science

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center / Creative Commons

This hour, the final frontier comes closer to home. Waterbury native Richard Mastracchio is a NASA astronaut who just returned from six months on the International . He’s done nine space walks - leaving the space station, usually to do maintenance. He’ll talk about his experiences and his amazing twitter feed, full of photos from space.

Decades after the threat of extinction led to them being protected from whalers, there are now about 2,200 blue whales off the West Coast, according to a new study. That's roughly 97 percent of historical levels, say researchers at the University of Washington who call their findings a conservation success story.

Héctor García / Creative Commons

Bamboo is a lot of things: fast growing, durable, edible, and attractive. Coming up, we take a look at this increasingly popular wood with bamboo experts and enthusiasts. What makes bamboo special?

Takashi Hososhima/flickr creative commons

Studies show that power naps at work make us more productive. At the software giant Google's headquarters, employees are actually invited to nap in an area set up for this purpose.

Meds to Alleviate Stress May Help Women Smokers Quit

Sep 2, 2014
Javier Ignacio Acuna Ditzel / Creative Commons

For the last 50 years, men have consistently had an easier time quitting smoking than women. More men go cold turkey. More men stop on nicotine blockers like gum and patches. More men succeed on medications. Sherry McKee, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine, thinks she may know why.

lord amit/flick creative commons

We focus this hour on one of the nation's most respected clinicians and researchers working with teens and adults who have ADHD. Dr. Thomas E. Brown is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, and Associate Director of the Yale Clinic for Attention and Related Disorders. (There is sometimes a link between ADHD and autism.)

Dr. Brown's new book, Smart but Stuck, looks at how managing emotions plays a key role in the lives of those with ADHD, including those who have high I.Q. scores.

Horia Varlan / Creative Commons

Back in March, a team of Harvard scientists claimed to have found the first direct evidence of gravity waves from the Big Bang. Within a matter of hours, their story had made its way around the Internet, spreading across blogs, news sites, and social media.

Night Of The Cemetery Bats

Aug 28, 2014

I've visited St. Louis' Bellefontaine cemetery before, but never at night.

It's really dark. The looming trees are black against the sky, where a half-moon is just barely visible behind some clouds.

I can see eerie lights and strange, shadowy figures moving among the gravestones.

Mystic Aquarium

A new viral video depicting a juvenile beluga whale playing peek-a-boo with a child is drawing attention to Mystic Aquarium's arctic animals.

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Researchers at UConn are investigating the feasibility of managing grade school athletic fields without pesticides. It's science that could one day inform state law. 

Many parents have pushed for a later start to the school day for teenagers, with limited success. But parents just got a boost from the nation's pediatricians, who say that making middle and high schoolers start classes before 8:30 a.m. threatens children's' health, safety and academic performance.

Willi Heidelbach/flickr creative commons

Respected researcher and psychologist John Mayer says we can become the best version of ourselves by building our “personal intelligence” to understand ourselves and perceive what makes others tick.

Air pollution is clogging the skies of our planet. Now one scientist thinks Earth may be just one of many polluted worlds — and that searching for extraterrestrial smog may actually be a good way to search for alien intelligence.

"People refer to 'little green men,' but ETs that are detected by this method should not be labeled as green," says Avi Loeb, an astronomer at Harvard University.

The idea of finding alien polluters may be a bit of a long shot, but Loeb says it's possible.

Sarah McAnulty / squidscientistas

For young scientists, finding money to support basic research can be difficult. Federal research budgets are shrinking, and grant applications can be a time sink, removing researchers from their lab or their graduate work.

Some young scientists are now forgoing traditional funding mechanisms, and turning to the power of the crowd.

Kevin Hutchinson / Creative Commons

"What is your value to the world or to anything if you're not useful?" asked M.E. Thomas, a self-proclaimed sociopath, and author of Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight, on The Colin McEnroe Show Thursday. She continued, "It gets to the fundamental question of what makes humanity valuable, and why we should treat anyone as a person."

The Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Overnight

Aug 12, 2014

The annual Perseid meteor shower will streak the sky Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. The best time to watch is between 3 and 4 a.m., for all time zones across the world, NASA says.

"This year, light from a nearly full moon will make the meteors harder to see, but NASA says you can still expect around 30 to 40 per hour," reports NPR's Geoff Brumfiel.

Brumfiel spoke with Rhiannon Blaauw of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office for shower-watching tips:

Some of the biggest technology companies in the world are on a chase for what some consider the holy grail of the information age: Quantum computing. And some of that research is going on right there in New Hampshire. But one big challenge is to get the quantum bits to dance how we want them to. 

Before getting too high-tech, let's go back to 1938. A brilliant physicist, an Italian named Ettore Majorana, withdraws all his money from a bank and boards a boat. Then, somewhere between Palermo and Naples, he vanishes without a trace.

aJ Gazmen/flickr creative commons

For over a century, IQ scores have been viewed by scientists as placing an upper limit on what a person can ever achieve: a cognitive glass ceiling, a number tattooed on the soul.

Shattering decades of that kind of dogma, scientists began publishing studies in 2008 showing that “fluid intelligence”—the ability to learn, solve novel problems, and get to the heart of things—can be increased through training. But is it all just hype?

This week, NPR Ed is focusing on questions about why people play and how play relates to learning.

When it comes to brain development, time in the classroom may be less important than time on the playground.

Tomorrow morning, a European space probe will arrive at a comet with a tongue-twister of a name: Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Getting there has been proven even trickier than pronouncing it.

The Rosetta spacecraft began its journey way back in March of 2004.

First it swung past Earth to gather speed. Then it catapulted out to Mars, for a boost from that planet's gravity field. Then in 2007, it came back to Earth for another push — then back out to an asteroid, and back to Earth.

digitalbob8/flickr creative commons

What happens in our early childhood has a lot to do with how we develop as humans. Dr. Paul Harris researches the role the imagination plays in helping children grow into healthy adolescents. He says we tend to think of the imagination as something divorced from reality, when in fact it is deeply intertwined with how we determine reality from fantasy.

Chris Huggins/flickr creative commons

Humor, like pornography, is famously difficult to define. We know it when we see it, but is there a way to figure out what we really find funny—and why?

Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and the University of Rhode Island published surprising findings of a deep sea octopus that guarded her eggs for 4-½ years. This is the longest brooding period ever recorded by any animal on the planet.

Yale University

How do you give an eye exam to a creature that's been extinct for hundreds of millions of years? First, you need a fossil -- a really well-preserved fossil.

Months after a girl took the company to task for its female toy figures, Lego has released the Research Institute, a play set created by a "real-life geophysicist, Ellen Kooijman," the company says.

Chion Wolff

The death of handwriting could be viewed as the end of a tyranny. Especially for those of us who were unable to learn penmanship. That includes me. I’m pretty sure that no teacher I ever had got training in how to teach cursive to a left handed person for whom the process really is radically different. I arrived at college to find halls full of desks from which a small writing area protruded from the right side. I often took two hour exams at those desks, scrawling essay question answers in a blue book with my body twisted around uncomfortably.

What shape is the moon? When it's full, we'd all agree that it looks perfectly round. But careful measurements by a team of scientists have shown that's not the case.

Like many an Earth-bound observer, it turns out that our nearest neighbor in space is hiding a slight bulge around the waist. It's less like a ball and more like a squashed sphere, with a lump on one side.

Ken Douglas / Creative Commons

It’s an hour for the birds! We are joined by bird lovers and experts to discuss the state of the bird population in our state and to answer your burning bird questions. We also check in with our environmental reporter Patrick Skahill about his recent bird-related reporting.

Jonf728/flickr creative commons

Science still can't say for sure why we need sleep, though we spend a third of our lives asleep, or trying to sleep. Those trying to sleep include the millions who have some sort of sleep issue, from insomnia to over-sleeping.

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