science

MERS
8:29 am
Mon May 19, 2014

MERS Virus Appears To Have Jumped From Human To Human In U.S.

This undated file electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories shows novel coronavirus particles, also known as the MERS virus, colorized in yellow.
AP

Originally published on Sat May 17, 2014 4:35 pm

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus appears to have jumped from one human to another for the first time in United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a press release that an Illinois man has preliminarily tested positive for the MERS antibodies after he had contact with an Indiana man who contracted the virus abroad.

NPR's Joe Neel, who listened in on a CDC conference call, tells us:

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Fri May 16, 2014

Everything You Want to Know About Turtles

Red-eared slider.
Catie Talarski

There are currently some 57 turtle species living in the United States and Canada, 12 of which can be found right here in Connecticut -- including some sea turtles!

Chances are, you’ve probably seen a few of them poking around a nearby pond or basking on some sunlit rocks. Perhaps you’ve even rescued a few from the peril of oncoming traffic.

But there’s a lot more to these terrestrial critters than meets the eye.

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Drug Development
3:33 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

A History of Drugs, Compiled

Yale's Michael Kinch studies drug development trends from 1827 to today.
Natallia Yaumenenka/iStock Thinkstock

A Yale scientist is in the midst of a 20-paper series studying the history of drug development in the United States. Michael Kinch, the managing director of Yale's Center for Molecular Discovery, has spent the last year creating a massive database of compounds approved by the FDA.

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Climate Change
5:19 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

Melting Of Antarctic Ice Sheet Might Be Unstoppable

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 6:31 pm

Scientists have long worried about climate change-induced melting of the huge West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Now they say that not only is the disintegration of the ice already underway, but that it's likely unstoppable.

That means that in the coming centuries, global sea levels will rise by anywhere from 4 to 12 feet. As NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports, that's a larger increase than the United Nations expert panel noted last year. But it would occur over a longer time frame — centuries instead of decades.

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Here & Now
2:58 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

FiveFingers Shoe Company Pays $3.5 Million For Misleading Customers

Vibram's FiveFinger running shoes have developed a strong following among runners who believe minimal cushioning in shoes provides a better running experience, but the company recently settled a lawsuit claiming there was no science backing up their claims. (Patrick Yodarus/Flickr)

Originally published on Fri May 16, 2014 5:05 pm

Vibram USA — the maker of those shoes that look more like rubber gloves with separate compartments for each toe — has agreed to pay $3.5 million settlement in a class action suit for allegedly misleading their customers.

The lawsuit was brought by a woman who says the shoe company claimed to decrease foot injuries and strengthen foot muscles, but had no scientific research to prove it.

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Rick in Space
10:20 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Rick Mastracchio Receives Honorary UConn Degree From Space

Astronaut Rick Mastracchio speaks to graduating UConn students from space.
NASA

Commencement season is underway, and graduates of Quinnipiac University, Western Connecticut State University, and UConn were among those to receive their diplomas this weekend. Four hundred graduates of the School of Engineering at the University of Connecticut had the chance to hear a commencement speech delivered from a unique perspective -- from space.

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Climate Change
9:06 am
Fri May 9, 2014

Could Climate Change Spread Ticks and Mosquitoes In Connecticut?

Around 30 million people in the Northeast could be exposed to West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes by the end of the century.
James Gathany CDC/ National Climate Assessment

Climate change is linked to more floods, hotter and drier weather, and melting sea ice, but it could also affect infectious diseases like Lyme disease and West Nile Virus. The problem is we don't know how.

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The Faith Middleton Show
12:15 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

The New Science of Building Brain Power

Credit 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?

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For Your Health
8:51 am
Tue May 6, 2014

Newly Diagnosed With Epilepsy, and Not Sure What It Means

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says seizures are caused by "anything that disturbs the normal pattern of neuron activity—from illness to brain damage to abnormal brain development."
Johan Swanepoel/iStock Thinkstock

Want to know how to scare your co-workers? Fall to the ground and have a seizure in front of everyone.

About two weeks ago, that’s what happened to me. I don’t remember what happened, and I only remember scattered moments from the rest of the day. The wire to my headphones snapped and my face was noticeably battered.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Once Thought to Be Caused By Demons, What Do We Know About Epilepsy Today?

The CDC says often, it can be difficult to find a definite cause of epilepsy.
Saad Faruque Creative Commons

Historically, people with epilepsy were thought to be possessed by demons. Research has come a long way since then, but epilepsy remains mysterious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 26 people will be diagnosed with epilepsy in their lives. Annually, it costs more than $15 billion in medical costs and reduced work production.

