Scientists have found that pigeons are much smarter than we give them credit for and can be taught some complex abstract math. This is stunning because it's trait that has only been shown in primates. But according to a report in the current issue of the journal Science, researchers were able to teach pigeons abstract rules about math.
Each year, Talk of the Nation reaches out to colleagues and friends at NPR for their help in remembering some of the men and women who died during the previous 12 months. They responded with personal stories about the people who inspired them.
In our sixth annual obituary show, we talk about the lives and careers of remarkable men and woman who did not make headlines when they died, but whose lives still made an indelible impact. NPR's Neda Ulaby, Sonari Glinton and Andy Carvin are among those who share their remembrances.
Originally published on Tue December 27, 2011 10:00 am
Critics cried foul when Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month, saying that teenage girls can't buy the emergency contraceptive plan B without a prescription. Their complaint: That the move went against the Obama administration's stated goal of protecting science from the taint of politics.
Have you ever come across a dust-covered "to-do" list, filled with tasks that you never actually finished because they were unpleasant, you just weren't in the mood, or you found something easier to do instead?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has one of those lists. It's 34-years-old. And the agency decided this week to throw it in the garbage.
"Twin suicide car bomb blasts ripped through an upscale Damascus district Friday, targeting security and intelligence buildings and killing at least 40 people" according to authorities, The Associated Press writes.
NPR's Deborah Amos says it's the "first such attack since the beginning of a 10-month revolt" against President Bashar Assad's regime.
Cooking crystal meth is just "basic chemistry" for Walter White, the fictional chemistry teacher and anti-hero of the TV drama "Breaking Bad." Organic chemist Donna Nelson serves as science adviser to the show; she explains how the series' writers work to get the science right.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Birding. Birding doesn't seem like a risky pastime, does it? What's the worst that could happen? Sunburn, a little rain, a little cold, lost binoculars. Well, not always. In 2010, Tim Gallagher, editor of Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Living Bird magazine, went in search of a rare woodpecker and was lucky to make it back alive.
Our multimedia editor Flora Lichtman talked to Gallagher about it and has this story.
FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: The imperial woodpecker is two feet tall. That's huge.
The 112th Audubon Christmas Bird Count is underway. Citizen scientists armed with binoculars are recording data vital to monitoring bird health and conservation. But before you can count a Snowy Owl or a Rufous Hummingbird, you need to identify it. Birder Richard Crossley has some tips.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. If you're scanning the Milky Way for life, where do you look? Well, probably someplace not too different from planet Earth, right? So you want to find a planet about the same size as Earth to increase the chance it has a rocky surface, with oceans of course rather than being a giant ball of gas like Jupiter, and it should be just the right distance from its star, in what they call the Goldilocks Zone: hot enough to have liquid water but not so hot that the surface has completely scorched.