John Hewitt is a neuroscientist who studies the biology of intelligence. He's also a parent. Over the years, Hewitt has periodically drawn upon his scientific knowledge in making parenting decisions.
"I'm a father of four children myself and I never worried too much about the environments that I was providing for my children because I thought, well, it would all work out in the end anyway — aren't the genes especially powerful?" Hewitt says.
Pregnant women hear a lot about things they should avoid: alcohol, tobacco, chemical exposures, stress. All of those have the potential to affect a developing fetus. And now scientists are beginning to understand why.
One important factor, they say, is something called epigenetics, which involves the mechanisms that turn individual genes on and off in a cell.
Bernard Vallius, who heads the group, says it used to be that people ate a sit-down lunch and dinner with family or friends every day. Now people — especially the young and those who live in cities — eat sandwiches or skip lunch altogether and snack, he says.
Sure, Bob Newhart may have won his first Emmy for guest-starring as Professor Proton on the hugely popular show The Big Bang Theory, about four young scientists at Caltech. But behind the scenes is a real-life professor, David Saltzberg of UCLA.
Saltzberg studies high-energy particle physics and high-energy neutrino astronomy, using radio-detection techniques when he's not working as The Big Bang Theory's science consultant.
Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 4:02 am
Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona was honored over the weekend for her service to the public by Scripps College. Giffords' alma mater awarded her the school's highest level of recognition: the Ellen Browning Scripps Medal.
Claudia Felder lives in Chino, Calif., with her parents. It's a wholesome scene: nice house, three dogs and a parrot and happy family pictures everywhere.
You'd have no idea that the composed, cheerful, articulate young woman got off to a rough start in life.
Felder spent much of her childhood in foster care, starting when she was 3 years old. She's 21 now, and has been living happily with her adoptive family. But memories of an abusive past still haunt her.
In Germany Sunday, exit polls show that Chancellor Angela Merkel has won a third term, with her political party getting the most votes. But one of the key members in her ruling coalition appears to have been voted out of parliament, leaving it unclear who Merkel will partner with in her next government.
In Nairobi Sunday night, Kenyan government forces appear to be preparing for a major push to end the standoff in the Westgate Mall. The government says it has cornered the gunmen who stormed the mall Saturday. NPR's Gregory Warner tells host Arun Rath at least 68 people have been killed.
Forty-five states have adopted the Common Core State Standards, the first-ever national academic standards for students. But opposition is growing, and some lawmakers are having second thoughts about their states' support.
Meanwhile, proponents of the standards are still struggling to explain the initiative to parents, many of whom say they've never even heard of Common Core.
Every year, the trade magazine Drinks International puts out a list of the top-selling alcohols in the world, and in the category of spirits, there is one brand that more than doubles the sales of its closest competitor every year. Smirnoff, Jack Daniel's and Bacardi don't even come close.
A small town on the Syrian-Turkish border is playing an outsized role in what has become a war within the war in Syria. Azaz is now a symbol of the dangerous rift between Western-backed rebels under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army and a radical Islamist groups linked to al-Qaida.
Clashes on Wednesday — the seizure of Azaz by an al-Qaida offshoot — were followed more closely than other battles, in part because Azaz was the gateway town for journalists reporting on Syria.
Originally published on Sun September 22, 2013 4:24 pm
Cyclist Jacob Landis, who rode more than 10,000 miles on his bike this year to raise money for cochlear implants, will miss out on the final miles of his ride after being hit by a truck. Landis had planned to ride his bike to every Major League Baseball stadium this season. Despite the crash, he says he'll still go to the final game on his schedule.
Got your interest yet? NPR has an event coming up that let's just call... the answer to your date-planning needs. A guaranteed night of buzzer-busting shenanigans and they-went-there banter all set to lyric-shifting house music and can't-stop, won't-stop laughs.
For Democrats running in coal-producing states like Kentucky and West Virginia, the Environmental Protection Agency's new limits on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants provide a carboniferous chance to demonstrate independence from President Obama.
Those Democrats will probably take advantage of every chance they get to separate themselves from the president in voters' minds, since their Republican opponents will be working overtime to portray them as reliable Obama votes if they're elected to Congress.
A U.S. Navy helicopter has crashed in the Red Sea, carrying a crew of five, the military service says. The status of the crew is not yet known; a search and rescue effort was begun after the crash Sunday, using boats and aircraft.
"The crash was not due to any sort of hostile activity," the Navy says. "The incident is under investigation."
The helicopter, a MH-60S Knighthawk, had been on operations with a guided-missile destroyer, the USS William P. Lawrence. It is part of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Six.
One day after panic and confusion took over a shopping mall in Nairobi, survivors' accounts and photographs provide a close-up perspective of the scene. Their stories have given new detail to the chaos that erupted after attackers used grenades and guns to begin a standoff that lasted into Sunday.
Originally published on Sun September 22, 2013 11:33 am
Two suicide bombers struck the All Saints Church following a service in Peshawar, Pakistan, Sunday, killing more than 70 people and wounding more than 120, according to the AP and other news outlets. The victims are believed to include many children.