Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

The Florida Everglades is a swampy wilderness the size of Delaware. In some places along the road in southern Florida, it looks like tall saw grass to the horizon, a prairie punctuated with a few twisted cypress trees. The sky is the palest blue.

But beneath the surface a different story is unfolding. Because of climate change and sea level rise, the ocean is starting to seep into the swampland. If the invasion grows worse, it could drastically change the Everglades, and a way of life for millions of residents in South Florida.

At the end of 2013, snowy owls started showing up far south of their usual winter range. The big white birds were reported in South Carolina, Georgia, even Florida.

Dave Brinker, an ecologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, had never seen anything like it.

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

Mosquito control is serious business in Harris County, Texas.

The county, which includes Houston, stretches across 1,777 square miles and is the third most populous county in the U.S. The area's warm, muggy climate and snaking system of bayous provide an ideal habitat for mosquitoes — and the diseases they carry.

The county began battling mosquitoes in earnest in 1965, after an outbreak of St. Louis encephalitis. Hundreds of people contracted the virus and 32 died.

It started with a report published last year titled "Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science." It's a rather unassuming title given the amount of hand wringing, head scratching, and eye rolling it's incited in what's come to be known as psychology's "replication crisis."

Antibiotics can save lives, but sometimes they can work too well.

Most antibiotics can't tell the difference between good and bad bacteria. That means the medicines kill helpful bacteria in your gut while they're obliterating the bacteria making you sick.

In a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all the work that happens in a vast pharmaceutical manufacturing plant happens in a device the size of your kitchen refrigerator.

A 5,000-year-old brewery has been unearthed in China.

Archaeologists uncovered ancient "beer-making tool kits" in underground rooms built between 3400 and 2900 B.C. Discovered at a dig site in the Central Plain of China, the kits included funnels, pots and specialized jugs. The shapes of the objects suggest they could be used for brewing, filtration and storage.

It's the oldest beer-making facility ever discovered in China — and the evidence indicates that these early brewers were already using specialized tools and advanced beer-making techniques.

The Colorado River has been a major source of water in the Southwestern United States region, but many worry that it's beginning to dry up. Some observers point to population growth, climate change and water mismanagement as causes in discussions regarding the dwindling river.

Could the water crisis that has struck many Western states be a sign of what's to come for the rest of the nation? And who decides how much water is used or who controls it?

We often associate climate change with too much water — the melting ice caps triggering a rise in sea levels. Now a new World Bank report says we also need to think about too little water — the potable sort.

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 NPR.

A massive space shuttle fuel tank is winding its way through the streets of Los Angeles Saturday, on a 16-mile trek heading to the California Science Center.

It's set to be displayed with the space shuttle Endeavour. The tank, which was never used in a mission, is the "last flight-qualified space shuttle external tank in existence," according to the science center.

Solar Impulse 2, the experimental plane attempting to circumnavigate the world using only the sun's power, has taken off from Tulsa on the latest leg of its journey.

The team says the flight to Dayton, Ohio — the 12th stage of the journey around the globe — is expected to take 18 hours, landing at approximately 11p.m. local time.

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

A new label on some of the steaks in your grocery store highlights a production process you may never have heard of: mechanical tenderizing.

This means the beef has been punctured with blades or needles to break down the muscle fibers and make it easier to chew. But it also means the meat has a greater chance of being contaminated and making you sick.

The labels are a requirement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that went into effect this week.

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Power Of Design

About Janine Benyus' TED Talk

Science writer Janine Benyus believes more innovators should look to nature when solving a design problem. She says the natural world is full of inspired ideas for making things waterproof, solar-powered and more.

About Janine Benyus

Inside a lab near Washington, D.C., there is a stack of stainless steel that weighs a million pounds.

It's part of a unique machine that was built in 1965 and just refurbished for the first time. And in the world of metrology, the science of measurement, this giant is a source of national pride.

Amid a raging opioid epidemic, many doctors and families in the U.S. have been pleading for better treatment alternatives. One option now under consideration by the Food and Drug Administration is a system of implanted rods that offer controlled release of buprenorphine — a drug already used in other forms to treat opioid addiction.

Because it's implanted in the skin, this version of the drug can't easily be sold on the illegal market, proponents say — a key treatment advantage. The FDA is expected to decide whether to approve the device — called Probuphine — within a week.

The Obama administration gathered feedback from students about what they want to see in STEM programs. This came after 9-year-old Jacob Leggette encouraged President Obama to ask students about their opinions at a White House science fair.

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

After four years of drought in California, concerns are finally beginning to ease in parts of the state. Northern California saw strong snowfall and rainfall recently, but Central and Southern California remain dry.

The discrepancy has prompted state water regulators to approve new regulations that allow local water authorities to set their own conservation standards.

A team of scientists has developed "robot flies" about the size of a quarter that can perch on almost any surface.

We've all been caught in that hazy tug of war between wakefulness and sleep. But the biology behind how our brains drive us to sleep when we're sleep-deprived hasn't been entirely clear.

In a basement office at Purdue University in Indiana, associate professor of engineering practice Brad Duerstock has designed a special space.

A handful of scientists around the United States are trying to do something that some people find disturbing: make embryos that are part human, part animal.

The researchers hope these embryos, known as chimeras, could eventually help save the lives of people with a wide range of diseases.

One way would be to use chimera embryos to create better animal models to study how human diseases happen and how they progress.

Perhaps the boldest hope is to create farm animals that have human organs that could be transplanted into terminally ill patients.

Researchers in Arizona are fighting fire with fire. They're collecting new data on a wasp that may help slow the spread of citrus greening, a plant disease that has devastated millions of acres of citrus crops, particularly in Florida.

As the population of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder keeps growing, so does the number of people with that diagnosis who aren't finding employment.

Though many young adults on the spectrum are considered high functioning, recent research shows 40 percent don't find work — a higher jobless rate than people with other developmental disabilities experience.

In a dimly lit hut made of mud and straw, a shaft of sunlight slices through a hole in the ceiling and lands on a bag of rice. Debendra Tarek, 80, pulls out a handful of the rough brown grains and holds them up to the beam of light.

His bare chest is sunken, and his eyes glow deep in their sockets. "This resists the saltwater," the village elder explains through an interpreter. This variety of rice, he says, allows his family to remain here on Ghoramara, the island where they were born.

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

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