science

The Colin McEnroe Show
11:34 am
Wed January 8, 2014

A Tribute to Twins!

Amy Melvin and Joy Taylor are identical twins who grew up in West Hartford.
Chion Wolf WNPR

Identical twins are just like us - and then they're not! From Ann Landers and Dear Abbey, from the Castro brothers, one of whom might be our first identical twin president one day, carbon-copy twins live lives that the rest of us cannot fathom.

Read more
Frigid Science
4:49 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Don't Just Shiver, Here Are 3 Cold-Weather Experiments To Try

A bubble freezes in very cold weather.
SimonSaysBaka via YouTube

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 6:37 pm

Read more
The Faith Middleton Show
10:05 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Are Babies Born As Moral Persons?

Credit Kitt Walker/flickr creative commons

From Faith Middleton: Yale's Paul Bloom is an expert on research showing infants do, in fact, act with moral purpose, if given the opportunity.

Babies, says Bloom and his colleagues, show empathy, compassion, and have a clear understanding of what is and is not fair.

Read more
Brain Science
4:00 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Was Adam Lanza a Psychopath?

Credit creative commons

Neuroscientist James Fallon found something shocking when he was looking at brain scans of serial killers for research, and brain scans of his family for signs of disease. According to the scan, his own brain was no different than that of a psychopath. The discovery opened up a new world of research, TED talks and his recent book, The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain. 

Read more
Ice Crystals
2:30 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

What's in a Snowflake?

Credit Catie Talarski / WNPR

The winter storm hitting Connecticut is bringing "light, fluffy snow" to many parts of the state. Have you wondered what exactly makes the snow fluffy? 

Read more
Science
4:30 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Mapping Emotions On The Body: Love Makes Us Warm All Over

People drew maps of body locations where they feel basic emotions (top row) and more complex ones (bottom row). Hot colors show regions that people say are stimulated during the emotion. Cool colors indicate deactivated areas.
Image courtesy of Lauri Nummenmaa, Enrico Glerean, Riitta Hari, and Jari Hietanen.

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 8:08 am

Close your eyes and imagine the last time you fell in love. Maybe you were walking next to your sweetheart in a park or staring into each other's eyes over a latte.

Where did you feel the love? Perhaps you got butterflies in your stomach or your heart raced with excitement.

When a team of scientists in Finland asked people to map out where they felt different emotions on their bodies, they found that the results were surprisingly consistent, even across cultures.

Read more
Brain Health
1:00 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Concussions May Increase Alzheimer's Risk, But Only For Some

Researchers have only recently been able to use brain scans to detect Alzheimer's risk factors in living people.
iStockphoto

Doctors have long suspected that head trauma boosts the risk of getting Alzheimer's disease later on, but the evidence on that has been mixed.

But it looks like people who have memory problems and a history of concussion are more likely to have a buildup of plaques in the brain that are a risk factor for Alzheimer's, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic.

Read more
The Faith Middleton Show
12:36 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

How Friends Make Us Who We Are

Credit Carlos Luz/flickr creative commons

From Faith Middleton: Though it is not widely discussed, there is a science of friendship peopled by academics, psychologists and others studying the earliest references to friendship, why humans began valuing friends, and how we continue these relationships all our lives.

Read more
Rick In Space
10:31 am
Sat December 21, 2013

Waterbury's Rick Mastracchio Repairs International Space Station

Rick Mastracchio of NASA is seen prior to launching aboard the International Space Station in November. Mastracchio and one other astronaut will conduct a space walk on Saturday to make repairs to the International Space Station.
Credit (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Waterbury native Rick Mastracchio is scheduled to make the first of three space walks on Saturday. He'll replace a pump module on the International Space Station, which broke last week forcing the shutdown of several science experiments and other non-critical systems. 

This will be Mastracchio's seventh EVA. NASA officials say they anticipate the first space walk, on Saturday, will last about six-and-a-half hours. The broken pump he will repair is linked to one of the station's two external cooling loops, which circulate ammonia outside of the space station to regulate equipment temperatures.

Read more
Medical Research
7:00 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Genetic Test Aims to Take Guesswork Out of Drug Dosing

Gualberto Ruano, director of the Genetics Research Center at Hartford Hospital, leads a study aimed at reducing the guesswork in psychiatric drug dosing.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Researchers at Hartford Hospital are looking into a gene that determines how fast the liver clears medication from the body. The goal of the five-year study is to reduce the guesswork in psychiatric drug dosing.

