Sun February 9, 2014
Strange News

Why Confounding Coincidences Happen Every Day

Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 11:44 am



Coincidences confound us. Miracles amaze us. And the chance that the same person could be hit by lightning three different times, well, that just defies explanation. Or does it? David Hand is an emeritus professor of mathematics at Imperial College in London. And he has written a book called "The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles and Rare Events Happen Every Day." He joins us from the BBC studios in London. Thanks so much for being with us.

DAVID HAND: Thank you very much for inviting me.

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Sun February 9, 2014

Learning About Love From Prairie Vole Bonding

Originally published on Sun February 9, 2014 11:44 am

Most mammals have "love 'em and leave 'em" relationships, but not the prairie vole. They mate for life, sharing nest-building duties and an equal role in raising their young.

It looks a lot like a relationship many of us would like to have. Prairie voles have long been of interest to scientists looking at the neurobiology of bonding and monogamy.

Larry Young from the primate research center at Emory University in Atlanta tells NPR's Rachel Martin there's a ritual that happens when a male prairie vole spots an eligible female.

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Sat February 8, 2014
Digital Life

Dr. Wikipedia: The 'Double-Edged Sword' Of Crowdsourced Medicine

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 1:17 pm

giulia.forsythe Flickr

Wikipedia has become a go-to source for definitions, celebrity facts, and now, medical information. A study by the IMS Health Institute published in January names Wikipedia as the "single leading source" of health care information for both patients and health care professionals.

Unfortunately, some of that information is wrong.

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Fri February 7, 2014
The Two-Way

Oldest 'Out Of Africa' Human Footprints Found On British Coast

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 2:09 pm

The Happisburgh site in Norfolk, Britain, where the earliest evidence of human footprints outside Africa has been found on the Norfolk Coast.
Martin Bates/British Museum EPA/Landov

The oldest human ancestors to have walked on the British Isles left nothing except footprints. But they've made quite an impression on the world of science.

Researchers say 50 or so prints found on a beach near the village of Happisburg in Norfolk are the oldest known human footprints outside Africa. They were discovered last spring by a team of experts from the British Museum, the Natural History Museum and Queen Mary University of London.

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Fri February 7, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Should We Expect A Theory Of Everything?

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 4:19 pm

Could North Korea be behind commentator Alva Noë's car problems? Not likely. Just as it's not likely a theory of everything will ever explain human behavior.
Ed Jones AFP/Getty Images

Last week my car broke down on the way to my early morning tai chi class. I sat in the middle of the road in the pre-dawn pondering why my car stopped running.

Among possible explanations for the malfunction, here are two that I did not consider. I did not consider the possibility that North Korean spies had sabotaged my vehicle in the night. Or the possibility that divine spirits disabled the car to protect me from dangers up ahead.

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Fri February 7, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

The Right Way To Hug A Lion

Originally published on Fri February 7, 2014 8:16 pm

Courtesy of Connie Sun

There are different ways to think about animals. One way is to imagine them totally separate, not attaching to us, ever. "They are not brethren," wrote the great naturalist Henry Beston, "they are not underlings. They are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time." Animals and people, Beston thought, live in their own worlds while sharing the same streets, meadows, skies, homes. We mingle, but the gap between us is not crossable.

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Thu February 6, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

17 Days In Sochi: The Olympics And Social Justice

Andreas Wellinger of Germany during ski jump practice in Sochi.
Streeter Lecka Getty Images

The Winter Olympics have begun in Sochi, Russia. Along with millions of others, I'll devote hours to watching the games over the next 17 days. (And when I'm away from the TV, I'll follow the happenings in Sochi via The Edge and On The Road!)

Ever since I was a child, watching alongside my parents, I've been enthralled by the stories of individual Olympic athletes, with their incredible drive, discipline and determination. I love watching them compete.

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Thu February 6, 2014
The Two-Way

Who 'Won' The Creation Vs. Evolution Debate?

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:07 pm

Bill Nye (left) and Ken Ham debated whether creation is a viable model of origins in the modern scientific era during a lengthy debate Tuesday. The points they raised have fueled an online conversation that continues.

Days after a wide-ranging debate on creationism and evolution between Bill Nye and Ken Ham, the event is driving an online conversation. Themes of belief and literalism, logic and faith — and, for some, relevance — are being aired and disputed. And some wonder what the debate accomplished.

The video of the more than two-hour debate, in which Nye and Ham presented their views on how the Earth and its surroundings were created, has been viewed more than 830,000 times on YouTube. At one point, the live event drew more than 500,000 viewers.

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Thu February 6, 2014
The Two-Way

NASA Probe Finds Newly Formed Crater On Mars

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:42 pm

An enhanced image of a newly formed crater on Mars. The feature, including the ejected material, stretches more than 9 miles across.

Take a close look at the stunning image above showing a newly formed impact crater on Mars: The blue streaks of material, known as ejecta, radiate 9 miles from the 100-foot crater, according to NASA.

The picture was taken from orbit by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on Nov. 19. The same area was imaged by the MRO's Context Camera in July 2010 and again in May 2012 — with no crater in the first and a telltale surface scar in the second.

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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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