In January of last year, snow blanketed more than 42 percent of the country. Last month, it was just under 13 percent. The warm weather has lowered our heating bills and created a bit of an economic boost.
After two brutally long winters, the temperatures this year have been positively balmy. In the Washington, D.C., area, they've hovered in the 50s for much of the past two and a half months. Area landscapers, whose schedules are usually pretty lean this time of year, are busier. Take Chuck Dod Landscaping, which is building a stone wall in the backyard of a home in Mclean, Va.
Scientists can spend years working on problems that at first may seem esoteric and rather pointless. For example, there's a scientist in Arizona who's trying to find a way to measure the age of wild mosquitoes.
As weird as that sounds, the work is important for what it will tell scientists about the natural history of mosquitoes. It also could have major implications for human health.
For sale: 160 acres of rolling hills in California perfect for a vineyard, cattle ranch or communication with outer space.
To understand how Silicon Valley businessman Jeffrey Bullis ended up owning the Jamesburg Earth Station — a former telecommunications center with a 10-story satellite dish — you have to think back to 2004.
The real estate market was booming. Bullis was visiting a friend in Carmel Valley on California's Central Coast, where homes can still sell for millions.
President Obama moved swiftly Friday to quell a politically perilous uproar involving two hot-button issues: birth control and religious institutions.
In January, the Obama administration announced that under its health care law, religiously affiliated institutions such as hospitals and schools would have to include birth control in their employees' health coverage.
All this week, Republicans on Capitol Hill bashed that policy as a violation of religious freedom, and some of the president's fellow Democrats added to the heat.
The White House is trying to mend fences with Catholics and others who were outraged at a new rule governing insurance coverage for birth control.
That policy would have required Catholic hospitals, universities and other institutions to cover birth control in their employees' health insurance. Critics called that an assault on religious freedom.
President Obama announced a change of course Friday, and the White House is hoping to regain religious allies and maintain support from the women who voted for Obama.
President Obama's latest proposed change in how contraceptives are covered by employer health insurance may not have ended the controversy that has raged for the past three weeks. But what the administration is calling an "accommodation" for religious employers has apparently mollified key allies who had opposed his original plan.
Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 5:05 pm
A purple squirrel that was captured in Jersey Shore, Pa., has a bunch of people scratching their heads. The AP reports that Percy Emert and his wife, Connie, spotted the squirrel in their yard, then decided to try to lure it into a trap using some peanuts.
As the death toll mounts in Syria, the U.S. and its partners have been scrambling to come up with new diplomatic initiatives to persuade Syrian President Bashar Assad to silence his army's guns and give up power.
Last week, Russia and China blocked a U.N. resolution that would have supported the Arab League peace proposals. Since then, the violence has only intensified.
Like other international diplomats, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is still reeling from Russia and China's refusal to back the Arab League proposal's to solve the crisis in Syria.
The United States has declassified a series of satellite images it says show the kinds of weaponry the Syrian regime is using against its own people.
The first image was released on the Facebook page of the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. It was accompanied by a note from Embassador Robert Ford, who in the past has taken to Facebook to criticize the regime of President Bashar Assad.
Gray wolves were taken off the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana last year and put under state control. But they're still on the list in neighboring Wyoming. That's because Wyoming has been the most aggressive about wanting to kill wolves.
Wyoming has finally struck a deal with the federal government regarding how wolves will be treated once the state takes over. But environmentalists believe the agreement denies wolves an important refuge.
Thirty-five well-dressed men and women are sipping wine and chatting in the lounge of one of Milwaukee's oldest and most exclusive social clubs. A century ago, this is where the city's beer and banking giants mixed and mingled. Tonight's crowd isn't all that different — many of these men and women are worth at least a million dollars. Once a month, they pool their money to invest in high-tech, fast-growth startups. They call themselves the Silicon Pastures Angel Investment Network.
Reaction from the Catholic community to the Obama administration's decision to revise its birth control policy was swift and mixed.
Under the new rule, employers with a religious objection to offering contraceptive coverage as part of their health care plans wouldn't have to provide it directly. Instead, the requirement to provide that coverage free of charge would fall on the insurance companies.
Some Catholics believe the president's new rule resolves the religious liberty issues. But others, including key bishops, say it is smoke and mirrors.
When a fetus isn't growing as expected, doctors get worried. Often they decide to deliver a baby like that early by cesarean section, figuring it's the safer way to go.
But C-sections aren't always best for baby, according to new research.
Preemies who were small for their gestational age did better when they were delivered vaginally, researchers found. The babies delivered by C-section were 30 percent more likely to have trouble breathing, a big problem in preemies.
It's appropriate that Darwin, the tropical capital of Australia's Northern Territory, is named for the English naturalist.
The massive, powerful and deadly saltwater crocodile — the world's largest living reptile — is the evolutionary triumph of 50 million years of natural selection. And in Darwin, the crocodile is equally dreaded and beloved.
Crocodylusporosus was hunted to near extinction in the last century. But in 1974, the Australian government put the species, known affectionately as the "Australian salty," under federal protection.
Originally published on Fri February 10, 2012 1:49 pm
They may not be ready to accept GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's invitation to stand with him "shoulder to shoulder," but conservatives at their biggest annual gathering gave him a reception Friday that at times rose to rousing.
Tacitly acknowledging that his past positions on abortion rights and health care mandates have made him suspect with a swath of his party's base, Romney used his speech to describe his "path to conservatism" as a mix of family values, faith and his "life's work" in business.
Tensions are growing in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom of Bahrain. Protests by Shiites in outlying areas are growing ahead of next week's anniversary of the uprising. There are daily clashes between protesters and police and some fear that the violence will escalate as the anniversary approaches on Feb. 14, perhaps spreading to the streets of the capital, Manama.
Audie Cornish talks to Chris Arnold about how money from the robo-signing agreement will be spent. The settlement — worth about $25 billion — will bring a huge increase in loan modifications and provide small checks to people who lost their homes to foreclosure.
Using a new time-lapse technique, NASA was able to capture a spectacular view of how astronauts aboard the International Space Station see the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights.
As the AP says, NASA has released many videos of this before — just take a look at this stunning one released a couple of months ago — but this is time-lapse footage taken with high resolution cameras.
NYU psychology professor Gary Marcus took up guitar at the relatively ancient age of 38, by starting with the video game Guitar Hero. Marcus shares his experiences and insights on the science of learning, which he's gathered in a new book Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning.
According to Rolling Stone magazine, sales of vinyl albums continue to grow, setting a new record in 2010. Does vinyl reproduce sound better, or is it just a trend? Two audio experts join guest host John Dankosky to talk about the science of audio, and how perceptions can shape the sound experience.
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm John Dankosky, sitting in for Ira Flatow. Scientists have long been studied amyloid beta, those sticky protein fragments that build up in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. What you may not know is that amyloid beta is produced in everyone's brain, including my brain as I speak to you right now.