Science & Health

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Let's say you're an environmentally motivated eater. You want your diet to do as little damage as possible to our planet's forests and grasslands and wildlife.

But how do you decide which food is greener?

Take one example: sugar. About half of America's sugar comes from sugar cane, and half from sugar beets. They grow in completely different climates. Sugar cane is a tropical crop, and sugar beets grow where it's colder and dryer.

Each one has an impact on the environment — sometimes a dramatic impact — but in very different ways.

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Editor's note: This story was updated on June 2, 2016, to reflect Prince's autopsy results.

Prince died of a drug overdose, the medical examiner in Ramsey, Minn., reports. The iconoclast musician, 57, self-administered a deadly dose of the opiate fentanyl by accident. Opioid overdose in his age group is all too common.

Last week, there was a big development in the long-running, bitter, complicated battle over a 9,000-year-old set of bones known variously as "Kennewick Man" or "The Ancient One," depending on whom you ask.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed that the ancient bearer of the bones is genetically linked to modern-day Native Americans. Now, under federal law, a group of tribes that has been fighting to rebury him will almost certainly get to do so.

For several decades now, Georgia Tech professor Tom Conte has been studying how to improve computers: "How do we make them faster and more efficient next time around versus what we just made?"

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a sweeping package of tobacco bills into California law on Wednesday, including one that will raise the legal age to buy products from 18 to 21 and another that dramatically tightens restrictions on e-cigarettes.

Nearly every day for eight years, a former chemist in Massachusetts was high on drugs — drugs stolen from the lab where she worked.

It's 2:00 p.m. and you have a few more hours until the end of your workday.

Your eyes sting, your vision is getting blurry and your head hurts. The computer screen that you've been staring at for the past six hours seems so bright that you want to shut your eyes.

Sound familiar? We'd bet yes.

Piotr Le, a Georgetown University grad student, thinks so, too. He used to work in consulting — and that meant staring at a computer screen for 12 or more hours every workday.

The population of northern Colorado is booming, and we're not just talking about people here.

The number of dairy cows is now higher than ever.

At the northern edge of the state, Weld and Larimer counties are already home to high numbers of beef and dairy cattle, buttressed by the region's numerous feedlots, which send the animals to several nearby slaughterhouses. But an expansion of a cheese factory owned by dairy giant Leprino Foods will require even more cows.

Scientists have been able to make and study human embryos in their labs for decades. But they have never been able to keep them alive outside a woman's womb for more than about a week.

That limitation meant scientists were unable to conduct a range of detailed research into early human development.

But now researchers say they have discovered a way to keep human embryos alive in the laboratory about a week longer than ever before, and through a critical period of development.

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

Some people addicted to oxycodone and other opioids are now turning to widely available diarrhea medications to manage their withdrawal symptoms or get high.

The results can be dangerous to the heart — and sometimes fatal — warn toxicologists in a study recently published online in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

The Solar Impulse 2 landed in the Phoenix area Monday night, welcomed by spectators at Goodyear Airport as the plane's pilots continue their quest to be the world's first solar powered airplane to fly around the Earth.

The 745-mile trip took nearly 16 hours — less time than expected, largely due to powerful tailwinds. The plane reached a maximum altitude of 22,000 feet.

From member station KJZZ in Phoenix, Andrew Bernier tells our Newscast unit:

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

Cyclist Teaches Kids To Use Fun To Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

May 3, 2016

Jaime Rangel holds a bike tire and begins checking with his hands for thorns and other sharp objects that might be puncturing the tire's rubber tread. His fingers, stained with black patches of oil, move quickly and seamlessly. He's done this type of work dozens of times before.

All around him, a steady stream of kids line up to get their bikes' flat tires and faulty brakes fixed at this free event at a park in southeast Fresno, Calif.

This week on Hidden Brain: Traffic. You hate it, we hate it, the rest of the world hates it, and it only seems to be getting worse. But is there a way to make roads safer and faster? Of course! (We just normally do the opposite).

NBC's reality show The Biggest Loser turns dieting into a grueling training regime fit for gladiators. The victor this past season was Roberto Hernandez. He dropped a whopping 160 pounds to reach a body weight of 188 pounds.

A trio of newly discovered Earth-sized planets looks ideally suited to search for signs that these alien worlds might be able to support life.

The planets orbit close to an unusually small, reddish star that's about one-eighth the size of our sun and is far cooler, researchers report in the journal Nature.

Though it's the world's top infectious killer, tuberculosis is surprisingly tricky to diagnose. Scientists think that video gamers can help them create a better diagnostic test.

An online puzzle released Monday will see whether the researchers are right. Players of a Web-based game called EteRNA will try to design a sensor molecule that could potentially make diagnosing TB as easy as taking a home pregnancy test. The TB puzzle marks the launch of "EteRNA Medicine."

For the Greatest Show on Earth, there is no longer an elephant in the room. The 145-year-old Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus held its last show featuring elephants Sunday night, in a move that's being applauded by animal rights activists.

Ringling announced its plan last spring, saying it is sending all its Asian elephants to live on the company's Florida nature reserve. The original plan called for phasing out elephants' role in the circus by 2018. But in January, Ringling's parent company, Feld Entertainment, said it was moving up the timetable.

Hoping to keep your mental edge as you get older? Look after your heart, a recent analysis suggests, and your brain will benefit, too.

A research team led by Hannah Gardener, an epidemiologist at the University of Miami, analyzed a subset of data from the Northern Manhattan Study, a large, ongoing study of risk factors for stroke among whites, blacks and Hispanics living in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.

Forget Talent, Success Comes From 'Grit'

May 1, 2016
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#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

We all love our dogs. But depending on how you show that love, you may be doing more harm than good, according to one expert.

Dr. Stanley Coren, a professor emeritus in psychology at the University of British Columbia, writes in a Psychology Today blog post that hugging a dog actually increases the dog's stress level.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading causes of death for teenagers in the United States, and alcohol is involved in 1 out of 4 of those crashes. The stronger a state's restrictions on alcohol overall, the lower the teen death toll, a study finds.

Policies aimed at the general population were more effective than those targeting teens, the study found. They included regulations that limit the hours alcohol can be sold and the density of alcohol outlets in a particular area, as well as taxes on alcohol sales.

You know that feeling when your body is really craving a nice salad, but the only thing in your fridge is day-old pepperoni pizza? And you don't want to go through all the trouble of heading to the grocery store to gather all the ingredients for salad, so you settle for the pizza?

Well, Neanderthals feel you — kind of.

See, researchers are finding that Neanderthals and early humans weren't all that different — they even got together and made babies every now and then.

On Tuesday, our colleagues over at NPR's Hidden Brain talked about the role race plays in the sharing economy — specifically, the online peer-to-peer apartment rental service Airbnb. They spoke with one African-American woman about her persistent difficulties booking rooms through AirBnb, and who had a feeling it was due to her race.

A small mammal has sabotaged the world's most powerful scientific instrument.

The Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile superconducting machine designed to smash protons together at close to the speed of light, went offline overnight. Engineers investigating the mishap found the charred remains of a furry creature near a gnawed-through power cable.

Sharon Long found her calling later in life. Back in the 1980s, she was a single mom trying to support her two kids, holding down several jobs at once — none of which she liked much.

"I worked at the Dairy Queen, and I cleaned a dentist's office, and I was a secretary," Long recalls, on a recent visit with StoryCorps. "I hated every morning I got up."

But, as she tells her colleague Steve Sutter, everything changed for her at age 40. When she she took her daughter to register for college, a financial aid officer persuaded Long to enroll herself.

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

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