Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

You know that feeling when your body is really craving a nice salad, but the only thing in your fridge is day-old pepperoni pizza? And you don't want to go through all the trouble of heading to the grocery store to gather all the ingredients for salad, so you settle for the pizza?

Well, Neanderthals feel you — kind of.

See, researchers are finding that Neanderthals and early humans weren't all that different — they even got together and made babies every now and then.

On Tuesday, our colleagues over at NPR's Hidden Brain talked about the role race plays in the sharing economy — specifically, the online peer-to-peer apartment rental service Airbnb. They spoke with one African-American woman about her persistent difficulties booking rooms through AirBnb, and who had a feeling it was due to her race.

A small mammal has sabotaged the world's most powerful scientific instrument.

The Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile superconducting machine designed to smash protons together at close to the speed of light, went offline overnight. Engineers investigating the mishap found the charred remains of a furry creature near a gnawed-through power cable.

Sharon Long found her calling later in life. Back in the 1980s, she was a single mom trying to support her two kids, holding down several jobs at once — none of which she liked much.

"I worked at the Dairy Queen, and I cleaned a dentist's office, and I was a secretary," Long recalls, on a recent visit with StoryCorps. "I hated every morning I got up."

But, as she tells her colleague Steve Sutter, everything changed for her at age 40. When she she took her daughter to register for college, a financial aid officer persuaded Long to enroll herself.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

As summer approaches, anxiety about Zika is growing in Gulf Coast states like Florida and Texas. The virus hasn't spread to mosquitoes in the region, and it may not, but experts are preparing nonetheless.

Its name will be "Red Dragon." And if the latest partnership between SpaceX and NASA works out, the privately funded craft will land on Mars to collect scientific data — possibly within the next two years. The plan is to use the Dragon capsule, but without a human crew.

"SpaceX is planning to send Dragons to Mars as early as 2018," the company said via Facebook Wednesday. "These missions will help demonstrate the technologies needed to land large payloads propulsively on Mars."

Genetic Variations Help Make Fraternal Twins More Likely

Apr 28, 2016

Fraternal twins tend to run in families, and scientists think they've identified genetic variations at play. Understanding that might someday help predict who is more likely to have a risky pregnancy, and might also help treat fertility problems.

People who sustain a concussion or a more severe traumatic brain injury are likely to have sleep problems that continue for at least a year and a half.

Take a look at some lawns this spring. You might see something that looks like a crown of thin leaves and spikey, yellow flowers shooting over the grass, particularly if you live in the South. If the stems are triangular, you've just found a sedge. Dig it up. If it's the right kind of sedge, clinging to the roots will be a few chewy, brown, marble-sized tubers called tiger nuts.

Scientists say they have made an atlas of where words' meanings are located in the brain. The map shows that words are represented in different regions throughout the brain's outer layer.

Accidents happen, and if they are someone else's fault, you can go to court to try to get compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. If you win, though, the pot of gold you receive may be considerably smaller than you expect. Your health plan may claim some — or all — of the award as reimbursement for money it spent on your medical care.

Scientists have unveiled a fossilized skull from a new species of sauropod — an enormous dinosaur that walked the Earth roughly 95 million years ago. The skull found in Argentina is just the latest in a series of discoveries teaching scientists about how sauropods were once so successful as a group.

If there ever was a "nice" dinosaur, it would be the sauropod. In dinosaur movies, they're the plant-eating giants with impossibly long necks and big, cowlike eyes.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

When orchardist Eliza Greenman walks through a field of apple trees and gazes upon a pocked array of blemished and buckled fruits — scarred from fighting fungus, heat and pests — she feels a little thrill of joy. "I'm absolutely infatuated with the idea of stress in an orchard," says Greenman, who custom grafts and grows pesticide-free hard cider apples in Hamilton, Va. These forlorn, scabbed apples, says Greenman, may actually be sweeter.

Back in the day, astronomers studied galaxies one at a time.

Data about each metropolis of stars had to be pieced together slowly. These individual studies were then combined so that a broader understanding of galaxies and their histories as a whole could slowly emerge.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Hey! Wake up! Need another cup of coffee?

Join the club. Apparently about a third of Americans are sleep-deprived. And their employers are probably paying for it, in the form of mistakes, productivity loss, accidents and increased health insurance costs.

Quirtina Crittenden was struggling to get a room on Airbnb. She would send a request to a host. Wait. And then get declined.

"The hosts would always come up with excuses like, 'oh, someone actually just booked it' or 'oh, some of my regulars are coming in town, and they're going to stay there,'" Crittenden said. "But I got suspicious when I would check back like days later and see that those dates were still available."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

When it comes to introducing babies to solid foods, rice cereal is often first. And rice is a staple in many baby and toddler foods.

But, as we've reported, multiple studies have found that rice-based foods contain traces of arsenic, and sometimes levels are surprisingly high.

About 38,000 runners competed in the London Marathon today – and one of them ran it in orbit 200 miles above Earth.

British astronaut Tim Peake completed the 26.2 mile course at the International Space Station with an estimated time of 3:35.21 , the European Space Agency tweeted.

Experimental solar-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Mountain View, Calif., after a three-day flight across the Pacific.

"Good morning, California!" the plane's visibly emotional pilot Bertrand Piccard told a cheering crowd at Moffett Airfield, where he landed at 11:44 p.m. local time. He's soon handed an extra large bottle of champagne.

The Solar Impulse team is attempting to fly around the world using only the power of the sun.

Scientists say they have discovered a massive reef stretching for more than 600 miles at the mouth of the Amazon River in South America.

In total, the reef covers some 3,600 square miles — or, as Smithsonian notes, an area larger than the state of Delaware.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

How Do Ants Survive Floods? Rafts Of Course

Apr 23, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Some college lectures aren't just dull, they're ineffective. Discuss, people.

You did. Our recent stories on the Nobel Prize winning Stanford physicist who's pushing for big changes in how large universities teach science to undergraduates generated lots of interest, comments, questions, shares and listens — online and on NPR One.

Earth Day got you thinking about how your diet impacts the planet?

The World Resources Institute has news to ease a meat-lover's conscience: In a new report, it says you don't have to bid burgers bye-bye in order to reduce the environmental footprint of what you eat. Cutting back could go a long way, it says.

In the report, the nonprofit calculates the planetary effect of various possible changes in how the world eats.

Billy Ryan visits Roy's Trailer Park on Florida's Stock Island every two months. It's part of his regular rounds as an inspector for the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District.

"Hey, I'm just checking on the yards for the mosquito control," he tells one resident, Marie Baptiste, as he heads into her yard. "OK?" No problem, she tells him.

Pages