Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Men may soon be able to take their own sperm count — at home. With a smartphone. Yes, there's an app for that.

You may be asking yourself, why?

Low sperm count is a marker for male infertility, a condition that is actually a neglected health issue worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

By a largely party-line vote Tuesday, the Senate approved a bill that repeals Obama-era hunting restrictions on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. The House already voted last month to abolish those restrictions — which were instituted by the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016 to protect predator species from hunters — and so the bill now heads to the desk of President Trump, who is widely expected to sign it.

This blog post has some pretty useful information. So print it out; get out your highlighter and take off the cap.

Ready? Now throw it away, because highlighters don't really help people learn.

We all want for our kids to have optimal learning experiences and, for ourselves, to stay competitive with lifelong learning. But how well do you think you understand what good learning looks like?

On a cold and windy day off the coast of Alabama, a team of researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts gathers, conducting the first test outside a laboratory for a potential new solution to a challenging problem: cleaning oil spills from water.

The invention, the Flame Refluxer, is "very simple," says Ali Rangwala, a professor of fire protection engineering: Imagine a giant Brillo pad of copper wool sandwiched between layers of copper screen, with springy copper coils attached to the top.

A few years ago, Dr. Gregory Thomas thought he had finally found the Holy Grail of heart disease. And it was even found in a tomb.

He was studying the arteries of 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummies, and he thought this was finally it: a culture that would be free of heart disease. Heart disease couldn't be more than 3,000 years old, could it?

Man, he was disappointed.

How far should scientists be allowed to go in creating things that resemble primitive human brains, hearts, and even human embryos?

That's the question being asked by a group of Harvard scientists who are doing exactly that in their labs. They're using stem cells, genetics and other new biological engineering techniques to create tissues, primitive organs and other living structures that mimic parts of the human body.

Their concern is that they and others doing this type of "synthetic biology" research might be treading into disturbing territory.

In his late 20s, Christopher Milford of East Boston, Mass., got high on some OxyContin his friend gave him.

By the time he was in his early 30s, he was shooting heroin and Suboxone.

Milford would reuse the same needle for a week or more. Then, one day, he was so sick he couldn't get out of bed.

"It felt like the worst flu I ever got in my life," he says. "It almost felt like a dream. I started doing weird things like putting PlayStation controllers in the sink in the bathroom. It was just weird, off the wall."

Tomb Of Jesus Is Restored In Jerusalem

Mar 20, 2017

A restoration team Monday announced the completion of a historic renovation of one of Christianity's holiest sites — the shrine that, according to tradition, houses the tomb of Jesus.

The ornate shrine, called the Edicule, sits in the center of Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the world's oldest churches, a 12th century building sitting on fourth century remains in Jerusalem's Old City.

According to Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian belief, the Edicule encases the ancient cave where Jesus' body was entombed and resurrected.

Safety advocates are worried that lawmakers are getting ready to make it harder to penalize companies that don't keep track of workers' injuries.

Since 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has required many employers to keep careful records of any worker injuries or illnesses.

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LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

David Higginbotham contracted hepatitis C more than 35 years ago. He'd like to rid his body of the virus, but Colorado's Medicaid program says he's not sick enough to justify the cost.

And he's not alone.

Earth Day is coming up on April 22.

It's an occasion to think about the risks we all face from climate change — and to recognize the toll these problems take on the people in the developing world, who are especially vulnerable. When oceans rise, when drought strikes, the consequences can be dire. People are losing their homes and becoming climate refugees, losing their crops, losing their water sources. Disease-carrying insects are moving into new territory.

In 2016, a mass bleaching event caused unprecedented destruction to the Great Barrier Reef and other coral reefs around the world.

Now, a new study in Nature has concluded that securing a future for coral reefs "ultimately requires urgent and rapid action to reduce global warming."

It finds that local measures, such as protecting reefs and water quality, ultimately yield little protection against bleaching caused by higher water temperatures.

