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We Need To Talk About Bird Poop Seabird poop—sometimes called guano—was the “white gold” of fertilizers for humans for millennia. Rich in nitrogen and phosphorus from birds’ fish-based diets, the substance shaped trade routes and powered economies until chemical fertilizers replaced it. But while people may no longer find bird poop profitable, thes…
 
A Grim Milestone, As Cases Continue This week, COVID-19 case trackers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hit a grim milestone, logging over one million deaths in the country from the pandemic. The true total is likely to be much higher, as many cases go unreported, or are logged as deaths due to other factors in death certificates.…
 
Abortion Pills Are Used For Most U.S. Abortions. What Are They? The draft Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade means abortion access is once again in jeopardy. Nearly half of U.S. states will immediately ban abortion upon a Roe v. Wade overturn. Medication abortion, or abortion by pill, is currently the most common method of abortion in t…
 
As COVID Cases Rises, Effectiveness Of Vaccines Lessens In Kids As parts of the country continue to see waves of infection from the omicron variant of COVID-19, parents of children over age five have taken heart at the availability of vaccines—while parents of kids five and under have continued to wait for an approved dose. But even as the case num…
 
The Seafaring Life Of ‘Modern-Day Captain Nemo,’ Robert Ballard In 1985, oceanographer Robert Ballard was sent on a secret deep-sea search operative with a very specific mission: to seek two sunken nuclear submarines. Ballard, who by then had explored the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and helped design deep-sea research submersibles, was assigned by the U.S. …
 
How Grief Rewires The Brain Being a human can be a wonderful thing. We’re social creatures, craving strong bonds with family and friends. Those relationships can be the most rewarding parts of life. But having strong relationships also means the possibility of experiencing loss. Grief is one of the hardest things people go through in life. Those wh…
 
What’s Up With The Spike In Hepatitis Among Young Kids? This spring, there’s been a strange spike in hepatitis cases among young children. Hepatitis can leave kids with stomach pain, jaundice, and a generally icky feeling. 169 cases have been recorded globally, and one death. A majority of these cases have been found in the United Kingdom, with the…
 
Your Dog’s Breed Doesn’t Always Determine How They’ll Behave The dog world abounds with stereotypes about the personalities of different breeds. The American Kennel Club describes chihuahuas as “sassy,” and malamutes as “loyal,” while breed-specific legislation in many cities target breeds like pit bulls as stereotypically aggressive. But do these …
 
Building The World’s Largest Animal Crossing Outside of LA There’s a spot on Highway 101 in Agoura Hills, it’s pretty inconspicuous. There’s brown and green rolling hills on either side of the highway. Homes are sprinkled here and there. And then a small metal gate that leads off on a hiking trail. You probably wouldn’t know it, but soon this spot …
 
Celebrating Earth Day With Sustainable Action Today is Earth Day, when many people around the world are taking time to think about their relationship with the planet and to focus on activities helping to mitigate the existential problems our environment faces. And we will be doing the same: devoting our program to Earth Day stories, ideas, and issu…
 
FDA Approves First Breathalyzer COVID Test The FDA approved a new COVID breathalyzer test, which gives results in just three minutes. It’s the first test that identifies chemical compounds of coronavirus in breath. The testing unit is about the size of a piece of carry-on luggage and is intended to be used in medical offices and mobile testing site…
 
Did ‘Soylent Green’s’ Predictions About 2022 Hold Up? In the spring of 1973, the movie Soylent Green premiered. The film drops us into a New York City that’s overcrowded, polluted, and dealing with the effects of a climate catastrophe. Only the city’s elite can afford clean water and real foods, like strawberry jam. The rest of the population relie…
 
The Future of Sustainable Farming Could Be Cold Plasma Plasma is a fascinating medium. It’s considered the fourth state of matter—alongside solid, liquid and gas—and it’s everywhere. In fact, more than 99.9% of all matter in the universe is assumed to be in plasma form. You may be most familiar with plasma as the material inside those glowing novel…
 
FDA Convenes Panel On COVID Boosters And New Vaccines This week, the FDA convened a panel of independent experts to discuss COVID-19 boosters and possible variant-specific vaccines. This comes after last week’s authorization of a second booster for people over the age of 50, and some immunocompromised people. Ira talks with Maggie Koerth, senior sc…
 
Can You Read A Bar Graph? Bar graphs seem like one of the simplest ways to represent data. Many people assume that the longer the bar, the bigger the number it represents. Sometimes bar graphs represent an average not a total count, which is trickier to understand. And because bar graphs are everywhere, psychologists from Wellesley College wanted t…
 
Why Another Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapsed On March 15, the Conger ice shelf, a piece of ice half the size of Rome, collapsed in eastern Antarctica. It’s the first time that side of the continent experienced a major loss of ice in the 40-year history of satellite observations. Previous collapses of shelves have until now occurred in western Antarcti…
 
How Has The War In Ukraine Shaped The Global Energy Market? Russia’s war on Ukraine sent shock waves through the global energy market. The United States and the United Kingdom stopped importing Russian oil and gas, and the European Union set a target of reducing their reliance on Russian fossil fuels by two thirds. In the short term some countries …
 
How Vampire Bats Evolved To Drink Blood Vampire bats subsist solely on blood: In technical terms, they’re what’s called “obligate sanguivores.” And the three species of vampire bats are the only mammals to have ever evolved this particular diet. Living on blood is hard work. Blood is a low-calorie food with a lot of water volume, and very little of…
 
The James Webb Telescope Releases Its First Focused Image This week eager astronomers got an update on the progress of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which launched last December. After a long period of tweaking and alignment, all 18 mirrors of the massive orbiting scope are now in focus. In a briefing this week, Marshall Perrin, the Webb d…
 
Flower Power: Floating Sensors Inspired By Dandelions Dandelions’ white puff balls are irresistible—kids delight in blowing on them until the seeds break free, floating away. But, dandelion seeds’ ability to travel through the air is not just aesthetic. Like many other plants, they rely on the wind for seed dispersal. The traveling success of those…
 
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