A large new government study should reassure parents who are afraid that kids are getting autism because they receive too many vaccines too early in life.
The study, by researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, found no connection between the number of vaccines a child received and his or her risk of autism spectrum disorder. It also found that even though kids are getting more vaccines these days, those vaccines contain many fewer of the substances that provoke an immune response.
There's a mystery in West Africa that's puzzled scientists for years. Strange circles of bare soil appear in grassland; they're commonly called "fairy circles." These naturally occurring shapes last for decades, until the grass eventually takes over and the circles fade.
Now German scientists think they have an explanation — a horde of insects seems to be bioengineering thousands of miles of desert.
A worker stands on top of a storage bin on July 27, 2011, at a drilling operation in Claysville, Pa. The dust is from powder mixed with water for hydraulic fracturing.
Credit Keith Srakocic / AP
Dust blows off a pile of fracking sand at a mine near Chippewa Falls, Wis., on Dec. 15, 2011. Some of the air samples the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health experts collected at fracking sites had such high levels of silica that the respirators typically worn by workers wouldn't offer enough protection, according to NIOSH standards.
Credit Steve Karnowski / AP
A local contractor closes the valve on his tanker truck on July 27, 2011, after watering the roads to help keep down dust at a hydraulic fracturing operation in Claysville, Pa.
When workplace safety expert Eric Esswein got a chance to see fracking in action not too long ago, what he noticed was all the dust.
It was coming off big machines used to haul around huge loads of sand. The sand is a critical part of the hydraulic fracturing method of oil and gas extraction. After workers drill down into rock, they create fractures in that rock by pumping in a mixture of water, chemicals and sand. The sand keeps the cracks propped open so that oil and gas are released.
Originally published on Thu March 28, 2013 12:06 pm
Deadly microbes like salmonella and E. coli can lurk on the surface of spinach, lettuce and other fresh foods. But many more benign microbes also flourish there, living lives of quiet obscurity, much like the tiny Whos in Dr. Seuss' Whoville. Until now.
Scientists at the University of Colorado have taken what may be the first broad inventory of the microbes that live on strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes and eight other popular fresh foods.
It turns out the invisible communities living on our food vary greatly, depending on the type and whether it's conventional or organic.
How do oysters attach themselves to rocks? They need a glue, but a glue that can set in a watery environment. In this installment of "Joe's Big Idea," NPR's Joe Palca reports that glue could lead to medical advances.
Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Originally published on Wed March 27, 2013 6:30 pm
A group of astronomers believe they have found a new kind of "mini" supernovae that appear to share traits with other previously known types.
Until now, only core-collapse supernovae, the grand finale of stars approximately 10 to 100 times more massive than our sun, and Type Ia, which occur when certain conditions exist in binary (two-star) systems, were known to exist.
By the time today's K-12 students grow up, the challenges posed by climate change are expected to be severe and sweeping. Now, for the first time, new nationwide science standards due out soon will recommend that U.S. public school students learn about the climatic shift taking place.
Mark McCaffrey of the National Center for Science Education says the lessons will fill a big gap.
As global warming accelerates, the Arctic Ocean melts and the U.S. Navy estimates that by 2035 it may be ice-free for a month each year - that will mean more activity through the Northwest Passage, the Arctic shipping route which is already busier than ever. In an op-ed in Foreign Policy, James Holmes argues if and when that icy expanse opens regularly to shipping, the Arctic will need policing like any other marine thoroughfare, and he nominates the United States Coast Guard.
Environmentalists and beekeepers are calling on the government to ban some of the country's most widely used insect-killing chemicals.
The pesticides, called neonicotinoids, became popular among farmers during the 1990s. They're used to coat the seeds of many agricultural crops, including the biggest crop of all: corn. Neonics, as they're called, protect those crops from insect pests.