Science & Health

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The Trump administration is taking steps to allow five energy companies to use seismic air guns for oil and gas exploration off the U.S. Atlantic coast even though they would incidentally harass marine mammals. Environmental groups and some coastal communities object.

"The testing would take place over a huge area ranging from the Delaware Bay, south to Cape Canaveral in Florida," NPR's Jeff Brady reports. "Ships would crisscross the ocean shooting loud bursts of sound underwater to map the geology."

Scientists have found a shockingly hot, massive, Jupiter-like planet that has a tail like a comet.

"It is so hot that it is hotter than most stars that we know of out there," says Scott Gaudi of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, whose team describes the scorching world called KELT-9b in the journal Nature.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Let's turn now to Indiana. James Brainard is the Republican mayor of Carmel just outside of Indianapolis. And he joins us from member station WFYI. Thanks for being with us.

JAMES BRAINARD: Oh, it's great to be with you.

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Alan Alda's father wanted him to become a doctor, but it wasn't meant to be. "I failed chemistry really disastrously ... " Alda says. "I really didn't want to be a doctor; I wanted to be a writer and an actor."

Which is exactly what happened, but Alda didn't leave science behind entirely. His new book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?, is all about communication — and miscommunication — between scientists and civilians.

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Let's talk for a few more minutes about one of the key reasons the president gave for pulling the U.S. out of the climate accord. He said it was to save American jobs such as the jobs in coal.

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In explaining his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, President Trump said the deal hurt American industry.

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Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is where we start with our Friday political commentators, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and The Brookings Institution and David Brooks of The New York Times. Good to see you both.

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Renée Fleming and Francis Collins have something unexpected in common: music.

Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, plays guitar. Fleming, of course, is a renowned soprano.

Michael Bloomberg is pledging to fill a funding gap created by President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, offering up to $15 million to support the U.N. agency that helps countries implement the agreement.

After a lifetime of smoking, Juanita Milton needs help breathing.

She's tethered to an oxygen tank 24/7 and uses two drug inhalers a day, including Spiriva, which she calls "the really expensive one."

"If I can't afford it, I won't take it," Milton says.

The 67-year-old's chest was heaving one recent morning from the effort of walking down the hallway into the kitchen. Her voice was constricted as she loaded medication into a device about the size of her palm.

Missy Hart grew up in Redwood City, Calif. — in gangs, on the street, in the foster care system and in institutions.

"Where I'm from," the 26-year-old says, "you're constantly in alert mode, like fight or flight."

But at age 13, when she was incarcerated in juvenile hall for using marijuana, she found herself closing her eyes and letting her guard down in a room full of rival gang members.

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During the campaign, President Trump vowed to, quote, "cancel U.S. participation" in an historic international agreement, the Paris climate accord. Today, he did it.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

I'm Robert Siegel in Washington where President Trump announced that he is withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

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Most people have an uncanny ability to tell one face from another, even though the differences are extremely small. Now scientists think they know how our brains do this.

In macaque monkeys, which share humans' skill with faces, groups of specialized neurons in the brain called face cells appeared to divide up the task of assessing a face, a team at the California Institute of Technology reports Thursday in the journal Cell.

Professional astronomers have been turning to the public for help with their research. So far, these "citizen scientists" have helped characterize distant galaxies and discovered gravitation lenses.

Now you can add finding brown dwarfs to the list. An article just published in Astrophysical Journal Letters describes a brown dwarf discovered with the help of four volunteers through an online crowdsourced search.

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Reyna Gordon was an aspiring opera singer fresh out of college when she began contemplating the questions that would eventually define her career.

"I moved to Italy when I finished my bachelor of music, and I started to take more linguistic classes and to think about language in the brain, and music in the brain," she says. "What was happening in our brains when we were listening to music, when we were singing? What was happening in my brain when I was singing?"

Those questions led her to a graduate program in neuroscience in Marseilles, France.

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Is Missile Defense Our Best Defense?

Jun 1, 2017

This week, the Pentagon successfully tested and shot down an intercontinental ballistic missile target. The move is widely seen as a test of the Pentagon’s ability to counter a North Korean missile launch.

But how exactly does the US’s missile defense system work? And can we trust it when we need it the most? When lives are on the line?

GUESTS

Emotions, the classic thinking goes, are innate, basic parts of our humanity. We are born with them, and when things happen to us, our emotions wash over us.

"They happen to us, almost," says Lisa Feldman Barrett, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University and a researcher at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts General Hospital.

Welcome to Invisibilia Season 3! The NPR program and podcast explores the invisible forces that shape human behavior, and we here at Shots are joining in to probe the often tenuous line between perception and reality. Here's an excerpt from Episode 1.

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