Science

4:04pm

Wed February 19, 2014
Science

What Is The Psychological Effect Of Naming Storms?

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 8:02 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Along with plenty of ice, sleet and snow, much of the country has also been blanketed this winter by an avalanche of names. When winter storms assault us, they now come with names like Hercules, Janus and, the most recent storm, Pax.

Here's NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam on why we name winter storms and how those names might affect us.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: We've been naming hurricanes for many years.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEWS CLIP)

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4:04pm

Wed February 19, 2014
The Two-Way

If Yellowstone Could Talk, It Might Squeak. Blame The Helium

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 8:02 pm

Sunset on the Firehole River, Yellowstone National Park.
Bill Young Flickr

A huge amount of ancient helium is rising up from the rocks beneath Yellowstone National Park — about enough to fill up a Goodyear blimp every week.

The gas comes from a vast store of helium that's accumulated in the Earth's crust for hundreds of millions of years, scientists report in the journal Nature this week.

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2:35pm

Wed February 19, 2014
Author Interviews

One Man's Quest To Find The 'Sonic Wonders Of The World'

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 2:38 pm

Why does thunder rumble? Acoustic professor Trevor Cox explains that it has to do with the way lightning is a jagged line. "Each little kink is actually generating the sound, and the reason thunder rumbles is because the sound takes different time to come from different kinks because they're all slightly different distances from you," he says.
Mariana Suarez AFP/Getty Images

Ever wonder why your voice sounds so much better when you sing in the shower? It has to do with an acoustic "blur" called reverberation. From classical to pop music, reverberation "makes music sound nicer," acoustic engineer Trevor Cox tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. It helps blend the sound, "but you don't want too much," he warns.

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2:18pm

Wed February 19, 2014
The Two-Way

World's Largest Oyster Is Size Of A Man's Shoe

It's alive: At nearly 14 inches long, this oyster has been certified as the world's largest. It's also around the same size as a man's size 10-1/2 or 11 shoe here in the U.S.
Wadden Sea Centre

The world's largest oyster is nearly 14 inches long and resides in Denmark, according to the folks at Guinness World Records. And it's still alive and growing, according to Christine Ditlefsen, the biologist at the Wadden Sea Centre whose world record was recently certified.

The oyster was found in October in Wadden Sea National Park, a shallow area off of the North Sea on Denmark's southwestern coast. Its size and shape could be said to resemble a huge plaintain. But when they found it, the Wadden staff compared the oyster to a large and sturdy shoe.

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12:48pm

Wed February 19, 2014
Shots - Health News

Sit More, And You're More Likely To Be Disabled After Age 60

Originally published on Thu February 20, 2014 2:26 pm

Sure, it's relaxing. But all those hours on the sofa may make it hard to actually stand up on your own.
iStockphoto

The more you sit, the less physically active you are, which can lead to all sorts of health problems, including an early death.

But too much sitting increasingly looks like a health risk all its own. Researchers at Northwestern University say that for people 60 and older, each additional hour a day spent sitting increases the risk of becoming physically disabled by about 50 percent — no matter how much exercise they get.

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11:19am

Wed February 19, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Trees On The Move As Temperature Zones Shift 3.8 Feet A Day

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 2:46 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

You are a snail. You are a plant. You like where you are. The temperature's right. It suits you.

But then, gradually, over the years, it gets warmer. Not every day, of course, but on more and more days, the temperature climbs to uncomfortable highs, drying you out, making you tired, thirsty.

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8:45am

Wed February 19, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Mystery That Binds Us All

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 5:02 pm

A total solar eclipse, seen from northern Queensland, Australia, on November 14, 2012.
Greg Wood AFP/Getty Images

In last week's New Yorker, essayist and critic Adam Gopnik reviewed Peter Watson's The Age of Atheists: How We Have Sought to Live Since the Death of God, a book that — starting with Nietzsche's pronouncement that God is dead — visits most of the famous atheists of the 20th century.

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9:44am

Tue February 18, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

How To See A Galaxy In Your Toilet Bowl

Originally published on Tue February 25, 2014 8:01 pm

The spiral galaxy known as NGC 3521 lies in the constellation of Leo, a mere 35 million light-years away. Now go flush and see if you understand the connection between the two.
O. Maliy ESO

Have you ever watched a little kid playing in a sink full of water? It could be the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink or even the tub — it's all the same to kids. The faucet goes on. The faucet goes off. The water fills up, the water drains away. Why is it that every kid everywhere can lose a good hour just watching water slosh around?

The answer is simple.

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9:51am

Mon February 17, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Galileo Lives On

Most historians agree that Galileo's famous experiment atop the Leaning Tower of Pisa never took place. So how did he arrive at and support his alternative to Aristotelian dogma?
Hulton Archive Getty Images

This past weekend marked the 450th anniversary of Galileo's birth. In articles celebrating his contributions to science, Clara Moskowitz at Scientific American wonders what he'd make of contemporary science, while Dan Vergano at National Geographic credits him with nothing short of the invention of "our own modern world."

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8:03am

Mon February 17, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

Expanding The NPR Brand, Mom By Mom

Connie J. Sun

The other day, I wrote a post about a cartoonist, Connie Sun, and her thoughts about animals. Her mom heard about it, and called Connie to say "Yea!" and then, because she's an honest woman, she asked, "What is NPR?" Here's what happened next:

I have this conversation all the time. So many people are not aware that NPR writes things, "posts" things. But we are spreading the word. (Going from "What is NPR?" to "NPR is blogs?" — that's progress, I think. No?)

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