Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The musician and multimedia artist has co-created an immersive experience designed to make people aware of their implicit biases. It's called "The Institute Presents: Neurosociety."

Read the full story at KQED.

Scientists could be allowed to make modifications in human DNA that can be passed down through subsequent generations, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine say.

Such a groundbreaking step should only be considered after more research and then only be conducted under tight restrictions, the academies write in a highly anticipated report released Tuesday. Such work should be reserved to prevent serious diseases and disabilities, it says.

About 3,000 years ago, a potter near Jerusalem made a big jar. It was meant to hold olive oil or wine or something else valuable enough to send to the king as a tax payment. The jar's handles were stamped with a royal seal, and the pot went into the kiln.

Over the next 600 years, despite wars destructive enough to raze cities, potters in the area kept making ceramic tax jars, each one stamped with whatever seal represented the ruler du jour.

They didn't know it, but in the process, the ancient potters were not just upholding centuries of tax bureaucracy.

The world is in a hyperinfectious era. And that means there are a lot of words being tossed around that you might not be familiar with. Or maybe you have a general idea of what they mean but wish you knew more.

Here are some key terms and definitions. And yes, there will be a quiz (coming in March so you have time to study).

Pygmy elephants. Monkeys with noses the size of beer cans. And a deer so small you could cradle it like a baby.

And right there, sitting on a leaf, is the strangest bug we've ever seen.

"Check out the size of it," says virus hunter Kevin Olival as he picks up a ginormous roly-poly. "It's the size of a ping-pong ball!"

Few topics send the media into a panic like the idea of hookup culture on college campuses. But are college students actually having more sex than their parents did a generation ago? Research suggests the answer is no.

Lisa Wade, a sociologist at Occidental College, says something has changed, though: In today's hookup culture, developing an emotional attachment to a casual sex partner is one of the biggest breaches of social norms.

Most of us don't spend a lot of time thinking about what the farmed seafood we eat might itself be eating. The answer is usually an opaque diet that includes some kind of fishmeal and fish oil. Fishmeal is usually made from ground-up, bony trash fish and forage fish — like anchovy, menhaden or herring — that nobody is clamoring for, anyway.

Except researchers now say these are the very types of fish that may be more valuable to humans who eat them directly, rather than being diverted toward aquaculture and other uses.

The Mariana Trench in the northern Pacific is the deepest part of the world's oceans. You might think a place that remote would be untouched by human activity.

But the Mariana Trench is polluted.

At its deepest — about 7 miles down — the water in the trench is near freezing. The pressure would crush a human like a bug. Scientists have only recently explored it.

Researchers have created mice that appear impervious to the lure of cocaine.

Even after the genetically engineered animals were given the drug repeatedly, they did not appear to crave it the way typical mice do, a team reports in Nature Neuroscience.

The other day, in Puerto Rico, I stumbled across one small piece of an agricultural revolution. It didn't look all that revolutionary — just an abandoned sugar plantation where workers are clearing away a mass of grass, bushes and trees in order to create better pasture for cattle.

The area around a huge dam at California's second-largest reservoir is in a state of emergency, with some 180,000 residents ordered to evacuate the area Sunday out of fears that part of Oroville Dam could fail. A glimmer of hope arrived late Sunday night, when officials said water had finally stopped pouring over the dam's emergency spillway.

The secondary spillway was in use because the main spillway had developed a huge hole, stressed by the need to release water accumulated from California's wet winter — and brought to a new crisis point by last week's heavy rains.

For Dan Barber, the celebrated chef of the New York City restaurant Blue Hill, each course of a meal is an opportunity to tell a story. One of these stories is about a pepper — an aromatic, orange habanero without any heat.

It's tough to be a teenager. Hormones kick in, peer pressures escalate and academic expectations loom large. Kids become more aware of their environment in the teen years — down the block and online. The whole mix of changes can increase stress, anxiety and the risk of depression among all teens, research has long shown.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

A Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City debuted a new dish last week that's getting a lot of buzz. It's a burger made entirely from plants.

This isn't just another veggie knock off. The rap is that this burger looks, cooks and even bleeds like the real thing.

The Impossible Burger, as it's known, is the culmination of a dream for Pat Brown. For 25 years, Brown was a professor at Stanford University. He was one of the stars in his field, studying a range of biomedical topics.

"Genetics and genomics ... cancer research — nothing to do with food," says Brown.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Forget Netflix tonight. The best show is outside, where there's a trifecta of celestial activity.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

About a 15-minute drive east of St. Louis is a complex of earthen mounds that once supported a prehistoric city of thousands. For a couple of hundred years, the city, called Cahokia, and several smaller city-states like it flourished in the Mississippi River Valley. But by the time European colonizers set foot on American soil in the 15th century, these cities were already empty.

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Getting Better

About Jennifer Brea's TED Talk

Doctors told Jennifer Brea that her symptoms were psychosomatic, so she filmed herself and turned to the Internet for guidance. She describes how her online community helped her find the right diagnosis.

About Jennifer Brea

When Does Medicine Leave Women Behind?

Feb 10, 2017

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Getting Better

About Paula Johnson's TED Talk

Men and women experience some diseases differently. Doctor Paula Johnson says this is alarming — because most treatments were designed for men, not women.

About Paula Johnson

What's Race Got to Do with Medicine?

Feb 10, 2017

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Getting Better

About Dorothy Roberts' TED Talk

Doctors often take a patient's race into account when making a diagnosis--or ruling one out. Professor Dorothy Roberts says this practice is both outdated and dangerous.

About Dorothy Roberts

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Getting Better

About Jennifer Brea's TED Talk

Jen Brea's doctors thought her fatigue and neurological symptoms were psychosomatic — but she knew that wasn't quite right. She shares her journey to find the right diagnosis.

About Jennifer Brea

Is Pain A Symptom Or A Disease?

Feb 10, 2017

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Getting Better

About Elliot Krane's TED Talk

Doctors are often puzzled when pain lives on after the underlying cause goes away. Medical professor Elliot Krane explains why it can makes sense to think of chronic pain as a disease.

About Elliot Krane

Getting people to change what they eat is tough. Changing a whole farming system is even tougher. The southern Indian state of Karnataka is quietly trying to do both, with a group of cereals that was once a staple in the state: millet.

Until about 40 years ago, like most of India, the people of Karnataka regularly ate a variety of millets, from finger millet (or ragi) to foxtail millet. They made rotis with it, ate it with rice, and slurped it up at breakfast as porridge.

Each year, fish farms produce a massive amount of carp — so much that if you put all that fish on one side of a scale, and all the people living in the U.S. on the other side, they'd pretty much balance each other out by weight.

But for the past couple of decades, carp have been plagued by a type of herpes virus, known as Koi herpesvirus.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the size of the refugee problem confronting the world today. According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, more than 30,000 people are forced to flee their homes every day because of conflict or persecution.

But one energetic university professor in Germany decided that bemoaning and hand-wringing wasn't solving anything, so she decided to take action.

As a New Yorker, I ordered my groceries online and had them delivered to my third-floor walkup. After we moved to Portland, Ore., my husband and I started growing our own fruits and vegetables in the backyard. The logical next step in our evolution from city to country-ish mice: foraging.

A few months ago, some friends asked us to go mushroom hunting. When we actually found chanterelles, which sell for $15 a pound at the grocery store, I felt a small thrill: Expensive ingredients were free for the taking in a forest half an hour from home.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Ten thousand years ago, at the dawn of the agricultural revolution, many of our worst infectious diseases didn't exist.

Here's what changed.

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