Science

NPR Science
10:38 am
Tue November 27, 2012

Sean Carroll tells a story of humanity in the hunt for the Higgs Boson

Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 8:13 am

Now that the election is over its time to address that one burning question still haunting us all. You know the one I am talking about: What exactly is the Higgs Boson?

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Health and History
5:29 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

How to talk health during T-Day

If you’re looking for a conversation starter this Thanksgiving, the country’s top public health doctor has a suggestion – find out about your family’s health history.

Talking about diseases might not be your family's ideal topic for a holiday – but US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin says one approach is to start very general.

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Health & Science
3:11 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

When fetuses yawn in the womb

Could that be a yawn? An ultrasound scan catches an opened-mouth fetus.
Courtesy of A Little Insight 3D 4D Ultrasound.

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 2:03 pm

Why people yawn is a mystery. But yawning starts in the womb.

Past studies have used ultrasound images to show fetuses yawning, but some scientists have argued that real yawns were getting confused with fetuses simply opening their mouths.

So Nadja Reissland, a researcher at the University of Durham in the United Kingdom, used a more detailed ultrasound technique to get images of fetal faces that could distinguish a true yawn from just an open mouth.

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NPR science
6:29 am
Tue November 20, 2012

Big News From Mars? Rover Scientists Mum For Now

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity dug up five scoops of sand from a patch nicknamed "Rocknest." A suite of instruments called SAM analyzed Martian soil samples, but the findings have not yet been released.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 1:11 pm

Scientists working on NASA's six-wheeled rover on Mars have a problem. But it's a good problem.

They have some exciting new results from one of the rover's instruments. On the one hand, they'd like to tell everybody what they found, but on the other, they have to wait because they want to make sure their results are not just some fluke or error in their instrument.

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NPR tech news
10:49 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Embracing your inner robot: A singular vision of the future

"Child-robot with Biomimetic Body" (or CB2) at Osaka University in Japan in 2009, where the android was slowly developing social skills by interacting with humans and watching their facial expressions, mimicking a mother-baby relationship.
Yoshikazu Tsuno AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 2:13 pm

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Science
10:34 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Whooping cough epidemic nearly over, questions linger

Whooping cough can be life-threatening for an infant, and lead to "the hundred day cough" for adults
Hamilton Cty, NY Public Health

Washington’s worst epidemic of whooping cough in 70 years appears to be winding down. The number of cases is a fraction of the peak last May.

A briefing Wednesday afternoon at the State Board of Health highlights the ongoing investigation into what happened.

A team of about 50 federal scientists spent the summer visiting doctors' offices, reviewing patient records, and compiling evidence.

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NPR Science
4:47 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

VIDEO: In Australia, a total solar eclipse

The Diamond Ring effect is shown following totality of the solar eclipse at Palm Cove in Australia's Tropical North Queensland Wednesday.
GREG WOOD AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 8:30 am

There were two minutes of stunning astronomical coincidence over Australia today.

It was a total solar eclipse and the images are just stunning:

The AP reports that people across Australia waited on boats, hot air ballons, hill tops and beaches waiting for the sublime moment. Some worried that clouds would obscure it.

But totality, or the point at which the moon completely covers the surface of the sun, lasted 2 minutes and 5 seconds and it was spectacular.

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NPR Science
9:51 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Adventurous Eating Helped Human Ancestors Boost Odds Of Survival

The first prehistoric chef who looked out at a field of grass in Africa and said, "dinner!" may have helped our ancestors use new resources in new locations.
Roberto Schmidt AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 6:38 am

Picture, if you can, a prehistoric Bobby Flay — an inventive 3 million-year-old version of the Food Network star chef. He's struggling to liven up yet another salad of herbs and twigs when inspiration strikes. "We've got grass here, and sedge," he says. "Grass and sedge, that's what this dish needs!"

