Science

Diversions
8:03 am
Tue July 3, 2012

Bald Eagle: A Mighty Symbol, With A Not-So-Mighty Voice

The Bald Eagle's majestic call is ... not so majestic. Photo by USFWS

Originally published on Tue July 3, 2012 7:11 am

Few sounds symbolize American patriotism like the piercing shrill of a bald eagle. But just like George Washington and his cherry tree, that majestic call … is a myth. The screech associated with the bald eagle, in fact, belongs to a different bird.

Bird expert Connie Stanger blames Hollywood. You know the scene:

Stanger describes it: “You’ve got John Wayne riding through the sunset and you hear the jingle of spurs and often that piercing, loud cry.”

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Science press release
10:52 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

'Strong indication of Higgs (God) particle' found, scientists report

The Tevatron typically produced about 10 million proton-antiproton collisions per second. Each collision produced hundreds of particles. The CDF and DZero experiments recorded about 200 collisions per second for further analysis.
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

(Press release from Fermilab)

After more than 10 years of gathering and analyzing data produced by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Tevatron collider, scientists from the CDF and DZero collaborations have found their strongest indication to date for the long-sought Higgs particle. Squeezing the last bit of information out of 500 trillion collisions produced by the Tevatron for each experiment since March 2001, the final analysis of the data does not settle the question of whether the Higgs particle exists, but gets closer to an answer.

The Tevatron scientists unveiled their latest results on July 2, two days before the highly anticipated announcement of the latest Higgs-search results from the Large Hadron Collider in Europe.

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NPR Science
5:54 am
Mon July 2, 2012

Is the hunt for the 'God Particle' finally over?

This image, from a sensor at the particle accelerator at CERN, is an example of the data signature a Higgs particle might generate.
CERN

Originally published on Mon July 2, 2012 6:17 am

Before we get to the fireworks on the Fourth of July, we might see some pyrotechnics from a giant physics experiment near Geneva, Switzerland.

Scientists there are planning to gather that morning to hear the latest about the decades-long search for a subatomic particle that could help explain why objects in our universe actually weigh anything.

The buzz is that they're closing in on the elusive Higgs particle. That would be a major milestone in the quest to understand the most basic nature of the universe.

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Science
4:30 am
Fri June 29, 2012

Seattle's space shuttle trainer getting new parts this weekend

The Aero Spacelines Super Guppy has a cargo compartment that is 25 feet tall, 25 feet wide, and 111 feet long.
Photo by MilborneOne / Wikimedia Commons

NASA is making a special delivery to Seattle this weekend. If you go to the Museum of Flight on Saturday morning, you’ll see one of the world’s biggest cargo planes land in the parking lot. It’s carrying the cockpit and crew cabin of a full-sized space shuttle trainer.

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Reacting to supreme court
7:14 pm
Thu June 28, 2012

Hospitals, other providers welcome ruling, look forward to more paying customers

Health-care providers in Washington are in the midst of changes that will speed up now that the federal health law has been sustained. The ruling was welcome news to hospitals, doctors and many others in the medical field.

They're especially glad nearly everyone will have health insurance. That’s been one of the big challenges in the current health system. People get sick and go to the hospital, even if they can’t afford it.

By 2014, when subsidies for insurance kick-in, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler predicts about 80% of the uninsured will get coverage.  

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NPR tech news
7:01 am
Sat June 23, 2012

'Baby' robot learns language like the real thing

Human baby Charlotte, the 13-month-old daughter of NPR producer Tom Bullock, tried the same tests that DeeChee, the robot, does for language-learning experiments. Dr. Caroline Lyons says human babies have an advantage: They spend every waking hour of the day in a speaking world.
Tom Bullock NPR

Originally published on Sat June 23, 2012 10:51 am

A baby robot has been born. Now, with little DeeChee's help, researchers are studying how babies transition from babbling to forming words.

Dr. Caroline Lyons of the University of Hertfordshire is one of the computer scientists who helped design DeeChee the robot. She tells Weekend Edition host Scott Simon that humans are also critical to their experiments.

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health insurance
3:36 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Health insurers must give rebates to 5,000 Washington residents

Nearly 5,000 Washington residents are getting rebates on their health insurance, courtesy of the new federal health law.

If you bought an individual health plan from an out-of-state company called Time Insurance, then you should be getting money back. The plans are sold under the brand, Assurant Health. The company sells primarily high-deductible health coverage.

