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Code Switch
6:40 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

To Play The Part, Actors Must Talk The Talk — In Chinese

Chinese billionaire Xander Feng, played by Terry Chen, shakes hands with Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, in Netflix's House of Cards.
Nathaniel E. Bell Courtesy of Netflix

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 12:08 pm

The success of the Netflix series House of Cards lies in the details.

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The Two-Way
6:20 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Robot Swarm: A Flock Of Drones That Fly Autonomously

An image from a video by the COLLMOT Robotic Research Project shows a group of drones flying autonomously across a field.
COLLMOT Robotic Research Project

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 6:31 pm

Can drones, the small unmanned aircraft that are at the forefront of fields from warfare to commercial delivery systems, fly without human intervention? A team of Hungarian researchers answers yes, having created 10 drones that self-organize as they move through the air.

The team based its creation on birds such as pigeons, which fly in tight bunches while making adjustments and decisions. They fitted quadcopters — drones with four rotors — with GPS, processors and radios that allow them to navigate in formation or while following a leader.

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The Far Reach Of The West's Drought
6:03 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

The Search For Drinking Water In California Has Led To The Ocean

Extreme drought conditions in California have state officials looking for alternative sources of water, including desalinated ocean water.
Richard Vogel AP

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 12:08 pm

California is getting some much needed rain this week, but more than two-thirds of the state is still in extreme drought conditions, and that has the state thinking about alternative ways of getting water.

On the coast in Carlsbad, Calif., construction workers are building what will be the largest seawater desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere. When finished in early 2016, it is expected to provide up to 50 million gallons of fresh drinkable water every day.

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Shots - Health News
5:40 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Blood Test Provides More Accurate Prenatal Testing For Down Syndrome

The new test scans a mother's blood for bits of a fetus's DNA.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 11:24 am

A new blood test offers pregnant women a safe and much more accurate way to screen for Down syndrome.

A study that evaluated the test in 1,914 pregnancies found that the test, which checks DNA, produces far fewer false alarms than the current screening techniques.

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Parallels
5:35 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Ask Me Anything: Reporting From Ground Zero In Ukraine

NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson
NPR

NPR's Berlin Correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson has covered four revolutions in the last three years, including the Arab Spring.

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The Salt
5:28 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Maybe That BPA In Your Canned Food Isn't So Bad After All

Should you fear a chemical inside metal food containers like the ones that hold beans? Government scientists say no.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 12:39 pm

Maybe BPA isn't so bad after all.

The plastic additive has been vilified by environmental advocacy groups. But the chemical had no effect on rats fed thousands of times the amount a typical person ingests, government scientists are reporting in the journal Toxicological Sciences.

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Planet Money
5:28 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

74,476 Reasons You Should Always Get The Bigger Pizza

Somebody check the cheese.
Alex Wong Getty Images

One day last year, an engineer and I went to a pizza place for lunch. The engineer told me he wasn't very hungry, but he said he was going to get the 12-inch medium instead of the 8-inch small — because the medium was more than twice as big as the small, and it cost only a little bit more. This sort of blew my mind.

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Parallels
4:49 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

U.S. Has Little Leverage To Stop Political Violence In Venezuela

A demonstrator confronts riot policemen during an anti-government protest in Caracas, Venezuela's capital, on Feb. 22.
Raul Arboleda AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 12:08 pm

The escalating political crisis in Venezuela has set off alarms in Washington. But there's little the U.S. has been able to do, aside from criticize the jailing of opposition figures or the rising death toll as protesters continue to take to the streets, blaming the government for high inflation and crime.

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All Tech Considered
4:48 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

With Tech Outsourcing, The Internet Can Be 'A Scary Place'

When it comes to Internet security, many experts agree outsourcing can create added risks, even if they disagree on the merits of outsourcing in the first place.
Igor Stevanovic iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 12:08 pm

When you hear the word outsourcing, you might think of threats to American jobs. To cyber experts, there's another threat: to our data.

This week, thousands of the industry's leading minds from around the world are discussing the Internet and security at their annual powwow in San Francisco, the RSA Conference. These topics matter more and more to us non-experts, especially as people become the victims of cybercrime.

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Shots - Health News
4:47 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

You Got What In The Mail? Home Test Boosts Colon Cancer Screening

Instructions for the colon screening test were devised so they can be understood in any language.
Courtesy of Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research

Originally published on Thu February 27, 2014 8:57 am

Everybody's supposed to get screened for colon cancer starting at age 50, but many of us haven't gotten around to it. That's especially true in the Latino community, where about half of people are up to date on screening, compared to 66 percent of non-Latino whites.

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