His pals take a tentative taste of this nouvelle cuisine. Sedges usually aren't considered gourmet fare, after all, by these human ancestors. They're tough grasslike plants that grow in marshes. But wow! Not only is this a new taste sensation, it's found in many places.

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NPR Science
6:48 am
Thu November 8, 2012

The Beatles' Surprising Contribution To Brain Science

The Beatles rehearse for that night's Royal Variety Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1963.
Central/Hulton Achive/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 8:18 am

The same brain system that controls our muscles also helps us remember music, scientists say.

When we listen to a new musical phrase, it is the brain's motor system — not areas involved in hearing — that helps us remember what we've heard, researchers reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans last month.

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NPR Science
10:45 am
Tue November 6, 2012

Oliver Sacks, exploring how hallucinations happen

Oliver Sacks is a physician, author and professor of neurology at NYU School of Medicine. He also frequently contributes to The New Yorker.
Elena Seibert Knopf

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 9:58 am

In Oliver Sacks' book The Mind's Eye, the neurologist included an interesting footnote in a chapter about losing vision in one eye because of cancer that said: "In the '60s, during a period of experimenting with large doses of amphetamines, I experienced a different sort of vivid mental imagery."

He expands on this footnote in his new book, Hallucinations, where he writes about various types of hallucinations — visions triggered by grief, brain injury, migraines, medications and neurological disorders.

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Homelessness
2:03 pm
Mon November 5, 2012

Seattle's mentally ill on streets helped by 'roaming counselor'

Street counselor Larry Clum, with street 'ambassador' Carlo Garcia in downtown Seattle, near a few belonging left chained to a sign by a homeless woman
Keith Seinfeld KPLU

If you’ve been to downtown Seattle, you’ve probably seen people talking to themselves on street corners, or shouting at strangers. Now there’s a fresh face trying to help those in psychiatric crisis.

He’s a roaming mental health counselor, hired by the Union Gospel Mission and downtown’s business-funded Metropolitan Improvement District.

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Diversions
10:55 am
Fri November 2, 2012

Spooky self-portrait by Curiosity rover

This is Curiosity ... on Mars
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

On Mars, Curiosity took a moment or two for self-identification, as if to say, this is me on Mars. The composite image however, almost looks as if Curiosity had a visitor.

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NPR science
10:31 am
Fri November 2, 2012

Sunflowers seen flying through empty desert – Why?

Vincent Liota

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 9:47 am

I've been hearing strange wind stories all my life. The best ones are both wildly improbable but still true, like how the Empire State Building gets hit by wafts of barley flying in on jet streams from Iowa, or how tons of sand from the Saharan desert rain down every year onto Brazilian rainforests. You never know what the wind will bring. The wind decides.

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NPR science
9:38 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Move Over, Parrot: Elephant Mimics Trainer At Zoo

Koshi, an elephant, makes sounds that imitate Korean words.
Stoeger, et. al. Current Biology

Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 8:43 am

Scientists say an Asian elephant at a South Korean zoo can imitate human speech, saying five Korean words that are readily understood by people who speak the language.

The male elephant, named Koshik, invented an unusual method of sound production that involves putting his trunk in his mouth and manipulating his vocal tract.

"This is not the kind of sound that Asian elephants normally make, and it's a dead-on match of the speech of his trainers," says Tecumseh Fitch of the University of Vienna in Austria.

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medicine
4:18 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Rising abuse has doctors pushing for fewer painkiller prescriptions

The more drugs such as OxyContin are prescribed, the more overdose deaths there are every year, one doctor said.
Adam Gerard Flickr

If you have a condition or injury that leaves you in non-stop pain, for months or years, your doctor might prescribe a powerful painkiller, such as Vicodin or OxyContin. Many doctors are looking for alternatives to these narcotics, and they're sharing approaches this week at a “National Opioid Summit” in SeaTac. 

Concerns about painkillers are rising, because abuse, addiction and overdose deaths are up.

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