Science & Health

Shots - Health News
11:53 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Prevention Pill Cuts HIV Risk For Injecting Drug Users

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says doctors should prescribe Truvada, a once-a-day pill for HIV, to help prevent infections in IV drug users.
Jeff Chiu AP

A once-a-day pill has been proven to lower the risk of getting HIV among needle-using drug addicts, just as it does among heterosexual couples and men who have sex with men.

Among 2,400 injecting drug users in Bangkok, those assigned to take a daily dose of an antiviral drug Viread, or tenofovir generically, had half the risk of getting HIV over a four-year period as those who took a placebo pill. Among those who took tenofovir faithfully, there were 74 percent fewer infections.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:32 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Why Dolphins Make Us Nervous

Robert Krulwich NPR

What is it about dolphins? They have very, very big brains, and that makes we humans, whose brains are nothing to sniff at, nervous. We don't know what to make of them.

The latest example: On May 17 in India, the Ministry of Environment and Forests issued an order to all Indian states banning dolphin amusement parks. No leaping out of pools to catch balls, no jumping through hoops. Forcing dolphins to entertain humans, the ministry said, was morally unacceptable.

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Animals
3:34 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Fancy Feet: Wild Cheetahs Excel At Acceleration

Moyo, a 3-year-old male cheetah from South Africa, chases a lure during the Cheetah Dash event at the Animal Ark in Reno, Nev.
Kevin Clifford AP

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 5:02 am

Nature documentaries always go on and on about how fast a cheetah can run. Cats in captivity have been clocked at 65 miles an hour, the highest speed recorded for any land animal.

And yet, scientists know very little about how the animal runs in the wild, especially when on the hunt.

"You can look at it and say, 'Oh that's fast,' " says Alan Wilson, a veterinarian at the Royal Veterinary College, London. "But you can't actually describe what route it follows, or how quickly it's gone, or the details of [the] forces it has to exert to do that."

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Movies
4:08 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

20 Years Later, Science In 'Jurassic Park' Shows Its Age

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 5:56 pm

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the classic film, Jurassic Park. Michael Dhar, a science writer and contributor to the website Live Science, tells Melissa Block and Audie Cornish about how the science featured in the movie holds up to what we know about dinosaurs today.

NPR Story
3:20 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

AAA Study Finds Hands-Free Tech Dangerously Distracting

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 5:20 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The connected car promises voice-activated systems that let drivers dictate emails and texts, make a dinner reservation or update their Facebook page, all while behind the wheel. Some cars already have these options. Many more are on the way. Carmakers say it's safer than fiddling around with a smartphone.

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Shots - Health News
12:14 pm
Wed June 12, 2013

Chopped: How Amputated Fingertips Sometimes Grow Back

A little bit of nail can help a fingertip regrow.
Heather Rousseau NPR

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 2:38 pm

When a kid lops off a fingertip with a cleaver or car door, there's a chance the end of the digit will grow back. The fingerprint will be gone, and the tip may look a bit strange. But the flesh, bone and nail could return.

Now biologists at New York University have figured out just how this lizard-like regeneration happens in mice. There's some secret sauce at the nail cuticle that makes it possible, scientists report Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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Shots - Health News
8:48 am
Wed June 12, 2013

Hands-Free Gadgets Don't Mean Risk-Free Driving

A University of Utah volunteer drives through Salt Lake City's Avenues neighborhood as a camera tracks her eye and head movement. Another device records driver reaction time, and a cap fitted with sensors charts brain activity.
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Originally published on Wed June 12, 2013 10:49 am

If you've felt smug and safe using built-in, voice-controlled technology for text messages, email and phone calls while driving, forget it. There are some sobering findings about the risk of distraction from the American Automobile Association and the University of Utah.

The proliferation of hands-free technology "is a looming public safety crisis," AAA CEO Robert Darbelnet says. "It's time to consider limiting new and potentially dangerous mental distractions built into cars."

