Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Spot Fake News By Making It

7 minutes ago

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit

How A Russian Nerve Agent Got To The U.K.

23 hours ago

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


President Trump's nominee for deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, has spent much of his career working for less oversight from the agency.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal government's first responder to floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters, has eliminated references to climate change from its strategic planning document for the next four years.

That document, released by FEMA on Thursday, outlines plans for building preparedness and reducing the complexity of the agency.

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Now for a story about an astronaut who is not a space mutant.


DANIEL HUOT: And liftoff.


I think it's fair to say that many parents focus a lot of energy — and worry! — on protecting their small kids from risky situations.

But it turns out that integrating limited risk into our kids' playtime may be taking a step toward healthier child development.

Genetic mutations are the driving force of evolution, and now scientists have managed to study the effect of mutations in exquisite detail by watching what happens as they pop up in single cells.

Only about one percent of mutations were bad enough to kill off the cell, according to a report published Thursday in Science. Most of the time, these small changes in its DNA appeared to have no effect at all.

The U.S. is one of only a few countries in the world that allow private individuals to own the minerals under their land, a policy that dates to the Founding Fathers as they sought to elevate private interests over those of the British Crown. This financial incentive to allow new drilling goes a long way in explaining the nation's natural gas boom. The National Association of Royalty Owners estimates some 12 million American landowners receive royalties for the exploitation of oil, gas and other mineral resources under their property.

How Many Opioid Overdoses Are Suicides?

Mar 15, 2018

Mady Ohlman was 22 on the evening some years ago when she stood in a friend's bathroom looking down at the sink.

"I had set up a bunch of needles filled with heroin because I wanted to just do them back-to-back-to-back," Ohlman recalls. She doesn't remember how many she injected before collapsing, or how long she lay drugged-out on the floor.

"But I remember being pissed because I could still get up, you know?"

She wanted to be dead, she says, glancing down. A wisp of straight brown hair slips from behind an ear across her thin face.

Nothing conveys the excitement of space exploration like pictures from another planet. Now NASA is planning to go one better than pictures. The space agency is aiming to launch a probe carrying a communication system that will let future missions to Mars transmit live, high definition video to Earth.

Everyone from NASA to the cast of The Big Bang Theory is reacting Wednesday to the death of acclaimed physicist Stephen Hawking, known for his work on understanding the nature of black holes.

There aren't very many scientists who achieved rock star status. Stephen Hawking, who has died at the age of 76, family members told British media early Wednesday, was definitely a contender.

Jimena Canales is a faculty member of the Graduate College at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a research affiliate at MIT. She focuses on 19th and 20th century history of the physical sciences and science in the modern world.

Economic theory rests on a simple notion about humans: people are rational. They seek out the best information. They measure costs and benefits, and maximize pleasure and profit. This idea of the rational economic actor has been around for centuries.

But about 50 years ago, two psychologists shattered these assumptions. They showed that people routinely walk away from good money. And they explained why, once we get in a hole, we often keep digging.

The type of nerve agent used to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter in the U.K. was developed in a top-secret laboratory in Moscow and was once a closely held secret of the Russian government.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found slumped on a bench in the city of Salisbury on March 4. Experts quickly assessed that Skripal — a former Russian intelligence official accused of spying for the British — had been poisoned with a nerve agent.

On Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May named the agent in a speech before Parliament.

Do Backyard Chickens Need More Rules?

Mar 12, 2018

Last September, a cappuccino-colored stray chicken appeared in Katherine Rae Mondo's neighborhood in Oakland, Calif. After it hung around the same intersection for a couple of days, Mondo took it in — her house had a coop, and she was already caring for a housemate's three-chicken flock.

She named the stray chicken Terribad, since, unlike most hens, "she was kind of a wild woman who didn't obey the rules, and she could fly," Mondo says.

While the orcas of Puget Sound are sliding toward extinction, orcas farther north have been expanding their numbers. Their burgeoning hunger for big fish may be causing the killer whales' main prey, chinook salmon, to shrink up and down the West Coast.

Chinook salmon are also known as kings: the biggest of all salmon. They used to grow so enormous that it's hard now to believe the old photos in which fishermen stand next to chinooks almost as tall as they are, sometimes weighing 100 pounds or more.

A new report raises concerns that when fishing vessels "go dark" by switching off electronic tracking devices, in many cases they are doing so to mask the taking of illegal catches in protected marine parks and restricted national waters.

Eventually it happens to everyone. As we age, even if we're healthy, the heart becomes less flexible, more stiff and just isn't as efficient in processing oxygen as it used to be. In most people the first signs show up in the 50s or early 60s. And among people who don't exercise, the underlying changes can start even sooner.

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Dyslexia is the most common learning disability, affecting tens of millions of people in the United States. But getting help for children who have it in public school can be a nightmare.

"They wouldn't acknowledge that he had a problem," says Christine Beattie about her son Neil. "They wouldn't say the word 'dyslexia.' "

Other parents, she says, in the Upper Arlington, Ohio, schools were having the same problem. The district in a suburb of Columbus wasn't identifying their children's dyslexia or giving them appropriate help.

Millions of Americans use opioids to relieve pain. But many also struggle with addiction.

This week, a report in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, found that nonopioid painkillers — like acetaminophen and ibuprofen — were as effective as opioids at treating chronic back, hip and knee pain, and with fewer side effects.

Emperor penguins are known to be social and curious. But you probably didn't know that they are also reasonably good at framing a video shot.

When an expeditioner with the Australian Antarctic Division left his camera on the ice while visiting a penguin colony, the birds quickly hustled over to investigate.

It's worth noting that the penguins did not actually push the record button – it was already rolling — but did manage to produce a hilarious 38-second video.

When you talk about traditional Scandinavian foods, you end up talking about porridge. In a cold climate, only certain grains could thrive — namely barley and oats. Their warm mush was a building block of early Nordic foodways, and is still a staple.

Now, an everyday bowl of plain old grain mush hardly sounds controversial. But in the middle of the 19th century, Norway was gripped with a series of public debates that later became known as the Norwegian Porridge Feud. Really.

Adam Frank is a co-founder of the 13.7 blog, an astrophysics professor at the University of Rochester and author of the upcoming book Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth. His scientific studies are funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA and the Department of Education.

Kang Lee: Can Technology Detect Our Hidden Emotions?

Mar 9, 2018

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Decoding Our Emotions.

About Kang Lee's TED Talk

Developmental researcher Kang Lee says scientists can detect emotions by reading subtle physiological signals beneath the surface of our skin.

About Kang Lee

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Decoding Our Emotions.

About Lisa Feldman Barrett's TED Talk

Identifying basic emotions in others — like fear, sadness or anger — seems instinctive, but psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett says we're doing more guesswork than we think.

About Lisa Feldman Barrett

Scoot over, cans; cartons are moving in on your shelf space. Specifically, the soft, light rectangular containers commonly associated with juice boxes — "aseptic cartons" to the carton literati.

"They're growing in popularity," says Jason Pelz, vice president of recycling projects for the Carton Council, an industry group. "Broth is predominantly in aseptic packaging now, and you see a lot of coconut water in it."