Science

2:53pm

Thu April 17, 2014
The Salt

Chili Say What? Linguistics Help Pinpoint Pepper's Origins

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 7:29 pm

New research has traced chili peppers back to their origin in eastern Mexico.
iStockphoto

Count us among those who just can't get enough chili pepper news.

These spicy fruits are beloved around the world for their ability to sex up nearly any cuisine. They're the world's most widely grown spice crop, so it's hard to imagine that their reach was once limited to the early farmers in what is now eastern Mexico.

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2:14pm

Thu April 17, 2014
Shots - Health News

First Embryonic Stem Cells Cloned From A Man's Skin

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 12:20 pm

This mouse egg (top) is being injected with genetic material from an adult cell to ultimately create an embryo — and, eventually, embryonic stem cells. The process has been difficult to do with human cells.
James King-Holmes Science Source

Eighteen years ago, scientists in Scotland took the nuclear DNA from the cell of an adult sheep and put it into another sheep's egg cell that had been emptied of its own nucleus. The resulting egg was implanted in the womb of a third sheep, and the result was Dolly, the first clone of a mammal.

Dolly's birth set off a huge outpouring of ethical concern — along with hope that the same techniques, applied to human cells, could be used to treat myriad diseases.

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1:57pm

Thu April 17, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

'Why Am I Dead?' He Never Asked. Here's The Answer He Never Heard

Robert Krulwich NPR

Shara Yurkiewicz is a med student. She's doing rounds now, moving from department to department. Much of what she sees, she's seeing for the first time. Not yet a doctor, there are moments, many moments when she has the eyes of a patient. She gets scared. She feels helpless. She's too involved. She's at that place in her training where everything is so sharp, so new, she feels the full, fresh stab of it, and sometimes, very privately, she bleeds.

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3:30am

Thu April 17, 2014
The Salt

Plant Breeders Release First 'Open Source Seeds'

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 2:49 pm

Backers of the new Open Source Seed Initiative will pass out 29 new varieties of 14 different crops, including broccoli, carrots and kale, on Thursday.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds. They're releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new "open source pledge" that's intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely.

It's inspired by the example of open source software, which is freely available for anyone to use but cannot legally be converted into anyone's proprietary product.

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3:25am

Thu April 17, 2014
The Salt

Sichuan Pepper's Buzz May Reveal Secrets Of The Nervous System

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 8:19 am

It's the Sichuan peppercorn in dishes like spicy ma po tofu that makes your mouth buzz. Researchers wanted to know if that buzz is connected to the tingling you feel when your foot falls asleep.
iStockphoto

The Sichuan peppercorn is known to give some Chinese dishes a pleasant tingling feeling.

What's not so pleasant is that pins-and-needles feeling we get when our foot falls asleep — or when people who suffer from paresthesia experience constant tingling in their limbs.

Diana Bautista, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, wondered: Could these sensations be connected?

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6:48pm

Wed April 9, 2014
Environment

Why Do Some Clouds Drop Rain, While Others Don't?

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Recent storms in California haven't been enough to save the state from a serious drought. And now, the rainy season is winding down. Scientists are trying to understand why some storms unload lots of rain and snow in California and others don't. As Lauren Sommer reports from member station KQED in San Francisco, there could be a link to dust storms thousands of miles away.

LAUREN SOMMER, BYLINE: The sky over the Pacific Ocean is looking pretty ominous - big dark gray clouds in the distance.

I think it feels like rain.

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5:08pm

Wed April 9, 2014
The Salt

Denmark Kosher and Halal

Originally published on

In a conflict that pits animal welfare against religious rights, Denmark has ruled that all animals must be stunned before being killed, a move that effectively bans ritual slaughter in its purest form according to Muslim and Jewish tradition.

Before you ask...yes, this is the same country that recently made news for killing a giraffe at the zoo and dissecting it in public.

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3:28pm

Wed April 9, 2014
Shots - Health News

Gut-Eating Amoeba Caught On Film

Originally published on Thu April 10, 2014 4:26 pm

Not nice: A gut-eating amoeba (green) nibbles on a live human cell (purple) under the microscope. The parasite chews on the cell before killing and discarding it.
Courtesy of Katy Ralston

Most of us have heard of the brain-eating amoeba. You know, the little guy that crops up in neti pots and backyard swimming holes every now and then.

Now let me introduce you to its cousin: the gut-eating amoeba.

This nasty critter can wreak havoc in your intestinal tract and cause a dreadful case of food poisoning that may last months or years.

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11:18am

Wed April 9, 2014
The Salt

Food Scraps To Fuel Vertical Farming's Rise In Chicago

Originally published on Mon April 14, 2014 1:28 pm

Arugula plant beds inside The Plant, a vertical farm operation in Chicago.
Plant Chicago, NFP/Rachel Swenie

From plant factories fueled by the magenta glow of blue and red LED lights, to the 30-foot tall Ferris wheel for plants in Singapore, we've shown you the design possibilities for growing vegetables up instead of out.

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9:00am

Wed April 9, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Truth? It's Out There In The Fog

Originally published on Wed April 9, 2014 3:57 pm

The Dark Sector Lab (DSL), located 3/4 of a mile from the Geographic South Pole, houses the BICEP2 telescope (left) and the South Pole Telescope (right).
Steffen Richter Harvard University

In the past two weeks, I explored here some of the consequences of the remarkable observation by the scientists of the BICEP2 experiment in the South Pole. The data, potentially revolutionary, points to a period of extremely fast cosmic expansion at the very beginning of time, a signal imprinted in the cosmos for 13.8 billion years.

This is really mind-boggling.

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