It's a gene with a fancy name: CYP2D6

Read more
Where We Live
9:00 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Daniel Goleman in Focus

Daniel Goleman
Credit danielgoleman.info

Psychologist and former New York Times reporter Daniel Goleman presented us with an important idea - “Emotional Intelligence” - it challenges the old concept of IQ as the most important measure of one’s abilities.

But his newest research might be even more important for our current world - filled with multiple screens and distractions. It’s all about “Focus.”

Read more
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.

Read more
Headed To Space
6:15 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Last-Minute Negotiations Lead to Sale of Bridgeport Statue

The roughly four-ton statue sold for $300,000 to a man in Houston. The money will be used to fund the launch of a nanosatellite aboard a NASA rocket.
Credit Heritage Auctions

Bridgeport's Discovery Museum and Planetarium is set to launch a nanosatellite after selling a massive four-ton bronze statue. A previous sale price of $325,000 failed to attract a buyer, but last-minute negotiations on Friday afternoon changed all that.

Read more
History
2:00 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Transit of Venus: German Scientists Visit Hartford

Map of the 1761 transit of Venus, from Astronomy Explained Upon Sir Isaac Newton’s Principles, by James Ferguson, F.R.S, London, 1794.
The Connecticut Historical Society, Thomas Robbins collection, 14 Connecticut Historical Society

In December 1882, a German scientific commission sent a team of astronomers to Hartford, Connecticut to observe a rare astronomical event. The transit of Venus (when the planet passes between the earth and the sun) occurs in eight-year pairs, and those pairs occur every 121½ or 105½ years. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the transit was an important opportunity for scientists to calculate the distance between the earth and the sun—the basis for the astronomical unit.

Read more
The Colin McEnroe Show
9:47 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Preserving the Moon and Protecting Its Rocks

Astronaut Eugene Cernan salutes deployed U.S. flag on the lunar surface
Credit NASA Goddard Center on Flickr Creative Commons

Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, but the first man to urinate there was Buzz Aldrin, just a little ahead of Neil. The two astronauts relieved themselves into bags within their suits, then removed those bags and left them on the lunar surface. When you gotta go, you gotta go. It was time to go. 

Read more
Where We Live
9:00 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Ainissa Ramirez and the Science Behind America's Game

Dr. Ainissa Ramirez
Chion Wolf

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the epidemic of injury in the game of football - concussions and traumatic brain injuries… but have you ever asked yourself why football helmets are designed the way they are? And how better helmet design might actually have made the game more dangerous? And while you’re at it, have you considered “the divine randomness of prolate spheroid?” That’s science talk for the unlikely evolution for the shape of the football.  

Read more
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.

Read more
Earthquakes
3:22 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Loud Booms Caused By Microearthquakes, Seismologist Says

This chart represents ground motion as recorded by the Weston Observatory. Highlighted are the seismic waveforms indicated Friday's two earthquakes in sotheastern Connecticut.
Weston Observatory / Town of Groton: Office of Emergency Management

The U.S. Geological Survey says it recorded a 2.1 magnitude earthquake in Connecticut last Friday. According to Groton's Office of Emergency Management, that explains the mysterious loud booms that perplexed several residents over the weekend.

Read more
Where We Live
9:00 am
Thu November 28, 2013

Organ Donation: Providing Life After Death

Caitlyn Bernabucci, LifeChoice Donor Services
Chion Wolf WNPR

Every day, around 80 people receive organ transplants in the U.S. But an average of 18 people die daily due to a shortage of much-needed organs, like kidneys, livers, hearts and lungs, even corneas.

One body donor can impact the lives of more than 50 people.

This hour, a conversation on organ donation and transplantation. Do you have personal experience with organ donation? Are you a donor or recipient? Why did you choose to be a donor? 

Read more
Falsified Forensics
4:38 pm
Sat November 23, 2013

Examining The 'Red Flags' In A Massachusetts Crime Lab Scandal

Former state chemist Annie Dookhan, left, stands alongside her attorney on Friday. She admitted faking test results in criminal cases and was sentenced to 3-to-5 years in prison.
David L. Ryan AP

Originally published on Sat November 23, 2013 6:07 pm

Former chemist Annie Dookhan began serving a 3-to-5 year sentence in a Massachusetts prison on Friday after pleading guilty to falsifying tests of drug evidence and helping to create one of the nation's largest drug lab scandals.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley says the state is taking steps to improve forensic testing:

"It is certainly lessons learned," she says. "We hope that we've made changes in the system that will mean this unique case will not happen again in Massachusetts."

