research

Medical Marijuana
1:23 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Students Are Developing a Test to Detect Contaminants in Medical Marijuana

Students Renae Labonte and Jinyun Guat.
University of New Haven

Students at the University of New Haven are developing a DNA test that could detect contaminants in medical marijuana. Dr. Heather Coyle, a forensic botanist and associate professor at UNH, said patients using pot for medicinal purposes could be harmed by contaminants that they can't see.

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Communication
3:32 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Robot And Chimpanzee: It's Evolution At Work

Humans and chimpanzees — like this individual at a zoo in Australia — are animals who have evolved to forge extensive and elaborate social connections.
Lisa Maree Williams Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 1:27 pm

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Climate Change
5:01 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Ready — Or Not. Abrupt Climate Changes Worry Scientists Most

Puddled meltwater very likely primed this ancient edge of the Antarctic's Larsen Ice Shelf to rapidly disintegrate over just several weeks. This view of the splintered mix of frozen bergs is from a Feb. 21, 2002, satellite image.
Landsat 7 Science Team/NASA/GSFC

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 8:09 pm

An expert panel at the National Academy of Sciences is calling for an early warning system to alert us to abrupt and potentially catastrophic events triggered by climate change.

The committee says science can anticipate some major changes to the Earth that could affect everything from agriculture to sea level. But we aren't doing enough to look for those changes and anticipate their impacts.

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Autism
4:56 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

New Yale Study Looks at Oxytocin and the Autistic Brain

smithereen 11 creative commons

A new Yale study offers hope for parents who have children with autism spectrum disorders. Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the double-blind, placebo-controlled study consisted of 17 children and adolescents considered to have moderate- to high-functioning autism. 

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Wetlands
5:11 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Rate Of Coastal Wetlands Loss Has Sped Up, U.S. Study Says

Saltwater wetlands that include marshes and shoals on Virginia's Atlantic coast. U.S. coastal wetlands losses were 25 percent greater from 2004-2009, according to a recent federal study.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 7:47 pm

The U.S. lost an average of 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands from 2004 to 2009, according to the latest data published by federal agencies. More than 70 percent of the estimated loss came in the Gulf of Mexico; nationwide, most of the loss was blamed on development that incurred on freshwater wetlands.

"The losses of these vital wetlands were 25 percent greater than during the previous six years," NPR's Elizabeth Shogren reports for our Newscast unit. She also notes that the loss equals "about seven football fields every hour."

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Space
2:47 am
Wed November 20, 2013

First Satellite Developed By High Schoolers Sent Into Space

NASA's PhoneSat, a 4-by-4-inch CubeSat satellite, will use an Android smartphone as its motherboard. It was among the 29 satellites launched Tuesday from Wallops Island, Va. Another miniature satellite, developed by high school students, also was on board.
Dominic Hart AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 12:51 pm

The first satellite ever developed by high school students to make it to space is believed to be orbiting Earth after getting a ride aboard a U.S. military rocket Tuesday night from Wallops Island, Va.

Fittingly, perhaps, you can send it a text message.

The satellite, using a voice synthesizer, is built to transform that text into an audio message that can be heard over certain radio frequencies around the globe, and in different languages.

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Gun Violence
6:14 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Study Suggests Social Networks Predict Victims of Gun Homicide

In the highest-crime area of Chicago, six percent of the population was involved in 70 percent of the murders, according to the Yale University study.
Credit supafly / Creative Commons

A new Yale University study suggests that social interactions are a key predictor of who becomes a victim of gun violence. According to the study, published in The American Journal of Public Health, who you hang out with may be more important than other factors like race and socioeconomic status.

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Microbes
3:07 am
Mon November 18, 2013

Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds

Illustration by Benjamin Arthur for NPR

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 12:58 pm

Could the microbes that inhabit our guts help explain that old idea of "gut feelings?" There's growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds.

"I'm always by profession a skeptic," says Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. "But I do believe that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains."

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Guns
1:50 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

Movies Rated PG-13 Feature The Most Gun Violence

Gun violence has become increasingly common in PG-13 movies like The Avengers, released in 2012.
Zade Rosenthal AP

Originally published on Mon November 11, 2013 1:33 pm

Parents who rely on movie ratings to decide what their children can watch may think that PG-13 films have fewer villains flashing guns than R-rated movies.

But they're wrong.

The PG-13 movies actually show more gun violence, a study finds.

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New Haven
1:52 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Skeletons Unearthed During Superstorm Sandy Reveal Some Historical Details

Credit Des Colhoun / Creative Commons

One year ago on Halloween eve, there was a surprising discovery on the New Haven green. It was just days after Superstorm Sandy, and trees had blown down all around town. A giant oak tree toppled over on the green, and there, tangled in its roots, were centuries-old human bones.

