Legend holds that the length of a woolly bear caterpillar's color bands can be used to forecast how severe the winter weather will be. The myth dates back to colonial American folklore but was popularized by a 1948 study. SciFri finds out if there's any truth to the lore, and what the caterpillar's fuzzy bristles are really used for.
This week, India launched Mangalyaan, its first robotic mission to orbit Mars and probe its atmosphere. Only Russia, Europe, and the U.S. have successfully orbited the planet. Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor in national security affairs, and planetary scientist Bruce Jakosky discuss the Indian space program, as well as NASA's upcoming mission to the Martian atmosphere.
Echinacea, vitamins, and other dietary supplements have become a $5 billion industry, but the products don't need to be pre-approved by the FDA before they go on the market. How do we know what is really in our supplements? What regulations are currently in place? How can we keep ourselves safe and informed?
Since its appearance in the U.S. seven years ago, white-nose syndrome has decimated bat populations across eastern North America. Scientists say they've determined the culprit--a soil-dwelling fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans--and now they're investigating novel ways to stop it, including antifungal bacteria.
Doctors have long overlooked a tiny band that connects two bones in the knee. Now Belgium surgeons say that's a mistake. The obscure structure is a full-fledged ligament. When it malfunctions, people recovering from anterior cruciate ligament injuries may run into trouble.
Gabapentin, a generic drug, appears to reduce alcohol cravings and ease sleeplessness and anxiety associated with withdrawal. But the drug hasn't been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat alcohol dependence, and there's no sign it will be anytime soon.
Craft brewers around the country are making beers with foraged seeds, roots, fruits and fungi from their backyards and backwoods. It's a challenge to the placelessness of mainstream brewers, who mostly use the same ingredients grown in the same places — barley from the Great Plains and hops from the Pacific Northwest.
Scientists and hunters are worrying about a steady die-off in moose populations in North America. While scientists scramble to understand the causes, rural states including New Hampshire worry about economic impacts. Meanwhile, some states such as Maine, where moose remain robust, could benefit.