KGOU

Science Technology and Environment

Science news

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Uber self-driving vehicle that struck and killed a pedestrian two months ago in Tempe, Ariz., took note of the victim with its sensors, but its software did not engage the car's brakes to prevent the collision, according to a preliminary report released Thursday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Chaos is neither friend nor foe. It just is. This week: two very different perspectives on how to deal with life's most tumultuous moments.

We begin in 2015, in a poor slum in the West African country of Liberia. Police have just discovered a young man, dead and covered in stab wounds. Tests show he was infected with a terrifying disease that causes raging fever, severe internal bleeding, and kills up to 90 percent of the people it touches: Ebola.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Johanna Humphrey has a crayon problem.

The Philadelphia resident ordered 24 boxes of crayons to hand out at her son's third birthday party. But retailer Amazon accidentally sent her twice that many and doesn't want the extras back.

"Parents don't need this many crayons in their house," jokes Humphrey as she takes photos of the boxes with her smart phone to list them on her local "Buy Nothing Project" Facebook group. Humphrey wants to give the extra crayons to a local teacher.

Grains are the bedrock of civilization. They led humans from hunting and gathering to city-building. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the fruits of three grasses provide the world with 60 percent of its total food: corn, wheat and rice. Aside from energy-rich carbohydrates, grains feed us protein, zinc, iron and essential B vitamins.

But rice as we know it is at risk.

With guest host John Donvan.

Lava from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has claimed “dozens of structures and destroyed scores of acres.”

The threat from the volcano goes beyond lava. Ash and gas in the air, and the steam created when lava touches water can spread for miles and be harmful to anyone who breathes it in.

The asteroid impact that ended the age of the dinosaurs also released so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that the planet warmed up by about 5 degrees Celsius — and the hot spell persisted for roughly 100,000 years.

That's according to a new study in the journal Science that offers a cautionary tale about how Earth's climate will react to the carbon dioxide that's being pumped into the atmosphere now by the burning of fossil fuels.

Up to four major hurricanes could form in the Atlantic this hurricane season, according to the annual forecast from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Overall, the season will likely be normal or somewhat more intense than normal, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says, with a 25 percent chance that hurricane activity will be below normal.

The U.S. takes credit for creating the Internet, and the European Union seems determined to govern it. On Friday, a sweeping new directive goes into effect called the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. Taken together, its 99 articles represent the biggest ever change to data privacy laws. The new rules have implications for U.S. Internet users too.

Here are answers to three questions you might have about the new law and its potential impacts.

What is GDPR?

"I want The Three Bears!"

These days parents, caregivers and teachers have lots of options when it comes to fulfilling that request. You can read a picture book, put on a cartoon, play an audiobook, or even ask Alexa.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The FBI significantly over-counted the number of encrypted phones it says are connected to ongoing criminal investigations but remain inaccessible to investigators without back door access.

As people continue to feed more and more of their interior selves — our likes, dislikes, wants, needs, social cartographies — into digital networks that harvest and parse that information into profiles used to make money, a new frontier of monitoring that hones in on our physical features is ascendant.

It took more than 280 characters, but a federal judge in Manhattan ruled Wednesday that President Trump and his aides cannot block critics from seeing his Twitter account simply because they had posted caustic replies to his tweets in the past.

The State Department said that a U.S. government employee assigned to Guangzhou, China, has reported experiencing "vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that "the medical indications are very similar and entirely consistent" with the symptoms reported by Americans working at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba. "We have medical teams that are moving to be on the ground there. We are working to figure out what took place both in Havana, and now in China, as well."

Though Americans spend an estimated $80 billion to $100 billion each year in hopes of easing their aching backs, the evidence is mounting that many pricey standard treatments — including surgery and spinal injections — are often ineffective and can even worsen and prolong the problem.

Covered California, the state's health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, has devised what could be a powerful new way to hold hospitals accountable for the quality of their care.

Starting in less than two years, if the hospitals haven't met certain designated targets for safety and quality, they'll risk being excluded from the "in-network" designation of health plans sold on the state's insurance exchange.

Among the lawmakers' concerns: How Facebook might make up possible abuses to its users — and whether Zuckerberg himself is telling the truth when he promises to obey Europe's privacy laws.

Pages