NPR Science

NPR Science
4:49 pm
Wed July 18, 2012

Using Hubble, astronomers spot oldest spiral galaxy ever seen

An artist's rendering of galaxy BX442.
Joe Bergeron Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 3:29 pm

Astronomers made a surprising announcement today: They have found a spiral galaxy that existed very early in the universe — the oldest spiral galaxy ever seen.

The galaxy is special because such a well-formed spiral wasn't thought to have existed this early on, when the universe was tumultuous.

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NPR Science
10:34 am
Tue July 17, 2012

U.S. lab breaks laser record, delivering 500-trillion-watt beam

The preamplifiers of the National Ignition Facility are the first step in increasing the energy of laser beams as they make their way toward the target chamber.
National Ignition Facility

Originally published on Tue July 17, 2012 11:32 am

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has produced a record-breaking laser beam at its National Ignition Facility. The lab's system of 192 beams produced more than 500 trillion watts and 1.85 megajoules of laser light onto a 2-millimeter in diameter target.

And we know, those numbers sound like gibberish. But the laboratory puts it in every-day terms:

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NPR Science
11:17 pm
Mon July 16, 2012

With funding gone, last undersea lab could surface

Researchers Sylvia Earle (left) and Mark Patterson are trying to raise funds to save the Aquarius Reef Base.
Greg Allen NPR

Originally published on Wed July 18, 2012 9:25 am

While you're enjoying your coffee this morning, half a dozen scientists are already at work. They're not sitting at desks, however, but a few miles off the Florida Keys, 60 feet down on the ocean bottom.

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NPR Science
7:41 am
Tue July 10, 2012

Listen: You Can Hear The Northern Lights, Researchers Say

The northern lights over Tromsoe, northern Norway, on Jan. 24, 2012.
Rune Stoltz Bertinussen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 8:21 am

It sounds to us like someone's banging on a pipe. Others think it's like a clap.

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NPR Science
9:29 am
Wed July 4, 2012

New subatomic particle may be physics' 'missing link'

This graphic depicts a proton-proton collision from the search for the Higgs boson particle.
CERN AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 5, 2012 4:51 am

Scientists have discovered a new subatomic particle with profound implications for understanding our universe. On Wednesday, they announced they've found a particle believed to be the long-awaited Higgs boson. Nicknamed the "God particle," it represents the final piece in a theory that explains the basic nature of our universe.

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NPR Science
5:54 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Is the hunt for the 'God Particle' finally over?

This image, from a sensor at the particle accelerator at CERN, is an example of the data signature a Higgs particle might generate.
CERN

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 6:17 am

Before we get to the fireworks on the Fourth of July, we might see some pyrotechnics from a giant physics experiment near Geneva, Switzerland.

Scientists there are planning to gather that morning to hear the latest about the decades-long search for a subatomic particle that could help explain why objects in our universe actually weigh anything.

The buzz is that they're closing in on the elusive Higgs particle. That would be a major milestone in the quest to understand the most basic nature of the universe.

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NPR Science
9:09 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Famous Cave Paintings Might Not Be From Humans

The Panel of Hands in the Cave of El Castillo in Spain. New dating methods suggest the paintings could have been drawn by Neanderthals, not humans, as previously thought.
Pedro Saura AAAS/Science

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 6:33 am

The famous paintings on the walls of caves in Europe mark the beginning of figurative art and a great leap forward for human culture.

But now a novel method of determining the age of some of those cave paintings questions their provenance. Not that they're fakes — only that it might not have been modern humans who made them.

The first European cave paintings are thought to have been made over 30,000 years ago. Most depict animals and hunters. Some of the eeriest are stencils of human hands, apparently made by blowing a spray of pigment over a hand held up to a wall.

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NPR Science
10:06 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

An unexpected discovery: A tropical methane lake on Saturn's Titan

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 3:50 pm

Scientists said it was an "unexpected" discovery: There's a liquid methane filled lake near the equator of Saturn's moon Titan.

Scientists had seen lakes on Titan before, but they didn't expect them near the equator because they believed the intensity of the sun at those latitudes would evaporate the liquid.

