Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Two researchers in Germany are trying to determine the best way to teach the German language to nonnative speakers, and at the same time make life a little easier for the wave of Syrian refugees arriving in their city.

Thousands of those refugees have landed in Leipzig, a city of about half a million, in what used to be East Germany. Some of the newcomers have had a difficult time; there have been news reports of racist animosity and violence against them.

One of the most stressful questions a new parent confronts is, "Who's going to take care of my baby when I go back to work?"

Figuring out the answer to that question is often not easy. When NPR, along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, surveyed more than 1,000 parents nationwide about their child care experiences, a third reported difficulty finding care.

There's more methane gas in the atmosphere than there used to be, by every scientific measure. The Obama administration has been trying to stem the increase of this powerful greenhouse gas, but the incoming Trump administration appears bent on keeping the government's hands off methane.

What to expect when you're expecting a baby dinosaur? Expect to wait.

That's the conclusion of a study by researchers at Florida State University who determined how long it took dinosaurs to hatch from their eggs by studying their teeth. Much like tree rings, teeth have growth lines called lines of von Ebner that can be used to estimate the age of an animal.

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Almost a million elephants roamed Africa 25 years ago. Assessments of their population now vary but suggest there are fewer than half that many. The main reason for the decline is ivory. Despite a 1989 ban on ivory trade, poachers continue to kill elephants for their tusks.

Now China, the destination for most of that ivory, has announced it will shut down its domestic ivory market.

Creatine, a chemical constituent of meat and fish that's legally been sold online, in supermarkets, health food stores and vitamin shops for at least a couple of decades, may be the most commonly used muscle-building supplement marketed.

Emil Girardi moved to San Francisco on New Year's Eve in 1960. He loved everything about the city: the energy, the people and the hills. And, of course, the bars, where Girardi mixed drinks for most of his adult life.

About 10 years ago, the 83-year-old New York native had a stroke and collapsed on the sidewalk near his Nob Hill home. Everything changed.

"I didn't want to go out of the house," Girardi recalled, adding he only felt comfortable "going from the bedroom to the dining room."

He'd started to fear the city's streets — and growing older.

From West Virginia to Wyoming, coal country overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump and his message that he will bring coal jobs back. Now, those same voters are eyeing his incoming administration closely, careful to see if he will keep his promises to revive the coal industry and get miners back to work.

In September, reproductive endocrinologist John Zhang and his team at the New Hope Fertility Center in New York City captured the world's attention when they announced the birth of a child to a mother carrying a fatal genetic defect.

I did not want to join yoga class. I hated those soft-spoken, beatific instructors. I worried that the people in the class could fold up like origami and I'd fold up like a bread stick. I understood the need for stretchy clothes but not for total anatomical disclosure. But my hip joints hurt and so did my shoulders, and my upper back hurt even more than my lower back and my brain would. not. shut. up. I asked my doctor about medication and he said he didn't like the side effects and was pretty sure I wouldn't, either.

If movies were trying to be more realistic, perhaps the way to summon Batman shouldn't have been the Bat-Signal — it should have been the bat squeak.

New research from the Bat Lab for Neuro-Ecology at Tel Aviv University found that bats are "vocalizing" more information than many researchers previously thought. And researchers were able to decipher what the bats were squeaking to each other about — often they were bickering over things like food, sleep and mating.

Eighteen years ago, on New Year's Eve, David Fisher visited an old farm in western Massachusetts, near the small town of Conway. No one was farming there at the time, and that's what had drawn Fisher to the place. He was scouting for farmland.

"I remember walking out [to the fallow fields] at some point," Fisher recalls. "And in the moonlight – it was all snowy – it was like a blank canvas."

With a president-elect who has publicly supported the debunked claim that vaccines cause autism, suggested that climate change is a hoax dreamed up by the Chinese, and appointed to his Cabinet a retired neurosurgeon who doesn't buy the theory of evolution, things might look grim for science.

'Panda Grandpa' Pan Pan Dies In China

Dec 30, 2016

In the final days of a year that has become known for a number of celebrity deaths, 2016 struck again. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported this week that what is thought to be the world's oldest male panda has died in China at the age of 31 — around 100 in human years.

Terrorist attacks, hurricanes, a divisive U.S. election, Brexit — 2016 has not been easy. With the year coming to an end, we thought it was time to get some serious perspective — from the scale of the entire universe.

We're tackling big questions: what scientists know, and what they have yet to learn.

So before you ring in another year, take a moment to contemplate the billions of years that led to 2017 and the billions more yet to come.

Being overweight can raise your blood pressure, cholesterol and risk for developing diabetes. It could be bad for your brain, too.

Is It Possible To Die Of Grief?

Dec 29, 2016

The actress Debbie Reynolds' death just one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, died has led some to speculate that grief from the loss might have been a contributing factor. There was similar speculation when actress Brittany Murphy's husband, Simon Monjack, was found dead at just 39, several months after the sudden death of his wife.

Here's a timely reminder for all you would-be revelers out there: Be careful with your countdowns this New Year's Eve. There will be a little extra time to bask in the glow of a retreating 2016 — or curse its name, as the case may be.

Whatever your inclination may be, one thing is certain: Before the year is out, the world's foremost authority on time will be adding one more second to the clock.

A tiny pink peanut is not a white rhinoceros. Nor is it a green turtle or a Bengal tiger. But until a few years ago the Carolina African runner peanut — at one time, the South's most praised peanut, packed with flavor and rich with oil — was much like the rhinoceros and turtle and tiger. That is, it was nearly extinct.

On the top of Hawaii's Mauna Kea mountain Thursday, astronomers will point the large Subaru Telescope toward a patch of sky near the constellation of Orion, looking for an extremely faint object moving slowly through space.

If they find what they're looking for, it will be one of the most important astronomical discoveries in more than a century: a new planet in our solar system.

Where Does Alzheimer's Treatment Go From Here?

Dec 29, 2016

In a disappointment to Alzheimer's patients and researchers, drugmaker Eli Lilly said in late November that a clinical trial of solanezumab, an experimental medication to treat the degenerative neurological condition, had failed.

Democratic senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee say Donald Trump's choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency should reveal his connections with energy insiders before his confirmation hearings get underway.

In the letter dated Tuesday, the senators told Scott Pruitt, currently Oklahoma's attorney general, they were concerned about his close ties to energy lobbyists and wanted him to disclose lists of donors who contributed to a nonprofit organization that took funds from a network connected to the Koch brothers.

Studies of fish oil and health are like studies about coffee — there's plenty of contradictory information out there.

With that in mind, here's the latest turn: A Danish study finds that women who took fish oil supplements during pregnancy reduced the risk of asthma in their children.

At first glance, food policy seems to be an afterthought in the Trump administration. The campaign saw few debates about food or farming. And the president-elect hasn't yet nominated someone to head the Department of Agriculture or the Food and Drug Administration.

Chinese officials have seized 3.1 tonnes (more than 3.4 tons) of illegally trafficked pangolin scales from a port in Shanghai, according to state media.

It's the largest such seizure China has ever made, Xinhua News Agency reports.

Pangolins are the world's most widely trafficked mammals — their meat is a delicacy and their scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

All eight species of pangolin are facing extinction.

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