Environment

Amber Robust
12:32 pm
Sun March 30, 2014

By Any Other Name, Does Vermont's Maple Syrup Taste As Sweet?

Vermont has dropped the old system of grading of maple syrup in favor of a new plan that names both color and flavor.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Sun March 30, 2014 5:59 pm

At Green's Sugarhouse in Poultney, Vt., visitors are gathered around four squeeze bottles of maple syrup, sampling the each under brand-new labels.

Vermont recently replaced its syrup grading system and now uses new names that make different syrups sound more like wine or expensive coffee.

Gone is the former system, with names like "Fancy," "Grade A Dark Amber" and "Grade B." The new labels give both the color — "Golden," "Amber" or "Dark" — and a flavor description: "Delicate," "Rich," "Robust" or "Strong."

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Beluga School
11:33 am
Fri March 28, 2014

Five Alaskan Students Visit Mystic Aquarium to Study Beluga Whales

Tiffany Terry Creative Commons

A group of Native American students from Alaska visited Mystic Aquarium this week as part an academic exchange program studying beluga whales.

The five high schoolers are from Point Lay, an Inupiat Native American village of about 250 people on Alaska's northern coast. They're on the second leg of a two-part academic exchange program. 

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The Grey
6:50 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Mysterious "Wolfdogs" Roaming Southeastern Connecticut Will Be Genetically Tested

An Arctic wolf/Alaskan malamute hybrid from Lobo Park, Antequera.
Creative Commons

State officials said DNA tests will be conducted on seven animals to determine if they are hybrid "wolfdogs." The animals, which are illegal to own in Connecticut, have allegedly threatened several people in the southeastern part of the state.

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Horses Are Pretty, But Vicious?
12:23 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Horses Can Bite; Connecticut Justices Send "Scuppy" Case Back to Lower Court

Credit Courtesy of Flickr CC by Doug Wheller

The Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled that owners of horses or other domestic animals must prevent the animal from causing injuries, siding with a family whose child was bitten by a horse. The court on Wednesday upheld an Appellate Court ruling that said a horse belongs to "a species naturally inclined to do mischief or be vicious."

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:00 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Secrets of the Sea

Credit Jagadhatri / Wikimedia Commons

   I get way too much of my information from movies and  this year large container ships played a role in two major films.

The first was Captain Phillips, an account of piracy in the Indian Ocean. The problem with that movie is that it didn't ask any fundamental questions about the method of moving stuff around.

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Search for Flight 370
5:55 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Can A 250-Year-Old Mathematical Theorem Find A Missing Plane?

This statistical map guided searchers to an Air France flight that disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009.
C. Keller/Metron

Originally published on Wed March 26, 2014 9:28 am

Searchers are feeling overwhelmed by the task of locating the wreckage of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.

"We're not searching for a needle in a haystack — we're still trying to define where the haystack is," Australian Air Marshal Mark Binskin said Tuesday. The current search zone stretches across many thousands of square miles of the Indian Ocean off the coast of Australia.

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Science Education
2:29 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Physics 101: Why Did the Universe Blow Up?

Credit STILLFX/iStock / Thinkstock

Recent observations of so-called "gravitational waves" are providing astronomers with the strongest confirmation yet of cosmic inflation, a theory that says the universe rapidly expanded following the Big Bang.

Why, exactly, did the universe balloon by 100 trillion trillion times, in less than the blink of an eye, 13.8 billion years ago?

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Energy
10:59 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Environmental Group Challenges New England's Energy Policy Coordination

Credit Daniel Oines / Creative Commons

An environmental advocacy group is challenging how energy policy is coordinated by New England's six governors. The Conservation Law Foundation has submitted public records requests to the region's six states.

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Meat
1:43 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

How Your Love Of Burgers May Be Helping To Drive Wildlife Extinct

Rancher Denny Johnson looks over his cattle in Joseph, Ore., in 2011. Conservationists say ranchers raising beef cattle are responsible for the decline of some wildlife.
Rick Bowmer AP

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 2:57 pm

Many animal lovers have made peace with their decision to eat meat.

But the Center for Biological Diversity has a new campaign that hopes to convince them that a hamburger habit does wildlife a disservice.

"We need to see a drastic reduction in meat consumption to protect land, water and wildlife," Stephanie Feldstein, population and sustainability director for the Center for Biological Diversity, tells The Salt.

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Gone Solar
11:59 am
Fri March 21, 2014

Bridgeport Town Council Gives OK to Solar Project

After the solar project works its way through PURA, construction should begin. Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch estimates the project will bring about $7 million to the city over the next 20 years.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons

With a 15-5 vote, Bridgeport's City Council approved a massive solar energy project this week that could bring thousands of solar panels to a former city landfill. Since dumps are no longer allowed in Connecticut, that's left a lot of city leaders wondering what to do with that old space. 