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NPR tech news
2:14 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

You know you want one, but personal robots not ready yet

Research scientist Leila Takayama poses with a PR2 robot at Willow Garage, a robotics company in Menlo Park, Calif., that produces programmable robots.
Melissa Block NPR

Originally published on Mon June 18, 2012 8:06 pm

Meet Jake. At 500 pounds, he stands 4 feet 4 four inches tall, with a spine that stretches another foot. He has white urethane skin, a flat head sporting an array of camera lenses, and a laser scanner in his throat.

And he may be coming to a home near you.

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seismic surveys
2:40 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Endangered orcas cause delays for major earthquake research

The R/V Langseth uses sonar to study earthquake faults
Columbia University/Earth Institute

Updated 6/18/12, with comments and links from whale advocates.

An expensive science mission off the Washington and Oregon coasts has been scaled back, at least for now, out of concern for orca whales. A research ship is using blasts of sound to create maps of a major earthquake fault, which is considered the greatest tsunami risk along the U.S. Pacific coast.

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NPR Science
9:09 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Famous Cave Paintings Might Not Be From Humans

The Panel of Hands in the Cave of El Castillo in Spain. New dating methods suggest the paintings could have been drawn by Neanderthals, not humans, as previously thought.
Pedro Saura AAAS/Science

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 6:33 am

The famous paintings on the walls of caves in Europe mark the beginning of figurative art and a great leap forward for human culture.

But now a novel method of determining the age of some of those cave paintings questions their provenance. Not that they're fakes — only that it might not have been modern humans who made them.

The first European cave paintings are thought to have been made over 30,000 years ago. Most depict animals and hunters. Some of the eeriest are stencils of human hands, apparently made by blowing a spray of pigment over a hand held up to a wall.

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youth and tobacco
5:55 pm
Thu June 14, 2012

The kids are still smoking, and we're not doing much about it

“It’s worth recognizing that just about nobody takes up smoking after age 25. And something like 9 of 10 adults who smoke say they started before 18."
Anthony Posey Flickr

Youth smoking is re-emerging as a concern in Washington. The US Surgeon General came to Seattle this week to give a pep talk to anti-smoking campaigners, who are coping with three years of drastic budget cuts.

If it seems like smoking is already on a perpetual decline, that's a mis-perception, said assistant Surgeon General Patrick O’Carroll, in an interview:

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emergency response
9:42 am
Thu June 14, 2012

Emergency crews pushing for more heart-shockers in office buildings

A public AED in a King County office building. Health officials want more of these in office buildings all over. Photo by Keith Seinfeld

How many ways do you know to save someone who's dying?

A good first step is to call 911. If the person's heart has stopped, then it's time for CPR. And, third on your list might be the AED, or automatic external defibrillator.

Emergency responders are hoping this electronic heart-shocking device will become a standard part of the workplace.

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NPR Science
10:06 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

An unexpected discovery: A tropical methane lake on Saturn's Titan

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 3:50 pm

Scientists said it was an "unexpected" discovery: There's a liquid methane filled lake near the equator of Saturn's moon Titan.

Scientists had seen lakes on Titan before, but they didn't expect them near the equator because they believed the intensity of the sun at those latitudes would evaporate the liquid.

"This discovery was completely unexpected because lakes are not stable at tropical latitudes," planetary scientist Caitlin Griffith of the University of Arizona, who led the discovery team, told the AP.

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NPR Science
12:09 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

New Research: U.S. Is Warming, But Not Uniformly

In red, are the states that have seen the highest temperature change.
Climate Central

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 2:09 pm

New analysis (pdf) of climate data finds that since 1912, the United States has warmed 1.3 degrees. But that warming is concentrated in certain states, some of which have "warmed 60 times faster than the 10 slowest-warming states."

All of that is according to Climate Central, a research and journalism non-profit that seeks to inform the public about climate and energy. The center looked at data from the National Climatic Data Center's U.S. Historical Climatology Network.

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NPR health
8:51 am
Wed June 13, 2012

Traces Of Virus In Man Cured Of HIV Trigger Scientific Debate

Timothy Ray Brown, widely known in research circles as the Berlin patient, was cured of his HIV infection by bone marrow transplants. Now scientists are trying to make sense of the traces of HIV they've found in some cells of his body.
Richard Knox NPR

Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 6:35 am

Top AIDS scientists are scratching their heads about new data from the most famous HIV patient in the world — at least to people in the AIDS community.

Timothy Ray Brown, known as the Berlin patient, is thought to be the first patient ever to be cured of HIV infection.

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