Science

5:04am

Fri January 31, 2014
Research News

What's The Problem With Feeling On Top Of The World?

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 7:58 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's turn to a thought experiment. Imagine you're riding one of those glass elevators that takes you to the top of a skyscraper. You go higher and higher. The view gets better. The cars on the ground, the people down there look puny like ants. Researchers say if you imagine this, it can make you feel unaccountably better about yourself. It briefly raises your self esteem. But researchers also say this feeling can be bad for you.

NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is here to explain why. Hi, Shankar.

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5:04am

Fri January 31, 2014
Research News

Scientists Come Close To Finding True Magnetic Monopole

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 10:55 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Scientists may have filled in a gap in one the fundamental theories of physics. We've always been told that magnets have two poles, north and south. But theory suggests there should be something called a magnetic monopole, a magnet that has either a north pole or a south pole but not both of them. So far no one has found this elusive magnetic monopole.

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7:19pm

Thu January 30, 2014
Environment

Changing Climate In Argentina Is Killing Penguin Chicks

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:00 pm

A penguin nestling sounds off at the Punta Tombo reserve. Young birds that haven't yet traded a down coat for juvenile plumage "aren't waterproof — at all," says biologist Dee Boersma.
Maxi Jonas Reuters /Landov

There's a patch of seashore along the coast of Argentina where hundreds of thousands of penguins make their home. It's called Punta Tombo. Dee Boersma, a conservation biologist at the University of Washington, has been going there for 30 years, and she's discovered that a changing climate is killing those penguins.

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5:32pm

Thu January 30, 2014
Science

Researchers Watch As Our Brains Turn Sounds Into Words

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 7:19 pm

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Researchers are a bit closer to understanding one of the brain's greatest accomplishments: making sense out of spoken language.

An area of the brain that interprets speech contains cells that respond to the dozen or so basic units of sound we use to form words, according to a team from the University of California, San Francisco.

Some of these cells respond specifically to plosives, like the initial "puh" sounds in "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers," the team found. Other neurons respond to fricative consonants, like the "f" sound in the word "fish."

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12:35pm

Thu January 30, 2014
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Defining Success Beyond The Dollar Sign

iStockphoto

Amy Chua is known as the Tiger Mom. Ever since writing a book called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother about raising her daughter according to the strict — and very high — expectations of her own Chinese-immigrant parents, she's been a lightning rod for controversy about parenting and our notion of success in this country.

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12:23pm

Thu January 30, 2014
The Salt

Your Nose Knows Which Foods Are Fattiest

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 11:11 am

Charles, Prince of Wales, smells before tasting some ice cream during a visit to Gloucestershire. Maybe he was sniffing for fat?
Barry Batchelor/Getty Images

A lot of us can agree that low-fat ice cream is a sad substitute for the real deal. It's not as creamy, and it just doesn't taste as good.

Now researchers are saying it may even smell different.

Researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center have found that people can actually smell differences in dietary fat in food.

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10:13am

Thu January 30, 2014
Shots - Health News

Popular Testosterone Therapy May Raise Risk Of Heart Attack

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 12:06 pm

Some men take testosterone hoping to boost energy and libido, or to build strength. But at what risk?
iStockphoto

There's new evidence that widely prescribed testosterone drugs — touted for men with flagging libidos and general listlessness — might increase the risk of heart attacks.

A study of more than 55,000 men found a doubling of heart attack risk among testosterone users older than 65, compared with men who didn't take the drug.

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8:07am

Thu January 30, 2014
Krulwich Wonders...

The Starling That Dared To Be Different

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 5:17 pm

Dennis Hlynsky Vimeo

You've seen them. We've all seen them.

Hundreds of starlings are sitting side by side by side — up on a power line yakking, preening — when all of a sudden, boom! Up they go, all of them. What happened? A sudden noise? A falcon in the neighborhood? Whatever it was, all the birds know. All the birds go. Starlings find safety in numbers. They like sameness. Exceptional starlings, I imagine, get eaten.

Well, that's what I used to think. Then, today, I saw my first unlike-all-the others starling. At least I think I did.

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3:30am

Thu January 30, 2014
The Two-Way

Asteroid Belt May Be Just One Big Melting Pot Of Space Rocks

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 8:32 am

An artist's concept of a narrow asteroid belt orbiting a star similar to our own sun.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

The asteroid belt, a ring of rubble between Mars and Jupiter, has sometimes been written off as discarded leftovers from the solar system's start. But new research published in the journal Nature shows that the belt actually formed during an unruly later era, when planets themselves were on the move.

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3:27am

Thu January 30, 2014
The Great Plains Oil Rush

Much Of North Dakota's Natural Gas Is Going Up In Flames

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 11:44 am

Gas flaring near Highway 85 southwest of Williston. Analysts estimate that almost 30 percent of the gas being produced in the state is burned off.
Jeff Brady/NPR

A remarkable transformation is underway in western North Dakota, where an oil boom is changing the state's fortunes and leaving once-sleepy towns bursting at the seams. In a series of stories, NPR is exploring the economic, social and environmental demands of this modern-day gold rush.

North Dakota's oil boom isn't just about oil; a lot of natural gas comes out of the ground at the same time. But there's a problem with that: The state doesn't have the pipelines needed to transport all of that gas to market. There's also no place to store it.

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