Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Armadillos. Leprosy. Florida. It's hard to ignore news reports that fit all three words in the first sentence.

So when we heard that state health officials in Florida have reported nine people with leprosy and suggested that people avoid armadillos, we here at Team Shots just had to check it out.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

Strolling through the annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists the other day, I saw several signs offering to solve an urgent problem American bakers face. The signs advertised "egg replacement."

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



There's new evidence suggesting that women's brains are especially vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease and other problems with memory and thinking.

Women with mild cognitive impairment, which can lead to Alzheimer's, tend to decline faster than men, researchers reported this week at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Washington, D.C.

The first people to set foot in the Americas apparently came from Siberia during the last ice age.

That's the conventional wisdom.

But now there's evidence from two different studies published this week that the first Americans may have migrated from different places at different times — and earlier than people thought.

The human race has walked or paddled or sailed until it covered the globe. Scientists can trace those migrations from the stuff these people left behind: tools, dwellings or burial grounds.

Dorothée Goffin's lab in Belgium is outfitted with 3-D printers and digital milling machines. It's also a kitchen. And, one day a week, the doors open to anyone who feels like walking in to mess around with the equipment. These days, the tech geeks, chefs and curious folk that inhabit the lab are focused on 3-D printing. Instead of spouting plastic doodads, the printers exude chocolate.

Even those of us who can't tell the difference between a pinot noir and a merlot are probably familiar with the basic rule of wine pairing: white wine with fish and red wine with steak. But when it comes to tea pairings, we're stumped.

Yet it turns out there is an art to unlocking new flavors in your food by pairing it with tea. Sipping oolong with a buttery, citrusy madeleine can highlight the flowery and milky notes of the tea, while a hot cup of green tea melts the texture of goat cheese and enhances its creamy notes.

Missouri cattle farmer Greg Fleshman became so concerned about keeping his local hospital open that in 2011 he joined its governing board.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Today, a Russian billionaire investor announced he's giving a portion of his wealth to the search for extraterrestrial life. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says a steel strut is the most likely cause of last month's explosion of an unmanned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

"The preliminary conclusion is that the failure arose from a strut in the second stage liquid oxygen tank," Musk said Monday at a news conference.

He said one of the steel struts that held a helium bottle broke free during flight, likely causing the bottle to shoot to the top of the tank at high speed.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

An ancient, abandoned city in Israel has revealed part of the story of how the chicken turned into one of the pillars of the modern Western diet.

The city, now an archaeological site, is called Maresha. It flourished in the Hellenistic period from 400 to 200 BCE.

"The site is located on a trade route between Jerusalem and Egypt," says Lee Perry-Gal, a doctoral student in the department of archaeology at the University of Haifa. As a result, it was a meeting place of cultures, "like New York City," she says.

In 1849 an American farmer watched a sow give birth and was moved to record a diary entry: "Pigs! Pigs! Pork! Pork! Pork!"

Stephen Hawking has started the biggest project to date to search for intelligent life outside of planet Earth. The initiative was announced Monday at The Royal Society in London.

The 10-year search is called "Breakthrough Listen" and will scan 1 million stars closest to Earth, the center of our galaxy, and "the entire galactic plane" for broadcast signals, according to a press release. The technology astronomers will use can also detect a laser that only requires the energy use of a 100-watt light bulb.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



David. Hey, David.



MONTAGNE: What am I - what am I thinking?

GREENE: (Laughter) I have no idea. I'm not a mind reader.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



I'm Arun Rath.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Moscow is go for docking. Houston is go for docking. It's up to you guys. Have fun.

South Africa's coast is well known as the haunt of sharks, particularly the fearsome great white.

Even so, an encounter today between a large shark and Australian surfer Mick Fanning, who was competing in the Jeffreys Bay World Surf League competition (the J-Bay Open), broadcast live on television, has caused a few hearts to skip a beat.

Efforts to find a treatment for Alzheimer's disease have been disappointing so far. But there's a new generation of drugs in the works that researchers think might help not only Alzheimer's patients, but also people with Parkinson's disease and other brain disorders.

Flowers, bugs and bees: Stephen Buchmann wanted to study them all when he was a kid.

"I never grew out of my bug-and-dinosaur phase," he tells NPR's Arun Rath. "You know, since about the third grade, I decided I wanted to chase insects, especially bees."

These days, he's living that dream. As a pollination ecologist, he's now taking a particular interest in how flowers attract insects. In his new book, The Reason for Flowers, he looks at more than just the biology of flowers — he dives into the ways they've laid down roots in human history and culture, too.

In this installment of NPR's series Inside Alzheimer's, we hear from Greg O'Brien about his decision to sell the home where he and his wife raised their three children. O'Brien, a longtime journalist in Cape Cod, Mass., was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease in 2009.

Greg and Mary Catherine O'Brien have lived in their house on Cape Cod for more than 30 years. It's their dream house. They used to imagine growing old there.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, signaled his all-important approval of a historic nuclear deal forged with the West, but he portrayed the agreement as having been on Tehran's terms.

"Our policy toward the arrogant U.S. government won't change at all," Khamenei said in televised a speech in Tehran marking Eid, the end of Ramadan.

Pluto turns out to be pretty lively.

Not Las Vegas, perhaps, but more vivacious with geologic activity than we've ever known about, and for good reason: Pluto is currently almost 3 billion miles away from Earth, a dwarf planet spinning in the lonely last ring of our solar system.

This isn't your average top 30 list. No Taylor Swift song is on it, it doesn't involve sports and it's not a listicle of the Internet's best cat videos. But it does have a device that adds chlorine to water so it's safe to drink — and a condom tied to a catheter that can stop bleeding when a woman is having a baby.

What happens when you drop a regulation Spalding basketball from a 415-foot-high dam? It depends.

For a group from the trick basketball team How Ridiculous who sank a basket from atop the Gordon Dam in Tasmania, it meant landing a spot in the Guinness World Records book.

Pluto looks to be a far cry from the dead body that many scientists had long presumed. As the New Horizons probe continues to report back from the fringes of the solar system, a word that Mr. Spock might have used sums up the reaction: fascinating.

Will Our Demand For Food Threaten Our Supply of Water?

Jul 17, 2015

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Finite.

About Jon Foley's TED Talk

Ecologist Jon Foley says agriculture is the "most powerful force unleashed on this planet since the end of the ice age." He says we're using too much of it to irrigate, and we have to rethink how we farm.

About Jon Foley

How Did A Medical Miracle Turn Into A Global Threat?

Jul 17, 2015

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Finite.

About Ramanan Laxminarayan's TED Talk

Antibiotics save lives, but we rely on them too much. Eventually, the drugs may stop working. Economist Ramanan Laxminarayan asks us to think twice before reaching for this double-edged resource.

About Ramanan Laxminarayan

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Finite.

About Mark Plotkin's TED Talk

The isolated tribes of the Amazon are getting dispersed or dying out. Ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin describes what we'll lose if their culture and collective wisdom vanish with them.

About Mark Plotkin