NPR Science

NPR Science
4:39 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

'Zombie' Ants And The Fungus That Saves Them

A zombie ant with the brain-manipulating fungus (Ophiocordyceps unilateralis s.l.) having been castrated by an hyperparasite fungus (white with yellow material).
David Hughes Penn State University

Originally published on Wed May 2, 2012 4:59 pm

As you can probably tell, at least one person on this blog's masthead likes ants.

So we've always been bummed that we haven't had the opportunity to tell you about zombie ants, but today we are glad to report there is a new development in the field. Luckily, it's a good-news report about a fungus that limits the fungus that turns ants into zombies.

Read more
NPR Science
9:30 am
Sat April 21, 2012

Lights off, eyes open: New moon darkens skies for meteor shower

A composite of Lyrids over Huntsville, Ala., in 2009. This year, the meteor shower will hit its peak before dawn Sunday morning.
Danielle Moser/MSFC NASA

Originally published on Sat April 21, 2012 7:58 pm

Tonight is a good night for a meteor shower. The Lyrids aren't known for their flashy shows, but this year they're getting help from a new moon.

The dark skies will be "ideal for meteor watching from the ground," NASA says.

Kelly Beatty, senior contributing editor for Sky and Telescope magazine, tells Weekend Edition host Scott Simon the best views are from the darkest places.

Read more
NPR science
8:32 am
Wed April 18, 2012

Can you think your way to that hole-in-one?

Bo Van Pelt celebrates his hole-in-one during the final round of the Masters on April 8. New research suggests that golfers may be able to improve their games by believing the hole they're aiming for is larger than it really is.
Andrew Redington Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 4:50 am

Psychologists at Purdue University have come up with an interesting twist on the old notion of the power of positive thinking. Call it the power of positive perception: They've shown that you may be able to improve your golf game by believing the hole you're aiming for is larger than it really is.

Jessica Witt, who studies how perception and performance are related, decided to look at golf — specifically, how the appearance of the hole changes depending on whether you're playing well or poorly.

Read more
NPR Science
10:14 am
Tue March 20, 2012

NPR science: Dark energy and the joy of being wrong

WMAP NASA

Originally published on Tue March 20, 2012 8:37 am

Sometimes nature just throws you a loop. All your carefully laid plans, all your exquisite calculations, all your deeply held beliefs and expectations get blown away in the simple eloquence of real data from the real world. That is how Dark Energy made its appearance into the world of cosmology. Its not just that folks weren't expecting it. They were, in fact, expecting the very opposite.

Read more
The Two-Way
2:58 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Sun Sends Solar Flares Speeding Toward Earth; Will Hit Thursday [VIDEO]

This image of a huge and powerful solar flare was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory Tuesday.
NASA

Originally published on Fri March 9, 2012 9:15 am

Read more
The Two-Way
1:34 pm
Wed March 7, 2012

Scientists Say They've 'Cornered' The Elusive 'God Particle'

Fermilab and the Tevatron sit in the Illinois countryside near Chicago.
AP

Originally published on Wed March 7, 2012 2:37 pm

Scientists from Fermilab say they've basically "cornered" the elusive Higgs boson — that's the particle that some have nicknamed the "God Particle," because it is thought to give atoms mass and is also a key component of the Standard Model.

This is complicated stuff, of course, but essentially the scientists at Fermilab say they found a bump in their data that suggests the existence of the particle. That bump corresponds to the evidence scientists at the Large Hadron Collider have found.

Here's a bit of explanation from the Fermilab press release:

Read more
Things from space
5:10 pm
Sun March 4, 2012

Meteorite Hunter Scours The Ground For Bits Of Sky

One of Ruben Garcia's favorite spots to go meteorite hunting is an enormous dry lake bed in southern Arizona.
Courtesy Jana Becker

Originally published on Sun March 4, 2012 4:03 pm

Every so often, pieces of heaven crash into Earth.

They can come from our own solar system, or millions of light years away. Few of us are lucky enough to get our hands on one of these space rocks. But for meteorite hunters and dealers such as Ruben Garcia, touching a piece of outer space is a daily routine.

The Best Hunting Grounds

One of Garcia's favorite spots to go meteorite hunting is an enormous dry lake bed in southern Arizona.

