electric prods repeatedly on cattle that appeared unable to get to their feet.

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12:59pm

Thu August 23, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Ivan Dies At 50: A Gorilla Life, Remembered

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 2:11 pm

Ivan chews on his finger at Zoo Atlanta in 1996.
John Bazemore AP

I've written before in this space about how an animal obituary may help mark a life of significance. Here is my obituary for Ivan the gorilla.

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5:38am

Thu August 23, 2012
The Picture Show

Our Changing Forests: An 88-Year Time Lapse

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 12:35 pm

1909. Facing nearly due west from ridge northeast of Como Lake. Light selection cut in open ponderosa pine. Ground cover is comprised of perennial grasses and forbs, including basalmroot. A few low-growing bitterbrush plants can be seen in the vicinity of horses and in distance on left. A group of willows can be seen behind horsemen at left center.
Photo 87357 U.S. Forest Service

Intense forest fires have been raging across the western United States this summer. So far this year, nearly 43,000 wildfires have torched almost 7 million acres of land.

As NPR Science correspondent Christopher Joyce and photographer David Gilkey report from Arizona and New Mexico this week, the forests of the American Southwest have become so overgrown that they're essentially tinderboxes just waiting for a spark.

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3:23am

Thu August 23, 2012
Joe's Big Idea

Telescope Innovator Shines His Genius On New Fields

Originally published on Thu August 23, 2012 12:23 pm

Roger Angel, an astronomer at the University of Arizona, stands in front of his new project: a solar tracker. Angel wants to use the device to harness Arizona's abundant sunlight and turn it into usable energy.
Jason Millstein for NPR

You may not be familiar with the name Roger Angel, but if there were ever a scientist with a creative streak a mile wide, it would be he.

Angel is an astronomer. He's famous for developing an entirely new way of making really large, incredibly precise telescope mirrors. But his creativity doesn't stop there. He's now turned his attention to solar power, hoping to use the tricks he learned from capturing distant light from stars to do a more cost-efficient job of capturing light from the Sun.

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3:17am

Thu August 23, 2012
Megafires: The New Normal In The Southwest

How The Smokey Bear Effect Led To Raging Wildfires

Originally published on Fri August 24, 2012 7:50 pm

Adams (left) talks with Swetnam in their laboratory, nestled under the football stadium.
David Gilkey NPR

First of a five-part series

The history of fire in the American Southwest is buried in a catacomb of rooms under the bleachers of the football stadium at the University of Arizona.

Here rules professor Thomas Swetnam, tree ring expert. You want to read a tree ring? You go to Tom. He's a big, burly guy with a beard and a true love for trees.

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5:51pm

Wed August 22, 2012
Shots - Health Blog

Kids Of Older Fathers Likelier To Have Genetic Ailments

Originally published on Mon August 27, 2012 9:57 am

Older dads add more genetic mutations to the family tree.
iStockphoto.com

Scientists have found solid evidence that older men have more random mutations in their sperm cells. They're warning that can cause autism, schizophrenia and a long list of other genetic diseases in their offspring.

The new report, in the journal Nature, comes from deCODE Genetics, an Icelandic firm that studied the entire genomes of 78 families involving 219 individuals.

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