Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

When Alexia Boggs was applying to law school, she initially considered all the big specialties, but none of them seemed quite right.

"I was looking for a field of law where none of my family could ever seek my help," she says, sarcastic but also not really joking.

Nasty, brutish and short.

Until about the last decade or so, that's how many of us were accustomed to thinking about Neanderthal life.

But a lot has changed since then, not least of which is the emergence of smoking-gun DNA evidence that Neanderthals are, in fact, family.

Now a new study runs counter to earlier thinking by suggesting that Neanderthals reached maturity at about the same rate as modern humans.

Installing solar panels on your home could become more expensive, depending on how President Trump responds to a decision Friday by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The ITC found that low-cost, imported solar panels from China and other countries have hurt two domestic manufacturers. They are Georgia-based Suniva and Oregon-based SolarWorld.

(Legally) Selling Weed While Black

13 hours ago

Amber Senter, Andrea Unsworth, Nina Parks and Tsion "Sunshine" Lencho are women of color who work in the legal cannabis industry in Oakland, Calif. Even in 2017, that's unusual.

As the city's weed industry grows, the players who are most likely to jump in on the "green rush" have two things in common: They are overwhelmingly white, and have access to lots of money.

So together, Senter, Unsworth, Parks and Lencho decided to change that.

In a remarkable study published last week, Susan J. Styles of the University of Singapore and Nora Turoman of the University of Lausanne document evidence of iconicity in human writing systems.

Cattle pass a lot of gas, and the methane from their flatulence and especially, their belches, is an expanding burden on the planet. The greenhouse gas has a warming potential 25 times that of carbon dioxide.

Arkansas is on the verge of banning the use, during the growing season, of a Monsanto weedkiller that has been blamed for damaging millions of acres of crops in neighboring farms this year.

The weedkiller is called dicamba. It can be sprayed on soybeans and cotton that have been genetically modified to tolerate it. But not all farmers plant those new seeds. And across the Midwest, farmers that don't use the herbicide are blaming their dicamba-spraying neighbors for widespread damage to their crops — and increasingly, to wild vegetation.

How Prepared Is The U.S. For Earthquakes?

Sep 21, 2017

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Seconds before the earthquake got to Mexico City on Tuesday, people there heard this.

(SOUNDBITE OF EARTHQUAKE EARLY WARNING SYSTEM TONES)

If there is one thing science is good for, it's going to extremes.

A lot of science's history is just one story after another of people figuring out how to do something that, just a few years before, was thought to be impossible.

The impossible was heavy on my mind last Wednesday as I found out just how close we were to seeing — as in taking actual pictures — of black holes.

Fossilized dinosaur feces are challenging some basic assumptions about dinosaur eating habits.

Hadrosaurs, a kind of duck-billed dinosaur, are among the most common herbivores of the Cretaceous period. But new research suggests that actually, these animals also chowed down on crustaceans. The prehistoric snacking was likely intentional and linked to mating behaviors.

The scientists found tell-tale crustacean shell pieces in samples of fossilized dinosaur feces about 75 million year old from the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.

In Mexico City and surrounding areas, rescuers are still searching for casualties and survivors of Tuesday's earthquake. More than 200 people are believed to have died.

Geologically speaking, Mexico City is not built in a very good place.

This is the second big quake in Mexico in less than two weeks. It came 32 years to the day after another deadly quake. And there will be more in the future, though when is anyone's guess.

For the first time, scientists have edited the DNA in human embryos to make a fundamental discovery about the earliest days of human development.

By modifying a key gene in very early-stage embryos, the researchers demonstrated that a gene plays a crucial role in making sure embryos develop normally, the scientists say.

If it's true that a picture is worth a thousand words, what NASA's Cassini mission has left for us is indeed a treasure.

Launched in 1997, the mission terminated dramatically last week with the probe's final plunge into Saturn's upper atmosphere.

The Trump administration says many of the organizations that help people enroll in health plans on the federal insurance marketplaces don't provide enough bang for the buck, sometimes costing thousands of dollars to sign up each customer. So it is cutting their funding, some by as much as 90 percent, the government told the groups last week.

Sophia Spencer, 8, loves bugs — especially grasshoppers. She's an expert on insects, and likes to give her littlest friends an occasional ride on her shoulder.

That used to earn her mockery from her peers. But now it's earned her a massive outpouring of support — and a byline in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.

Everything changed after Sophia's mom, Nicole Spencer, reached out to scientists for support last year.

A Girl's Love For Bugs Goes Viral

Sep 19, 2017

Canadian Sophia Spencer, 8, loves bugs. A tweet her mom sent out about that made headlines and led to a paper the girl co-authored in a science journal. NPR's Ailsa Chang talks with Spencer and her co-author, scientist Morgan Jackson.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Sarah Dudas doesn't mind shucking an oyster or a clam in the name of science.

But sit down with her and a plate of oysters on the half-shell or a bucket of steamed Manila clams, and she'll probably point out a bivalve's gonads or remark on its fertility.

Have you spent quiet time poring over a set of maps? Maybe of a region halfway around the world that you've always wanted to visit — or even the mountains or coastlines of your home area?

Spoiler alerts are sacred.

We plunge our fingers into our ears when a friend divulges details about a TV series we have yet to finish. We avoid articles that discuss important plot points of a movie we haven't gotten around to watching.

Sometimes, this 'no spoilers' mentality leaks in other parts of our lives. We avoid getting an important medical test done, fearing bad results. We turn off the news when the headlines make us upset, even though the information is pertinent to us. According to economist Joshua Tasoff, this behavior is irrational.

In his latest tweet about North Korea, President Trump gave leader Kim Jong Un a new nickname — "Rocket Man" — and seems to indicate he thinks sanctions on the country are working: "Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!" Trump wrote.

But are they, really? And what, if anything, could that tell us about the North Korean economy right now?

Earlier this year, when Emily Chodos was about 25 weeks into her pregnancy, she woke up one night feeling horrible.

"My hands were tremoring, my heart racing, " recalls Chodos, who lives near New Haven, Conn. She couldn't take a deep breath. "I'd never felt so out of control of my body."

She ended up paging her obstetrician's office at 4 a.m., and one of the midwives in the practice, after listening to her symptoms, said, "It sounds like you're having a panic attack."

Scientists Work To Grow Food In Space

Sep 17, 2017

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOOG CITY'S "C418")

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

This is Lulu's log, stardate September 17, 2017, where we consider matters of space, the stars and the universe.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOOG'S CITY'S "C418")

Copyright 2017 Georgia Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Georgia Public Broadcasting.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Updated at 11 a.m. ET Sunday

With a pair of Sunday television interviews, President Trump's administration furthered ambiguity on the United States' position with regard to the Paris climate agreement.

On CBS' Face The Nation, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was asked by John Dickerson if there was a chance the U.S could stay in the accord.

Long after the floodwaters recede and the debris is cleared, the mental health impacts of disasters like hurricanes can linger.

Psychologist Jean Rhodes of the University of Massachusetts-Boston has spent more than a decade studying what happens to people years after a natural disaster — in this case, Hurricane Katrina.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Can a cat be both a liquid and a solid? Does contact with a crocodile influence a person's willingness to gamble? And do old men really have big ears?

Those are just a few of the questions studied by scientists who received Ig Nobel Prizes at Harvard University on Thursday, at the less-than-prestigious ceremony put on by the otherwise-august institution for the past 27 years.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Future Consequences.

About Juan Enriquez's TED Talk

From genetically modified animals and crops, we can already manipulate DNA. But futurist Juan Enriquez argues soon we can take full control of human evolution to create a better life for all of us.

About Juan Enriquez

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