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Sustainability
1:53 pm
Fri May 2, 2014

Tracking International Progress for a More Sustainable Future

United Nations Secretariat and General Assembly
Credit Jeffrey Zeldman / Creative Commons

Next week, the United Nations’ Open Working Group will convene in New York to continue negotiating a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These SDGs -- focused on  issues such as gender equality, health, education, poverty, climate change, and biodiversity  -- are intended to drive social, economic, and environmental development on an international scale. They will also serve as a continuation of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire in 2015.

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The Faith Middleton Show
12:10 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Why Diets Fail

Credit Umberto Salvagnin/flickr creative commons

From Faith Middleton: Many have blamed sugar for dieting failures, but this new book, Why Diets Fail, is the first one backed by current research from the food addiction lab at Princeton University, and it zeroes in on how dieters can get through the make-or-break withdrawal period.

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Supersymmetry
10:31 am
Sat April 26, 2014

Are Physicists Ready To Give Up The Chase For SUSY?

The Large Hadron Collider's ATLAS detector under construction in 2005. ATLAS is one of the tools physicists are using to try and understand how the universe works.
Maximilien Brice CERN

Originally published on Sat April 26, 2014 9:58 am

Is physics in crisis? An article in the May issue of Scientific American by physicists Joseph Lykken, from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and Maria Spiropulu, from the California Institute of Technology, lay bare an issue that is keeping a growing number of physicists up at night.

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Mystery Hybrid
10:39 am
Fri April 25, 2014

DNA Results: Controversial "Wolfdogs" in Connecticut Have No Wolf Ancestors

A Czechoslovakian wolfdog, a relatively new breed of dog from Eastern Europe. It is a cross between a German Shepherd and a Eurasian wolf.
Sonja Pauen Creative Commons

Connecticut environmental officials said DNA tests on samples from seven animals in North Stonington showed that they are domestic dogs with no recent wolf ancestors.

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The Faith Middleton Show
8:33 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Choose the Life You Want

Credit mendhak/flickr creative commons

In his New York Times bestseller Happier, positive psychology expert Tal Ben-Shahar taught us how to become happier through simple exercises. Now, in Choose the Life You Want, he has a new, life-changing lesson to share.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
11:00 am
Thu April 24, 2014

The Eastern Hemlock is Dying

David Foster is the director of Harvard University's Harvard Forest, the author of Thoreau's Country: Journey Through a Transformed Landscape, and editor of Hemlock: A Forest Giant on the Edge
Chion Wolf

You have to trust us. 

Because I realize that a show about the Eastern Hemlock doesn't sound that sexy. In fact, we've done tree shows in the past after which I have said, "Let's not do any more tree shows." But we think we've got something here. 

First of all, this our third show working with Bob Sullivan, a writer who, in the past, has been able to make just about any topic exciting. Second, this is a story with a villain, a cottony, crawling, feeding life form called the wooly adelgid. You want something you can hate without the tiniest tremor of remorse? We're going to give it to you. 

Third, this little villain is striking right at a major player in the natural cycles that can either slow or accelerate climate change. Fourth, we're going to be talking about the souls of trees. Trust us. 

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Sick Presidents
2:14 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Dirty Money: A Microbial Jungle Thrives In Your Wallet

Even some euro bank notes may need a good scrubbing. Like dollar bills, these notes are made from cotton and they harbor an array of bacteria.
Thomas Leuthard The Preiser Project/Flickr

Originally published on Thu April 24, 2014 7:23 am

You may have heard that dollar bills harbor trace amounts of drugs.

But those greenbacks in your wallet are hiding far more than cocaine and the flu. They're teeming with life.

Each dollar bill carries about 3,000 types of bacteria on its surface, scientists have found. Most are harmless. But cash also has DNA from drug-resistant microbes. And your wad of dough may even have a smudge of anthrax and diphtheria.

In other words, your wallet is a portable petri dish.

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Rick In Space
12:25 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Rick Mastracchio Completes Successful Spacewalk

Mastraccio will make repairs to the exterior of the International Space Station with Steve Swanson at 9:20 am ET.
NASA

Waterbury native Rick Mastracchio completed a short spacewalk to replace a failed computer outside of the International Space Station on Wednesday. The airlock was re-pressurized starting at 11:32 am ET, signifying the excursion's end time.

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The Faith Middleton Show
12:57 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

Earth Day 2014 with White Flower Farm

Credit Thangaraj Kumaravel/flickr creative commons

Our Earth Day celebration: a gift certificate for you to White Flower Farm. Litchfield's famed garden center, White Flower Farm, thanks you for supporting WNPR with a $25 gift certificate for you toward any store or online purchase.