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Electric Cars
5:32 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Connecticut Fights Climate Change With Electric Car Selling Contest

Credit Nissan

Connecticut is running a contest to boost sales of electric vehicles: The dealer that sells the most electric cars between now and July gets an award. There's no prize money, but the contest is part of an effort to meet an ambitious quota.

Car salesman Joe Quistorff just sold a plugin hybrid car (a car that can run on either gas or electricity) a few days ago.

"My sales effort was actually fairly simple, fortunately," he said. "These are the kind of people that buy those vehicles."

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Science
5:06 am
Thu March 20, 2014

The 500-Pound 'Chicken From Hell' Likely Ate Whatever It Wanted

Courtesy of Bob Walters

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 4:07 pm

For the past decade, dinosaur scientists have been puzzling over a set of fossil bones they variously describe as weird and bizarre. Now they've figured out what animal they belonged to: a bird-like creature they're calling "the chicken from hell."

There are two reasons for the name.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Global Warming: Attitudes Toward Our Changing World

This January was the fourth-warmest on record.
Credit NASA Goddard Photo and Video / Creative Commons

A recent Gallup poll found that, when it comes to climate change, Americans just aren't that worried. Less than 36% of those surveyed recognized global warming as an immediate threat, while most placed economic, federal spending, and healthcare issues above the need for environmental action. 

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Wildlife
5:43 am
Tue March 18, 2014

For Connecticut Deer, Sunday May No Longer Be a Day of Rest

A new proposal is floating the idea of bow hunting on Sundays.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / jonnnnnn

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection hasn't done a statewide estimate for about five years, but at last count, there were around 120,000 deer in Connecticut, with the largest concentrations in Fairfield County.

DEEP officials said the numbers are getting out of control, and voiced their support for a legislative proposal that would expand deer hunting in Connecticut. 

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Tremors
3:07 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

It's Hard Being Live On Air During an Earthquake

KTLA anchors Megan Henderson and Chris Schauble react to an earthquake Monday morning while on air.
Credit YouTube.com

An earthquake in Southern California Monday morning rattled the usual calm demeanor of the live, on-air anchors at KTLA-TV. Fortunately, it doesn't look as though there's been much damage, and the anchors knew what to do: get under the desk. 

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Tree Trimming
2:10 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Despite PURA Request, Utilities Want to Keep Trimming

A resident holds up a "Trees Please" sign during a public hearing on "enhanced tree-trimming" earlier this month.
Credit Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Last week, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority called for a "voluntary suspension" of so-called "enhanced tree-trimming" around the state. United Illuminating and CL&P quickly filed formal responses and -- surprise -- they both want to keep trimming.

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Astrophysics
1:16 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Scientists Announce A Big-Bang Breakthrough

This image released Monday by Harvard-led researchers represents the gravitational waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background in the microsecond after the Big Bang.
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 4:19 pm

This post was update at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Researchers say they've discovered that gravitational waves rippled through the fabric of space-time in the first sliver of a second after the Big Bang — the first direct evidence for a mysterious, ultrarapid expansion at the dawn of the universe. If confirmed, it would represent one of the most profound insights in decades to emerge from the field of cosmology.

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Chemicals and Kids
4:37 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

A Call for Pesticide-Free Town Greens

A new bill could extend the state's pesticide ban to public parks, playgrounds, and town greens.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons / jetsandzeppelins

Connecticut lawmakers are once again eyeing restrictions on pesticides. A new proposal would ban their use at public parks and town greens.

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Metro-North
11:33 am
Fri March 14, 2014

"Operation Deep Dive" Concludes Metro-North Has a "Poor Safety Culture"

The Federal Railroad Administration says Metro-North "emphasizes on-time performance to the detriment of safe operations."
Credit PhillipC / Creative Commons

The Federal Railroad Administration has issued a series of recommendations to improve what they describe as the "poor safety culture" at Metro-North.

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Way Under Our Feet
7:22 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Rare Diamond Points To Mass Quantities Of Water In Earth's Mantle

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 5:53 pm

Impurities found in a pea-sized diamond that came from the (very) deep have bolstered evidence for a vast "wet zone" in the Earth's mantle, scientists publishing in the latest issue of Nature say.

