Flu season usually peaks around February. But this year it's missing in action, with the CDC reporting the slowest start to the flu season on record. Peter Palese, a microbiologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center, discusses whether unseasonably warm winter weather may be to thank.
Bloomberg News reporter John Lauerman volunteered to have his DNA sequenced by Harvard researchers to demystify the process for the public. What he didn't expect to uncover was that he possessed two gene variants--one linked to rare blood disorders and the other to a higher risk of Alzheimer's.
Computer chip makers have long struggled to build ever-smaller transistors to allow faster, more powerful computers. Writing in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, a team of scientists describes what may be the ultimate limit of that struggle — a transistor made of a single atom. Michelle Simmons, a physicist at the University of New South Wales in Australia and leader of the project, discusses the work.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The alphabet has only 26 letters. With these 26 magic symbols, however, millions of words are written every day.
IRA FLATOW, HOST:
And that music means it's time for Science Diction, where we talk about the origins of science words with my guest, Howard Markel, professor of the history of medicine at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, also director of the Center for the History of Medicine there. Welcome back to SCIENCE FRIDAY, Howard.
Reporting in Environmental Science and Technology, researchers write of harvesting electricity from microbe-rich river sediments--enough to power a small LED bulb. Grant Burgess, a marine biotechnologist at Newcastle University, discusses the hunt for electron-burping bugs.
Connie Johnson is not afraid to be outrageous. The Democratic state senator from Oklahoma has watched in frustration for several years now as colleagues have rammed through bills limiting women's reproductive rights.
She tried debating and making speeches. Finally, earlier this month, she thought of something that made her point more clearly, or at least more graphically.
She introduced an amendment that would define life as beginning not at conception, but at "ejaculation."
The Singing Detective is the story of a writer of pulp-fiction novels, hospitalized for a horrible skin condition that has his entire body flaking and raw, and his mind slipping in and out of fever dreams.
Some of those hallucinations have the people around him breaking into song, or shifting into other places and times and characters, or both. He tries to maintain his sanity by rewriting, in his head, one of his old novels into a Hollywood screenplay — and, in his mind, he's the healthy, good-looking protagonist — the singing detective.
The news that some rice-based foods are surprisingly high in arsenic has left rice lovers wondering how the heck we're to know what's safe to eat.
Since Dartmouth College researchers reported last week that a toddler formula and energy bars sweetened with organic brown rice syrup tested high for arsenic, readers of The Salt have had lots of questions about how one might find out the arsenic content of rice-based foods, and figure out what's safe.