Read more
Science
9:32 am
Sun March 4, 2012

NPR Science: The exquisite tilt of a spiral galaxy

The Warp in this Spiral Galaxy was probably the result of a cosmic collision with another galaxy.
Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA), C. Conselice (U. Wisconsin/STScI) et al., NASA

Originally published on Sun March 4, 2012 9:12 am

This lovely image of the spiral galaxy ESO 510-13 was featured on Friday's Astronomy Picture of the Day.

A galaxy is a collection of billions of stars (gas and dust and lots of Dark Matter) held together by their mutual gravity. The exquisite warp seen here is likely caused by interactions with other galaxies. Collisions or "harassment" between galaxies is quite common and may be the most important process shaping galactic evolution.

Read more
Research News
10:20 am
Wed February 29, 2012

NPR science: The man working to reverse engineer your brain

A map of neurons of the mouse retina, reconstructed automatically by artificial intelligence from electron microscopic images.
A. Zlateski based on data from K. Briggman, M. Helmstaedter, and W. Denk MIT/Seung

Originally published on Wed February 29, 2012 8:28 am

Our brains are filled with billions of neurons, entangled like a dense canopy of tropical forest branches. When we think of a concept or a memory — or have a perception or feeling — our brain's neurons quickly fire and talk to each other across connections called synapses.

How these neurons interact with each other — and what the wiring is like between them — is key to understanding our identity, says Sebastian Seung, a professor of computational neuroscience at MIT.

Read more
NPR Science
4:31 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Are you hard-wired for compassion? How about cruelty?

A marching band leads the horse-drawn carriage carrying Robert Champion following his November 2011 funeral in Decatur, Georgia.
David Goldman AP

Originally published on Fri February 24, 2012 8:51 am

This headline in the February 17th issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education caught my attention, After a Death, A Question: Are Students Hard-Wired for Hazing?

Read more
Shots - Health Blog
10:08 am
Mon February 20, 2012

NPR Science: Does Tylenol worsen asthma for kids?

Dr. John McBride examines 9-month-old Martez after his mother, Ceasha Moorer, brought him in to check on his asthma.
Courtesy of Karen Schaefer

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 2:50 pm

Parents and doctors around the world have been alarmed by the dramatic increase in childhood asthma.

One factor in the upswing is better detection by doctors, but at least one doctor thinks a common over-the-counter drug also has something to do with it.

Read more
Health
12:01 am
Mon February 13, 2012

Scientists Take Cautious Tack On Bird Flu Research

A government veterinarian worker sprays anti-bird flu disinfectant over birds and fowls at Medan city market in North Sumatra province. Indonesia reported its second human death from bird flu this year in late January.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 13, 2012 8:24 am

Last month, scientists around the world agreed to temporarily halt certain genetic experiments with bird flu viruses. More than three weeks of that 60-day moratorium have already passed. And the scientific community is in the midst of a fierce debate about what needs to happen next.

The suspension of the research came in response to fears that researchers had created dangerous new germs that could cause a devastating pandemic in people if they ever escaped the lab or fell into the wrong hands.

Read more
13.7: Cosmos And Culture
9:46 am
Sun February 12, 2012

NPR Science: A Darwinian against Darwin Day

Originally published on Sun February 12, 2012 9:36 am

Personally I plan on celebrating Darwin Day because when I contemplate the enormity of his insight into the physical world I am awed. But it's interesting to note that not everyone who feels that awe thinks there should be a "Darwin Day".

Read more
Research News
9:10 am
Sat February 11, 2012

Deconstructing Dengue: How Old Is That Mosquito?

Mosquitoes like this one can carry the virus that causes dengue fever.
James Gathany CDC Public Health Image Library

Originally published on Sat February 11, 2012 8:46 am

Scientists can spend years working on problems that at first may seem esoteric and rather pointless. For example, there's a scientist in Arizona who's trying to find a way to measure the age of wild mosquitoes.

As weird as that sounds, the work is important for what it will tell scientists about the natural history of mosquitoes. It also could have major implications for human health.

Read more
NPR Science
4:02 pm
Wed February 1, 2012

New video sheds more light on dark side of the moon

The south pole of the far side of the moon as seen from the GRAIL mission's Ebb spacecraft.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Wed February 1, 2012 3:35 pm

New video from NASA gives us a fresh view of the far side of the moon (or the technically incorrect but way cooler sounding "dark side").

It's from NASA's Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) lunar spacecraft.

Read more

Pages