Read more
Courts
12:43 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Chemist Pleads Guilty In Massachusetts Crime Lab Scandal

Annie Dookhan, pictured earlier this year, pleaded guilty Friday to falsifying drugs tests at a Massachusetts state crime lab.
Steven Senne AP

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 7:36 pm

A former chemist for the state of Massachusetts' crime labs pleaded guilty Friday to falsifying drugs tests that potentially compromised tens of thousands of criminal cases. WBUR reports she admitted all 27 counts against her.

Update at 4:40 p.m. ET: Prison Sentence Of 3-5 Years

Judge Carol Ball sentenced Annie Dookhan, 36, to three to five years in prison, plus a probation period. Prosecutors had requested a sentence of from five to seven years in prison.

Our original post continues:

Read more
The Faith Middleton Show
10:34 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Does High Unemployment Mean the Humanities Should Be Dumped?

Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

From Faith Middleton: More institutions of higher learning have shuttle busses to the nearest corporate high rises.

While it is understandable in a time of high unemployment to think about practical careers, it appears more people, including some entrepreneurial university administrators, think it's time to leave the “fluffy stuff” for hobby hour. That fluffy stuff would include literature, philosophy, languages, the arts and history—what we call the humanities. (Or, the stuff that hangs around long after we're dead.) Possibly the new rules of the road go something like this: read Michener before bed, and call it a day.

Read more
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."

Read more
What About That Little Bag of Crackers?
5:22 pm
Sat November 16, 2013

That Clam In Your Chowder Might Be Hundreds Of Years Old

Mike Cardew MCT/Landov

Originally published on Sat November 16, 2013 5:25 pm

First we heard on Morning Edition that a clam scientists had opened up turned out to have been 507 years old.

That led us to stories with headlines like this: "Scientists accidentally kill world's oldest animal at age 507."

Read more
Polarity Fields
5:36 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Sun's Magnetic Field Poised to Flip

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of a solar flare in the early hours of Nov. 10, 2013. The northern hemisphere has already changed polarity. Scientists say the southern could flip in the coming days.
Solar Dynamics Observatory / NASA

It started several months ago -- sunspots flickered, more and more solar flares arched out into space, and a ripple of changing current made its way past Pluto to the outer reaches of our solar system.

The sun was flipping its magnetic polarity -- an event that happens every 11 years. 

Read more
Audible Math
9:11 am
Thu November 14, 2013

The Sound of Sorting

Credit panthema.net

Ever wonder what an algorithm sounds like when it's being sorted? Wonder no more. A demo program called "The Sound of Sorting" visualizes algorithms and provides interesting sound effects, too -- low notes for smaller values, and high notes for higher values.

Read more
The Colin McEnroe Show
6:00 am
Thu November 14, 2013

Are We Born Moral?

Shanell Smith is an ordained minister and assistant professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Hartford Seminary
Chion Wolf

In 1965, the Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram, spread stamped and addressed but un-mailed letters around public locations in New Haven. Most of the letters were picked up and mailed by strangers who could not possibly derive any material reward for doing the right thing. The strangers also lived out their values based on the address.

Read more
13.7: Cosmos And Culture
12:17 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Science Doesn't Want To Take God Away From You

Can science inspire the same level of passion as religion?
Mauricio Lima AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 13, 2013 2:01 pm

I was once invited to give a live interview on a radio station in Brasília, the capital of Brazil. The interview took place at rush hour in the city's very busy bus terminal, where poor workers come in from rural areas to perform all sorts of jobs in town, from cleaning the streets to working in factories and private homes.

The experience would mark me for the rest of my life and set a new professional goal that I had not anticipated early in my career: to bring science to the largest number of people possible.

Read more
The Faith Middleton Show
1:00 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Do Dogs Love Us the Way We Love Them?

Credit saxcubano/flickr creative commons

From Faith Middleton: A neuroscientist has been working on decoding the canine brain, to answer the question of what dogs are thinking and feeling. So, do they love us the way we love them? Does a rescued dog understand you have rescued it, and feel grateful in a specific sense?

Read more
Buggin'
7:00 am
Tue November 12, 2013

New Species of 17-Year Cicada Discovered in Connecticut

A new species of 17-year cicada, dubbed "magicicada septendecula" was discovered in North Branford this summer.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

A new species of 17-year cicada has been discovered in Connecticut. According to a report in The Hartford Courant, credit for the discovery goes to Chris Maier of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.

The bug, dubbed magicicada septendecula, was found in North Branford. It's smaller than Connecticut's other 17-year cicada species, magicicada septendecim, which gained fame this summer for its emergence (or lack of emergence) around the state.

Read more

Pages