Science

NPR science
6:58 am
Thu September 27, 2012

Big Quakes Signal Changes Coming To Earth's Crust

A prison official examines the damage a day after a powerful earthquake hit the west coast of Indonesia in Banda Aceh on April 12.
Adek Berry AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 6:31 am

On April 11 of this year, an extraordinary cluster of earthquakes struck off Sumatra. The largest shock, magnitude 8.7, produced stronger ground-shaking than any earthquake ever recorded. And it surprised seismologists by triggering more than a dozen moderate earthquakes around the world.

The quakes are also a sign of big changes to come in the Earth's crust.

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Science
8:27 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Newly detected parasite turns Northwest honey bees into 'zombees'

A "zombie fly" (Apocephalus borealis) lays its eggs inside a honey bee. Photo courtesy SFSU

Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 4:41 pm

There's more trouble for your hard-working backyard honey bee. Researchers have confirmed the first cases of "zombee" bees in Washington state and in the Portland area. Infection by a parasite prompts the bees to embark on what's being called a "flight of the living dead."

The initial Washington detection came from an observant beekeeper in the Seattle suburb of Kent.

"The odd thing is they're attracted to light. Bees normally aren't attracted to light. And they're flying at night. Bees don't normally fly at night," says Mark Hohn. He keeps bees as a hobby.

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NPr science
1:46 pm
Sun September 23, 2012

The Next Frontier For Elite Med Schools: Primary Care

Mount Sinai Medical student Demetri Blanas wants to specialize in family medicine. It is a new specialty offered by his medical school.
Jenny Gold Kaiser Health News

Originally published on Sun September 23, 2012 2:51 pm

Johns Hopkins, Yale, Harvard, Columbia and Cornell. What do these medical schools have in common?

Beyond their first-rate reputations, they're also on the short list of top U.S. med schools that don't have departments of family medicine. Elite schools have long focused on training specialists and researchers, but with the federal health law's emphasis on primary care, some schools are looking harder at family medicine.

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NPR science
6:39 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Why mental pictures can sway your moral judgment

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 6:41 am

When we think about morality, many of us think about religion or what our parents taught us when we were young. Those influences are powerful, but many scientists now think of the brain as a more basic source for our moral instincts.

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health care
5:42 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Layoffs and cost-cutting coming to Group Health

Group Health Cooperative says it lost money in August and needs to cut costs.  That will include some layoffs this year. 

It’s not a calamity, says CEO Scott Armstrong, but the trend could lead Group Health to finish the year in the red if it doesn't make changes.

(For the complete story, click the "listen" button above.)  

obesity trends
6:22 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Watch out: Half of Washington residents could be obese

Washington state is not immune from America’s obesity epidemic. A new study looking at where the trends are headed on weight-gain shows half the population headed for obesity by the year 2030. 

Currently, 26.5% of Washington residents are already considered obese. That’s a step beyond overweight, using the standard measurement of body-mass-index (BMI). 

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NPR Science
6:54 am
Tue September 18, 2012

As genetic sequencing spreads, excitement, worries grow

Slides containing DNA sit in a bay waiting to be analyzed by a genome sequencing machine.
David Paul Morris Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 2:43 pm

Ever since James Watson and Francis Crick cracked the genetic code, scientists have been fascinated by the possibilities of what we might learn from reading our genes.

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NPR science
5:06 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

What drove early man across the globe? Climate change

An artist's re-creation of the first human migration to North America from across the Bering Sea.
DEA Picture Library De Agostini/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 17, 2012 3:39 pm

Anthropologists believe early humans evolved in Africa and then moved out from there in successive waves. However, what drove their migrations has been a matter of conjecture.

One new explanation is climate change.

Anthropologist Anders Erikkson of Cambridge University in England says the first few hardy humans who left Africa might've gone earlier but couldn't. Northeastern Africa — the only route to Asia and beyond — was literally a no man's land.

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Smoking laws
1:36 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Should hookah bars remain open despite Washington's indoor smoking ban?

In this 2005 file photo Cary Wilson (right) and Lyle Klyne smoke a hookah in Fire and Earth, a former Olympia hookah lounge, days prior to the smoking ban. The business continues to sell hookahs, smoking supplies and gifts.
John Froschauer AP

Washington banned indoor smoking nearly seven years ago, but one exception survives: hookah lounges.

Local health departments have struggled to shut them down. 

The lounges say they’re private clubs, not public venues, so the law doesn’t apply. They all charge some sort of membership fee, typically about $5.

That defense doesn’t sway health officials, like Frank DiBiase of the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department. His office inspected three hookah bars in Tacoma last year.

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NPR science
10:30 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Monkey, new to science, found in Central Africa

Researchers have identified a new species of African monkey, locally known as the lesula.
Maurice Emetshu, Noel Rowe PLOS ONE/AP

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 8:19 pm

It would seem difficult to overlook something as large as a new species of monkey, but scientists had no idea about the lesula until just a few years ago when conservation biologist John Hart discovered a specimen being kept as a pet in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In retrospect, the monkey's striking, almost humanlike face should have made it hard to miss, and Hart, who spoke with All Things Considered host Melissa Block, is the first to admit that this new monkey was apparently not such a mystery to the Congolese themselves.

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History
5:15 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Secrets of 9,000-year-old 'Kennewick Man' subject of new book

Doug Owsley (far left) will reveal key findings about "Kennewick Man" from a nine-year study. Photo by Chip Clark/Smithsonian Institution

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 5:12 pm

RICHLAND, Wash. – Kennewick Man is coming back into the news. A new book includes some of the key findings about the 9,000-year-old skeleton found on the banks of the Columbia River in 1996. And next month, the book’s author and the lead researcher on Kennewick Man plans to share the results of years of study.

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Zoos
2:11 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Point Defiance Sumatran tiger cub needs a name

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium's 3-week old Sumatran tiger cub is now on public display. The 8 pound feline has been moved into the cub den at the zoo's Asian Forest Sanctuary. Visitors can watch him interact with zookeepers at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily.

You can help name the cub. Zoo staffers have proposed 6 names for the little guy, and you can vote for your favorite at www.pdza.org.

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NPR science
7:43 am
Thu September 13, 2012

For How Long Have We Been Human?

A piece of red ochre with a deliberately engraved design is pictured here at Cape Town's Iziko/South African Museum in 2002. The piece was discovered in Blombos Cave near Stilbaai, about 300 kilometers from Cape Town.
Anna Ziemenski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 7:04 am

This year I greeted my new Biological Anthropology students with a chalked timeline of some human-evolution highlights:

6-7 million years ago: Start of the human lineage, following a split with the lineage containing chimpanzees and gorillas

2.6 mya: Onset of large-scale making and use of stone tool technology

2.5 mya: First human ancestors in our own genus, Homo

200,000 years ago: First modern humans, Homo sapiens

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money and health
7:06 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Gaining health insurance nationally, not in Washington

Young adults were given the right to join their parents plans back in 2007, so there was no sudden boost in 2011.
Tedeytan Flickr

Despite the difficult economy, more Americans have health insurance than a year ago, according to newly released census data. One reason: the new “Obamacare” law allows young adults, up to age 26, to stay on their parents’ insurance. Many others qualified for government programs in 2011, such as Medicaid and Medicare.

The pattern is different, though, in Washington state.

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NPR Science
1:12 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

The 'miracle' of the levitating slinky (cooler than it seems)

Veritasium/YouTube

Originally published on Wed September 12, 2012 5:43 am

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