Streams

 

 

Science

This Pie Chart Is Delicious And Statistically Sound

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Back in 2012, The Salt surveyed readers on their favorite pies during our Pie Week series. Recently, an Australian reader tells us she pie-charted our results with mouth-watering real pie.

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All Things Considered

The Forgotten Childhood: Why Early Memories Fade

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Childhood amnesia descends gradually — and later than you might think, researchers say. Many 7-year-olds have robust memories of experiences from when they were 3 or even younger.

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Why Physicists Are In A Film Promoting An Earth-Centered Universe

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Scientist Lawrence Krauss says clips of him were "mined" to lend credibility to The Principle, a film he describes as "stupid" and "unbelievable."

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NASA Image Shows Volcanic Island Has Annexed Its Neighbor

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

NASA says the Western Pacific island of Nishino-shima has merged with its newly created volcanic companion, forming one larger landmass.

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On The Media

Not All Video Games Cause Aggressive Behavior. Just the Really Crappy Ones.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Well if someone had just asked me, I could have told them that - a study has found that video games with frustrating and counter-intuitive controls are more likely to cause aggressive behavior.

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The Takeaway

Ancient Flying Reptiles Offer Glimpse at Evolutionary Past

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The newest exhibit at the Natural History Museum puts pterosaurs on display. They are winged reptiles that flew with their fingers, walked on their wings, and ranged from the size of a sparrow to that of an F-16 fighter jet.

 

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WNYC News

Enviros: Flood Maps Skipped 300,000 New Yorkers in Sandy's Path

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

An environmental group says FEMA's flood maps underestimated the extent of the storm's impact, affecting more than 300,000 New Yorkers.

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Morning Edition

How Mouse Studies Lead Medical Research Down Dead Ends

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

New drugs are usually tested in animals before they're tested in humans. But many of those studies aren't done carefully enough, analysts say. So time and money is wasted, and treatments are delayed.

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PRI's The World

Is seven your favorite number? We thought so. Here's what it says about you

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

If you're like the rest of the world, you probably long to feel unique.

Sure, the concept is a bit ironic. But we often make decisions based on a desire to stand out, from our sense of style to our musical tastes. What about when it comes to picking a favorite number?

It turns out the world’s favorite number is seven — at least, according a recent survey with more than 44,000 participants from all over the world.

Alex Bellos, the survey’s creator and author of the new book The Grapes of Math, says societies’ fondness for seven is a longstanding one, with deep cultural roots built around a desire to be unique. 

Bellos first got curious about favorite numbers in response to constantly being asked what his favorite was. (For the record, he claims not to have one.)

“At first I was so annoyed by this question," Bellos says. "I thought, you know, you’re trivializing mathematics. Until I said, ‘Well, what’s your favorite number?’ And I realized that, actually, lots of people feel incredibly passionate about numbers. And more often than not, people will have an entire story about what number they like."

And the story of number seven goes back — way back, Bellos says, to ancient Babylon.

“The number seven has actually been cultures' favorite number since as long as we know. You go back to the earliest writers we have, and there are more sevens there than any other number."

The trend toward seven spreads across different cultures and different time periods, too. Most of the world follows the seven-day week.

In China, the number seven is linked to good luck. In the Bible, there are seven sins. We've got seven seas, seven brothers, even seven dwarves ... the list goes on and on. 

But what explains this fondness?

“We react quite clearly to numbers in a way that relates to their numerical properties,” explains Bellos.

Even numbers — which can always be divided into two groups and are often used for approximations —  feel both too common and too vague to inspire an emotional connection. As Bellos puts it, "Who likes number 30? No one."

But if we look at the first 10 digits — the numbers we can count on our hands, so the numbers Bellos says we’re most intimate with — seven is the only one that cannot be multiplied or divided within the group.

"One, two, three, four, and five you can double and they stay at 10 or under," explains Bellos. "Six, eight, and 10 can be halved, and nine can be divided by three."

