Science & Technology

Research News
4:04 am
Fri January 31, 2014

What's The Problem With Feeling On Top Of The World?

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 6:58 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's turn to a thought experiment. Imagine you're riding one of those glass elevators that takes you to the top of a skyscraper. You go higher and higher. The view gets better. The cars on the ground, the people down there look puny like ants. Researchers say if you imagine this, it can make you feel unaccountably better about yourself. It briefly raises your self esteem. But researchers also say this feeling can be bad for you.

NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is here to explain why. Hi, Shankar.

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Science & Technology
8:38 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

SpaceX Could Give Struggling Texas City A Boost

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft atop rocket Falcon 9 lifts off from Cape Canaveral in Florida in May 2012. The launch made SpaceX the first commercial company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station.
Roberto Gonzalez Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 7:00 pm

The space company SpaceX has identified a remote spot on the southern tip of Texas as its finalist for construction of the world's newest commercial orbital launch site.

The 50-acre site really is at the end of the road. Texas Highway 4 abruptly ends at the warm waves of the Gulf surrounded by cactus, Spanish dagger and sand dunes.

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The Two-Way
7:14 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Beer Drone Can Buzz The Skies No More, FAA Says

A video showing beer being delivered to ice fishermen on a frozen lake became a hit this week — but the FAA says Lakemaid Beer's drone days are over, for now.
YouTube

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 10:18 pm

Lakemaid Beer is brewed in Stevens Point, Wis., and distributed to several states in the region. But it was a very local delivery that put the company out of favor with the Federal Aviation Administration.

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Environment
6:29 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Changing Climate In Argentina Is Killing Penguin Chicks

A penguin nestling sounds off at the Punta Tombo reserve. Young birds that haven't yet traded a down coat for juvenile plumage "aren't waterproof — at all," says biologist Dee Boersma.
Maxi Jonas Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 7:00 pm

There's a patch of seashore along the coast of Argentina where hundreds of thousands of penguins make their home. It's called Punta Tombo. Dee Boersma, a conservation biologist at the University of Washington, has been going there for 30 years, and she's discovered that a changing climate is killing those penguins.

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Science
5:32 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Researchers Watch As Our Brains Turn Sounds Into Words

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 6:19 pm

Researchers are a bit closer to understanding one of the brain's greatest accomplishments: making sense out of spoken language.

An area of the brain that interprets speech contains cells that respond to the dozen or so basic units of sound we use to form words, according to a team from the University of California, San Francisco.

Some of these cells respond specifically to plosives, like the initial "puh" sounds in "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers," the team found. Other neurons respond to fricative consonants, like the "f" sound in the word "fish."

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All Tech Considered
3:48 pm
Thu January 30, 2014

Small Cinemas Struggle As Film Fades Out Of The Picture

The Roxie Theater in San Francisco still has two 35 millimeter projectors, but the switch to digital is inevitable.
Laura Sydell NPR

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 7:00 pm

Cinema owners who don't have a digital projector in their movie house can't show Paramount Pictures' latest release: The Wolf of Wall Street. This year Paramount became the first big studio to distribute a major release in the U.S. entirely in a digital format, and other studios are likely to follow.

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The Salt
11:23 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Your Nose Knows Which Foods Are Fattiest

Charles, Prince of Wales, smells before tasting some ice cream during a visit to Gloucestershire. Maybe he was sniffing for fat?
Barry Batchelor/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 10:11 am

A lot of us can agree that low-fat ice cream is a sad substitute for the real deal. It's not as creamy, and it just doesn't taste as good.

Now researchers are saying it may even smell different.

Researchers from the Monell Chemical Senses Center have found that people can actually smell differences in dietary fat in food.

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Shots - Health News
9:53 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Popular Testosterone Therapy May Raise Risk Of Heart Attack

Some men take testosterone hoping to boost energy and libido, or to build strength. But at what risk?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 11:06 am

There's new evidence that widely prescribed testosterone drugs — touted for men with flagging libidos and general listlessness — might increase the risk of heart attacks.

A study of more than 55,000 men found a doubling of heart attack risk among testosterone users older than 65, compared with men who didn't take the drug.

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:07 am
Thu January 30, 2014

The Starling That Dared To Be Different

Dennis Hlynsky Vimeo

Originally published on Thu January 30, 2014 4:17 pm

You've seen them. We've all seen them.

Hundreds of starlings are sitting side by side by side — up on a power line yakking, preening — when all of a sudden, boom! Up they go, all of them. What happened? A sudden noise? A falcon in the neighborhood? Whatever it was, all the birds know. All the birds go. Starlings find safety in numbers. They like sameness. Exceptional starlings, I imagine, get eaten.

Well, that's what I used to think. Then, today, I saw my first unlike-all-the others starling. At least I think I did.

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Around the Nation
3:43 am
Thu January 30, 2014

New York Looks To Bring Bitcoin Out Of The Shadows

Cameron (left) and Tyler Winklevoss testified Wednesday at a hearing about virtual currencies held by the New York Department of Financial Services.
Craig Ruttle AP

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 1:58 pm

New York could soon become the first state in the nation to write comprehensive regulations for the largely lawless world of virtual currencies.

The biggest one, Bitcoin, has many boosters, but it has also been connected with some spectacular crimes. On Monday, federal prosecutors announced the arrests of two men accused of using Bitcoin to help their clients buy and sell over $1 million in illegal drugs.

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