This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Back in 1972, during Apollo's final mission to the moon, Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan spotted a strange phenomenon, a glow along the horizon of the moon just before sunrise, followed by mysterious streamers of light, sort of like, you know, the rays of sunlight you see peaking through a cloud. Well, he made a sketch describing it, and since then, scientists have been trying to figure out what the heck he saw.
Next up: wildfires. California's Rim Fire is not 80 percent contained, with some 4,000 firefighters still on the job. All that emergency response, of course, costs money, which federal government budgets for each year. But it doesn't seem to be enough, because three weeks ago, the head of the U.S. Forest Service announced that the Forest Service had burned through its firefighting budget, and would have to drain money earmarked for other things, like fire prevention.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Just about everybody loves penguins, right? They're funny on land. They're amazing underwater, and they're very photogenic, so they show up in lots of ads and movies. But beyond the screen, prospects for the birds are not entirely good. This week, over 200 researches from around the world met in the U.K. to talk penguins, from the prospects of conservation of species to how penguins are able to stay under water so long, to the properties of penguin poop.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. This is Alzheimer's Awareness Month, in case you didn't know that. Dr. Alois Alzheimer first described a type of dementia that could go on to - that would go on to bear his name - first described that in 1901. Now over a century later, more than five million people in the U.S. are living with Alzheimer's, according to the Alzheimer's Association, and we still are looking for the exact cause and treatment for the disease.
Last year, 2012, the Earth experienced a record melt of Arctic ice, torrential rainfall in Australia, and withering droughts in the United States and elsewhere. Scientists are beginning to figure out why. Here's NPR's Richard Harris
Originally published on Tue September 10, 2013 12:52 pm
Here's a bit of news that might make you drop that chicken nugget midbite.
Just before the start of the long holiday weekend last Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quietly announced that it was ending a ban on processed chicken imports from China. The kicker: These products can now be sold in the U.S. without a country-of-origin label.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this picture of the sun on June 18. The dark blue area in the upper left quadrant of the sun is a huge coronal hole more than 400,000 miles across. Coronal holes are areas of the sun's outermost atmospheric layer — the corona — where the magnetic field opens up and solar material quickly flows out.
There's a hole in the sun's corona. But don't worry — that happens from time to time.
"A coronal hole is just a big, dark blotch that we see on the sun in our images," says Dean Pesnell, project scientist for NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. "We can only see them from space, because when we look at them [through] a regular telescope, they don't appear."
Cats have come a long way from being animals charged with catching mice to treasured, adorable creatures that snuggle with us in our beds. But this relatively new arrangement is creating issues for cats and the people who live with them.
John Bradshaw has studied the history of domesticated cats and how the relationship between people and cats has changed. He's the author of the new book Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, which is a follow-up to his book Dog Sense.