NPR Science http://kplu.org en Recreating the universe in the lab http://kplu.org/post/recreating-universe-lab The study of cosmology, the branch of the physical sciences that investigates the universe and its properties, presents quite a practical challenge: contrary to most other sciences, where different samples can be probed and analyzed directly, it's impossible to experiment with different universes in the lab.<p>We have our own example, this vast expanse of space and matter we live in, and that's it. So, to make sense of the cosmos, we study what's in it — the different types of matter and their properties such as temperature, density and pressure, and how it's distributed in space. Thu, 06 Dec 2012 00:21:54 +0000 7300 at http://kplu.org Recreating the universe in the lab New NASA images show the Earth's electric light show http://kplu.org/post/new-nasa-images-show-earths-electric-light-show "The night is nowhere as dark as we might think."<p>That's <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/NPP/news/earth-at-night.html" target="_blank">the word from Mitch Goldberg</a>, program scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's Joint Polar Satellite System. Thu, 06 Dec 2012 00:19:08 +0000 7299 at http://kplu.org New NASA images show the Earth's electric light show NASA Scientists 'Very Careful' With New Mars Data http://kplu.org/post/nasa-very-careful-mars-data-its-all-so-exciting NASA is finally receiving data on Martian soil samples from <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html">Curiosity</a>, 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.<p>NASA had always planned to present early results from the mission this week at a press conference. Tue, 04 Dec 2012 04:52:01 +0000 Joe Palca 7275 at http://kplu.org NASA Scientists 'Very Careful' With New Mars Data Space probe finds ice in Mercury's craters http://kplu.org/post/space-probe-finds-ice-mercurys-craters Mercury is not the first planet to come to mind if you were searching for ice in the solar system. After all, the surface temperature across most of the planet is hot enough to melt lead.<p>But at the poles on Mercury it's a different story. Almost no sun reaches the poles, and as a result, temperatures can drop to less than -100 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, three papers in the journal <em>Science</em> suggest there really is ice at the bottom of craters near the poles on Mercury.<p>The evidence comes from an instrument on NASA's Messenger spacecraft called Mercury Laser Altimeter. Thu, 29 Nov 2012 19:12:03 +0000 Joe Palca 7234 at http://kplu.org Space probe finds ice in Mercury's craters Sean Carroll tells a story of humanity in the hunt for the Higgs Boson http://kplu.org/post/sean-carroll-tells-story-humanity-hunt-higgs-boson Now that the election is over its time to address that one burning question still haunting us all. You know the one I am talking about: What exactly is the Higgs Boson?<p>If you're the kind who secretly obsesses about the fundamental nature of reality but wouldn't know a boson if it was delivering roses at your doorstep, I have good news for you. Tue, 27 Nov 2012 18:38:57 +0000 7199 at http://kplu.org Sean Carroll tells a story of humanity in the hunt for the Higgs Boson Big News From Mars? Rover Scientists Mum For Now http://kplu.org/post/curiositys-tasting-soil-mars-may-have-big-news Scientists working on NASA's six-wheeled rover on Mars have a problem. But it's a good problem.<p>They have some exciting new results from one of the rover's instruments. On the one hand, they'd like to tell everybody what they found, but on the other, they have to wait because they want to make sure their results are not just some fluke or error in their instrument.<p>It's a bind scientists frequently find themselves in, because by their nature, scientists like to share their results. Tue, 20 Nov 2012 14:29:16 +0000 Joe Palca 7169 at http://kplu.org Big News From Mars? Rover Scientists Mum For Now VIDEO: In Australia, a total solar eclipse http://kplu.org/post/video-australia-total-solar-eclipse There were two minutes of stunning astronomical coincidence over Australia today.<p>It was a total solar eclipse and the images are just stunning:<p><a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2012/11/12/solar-eclipse-australia/1701489/">The AP reports</a> that people across Australia waited on boats, hot air ballons, hill tops and beaches waiting for the sublime moment. Wed, 14 Nov 2012 00:47:57 +0000 7112 at http://kplu.org VIDEO: In Australia, a total solar eclipse Adventurous Eating Helped Human Ancestors Boost Odds Of Survival http://kplu.org/post/adventurous-eating-helped-human-ancestors-boost-odds-survival Picture, if you can, a prehistoric Bobby Flay — an inventive 3 million-year-old version of the Food Network star chef. He's struggling to liven up yet another salad of herbs and twigs when inspiration strikes. "We've got grass here, and sedge," he says. "Grass and sedge, that's what this dish needs!"<p>His pals take a tentative taste of this nouvelle cuisine. Sedges usually aren't considered gourmet fare, after all, by these human ancestors. They're tough grasslike plants that grow in marshes. But wow! Tue, 13 Nov 2012 17:51:33 +0000 7104 at http://kplu.org Adventurous Eating Helped Human Ancestors Boost Odds Of Survival The Beatles' Surprising Contribution To Brain Science http://kplu.org/post/beatles-surprising-contribution-brain-science The same brain system that controls our muscles also helps us remember music, scientists say.