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Container Ships
3:37 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Hitching A Ride On The World's Biggest Cargo Ship

NPR's Jackie Northam on the Maersk McKinney Moller, a new container megaship that can carry about double what many other big cargo ships can carry. It's 20 stories high and four football fields long.
Jackie Northam NPR

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 10:17 am

I started my journey at the famed Gdansk Shipyard, home of Poland's solidarity movement in the 1980s. It was nearly midnight when I arrived and saw for the first time the Maersk McKinney Moller, the world's largest container ship.

I simply wasn't prepared for just how massive it is. The whole ship really can't be taken in, even standing at a distance, so I gave my neck a good stretch by scanning this behemoth end to end, and up and down.

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Tree Trimming
4:30 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

For Tree-Trimming Opponents, a Victory, at Least for Now

A well-loved tree in Hamden, Conn.
Credit Contributed Photo

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is calling for a suspension of "enhanced tree trimming" around the state. It's a decision following months of public outcry.

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Spring Forward
2:47 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Hate Daylight Saving Time? Blame the Man From Filene's Basement

If you think about why you fiddle with your clock twice a year, there are probably two things that spring to mind: farmers and energy savings. Neither are the reasons why we have Daylight Saving Time, so I called Michael Downing, the author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, and asked him why these myths persist.

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San Francisco
10:23 am
Wed March 12, 2014

VIDEO: San Francisco's Biggest Fire In Years

Flames leap from the roof of the under-construction apartment building that caught fire Tuesday in San Francisco.
Terry Schmitt UPI/Landov

Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 11:08 am

A "quick-moving, monstrous blaze" on Tuesday destroyed a nine-story apartment building that was under construction in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood.

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Marine Life
2:53 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Mystic Aquarium Beluga Whale Dies at 33

Naku, a beluga whale at Mystic Aquarium who died Saturday night.
Credit Tracy M. Brown / Mystic Aquarium

Mystic Aquarium staff and visitors are mourning the loss of a 33-year-old female beluga whale that died after a prolonged respiratory illness. 

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Wildlife
3:36 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Trapping And Tracking The Mysterious Snowy Owl

Meredith Rizzo/NPR

Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 7:04 pm

This is Hungerford, a large female snowy owl. Last summer she was just a hatchling — a gray ball of fuzz in the middle of the Arctic tundra. In the fall, newly equipped with adult plumage, she flew thousands of miles south until she reached the coast of Maryland. And this winter, she became an important part of an unprecedented research project.

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Resilient Bugs
3:23 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Invasive Bugs in Connecticut May Be Adapting to Extreme Winters

A live hemlock woolly adelgid in the spring. This winter's extreme cold has reduced population numbers statewide, but there is evidence that bugs in the northwest corner of the state are becoming more cold-weather resistant.
Credit Carole Cheah / Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Scientists say this winter's extreme cold is having a limited impact on the state's invasive bugs, and it may even be making one insect stronger. It's called the hemlock woolly adelgid, and it was first identified in Connecticut in 1985.

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International Fracking
3:17 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Seeking Energy Independence, Europe Faces Heated Fracking Debate

Many countries in the European Union are drawn to the benefits of fracking: cheap energy and energy independence. But many Europeans, including these protesters standing outside EU headquarters in Brussels, object to the practice on environmental grounds.
Virginia Mayo AP

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 11:39 am

While watching the turmoil in Ukraine unfold, you may feel as though it has little to do with the United States, but the conflict is stirring a contentious debate in Europe over a topic familiar to many Americans: fracking.

Much of the continent depends on Russian natural gas that flows through pipelines in Ukraine. European countries are asking themselves whether to follow the U.S. example and drill for shale gas.

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Cities
7:01 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Growing An Urban Neighborhood, One Store At A Time

Communications store owner Donny Seto (right) says other business owners shouldn't be so hesitant to set up in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
Leah Binkovitz NPR

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 11:30 am

Across the country, communities stranded in food and retail deserts are asking how they can enjoy the bounty afforded to other urban centers. One Washington, D.C., community thinks it might have an answer.

Just a 10-minute drive south of the U.S. Capitol, across the Anacostia River, sits Congress Heights. The Southeast D.C. neighborhood is less than 2 miles long and home to more than 8,000 people, many in single-family houses. But if you're looking for a sit-down meal, options are scarce.

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Space
9:47 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Don't Worry, They Say, 100-Foot Asteroid Will Miss Us Today

A NASA artist's illustration depicts an asteroid belt around a star that the space agency says is "the same age and size as our Sun."
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Originally published on Wed March 5, 2014 11:56 am

Don't say you weren't warned.

But also don't worry, the experts say.

As we wrote last month when an asteroid measuring about 900 feet long passed near enough to Earth to generate headlines about a "close encounter," more rocks are always headed our way.

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