Seven, it seems, stands alone.

But don't discount your feelings for your favorite digit.

"Numbers are supposed to be things which are abstract ideas that signify quantity and order," Bellos says. "But they have words and they have symbols, and so they're actually part of culture and we have a much more complicated and deep relationship to numbers. We can't just see the arithmetical difference as something abstract. We interpret because we're humans. It's kind of part of who we are to ascribe emotions to abstract concepts like numbers."

Do you have a favorite? What's the story behind your favorite number. Let us know in the comments.

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The Takeaway

Escalating Tensions Spark Fears of War in Ukraine | A Survivor's Quest to Support Other Refugees | Flying Reptiles Offer Glimpse at Evolutionary Past

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Escalating Tensions Spark Fears of War in Ukraine | Without Action, Minor Infractions Continue to Cripple Immigrant Families | In Africa, Anti-Gay Laws Sweep Continent | One Rwandan Genocide Survivor's Quest to Support Other Refugees | Ancient Flying Reptiles Offer Glimpse at Evolutionary Past

All Things Considered

Play It Again And Again, Sam

Monday, April 07, 2014

We're all seduced by repetition, music research suggests — 90 percent of the music we listen to, we've heard before. Beyond music, this bias toward familiarity holds up in every culture. What gives?

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All Things Considered

The Future Of Clean, Green Fish Farming Could Be Indoor Factories

Monday, April 07, 2014

Aquaculture in the U.S. has lagged because of opposition from environmentalists and people living on the coast. But entrepreneurs say they've found a way to produce fish on land with little pollution.

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Sizing Up Your Children Is A Tricky Business

Monday, April 07, 2014

Many parents report that their first child seems suddenly bigger when a new baby is born. Commentator Tania Lombrozo discusses evidence for a "baby illusion" skewing parental perceptions of height.

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Radiolab

The List Of Animals Who Can Truly, Really Dance Is Very Short. Who's On It?

Monday, April 07, 2014

Remember Snowball, the dancing cockatoo? The parrot-like bird who became famous nodding and stamping to the Backstreet Boys tune, "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" ? This is him ...

 

BirdLoversOnly/YouTube

 

More than 5.6 million people have watched Snowball dance, but only one, Aniruddh Patel, made ...

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Reporting from Afghanistan; What Animals Think; Parenthood and Poverty; Emma Donoghue's New Novel

Monday, April 07, 2014

New York Times reporter Carlotta Gall talks about reporting from Afghanistan and Pakistan in the months after 9/11 and a war fought by American leaders who barely understood their enemy. We’ll find out what the latest scientific research reveals about how smart some animals are. Our series Strapped: A Look at Poverty in America looks at mothers and fathers living in poverty in inner cities. Emma Donoghue talks about her latest novel, Frog Music.

The Leonard Lopate Show

What Are Animals Thinking?

Monday, April 07, 2014

The science of animal cognition shows us how much our furry friends understand the world around them - from highly developed problem-solving abilities, communication styles and emotions.

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Morning Edition

Simple Blood Test To Spot Early Lung Cancer Getting Closer

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Several scientific teams are developing sensitive tests for tumor DNA that, when perfected, could be used to diagnose cancer earlier, and more closely monitor the response to treatment.

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An Astronaut Asks: What Does This Cloud Look Like?

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The image comes from Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who gained fans last year when he tweeted photos and messages about his stint on the International Space Station.

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Radiolab

The Power Of Poop: A Whale Story

Saturday, April 05, 2014

This, I would think, should be self-evident: Generally speaking, big creatures eat smaller creatures that, in turn, eat even smaller creatures, like this ...

Robert Krulwich/NPR

And just as obviously, one would expect the food chain to be pyramid-shaped: a few big creatures at ...

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Feds Hope $5 Billion Settlement A Lesson For Polluters

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Justice Department wants the settlement with mining company Kerr-McGee to send a powerful message: corporations can't shirk their responsibility to clean up the toxic legacies of their operations.

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