<p>When we listen to a new musical phrase, it is the brain's motor system — not areas involved in hearing — that helps us remember what we've heard, <a href="http://www.abstractsonline.com/Plan/ViewAbstract.aspx?sKey=785f968b-0724-44b7-82bc-6d62843f50d5&cKey=950844e8-c635-4e07-9fd7-d1bfb1b5768f&mKey=%7b70007181-01C9-4DE9-A0A2-EEBFA14CD9F1%7d">researchers reported</a> at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans last month.<p>The finding suggests that the brain has a highly specialized system Thu, 08 Nov 2012 14:48:17 +0000 Jon Hamilton 7058 at http://kplu.org The Beatles' Surprising Contribution To Brain Science Oliver Sacks, exploring how hallucinations happen http://kplu.org/post/oliver-sacks-exploring-how-hallucinations-happen In Oliver Sacks' book <em>The Mind's Eye,</em> the neurologist included an interesting footnote in a chapter about losing vision in one eye because of cancer that said: "In the '60s, during a period of experimenting with large doses of amphetamines, I experienced a different sort of vivid mental imagery."<p>He expands on this footnote in his new book, <em>Hallucinations,</em> where he writes about various types of hallucinations — visions triggered by grief, brain injury, migraines, medications and neurological disorders.<p>One chapter of the new book deals with altered states and Sacks' perso Tue, 06 Nov 2012 18:45:56 +0000 7015 at http://kplu.org Oliver Sacks, exploring how hallucinations happen Sunflowers seen flying through empty desert – Why? http://kplu.org/post/sunflowers-seen-flying-through-empty-desert-why I've been hearing strange wind stories all my life. The best ones are both wildly improbable but still true, like how the Empire State Building gets <a href="http://library.thinkquest.org/C003603/english/phenomena/rainingvegetables.shtml">hit by wafts of barley</a> flying in on jet streams from Iowa, or how tons of sand from the Saharan desert rain down every year <a href="http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/9/7867/2009/acp-9-7867-2009.pdf">onto Brazilian rainforests</a>. You never know what the wind will bring. The wind decides.<p>Here's a new one. Fri, 02 Nov 2012 17:31:21 +0000 Robert Krulwich & Vincent Liota 6938 at http://kplu.org Sunflowers seen flying through empty desert – Why? Move Over, Parrot: Elephant Mimics Trainer At Zoo http://kplu.org/post/hello-elephant-mimics-human-speech-zoo Scientists say an Asian elephant at a South Korean zoo can imitate human speech, saying five Korean words that are readily understood by people who speak the language.<p>The male elephant, named Koshik, invented an unusual method of sound production that involves putting his trunk in his mouth and manipulating his vocal tract.<p>"This is not the kind of sound that Asian elephants normally make, and it's a dead-on match of the speech of his trainers," says Tecumseh Fitch of the University of Vienna in Austria.<p>Many birds are excellent vocal mimics, but this isn't common among mammals.<p>Human Fri, 02 Nov 2012 04:38:32 +0000 Nell Greenfieldboyce 6932 at http://kplu.org Move Over, Parrot: Elephant Mimics Trainer At Zoo How rare is the Earth? Kepler satellite sheds light http://kplu.org/post/how-rare-earth-kepler-satellite-sheds-light <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z9rM8ChTjY</p> Wed, 31 Oct 2012 14:06:30 +0000 Marcelo Gleiser 6899 at http://kplu.org How rare is the Earth? Kepler satellite sheds light Hey, Sexy Dino, Show Me Your Feathers http://kplu.org/post/sexy-dino-show-me-your-feathers-if-thats-why-you-have-em Some of the weirdest animal behavior is about romance. That's especially true with birds — they croon or dance or display brilliant feathers to seduce the reluctant.<p>This sort of sexual display apparently has a long pedigree: There's now new evidence that some dinosaurs may have used the same come-on.<p>The source is a kind of dinosaur that was built like a 400-pound ostrich. It lived about 75 million years ago and is called ornithomimus<em>,</em> meaning "bird mimic."<p>Scientists in Canada found the fossilized bones of one in 1995 that looked different from what they'd seen before. Fri, 26 Oct 2012 14:06:14 +0000 Christopher Joyce 6846 at http://kplu.org Hey, Sexy Dino, Show Me Your Feathers On Saturn, Cassini observes huge storm, causing incredible temperature spike http://kplu.org/post/saturn-cassini-observes-huge-storm-causing-incredible-temperature-spike <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/10/25/163607781/halloween-horror-hurricane-sandy-could-be-billion-dollar-storm">"Frankenstorm" may be drawing the attention</a> of meteorologists here on Earth.<p>But NASA scientists using the Cassini spacecraft have witnessed a rare massive storm on Saturn that was so violent it sent the temperature in the planet's stratosphere soaring to 150 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.<p>To put it in perspective Brigette Hesman, a University of Maryland scientist who writes about the findings in the Nov. Fri, 26 Oct 2012 00:24:48 +0000 Eyder Peralta 6844 at http://kplu.org On Saturn, Cassini observes huge storm, causing incredible temperature spike