Science

3:26am

Thu February 6, 2014
The Salt

Woolly Mammoths' Taste For Flowers May Have Been Their Undoing

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 5:01 pm

Woolly mammoths depended on tiny flowering plants for protein. Did the decline of the flowers cause their extinction?
Per Möller/Johanna Anjar

They were some of the largest, hairiest animals ever to walk the Earth, but new research shows a big part of the woolly mammoth's diet was made up of tiny flowers.

The work is based on DNA analysis of frozen arctic soil and mammoth poop. It suggests that these early vegans depended on the flowers as a vital source of protein. And when the flowers disappeared after the last ice age, so too did the mammoths that ate them.

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4:46pm

Wed February 5, 2014
Science

Chemical Study Becomes A Tale of Conspiracy And Paranoia

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 10:23 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And I'm Audie Cornish. Now, the strange story of Tyrone Hayes. The biologist has devoted much of his career to studying a common herbicide used on corn, called atrazine; specifically, its effects on amphibians. Hayes believes the chemical impedes the sexual development of frogs, and he's publicly argued against the use of atrazine and criticized the corporation that makes it, Syngenta.

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4:44pm

Wed February 5, 2014
Science

Seeing Less Helps The Brain Hear More

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 10:23 pm

iStockphoto

A few days in the dark can improve an animal's hearing, scientists report this week in the journal Neuron. This temporary loss of visual input seems to trigger favorable changes in areas of the brain that process auditory information, they say.

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4:16pm

Wed February 5, 2014
The Salt

California Is So Dry, Some Diners Won't Get Water Unless They Ask

Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 5:39 pm

In California, some restaurants are changing their policy to serve water to patrons only upon request.
iStockphoto

California's drought is getting very serious — so serious that even those water refills you didn't ask for at restaurants are now under scrutiny.

"We have not had this dry a time period in all of California's history since we've been keeping records — that's how bad it is," Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., who represents a district in the Central Valley, told reporters on Tuesday.

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3:26pm

Wed February 5, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Big Fish Stories Getting Littler

Courtesy of Monroe County Public Library

They came, they fished, then snap! They posed. Right in front of their Big Catch — and thereby hangs a tale.

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2:34pm

Wed February 5, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Do Black Holes Exist?

This artist's impression shows the surroundings of the supermassive black hole at the heart of the active galaxy NGC 3783 in the southern constellation of Centaurus.
M. Kornmesser ESO

Black holes are in crisis. Well, not them, but the people who think about them, theoretical physicists who try to understand the relationship between the two pillars of modern physics, general relativity and quantum physics. Judging from the current discussions, one of the two must go, at least in their present formulation. On January 22nd, Stephen Hawking posted a paper where he bluntly stated that black holes, in the sense of being objects that can trap light and everything else indefinitely, are no more. And that's a big deal.

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2:07pm

Wed February 5, 2014
Shots - Health News

An Artificial Arm Gives One Man The Chance To Feel Again

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 8:43 pm

Dennis Aabo Sorensen tests a prosthetic arm with sensory feedback in a laboratory in Rome in March 2013.
Patrizia Tocci/Lifehand 2

Ten years ago Dennis Sorensen was setting off fireworks to celebrate New Year's Eve with his family in Denmark when something terrible happened.

"Unfortunately one of the rockets we had this evening was not good and when we light it then it just blew up and, yeah, my hand was, was not that good anymore," says Sorensen.

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1:51pm

Wed February 5, 2014
The Salt

Ladies: Good Bacteria In Yogurt May Be Good For Waistlines, Too

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 1:49 pm

A probiotic commonly found in yogurt seems to help women lose more weight and fat, a recent study finds. But you still have to eat healthy to see an effect.
iStockphoto

Ladies, if that Super Bowl Sunday pitch from '90s heartthrob John Stamos didn't leave you craving more yogurt, here's some science that might do the trick: There's tantalizing new research suggesting that some friendly bacteria commonly found in yogurts may help women shed more weight while on a diet and keep it off.

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1:20pm

Wed February 5, 2014
Shots - Health News

Our Brains Rewrite Our Memories, Putting Present In The Past

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 8:04 am

The brain edits memories of the past, updating them with new information. Scientists say this may help us function better in the present. But don't throw those photos away.
iStockphoto

Think about your fifth-birthday party. Maybe your mom carried the cake. What did her face look like? If you have a hard time imagining the way she looked then rather than how she looks now, you're not alone.

The brain edits memories relentlessly, updating the past with new information. Scientists say that this isn't a question of having a bad memory. Instead, they think the brain updates memories to make them more relevant and useful now — even if they're not a true representation of the past.

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9:20am

Wed February 5, 2014
The Salt

Electronic Tongues Are The Beer Snobs Of The Future

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 5:01 pm

Personally, we're most looking forward to having robot drinking buddies.
Bongo Entertainment Inc.

If beer is the new wine, robots are the new beer snobs. Well, sort of.

Researchers in Barcelona have developed an electronic tongue that really knows the difference between a pilsner and a bock.

For now, it looks less like a slick, futuristic robot and more like a big of clump sensors. It's still a prototype, but its creators say it could some day replace human taste testers.

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