Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

World leaders have celebrated Earth Day today by gathering in New York to sign a historic climate agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But some of the most vital environmental work is being done by ordinary citizens with extraordinary courage. People like subsistence farmers and tribal leaders in the poorest countries are standing up to some of the world's most powerful industries. And a growing number of them have been attacked — and sometimes murdered — for trying to protect the environment.

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

The largest research hospital in the world, the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., needs reform so that patient safety is always the priority — and never subservient to the demands of science.

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Alex AuBuchon / APR

All week long on Alabama Public Radio, we’ve been looking back at the tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011. The storms impacted homeowners and businesses, and you’ve heard from many of them during our coverage.

Now we’ll look ahead. For the past two months, dozens of scientists have been conducting groundbreaking research on tornadoes and severe weather right here in Alabama.

APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more on the impact that research could have on meteorologists' understanding of severe weather and forecasters’ ability to predict it.

The experimental plane called Solar Impulse 2 has taken off in Hawaii after a nine-month delay for repairs.

The team on the ground and at mission control let out exuberant cheers as the cutting-edge aircraft rose up into the early morning skies.

They're aiming to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

When you sleep in unfamiliar surroundings, only half your brain is getting a good night's rest.

"The left side seems to be more awake than the right side," says Yuka Sasaki, an associate professor of cognitive, linguistic and psychological sciences at Brown University.

On Friday, most of the world's governments are set to sign the most sweeping climate agreement in history. Their signatures will codify promises they made in Paris last December to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The two largest sources of those gases are the U.S. and China. Whether they keep their promises will in large part determine whether the Paris deal succeeds. And it is by no means clear that they'll be able to keep their promises.

For millions of Americans, climate change is making the weather nicer. That's the conclusion of a new study that points out winters are getting quite a bit milder, while summers aren't getting that much worse.

The study's authors say the mild temperatures might be one reason some people aren't so worried about climate change.

For most of the U.S., the hottest temperatures in July haven't gone up much — scientific consensus is about half a degree over the past 40 years. Same for sticky humidity — not much change, if any.

The National Institutes of Health has suspended work in two facilities that manufacture products given to people who are enrolled in research studies, saying the facilities haven't complied with safety standards designed to protect already-sick people from inappropriate risks.

With the Zika virus spreading through Latin American and into U.S. territory, lots of researchers want to pursue projects to help fight the disease.

But there's one problem: money.

Or rather, getting money to researchers. President Obama has requested $1.9 billion from Congress to fight Zika, but this appeal is being held up by a vote in Congress. In the interim, the White House redirected $510 million from federal money left over from the response to Ebola.

If you're like most people in North America, you probably spend most of your time indoors. Leave home in the morning, drive to work, stay in your cube all day, head home again. Ninety percent of our lives are spent inside a built environment of some kind – ones that we share with millions of invisible microbes.

Scientists increasingly recognize that rooms and buildings have their own microbiomes, and that those microbial roommates may affect the health of human inhabitants. Those microbes vary depending on what city you're in, according to a study published Tuesday.

Appearing to drown all hope that the U.K.'s new $300 million research vessel will be named "Boaty McBoatface," Science Minister Jo Johnson says the ship needs a more "suitable" name.

Hidden Brain host Shankar Vedantam takes you on vacation with him to Alaska. You'll hike on top of a glacier, drink from a cool stream, and talk with fellow tourists from around the world. But the trip comes with an upsetting observation: Glaciers in Alaska are retreating. The Mendenhall glacier, visited by tens of thousands of tourists each year, has receded more than a mile and a half in the last half century.

"It's sort of just collapsed in on itself," says John Neary, director of the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

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

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

Starting today, 155 countries and territories will start switching to a different polio vaccine.

The shift, which is expected to be completed by May 1, is the "largest and fastest globally coordinated rollout of a vaccine into routine immunization programs in history," according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Your Brain On LSD Looks A Lot Like A Baby's

Apr 17, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away

Apr 17, 2016

As laptops become smaller and more ubiquitous, and with the advent of tablets, the idea of taking notes by hand just seems old-fashioned to many students today. Typing your notes is faster — which comes in handy when there's a lot of information to take down. But it turns out there are still advantages to doing things the old-fashioned way.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

The hit HBO series Game of Thrones, and the book series that it's based on, George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, features a sprawling cast of characters jostling for power. There are so many, in fact, that just who is the protagonist is a source of debate among GoT fans.

Millions of years of Florida's history are lying on a table in Paulette McFadden's office at the University of Florida in Gainesville. It's in long metal tubes containing several feet of sediment from Horseshoe Beach, a community on Florida's Gulf coast.

"This core," McFadden says, "actually spans about 30 million years."

When it comes to the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit our bodies, bacteria get almost all the attention.

If you snip a bit of DNA from a vegetable, but add no new genes, does that vegetable qualify as a genetically modified organism, or GMO?

A solar-powered plane called the Solar Impulse 2 is preparing to resume its flight around the world after nine months on the ground for repairs.

The team's goal: to be the first plane to circumnavigate the globe using only solar power.

NPR's Geoff Brumfiel tells our Newscast unit that the plane is getting ready for liftoff in Hawaii. Here's more from Geoff:

Could swallowing the eggs of a parasitic worm help treat a disease?

It might just work in some cases, according to the work of P'ng Loke and Ken Cadwell, two researchers at New York University who study parasites and the immune system.

On Tuesday, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced a plan to send interstellar probes to the Alpha Centauri star system. The audacious project would use a giant laser on Earth to accelerate scores of postage-stamp-size spacecraft to nearly the speed of light. They would cross the void in just 20 years — virtually no time on the scale of interstellar travel.

Chicago's North Broadway Street is always bustling, but in the past few weeks, it has been noisier than ever. There is water flowing from an open fire hydrant, and as traffic inches by, a cement truck backs up and pours concrete down into a big hole in the street.

"Well, we always say there's two seasons: either winter and construction," says Maureen Martino, the executive director of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce. This water main upgrade is only the beginning; Martino says the city has plenty more scheduled for the area this year.

After months of hesitation, U.S. health officials now say that the Zika virus is indeed the cause of severe brain damage in the infants of some women who were infected with the virus during pregnancy.

A CDC review published online Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine describes evidence of what U.S. health officials now call a causal relationship between the virus and a severe form of microcephaly and intracranial calcifications.

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

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