Science

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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Food
1:36 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

NPR: The Ugly Truth About Food Waste in America

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 7:17 am

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Up next, some food for thought as you chomp your Thanksgiving leftovers. Recycling paper and plastic, as you know, is an effective way to save money and energy. So why not recycle all the uneaten food that goes to waste? And there is an awful lot of it. Forty percent of the food in the U.S. today goes uneaten, which means Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion worth of food each year. But that's not all. Food waste, as it decays in landfills, also produces methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas.

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Food
1:25 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

Ig Nobel Prizes Celebrate Somewhat Suspect Science

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 1:49 pm

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor scientific research that, in the words of Master of Ceremonies Marc Abrahams, "first makes you laugh, and then makes you think." This year's prizes, awarded in late September, include citations for research into mysteriously green hair, potentially explosive colonoscopies, and the creation of equations that model the back-and-forth swing of a ponytail in motion.

Science
1:18 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

Steven Strogatz: The Joy Of X

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Get out a pencil and paper and your graphic calculator because it's time for a little math review. And we'll warm up with some algebra, move on to imaginary numbers, then the quadratic formula, and we're going to finish up with a bit of vector calculus, how about some probability theory thrown in. No, no, no, I'm just joking. Don't turn off the radio just yet.

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Shots - Health News
6:32 am
Fri November 23, 2012

Scientists Get A New Look At Einstein's Brain

Pathologist Thomas Harvey took dozens of photos of Einstein's brain. This one shows that Einstein's prefrontal cortex (associated with higher cognition and memory) is unusually convoluted. On the right side of the brain there are four large ridges, where most people have only three.
Brain(2012)/National Museum of Health and Medicine

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 1:00 pm

Albert Einstein was a smart guy. Everybody knows that. But was there something about the structure of his brain that made it special?

Scientists have been trying to answer that question ever since his death. Previously unpublished photographs of Einstein's brain taken soon after he died were analyzed last week in the journal Brain. The images and the paper provide a more complete anatomical picture and may help shed light on his genius.

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Science
3:35 am
Fri November 23, 2012

Can Shellfish Adapt to More Acidic Water?

Originally published on Fri November 23, 2012 12:53 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The shellfish industry on the West Coast has had a bumpy few years and increasingly, it is pointing to climate change as the cause. Scientists believe the oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb the increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the air, and they are not sure if oysters and other shellfish will be able to adapt to this change. Lauren Sommer, from member station KQED, has this report.

LAUREN SOMMER, BYLINE: Terry Sawyer does a brisk business in oysters.

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