Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 12:48 pm
Credit Alan Diaz / AP
This Black History Month, Tell Me More is taking a look at African Americans in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) who are inspiring future generations.
Today, Barrington Irving shares how his sky high dreams became a reality. A chance encounter in his parents' bookstore put him on a path that would make him the youngest person and first African American to fly solo around the world.
States like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio have seen an increase in oil and gas drilling recently. And this process, hydraulic fracturing or fracking, has created a lot of something else: liquid waste. Now, one disposal company has come up with a controversial plan for transporting that waste, taking it off trucks and putting it, instead, on barges.
That proposal is triggering what has become yet another safety debate between the drilling industry and some environmentalists.
Refrigerators, foam buoys and even ketchup bottles are piling up on Alaska's beaches. Almost two years after the devastating Japanese tsunami, its debris and rubbish are fouling the coastlines of many states — especially in Alaska.
At the state's Montague Island beach, the nearly 80 miles of rugged wilderness looks pristine from a helicopter a few thousand feet up. But when you descend, globs of foam come into view.
The U.S. government is investing millions of dollars in what it considers a promising new industry for American manufacturing: nuclear reactors. The plan is to build hundreds of mini-reactors, dot them around the U.S. and export them overseas.
The placebo effect, in which patients perceive an effect from a fake drug, is even stronger than once believed. Host Laura Sullivan talks to Ted Kaptchuk, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, about his research on how sham treatments affect the way we feel.
Stand aside Beyonce, there's a new sound in town. More than 9,000 sounds, to be more precise. The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has just finished digitizing its huge archive of wildlife sounds and made it available online.
"It represents the voice of the world — all the voices of the world," Greg Budney, audio curator for the archive, tells NPR's Scott Simon. Among the vast collection are birds, mammals, insects and amphibians, Budney says, all made available "to anyone who has an interest in nature, in conservation and in the world around them."
Now the curious case of the homing pigeon and the mystery of just how they do what they do: navigate over huge distances to find their way home. We know they use the sun and the Earth's magnetic field. Well, Jonathan Hagstrum of the U.S. Geological Survey believes the birds also use sound maps. His study was recently published in the Journal of Experimental biology. And he joins us now to explain how he thinks this works. Welcome to the program.