Health & Science

Animals
2:06 am
Wed January 1, 2014

RoboCop? How About RoboPenguin!

Two African penguins stretch their flippers at the Maryland Zoo.
Adam Cole NPR

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 10:42 am

At the American Physical Society's fluid dynamics conference this winter, there was a healthy infusion of biology. In between talks on propellers and plane wings, there were presentations about flying snakes, fire ants, humpback whales and hummingbirds. Physicists from all over the world are turning to the natural world to help them solve engineering problems.

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The Salt
2:04 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Malawian Farmers Say Adapt To Climate Change Or Die

Villages in the Lower Shire valley of Malawi, like this one named Jasi, rely heavily on subsistence farming and steady rainfall, and are struggling to produce steady harvests.
Jennifer Ludden/NPR

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 10:42 am

Rain is so important in Malawi's agriculture-based economy that there are names for different kinds of it, from the brief bursts of early fall to heavier downpours called mvula yodzalira, literally "planting rain." For generations, rainfall patterns here in the southeast part of Africa have been predictable, reliable. But not now.

In the village of Jasi, in the hot, flat valley of Malawi's Lower Shire, farmer Pensulo Melo says 2010 was a disaster.

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Environment
2:03 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Federal Flood Insurance Program Drowning In Debt. Who Will Pay?

Even when a flood obliterates homes, as Superstorm Sandy did in 2012 in the Rockaway neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., the urge to rebuild can be strong.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 10:42 am

Millions of American property owners get flood insurance from the federal government, and a lot of them get a hefty discount. But over the past decade, the government has paid out huge amounts of money after floods, and the flood insurance program is deeply in the red.

Congress tried to fix that in 2012 by passing a law to raise insurance premiums. Now that move has created such uproar among property owners that Congress is trying to make the law it passed disappear.

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All Tech Considered
1:58 am
Wed January 1, 2014

Banks Try To Save Big With 'ATMs Of The Future'

An ATM at a Chase lobby in New York is part of what company executives are touting as a "branch of the future" — a place where machines distribute exact change and count cash so tellers don't have to.
Mary Altaffer AP

Originally published on Wed January 1, 2014 10:42 am

There's a drive-thru ATM in Charlotte, N.C., that looks pretty standard, but it has an extra function: a button that says "speak with teller."

The face of a woman wearing a headset sitting in front of a plain blue background flashes onto the ATM screen. "Good afternoon," she says. "Welcome to Bank of America. My name is Carolina. How are you today?"

She's one of a cadre of Bank of America employees in Florida and Delaware call centers, where they remotely control ATMs across the country. I ask for $26.

"Just a $1, a $5 and $20," I say.

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Shots - Health News
4:46 pm
Tue December 31, 2013

Vitamin E Might Help Slow Alzheimer's Early On

Vitamin E has been associated with increased risk of death in some studies, but it may also delay cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease.
iStockphoto

Alzheimer's is a disease without a cure, and the available treatments only slow its progression for a bit. Now there's evidence vitamin E may help hold it at bay, at least for people in the early stages of the disease.

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