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Scientists Trace Source Of Famed Irish Potato Famine

We now know what caused the Irish potato famine. Scientists have pinpointed the pathogen by using plant samples collected in the mid-19th century. Weekends on All Things Considered host Jacki Lyden talks about it with the study's co-author, Sophien Kamoun of the Sainsbury Lab in the United Kingdom.
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Ring Nebula Is More Like A Jelly Doughnut, NASA Says

The Ring Nebula, whose iconic shape and large size make it a favorite of amateur astronomers, can now be seen in new detail, after NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a sharp image of the nebula. Researchers say the new clarity reveals details that were previously unseen, and a structure that's more complex than scientists believed.
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Study Is First To Chart Amphibian Populations' Decline In U.S.

Populations of frogs, salamanders and other amphibians are declining at an average rate of 3.7 percent each year, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study released this week.
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'Crazy Ants' Spreading In The Southeastern US

In parts of the southeastern US, aggressive fire ants have been driven out by an even more recent arrival, the tawny crazy ant. Edward LeBrun, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, describes the newcomers and how one invasive species can out-invade another.
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Tracking Killer Tornadoes

A series of tornadoes struck the central United States this week, including a powerful storm in Oklahoma that killed at least 24 people. Marshall Shepherd, the president of the American Meteorological Society, describes the ingredients of major tornadoes, and how they are predicted.
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Reinventing Farming For A Changing Climate

Scientists say climate change could increase pests and weeds, lengthen growing seasons and turn dry soil to dust. Farmers are already on the offensive, adopting no-till cropping methods to conserve water and experimenting with different seeds. And scientists are using a technique called gene silencing to develop new crops--without tinkering with the plants' DNA.
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Studies Question Potential Alzheimer's Treatment

Last year scientists reported that a skin cancer drug appeared to reverse the effects of an Alzheimer's-like disease in mice. But four studies out this week in Science question the original results. Ronald Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, talks about the new findings, and the hunt for Alzheimer's drugs.
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Tackling New Tech In The Golden Years

Smartphones, tablets and computers could help seniors stay connected to their communities and families. But a hefty price tag, steep learning curves, and designs meant for younger eyes and hands could keep some older adults from logging on. Guests discuss the best ways for seniors to tackle new technology, and how devices can be adapted to accommodate older users.
NPR

Having a Dog May Mean Having Extra Microbes

North Carolina State University biologist Rob Dunn and colleagues surveyed people's pillow cases, refrigerators, toilet seats, TV screens and other household spots, to learn about the microbes that dwell in our homes. Among the findings, reported in the journal PLoS One, homes with dogs had more diverse bacterial communities, and higher numbers of "dog-associated" bacteria.

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