Science & Health

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Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in all 67 counties on Saturday in preparation for Subtropical Storm Alberto.

"As we continue to monitor Subtropical Storm Alberto's northward path toward Florida, it is critically important that all Florida counties have every available resource to keep families safe and prepare for the torrential rain and severe flooding this storm will bring," Scott said in a written statement.

Bay mussels in Washington's Puget Sound have tested positive for trace amounts of oxycodone, providing more evidence that the opioid prescription medication is truly ubiquitous.

Researchers at the Puget Sound Institute who analyzed the mussels said the discovery of pharmaceuticals and illicit drugs in harbors in the Seattle and Bremerton areas is not uncommon — but the organization noted this is the first time that opioids have been found in local shellfish.

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Attention Please.

About Amishi Jha's TED Talk

What exactly is attention, and how can we reclaim it? Neuroscientist Amishi Jha says there's a powerful link between mindfulness, meditation and attention.

About Amishi Jha

Amishi Jha is a neuroscientist whose research focuses on attention, working memory and mindfulness.

Chaos is neither friend nor foe. It just is. This week: two very different perspectives on how to deal with life's most tumultuous moments.

We begin in 2015, in a poor slum in the West African country of Liberia. Police have just discovered a young man, dead and covered in stab wounds. Tests show he was infected with a terrifying disease that causes raging fever, severe internal bleeding, and kills up to 90 percent of the people it touches: Ebola.

Grains are the bedrock of civilization. They led humans from hunting and gathering to city-building. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the fruits of three grasses provide the world with 60 percent of its total food: corn, wheat and rice. Aside from energy-rich carbohydrates, grains feed us protein, zinc, iron and essential B vitamins.

But rice as we know it is at risk.

With guest host John Donvan.

Lava from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has claimed “dozens of structures and destroyed scores of acres.”

The threat from the volcano goes beyond lava. Ash and gas in the air, and the steam created when lava touches water can spread for miles and be harmful to anyone who breathes it in.

The asteroid impact that ended the age of the dinosaurs also released so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere that the planet warmed up by about 5 degrees Celsius — and the hot spell persisted for roughly 100,000 years.

That's according to a new study in the journal Science that offers a cautionary tale about how Earth's climate will react to the carbon dioxide that's being pumped into the atmosphere now by the burning of fossil fuels.

Up to four major hurricanes could form in the Atlantic this hurricane season, according to the annual forecast from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Overall, the season will likely be normal or somewhat more intense than normal, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says, with a 25 percent chance that hurricane activity will be below normal.

"I want The Three Bears!"

These days parents, caregivers and teachers have lots of options when it comes to fulfilling that request. You can read a picture book, put on a cartoon, play an audiobook, or even ask Alexa.

The State Department said that a U.S. government employee assigned to Guangzhou, China, has reported experiencing "vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that "the medical indications are very similar and entirely consistent" with the symptoms reported by Americans working at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba. "We have medical teams that are moving to be on the ground there. We are working to figure out what took place both in Havana, and now in China, as well."

Though Americans spend an estimated $80 billion to $100 billion each year in hopes of easing their aching backs, the evidence is mounting that many pricey standard treatments — including surgery and spinal injections — are often ineffective and can even worsen and prolong the problem.

Covered California, the state's health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, has devised what could be a powerful new way to hold hospitals accountable for the quality of their care.

Starting in less than two years, if the hospitals haven't met certain designated targets for safety and quality, they'll risk being excluded from the "in-network" designation of health plans sold on the state's insurance exchange.

For the first time, scientists have videotaped sharks traveling a 500-mile-long "shark highway" in the Pacific, and they plan to turn it into a protected wildlife corridor in the ocean.

As Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has moved to roll back a sweeping array of Obama-era regulations he's relentlessly cited his goal of providing "regulatory certainty."

