Science

The Two-Way
10:30 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Smelted In Space? Ancient Iron Beads Linked To Meteorite

The metal in an Egyptian iron bead dating from around 3,300 BC has been found to have originated from space, according to analysis. Here, the bead is seen in (clockwise from top left) a photograph, a CT cross-section view, a model of nickel oxides, and a model in which blue areas represent the rich presence of nickel inside the bead.
The Open University/University of Manchester

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 11:25 am

Since it was found in 1911, an Egyptian iron bead has sparked wonder and debate over how it was produced — made around 3,300 BC, it predates the region's first known iron smelting by thousands of years. Now, researchers say the iron was made in space and delivered to Earth via meteorite.

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The Salt
2:05 am
Thu May 30, 2013

GMO Wheat Found In Oregon Field. How Did It Get There?

Genetically modified wheat has been discovered growing in a field in Oregon. GMO wheat is not approved for sale in the U.S. Above, a wheat field in Arkansas.
Danny Johnston AP

Originally published on Mon June 3, 2013 1:03 pm

A farmer in Oregon has found some genetically engineered wheat growing on his land. It's an unwelcome surprise, because this type of wheat has never been approved for commercial planting.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it's investigating, trying to find out how this wheat got there. The USDA says there's no risk to public health, but wheat exporters are worried about how their customers in Asia and Europe will react.

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Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities
2:01 am
Thu May 30, 2013

Breathing Easier: How Houston Is Working To Clean Up Its Air

The Houston Ship Channel is home to a wide range of heavy industry, including chemical processing plants and petrochemical refineries.
Richard Harris NPR

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 11:18 am

The Houston area produces about a quarter of the nation's gasoline, and about a third of the plastics that are in our cars, cupboards and just about everywhere else. So it is no surprise that this heavily industrial area has a problem with air pollution. But in the past decade, Houston's air has improved dramatically.

How that happened is a tale of good science, new technology and a Texas law that prompted companies along the Houston Ship Channel to disclose their emissions.

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The Two-Way
5:01 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

New Discovery Knocks 'Oldest Bird' Off Its Perch

A photo released by the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences shows the skeleton of a recently discovered dinosaur dubbed Aurornis xui.
Thierry Hubin AP

Move over Archaeopteryx, an older bird just landed on the evolutionary tree.

Scientists writing in Nature magazine, say a feathered, chicken-sized creature known as Aurornis xui, unearthed recently in northeastern China, challenges the "pivotal position of Archaeopteryx" — long regarded as the oldest bird.

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Books
3:30 pm
Wed May 29, 2013

How OxyContin's Pain Relief Built 'A World Of Hurt'

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu May 30, 2013 11:40 am

Prescription painkillers are among the most widely used drugs in America. In the decade since New York Times reporter Barry Meier began investigating their use and abuse, he says he has seen the number of people dying from overdoses quadruple — an increase Meier calls "staggering."

"The current statistic is that about 16,000 people a year die of overdoses involving prescription narcotics. ... It's a huge problem. The number of people dying from these drugs is second only to the number of people that die in car accidents," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

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