Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Not 1,000. Not 50. Not even 10.

Zero.

"There have so far been no laboratory confirmed cases of Zika virus in spectators, athletes or anyone associated with the Olympics," the World Health Organization said Thursday on its website.

Once upon a time, cigarettes were the currency of choice when those behind bars needed to barter. But these days, America's prisoners are trading with ramen.

President Obama is expanding a national monument off the coast of Hawaii, more than quadrupling it in size and making it the world's largest protected marine area.

The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument was created by President George W. Bush in 2006. At the time, it was seven times larger than all the other U.S. marine sanctuaries combined and the biggest marine reserve in the world.

In Little Haiti, Liberty City, and a number of other neighborhoods in Miami, canvassers are now walking door to door to spread the word about the risks of Zika, one household at a time — hoping to reach 25, 000 people the next six weeks. In some neighborhoods, these workers aren't sponsored by federal or state health agencies, but by Planned Parenthood.

Human viruses are like a fine chocolate truffle: It takes only one to get the full experience.

At least, that's what scientists thought a few days ago. Now a new study published Thursday is making researchers rethink how some viruses could infect animals.

A team at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases has found a mosquito virus that's broken up into pieces. And the mosquito needs to catch several of the pieces to get an infection.

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

For such a commonplace bodily function, the sneeze has messed with our minds (and noses) for centuries. It will kill us, it won't kill us. We'll have bad luck, we'll have good luck. Watch out for Satan, he's wily and knows how to get into your nasal membranes. Did you have too much to eat? Are you sad? Do you have a weak heart?

To a mathematician, it's a violent explosion that shoots out missiles of hot, wet air, slamming a turbulent cloud of moisture into anybody or anything that crosses its path.

To the rest of us, it's a sneeze.

They call it the octobot.

The squishy eight-legged robot described in the journal Nature is made entirely out of soft, flexible materials, runs on hydrogen peroxide, and looks like a 2-centimeter-tall baby octopus.

A major study about the best way to treat early-stage breast cancer reveals that "precision medicine" doesn't provide unambiguous answers about how to choose the best therapy.

"Precision doesn't mean certainty," says David Hunter, a professor of cancer prevention at Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

That point is illustrated in a large study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, involving decisions about chemotherapy.

Oil #5: Imagine A World Without Oil

Aug 24, 2016

On today's show, we follow the Planet Money oil to the end of the line.

And we ask: What would the world be like if fossil fuels did not exist? What if you dug down in the ground and there was nothing but dirt and rock.

Oil, coal and natural gas are this incredible store of energy, just sitting there in the ground waiting for us to dig them up. Amazing boon to humanity! But also: Climate change!

Would a world without oil be better? Worse? Or just different?

This is the last of five episodes about buying oil.

Tropical Storm Colin ripped across the Gulf of Mexico in June and hit the coast of southwest Florida with 60-mile-an-hour winds. Before it arrived, a team from the U.S. Geological Survey used a new computer model to predict how far inland the waves would invade. When the storm hit, the USGS sent Joe Long out to film it.

A potentially habitable planet about the size of Earth is orbiting the star that is nearest our solar system, according to scientists who describe the find Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The nation's first "soda tax" on sugar-sweetened beverages, which went into effect in Berkeley, Calif., last year, appears to be working.

According to a new study, consumption of sugary drinks — at least in some neighborhoods — is down by a whopping 20 percent.

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

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

Paleontologists at the University of New South Wales in Australia say they have identified a tiny new species of marsupial lion that lived around 18 million years ago.

The extinct, squirrel-size animal weighed about 1.3 pounds, very likely lived in trees and had teeth that suggest it was capable of ripping apart other small creatures with its molars.

The researchers named it Microleo attenboroughi in honor of Sir David Attenborough, the famed British naturalist who has hosted numerous documentaries on wildlife.

Early mornings are routine for 69-year-old Hiroyuko Yamamoto. He's typically at a busy intersection in the city of Matsudo, near Tokyo, where he volunteers as a school crossing guard. But one rainy morning a little over a year ago, an old woman caught his attention.

She was pushing a bicycle. She was kind of disheveled. Despite the rain, she didn't have an umbrella. When Yamamoto spoke to the woman, she said she was trying to get to the city of Kamisuwa. That's about four hours away by train.

After Rory Staunton fell at the gym and cut his arm in March of 2012, the 12-year-old became feverish. He vomited during the night and complained of a sharp pain in his leg. When his parents called his pediatrician the next day, she said there was a stomach virus going around New York City, and his leg pain was likely due to his fall.

But she did advise his parents, Orlaith and Ciaran Staunton, to take Rory to the emergency department because of possible dehydration. The hospital workers did some blood work, gave him fluids and sent him home.

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

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In Japanese cities, space is at a premium. So convenience stores that cram everything from Kleenex to rice balls into a few square yards are everywhere. You can't walk five minutes in most cities without running into one or two or even half a dozen.

But they're not just a place for Slurpees and snacks. Nearly 27 percent of Japan's population is now 65 or older, and convenience stores are changing to serve this growing market.

How great would it be to win a brand new car? How horrible would it be to get laid off from your job? Research by psychologist Dan Gilbert at Harvard University suggests, not that great and not that horrible (respectively). Among the many things Gilbert studies is how people make predictions about future events—specifically, how we make predictions about how we'll feel about future events.

As expected, the Zika outbreak in Florida is growing — though how fast is still difficult to say.

State and federal health officials say mosquitoes are spreading Zika in two neighborhoods of Miami, including Miami Beach. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told pregnant women Friday not to go into these neighborhoods — and to consider postponing travel to all parts of Miami-Dade County.

The rain fell for days, sometimes 3 inches or more in a single hour, as streets became rivers and rivers ate up entire neighborhoods in southeast Louisiana.

Between Aug. 11 and Aug. 14, more than 20 inches of rain fell in and around East Baton Rouge, one of the hardest-hit parishes. And in some parishes in the region, as much as 2 feet of rain fell in 48 hours.

The National Weather Service says the likelihood that so much rain would fall in so little time was about one-tenth of 1 percent. A flood this bad should only happen once every thousand years.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

What It's Really Like To 'Walk' In Space

Aug 21, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

It looks like it could be a cartoon character, but it's real. And this little squid is making waves on the internet.

Researchers from the Nautilus exploration vessel were cruising along the deep sea floor off California's coast when they came upon the bright purple creature with giant, stuffed-animal-like eyes.

"Whoa!" they exclaim in unison.

"It looks fake," one says. And those googly eyes? "It looks like they just painted them on," another says, to peals of laughter.

When Scott Gatz and his husband decided to become fathers several years ago, pursuing parenthood meant finding both an egg donor and a surrogate to help them conceive a baby. Their first round of in vitro fertilization produced seven healthy embryos. One of those embryos was successfully transferred to their surrogate's womb, resulting in their son Matthew, who is now 6-years-old.

While the San Francisco couple feels their family is now complete, they are still in a quandary over what to do with their six remaining embryos — what they call their "maybe babies."

When scientists tallied the temperature readings from around the world last month, this is what they discovered:

"July, 2016 was the warmest month we have observed in our period of record that dates back to 1880," says Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

And July wasn't a freak occurrence, he notes. The past 10 years have seen numerous high temperature records.

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