Science

4:36pm

Thu December 26, 2013
News

With National Treasures At Risk, D.C. Fights Against Flooding

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 7:13 pm

The U.S. Capitol dome provides a view down the National Mall, an area vulnerable to flooding.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

The nation's capital is not exactly a beach town. But the cherry-tree-lined Tidal Basin, fed by the Potomac River, laps at the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. And, especially since Superstorm Sandy, officials in Washington have a clear idea of what would happen in a worst-case storm scenario.

"The water would go across the World War II memorial, come up 17th Street," says Tony Vidal of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "And there are actually three spots where the water would come up where we don't have ... a closure structure right now."

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4:36pm

Thu December 26, 2013
Science

Supercamera: More Pixels Than You Know What To Do With

Zachary Phillips sets up the gigapixel camera at a nature reserve in Virginia.
Morgan Walker NPR

When a small team of researchers recently wheeled a supercamera up to the edge of a bay at Mason Neck State Park in Northern Virginia, there was no need to point the camera at anything specific.

That's because this camera could see everything we could see, only better.

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3:18am

Thu December 26, 2013
The Salt

More People Have More To Eat, But It's Not All Good News

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:03 am

The Brazilian agricultural sector exported for a value of $94,590 million in 2011. One of its largest exports is soybeans, like these in Cascavel, Parana.
Werner Rudhart DPA /Landov

Among the things to celebrate this holiday season is the fact that there are fewer hungry people in the world. Just how many? Well, since 1965, researchers in Europe have been tracking the world's food supply and where it's going.

The good news is: The percentage of the world's population getting what the researchers say is a sufficient diet has grown from 30 percent to 61 percent.

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1:03pm

Wed December 25, 2013
Shots - Health News

Diabetes Gene Common In Latinos Has Ancient Roots

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 11:02 am

The skull of a female Neanderthal, who lived about 50,000 years ago, is displayed at the Natural History Museum in London.
Rick Findler/Barcroft Media Landov

When it comes to the rising prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, there are many factors to blame.

Diet and exercise sit somewhere at the top of the list. But the genes that some of us inherit from Mom and Dad also help determine whether we develop the disease, and how early it crops up.

Now an international team of scientists have identified mutations in a gene that suggests an explanation for why Latinos are almost twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes as Caucasians and African-Americans.

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8:03am

Wed December 25, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

This Is Bo, Who's Putting New Beats In New Places. You Should Meet Him

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:34 am

boburnham YouTube

Every so often — and it isn't often, because while I'm always looking, always hoping, it's so rare to find — but this week it happened. A friend sent me an email that said, "You've got to check out this video."

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5:56pm

Tue December 24, 2013
Number Of The Year

Beyond Cuteness: Scientists Deliver A Panda Baby Boom

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 8:02 pm

(Clockwise, from left) Yuanzai, Mei Huan, Happy Leopard, Mei Lun, Xing Bao and Bao Bao — six of the 49 pandas born in captivity in 2013.
(Clockwise, from left) Xinhua/Landov; Courtesy of Zoo Atlanta; Animal Press/Barcroft Media/Landov; Courtesy of Zoo Atlanta; EPA/Sergio Barrenechea/Landov; Abby Wood/UPI/Landov

This year, Zoo Vienna welcomed Fu Bao, or "Happy Leopard." Madrid celebrated the birth of Xing Bao, or "Star Treasure." And in Washington, D.C., the arrival of Bao Bao, or "Precious Treasure," had panda fans glued to panda cams.

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4:35pm

Tue December 24, 2013
Space

Space Station Gets Fixed In Christmas Eve Space Walk

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 8:02 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Flying above the Earth today other Christmas Eve mission, surfing the globe of thousands of miles an hour, were two astronauts. In a spacewalk today, they replaced a pump that is crucial for normal operations aboard the International Space Station.

NPR's Joe Palca has more.

JOE PALCA, BYLINE: The pump circulates ammonia coolant around the station in one of two independent cooling systems. Having two systems is essential for removing the heat generated by all the station's electrical equipment.

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3:40pm

Tue December 24, 2013
Shots - Health News

Could Pot Help Veterans With PTSD? Brain Scientists Say Maybe

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 11:50 am

There's data to support the notion that pot, or a drug based on its active ingredient, could help ease the fears of PTSD.
Ted S. Warren AP

Veterans who smoke marijuana to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder may be onto something. There's growing evidence that pot can affect brain circuits involved in PTSD.

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12:07pm

Tue December 24, 2013
The Salt

Hair Dryer Cooking: From S'mores To Crispy Duck

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:54 am

Ready for a blowout: Blasting the duck with the dryer before roasting dehydrates the flesh so the skin gets firm and crispy.
Michaeleen Doucleff NPR

This past year, we've introduced you to some wacky cooking methods. We've made an entire lunch in a coffee maker and even poached salmon and pears in the dishwasher.

But a few weeks ago, we stumbled upon a crazy culinary appliance that may be the most legitimate of them all: the hair dryer.

Now, before you think we've fallen off the kitchen stool from too much eggnog, check out the science and history behind the idea.

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11:15am

Tue December 24, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Christmas Now: How To Be The Center Of The Universe

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 8:25 pm

Step back in time: This is what 100 million years ago looked like, in a galaxy far, far away.
ESO

Ebenezer Scrooge was famously visited by three ghosts in A Christmas Carol. The past, present and future all converged on poor Scrooge in an effort to save him from his own narrow vision of the world and wake him to the wonders of the life right before his eyes. As we navigate the frantic pace of this holiday season we, like Scrooge, might stop to let the past, present and future converge on us for the same reason. Luckily we don't need any scary spectral visitations on Christmas Eve. All we have to do is step outside and let the night sky transport us back in time.

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