Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

On the way to his son's baseball game on Long Island, sports writer J.R. Gamble tells me that his son, J.C., is quite a ball player.

"I have a lot of clips and highlights that I show people of him doing amazing things — jumping over catches, hitting balls right-handed, hitting balls left-handed," Gamble says.

Part of the reason his son is so good at baseball, Gamble explains, is that he started at an early age — a very early age.

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Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

The U.S. Coast Guard has shut down a section of the Mississippi River south of Paducah, Ky., after two tow boats collided, causing an oil spill of unknown size.

In a statement, the Coast Guard said that the collision occurred Wednesday at 8:22 p.m. at Mile Marker 937, just north of Columbus, Ky.

In a series called Close Listening: Decoding Nature Through Sound, Morning Edition has been profiling scientists who explore the natural world by listening to it.

But sometimes listening isn't enough — scientists have to record animals and even talk back to them to figure out what they're saying.

Illinois lawmakers set aside their bitter partisan bickering Wednesday to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's partial veto of bill addressing the state's heroin crisis.

Here is a pop quiz: How many trees are on the planet?

Most people have no idea.

A new study says the answer is more than 3 trillion trees — that's trillion with a T, and that number is about eight times more than a previous estimate.

A recent outbreak of Salmonella in frozen tuna might have sushi lovers wondering if it's safe to eat that raw fish.

The outbreak in question began in California in March. All told, it sickened 65 people in 11 states. There were 35 cases in California, with another 18 in Arizona and New Mexico. The rest of the cases were scattered across the country, including four in Minnesota.

More adults across the country are strapping on helmets and hopping on bikes to get to work. That's good news for people's hearts and waistlines, but it also means more visits to the emergency room.

Hospital admissions because of bike injuries more than doubled between 1998 and 2013, doctors reported Tuesday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association. And the rise was the biggest with bikers ages 45 and over.

The largest fish farm in America could be built 4 miles off San Diego's coast.

Rose Canyon Fisheries could have a footprint on the ocean floor of 1.3 square miles, about the same size as New York's Central Park. The goal is to produce 11 million pounds of yellowtail and sea bass each year.

We all harbor biases — subconsciously, at least. We may automatically associate men with law enforcement work, for example, or women with children and family. In the workplace, these biases can affect managers' hiring and promotion decisions.

So when Pete Sinclair, who's chief of operations at the cybersecurity firm RedSeal, realized that — like many other Silicon Valley companies — his company had very few female engineers and few employees who weren't white, Chinese or Indian, he wanted to do something about it.

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A couple of years ago on April Fools' Day, Google announced a feature it called Google Nose, a searchable database of smell. Brenda Salinas reports on new research showing that prank might not be such a dumb idea.

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At a festival on the Danish island of Fyn, Claus Holm, a fast-talking Danish celebrity chef, is sniffing and mixing into a pot of stew an ingredient he calls "totally forbidden." It's cream, and it expires today.

Danes' increasing willingness to buy and consume items like just-expired dairy products has helped make them, arguably, the world champions in the fight against food waste. According to a recent report from the Danish government, Danes now throw away 25 percent less food than they did five years ago.

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The viruses that cause the common cold are always lurking. But consider this: Even if we touch a doorknob or keyboard that's covered in cold germs from an infected person, we don't always catch the cold.

"Sometimes when we're exposed to viruses, we end up not getting sick," says Aric Prather, a psychologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who studies how our behaviors can influence our health.

If, like me, you're an amateur taster of beer and wine, inevitably you've asked yourself why you don't taste that hint of raspberry or note of pine bark that someone else says is there.

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Will Smith from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was my first American friend. Ours was an unlikely friendship: a shy Indian kid, fresh off the boat, with big glasses and a thick accent, and a high school b-ball player from West Philadelphia, chillin' out maxin' and relaxin' all cool. And yet, I was with Will all the way, unnerved when he accidentally gave Carlton speed, shaken when he got shot in Season 5, and deeply embarrassed every time he wiped out in front of Veronica.

Participation in sports by girls and young women has soared in recent decades — by 560 percent among high school students since 1972, and 990 percent among college students, according to the Women's Sports Foundation. Highly committed young female athletes now run track and play soccer, basketball, water polo and other demanding sports that require strong bodies.

It seems to be part of human nature to want to belong to a group. People constantly form groups, in all kinds of situations, and high-stakes negotiations on climate change are no exception.

Ever heard of the Umbrella Group? Or the Like-Minded Developing Countries? How about the Group of 77? (Here's a hint — it doesn't actually have 77 countries.)

The White House announced Sunday that President Obama is changing the name of North America's highest peak.

Mount McKinley — named after William McKinley, the 25th president, who served in the White House until his assassination in 1901 — is returning to its traditional Alaska Native name, Denali.

Obama will make a public announcement of the name change in Anchorage Monday, during a three-day visit to Alaska.

There may be an octopus arms race underway. And that's not even a joke about tentacles: Octopuses are actually fighting, and potentially using weapons.

The creatures are hardly team players under the best of circumstances.

The California condor is big. In fact, it's the largest flying bird in North America with a wingspan of 9 1/2 feet.

Michael Mace, curator of birds for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, tells NPR's Arun Rath that the condor "is like the 747 compared to a Cessna if you look at it proportionally with other species like eagles and turkey vultures."

Mace works in a condor power line aversion training program at the zoo. It was developed to address the condors' unfortunate run-ins with power lines.

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Oliver Sacks, the famed neurologist and best-selling author of books such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, died of cancer today in New York City at the age of 82, a longtime friend and colleague has confirmed.

The London-born academic's 1973 memoir Awakenings, about his efforts to use the drug L-Dopa to bring patients who survived the 1917-1928 encephalitis epidemic out of their persistent catatonic state, was turned into a 1990 Hollywood film starring Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. He was the author of a dozen other books.

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On a rare sunny morning in the northern Pacific Ocean, biologist Douglas Causey takes to the sea to conduct his research — binoculars in one hand, and a shotgun in the other.

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People seeking answers to science questions face a constant reality. Many science experiments come up with fascinating results. But the results cannot be replicated as often as you'd think. David Greene spoke with NPR's Shankar Vedantam.