In his first address to career employees last year he told the gathered room at the EPA, "Regulators exist to give certainty to those that they regulate. Those that we regulate ought to know what we expect of them, so that they can plan and allocate resources to comply."

If you have a genetic mutation that increases your risk for a treatable medical condition, would you want to know? For many people the answer is yes. But typically such information has not been a part of routine primary care.

For patients at Geisinger Health System, that could soon change. Starting in the next month or so, the Pennsylvania-based system will offer DNA sequencing to 1,000 patients, with the goal of eventually extending the offer to all 3 million Geisinger patients.

There's a moment from nearly a decade ago that's still on loop in Laura Ogden's mind. When Laura plays back this mental video, she imagines an alternate ending. A happier ending.

There's a technical name for this kind of thinking: A counterfactual.

A counterfactual is a mental simulation where you think about something that happened, and then imagine an alternate ending.

Kathleen Vohs, a professor at the University of Minnesota, says we come up with counterfactuals all the time.

There's going to be a changing of the guard in space. On Tuesday, NASA is launching two new satellites, collectively called GRACE, to replace two that have been retired after 16 years in orbit.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, there was a world leader who signaled his desire to create a new branch of the military: the space force.

OK, it wasn't a long time ago, and it was right here on Earth, in the Milky Way galaxy.

In an address to the West Point football team at the White House earlier this month, President Trump expressed an idea to add a "space force" military branch that would conduct warfighting missions beyond Earth's atmosphere.

Lava from the Kilauea volcano is pouring into the Pacific Ocean off of Hawaii's Big Island, generating a plume of "laze" – which Hawaii County officials describe as hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles — into the air. Officials say it's one more reason to avoid the area.

"Health hazards of laze include lung damage, and eye and skin irritation," says the Hawaii County Civil Defense agency. "Be aware that the laze plume travels with the wind and can change direction without warning."

Floods on the Mississippi River are getting more frequent and more severe. But scientists warn that the infrastructure meant to protect towns and farms against flood waters is making the problem worse.

A series of analyses have helped confirm what engineers have posited for more than a century: that earthen levees built along the river are increasing flood risk for everyone, and especially hurting those who live across from them.

A new forensic study of remains jealously guarded by Russian intelligence for seven decades has determined with certainty what historians have always assumed — with World War II irredeemably lost by Germany, Adolf Hitler did in fact kill himself at his Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945.

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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Foods that contains genetically modified ingredients will soon have a special label.

We recently got the first glimpse of what that label might look like, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its proposed guidelines.

Chimps owned by the National Institutes of Health should be moved from research facilities to retirement sanctuaries unless that relocation is "extremely likely" to shorten their lives, a report issued Friday says.

"Chimpanzees should be relocated to the federal sanctuary system unless relocation would place the chimpanzee's life, safety, and welfare at extreme risk," says the report from a working group convened by the NIH to examine the safety of transferring chimps to retirement homes.

Another fissure has emerged on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, bringing the total to 21, as authorities handed out protective masks and local officials warned that toxic ash and sulfur dioxide gas are the biggest health concerns for people near the mountain.

The new fissure was discovered at Leilani Estates, the neighborhood in Puna where the first new fissures were seen this month when Kilauea suddenly became more active. Since then, more than two dozen homes have been inundated in slow-moving lava flows.

There may be hope for the nearly extinct northern white rhino yet, thanks to the pregnancy of a closely related subspecies.

"Victoria," a southern white rhino in California, was impregnated through artificial insemination, researchers announced on Thursday.

"It's very exciting because this is our first pregnant rhino from artificial insemination here at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park," Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive sciences at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, told NPR.

For the first time, the U.S. military is speaking publicly about what it's doing to address potential health risks to troops who operate certain powerful shoulder-mounted weapons.

These bazooka-like weapons produce forceful explosions just inches from the operator's head.

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Starbucks has an ambitious plan to try to address discrimination and unconscious bias by training nearly 175,000 of its workers one afternoon later this month.

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