Richard Harris http://wkar.org en First Embryonic Stem Cells Cloned From A Man's Skin http://wkar.org/post/first-embryonic-stem-cells-cloned-mans-skin Eighteen years ago, scientists in Scotland took the nuclear DNA from the cell of an adult sheep and put it into another sheep's egg cell that had been emptied of its own nucleus. The resulting egg was implanted in the womb of a third sheep, and the result was Dolly, the first clone of a mammal.<p>Dolly's birth set off a huge outpouring of ethical concern — along with hope that the same techniques, applied to human cells, could be used to treat myriad diseases.<p>But Dolly's birth also triggered years of frustration. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:14:00 +0000 Richard Harris 52335 at http://wkar.org First Embryonic Stem Cells Cloned From A Man's Skin Ebola Drug Could Be Ready For Human Testing Next Year http://wkar.org/post/ebola-drug-could-be-ready-human-testing-next-year The <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/04/08/300509073/the-ebola-outbreak-three-weeks-in-dire-but-not-hopeless">Ebola outbreak</a> in West Africa is terrifying because there's no drug to treat this often fatal disease. But the disease is so rare, there's no incentive for big pharmaceutical companies to develop a treatment.<p>Even so, some small companies, given government incentives, are stepping into that breach. The result: More than half a dozen ideas are being pursued actively.<p>And these are boon days for drugs that can treat viruses. Fri, 11 Apr 2014 20:30:00 +0000 Richard Harris 52074 at http://wkar.org Ebola Drug Could Be Ready For Human Testing Next Year How Mouse Studies Lead Medical Research Down Dead Ends http://wkar.org/post/how-mouse-studies-lead-medical-research-down-dead-ends Most experimental drugs fail before they make it through all the tests required to figure out if they actually work and if they're safe. But some drugs get fairly far down that road, at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, based on poorly conducted studies at the outset.<p>Medical researchers reviewing this sorry state of affairs say the drug-development process needs serious improvement.<p>Consider drugs that are being developed to treat <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/amyotrophiclateralsclerosis.html">ALS</a>, or Lou Gehrig's disease. Tue, 08 Apr 2014 07:44:00 +0000 Richard Harris 51836 at http://wkar.org How Mouse Studies Lead Medical Research Down Dead Ends Simple Blood Test To Spot Early Lung Cancer Getting Closer http://wkar.org/post/simple-blood-test-spot-early-lung-cancer-getting-closer One of these days, there could well be a simple blood test that can help diagnose and track cancers. We aren't there yet, but a burst of research in this area shows we are getting a lot closer.<p>In the latest of these studies, scientists have used blood samples to identify people with lung cancer.<p>At the Stanford School of Medicine, <a href="http://stemcell.stanford.edu/about/Laboratories/diehn/index.html">Dr. Maximilian Diehn</a> spends some of his time as a radiation oncologist treating patients with cancer, and some of his time delving into the world of DNA. Sun, 06 Apr 2014 17:22:00 +0000 Richard Harris 51772 at http://wkar.org Simple Blood Test To Spot Early Lung Cancer Getting Closer Custom Chromo: First Yeast Chromosome Built From Scratch http://wkar.org/post/custom-chromo-first-yeast-chromosome-built-scratch Using the labor of dozens of undergraduate students, scientists have built a customized yeast chromosome from scratch.<p>It's a milestone in the rapidly growing field of synthetic biology, where organisms can be tailored for industrial use. In this case, the near-term goal is to understand the genetics of yeast, and eventually the genetics of us.<p>This was quite an undertaking. Yeast have about 6,000 genes packed in 16 tidy bundles called chromosomes. Thu, 27 Mar 2014 20:14:00 +0000 Richard Harris 51313 at http://wkar.org Custom Chromo: First Yeast Chromosome Built From Scratch Fewer People Are Getting Infections In Hospitals, But Many Still Die http://wkar.org/post/fewer-people-are-getting-infections-hospitals-many-still-die Hospital-acquired infections continue to be a big problem in health care, with 4 percent of patients getting a new infection while hospitalized, a study finds. And 11 percent of those infections turn deadly.<p>It's the first time that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has attempted to catalog all hospital infections, not just the infections with germs on their watch list. Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:27:00 +0000 Richard Harris 51241 at http://wkar.org Fewer People Are Getting Infections In Hospitals, But Many Still Die Never Mind Eyesight, Your Nose Knows Much More http://wkar.org/post/never-mind-eyesight-your-nose-knows-much-more The human eye can distinguish more than 2 million distinct colors. But scientists studying smell now say they have their vision colleagues beat: The human nose, they say, can distinguish more than a trillion different smells.<p>Yes, trillion with a T.