World
11:20 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Azerbaijan: Where East Meets West, Spy Meets Spy

Thanks to its strategic location, the small Central Asian country of Azerbaijan has long been a hot spot for rival intelligence agents, from countries such as Russia, Turkey, Iran and Israel. Here, a view of Baku, the capital, in June 2011.
Johannes Eisele AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 9:58 pm

The small Central Asian country of Azerbaijan has found itself caught up in the rising international tensions over neighboring Iran and its nuclear program. Despite traditional ties with Iran, the former Soviet republic has increasingly aligned itself with the West, and with Israel.

An incident at a recent soccer match in the Iranian city of Tabriz is still a point of pride in Azerbaijan. In the middle of the match, hundreds of ethnic Azeris in the crowd broke out their national flags and began to chant that the city belongs to them.

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Sports
11:17 am
Fri February 17, 2012

As Ivies Boost Financial Aid, Teams Up Their Game

Harvard University forward Kyle Casey in an NCAA game against Princeton on Saturday. Casey says financial aid from Harvard makes the school more attractive to student athletes.
Mel Evans Getty Images

New York Knicks guard and Harvard University alumnus Jeremy Lin may be a sudden NBA sensation, but the men's basketball team at his alma mater is making its own mark on the national scene.

Harvard is currently on top of the Ivy League basketball standings. And with a 21-3 overall record and some impressive nonconference wins, the Crimson spent part of the season in the Top 25 in national polls for Division I.

There's a palpable buzz about the team, as well — even a late January road game against the struggling squad from Brown University was a sellout.

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Energy
11:00 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Desert Military Bases Could Be Boon To Solar

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 3:52 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Last week, the government approved the first new nuclear reactor power plants in over 30 years, but in the meantime, the Department of Defense has been investigating a different energy source for its military bases: solar.

My next guest says the military could install seven gigawatts of solar power on its bases. That's roughly equivalent to the output of seven nuclear power plants, and that's all without interfering with bombing ranges or rocket tests and of course the desert tortoise.

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NPR Story
11:00 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Air Pollution Ups Risk Of Stroke, Impaired Memory

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 3:52 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

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NPR Story
11:00 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Should Sugar Be Regulated Like Alcohol?

Writing in the journal Nature, UCSF pediatrician Robert Lustig and colleagues suggest regulating sugar just like alcohol and tobacco--with taxes and age limits, for example--due to what they call the "toxic" effects of too much sweet stuff. Education, they say, is not enough.

NPR Story
11:00 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Digital Tools Help Document Vanishing Languages

Linguist David Harrison has travelled to remote corners of the world seeking the last speakers of endangered languages. Now, he's using digital tools to to record and revitalize these dying languages. At the AAAS meeting this week, Harrison unveiled 'talking dictionaries' for eight languages.

NPR Story
11:00 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Concrete's Role As A Building Block In History

In his book Concrete Planet, author Robert Courland discusses why the concrete first used by the Romans is more durable than the concrete used in most present day buildings. Plus, mineralogist Peter Stemmerman tells us about his invention, Celitement and why it is greener than Portland cement.

NPR Story
11:00 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Approved Reactors Could Power Up Nuclear Industry

Originally published on Fri February 17, 2012 3:52 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Some good news for the nuclear industry. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensed the construction, issued licenses for the construction, of two nuclear reactors at a plant in eastern Georgia. Until last week, the NRC hadn't approved the construction of any new reactors in the U.S. since 1978. That was a year before the partial reactor meltdown at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.

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NPR Story
11:00 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Where's The Cuttlefish

Duke biologist Sarah Zylinski wants to better understand how cuttlefish see the world. Like their relatives octopus and squid, cuttlefish are master camouflagers--and Zylinski says you can learn something about how they process visual information by testing how they change their skin patterns in relation to different backgrounds.

The Salt
10:47 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Is That A Plastic Baby Jesus In My Cake?

Sucre in New Orleans is one of many bakeries that leaves the plastic baby out of the king cake.
John Rose/NPR

Originally published on Mon February 24, 2014 3:04 pm

If you've been in New Orleans for carnival season, or if you're lucky enough to taste a cake from there that has arrived in the mail, there's a pretty good chance that yes, there is a plastic baby that comes with your cake.

The baby, meant to represent Jesus, has become a fixture of the king cake (galette des rois in France or rosca de reyes as it's called in Mexico). It's a frosted yeast dough cake that New Orleans bakeries churn out between King's Day, January 6th, and Fat Tuesday, the last day of indulgence before Lent.

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