science

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

NASA

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sizing Up Your Children Is A Tricky Business

Apr 7, 2014

When I had a second baby earlier this year, my three-year-old suddenly seemed enormous. "Check out the size of those feet!" I marveled. She seemed so heavy, so tall, so substantial.

She even seemed more capable, more robust. Images of airborne cookware and toppling bookshelves faded. The staircase didn't seem quite so treacherous. Instead, I trusted in her basic competence to scale the kitchen stools without incident and to keep (most) sharp-and-pointy things beyond the envelope of her person.

It wasn't just me: my husband reported the same experience.

wwmike / Creative Commons

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has ordered genetic testing for seven hybrid “wolfdogs” found in the state. But if all dogs come from wolves, can a DNA test actually tell us how much “wolf” and how much “dog” is in a hybrid?

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The original Carl Sagan "Cosmos" was at least  partly a response to the Cold War. Its message: "We're such little specks, can we embrace our common destiny and get along?"

You could look at the movie "Noah" and the remake of "Cosmos" as two manifestations of an odd phenomenon. 

Harriet Jones / WNPR

A new bioscience incubator will be created in an empty building on the Groton campus of drug giant Pfizer. The state will also move its data center to the site.

Changing The Face Of Astronomy Research

Apr 2, 2014

Shooting for the stars is expensive.

Advanced sciences like astronomy require years of study and graduate degrees. And the soaring cost of college can be a heavy obstacle for low-income and minority students hoping to break into those fields.

A program at the City University of New York hopes to lift that burden by providing scholarships and one-on-one mentoring to underrepresented students.

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?

Remember the fat-free boom that swept the country in the 1990s? Yes, we know from the Salt readers who took our informal survey that lots of you tried to follow it. And gave up.

"I definitely remember eating fat-free cookies, fat–free pudding, fat-free cheese, which was awful," Elizabeth Stafford, an attorney from North Carolina, told us in the survey.

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. 

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?

This interview originally aired on April 30, 2013.

Twenty years ago, when brain imaging made it possible for researchers to study the minds of violent criminals and compare them to the brain imaging of "normal" people, a whole new field of research — neurocriminology — opened up.

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.

Wikimedia Commons

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for cancer survivors. A relatively new scientific field called "cardio-oncology" is working to change that.

Chemotherapy and radiation may save you from cancer, but they can also do a lot of damage to your heart. 

The Jackson Laboratory

Connecticut officials have welcomed a report on the progress of the Jackson Laboratory site in Farmington. Jackson Labs said its new facility is on schedule and on budget.

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. 

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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