Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

An intense debate has flared over whether the federal government should fund research that creates partly human creatures using human stem cells.

New York's attorney general would like to know: Did Exxon Mobil lie to you about the risks of climate change and to investors about how those risks might reduce profits?

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's office confirms that a New York Times story is correct in reporting that an investigation has been launched into Exxon Mobil. That story said Schneiderman issued a subpoena on Wednesday, seeking financial records, emails and other documents.

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It's getting harder to see the stars in North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and it's due to flares, drilling rigs and all the lights from the Bakken oilfield.

Since 2010, scientists with the National Park Service have measured a 500 percent increase in the amount of anthropogenic light there — no other national park in America has seen such a rapid increase in light pollution.

Kent Friesen is standing in a dark field in the North Dakota Badlands, peering into a huge telescope.

Climate change isn't just something to worry about here on Earth. New research published today shows that Mars has undergone a dramatic climate shift in the past that has rendered much of the planet inhospitable to life.

About 3.8 billion years ago, Mars was a reasonably pleasant place. It had a thick atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide that kept it warm. Rivers trickled into lakes across its surface. Some researchers think there might even have been an ocean.

In September, we reported on a charming little study that found people who feel blue after watching sad videos have a harder time perceiving colors on the blue-yellow axis.

Now the researchers may be feeling blue themselves. On Thursday they retracted their study, saying that errors in how they structured the experiment skewed the results.

Biologist Ethan Bier runs a laboratory at the University of California, San Diego where fruit flies are used to help unravel the processes that lead to some human diseases. One day recently, a graduate student in the lab called him over to take a look at the results of the latest experiment.

Bier was stunned by what he saw. "It was one of the most astounding days in my personal scientific career," Bier says. "When he first showed me, I could not believe it."

The latest front in the debate over religious freedom is all about an 8 1/2-by-11-inch piece of paper.

This particular piece of paper is a notice — one the state of California will soon require to be posted in places known as crisis pregnancy centers. These resource centers, often linked to religious organizations, provide low-cost or free services to pregnant women, while encouraging these women to not have abortions.

A brain system that helps us find our way to the supermarket may also help us navigate a lifetime of memories.

At least that's the implication of a study of rats published in the journal Neuron.

It found that special brain cells that track an animal's location also can track time and distance. This could explain how rat and human brains are able to organize memories according to where and when an event occurred.

Our world is made of matter. "Everything you see and feel — your laptop, your desk, your chair — they are all ordinary matter," says Aihong Tang, a researcher at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

But matter has a counterpart called antimatter. Each kind of fundamental particle of matter has an antimatter nemesis lurking in the shadows. And true to science-fiction stereotype, if matter and antimatter ever meet, they annihilate in a flash of light.

Tribal Clinic Deploys A Gym To Fend Off Diabetes

Nov 4, 2015

Johnny Gonzales kneels next to his client, Jorje Mendez, who is struggling through the last set of pushups at the gym.

"Give me eight of them!" says Gonzales. "Be strict. This is where all the gains are made, right here. If you can do this, you can do anything!"

It's a pretty typical gym in an atypical setting. Gonzales works with patients of the Lake County Tribal Health Clinic, in Lakeport, Calif., and the gym is within the clinic itself.

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York County, Neb., is on Keystone's proposed route. Jenni Harrington's family has a farm there, and the pipeline would have and could still cut through it. Jenni Harrington, welcome back to the program.

JENNI HARRINGTON: Thank you very much.

Today Twitter rolled out a a new icon for showing approval for tweets. Instead of clicking on a star to turn it yellow, Twitter users click on a heart to turn it red.

Twitter product manager Akarshan Kumar explained the change on the company blog:

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The use of fear in public health campaigns has been controversial for decades. A campaign with gruesome photos of a person dying of lung cancer to combat smoking might make people think twice about lighting up. But opponents would argue that the photos are too visceral, along with being morally objectionable.

Not long ago, I tried a new kind of Doritos tinted a shade of orange that I'll wager does not exist in the vegetable world. These JACKED Ranch Dipped Hot Wings Flavored chips were so intensely tinted that after four chips, I had to stop eating them. My mind simply wouldn't accept them as food.

What was behind that exceedingly bold hue of orange? Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6, Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake and Yellow 5 Lake, according to the label.

Humor writer Jenny Lawson has never dealt with her mental health issues the traditional way.

As a small child, for example, she had a toy box. When she was feeling anxious, she would take all the toys out of the box and climb inside it.

"I would close it," Lawson says, "and it was like a sensory deprivation chamber for poor people."

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Medicine, meet Big Data.

For generations, physicians have been trained in basic science and human anatomy to diagnose and treat the patient immediately in front of them.

But now, massive stores of data about what works for which patients are literally changing the way medicine is practiced.

"That's how we make decisions; we make them based on the truth and the evidence that are present in those data," says Marc Triola, an associate dean for educational informatics at New York University's medical school.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. On Fridays, we highlight some of the best stories.

This week, we bring you four items.

From Weekend Edition host Rachel Martin:

Jane Goodall has learned a lot about chimpanzees in her 55 years of studying them. She has learned a lot from them, too.

And she's putting those lessons into practice.

That's what she explains after giving a lecture at the U.S. State Department.

Watch a scary movie and your skin crawls. Goose bumps have become so associated with fear that the word is synonymous with thrills and chills.

But what on earth does scary have do to with chicken-skin bumps? For a long time, it wasn't well understood.

Cod was once so plentiful in New England that legend had it you could walk across the local waters by stepping on the backs of the fish.

Now, though, this tasty species is in such trouble there that cod fishing is practically shut down.

And scientists say it looks like rapid warming in the Gulf of Maine explains why regulators' recent efforts to help the cod while allowing fishing were a failure.

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Month after month, Natalia Pedroza showed up at the doctor's office with uncontrolled diabetes and high blood pressure. Her medications never seemed to work, and she kept returning to the emergency room in crisis.

Walfred Lopez, a Los Angeles County community health worker, was determined to figure out why.

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Climate change is a big issue for scientists and politicians and everyone else. Astrophysicist and NPR blogger Adam Frank says we're thinking about this whole thing wrong. He suggests a different approach.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a nasty disease.

"It's super, super scary," says F. Scott Dahlgren, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"If you don't treat for Rocky Mountain spotted fever by the fifth day of illness, there's a really good chance you're going to die," says Dahlgren. "And it's an ugly, ugly death, too," he adds. "It's a horrific thing to go through and to see a loved one go through."

It's become an emotional debate: Do e-cigarettes help people get off regular cigarettes or are they a new avenue for addiction?

Until now, there has been little solid evidence to back up either side. But a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could help fill that void.

Last year, Erin and Isaac Hougland of Indianapolis got certified to become foster parents, with the hope of adopting a baby. Just a few weeks later, they got a call.

An 8-week-old baby needed a home. All they knew was that the boy's mother was a heroin addict and had left him at the hospital. They were told that because of the drugs, the baby might require some special care. But mostly, he just needed a place to go.

"Both of us were just like, 'Let's do it,' " says Isaac Hougland. "We wrapped up what we were doing at work and went to the hospital."

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