Environment
11:42 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Winter Wonderland? Wonder No Longer

The winter solstice has come and gone, making it officially winter in the U.S., with cooler temperatures, less sunlight, and, in some places, snow, ice, and frost. A panel of experts discusses the different phenomena that combine to make up the season we call winter, and give tips for how best to appreciate the natural world in wintertime.

The Two-Way
11:21 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Obama Administration Will Ease Path To Legality For Some Immigrants

Originally published on Fri January 6, 2012 12:26 pm

The Obama administration said it is proposing a change for the way some apply to become legal, permanent residents of the United States. The change would affect American citizens whose children or spouses are in the country illegally.

The current rule mandates that in order to apply for legal status, a person must return to their country and wait there while the long process continues. The rule tweak would allow those family members to stay in the country while the application works its way through the bureaucracy.

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Research News
11:00 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Parasitic Fly Threatens Honey Bee Populations

Honey bee colonies around the United States are in decline, threatened by several different diseases and parasites. John Hafernik, a professor of biology at San Francisco State University, describes how a parasitic fly that was thought to prey upon bumblebees may pose a new threat to honey bee populations in the U.S.

NPR Story
11:00 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Levitating Fruit Flies To Learn About Space Travel

Physicist Richard Hill and colleagues at the University of Nottingham have a powerful magnet that they have used to levitate fruits, beer and most recently, fruit flies. It's a low-cost way to study the effects of zero gravity on biological systems, Hill says.

Health
11:00 am
Fri January 6, 2012

Debate Persists Over Publishing Bird Flu Studies

A federal advisory board has urged scientific journals not to publish the research from two labs that have developed an airborne flu virus. Microbiologist Vincent Racaniello discusses why the move sets a bad precedent. Biosecurity expert D.A. Henderson talks about the risks of publishing the research.

Medical Treatments
11:00 am
Fri January 6, 2012

One Scholar's Take On The Power of The Placebo

A placebo can take the form of a sugar pill or even a fake surgery. It's often used to test the effectiveness of a trial drug. Ted Kaptchuk, director of Harvard University's Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter, discusses potential applications for the healing power of placebos.

Economy
10:53 am
Fri January 6, 2012

U.S. Economy: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

AndrewJohnson iStockphoto.com

When it comes to unemployment reports in an election year, it's not just the data — it's also the spin.

Friday's jobs report could be seen as good news — at 8.5 percent, it's the lowest in three years. Good news for President Obama? Not according to Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who lost no time in pointing out that the number is still above 8 percent — the figure that the president said would be the worst case under his 2009 stimulus package.

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Jon Hamilton is a correspondent for NPR's Science Desk. Currently he focuses on neuroscience, health risks, and extreme weather.

Following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Hamilton was part of NPR's team of science reporters and editors who went to Japan to cover the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Hamilton contributed several pieces to the Science Desk series "The Human Edge," which looked at what makes people the most versatile and powerful species on Earth. His reporting explained how humans use stories, how the highly evolved human brain is made from primitive parts, and what autism reveals about humans social brains.

David Edelstein is a film critic for New York magazine and for NPR's Fresh Air, and an occasional commentator on film for CBS Sunday Morning. He has also written film criticism for the Village Voice, The New York Post, and Rolling Stone, and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times' Arts & Leisure section.

A member of the National Society of Film Critics, he is the author of the play Blaming Mom, and the co-author of Shooting to Kill (with producer Christine Vachon).

David Bianculli is a guest host and TV critic on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. A contributor to the show since its inception, he has been a TV critic since 1975.

From 1993 to 2007, Bianculli was a TV critic for the New York Daily News.

Bianculli has written three books: Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of 'The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 2009),  Teleliteracy: Taking Television Seriously (1992), and Dictionary of Teleliteracy (1996).

An associate professor of TV and film at Rowan University in New Jersey, Bianculli is also the founder and editor of the online magazine, TVWorthWatching.com.

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