Science

4:42pm

Wed December 3, 2014
Space

NASA To Test Orion Spacecraft For Long Future Missions

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 10:34 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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4:30pm

Wed December 3, 2014
Shots - Health News

A Drug Might Heal Spinal Injuries By Sparking Nerve Growth

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:01 pm

A scientist who chose to ignore the mainstream nearly 30 years ago has found a new way to regenerate nerves in the spinal cord, at least in animals. A drug that Jerry Silver, a professor of neuroscience at Case Western Reserve University, helped design a drug that has allowed paralyzed rats to regain bladder function and even walk.

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2:35pm

Wed December 3, 2014
Goats and Soda

Is HIV Evolving Into A Weaker Virus?

Originally published on Thu December 4, 2014 3:05 pm

HIV is like a jack-in-the-box: When it binds to a cell, its shell (yellow) pops open, and its genetic material (reds) comes out.
Eye of Science Science Source

Viruses are masters at mutating.

So the big concern with deadly viruses, like Ebola and hepatitis C, is that they will evolve into more dangerous forms over time.

It looks like just the opposite is happening with HIV — although it's happening slowly.

"HIV can generate any mutation in the book, on any day," says virologist Philip Goulder at the University of Oxford.

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1:03pm

Wed December 3, 2014
Science

Earliest Human Engraving Or Trash From An Ancient Lunch?

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 5:52 pm

An inside view of this fossil Pseudodon shell shows that the hole made by Homo erectus is exactly at the spot where the muscle attached to the shell. Poking at that spot would force the shell open.
Henk Caspers Naturalis Leiden/The Netherlands

Scientists have discovered enigmatic markings on an ancient shell that's been sitting in a museum for more than a century — and they believe this may be the oldest known example of a deliberate geometric engraving made by a human hand.

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12:21pm

Wed December 3, 2014
The Salt

Our Ability To Digest Alcohol May Have Been Key To Our Survival

Originally published on Fri December 5, 2014 10:51 am

Rotten, fermented fruit has some nutritional value, and may have looked pretty good to our hungry ancient ancestors. Evolving the ability to metabolize the alcohol in fermented fruit may have helped us adapt to a changing climate 10 million years ago, research suggests.
iStockphoto

As we're sipping away on a glass of stout or Merlot, we probably take for granted our ability to digest the alcohol in the drink. Alcohol, or dietary ethanol (as scientists like to call it), is technically a toxin — imbibing too much can lead to a hangover and even poisoning, of course.

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7:53am

Wed December 3, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

A Quest For The Unattainable Unification Of Knowledge

iStockphoto

In his recent book, The Meaning of Human Existence, the celebrated evolutionary biologist, entomologist and essayist Edward Wilson sets off to chart a possible path toward the unification of the sciences and the humanities — taking off from his 1998 book Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge. If we are successful, claims Wilson, we should arrive at a deeply transformative understanding of the meaning of our existence.

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5:43pm

Tue December 2, 2014
Shots - Health News

FDA Considers Allowing Blood Donations From Some Gay Men

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 11:50 am

Several countries, including Australia, Japan and Great Britain, already encourage blood donations from some gay men.
Kevin Curtis Getty Images/Science Photo Library

The Food and Drug Administration is considering revising a ban on blood donations from men who have had sex with other men.

An FDA advisory committee Tuesday mulled the issues raised by changing the policy, which has been in effect since the early 1980s.

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6:52am

Tue December 2, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Confessions Of An Astrophysicist: I'm In Love With A Star

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 2:37 pm

The star Mira, commentator Adam Frank's love interest, leaves a trail of gas — light-years across — as it hurtles through space.
NASA

So, I'm in love and it's not an easy thing.

Though my beloved is beautiful and subtle and bestowed of great grace, there also is a terrible distance between us. Nothing I do can bridge that gulf, and the object of my affections will not acknowledge me. But I don't care. For those in love know that enduring the indifference and the distance is nothing but a tiny price to pay.

My love, of course, is a star. Her name is Mira.

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6:05am

Tue December 2, 2014
The Two-Way

NASA Prepares To Test New Spacecraft (That You've Likely Never Heard Of)

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 3:43 pm

The Orion capsule is poised to make its first test flight Thursday. If all goes as planned, the unmanned vehicle will orbit Earth twice before splashing into the Pacific Ocean.
Kim Shiflett NASA

NASA is about to launch a new spaceship into orbit, and Mallory Loe has never heard of it.

"I mean, technically, NASA doesn't have another spaceship, do they?" she asks incredulously during a visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

She's hardly the only one who doesn't know about this new spacecraft. In fact, none of a half-dozen tourists NPR interviewed in the museum's lobby was aware of the Orion spaceship.

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6:05am

Tue December 2, 2014
Humans

Study Shows Riding The Quiet Car Is Crushing Your Spirit

Originally published on Thu December 18, 2014 6:16 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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