"This discovery was completely unexpected because lakes are not stable at tropical latitudes," planetary scientist Caitlin Griffith of the University of Arizona, who led the discovery team, told the AP.

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NPR Science
12:09 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

New Research: U.S. Is Warming, But Not Uniformly

In red, are the states that have seen the highest temperature change.
Climate Central

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 2:09 pm

New analysis (pdf) of climate data finds that since 1912, the United States has warmed 1.3 degrees. But that warming is concentrated in certain states, some of which have "warmed 60 times faster than the 10 slowest-warming states."

All of that is according to Climate Central, a research and journalism non-profit that seeks to inform the public about climate and energy. The center looked at data from the National Climatic Data Center's U.S. Historical Climatology Network.

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NPR science
7:32 pm
Thu June 7, 2012

UW's new fetal genetics test: Less risk, more controversy

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 9:37 am

The full genetic code of a fetus has been cracked. The technique, used by scientists at the University of Washington, could offer parents safer and more comprehensive prenatal testing in the future. It also leaps into a debate over what information parents will eventually have — and use — to decide whether to have an abortion.

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NPR Science
1:03 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

MIT Engineers Solve An Everyday Problem: A Backed-Up Ketchup Bottle

Pouring ketchup out of a bottle is easy.
Screen Shot Fast Company

Originally published on Thu June 27, 2013 2:00 pm

We've all been there: Banging the back of a glass ketchup bottle, begging it to give you a dollop of the good stuff or battling with a plastic bottle coercing it into giving up the last of its contents.

Maybe that will be a thing of the past.

Six MIT researchers say they've solved that problem as part of an entrepreneurship competition. The result is a bottle coated with "LiquiGlide," a nontoxic material so slippery that the ketchup or for that matter mayonnaise just glides out when you turn it over.

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Shots - Health Blog
7:23 am
Wed May 23, 2012

Dangerous gut bacteria move outside hospitals, infect kids

Colonies of Clostridium difficile look awfully nice, but they're definitely something you'd be advised to keep at a safe distance.
CDC

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 7:55 am

Infections with the bacterium Clostridium difficile hit record numbers in recent years. Now there's evidence the hard-to-treat infections are becoming a problem for children.

The infections often strike the elderly, especially those who've been taking antibiotics that clear out competing bacteria in people's intestines. People sickened by the bug have persistent diarrhea that can, in severe cases, lead to dehydration.

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NPR Science
7:30 am
Fri May 11, 2012

What space miners will know: Flying over an asteroid

Originally published on Fri May 11, 2012 10:17 am

Thanks to Bad Astronomy for posting this beautiful fly-over of the asteroid Vesta via the Dawn space probe.

NPR Science
5:49 pm
Sun May 6, 2012

The Dinosaurs' Nemeses: Giant, Jurassic Fleas

An illustration of the Chinese Jurassic "pseudo-flea," which lived in the Middle Jurassic in northeastern China.
Wang Cheng Current Biology

Originally published on Sun May 6, 2012 8:38 am

Fossil-hunting scientists are coming to grips with a new discovery that could change forever how we think of dinosaurs. What they've found is that dinosaurs may well have been tortured by large, flealike bloodsucking insects.

Yes, it appears that the greatest predators that ever roamed Earth suffered just as we mammals did — and as we still do. Fleas were thought to have evolved along with mammals — they like our soft skins and a diet of warm blood.

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NPR Science
4:43 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Greenland's Ice Melting More Slowly Than Expected

Researchers studying Greenland's ice say it is melting more slowly than previously thought. Here, ice travels down a relatively small outlet glacier into the sea.
Ian Joughin UW, Sarah Das/WHOI and Richard Harris/NPR

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 7:50 am

A new study has some reassuring news about how fast Greenland's glaciers are melting away.

Greenland's glaciers hold enough water to raise sea level by 20 feet, and they are melting as the planet warms, so there's a lot at stake.

A few years ago, the Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland really caught people's attention. In short order, this slow-moving stream of ice suddenly doubled its speed. It started dumping a whole lot more ice into the Atlantic. Other glaciers also sped up.

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