Environmentalists love "cover crops." These are plants that tolerate cool weather and grow on farm fields after the crops are harvested. They hold the soil in place and are probably the most effective way to keep nutrients in fields, rather than polluting nearby streams.

This frog really lights up a room.

The South American polka dot tree frog initially appears unremarkable. But researchers in Argentina recently got a huge surprise when they shone an ultraviolet light on it, revealing that the creature is actually fluorescent and glows bright blue-green.

Rising drug prices are one of the biggest challenges in health care in the United States. More people are using prescription drugs on a regular basis, and the costs of specialty drugs are rising faster than inflation.

President Donald Trump has promised over and over again to drive down drug prices.

Updated at 4:02 p.m. ET

If there was any doubt over President Trump's views on climate change, those doubts evaporated with the unveiling of his proposed federal budget on Thursday.

The budget would end programs to lower domestic greenhouse gas emissions, slash diplomatic efforts to slow climate change and cut scientific missions to study the climate.

Microscopic, bear-shaped animals called tardigrades are one of the most resilient animals on earth. Known colloquially as water bears, they can survive freezing temperatures, radiation, even a trip to outer space.

The creatures are famous for their ability to withstand extremely dry conditions. Water bears can go without water for 10 years, surviving as a dessicated shell. Just how they come back to life when their environment is friendlier has baffled scientists for years.

Biomedical research and public health are among the big losers in the Trump administration's proposed budget.

The proposal promises:

  • A "major reorganization" in the National Institutes of Health, which supports most of the nation's research on diseases and treatments. That includes a cut of $5.8 billion, about 20 percent of NIH's $30 billion budget.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Next we have news of the way that warming oceans are affecting coral reefs. It's not good news.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Warmer waters stress the coral, sapping it of color and sometimes killing it.

Dr. Amin Rabiei knew he wanted to work in medicine from an early age. When he was growing up in Iran, he watched his dad experience seizures and his mom struggle to help. Rabiei went on to medical school in Iran, then practiced at a rural clinic there, all the while working toward an important career point that culminates Friday: getting matched to a medical residency training program in the United States.

Scientists have long hoped that stem cells might have the power to treat diseases. But it's always been clear that they could be dangerous too, especially if they're not used carefully.

Now a pair of papers published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine is underscoring both the promise and the peril of using stem cells for therapy.

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For more on this story, we turn now to California, which has long lead the nation on clean cars. Lauren Sommer covers energy and the environment from member station KQED. Hi.

LAUREN SOMMER, BYLINE: Hi.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

If you make, sell or drive a car, today President Trump has news for you.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Two years ago, a U.N.-sponsored scientific agency declared that the popular weedkiller glyphosate probably causes cancer. That finding from the International Agency for Research on Cancer caused an international uproar. Monsanto, the company that invented glyphosate and still sells most of it, unleashed a fierce campaign to discredit the IARC's conclusions.

Scientists are hoping that a single drug can treat two devastating brain diseases: Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

The drug is nilotinib, which is approved to treat a form of leukemia.

This month, I ventured to ask the man behind the counter at a Whole Foods Market what kind of shrimp he was selling. "I don't know," he replied. "I think they're just normal shrimp." I glanced at the sustainable seafood guide on my phone. There were 80 entries for shrimp, none of them listed "normal."

What about the cod? Was it Atlantic or Pacific? Atlantic. How was it caught? I asked. "I'm not sure," he said, looking doubtfully at a creamy fish slab. "With nets, I think. Not with harpoons."

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Love In The Time Of Repeal And Replace

Mar 14, 2017

"This is a first for me," says Rabbi Andy Dubin, as he sits down on a collapsible chair opposite Ann Justi and Don Boyer.

The three of them are in the compact living room of Boyer's apartment in Yonkers, N.Y., standing between the sofa, TV and writing desk. Dubin is in his socks, having shed his snow-caked boots out in the hallway.

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