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Trick or Treat
3:58 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Why Are Kids Who Get Less Candy Happier On Halloween?

Kids might be more satisfied if they get one good treat instead of one good treat and one lesser treat.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 11:03 am

What makes trick-or-treaters happy is candy. And more candy is better, right?

Well, it turns out that might not actually be the case. A few years ago researchers did a study on Halloween night where some trick-or-treaters were given a candy bar, and others were given the candy bar and a piece of bubble gum.

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Survival
3:48 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Eeek, Snake! Your Brain Has A Special Corner Just For Them

Illustration by Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 5:17 pm

Anthropologist Lynne Isbell was running through a glade in central Kenya in 1992 when something suddenly caused her to freeze in her tracks. "I stopped just in front of a cobra," she says. "It was raised with its hood spread out."

Isbell, who is at the University of California, Davis, says she has spent the past couple of decades trying to understand how she could have reacted before her conscious brain even had a chance to think — cobra!

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The Colin McEnroe Show
6:46 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

The Evolution of Animal Research

Credit understandinganimalresearch, Flickr Creative Commons

Almost every cure and treatment of diseases exists thanks to medical research on animals. Through animal research, we can understand the addictive nature of Oreos like in a study from Connecticut College recently, and Macaques are crucial for the development of AIDS vaccine strategies. We’ll find out why certain animals work best for certain studies, some big challenges in finding the healthiest control subjects, and more.

GUESTS:

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Trouble with Opioids
10:46 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Painkiller Overdose Deaths Strike New York City's Middle Class

What's in your neighbor's medicine cabinets may influence overdose risk in the community.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 12:12 pm

Drug overdoses are usually thought to afflict mainly the poor and troubled. But it looks like OxyContin and other opioid painkillers are changing the picture.

People in stable, middle-class neighborhoods are also dying from opioid overdoses, a study in New York City finds.

Opioids have become among the most popular drugs of abuse in the past decade, with deaths from overdoses of oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine eclipsing those from heroin and cocaine combined.

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Brain Science
2:11 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Oreos as Addictive as Cocaine, in Lab Rats

Rats were found to prefer the middle part of an Oreo, just like many humans.
Credit BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

News has been pretty rough lately, between the government shutdown and the debt ceiling. Now comes word that America’s favorite cookie can produce similar effects on the brain as addictive drugs. New research from Connecticut College finds that the Oreo cookie is just as addictive as cocaine, at least for lab rats.

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Everyday We're Doodling
10:58 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Do You Doodle?

Some of the visual artifacts from our show on doodling.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Today on Where We Live, we re-aired one of our favorite shows in recent memory. It was about the age-old tradition of doodling!

Not only were our in-studio guests doodling during the show, but so were listeners. During the live broadcast of the show, we did a Storify with some of our favorite doodles, links about doodles, and quotes on doodling.

Keep the doodle revolution going!

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Where We Live
7:37 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Just Doodle It...Again

Where We Doodle! Where do you doodle?
Chion Wolf WNPR

Ever been caught doodling during a meeting a work? A boring class? You’re not alone. Did you get yelled at? “Get your head in the game! You’re distracted! You're not serious!" 

Our guest Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently, says doodling involves a lot of the senses... movement, sound, and visuals… and, far from being a distraction, it actually can enhance learning.

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Animal Studies
6:14 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Shutdown Imperils Costly Lab Mice, Years Of Research

Bob Adams is a lab animal veterinarian at Johns Hopkins University.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 8:33 pm

The government shutdown is likely to mean an early death for thousands of mice used in research on diseases such as diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's.

Federal research centers including the National Institutes of Health will have to kill some mice to avoid overcrowding, researchers say. Others will die because it is impossible to maintain certain lines of genetically altered mice without constant monitoring by scientists. And most federal scientists have been banned from their own labs since Oct. 1.

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Brain Science
1:44 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Want To Feel 5 Years Older? Just Take A Memory Test

Playing this game won't make you feel older, unless you're already getting up there in age.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu October 10, 2013 4:11 pm

Researchers in a memory lab at Texas A&M University noticed that all the older people coming in as volunteers were really worried about how they'd do.

So the scientists decided to measure how taking a memory test affects a person's subjective sense of age.

Before the test, the 22 participants felt pretty darned good. Even though their average age was 75, they said they felt about 58.

Then they were given a list of 30 nouns, told to study them for two minutes, and then asked to recall as many of them as they could in three minutes.

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Environment
9:16 am
Tue October 8, 2013

From Population Bomb to Inconvenient Truth

A stranded ship in the former Aral Sea, near Aral, Kazakhstan, in 2003.
Credit Staecker / Wikimedia Commons

If I were to tell you a story about the long-term outlook for the world -- our people, our resources, our air, water and food -- and what we should do about it, you might expect that the story would start with climate change. It has become the lead issue of the environmental movement, and according to many, the most important issue of our time.