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Sleep Medicine
10:56 am
Tue April 22, 2014

What Groton's Navy Lab Can Teach Us About Irregular Sleep

The U.S.S. Scranton is the first submarine to try on the new schedule on full deployment, and the crew loved it, as reported by the Associated Press.
Danna M. Morris U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy is allowing sailors on submarines to work on a 24-hour schedule, based on research from the Navy lab at Groton, but civilians who don't work normal hours should pay attention, too.

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Rick In Space
4:10 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

For Waterbury's Rick Mastracchio, Again a Walk in Space

In December Rick Mastracchio, above, completed two spacewalks to repair the ISS.
NASA

Astronaut Rick Mastracchio is scheduled to make his ninth spacewalk. The Waterbury native will repair a failed computer outside the International Space Station. 

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Whales
2:18 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Japan Says It Will Temporarily Scale Back Whale Hunt

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi speaks in Tokyo on Friday. He says Japan will cut back on the number of whales it kills this year, but resume previous levels in 2015.
Kyodo/Landov

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 3:12 pm

Japan says it will kill fewer whales when its seasonal Pacific hunt begins next week and will only observe whales in the Antarctic, after a U.N. court ordered it to stop taking the marine mammals from the Southern Ocean.

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Where We Live
9:00 am
Thu April 17, 2014

Gambling on the Environment

Earth from 200 miles above ground.
Credit NASA

Biologist Paul Ehrlich became famous in the 1970s with his book The Population Bomb, which outlined a doomsday scenario in which the world’s supply of food and resources couldn't keep up with overpopulation.

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Krulwich Wonders...
11:47 am
Tue April 15, 2014

Can It Be? Parrots Name Their Children, And Those Names, Like Ours, Stick For Life

LabofOrnithology YouTube

Originally published on Wed April 16, 2014 10:56 am

I'm walking down a street. I see a friend. The friend doesn't see me, so I yell, "Hi, Ralph!" Ralph turns. This is what we humans do — we all have names. We learn each other's. If the guy I spotted is indeed Ralph (not always a safe assumption in my case, but that's another story), I quickly connect.

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The Faith Middleton Show
11:23 am
Mon April 14, 2014

The Science of Skinny

Credit D. Sharon Pruitt/flickr creative commons

Today's show has aired on twelve previous dates, most recently on February 10 and 15, 2014.  

With scientific research, her own chemistry background, and the traditional diets of our not-so-distant ancestors as her guide, Dee McCaffrey casts new light on an age-old wisdom: Eating foods in their closest-to-natural form is the true path to sustained weight loss and, in fact, the remedy for almost any health problem. We are so far removed from foods in their natural state that we now call them “health foods,” a sad admission that we’ve compromised our health for the sake of convenience.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:32 am
Mon April 14, 2014

The Scramble: Mad Men, Blood Moons, and Racism

Rand Richards Cooper is an author, essayist, and freelance writer.
Chion Wolf WNPR

Our SuperGuest on today's Scramble is Jen Doll, who has three topics that she wants to discuss:

The first is the return of "Mad Men," a show in its final season and perhaps more than any other TV show, a driver of the phenomenon that utilizes the talents of many, many cultural commentators to analyze and debate the underlying themes in each episode. If you visited a site like Slate or Salon on certain Monday mornings, you might make the mistake of thinking this was a publication mainly, or entirely about, "Mad Men."

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The Faith Middleton Show
11:07 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Dreamland, a Cruise Through the Science of Sleep

Credit Jonf728/flickr creative commons

Today's show originally aired February 25, 2014.  

From Faith Middleton: 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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Brain Science
10:09 am
Thu April 10, 2014

How Yale Scientists Are Trying to Read Minds

New research is using brain data to reconstruct images of facial memories.
Credit digitalbob8/flickr creative commons

New research out of Yale University is claiming clairvoyance. It's called "neuroimaging," a fancy way of saying scientists are reading your mind.

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Eelevate
12:07 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

How Does a Four-Inch Eel Hurdle a 40-Foot Greenwich Dam?

Joe Cassone stands in front of a 40-foot-tall dam at the base of the Byram River in Greenwich, Conn. Cassone and his volunteers trap eels, releasing them upstream beyond the dam barrier.
Patrick Skahill WNPR

Baby eels are making their annual migration from Long Island Sound to rivers across Connecticut, but along the way, they're encountering one persistent obstacle: river dams. Now, one man in Greenwich is working to make the eels' journey a little easier.

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The Colin McEnroe Show
10:49 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Does Spite Advance Survival of a Species?

Credit Fibonacci Blue / Flickr Creative Commons

Spite is everywhere. It's as fresh as today's sports headlines as UConn readies to play Notre Dame for the women's basketball championship. Fighting Irish coach Muffet McGraw has acknowledged that there is hate between the two teams.

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