<p>That new figure displaces a much more modest estimate. Thu, 20 Mar 2014 20:47:00 +0000 Richard Harris 50964 at http://wkar.org Never Mind Eyesight, Your Nose Knows Much More Google's Flu Tracker Suffers From Sniffles http://wkar.org/post/googles-flu-tracker-suffers-sniffles If you want to know what's up with the flu at the moment, you have a few choices: You can get the latest information at <a href="https://www.google.org/flutrends/us/#US">Google Flu Trends</a>. Thu, 13 Mar 2014 20:23:00 +0000 Richard Harris 50621 at http://wkar.org Google's Flu Tracker Suffers From Sniffles Scientists Fear Ecological Disaster In Nicaragua's Planned Canal http://wkar.org/post/scientists-fear-ecological-disaster-nicaraguas-planned-canal Scientists are raising the alarm about the possible environmental consequences of a huge shipping canal that could cut across Nicaragua, from the Pacific to the Atlantic.<p>The government of this Central American nation has signed a deal with a Chinese company that is planning to build a maritime shortcut that would compete with the Panama Canal. Construction could begin next year — yet there's no official route for the canal and no assessment of its potential impacts on the environment.<p>So far, the plan hasn't triggered much concern among international conservation groups. Thu, 20 Feb 2014 21:05:00 +0000 Richard Harris 49654 at http://wkar.org Scientists Fear Ecological Disaster In Nicaragua's Planned Canal Ancient DNA Ties Native Americans From Two Continents To Clovis http://wkar.org/post/ancient-dna-ties-native-americans-two-continents-clovis The mysterious Clovis culture, which appeared in North America about 13,000 years ago, appears to be the forerunner of Native Americans throughout the Americas, according to <a href="http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v506/n7487/full/nature13025.html">a study</a> in <em>Nature</em>. Thu, 13 Feb 2014 08:03:00 +0000 Richard Harris 49303 at http://wkar.org Ancient DNA Ties Native Americans From Two Continents To Clovis Risky Tech Fixes For Climate Becoming Likelier, Critic Warns http://wkar.org/post/risky-tech-fixes-climate-becoming-likelier-critic-warns Some strategists still see a small window of opportunity to address climate change before the effects become damaging and costly. Wed, 12 Feb 2014 21:14:00 +0000 Richard Harris 49290 at http://wkar.org Risky Tech Fixes For Climate Becoming Likelier, Critic Warns Neanderthal Genes Live On In Our Hair And Skin http://wkar.org/post/neanderthal-genes-live-our-hair-and-skin Neanderthals died out long ago, but their genes live on in us. Scientists studying human chromosomes say they've discovered a surprising amount of Neanderthal DNA in our genes. And these aren't just random fragments; they help shape what we look like today, including our hair and skin.<p>These genes crept into our DNA tens of thousands of years ago, during occasional sexual encounters between Neanderthals and human ancestors who lived in Europe at the time. Wed, 29 Jan 2014 20:56:00 +0000 Richard Harris 48632 at http://wkar.org Ancient And Vulnerable: 25 Percent Of Sharks And Rays Risk Extinction http://wkar.org/post/ancient-and-vulnerable-25-percent-sharks-and-rays-risk-extinction There are more than a thousand species of sharks and rays in the world, and nearly a quarter of them are threatened with extinction, according to a new study. Wed, 22 Jan 2014 08:44:00 +0000 Richard Harris 48261 at http://wkar.org Ancient And Vulnerable: 25 Percent Of Sharks And Rays Risk Extinction An Old Tree Doesn't Get Taller, But Bulks Up Like A Bodybuilder http://wkar.org/post/old-trees-grow-faster-every-year Like other animals and many living things, we humans grow when we're young and then stop growing once we mature. But trees, it turns out, are an exception to this general rule. In fact, scientists have discovered that trees grow faster the older they get.<p>Once trees reach a certain height, they do stop getting taller. So many foresters figured that tree growth — and girth — also slowed with age.<p>"What we found was the exact opposite," says <a href="http://www.werc.usgs.gov/person.aspx?personid=138">Nate Stephenson</a>, a forest ecologist with the U.S. Thu, 16 Jan 2014 08:27:00 +0000 Richard Harris 48036 at http://wkar.org An Old Tree Doesn't Get Taller, But Bulks Up Like A Bodybuilder Whales, Dolphins Are Collateral Damage In Our Taste For Seafood http://wkar.org/post/thousands-whales-dolphins-killed-satisfy-our-seafood-appetite Hundreds of thousands of marine mammals are injured or killed every year by fishermen around the world. And because most seafood in the U.S. is imported, that means our fish isn't as dolphin-friendly as you might expect.<p>Under pressure from conservation groups, federal regulators are preparing to tighten import standards to better protect marine mammals.