Science

12:11pm

Thu January 2, 2014
Code Switch

A Graduate Program Works To Diversify The Science World

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 6:06 pm

Fisk University physics student Terreka Hart (foreground, left) looks on with a group of students from the Bridge Program — Melanie Brady, Bobby Jones, Rose Perea (seated) and Brenden Wiggins (pointing).
C. Coca Fisk University

There is a widespread narrative in higher education that goes something like this: Colleges and universities have always accepted the best and brightest students; then, due to pressure from outside forces (some of them named "John F. Kennedy"), diversity was thrust upon the academy. In turn, schools meted out race-based scholarships, relaxed standards for certain students in order to fulfill quotas and — poof! — diversity.

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6:25am

Thu January 2, 2014
Research News

How Scarcity Trap Affects Our Thinking, Behavior

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 7:52 am

A Harvard economist finds there are psychological connections between the bad financial planning of many poor people and the poor time management of busy professionals. In both cases, he finds the experience of scarcity causes biases in the mind that exacerbate problems.

5:22am

Thu January 2, 2014
The Salt

Why The Cod On Cape Cod Now Comes From Iceland

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 2:53 pm

With local cod so scarce, Chef Toby Hill of Lyric Restaurant in Yarmouth Port, Mass., tries out a dogfish salad — served here with garlic aioli on toast — instead. Dogfish is still plentiful in New England waters, but wholesale fisheries say there's not much demand for it in the U.S.
Christine Hochkeppel Courtesy of Cape Cod Times

Good luck finding local cod in Cape Cod, Mass.

The fish once sustained New England's fishing industry, but in recent years, regulators have imposed severe catch limits on cod, and the fish remain scarce.

"I've never seen cod fishing this bad," says Greg Walinsky, who has been fishing on Cape Cod for more than 30 years. "It looks to me like it's over. And I can't catch any codfish."

It's so bad, many fishermen say, that for the first time, they cannot catch enough cod to even reach shrinking government quotas.

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5:22am

Thu January 2, 2014
The Salt

How Mass-Produced Meat Turned Phosphorus Into Pollution

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 10:27 am

A dead carp floats in water near the shore at Big Creek State Park on Sept. 10 in Polk City, Iowa. Like many agricultural states, Iowa is working with the EPA to enforce clean-water regulations amid degradation from manure spills and farm-field runoff.
Charlie Neibergall AP

It's a quandary of food production: The same drive for efficiency that lowers the cost of eating also can damage our soil and water.

Take the case of one simple, essential chemical element: phosphorus.

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8:43pm

Wed January 1, 2014
All Tech Considered

More Than 300 Sharks In Australia Are Now On Twitter

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 10:35 am

A shark warning is displayed near Gracetown, Western Australia, in November. An Australian man was killed by a shark near the area that month, sparking a catch-and-kill order.
Rebecca Le May EPA/Landov

Sharks in Western Australia are now tweeting out where they are — in a way.

Government researchers have tagged 338 sharks with acoustic transmitters that monitor where the animals are. When a tagged shark is about half a mile away from a beach, it triggers a computer alert, which tweets out a message on the Surf Life Saving Western Australia Twitter feed. The tweet notes the shark's size, breed and approximate location.

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4:02pm

Wed January 1, 2014
Science

Researchers Create New 'Memory' Metals That Could Improve Safety

Some metal alloys will "remember" a shape when you heat them to the same temperature they were originally shaped at. So a straight wire made from one of these "shape memory alloys" might change back into a spring when heated, or vice versa. But the alloys that exist today change shape at low temperatures. Materials scientists at Sandia National Laboratory have developed new alloys that don't change shape until they reach hundreds of degrees, opening the door to thousands of new applications.

4:02pm

Wed January 1, 2014
Environment

Archeologists Race Against Time In Warming Arctic Coasts

Archeologists who study the people who lived in the Arctic thousands of years ago are in a race against time. Coastal settlements are being washed away by erosion, storm surges and other climate changes related to global warming. Clues to the past that were frozen intact in permafrost for thousands of years are melting and being destroyed by the elements. Archeologists are looking to climate scientists to predict where the erosion will be the fastest so they can pinpoint their research on the places that will disappear the soonest.

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2:03pm

Wed January 1, 2014
Shots - Health News

Editing Your Life's Stories Can Create Happier Endings

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 11:49 am

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

It was a rainy night in October when my nephew Lewis passed the Frankenstein statue standing in front of a toy store. The 2 1/2-year-old boy didn't see the monster at first, and when he turned around, he was only inches from Frankenstein's green face, bloodshot eyes and stitched-up skin.

The 4-foot-tall monster terrified my nephew so much that he ran deep into the toy store. And on the way back out, he simply couldn't face the statue. He jumped into his mother's arms and had to bury his head in her shoulder.

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3:06am

Wed January 1, 2014
Animals

RoboCop? How About RoboPenguin!

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 11:42 am

Two African penguins stretch their flippers at the Maryland Zoo.
Adam Cole NPR

At the American Physical Society's fluid dynamics conference this winter, there was a healthy infusion of biology. In between talks on propellers and plane wings, there were presentations about flying snakes, fire ants, humpback whales and hummingbirds. Physicists from all over the world are turning to the natural world to help them solve engineering problems.

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3:04am

Wed January 1, 2014
The Salt

Malawian Farmers Say Adapt To Climate Change Or Die

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 11:42 am

Villages in the Lower Shire valley of Malawi, like this one named Jasi, rely heavily on subsistence farming and steady rainfall, and are struggling to produce steady harvests.
Jennifer Ludden/NPR

Rain is so important in Malawi's agriculture-based economy that there are names for different kinds of it, from the brief bursts of early fall to heavier downpours called mvula yodzalira, literally "planting rain." For generations, rainfall patterns here in the southeast part of Africa have been predictable, reliable. But not now.

In the village of Jasi, in the hot, flat valley of Malawi's Lower Shire, farmer Pensulo Melo says 2010 was a disaster.

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