Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Governments are wrapping up a meeting in Bonn, Germany, to figure out how to implement a global climate agreement.

The conference has focused on the pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which nations made two years ago in Paris. But even as negotiators debate the details, scientists are warning that carbon dioxide levels are again on the rise, and the efforts in Paris may not be enough.

Hurricane Harvey as a ball of swirling sea salt. Hurricane Irma scooping up the sands of the Sahara. Hurricane Ophelia, bizarrely, taking smoke from Portugal and pulling it up to the coast of Ireland.

A new visualization from NASA shows the hurricanes from 2017 season from a new perspective — that is, their impact on particles carried in the wind.

The gap between rich and poor is one of the great concerns of modern times. It's even driving archaeologists to look more closely at wealth disparities in ancient societies.

"That's what's so fun about it," says Timothy Kohler, at Washington State University. "It widens our perspective, and allows us to see that the way things are organized now is not the only way for things to be organized."

'Leaf Wonder' In A World Of Changing Forests

Nov 15, 2017

In Autumn, the receptors in our primate eyes revel in the red and gold of trees.

Our ability to perceive red color is an oddity, one shared by our cousins the Old World monkeys and apes, but not by most other mammals. Evolution endowed our ancestors with an extra type of light-sensing cone cell that helped them see fruit and edible young foliage against a background of mature dark green leaves.

Jeff Stevens decided to give up alcohol when he was 24.

He's 50 now — and he's had no regrets about going sober for the sake of his health. Except for one thing: He has really missed good beer.

"If you're drinking, you have an infinite amount of things you can drink," Stevens says. Shelves are full of craft IPAs, stouts and bitters. "Whereas only about half the bars I've been to have a non-alcoholic beer. And if they do, it's usually just one choice."

Think "renewable energy" and the wind and sun come to mind, but someday it may be possible to add ocean energy to that list.

At MedStar Washington Hospital Center, doctors and nurses are moving as many patients as they can from intravenous medications to the same drugs in pill form.

A study published Tuesday in the journal Clinical Psychological Science finds that increased time spent with popular electronic devices — whether a computer, cell phone or tablet — might have contributed to an uptick in symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts over the last several years among teens, especially among girls.

Since my last post was on Earth's hosting of life, it's natural to follow with a discussion of life elsewhere.

From the outset, we must state two essential facts: first, that we have no concrete evidence that intelligent aliens have ever visited our planet; and, second, that we have no evidence that there is life outside Earth, intelligent or not.

Let's look into the alien visitation question first — and leave the question of life elsewhere for another time.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

For three years in a row, the world's carbon emissions were virtually stable — holding steady after decades of growth.

But now they're on the rise again, which is bad news for efforts to fight climate change, according to a team of researchers who have released a new study on the topic.

Seventy-six scientists from around the world contributed to the Global Carbon Project, or GCP, which released its annual "Carbon Budget" on Monday.

Anthropologist Patrick McGovern, at the University of Pennsylvania, has been pursuing the origins of wine for many years, and that search took him to the mountainous areas east of the Black Sea, in what is today Georgia, Armenia, and Iran.

"Everything pointed to that region as the area to investigate," he says.

Juan Flores and his family live in Galena Park, Texas, which is bordered on three sides by pipeline terminals, oil refineries, fertilizer plants and rail yards.

Flores has lived in the town of about 11,000 people just east of downtown Houston since he was 4 years old. For a while, he even served on the City Council.

Less than a week after the iPhone X release, a Vietnamese security firm says it has done what others couldn't — trick the phone's facial recognition software. How? One very creepy mask.

For about $150 per pound, dedicated carnivores and food connoisseurs alike can get their forks on a luxury: Wagyu beef. Its trademark marbled flesh and soft texture have launched the meat into caviar-like status. And because its fat has a melting point lower than the average human body temperature, it melts in your mouth. The vast majority of the beef comes from Japanese Black cattle.

Has anyone — a parent, teacher, or boss — told you to purge the words "um" and "uh" from your conversation?

When these words creep into our narrative as we tell a story at home, school, or work, it's natural to feel that we can do better with our speech fluency.

The goal is simple: a drug that can relieve chronic pain without causing addiction.

But achieving that goal has proved difficult, says Edward Bilsky, a pharmacologist who serves as the provost and chief academic officer at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima, Wash.

"We know a lot more about pain and addiction than we used to," says Bilsky, "But it's been hard to get a practical drug."

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

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

An unmanned Antares rocket successfully lifted off from Wallop Islands, Va., on Sunday, taking with it 7,400 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station.

The launch took place just around 7:19 a.m. ET.

Here's a video:

Often, as we go through the world, the key is to ask the right question.

When it comes to figuring out the nature of physical reality, part of that process starts at the absolute edge of the observable universe — the cosmic horizon, a distant layer from which light has only just, in this very instant, managed to reach us after more than 13 billion years of racing through space.

This intangible boundary between the knowable and the unknowable is, at present, roughly a thousand, trillion, trillion meters across — should you possess the means to measure it.

iPTF14hls: The Star That Won't Die

Nov 12, 2017

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

This is Lulu's log - stardate, November 12, 2017 - where we consider matters of space, the stars and the universe.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

When President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, he said he represented "Pittsburgh, not Paris."

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto disagreed. He traveled to Germany this week as part of an unofficial delegation of more than 100 Americans, American officials and business owners who say they are still committed to climate talks taking place in Bonn. One element of Pittsburgh's climate strategy has been encouraging innovation in a technology known as microgrids.

The day Dr. Roberto Montenegro finished his Ph.D. was memorable. But not for the right reasons.

"I still cringe when I think about it," says Montenegro.

It had started well. His colleagues at UCLA had taken him and his girlfriend (now wife) out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate.

To be human is to wonder where we are. We look at the the ocean and imagine the far shore; we look into the night sky and imagine someone waving back. Life is uncertain and frightening. Our fears need maps. We want to understand what we're looking at.

This last week brought big news in the struggle over climate change and climate science.

After Yarly Raygoza attended a drug prevention program at the Boys & Girls Club in Westminster, Calif., last year, she used what she learned to talk a few friends out of using marijuana.

The 14-year-old took the class again this year but worries that counseling her friends will become more difficult.

The Boston researcher who examined the brain of former football star Aaron Hernandez says it showed the most damage her team had seen in an athlete so young.

Hernandez, whose on-field performance for the New England Patriots earned him a $40 million contract in 2012, hanged himself in a prison cell earlier this year while serving a life sentence for murder. He was 27 years old.

The city of Toledo and nearby communities have earned the dubious distinction of being the first to report outbreaks of human illness due to algae toxins in municipal drinking water, according to a report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Imagine a college course that requires students to give up computer and cell-phone technology for a month — and, in fact, to cease speaking entirely for that period.

Then imagine that the class is super-popular, with students clamoring to get in.

Hurricane Harvey was the worst flood in Houston's history. Scientists and citizens are still piecing together why it was so bad, but it's becoming clear that a lot of the damage comes down to how people have built America's fourth-largest city.

You can see the problem from your car. Houston is a sprawling web of strip malls and 10-lane freeways.

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