Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Friday was a landmark day for the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It launched into space a resupply capsule bearing a new inflatable habitat for the International Space Station. Then the rocket's "first stage" returned to Earth for a sea landing — without exploding.

Every year, U.S. hospitals treat hundreds of thousands of violent injuries. Often, the injured are patched up and sent home, right back to the troubles that landed them in the hospital in the first place.

Now, as these institutions of healing are facing pressure under the Affordable Care Act to keep readmissions down, a growing number of hospitals are looking at ways to prevent violence. In Baltimore, health department workers have pitched hospitals an idea they want to take citywide.

A research team is now working to put a massive drill into the the Gulf of Mexico's seafloor to help peel back 65 million years of history. Their goal: to secure a nearly mile-deep core sample from the Chicxulub crater that's commonly linked to the end of the dinosaur era.

"There's a lot of questions about mass extinction events, including all the extinction or kill mechanisms out there," says one of the research team's leaders, Sean Gulick of the University of Texas, Austin.

The KQED podcast Love in the Digital Age explores "how technology changes the way we experience love, friendship, intimacy and connection." The most recent episode focuses on two people — a Los Angeles radio host and his wife — who have drawn great strength from their online communities and social media as they face his diagnosis of terminal cancer. You can listen to the podcast here.

Poaching and destruction of habitat have decimated wild tiger populations around the world, especially in Cambodia.

There are no longer any breeding tigers left in the wild in that country, and the species is considered "functionally extinct" there, according to the World Wildlife Foundation.

A new era for living in space may be about to start.

A prototype habitat is headed to the International Space Station for a two-year trial. What makes the module unique is it's launched folded up, and it's inflated to its full size once in orbit.

Deep in the forests of Hawaii, a native tree called 'ōhi'a reigns king. The tall canopy tree dominates the island's forests, especially on the Big Island. 'Ōhi'a makes up approximately 80 percent of Hawaii's native forests and more than half of 'ōhi'a grows on Hawaii Island.Often the first plant to grow from a fresh lava flow, 'Ōhi'a is known for its resilience. That's what makes a recent discovery all the more tragic: 'ōhi'a is dying.

The tiny Samoan islands have among the highest rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in the world — and diet and weight-related health issues have been rising in these Pacific nations since the 1970s. Now 1 in 3 residents of American Samoa suffers from diabetes.

Prejudices are often deep, obstinate beliefs. You've probably noticed this if you've ever tried to change someone's political opinion at a dinner party. But David Fleischer, the director of the Leadership LAB of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, thinks he's found a way to begin changing people's prejudices with just a short conversation.

Sardines, herring and other small fish species are the foundation of the marine food web — they're essential food for birds, marine mammals and other fish. But globally, demand for these so-called forage species has exploded, with many going to feed the livestock and fish farming industries.

Sutter Health, a large network of doctors and hospitals in Northern California that has long been accused of abusing its market power, is now squaring off against major U.S. corporations in a closely watched legal fight.

The battle is over Sutter's demand that companies sign an arbitration agreement to resolve any legal disputes with the health system. If firms don't sign the agreement, Sutter says, the companies will have to pay sharply higher rates for medical treatment of their employees at Sutter's hospitals, surgery centers and clinics – 95 percent of Sutter's full charge.

Residents of Flint, Mich., may tell you lead is a serious menace, but for most of the last 5,000 years, people saw lead as a miracle metal at the forefront of technology.

"You can think about lead as kind of the plastic of the ancient world," says Joseph Heppert, a professor of chemistry at the University of Kansas. He says it was because lead is easy to melt — a campfire alone can do it. Unlike iron, lead is malleable.

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

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

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

Scientists have discovered a supermassive black hole that may be the biggest ever spotted — and its location in a ho-hum group of galaxies suggests that cosmic monsters like this one might be more common than astronomers previously thought.

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

For decades, Cassandra Steptoe felt like she couldn't talk about her HIV diagnosis with anyone.

"I couldn't forgive myself for getting HIV," says Steptoe, who spent much of her early adult life in and out of jail for shoplifting and burglaries linked to her IV drug use. "But someone told me a long time ago, if you are looking for a reason to feel shame, you can always find it. I learned to look for something else: forgiveness."

In the 1940s, an elite team of mathematicians and scientists started working on a project that would carry the U.S. into space, then on to the moon and Mars. They would eventually become NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (or JPL), but here's what made them so unusual: Many of the people who charted the course to space exploration were women.

Nathalia Holt tells their story in her new book, Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars. Holt tells NPR's Ari Shapiro that the women worked as "computers."

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

Americans throw away about a third of our available food.

But what some see as trash, others are seeing as a business opportunity. A new facility known as the Heartland Biogas Project is taking wasted food from Colorado's most populous areas and turning it into electricity. Through a technology known as anaerobic digestion, spoiled milk, old pet food and vats of grease combine with helpful bacteria in massive tanks to generate gas.

In Chicago, one neighborhood's rat problem is about to get a lot worse.

Crews are preparing to tear down an old hospital and when the wrecking ball starts swinging, the rodents living in and underneath the aging structure will scurry.

The city and the developer are setting poison baits and traps to help control the problem, but some residents are turning to one of the rats' worst enemies instead — cats.

Construction On Old Buildings Worsens Rat Problem

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

Saying they found "a darker link between religion and the evolution of modern hierarchical societies" than has been previously suggested, a group of scientists say ritual human sacrifice promoted stratified social systems – and helped to sustain inherited class systems once they were established.

When parents suffer depression, there can be a ripple effect on children. Kids may become anxious, even sad. There may be behavior problems. Health may suffer.

Recently, a large Swedish study showed that grades may decline, too, when a parent is depressed.

If you've been following any of the big news stories on food fraud lately, you'll know that it's tough to know what exactly is in our food — and where it's been before it makes it onto our dinner plates.

How Cacti Can Clean Drinking Water

Apr 2, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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

Prosthetic limbs for people who have lost an arm or a leg have come a long way in the past decade. They are now lighter and more comfortable and flexible. You can change out a prosthetic foot for a ski, an ice skate, or a "cheetah foot" for high-performance running.

Athletes and a new generation of wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan are also changing the way wearers feel about the prosthesis — pride is replacing stigma.

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

Pages