Science & Technology

Shots - Health News
1:03 pm
Wed January 1, 2014

Editing Your Life's Stories Can Create Happier Endings

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 10:49 am

It was a rainy night in October when my nephew Lewis passed the Frankenstein statue standing in front of a toy store. The 2 1/2-year-old boy didn't see the monster at first, and when he turned around, he was only inches from Frankenstein's green face, bloodshot eyes and stitched-up skin.

The 4-foot-tall monster terrified my nephew so much that he ran deep into the toy store. And on the way back out, he simply couldn't face the statue. He jumped into his mother's arms and had to bury his head in her shoulder.

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Animals
2:06 am
Wed January 1, 2014

RoboCop? How About RoboPenguin!

Two African penguins stretch their flippers at the Maryland Zoo.
Adam Cole NPR

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 10:42 am

At the American Physical Society's fluid dynamics conference this winter, there was a healthy infusion of biology. In between talks on propellers and plane wings, there were presentations about flying snakes, fire ants, humpback whales and hummingbirds. Physicists from all over the world are turning to the natural world to help them solve engineering problems.

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The Salt
2:04 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Malawian Farmers Say Adapt To Climate Change Or Die

Villages in the Lower Shire valley of Malawi, like this one named Jasi, rely heavily on subsistence farming and steady rainfall, and are struggling to produce steady harvests.
Jennifer Ludden/NPR

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 10:42 am

Rain is so important in Malawi's agriculture-based economy that there are names for different kinds of it, from the brief bursts of early fall to heavier downpours called mvula yodzalira, literally "planting rain." For generations, rainfall patterns here in the southeast part of Africa have been predictable, reliable. But not now.

In the village of Jasi, in the hot, flat valley of Malawi's Lower Shire, farmer Pensulo Melo says 2010 was a disaster.

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Environment
2:03 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Federal Flood Insurance Program Drowning In Debt. Who Will Pay?

Even when a flood obliterates homes, as Superstorm Sandy did in 2012 in the Rockaway neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., the urge to rebuild can be strong.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 10:42 am

Millions of American property owners get flood insurance from the federal government, and a lot of them get a hefty discount. But over the past decade, the government has paid out huge amounts of money after floods, and the flood insurance program is deeply in the red.

Congress tried to fix that in 2012 by passing a law to raise insurance premiums. Now that move has created such uproar among property owners that Congress is trying to make the law it passed disappear.

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All Tech Considered
1:58 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Banks Try To Save Big With 'ATMs Of The Future'

An ATM at a Chase lobby in New York is part of what company executives are touting as a "branch of the future" — a place where machines distribute exact change and count cash so tellers don't have to.
Mary Altaffer AP

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 10:42 am

There's a drive-thru ATM in Charlotte, N.C., that looks pretty standard, but it has an extra function: a button that says "speak with teller."

The face of a woman wearing a headset sitting in front of a plain blue background flashes onto the ATM screen. "Good afternoon," she says. "Welcome to Bank of America. My name is Carolina. How are you today?"

She's one of a cadre of Bank of America employees in Florida and Delaware call centers, where they remotely control ATMs across the country. I ask for $26.

"Just a $1, a $5 and $20," I say.

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Environment
4:00 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Florida's Mangroves Move North As Temperatures Rise

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 5:56 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The world's climate is warmer on average than it was a hundred years ago. Plants in some places are emerging earlier in the spring and insects that like warm weather are on the move. But scientists are finding out that the culprit isn't just warmth. As NPR's Christopher Joyce reports, it's also the absence of cold snaps.

CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: The idea that a warmer planet could mean avocados in Scotland or bananas in Montana may sound silly. But in fact, tropical plants are moving north. For instance, mangroves in Maryland.

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Middle East
3:48 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

In Syria, Conflict In Cyberspace Complements Ground War

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 5:56 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

For Syrians who remain in their country, you might think that computer security would be a low priority, but with a civil war raging, so, too, is an electronic war between groups allied with President Bashar al-Assad and rebel forces. Anti-Assad groups use cyberspace to recruit fighters and coordinate with allies.

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Around the Nation
3:46 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

The Online Education Revolution Drifts Off Course

Students at the Oakland Military Institute took several courses offered by San Jose State and the online course provider Udacity this year. The university is now scaling back its relationship with Udacity.
Laura A. Oda MCT/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 6:23 pm

One year ago, many were pointing to the growth of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, as the most important trend in higher education. Many saw the rapid expansion of MOOCs as a higher education revolution that would help address two long-vexing problems: access for underserved students and cost.

In theory, students saddled by rising debt and unable to tap into the best schools would be able to take free classes from rock star professors at elite schools via Udacity, edX, Coursera and other MOOC platforms.

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All Tech Considered
3:02 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Too Many Games, So Little Time: Indies That Innovated In 2013

The game Don't Starve casts you in the role of "gentleman scientist" Wilson, with just one goal: Survive. Its unique mix of survival horror and crafting gameplay, paired with a charming Tim Burton-esque art style, made this a standout game of 2013.
Klei Entertainment

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 1:42 pm

The indie gaming market is a growing force in the industry. And while the nature of the market makes it difficult to get exact sales figures, there is no denying that 2013 was a great year for introducing new and innovative titles to gamers of all stripes and on all platforms.

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The Salt
1:15 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Does Champagne Actually Get You Drunk Faster?

Each bottle of Champagne contains around 50 million bubbles. But will any of them accelerate the inebriation process?
Victor Bezrukov Flickr.com

Originally published on Tue December 31, 2013 2:39 pm

Every time I spend New Year's Eve with my mom, she tells me the same thing: "Be careful with that Champagne, honey. The bubbles go straight to the head. And it won't be pretty tomorrow."

Thanks, Mom. Glad you're looking after me after all these years.

But is she right?

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