Panel Round Two

Originally published on April 16, 2011 11:29 am
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PETER SAGAL, Host:

Right now, Panel, some more questions for you from the week's news. Luke, since it was announced Homeland Security would be abandoning its color-coded terror alert system, many have wondered what they would replace it with. Well, this week it was announced. What will it be?

LUKE BURBANK: They're going to pare it down to just two different states of alert. I think one is called imminent and one is called soil yourself. I don't know what that...

SAGAL: No, no, no.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It's not so much the statements.

BURBANK: Right.

SAGAL: It's how they're going to transmit the warning.

BURBANK: Yeah.

SAGAL: They're not going...

BURBANK: They're going to use social media.

SAGAL: Yes, they're going to use, in fact, Facebook and pointedly, a Twitter feed.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: The color-coded alert system has been removed because it was ineffective and it was always clashing with Janet Napolitano's autumn color palette.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Now terror warnings will come via Twitter and Facebook. The 140- character limit on Twitter might be a problem. We'll get messages like: urgent warning, attack imminent. If you want to survive, head immediately to.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: But it's understanding, for this to work, right, you're going to have to join Twitter if you aren't on Twitter already, and you're going to have to start following the DHS. And that means that in between like the serious alerts, whenever they come, you'll have to endure all of, you know, Janet Napolitano's boring updates about her lunch. Great tuna wrap today, threat level delicious.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: But using Facebook is good because if anybody plants a bomb in Farmville, they'll get it.

SAGAL: Yes.

BURBANK: Right away.

SAGAL: Kyrie, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center announced this week that they've engineered mice to do what?

KYRIE O: Is there anything that they haven't engineered mice to do already? They engineered mice to - well, they've got fat mice. They've got skinny mice. They've got mice that get old and they've got mice that grow human ears on them. Is there any - I need a hint.

SAGAL: Just one example of the many examples there could be, the mice still eat cheese but now they choose low fat varieties.

CONNOR: They engineered them to make sensible diet choices?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Well, that's part of it. Actually, in general, they engineered them to make better decisions. These are more sensible mice in general.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: Researchers at Columbia were tired of the lousy choices that their lab mice were making.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: In their lives, staying up all hours, playing on the wheel, eating garbage as opposed to their regular food, which is actually garbage. So they developed a way to stimulate neuron production in mouse brains to help the mice learn more easily and make better choices. Scientists realized that it had worked beyond their wildest dreams when they returned to their lab one night to find a ten-foot long spring loaded trap baited with an iPad 2.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.