Science

Veteran Space Shuttle Astronaut Steven Nagel Dies At 67

The Air Force colonel was among the first group selected by NASA to train for the space shuttle program. He went on to fly four missions, two as commander.

Weekend Edition Saturday

Native Stories From Alaska Give Gamers Something To Play With

The video game Never Alone draws on a traditional Inupiaq story and the actual experiences of native Alaskan elders, storytellers and youth.

Weekend Edition Saturday

Antarctic Lakes, Rivers, Wetlands — All Under A Kilometer Of Ice

Biologists have discovered what may be the largest unexplored ecosystem on earth, and it's all hidden under the Antarctic ice sheet. NPR's Scott Simon talks to the lead scientist, Brent Christner.

California Trees Nailed As The Source Of Mystery Infections

Nobody knew how people in Southern California were getting infected with the life-threatening fungus C. gattii. A 13-year-old helped figure out the source: three types of trees.

Scientists Searching For Alien Air Pollution

Looking for extraterrestrial smog may be a good way to search for alien intelligence, according to a Harvard researcher.

Who Owns A Monkey's Selfie? No One Can, U.S. Says

The U.S. Copyright Office says a monkey's photo can't be copyrighted — by the person who owns the camera or by anyone else — because it wasn't taken by a human.

Morning Edition

The Dread Factor: Why Ebola And 'Contagion' Scare Us So Much

Even just the word Ebola is kind of terrifying. Why? Hollywood has a lot to do with it. But Ebola outbreaks also have all the ingredients for what one psychologist calls the "dread factor."

When Venus Was Filled With Venusians — 50 Billion Of Them

Look up at the night sky and ask, "Anybody there?" Then consider this answer (from the 1830s): There are 22 trillion individuals in our solar system.

California Drought Has Wild Salmon Competing With Almonds For Water

Thousands of Chinook salmon are struggling to survive in the Klamath River, where waters are running dangerously low and warm. Cold reservoir water is instead going to farms in the Central Valley.

Sea Lions And Seals Likely Spread Tuberculosis To Ancient Peruvians

By analyzing the DNA found in 1,000-year-old mummies, scientists found evidence that sea mammals were the first to bring tuberculosis to the Americas.

Week In The News: Ferguson Simmers, An ISIS Beheading, West Africa's Ebola Crisis

August 22, 2014
Attorney General Eric Holder talks with Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake's Place Restaurant, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, in Florrissant, Mo. (AP)

The National Guard and Eric Holder in Ferguson. ISIS beheads an American journalist. Texas Governor Rick Perry gets a mug shot. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Marlborough Company’s ‘Exoskeleton’ Lets Some Paraplegics Walk Again

August 20, 2014
Gene Laureano, a 51-year-old Army veteran from the Bronx, uses the ReWalk exoskeleton. (WBUR/Sacha Pfeiffer)

Massachusetts-based ReWalk Robotics makes a motorized exoskeleton that allows some paraplegics to walk again.

Why You Should Worry About The Butterflies

August 20, 2014
In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, a monarch butterfly lands on a confetti lantana plant in San Antonio. A half-century ago Monarch butterflies, tired, hungry and bursting to lay eggs, found plenty of nourishment flying across Texas. Native white-flowering balls of antelope milkweed covered grasslands, growing alongside nectar-filled wildflowers. But now, these orange-and-black winged butterflies find mostly buildings, manicured lawns and toxic, pesticide-filled plants. (AP)

This year’s monarch butterfly migration is the smallest ever recorded. We’ll ask why. It’s a big story. Plus: how climate change is creating new hybridized species.

MIT’s David Wilson On His Carbon Tax Proposal

August 19, 2014
An advocacy group in Massachusetts is proposing a revenue-neutral carbon tax that could potentially increase taxes on gas, but at the same time would reduce income and sales taxes. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

MIT Professor Emeritus David Wilson is credited with coming up with one of the earliest prototypes for a carbon tax.

Are We Losing Touch In The Doctor-Patient Relationship?

August 18, 2014
More studies are calling into question the measurable value of the physical examination. Is there still a place for physical touch in the doctor-patient relationship?(Children's Bureau of the Department of Health and Human Services/ Flickr)

A physician laments the decline of the physical exam and asks whether there’s still a place for touch in the digital age.

As Pot Laws Relax, Restrictions On Research Still Tight

August 18, 2014
A worker cultivates a special strain of medical marijuana known as Charlotte's Web inside a greenhouse, in a remote spot in the mountains west of Colorado Springs, Colo., Feb. 7, 2014. (Brennan Linsley/AP)

The firing of a University of Arizona doctor highlights the complexity and politics of marijuana research.

What Autopsies Can And Can’t Reveal

August 18, 2014
Michael Brown is pictured in this Facebook photo dated January 5, 2013. (Big'mike Jr Brown/Facebook)

As the results of a private autopsy of Michael Brown are made public, a forensic pathologist discusses what an autopsy can – and can’t – determine about a crime scene.

West Africa's Ebola Epidemic Spreads

August 18, 2014
In this photo taken on Tuesday, Aug 12, 2014, a healthcare worker, right, wears protective gear against the Ebola virus before he enters the Ebola isolation ward at Kenema Government Hospital, in Kenema, the Eastern Province around 300km, (186 miles), from the capital city of Freetown in Sierra Leone. (AP)

Ebola: more than a thousand dead now. An unprecedented spread. We’ll look at what it will take to stop it.

NASA Chief On Past And Future Of U.S. Space Program

August 14, 2014
A Perseid meteor streaks through the Earth's atmosphere, as seen and photographed by astronaut Ron Garan while aboard the International Space Station on August 13, 2011. (NASA)

Charles Bolden, who is also a former astronaut, joins us for a wide-ranging conversation.

New Studies: Low-Salt Diet May Be Harmful

August 14, 2014
Salt shaker (Wen Zhang/Flickr)

Three new studies challenge the low salt intake levels recommended by groups like the American Heart Association.

What Happens To Forecasting When America's Weather Satellites Die?

August 14, 2014
This Aug. 5, 2014 satellite image provided by NASA shows two tropical Pacific Ocean hurricanes - Iselle at center and Julio at right - bearing down on Hawaii, top left. (AP)

We look at what’s at stake for the future of weather forecasting when our aging weather satellites die.

A Quarter Century Of Righting Wrongful Convictions

August 14, 2014
Twenty-five years after the first DNA exoneration, hurdles to justice remain. Pictured: Gary Dotson, exonerated on August 14, 1989. (Fred Jewell/AP)

Twenty-five years after the first DNA exoneration, hurdles to justice remain.

What Keeps Us 'Riveted'?

August 11, 2014
(Flickr/Thomas Christensen)

What makes performance “riveting.” Why we cry at movies, laugh at jokes, are obsessed with celebrities and sports and more.

Company Seeks Approval For Experimental Ebola Drug

August 7, 2014
In this handout from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of a Ebola virus virion is seen. (Center for Disease Control via Getty Images)

The head of the Massachusetts company explains how the treatment would work and what it would take to get it to patients.

A History Of Comet Fears And Fascination

August 6, 2014
In a scene depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry (circa 1090), Halley's Comet is pointed out and reported to King Harold at the time of the Norman Conquest of England. Its appearance was said by soothsayers to foretell doom and destruction. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The BBC’s science correspondent Pallab Ghosh reports that for a long time, comets were thought to be portents of doom.

Rosetta Space Probe Reaches Distant Comet

August 6, 2014
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is pictured from a distance of 177 miles on Aug. 3, 2014, by Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera. (ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team via AP)

After traveling for more than a decade, the probe has reached a comet 450 million miles away, called 67P.

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