Science

NPR science
8:52 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

NASA Scientists 'Very Careful' With New Mars Data

This photo, taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, shows Mars' Gale Crater, where the rover has taken samples for chemical analysis. Scientists believe that at some point in the very distant past, there was a riverbed here.
AP

Originally published on Mon December 3, 2012 3:22 pm

NASA is finally receiving data on Martian soil samples from Curiosity, 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.

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Science
10:05 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Scientists solve mystery of the mounds under Hood Canal

Mystery mounds were definitely not caused by whales.
The Associated Press

Washington scientists guessed that mysterious mounds hundreds of feet below the surface of Hood Canal were deposited by Ice Age glaciers or built up by natural gas seeps or geothermal vents.

After taking a closer look with a remote control camera they have another theory.

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Health
3:17 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Seattle bucks the national trend on HIV rates

“When you go to see your doctor, he or she should test you at least once over the course of the time they are providing you medical care, just as a routine,” a public health official says.
Alex Alonso Flickr

A resurgence of AIDS among young men nationally is raising alarm bells – but not in the King County area.  Local health officials say outreach efforts here could be a model for how the rest of the country can keep the AIDS epidemic under control. 

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NPR Science
11:12 am
Thu November 29, 2012

Space probe finds ice in Mercury's craters

Researchers say they have identified traces of ice in craters on Mercury, seen here in this Oct. 8, 2008, image from the Messenger spacecraft.
NASA

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 2:37 pm

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.

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 Science suggest there really is ice at the bottom of craters near the poles on Mercury.

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Science
10:47 am
Tue November 27, 2012

Central Washington University hopes to replace dead chimps

Veterinarians and pathologists at the UW Primate Center performed an autopsy on Monday on Dar, pictured here earlier in his life at CWU. Photo courtesy of Friends of Washoe

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 2:46 pm

The director of a chimpanzee institute at Central Washington University says she feels urgency to bring in new animals. The education and research program in Ellensburg is now down to two aging chimps after the weekend death of another ape known for his sign language abilities.

The chimpanzee named "Dar" was 36 years old when he died unexpectedly on Saturday of unknown causes. Autopsy results are expected later this week.

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NPR Science
10:38 am
Tue November 27, 2012

Sean Carroll tells a story of humanity in the hunt for the Higgs Boson

Sean Gallup Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 27, 2012 8:13 am

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?

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Health and History
5:29 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

How to talk health during T-Day

If you’re looking for a conversation starter this Thanksgiving, the country’s top public health doctor has a suggestion – find out about your family’s health history.

Talking about diseases might not be your family's ideal topic for a holiday – but US Surgeon General Regina Benjamin says one approach is to start very general.

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Health & Science
3:11 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

When Fetuses Yawn In The Womb

Could that be a yawn? An ultrasound scan catches an opened-mouth fetus.
Courtesy of A Little Insight 3D 4D Ultrasound.

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 2:03 pm

Why people yawn is a mystery. But yawning starts in the womb.

Past studies have used ultrasound images to show fetuses yawning, but some scientists have argued that real yawns were getting confused with fetuses simply opening their mouths.

So Nadja Reissland, a researcher at the University of Durham in the United Kingdom, used a more detailed ultrasound technique to get images of fetal faces that could distinguish a true yawn from just an open mouth.

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NPR science
6:29 am
Tue November 20, 2012

Big News From Mars? Rover Scientists Mum For Now

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity dug up five scoops of sand from a patch nicknamed "Rocknest." A suite of instruments called SAM analyzed Martian soil samples, but the findings have not yet been released.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 1:11 pm

Scientists working on NASA's six-wheeled rover on Mars have a problem. But it's a good problem.

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.

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NPR tech news
10:49 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Embracing your inner robot: A singular vision of the future

"Child-robot with Biomimetic Body" (or CB2) at Osaka University in Japan in 2009, where the android was slowly developing social skills by interacting with humans and watching their facial expressions, mimicking a mother-baby relationship.
Yoshikazu Tsuno AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 2:13 pm

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Science
10:34 am
Wed November 14, 2012

Whooping cough epidemic nearly over, questions linger

Whooping cough can be life-threatening for an infant, and lead to "the hundred day cough" for adults
Hamilton Cty, NY Public Health

Washington’s worst epidemic of whooping cough in 70 years appears to be winding down. The number of cases is a fraction of the peak last May.

A briefing Wednesday afternoon at the State Board of Health highlights the ongoing investigation into what happened.

A team of about 50 federal scientists spent the summer visiting doctors' offices, reviewing patient records, and compiling evidence.

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NPR Science
4:47 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

VIDEO: In Australia, a total solar eclipse

The Diamond Ring effect is shown following totality of the solar eclipse at Palm Cove in Australia's Tropical North Queensland Wednesday.
GREG WOOD AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 8:30 am

There were two minutes of stunning astronomical coincidence over Australia today.

It was a total solar eclipse and the images are just stunning:

The AP reports that people across Australia waited on boats, hot air ballons, hill tops and beaches waiting for the sublime moment. Some worried that clouds would obscure it.

But totality, or the point at which the moon completely covers the surface of the sun, lasted 2 minutes and 5 seconds and it was spectacular.

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NPR Science
9:51 am
Tue November 13, 2012

Adventurous Eating Helped Human Ancestors Boost Odds Of Survival

The first prehistoric chef who looked out at a field of grass in Africa and said, "dinner!" may have helped our ancestors use new resources in new locations.
Roberto Schmidt AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 6:38 am

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!"

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! Not only is this a new taste sensation, it's found in many places.

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NPR Science
6:48 am
Thu November 8, 2012

The Beatles' Surprising Contribution To Brain Science

The Beatles rehearse for that night's Royal Variety Performance at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1963.
Central/Hulton Achive/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 8:18 am

The same brain system that controls our muscles also helps us remember music, scientists say.

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, researchers reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans last month.

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NPR Science
10:45 am
Tue November 6, 2012

Oliver Sacks, exploring how hallucinations happen

Oliver Sacks is a physician, author and professor of neurology at NYU School of Medicine. He also frequently contributes to The New Yorker.
Elena Seibert Knopf

Originally published on Thu November 8, 2012 9:58 am

In Oliver Sacks' book The Mind's Eye, 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."

He expands on this footnote in his new book, Hallucinations, where he writes about various types of hallucinations — visions triggered by grief, brain injury, migraines, medications and neurological disorders.

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