Science

Research News
4:38 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

A Short Fuse For Fusion As Ignition Misses Deadline

A worker inspects a huge target chamber at the National Ignition Facility in California, in 2001, where beams from 192 lasers are aimed at a pellet of fusion fuel in the hopes of creating nuclear fusion.
Joe McNally Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 2:07 am

The National Ignition Facility in Livermore, Calif., has been called a modern-day moonshot, a project of "revolutionary science," and "the mother of all boondoggles."

NIF, as it's called, is a $5 billion, taxpayer-funded superlaser project whose goal is to create nuclear fusion — basically a tiny star inside a laboratory. But so far, that hasn't happened.

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:59 am
Wed November 28, 2012

Is Life A Smoother Ride If You're A Chicken?

YouTube

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 10:02 am

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Deceptive Cadence
1:30 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

Do Orchestras Really Need Conductors?

Does This Guy Matter? Conductor Leonard Bernstein during rehearsal with the Cincinnati Symphony at Carnegie Hall in 1977.
James Garrett New York Daily News via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 9:12 am

Have you ever wondered whether music conductors actually influence their orchestras?

They seem important. After all, they're standing in the middle of the stage and waving their hands. But the musicians all have scores before them that tell them what to play. If you took the conductor away, could the orchestra manage on its own?

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Remembrances
5:21 am
Tue November 27, 2012

Hope, Innovation: Remembering A Transplant Pioneer

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 6:31 am

Renee Montagne talks with Dr. Atul Gawande about the life and work of Dr. Joseph E. Murray, who performed the first successful organ transplant in 1954. Murray died Monday at age 93.

Shots - Health News
4:02 am
Tue November 27, 2012

To Fight Tick-Borne Disease, Someone Has To Catch Ticks

Last year, Tom Mather caught 15,000 deer ticks in the woods of southern Rhode Island. "People really need to become tick literate," the University of Rhode Island researcher says.
Brian Mullen for NPR

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 11:35 am

Most people try to avoid ticks. But not Tom Mather.

The University of Rhode Island researcher goes out of his way to find them.

He looks for deer ticks — poppy seed-sized skin burrowers — in the woods of southern Rhode Island. These are the teeny-tiny carriers of Lyme disease, an illness that can lead to symptoms ranging from nasty rashes to memory loss.

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U.S.
5:11 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Will Florida Pythons Slither To Rest Of The U.S.?

A Burmese python coils around the arm of a hunter during a news conference in 2010 in the Florida Everglades. New research suggests that the pythons won't spread through the American Southeast, as previously believed.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 5:42 pm

There are several exotic snake species that have become a problem in the Everglades. But for wildlife managers, the biggest headache is the Burmese python.

Earlier this year, researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey captured the largest Burmese python yet in Everglades National Park. Three USGS staffers had to wrestle the snake out of a plastic crate to measure it. The snake was a 17-foot-7-inch female carrying 87 eggs.

Wildlife managers are working to get a handle on the problem of exotic snakes in South Florida; but the snakes have already made a big impact.

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Science
1:21 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

As Dec. 21 Draws Nigh, The Facts About Doomsday

Some doomsayers predict that the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012, citing the end of the pre-Columbian Mayan calendar.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 1:44 pm

On Dec. 21, 2012, some fear that a rogue planet will collide with Earth and destroy the planet, or that the supposed end of the Mayan calendar will lead to the obliteration of the universe.

When people have questions about these scenarios, they often turn to the Internet.

NASA astrobiologist David Morrison has taken it upon himself to enter that online conversation and answer hundreds of questions about the science of existential threats.

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U.S.
4:16 am
Mon November 26, 2012

Overrun By Otters, Illinois Reinstates Trapping Season

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 8:44 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Just over a couple of decades ago, there were fewer than 100 otters remaining in the state of Illinois. Today, there are at least 15,000. They're furry and cute and a nuisance to some, often called the raccoons of Illinois waterways. What's wrong with raccoons? Anyway. So for the first time in almost 90 years, Illinois has reinstated otter trapping season. We called Bob Bluett, a biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

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Animals
5:34 am
Sat November 24, 2012

Apes, Humans Share A Happiness Dip Mid-Life

Originally published on Sat November 24, 2012 9:30 am

Host Scott Simon talks with University of Edinburgh professor Alex Weiss about his new study on ape well-being. He found that apes, like humans, experience a U-shaped pattern of life satisfaction that dips in middle-age, commonly known as a mid-life crisis.

Science
3:04 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

Experiments That Keep Going And Going And Going

William Beal, standing at center, started a long-term study on seed germination in 1879. He buried 20 bottles with seeds in them for later researchers to unearth and plant.
Michigan State University

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 9:00 pm

A biologist who has been watching a dozen bottles of bacteria evolve for nearly a quarter of a century is hoping he can find someone to keep his lab experiment going long after he dies.

Meanwhile, just by coincidence, a botanist who works across campus is carefully tending an experiment that started before he was born, all the way back in 1879.

These two researchers, both at Michigan State University in East Lansing, represent different sides of an unusual phenomenon in science: experiments that outlive the people who started them.

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