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As the flu season grinds on from news cycle to news cycle, there's some flu news of a different sort. Federal regulators have approved a next-generation type of flu vaccine for the second time in two months.

The two new vaccines are the first fruits of a big government push to hasten and simplify the laborious production of flu vaccines.

Astronomers have discovered a clump of 73 quasars that spans four billion light years at its widest point--that's like 40,000 Milky Way galaxies lined end-to-end. The only problem? Theory says the quasar cluster is too big to exist. Astronomer Gerard Williger and reporter Ron Cowen discuss this cosmological oddity, and other news about the cosmos.

Beijing Grapples with Record Air Pollution

Jan 18, 2013

Last weekend, air pollution in Beijing reached record highs, raising concerns about the cost of China's rapid industrialization. David Pettit, of the Natural Resources Defense Council, discusses the pollution problem in China's capital, and why severe smog can be deadly.

How Do You Fend Off The Flu?

Jan 18, 2013

Aside from getting the flu shot, how do you outsmart the wily virus? Hoard hand sanitizer? Dodge door knobs? Or quietly slink away from coughing commuters? Dr. Nicole Bouvier, a flu researcher at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, talks about what works--and what doesn't--in avoiding influenza.

Edward Tufte Wants You to See Better

Jan 18, 2013

Transcript

FLORA LICHTMAN, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Flora Lichtman. Up next: the man who wrote the book - well, the books, rather - on data visualization. He was doing infographics before everybody was doing infographics. Back in the '80s, data scientist Edward Tufte remortgaged his house so he could start a company and self-publish his first book, "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information." Sound like a snoozer? Well, that book, along with his others on the same topic, have sold more than a million-and-a-half copies.

Transcript

FLORA LICHTMAN, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Flora Lichtman, filling in for Ira Flatow today. Solar wind, geothermal - now there's a new renewable energy source to add to that list. It's free, completely reliable and totally unlimited: the force of gravity. Two British designers have invented a lamp that runs on gravity alone. Their GravityLight - yes, that's its name, aptly named - uses, you guessed it, the pull of gravity on a weight to generate up to 30 minutes of light.

In the Broadway play The Other Place actress Laurie Metcalf ("Jackie" on the TV show "Roseanne") plays a scientist suffering from the dementia she studies. Playwright Sharr White discusses the play and the challenge of presenting complicated science on a theater stage.

Retirees flock to Florida — and the Sunshine State even has a retirement home for chimpanzees.

There, chimps live in small groups on a dozen man-made islands. Each 3-acre grassy island has palm trees and climbing structures, and is surrounded by a moat.

This is Save the Chimps, the world's biggest sanctuary for chimps formerly used in research experiments or the entertainment industry, or as pets. The chimps living here — 266 of them — range in age from 6 years old to over 50. And as sanctuary Director Jen Feuerstein drives around in a golf cart, she recognizes each one.

The House of Representatives passed a bill this week to spend $50 billion to help states struck by Hurricane Sandy. The action comes more than two months after the storm, and the measure now goes to the Senate.

Getting the results of a genetic test can be a bit like opening Pandora's box. You might learn something useful or interesting, or you might learn that you're likely to develop an incurable disease later on in life.

Modern scientists trying to understand climate change are engaged in an unlikely collaboration — with two beloved but long-dead nature writers: Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold.

The authors of Walden and A Sand County Almanac and last spring's bizarrely warm weather have helped today's scientists understand that the first flowers of spring can continue to bloom earlier, as temperatures rise to unprecedented levels.

Flu viruses can tell time. Sort of. And the viral clock-watching could provide a new way to fight the flu.

A study in Cell Reports describes how researchers tapped into the flu's internal clock as they search for ways to keep the virus from spreading.

Whether crustaceans feel pain is generally something people try not to think about while munching on a crab cake or a lobster roll. Few of us would like to think that our dinner suffered during preparation, but still, we can't help but be a little curious.

Millions of acres of marginal farmland in the Midwest — land that isn't in good enough condition to grow crops — could be used to produce liquid fuels made from plant material, according to a study in Nature. And those biofuels could, in theory, provide about 25 percent of the advanced biofuels required by a 2007 federal law.

But there are many ifs and buts about this study — and, in fact, about the future of advanced biofuels.

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