Science

Environment
3:47 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

In Arid West, Cheatgrass Turns Fires Into Infernos

The Constantina Fire burning in Long Valley, Calif., in 2010, very likely started in cheatgrass.
Courtesy of Nolan Preece

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 5:36 pm

Cheatgrass is about as Western as cowboy boots and sagebrush. It grows in yellowish clumps, about knee high to a horse, and likes arid land.

One thing cheatgrass does is burn — in fact, more easily than anyone realized. That's the conclusion from a new study that says cheatgrass is making Western wildfires worse.

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The Picture Show
3:11 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

New NASA Images Show The Earth's Electric Light Show

Northern Africa
Suomi NPP Satellite NASA Earth Observatory

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 8:44 am

"The night is nowhere as dark as we might think."

That's the word from Mitch Goldberg, program scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's Joint Polar Satellite System. Together with NASA, scientists have unveiled a new composite, cloud-free image of our planet at night.

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Krulwich Wonders...
9:26 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Strange Looking Tombstone Tells Of Moving Ice, Ancient Climates And A Restless Mind

Encyclopaedia Britannica UIG via Getty Images

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 11:39 am

With glaciers melting and crumbling all over the world, let me tell you the story of the man who first imagined ice ages, the man buried under this stone in Cambridge, Mass. It's an odd gravestone; a rough, clumpy hunk of granite that doesn't look at all like the other markers at Mt. Auburn Cemetery.

That's because it isn't. It's an erratic. A single stone found sitting downhill from a glacier in Switzerland that was lifted, packed, shipped to all the way to Massachusetts to honor this man.

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Mental Health
1:45 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

The Challenges Of Treating Personality Disorders

Originally published on Tue December 4, 2012 2:33 pm

Personality disorders represent some of the most challenging and mysterious problems in the field of mental health. People suffering from antisocial personality disorder or obsessive compulsive personality disorder are often misdiagnosed. The effects on the sufferers and their families can be wrenching.

Krulwich Wonders...
10:47 am
Tue December 4, 2012

New Superhero, 3,200 Years Old, Turns Air Into Wood Superfast

Robert Krulwich NPR

This is for you, Martina Navratilova, for you, Nolan Ryan, for you, Methuselah, for you, Jimmy Carter, and for all of you reading this if you're on the "wrong" side of 50 but still pumping. This week, we've got ourselves a role model, a poster boy for robust old age.

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Space
4:03 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

NASA Scientists 'Very Careful' With New Mars Data

This photo, taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, shows Mars' Gale Crater, where the rover has taken samples for chemical analysis. Scientists believe that at some point in the very distant past, there was a riverbed here.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 5:22 pm

NASA is finally receiving data on Martian soil samples from Curiosity, its rover currently traversing the red planet. The results from the soil samples hint at something exciting, but rover scientists are making very sure not to raise expectations.

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The Salt
10:05 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Caught: Lobster Cannibals Captured On Film Along Maine Coast

Maine scientists catch an adult lobster eating baby lobster for dinner.
Courtesy of Noah Oppenheim.

Originally published on Thu December 6, 2012 8:08 am

Step back, lobsters coming through!

This summer lobsters exploded in number along the Maine coast. There were so many crustaceans crawling along the ocean floor – and into fishermen's traps – that lobster prices plummeted. Many fishermen tied up their boats, and a price war even broke out between Canadian and Maine seafood distributors.

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Monkey See
2:23 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Neil deGrasse Tyson Helps His New 'Bud' Superman Get A Glimpse Of Home

From Action Comics 14, Neil deGrasse Tyson greets Superman to help him with a problem.
DC Comics

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 7:29 am

On Monday's Morning Edition, Hayden Planetarium director and pop-culture go-to science guy Neil deGrasse Tyson tells NPR's David Greene the story of how he came to lend a hand to Superman.

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Space
2:30 pm
Sun December 2, 2012

Signs Of Life On Mars? Not Exactly

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity cut a wheel scuff mark into a wind-formed ripple at the "Rocknest" site to give researchers a better opportunity to examine the particle-size distribution of the material forming the ripple.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 4:06 pm

The director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said last week that preliminary data showed the possibility that the agency's Mars Science Laboratory – the six-wheeled rover that landed on Mars in August — had found signs of carbon-containing molecules.

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All Tech Considered
4:58 am
Sun December 2, 2012

The Sight Of Road Kill Makes A Pretty, Data-Rich Picture

When wildlife ecologist Danielle Garneau finds roadkill, she uploads data about it onto her smartphone.
Sarah Harris NCPR

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 3:26 pm

Wildlife ecologist Danielle Garneau is making a habit of tracking down roadkill. She actually seeks it out, hunting for clues about larger ecological trends. Garneau records it all on a free smartphone app, EpiCollect.

Standing by the side of the road in upstate New York, phone in hand, Garneau peers down at a dead, bloody and smelly skunk.

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