<p>There was a time, more than 40 years ago, when U.S. fishermen killed millions of dolphins while fishing for tuna. Wed, 08 Jan 2014 16:05:00 +0000 Richard Harris 47707 at http://wkar.org Whales, Dolphins Are Collateral Damage In Our Taste For Seafood Arctic Methane Bubbles Not As Foreboding As Once Feared http://wkar.org/post/arctic-methane-bubbles-not-foreboding-once-feared European scientists were alarmed in 2008 when they discovered streams of methane bubbles erupting from the seafloor in Norway's high Arctic. This gas, which contributes to global warming, was apparently coming from methane ice on the seafloor. A follow-up study finds that methane bubble plumes at this location have probably been forming for a few thousand years, so they are not the result of human-induced climate change. But continued warming of ocean water can trigger more methane releases in the Arctic, with potentially serious consequences to the climate. Mon, 06 Jan 2014 21:27:00 +0000 Richard Harris 47617 at http://wkar.org West Coast's Early Warning System For Quakes Still Spotty http://wkar.org/post/west-coasts-early-warning-system-quakes-still-spotty Earthquake scientists on the West Coast would like to build a system that would give people a bit of warning before they get jolted with strong shaking from a distant quake.<p>Seismic waves take time to travel from the epicenter, which means such a warning system could issue alerts ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes. Thu, 26 Dec 2013 23:01:00 +0000 Richard Harris 47208 at http://wkar.org West Coast's Early Warning System For Quakes Still Spotty Could Big Batteries Be Big Business In California? http://wkar.org/post/could-big-batteries-be-big-business-california The California Public Utilities Commission has called on utilities and private companies to install about $5 billion worth of batteries and other forms of energy storage to help the state power grid cope with the erratic power supplied by wind and solar energy.<p>The need to store energy has become urgent because the state is planning to get a third of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade. Mon, 23 Dec 2013 08:24:00 +0000 Richard Harris 47065 at http://wkar.org Could Big Batteries Be Big Business In California? Environmentalists Split Over Need For Nuclear Power http://wkar.org/post/environmentalists-split-over-need-nuclear-power California is regarded as the leading state when it comes to addressing climate change. But in 2012, according to analysts at <a href="http://rhg.com/">Rhodium Group</a>, California's carbon emissions actually increased more than 10 percent, bucking the national trend of decreases. Tue, 17 Dec 2013 08:04:00 +0000 Richard Harris 46782 at http://wkar.org Environmentalists Split Over Need For Nuclear Power Big Batteries Needed To Make Fickle Wind And Solar Power Work http://wkar.org/post/big-batteries-needed-make-fickle-wind-and-solar-power-work Giant batteries are coming to a power grid near you. In fact, they're already starting to appear on the grid in California.<p>That's because California is planning to rely increasingly on power supplies that aren't necessarily available every minute of every day. The state plans to get one-third of its electricity from wind and solar energy by 2020.<p>Utilities in the state are trying to figure out how they can cope with that uncertain power supply. Batteries aren't a panacea, but they could help.<p>Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Wed, 11 Dec 2013 22:23:00 +0000 Richard Harris 46553 at http://wkar.org Big Batteries Needed To Make Fickle Wind And Solar Power Work Ready — Or Not. Abrupt Climate Changes Worry Scientists Most http://wkar.org/post/ready-or-not-quick-climate-changes-worry-scientists-most An expert panel at the National Academy of Sciences is <a href="http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18373">calling for an early warning system</a> to alert us to abrupt and potentially catastrophic events triggered by climate change.<p>The committee says science can anticipate some major changes to the Earth that could affect everything from agriculture to sea level. But we aren't doing enough to look for those changes and anticipate their impacts.<p>And this is not a matter for some distant future. The Earth is already experiencing both gradual and abrupt climate change. Tue, 03 Dec 2013 22:01:00 +0000 Richard Harris 46156 at http://wkar.org Ready — Or Not. Abrupt Climate Changes Worry Scientists Most Slashing Fossil Fuel Consumption Comes With A Price http://wkar.org/post/slashing-fossil-fuel-consumption-comes-price Governments around the world have agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). That would require an 80 percent reduction in energy sources like coal, oil and natural gas, which emit carbon dioxide into the air.<p>Nations are far from that ambitious path. There are big political and economic challenges. But technologists do see a way — at least for the United States — to achieve that goal.<p>Nowhere is that aspiration clearer than at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Tue, 03 Dec 2013 00:38:00 +0000 Richard Harris 46106 at http://wkar.org Slashing Fossil Fuel Consumption Comes With A Price Tech Leaders, Economists Split Over Clean Energy's Prospects http://wkar.org/post/tech-leaders-economists-split-over-clean-energys-prospects There is a broad scientific consensus that to keep global warming in check, we need to phase out 80 percent of all oil, coal and natural gas by midcentury. President Obama has set a nonbinding target to do precisely that.