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All Things Considered

South Texas Oil Brings Boom — As Well As Pollution's 'Toxic Soup'

Friday, April 11, 2014

While the South Texas oil boom has meant a flood of cash and people to formerly impoverished communities, there have also been serious repercussions — namely, rampant air pollution.

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All Things Considered

When Is Bottled Air Worth $860? When It's A Work Of Art — And Protest

Friday, April 11, 2014

A jar of fresh air from southern France, bottled by a Beijing artist, was sold at auction in China for $860. AP correspondent Didi Tang says it's one of many works of pollution protest art in China.

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All Things Considered

Ebola Drug Could Be Ready For Human Testing Next Year

Friday, April 11, 2014

There's no treatment yet for the deadly viral disease, but several approaches are in the works. At least one experimental drug seems effective in monkeys. Next step: safety tests in people.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

From Pets to Persons?

Friday, April 11, 2014

David H. Grimm, deputy news editor at Science and the author of Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs (PublicAffairs, 2014), talks about how our attitudes toward cats and dogs have changed over time and what their status as surrogate family members could mean for us and for other animals.

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This Jet Lag App Does The Math So You'll Feel Better Faster

Friday, April 11, 2014

When it comes to resetting your biological clock, calculus can help. Mathematicians say they've found a faster way to adjust to time zone changes, and they've used it to drive a smartphone app.

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On The Media

Google Will Now Let You Buy Google Glass (for One Day Only)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Google announced today that they’ll let anybody buy Google Glass, but for one day only. Previously, only a limited number of people were allowed in to Google’s beta test. But next Tuesday, if you’d like, you can plunk down $1,500 for a pair of internet spectacles.

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PRI's The World

Harrison Ford joins Tom Friedman as climate change correspondents in a new Showtime documentary series

Friday, April 11, 2014

Study after study suggests that many Americans don't understand climate change — and many don't yet buy it. They either don't believe that climate change is real, or don't believe that humans are largely responsible for it. That's left journalists scratching their heads and looking for new ways to report the story.

Enter Showtime, with a new documentary series on climate change called Years of Living Dangerously.

It is clear from the opening sequence that this is, indeed, a different approach than you're likely to get on any news program. Though it was dreamed up by two former 60 minutes producers, it features action movie music and visuals right out of a video game.

And the first two "correspondents" you hear aren't journalists at all, but movie stars — Harrison Ford and Don Cheadle.

It isn't until almost five minutes into the first hour that you encounter the first real journalist — New York Times columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Friedman.

Friedman says the series' somewhat amped-up approach is an appropriate response to the "wicked problem" of climate change.

"It's wicked because it's slow moving," Friedman says. "It plays out over long periods of time, there isn't just sort of one moment. And it's the kind of problem where you'll never really know how serious it is, until it's too late. And therefore, it requires an enormous act of stewardship on behalf of one generation by another. And that's really hard."

Friedman says there are other challenges to conveying the scope and seriousness of the problem. One is that the people who know the most are climate scientists.

"They're extremely knowledgeable," he says, "but they're extremely, and rightly, careful about what they say. And they tend to speak in very technical language."

Then there are what he calls the "merchants of doubt."

"Just as there was in the case of tobacco," Freidman says, where supposed experts told the public "'don't believe those [other] people — tobacco doesn't cause cancer.'" Friedman says "the same people are active in trying to confuse people about climate change. Because they don't have to persuade people that they're right, they just have to inject doubt. And they're very good at that."

Years of Living Dangerously uses Hollywood-style production values and "celebrity correspondents" to create an allure that will attract people who might not otherwise watch a documentary series on climate change.

Even with the glitz, Friedman says for the most part, the project is just basic, old-style journalism. It uses the voices of real people around the world who are telling their own stories.

Friedman's own segments for the series focus on the role of climate change in contributing to unrest in the Middle East through extremely unusual droughts, heat waves and food supply disruptions.

He says the segments are "based on real, on-the-ground reporting. We try to put it into a broader context. We try to respect the fact that none of [these events] can be directly attributed to climate change, but everything that is playing out today corresponds with the models scientists predict of ... global warming."

As for the glitterati who play the roles of other "correspondents" in the series, Friedman suggests that they are hardly dilettantes.

"Harrison Ford is a long-time member of the board of Conservation International," Friedman says. "Harrison knows this field very well."

Years of Living Dangerously premiers on Showtime on Sunday, April 13.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Pesticides, Veep, and What Happens When We Sleep

Friday, April 11, 2014

Andy Borowitz fills in for Leonard Lopate. On today’s show: we’ll find out what happens to the children’s brains when they’re exposed to pesticides. Anna Chlumsky talks about her role on the HBO show, “Veep.” Isla Morley discusses her new novel, Above. And this week’s Please Explain is about dreams and nightmares.

The Leonard Lopate Show

Bad News about Pesticides

Friday, April 11, 2014

Reporter Susan Freinkel talks about what happens to brains of children who have been exposed at a young age to pesticides. She’s joined by Lee Fang, who reports on how the pesticide companies have influenced regulations in Washington and at the local level. Both Freinkel and Fang are contributors to The Nation magazine. Freinkel is the author of the book Plastic: A Toxic Love Story and her article Warning Signs: How Pesticides Harm the Young Brain and Fang’s article The Pesticide Industry vs. Consumers: Not a Fair Fight appear in the March 31, 2014, issue of The Nation magazine.

Find consumer guides about pesticides and produce and more at the Environmental Working Group's web site: ewg.org.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

The Stuff That Dreams (and Nightmares) Are Made Of

Friday, April 11, 2014

On this week's Please Explain, we'll find out what goes on inside our brains as we sleep.

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What's A Breath Of Fresh Air Worth? In China, About $860

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Beijing artist who collected a jar of air from Provence, France, sold it at auction "to question China's foul air and express dissatisfaction."

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All Things Considered

A Peek Beneath A Mummy's Wrappers, Powered By CT Scanners

Thursday, April 10, 2014

John Taylor, the curator at the British Museum, discusses how CT scans and imaging are used to discover information about mummies.

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All Things Considered

Drilling Frenzy Fuels Sudden Growth In Small Texas Town

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The boom has brought unexpected prosperity — and many new problems — to Cotulla. It's in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale area, which has quickly become the nation's No. 2 oil-producing region.

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Scientists Publish Recipe For Making Bird Flu More Contagious

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Researchers ignited a debate three years ago when they changed a deadly flu virus so that it could spread between people. Only five mutations are needed to turn the virus into a pandemic threat.

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Even A Very Weak Signal From The Brain Might Help Paraplegics

Thursday, April 10, 2014

By electrically stimulating the lower spine in men with paraplegia, researchers were able to get them to initiate movement. The big challenge is how to achieve coordinated motor control.

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Science Friday

SciFri: Reawakening Limbs After Years of Paralysis

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Paraplegics were able to stand and move their legs again with the help of a spinal implant.

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Science Friday

SciFri: Busting Bad Bacteria With Their Viral Enemies

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Phages added to packaged beef or spinach could cut down on E. coli bacteria outbreaks.

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Science Friday

SciFri: Bill Nye Stops By

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bill Nye stops by to chat about teaching science, launching solar sails into space, and more.

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Science Friday

SciFri: Up Close With the Lunar Eclipse

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The lunar eclipse on Tuesday, April 15, will be visible from all over North and South America.

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Science Friday

SciFri: Scientists Study Vole Romance Under the Influence

Thursday, April 10, 2014

To learn how alcohol affects relationships, scientists mix prairie voles a drink.

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