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Genius Among Us
8:06 am
Mon October 7, 2013

Yale Professor Wins Nobel Prize in Medicine

James Rothman
Credit Yale University

There is a brand-new Nobel Laureate in the Nutmeg State. Yale University professor James Rothman is one of three researchers to win the 2013 Nobel Prize in medicine for discoveries on how hormones, enzymes and other key substances are transported within cells.

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Quinnipiac Poll
4:16 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

GOP Shutdown Strategy Unpopular With American Voters

Credit Matanya / Flickr Creative Commons

Quinnipiac University released their latest national poll on Tuesday, looking at American voters' attitudes about the government shutdown and Obamacare. The poll of 1,497 registered voters revealed that 72 percent are opposed to the notion of shutting down the government to stop implementation of Obamacare, and 64 percent oppose blocking an increase of the debt ceiling to derail the Affordable Care Act.

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Plum Island
8:57 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Cuomo Calls for Further Study of Plum Island

The Plum Island Animal Disease Center in 2007.
Credit Joelmills / Wikimedia Commons

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that questions about the environmental condition of Plum Island need further study before the federal government proceeds with its sale. The island, off eastern Long Island, has been home to a federal research facility that studies infectious diseases that could threaten the nation’s livestock industry.

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Climate Change
7:08 am
Fri September 27, 2013

It's Clear Humans Are Changing World's Climate, Panel Says

The Larsen B ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula, which is among the places where such ice has been breaking off.
Mariano Caravaca Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 10:56 am

Declaring that "human influence on the climate system is clear," a U.N.-assembled panel of scientists reported Friday that "it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century."

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Recycling
3:06 am
Fri September 27, 2013

How Recycling Bias Affects What You Toss Where

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 6:07 am

During an experiment, marketing professor Remi Trudel noticed a pattern in what his volunteers were recycling versus throwing in the garbage. He then went through his colleagues' trash and recycling bins at Boston University for more data.

He found the same pattern, says NPR's Shankar Vedantam: "Whole sheets of paper typically went in the recycling, but paper fragments went in the trash."

Same type of paper, different shapes, different bins.

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Food
6:20 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Doctors Say Changes In Wheat Do Not Explain Rise Of Celiac Disease

About 40 years ago wheat breeders introduced new varieties of wheat that helped farmers increase their grain yields. But scientists say those varieties aren't linked to the rise in celiac disease.
Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 30, 2013 12:09 pm

Wheat has been getting a bad rap lately.

Many folks are experimenting with the gluten-free diet, and a best-selling book called Wheat Belly has helped drive a lot of the interest.

"Wheat is the most destructive thing you could put on your plate, no question," says William Davis, a cardiologist in Milwaukee, Wis., who authored the book.

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Climate Change
4:01 am
Tue September 24, 2013

How Many Scientists Does It Take To Write A Climate Report?

An iceberg floats through the water in Ilulissat, Greenland, in July. Researchers are studying how climate change and melting glaciers will affect the rest of the world.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 10:53 am

Scientists and government representatives are meeting in Stockholm this week to produce the latest high-level review of climate change. It's thousands of pages of material, and if it's done right, it should harbor very few surprises.

That's because it's supposed to compile what scientists know — and what they don't — about climate change. And that's left some scientists to wonder whether these intensive reviews are still the best way to go.

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Science
5:01 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Could Detectives Use Microbes To Solve Murders?

Knight (left) and Bucheli take soil samples from beneath one of the decomposing bodies.
Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 1:30 pm

In the woods outside Huntsville, Texas, scientists are trying to determine whether they can use the microbes that live on the human body as microscopic witnesses that could help catch criminals.

It's a strange scene at the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science Facility. At first, it's easy to miss the human bodies scattered among the tall pines, wild grass and weeds.

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Epigenetics
3:37 am
Mon September 23, 2013

How A Pregnant Woman's Choices Could Shape A Child's Health

Does a glass or two of wine during pregnancy really increase the child's health risks? Epigenetics may help scientists figure that out.
Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Tue September 24, 2013 8:58 am

Pregnant women hear a lot about things they should avoid: alcohol, tobacco, chemical exposures, stress. All of those have the potential to affect a developing fetus. And now scientists are beginning to understand why.

One important factor, they say, is something called epigenetics, which involves the mechanisms that turn individual genes on and off in a cell.

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Gun Policy
11:39 am
Wed September 18, 2013

Around The World, Gun Ownership And Firearms Deaths Go Together

Flags fly at half-staff Tuesday after the deadly shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Wed September 18, 2013 12:25 pm

A study on guns, violence and mental health, long scheduled to be published this week, finds that gun ownership is a bigger factor than mental illness when it comes to firearms deaths. But the data suggest that both play roles.

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