<p>There are technologists who say this national goal is well within reach, but there are also economists who are quite pessimistic about those prospects. Sat, 30 Nov 2013 10:37:00 +0000 Richard Harris 46004 at http://wkar.org Tech Leaders, Economists Split Over Clean Energy's Prospects By Accident, Scientists Discover Lakes Beneath Greenland http://wkar.org/post/scientists-discover-lakes-beneath-greenland Transcript <p>LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST: <p>Flying to or from Europe, many a transatlantic traveler has gazed down at the brilliant white surface of Greenland and maybe wondered what is beneath those massive sheets of ice. Well, scientists have discovered jagged mountains, ravines that rival the Grand Canyon.<p>And now NPR's Richard Harris reports that for the first time they've come across some lakes under the ice as well.<p>RICHARD HARRIS, BYLINE: It's odd to think of pools of water sitting under thick sheets of ice, but in fact scientists have found more than 300 lakes under Antarctica. Thu, 28 Nov 2013 09:45:00 +0000 Richard Harris 45943 at http://wkar.org What's In It For U.S. To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions? http://wkar.org/post/whats-it-us-cut-greenhouse-gas-emissions The United Nations <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=246409449">negotiations in Warsaw</a> over a climate treaty are moving at glacial speed — and that's in part because there's a fundamental problem.<p>In the coming decades, carbon dioxide emissions from China, India and other rapidly developing countries are expected to grow quickly. Tue, 26 Nov 2013 07:51:00 +0000 Richard Harris 45821 at http://wkar.org What's In It For U.S. To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions? At Climate Meeting, Tensions Rise Between Rich And Poor Nations http://wkar.org/post/climate-meeting-tensions-rise-between-rich-and-poor-nations Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>NPR's Richard Harris has covered the U.N. climate talks since the first treaty was negotiated in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. He's monitoring these new talks, and he joins us now to talk about this long-running argument over climate-related funding for the developing world. Richard, thanks for being here.<p>RICHARD HARRIS, BYLINE: My pleasure.<p>BLOCK: And we just heard Mr. Khan mention this goal of $100 billion in aid per year, starting in 2020. He thinks that's realistic. Wed, 20 Nov 2013 21:52:00 +0000 Richard Harris 45604 at http://wkar.org Why Typhoon Haiyan Caused So Much Damage http://wkar.org/post/why-typhoon-haiyan-caused-so-much-damage <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiWRUfz_zjw</p> Mon, 11 Nov 2013 22:21:00 +0000 Richard Harris 45137 at http://wkar.org Why Typhoon Haiyan Caused So Much Damage For A New Kind Of Commute, Some Eye The Sky http://wkar.org/post/new-kind-commute-some-eye-sky <em>This story is part of a series on commuting in America.</em><p>Orangutans Kiko, Iris and Batang have a short commute — only about 500 feet between the buildings at the National Zoo where they sleep and pass their days. But it's a tricky trip.<p>They travel 50 feet above the ground on what's called the Orangutan Transit System — the <a href="http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ThinkTank/OLine/" target="_blank">O Line, for short</a>. Thu, 31 Oct 2013 08:02:00 +0000 Richard Harris 44577 at http://wkar.org For A New Kind Of Commute, Some Eye The Sky Delegates To Debate Watered-Down Plan For Antarctic Marine Preserve http://wkar.org/post/delegates-debate-watered-down-plan-antarctic-marine-preserve Less than 1 percent of the world's oceans are set aside as protected areas, but diplomats meeting now in Australia could substantially increase that figure.<p>Delegates from 24 nations and the European Union have convened to consider proposals to create vast new marine protected areas around Antarctica.<p>This same group met over the summer and didn't reach consensus, so it's now considering a scaled-back proposal.<p><a href="http://www.ccamlr.org/">The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources</a> exists principally to regulate fishing around Antarctica. Wed, 23 Oct 2013 22:32:00 +0000 Richard Harris 44233 at http://wkar.org Delegates To Debate Watered-Down Plan For Antarctic Marine Preserve Quake In Central Pakistan Makes New Island http://wkar.org/post/quake-central-pakistan-makes-new-island A large earthquake shook a remote part of central Pakistan Tuesday, and so far local authorities have only reported a few dozen fatalities so far. But according to estimates by the U.S. Geological Survey, the death toll could be far higher. The quake also gave rise to a mysterious island off the coast of Pakistan. The island was likely created by frozen methane that was shaken loose by the shaking. It pushed its way to the surface and created a muddy piece of land that will soon be washed away. Tue, 24 Sep 2013 21:17:00 +0000 Richard Harris 42815 at http://wkar.org