Science and Technology

The Salt
4:00 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Rust Devastates Guatemala's Prime Coffee Crop And Its Farmers

A worker dries coffee beans at a coffee plantation in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, in February 2013.
Moises Castillo AP

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 2:23 pm

Outside the northern Guatemalan town of Olopa, near the Honduran border, farmer Edwin Fernando Diaz Viera stands in the middle of his tiny coffee field. He says it was his lifelong dream to own a farm here. The area is renowned for producing some of the world's richest arabica, the smooth-tasting beans beloved by specialty coffee brewers.

"My farm was beautiful; it was big," he says.

But then, a plant fungus called coffee rust, or roya in Spanish, hit his crop.

"Coffee rust appeared and wiped out everything," he says.

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Animals
5:23 pm
Sun July 27, 2014

How Do You Lose A Half-Million Birds?

Dense flocks of martins like this filled the skies above Lake Murray, S.C., for more than two decades. This year, their traditional roost site is empty.
Adam Cole

Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 2:38 am

In late July and August, something remarkable happens in the air above Lake Murray in South Carolina. Around sunset, hundreds of thousands of purple martins come streaming toward the center of the lake from every direction, swirling together in a massive flock that darkens the sky. After an hour or so, they settle down on Bomb Island in the center of the lake.

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Arts & Life
4:44 pm
Sun July 27, 2014

What It's Like To Own Your Very Own Harrier Jump Jet

A 1976 Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR3 Jump Jet sold at the Silverstone Auctions Saturday for the equivalent of $179,611.
Courtesy of Silverstone Auction

Originally published on Sun July 27, 2014 5:52 pm

The Harrier Jump Jet combines the speed of a jet with the maneuverability of a helicopter.

These single-seater planes are known for vertical take-offs and landings, making them ideal for close-air support near the front-lines where runways may be damaged or non-existent.

Designed by the British and now flown by the U.S. Marine Corps, Harriers also have an accident-prone track record and are notoriously difficult to fly.

But why not have one for your private collection?

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Humans
4:14 pm
Sun July 27, 2014

Sorry, Lucy: The Myth Of The Misused Brain Is 100 Percent False

Originally published on Sun July 27, 2014 5:52 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

If you went to the movie theater this weekend, you might've caught the latest Scarlett Johansson action movie called "Lucy." It's about a woman who develops superpowers by harnessing the full potential of her brain.

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Science
9:33 am
Sun July 27, 2014

How Our Story About A Child's Science Experiment Sparked Controversy

Two lionfish swim in an aquarium at the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center in Dania Beach, Fla.
Suzette Laboy AP

Originally published on Sun July 27, 2014 9:52 am

A story that ran last Sunday on All Things Considered about a sixth-grader's science fair project has elicited not just criticism but controversy.

Since the student's project built on the work of scientists, she's been accused this week of being a "plagiarist" who "ripped off" earlier work.

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Performing Arts
7:12 am
Sun July 27, 2014

At Some Venues, iPads Take The Place Of Opera Glasses

Originally published on Sun July 27, 2014 10:26 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Arun Rath.

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All Tech Considered
6:59 pm
Sat July 26, 2014

For Rare Languages, Social Media Provide New Hope

An Aymara woman prepares to take part in a pageant in La Paz, Bolivia, in 2013. Jaqi-Aru, a community of volunteers is working on translating the Facebook interface in the indigenous language of Aymara.
Juan Karita AP

At a time when social media users, for no particularly good reason, are trading in fully formed words for abbreviations ("defs" instead of "definitely"), it may seem that some languages are under threat of deterioration — literally.

But social media may actually be beneficial for languages.

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Digital Life
9:33 am
Sat July 26, 2014

Citizen Evidence Lab Separates Truth From Fiction In Viral Videos

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 12:32 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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All Tech Considered
8:23 am
Sat July 26, 2014

Tech Week: Industry Diversity, Digital Afterlives, Net Neutrality

Twitter released a scorecard showing its workforce — like other major tech firms — is largely male and white.
Jeff Chiu AP

What happened in technology this week, you ask? Here's a roundup of the tech stories reported by NPR and others since you last checked in.

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NPR Ed
8:08 am
Sat July 26, 2014

Learning To Read May Take Longer Than We Thought

Most of what we know — or think we know — about how kids learn comes from classroom practice and behavioral psychology. Now, neuroscientists are adding to and qualifying that store of knowledge by studying the brain itself. The latest example: new research in the journal Developmental Science suggests a famous phenomenon known as the "fourth-grade shift" isn't so clear-cut.

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