Geoff Brumfiel

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The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded today to three scientists for their work, predicting the seemingly unpredictable. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports that the researchers helped shape our understanding of climate change.

The Nobel Prize in physics was awarded this year for work on finding order in chaos — some made by humans and some found in nature.

Half of the prize went to Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann for their studies showing how humans were changing the climate on Earth. According to the prize committee, it was Manabe, now at Princeton University, who built one of the first climate models in the 1960s that explained how human-produced carbon dioxide could warm the planet.

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Last month, Dr. Simone Gold stood before a crowd at a conservative church in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and delivered a talk riddled with misinformation. She told people to avoid vaccination against the coronavirus. As an alternative, she pushed drugs that have not been proven effective at treating COVID-19 — drugs that she also offered to prescribe to the audience in exchange for $90 telehealth appointments.

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Big news from Mars this weekend. A small helicopter zipped around its surface, and as NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports, it's exceeding all expectations.

Updated August 29, 2021 at 5:19 PM ET

Hurricane Ida has already caused widespread power outages throughout the state of Louisiana after making landfall Sunday afternoon. More than 400,000 customers were without electricity late Sunday afternoon, according to the local utility, Entergy. The company warned that the hardest hit areas could experience power outages for weeks.

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Spend any time around a baby and you're likely to hear some babbling. Now, new research shows baby bats can do it too.

A paper published on Thursday in the latest issue of the journal Science finds similarities between the babbling of human infants and the babbling of the greater sac-winged bat (Saccopteryx bilineata) — a small species of bat that lives in Central and South America.

Sore arms. Headaches. Low-grade fevers.

These are some of the expected side-effects of a COVID-19 vaccine — a sign that the body's mounting an immune response and learning how to fend off the novel coronavirus.

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China appears to be expanding its sprawling nuclear weapons testing complex in the nation's western desert. Satellite imagery shared exclusively with NPR shows a possible new tunnel being dug and fresh roads added at the site, known as Lop Nur, where China has tested its nuclear weapons in the past.

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The world's richest man briefly left planet Earth today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AUTOMATED VOICE: Two, one.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROCKET LIFTING OFF)

Misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines can appear almost anywhere: from an uncle's Facebook post to a well-trusted news commentator. But where does it come from, and why do some myths spread further than others?

With the help of the internet research firm Graphika, NPR analyzed the rise of one persistent set of lies about COVID-19 vaccines: that they can affect female fertility.

Despite a mountain of scientific evidence showing the vaccines are safe and effective, the false information persists.

With about a third of adults in the U.S. still completely unvaccinated, and cases of COVID-19 on the rise, the U.S. surgeon general is calling for a war against "health misinformation."

It inspires comparisons to Area-51: A massive, three-mile-long runway in a remote patch of Chinese desert, hundreds of miles from any cities.

Now, it looks like the site is undergoing an expansion. Satellite imagery from the commercial company Maxar supplied exclusively to NPR shows around a dozen large concrete buildings under construction near the landing strip. The buildings mark a significant change at the airfield, which up until now lacked much in the way of permanent accommodation.

The largest U.S. database for detecting events that might be vaccine side effects is being used by activists to spread disinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

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This week, President Biden directed his intelligence agencies to take another look at whether the coronavirus resulted from a lab accident in China. For many, the announcement felt like a big change, putting what had been a conspiracy theory about the virus's origins back on the table.

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The end of this pandemic sometimes gets boiled down to two words: herd immunity. But now, as an academic debate swirls over when or even if America can get to a high enough percentage of people with immunity to reach that goal, some scientists say it's time for the public to stop worrying about it.

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Sayer Ji is a 48-year-old proponent of what he calls natural medicine.

"My parents didn't know about natural medicine, so it really wasn't until I was 17 that I learned some basic principles of nutrition and self care," he told attendees at a recent virtual conference. "I was liberated from needing pharmaceutical medicines."

Ji was also there promoting his website, full of natural remedies and reams of anti-vaccine misinformation. He sells subscriptions for anywhere from $75 to $850 a year.

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A SpaceX rocket lifted off from Florida early Friday morning on what is becoming a routine mission, carrying four astronauts to the International Space Station.

Joyce Ann Kraner is eager for the pandemic to end and for life to get back to normal. Kraner, 49, wants to be able to hug her mother, who lives in a nursing home.

But she says she has no plans to get the vaccine, even though it's widely available in her community of Murfreesboro, Tenn. "I feel like I'm healthy," she says.

For months, Iran has slowly been violating terms of a 2015 deal designed to limit its nuclear program. It has been accumulating enriched uranium, which can be used for nuclear reactors or, potentially, nuclear weapons. It's been ramping up its research and development.

But until recently, there was one thing Iran didn't touch: the nuclear inspections conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Three hundred years ago, in 1721, England was in the grips of a smallpox epidemic.

"There were people dying all over the place," says Isobel Grundy, a professor emeritus of English at the University of Alberta in Canada. "Social life came to a standstill — and all the things we've suddenly become familiar with again."

When NASA's Perseverance rover touched down on the Martian surface last week, humans cheered from the confines of planet Earth.

But if the space agency or others hope to leave and send astronauts to Mars, experts say they need to consider a technology that was studied decades ago but never fully developed: nuclear-powered rockets.

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A new global treaty banning nuclear weapons goes into effect tomorrow. It aims to make nuclear war obsolete. But as NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports, some question whether it'll work.

Updated at 10 p.m. ET

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked the Pentagon's leadership to limit President Trump's ability to use nuclear weapons during his final days in office.

In a letter to her Democratic House colleagues on Friday, Pelosi said that she had spoken with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, about "available precautions for preventing an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike."

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