Science and Environment

Science & Environment
11:57 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Can The Philippines Save Itself From Typhoons?

The sun sets behind a house damaged by Typhoon Haiyan outside the hard-hit city of Tacloban. The Philippines has gotten better at preparing for typhoons, but remains extremely vulnerable.
Philippe Lopez AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 1:05 pm

For the third year in a row, the Philippines has been hit by a major storm claiming more than 1,000 lives, and the death toll from Haiyan, one of the worst on record, could climb to 10,000.

With thousands of islands in the warm waters of the Pacific, the Philippines is destined to face the wrath of angry tropical storms year after year.

So what can a poor, densely populated country do to mitigate the huge loss of life and the massive destruction?

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Science & Environment
6:33 am
Tue November 12, 2013

For Strengthening Levees, Bermuda Grass Is Hard To Beat

Bermuda grass is considered ideal grass for armoring local levees because its dense root mass holds soils and it grows well in the local climate.
Bob Marshall The Lens

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 8:08 am

The idea that grass can armor anything is hard to believe.

But on a recent visit to the Lake Pontchartrain levee, LSU agronomist Jeff Beasley explained how plain old, garden variety grass has earned a reputation with the US Army Corps of Engineers as one of the best armoring materials to keep the huge mud walls of a levee from collapsing during a storm.

"You know how we reinforce concrete with rebar?" says Beasley. "We can do the same with these levees."

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Science & Environment
2:06 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Key West Awash With Plans For Rising Sea Level

A cyclist rides past buckled asphalt in Key West, Fla., after Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Key West experienced widespread flooding with the storm surge.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 5:00 pm

Florida — especially South Florida — is very flat and very low, and in places like Miami Beach and Key West, buildings are just 3 feet above sea level. Scientists now say there may be a 3-foot rise in the world's oceans by the end of the century.

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Science & Environment
3:50 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

4-D Printing Means Building Things That Build Themselves

H. Jerry Qi, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Colorado University, holds simple models printed using polymers that have "shape memory." The flat piece on the left can reshape itself into a box with the application of heat.
Glenn J. Asakawa University of Colorado

Originally published on Wed November 6, 2013 5:12 pm

In our Weekly Innovation series, we pick an interesting idea, design or product that you may not have heard of yet. Got an innovation you think we should feature? Fill out our form.

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Science & Environment
3:13 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

The Louisiana Coast: Last Call — Diversions?

New Orleans' levee board is suing energy companies for damaging the Mississippi River delta by cutting canals through the marshland. The canals let in sea water, which kills marshes, eroding the city's protective buffer against storms. A map of the delta.
Frank Relle

Originally published on Sun March 16, 2014 2:22 pm

Anyone following the development of the Master Plan for the Louisiana coast knows that the central part of the plan is also its most controversial: large scale river diversions, opening the levees on the sides of the Mississippi River south of New Orleans to let the silt-carrying Mississippi out into these sinking deltas to begin rebuilding them.

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Science & Environment
3:10 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

BP Claims Settlement Heads To Appellate Court

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 7:03 am

BP says claims system is allowing fraud.

The BP oil spill claims agreement is heading back to a courtroom in New Orleans on Monday. The oil company says fraudulent claims are being paid.

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Science & Environment
2:09 pm
Sun November 3, 2013

Space Agencies Of The World, Unite: The U.N.'s Asteroid Defense Plan

This mosaic image from NASA's Dawn spacecraft, captured between 2011 to 2012, shows the giant asteroid Vesta. The mountain at the south pole, seen at the bottom of the image, is more than twice the height of Mount Everest.
NASA

The United Nations General Assembly may approve a plan soon for the world's space agencies to defend the Earth against asteroids.

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Science & Environment
7:44 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Seeing In The Pitch-Dark Is All In Your Head

I think I can see something.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 9:13 am

A few years ago, cognitive scientist Duje Tadin and his colleague Randolph Blake decided to test blindfolds for an experiment they were cooking up.

They wanted an industrial-strength blindfold to make sure volunteers for their work wouldn't be able to see a thing. "We basically got the best blindfold you can get." Tadin tells Shots. "It's made of black plastic, and it should block all light."

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Science & Environment
2:48 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Eeek, Snake! Your Brain Has A Special Corner Just For Them

Illustration by Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 4:17 pm

Anthropologist Lynne Isbell was running through a glade in central Kenya in 1992 when something suddenly caused her to freeze in her tracks. "I stopped just in front of a cobra," she says. "It was raised with its hood spread out."

Isbell, who is at the University of California, Davis, says she has spent the past couple of decades trying to understand how she could have reacted before her conscious brain even had a chance to think — cobra!

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Science & Environment
7:00 am
Sun October 27, 2013

Is Rebuilding Storm-Struck Coastlines Worth The Cost?

The Long Beach High School marching band prepares to march down the Long Beach boardwalk during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Sun October 27, 2013 1:10 pm

One year ago Tuesday, Hurricane Sandy bore down on the East Coast, devastating shoreline communities from Florida to Maine.

Many of these areas have been rebuilt, including the Long Beach boardwalk, about 30 miles outside New York City. Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new boardwalk Friday.

Ninety percent of the funding for the restoration came from the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency paid $44 million to repair the devastation.

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