Fri August 17, 2012

Swarming Up A Storm: Why Animals School And Flock

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 11:06 am

A school of Blue Tang fish swimming together off the Caribbean island of Bonaire. It has long been assumed that the schooling behavior of fish evolved in part to protect animals from being attacked by predators.
David J. Phillip AP

By tricking live fish into attacking computer-generated "prey," scientists have learned that animals like birds and fish may indeed have evolved to swarm together to protect themselves from the threat of predators.

"Effectively, what we're doing here is we're getting predatory fish to play a video game," says Iain Couzin, who studies collective animal behavior at Princeton University. "And through playing that game, through seeing which virtual prey items they attack, we can get a very deep understanding of as to how behavioral interactions among prey affect their survival."

Read more


Thu August 16, 2012

When This Oil Spills, It's 'A Whole New Monster'

Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 6:19 pm

An oil sheen appears along the shore of the Kalamazoo. More than 800,000 gallons of oil entered Talmadge Creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River, a Lake Michigan tributary. Heavy rains caused the river to overtop existing dams and carried oil 30 miles downstream.
John W. Poole NPR

Sometime in the next few months, David Daniel probably will have to stand by and watch as bulldozers knock down his thick forest and dig up the streams he loves.

His East Texas property is one of more than 1,000 in the path of a new pipeline, the southern stretch of what is known as the Keystone XL system.

For years, Daniel has tried to avoid this fate — or at least figure out what risks will come with it. But it has been difficult for him to get straight answers about the tar sands oil the pipeline will carry, and what happens when it spills.

Read more


Thu August 16, 2012

Jaws, Teeth And Fins! Oh My! 'Shark Week' At 25

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 1:06 pm

In a scene from the "Shark Week" show Air Jaws Apocalypse, a great white shark goes after a seal.
Chris Fallows Discovery Channel

The Discovery Channel's annual "Shark Week" is one of the longest running events on cable television. After 25 years on the air, the weeklong series of programming dedicated solely to sharks has become an American icon. Comedian Stephen Colbert has called it his second favorite time of year.

Legend has it that it all began as an idea scribbled down on a napkin during a brainstorming meeting.

Read more


Thu August 16, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Can College Students Resist The Lure Of Facebook, Twitter During Class?

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 3:04 pm

Are any of these students texting?
Lisa Klumpp

Dear college students across the U.S.,

Like millions of my colleagues who teach at universities and colleges, I'm working hard this week to put an updated zing into the syllabus for each of my fall classes. Describing the course content and readings for Biological Anthropology and Primate Behavior is the fun, mind-engaging part.

Read more


Thu August 16, 2012
The Salt

Peaches, Beautiful And Fleeting, Thanks To Fuzzy Thin Skin

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 11:25 am

Shopper reaches for donut peaches at the Penn Quarter farmers' market in Washington, D.C.
Maggie Starbard NPR

If lately you've noticed the farmers' market flooded with signs that say "donut," "cling," "whiteflesh" and "freestone," you won't be surprised to learn that August is National Peach Month. Though the juicy fruits pack the produce aisles now, in a few short months a good peach might be hard to find.

Many fruits, though harvested in other parts of the world, are available in the United States all year long. So why are peaches so seasonal, and in the winter, either difficult to find or hard as a rock?

Read more


Thu August 16, 2012

Scientists Find Massive Cluster Of Galaxies

Originally published on Tue August 21, 2012 4:53 pm



Let's look to the sky now. Scientists say they have found what could be the most massive cluster of galaxies ever seen. One of the galaxies is giving birth to new stars at an astonishing rate. Here's NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce.

Read more


Wed August 15, 2012
The Salt

Saving Lives In Africa With The Humble Sweet Potato

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 11:26 am

Sweet potato evangelist Maria Isabel Andrade from the International Potato Center drives around Mozambique in her orange Toyota Land Cruiser.
Dan Charles NPR

A regular old orange-colored sweet potato might not seem too exciting to many of us.

Read more


Wed August 15, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Mars And The Phenomenal Curiosity

Originally published on Fri August 17, 2012 3:05 pm

An artist's rendering shows a rocket-powered descent stage lowering the one-ton Curiosity rover to the Mars surface.

Only those who were in deep hibernation or unconscious would have missed two recent amazing events: the London Olympics and the sensational feat in which NASA engineers and scientists managed to land a car-sized rover onto the Martian surface. Adam wrote about the mission last week.

Now that the dust has settled (in many ways, including around the rover), I'd like to revisit the mission and its promise of discovery.

Read more


Wed August 15, 2012
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

You Are Here, SuperMassive Galaxies Are There: A 3-D Flythrough Of The Universe

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 10:02 am

This amazing fly-through of the Universe is based on real data (the Sloan Digital Sky Survey). This is no Hollywood flight of fancy.

From the SDSS release page

Read more


Wed August 15, 2012
The Salt

Daily Dose Of Dark Chocolate May Help Lower Blood Pressure

Originally published on Mon October 22, 2012 11:28 am

Dark chocolate — it's delicious, and it may be good for your blood pressure.
Janine Lamontagne

We realize the skinny on chocolate seems too good to be true, but there have been positive signs lately that a bit of the sweet stuff is OK.

A few months back we reported on a study that found a regular chocolate habit — in moderation, of course — may be good for the waistline.

Read more