Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

On Sunday, the city of Flint, Mich., will no longer be under a federal state of emergency. A new report suggests that lead levels in the city's water are dropping, though researchers still recommend caution because of the health dangers posed by even small amounts of lead.

Computer programs often reflect the biases of their very human creators. That's been well established.

The question now is: How can we fix that problem?

Lead problems with the water in Flint, Mich., have prompted people across the country to ask whether they or their families have been exposed to the toxic metal in their drinking water, too.

When it comes to assessing the risk, it's important to look in the right places.

Even when municipal water systems' lead levels are considered perfectly fine by federal standards, the metal can leach into tap water from lead plumbing.

Just 12 years ago, researchers feared that the California Island fox, a species about the size of a cat inhabiting a group of islands off the Southern California coast, was toast. Non-native predators and pesticides had dramatically reduced their ranks. The few that remained were placed on the endangered species list.

Sharks can live to be at least 272 years old in the Arctic seas, and scientists say one recently caught shark may have lived as long as 512 years.

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Sometimes what we call the slug for a story turns heads all day long. The slug is the short phrase that identifies a story on our show board. Well, the slug for this next piece is eagles killing other rare birds. Here's the background.

Researchers in Brazil who are trying to help people with spine injuries gain mobility have made a surprising discovery: Injured people doing brain training while interacting with robot-like machines were able to regain some sensation and movement.

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Night owls and stargazers, get ready for something spectacular on Thursday.

The annual Perseid meteor shower, already one of the most reliably impressive celestial events, promises to be especially good this year.

The Perseid shower happens every year in August "when Earth ventures through trails of debris left behind by an ancient comet," according to NASA.

Puerto Rico is in the midst of one of the worst Zika outbreaks of any region in the northern hemisphere. The island has been reporting roughly 1,500 new cases of Zika each week. Hundreds of pregnant women are already infected, and public health officials say the outbreak in Puerto Rico probably won't start to subside until September or October.

Yet health officials also say efforts to stop the spread of the virus are being hampered by mistrust, indifference and fatigue among residents, over what some view as just the latest tropical disease to hit the island.

When tennis star Maria Sharapova admitted in March to having taken the heart drug meldonium, the public got a rare glimpse of a common practice that's often called "legal doping."

A study of drinking water supplies throughout the U.S. shows that numerous sources are contaminated with firefighting chemicals.

A team of scientists examined government data from thousands of public drinking water supplies. The water samples had been collected by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The scientists were looking for several types of chemicals from a class of fluorinated substances used commonly in firefighting foam.

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Three college-age scientists think they know how to solve a huge problem facing medicine. They think they've found a way to overcome antibiotic resistance.

Many of the most powerful antibiotics have lost their efficacy against dangerous bacteria, so finding new antibiotics is a priority.

It's too soon to say for sure if the young researchers are right, but if gumption and enthusiasm count for anything, they stand a fighting chance.

Until March of this year, Janet Prochazka was active and outspoken, living by herself and working as a special education tutor. Then a bad fall landed her in the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

Doctors cared for her wounds and treated her pneumonia. But Prochazka, who is 75, didn't sleep or eat well in the hospital, and became confused and agitated. Then she contracted a serious stomach infection.

"Microbes have always ruled the planet but for the first time in history, they are fashionable," writes Ed Yong in his new book, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, on sale Tuesday.

WATCH: Lessons In Wound Healing From Our Favorite Fly

Aug 9, 2016
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During the Olympics we will hear a lot about the winners. But the reality is most athletes at the games come home without a medal. Today we explore what losing does to athletes, fans and anyone who casts a vote for president.

Listen to this week's episode to hear the story of judo star Jimmy Pedro, and how he dealt with a crushing defeat in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Daniel Pink also joins Shankar for a Stopwatch Science competition on all the unintended consequences of losing.

Stopwatch Science

High blood pressure, once considered a scourge of wealthy nations, is now even more common in low- and middle-income countries, according to an analysis in the journal Circulation.

Globally, more than 30 percent of the population suffered from high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, in 2010. That represents a notable increase over the span of a decade, driven by a dramatic rise of hypertension in less wealthy nations, according to the new study.

Athletes Go For Gold With Red Spots Blazing

Aug 8, 2016

Swimmer Michael Phelps won Olympic gold again Sunday while covered in red — red spots, roughly medal-size, all over his shoulders and back.

The marks were the result of an ancient Eastern medicinal therapy known as cupping that is achieving new popularity among some athletes in the United States, including numerous Olympians.

Cupping typically involves treating muscle pain and other ailments with cups that apply suction to skin. Cupping is often combined with other forms of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture and massage.

Worm isn't a scientific term. According to one of the Smithsonian's worm experts, Anna Phillips, a worm is just "an organism that is long and thin ... without legs ... that's not a snake."

This summer, NPR's science desk is thinking about waves, of all kinds — ocean, gravitational, even stadium waves. But what is a wave, anyway? My editor asked me to puzzle that one out. And, to be honest, I was puzzled.

Is a wave a thing? Or is it the description of a thing? Or is it a mathematical formula that produces a curve that gives you the description of a thing?

A few years ago, almost every aspect of Rosanne Mottola's life was governed by the feeling in her gut. Literally.

"I experienced extreme urgency to have to use the bathroom. Pain. Bleeding," says Mottola, who has ulcerative colitis. "A lot of times I would go the whole day without eating," she says, so that she wouldn't have to rush to the bathroom so often.

In Greek mythology, the Chimera is a monster that is part lion, part goat and part snake. Far from reality, sure, but the idea of mixing and matching creatures is real — and has ethicists concerned.

Saving The Tricolored Blackbird

Aug 7, 2016
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If you have young children at home, chances are you know Doc McStuffins. If you don't, our next guest can certainly vouch for her. W. Kamau Bell is a comedian and commentator He's also the father of two little girls. Welcome, Kamau.

Trans And Adopted: Exploring Teen Identity

Aug 7, 2016

Two summers ago, when Nathan Tasker was 13, his mom drove him from Melrose, Mass., to Maine, where he would attend his first session at a transgender camp. Nathan remembers feeling happy for the first time in years.

"I finally, finally finally was not alone," says Nathan, a young man with dark, sparkling eyes and a wise smile.

But even at this camp, Nathan expected to be different. He's transgender — and adopted.

Alex AuBuchon / APR

All week long on Alabama Public Radio, we’ve been looking back at the tornado outbreak on April 27, 2011. The storms impacted homeowners and businesses, and you’ve heard from many of them during our coverage.

Now we’ll look ahead. For the past two months, dozens of scientists have been conducting groundbreaking research on tornadoes and severe weather right here in Alabama.

APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more on the impact that research could have on meteorologists' understanding of severe weather and forecasters’ ability to predict it.

It's dusk at a park in Dallas, and white sheets are pinned up next to tall trees, fluttering like ghosts in the wind. They've been lit up with ultraviolet lights to attract moths.

A handful of people are holding up their smartphones, zooming in on the small dark specks that fly to the cloth.

"Bugs have become my obsession," says Annika Lindqvist. "And the more you look, the more you have to look at the tiny things, and when you blow them up you see that they are gorgeous."

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