Science

9:21am

Mon January 13, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Why Personalized Internet Ads Are Kind Of Creepy

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 3:58 pm

iStockphoto

As humans, we aren't always good at remembering how, when, and where we acquire particular bits of information. But we are very good at tracking the social structures through which information flows.

Even my 3-year-old can reconstruct, with uncanny accuracy, the social structure of her preschool. If asked, she'll readily report whom each child plays with, which children sit together at lunchtime, and who drops off and picks up each classmate.

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8:28am

Sun January 12, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Seeing The World Is Like Dancing With It

iStockphoto

When we gaze up into the night sky, we look out into the past. Adam Frank makes this point eloquently in a recent post. And it is a point redolent with consequence in the field of physics. It is the starting point of Einstein's special theory of relativity.

But is it right to suggest, as Adam does, that when I look into the face of my loved one across the table from me, what I see, really, is how she looked a tiny fraction of a second earlier? Adam writes:

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10:05am

Sat January 11, 2014
Animals

Rare Scottish Bird Reveals Its Long-Secret Winter Home

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 12:53 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Big aviation news this week: the red-necked phalarope is one of Scotland's rarest breeding birds and was thought to migrate to its winter grounds in the Arabian Sea. This past week, it was reported that a new tiny tracking device reveals that the phalarope actually flies across the Atlantic Ocean down to the Caribbean, all the way to South America. So, is the phalarope a Scottish bird or a South American one? Malcie Smith is from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and he joins us from Scotland. Thanks very much for being with us.

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10:05am

Sat January 11, 2014
Technology

Wearable Sensor Turns Color-Blind Man Into 'Cyborg'

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 12:53 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Neil Harbisson is an artist who was born with total colorblindness. That means he sees only in shades of black and white. But a sensor attached to his head has expanded his world by translating colors into sound frequencies. And for this reason, Mr. Harbisson considers himself to be a cyborg. Neil Harbisson joins us now from the studios of the BBC in London. Thanks so much for being with us.

NEIL HARBISSON: Thank you.

SIMON: Why do you consider yourself a cyborg and not just a guy who wears a device?

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8:02am

Sat January 11, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Go Where Raisins Swell Into Grapes, And Lemons Light The Sky

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 11:42 am

Courtesy of Pierre Javelle & Akiko Ida

There's a book by the novelist China Mieville that describes two cities plopped one on top of the other. One is large-scale, the other smaller-scale, and while they live in entangled proximity, both cities have the same rule. Each says to its citizens, pay no attention — on pain of punishment — to what the "others" around you are doing. See your own kind. "Unsee" the others.

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12:43pm

Fri January 10, 2014
The Salt

A Green-Movement Website Shakes Up The Debate Over GMOs

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 12:52 pm

After Grist's six-month-long series on genetically modified foods, some loyal readers accused the site of changing directions in the debate.
iStockphoto

A 26-part series on genetically modified food was not Nathanael Johnson's idea. And he didn't realize it would take six months, either.

Last year, Johnson was hired as the new food writer for Grist, a website for environmental news and opinion. Grist's editor, Scott Rosenberg, was waiting with an assignment: Dig into the controversy over GMOs.

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3:00am

Fri January 10, 2014
Science

When Big Carnivores Go Down, Even Vegetarians Take The Hit

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 12:45 pm

Ask not for whom the wolf stalks ...
Holly Kuchera iStockphoto

Big, fierce animals — lions and tigers and bears, for example — are relatively scarce in nature. That's normal, because if you have too many, they'll eat themselves out of prey.

But top predators are now so rare that many are in danger of disappearing. That's creating ripple effects throughout the natural world that scientists are still trying to figure out.

What they're exploring is ecology — the interplay of animals and plants in nature. It's not rocket science. It's harder.

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5:14pm

Thu January 9, 2014
Around the Nation

It's Not Magic On The Mountain, It's A Rain-Making Machine

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 7:36 pm

A ground-based cloud-seeding tower at Alpine Meadows ski area near California's Lake Tahoe. It spits out silver iodide particles that are the right size and shape to help precipitation form.
Lauren Sommer KQED

3:50pm

Thu January 9, 2014
The Two-Way

Space Music: How To Hear Solar Flares From The Moon

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 6:04 pm

Live, from the moon, it's the space weather report: Data from a lunar orbiter is being used to create a music stream that reflects conditions in space. Here, an image created by NASA "visualizers" who used data from 2010 to show the moon traveling across the sun, as happens two or three times a year.
NASA/SDO/LRO/GSFC

We've been following the coronal mass ejection that headed toward Earth after an intense solar flare was emitted from the sun earlier this week. And now NASA tells us that such events can be heard, in a sense, by tuning in to CRaTER Radio, a "sonification" project that uses data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to generate musical sounds and stream them on the Internet.

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1:19pm

Thu January 9, 2014
The Salt

Is Sugar Addiction Why So Many January Diets Fail?

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 2:34 pm

Indulge or resist? Sugar cravings can be a serious challenge.
iStock

We've survived the stretch between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, when rich, sweet treats come at us non-stop. Now is the season of reform, when gym memberships, cleanse books and weight-loss plans sell like gangbusters.

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