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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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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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.

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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Mon December 23, 2013
The Two-Way

Alan Turing, Who Cracked Nazi Code, Gets Posthumous Pardon

Originally published on Tue December 24, 2013 4:18 pm

Detail of a Turing Bombe machine in Bletchley Park Museum in Bletchley, central England. The device, the brainchild of Alan Turning, was instrumental in cracking the German code during World War II.
Alessia Pierdomenico Reuters /Landov

British mathematician Alan Turing, who helped crack Nazi Germany's 'Enigma' code and laid the groundwork for modern computing, was pardoned on Tuesday, six decades after his conviction for homosexuality is said to have driven him to suicide.

Following his singular contributions toward winning the war against Adolph Hitler, Turing's 1952 conviction is believed to have led two and a half years later to him taking his life by ingesting cyanide.

The Associated Press reports:

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Mon December 23, 2013
The Salt

How To Build An Indestructible Gingerbread House

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 9:56 am

With our design, gingerbread families everywhere can enjoy the holidays without having to worry about their roofs caving in.
Morgan Walker NPR

Here's the thing about gingerbread houses. You labor over them for hours. You painstakingly decorate them with gumdrops and candy canes.

And then, someone shakes the table it's sitting on, and boom! It all comes crumbling down, leaving a huge, house-shaped hole in your heart.

Never again, we said.

This year, we were determined to build a stronger gingerbread house. One that wouldn't crumble, no matter what. One that could withstand an earthquake.

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Mon December 23, 2013
The Two-Way

On Anniversary Of Apollo 8, How The 'Earthrise' Photo Was Made

Originally published on Wed December 25, 2013 7:24 am

The iconic "Earthrise" photo taken by astronaut Bill Anders through a window on the Apollo 8 command module on Dec. 24, 1968.
Bill Anders NASA

The first humans to catch a glimpse of the Earth rising over the moon nearly missed seeing it at all, let alone capturing the snapshot that became one of the most iconic photos of the 20th century.

NASA has released an animation commemorating the 45th anniversary of Apollo 8, the first manned mission to orbit the moon. The famous "Earthrise" photo was taken on Christmas Eve 1968.

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Mon December 23, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

What Chickadees Have That I Want. Badly

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 1:57 pm

Robert Krulwich NPR

First I look in my right coat pocket. Nothing. Then my left. Nothing. Then my pants, right side — no. Then my pants, left side — yes! This is me at my front door, looking for my keys. Every day.

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Mon December 23, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

A Science Geek's Guide To Christmas Celebration

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 11:51 am

Is propagating the Santa myth a healthy way to extend the magic of childhood, or a recipe for psychological damage and distrust?
Brian Mcentire iStockphoto

If you're like me, you'll be spending Christmas in the traditional manner of atheist Jews married to atheist Christians hosting their jet-lagged Australian in-laws while raising a 3-year-old who likes to bake: by making vegan mince pies and trying to squeeze in some work here and there.

OK, so none of you are like me.

But if I did celebrate Christmas, I would probably be tempted to geek it up a bit. So, with that in mind, here are three ideas for a scientifically-informed Christmas.

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Mon December 23, 2013

Could Big Batteries Be Big Business In California?

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 11:12 am

Strong gusts in Palm Springs, Calif., generate plenty of energy, thanks to turbine farms. But being able to store all of that energy is just as important.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

The California Public Utilities Commission has called on utilities and private companies to install about $5 billion worth of batteries and other forms of energy storage to help the state power grid cope with the erratic power supplied by wind and solar energy.

The need to store energy has become urgent because the state is planning to get a third of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade. And the shift in strategy could open up some big opportunities for small startups, including one called Stem.

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Sun December 22, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

The Amazing Snow Art Of Simon Beck

The artist stands above one of his creations.
Courtesy of Simon Beck

As a good portion of the country grapples with snow, here's a fresh way to think about those accumulating — and sometimes aggravating — inches of pure whiteness: as art canvas. That's how Simon Beck sees them.

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