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Around the Nation
4:16 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Massive Bat Cave Stirs Texas-Size Debate Over Development

Millions of bats live in Bracken Cave, in a rural area near San Antonio. Conservationists are worried that plans for a multithousand-unit housing development will disrupt the bat colony.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 5:28 pm

The Bracken Bat Cave, just north of San Antonio, is as rural as it gets. You have to drive down a long, 2-mile rocky road to reach it. There's nothing nearby — no lights, no running water. The only thing you hear are the katydids.

The cave houses a massive bat colony, as it has for an estimated 10,000 years. Bat Conservation International, the group that oversees the Bracken Cave Reserve, wants it to stay secluded, but the area's rural nature could change if a local developer's plan moves forward.

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Animals
3:13 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

To Crack Down On Rhino Poaching, Authorities Turn To Drones

This young female rhinoceros, photographed in Kenya in 2011, was killed by ivory poachers a few months after this photo was taken.
Courtesy of Tom Snitch

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 5:20 pm

A crowd of wildlife rangers gathered on a woody hillside in Nepal last year to try something they'd never done before. A man held what looked like an overgrown toy airplane in his right hand, arm cocked as if to throw it into the sky. As his fellow rangers cheered, he did just that. A propeller took over, sending it skyward.

The craft was an unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as a drone, though not the military kind. Its wingspan was about 7 feet, and it carried only a video camera that filmed the forest below.

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The Salt
11:40 am
Tue June 11, 2013

Za'atar: A Spice Mix With Biblical Roots And Brain Food Reputation

Lebanese bread topped with za'atar, a spice mix ubiquitous in the Middle East.
Photostock Israel Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 14, 2013 10:27 am

NPR Morning Edition Host Steve Inskeep recently traveled to Damascus for a series of reports on the ongoing war in Syria. He sent this postcard from the road.

Dear Salt:

On my first day in Damascus, I went walking in the ancient bazaar — narrow stone-paved streets surrounding a great stone mosque. The mosque is so old, it used to be a church during the Roman Empire, and before it was a church, it was a pagan temple. The bazaar is surely as old as the mosque, for Damascus is a historic city of trade.

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Krulwich Wonders...
10:22 am
Tue June 11, 2013

The Most Dangerous Traffic Circle In The World?

Rob Whitworth Vimeo

I've been to New Delhi where traffic is frightening. I've seen pictures of Nairobi and Bangkok, where it's even scarier. But Ho Chi Minh City? The town we used to call Saigon? I don't think I'd put myself in a truck, car, bike or even a Sherman tank in that town. This video opens in the scariest traffic circle I could imagine — actually, it's beyond imagining — where bikes, cars and people seem simultaneously, collectively and individually heading straight at each other (when you look, just count the vehicles and people on collision course; there are at least two or three in every frame).

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Shots - Health News
3:31 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Triple Threat: Middle East Respiratory Virus And 2 Bird Flus

Men outside a hospital in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, wear surgical masks as a precaution against infection with a coronavirus.
Stringer Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 7:11 am

The World Health Organization is warning health care workers everywhere to suspect a disease called Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, whenever they see a case of unexplained pneumonia.

Monday's warning comes at the end of a six-day WHO investigation in Saudi Arabia, where 40 of the 55 cases of the respiratory disease have occurred. Sixty percent of those people with known infections died.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:06 pm
Mon June 10, 2013

Watts For Lunch? (Or Why Humans Are Like Light Bulbs)

Robert Krulwich NPR

There's a new lunch place down the block, so like you do when the menu looks interesting, I walked in and ordered something mysterious, which for me was the "Red Lentil and Edamame Salad," mostly because I can never remember what edamame is, and because that word suggests doing something slightly frightening, like munching accidentally on one's mother.

How Much Energy Am I Eating? Enough To Power A Flashlight?

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Animals
3:30 am
Mon June 10, 2013

City Life Disrupts Daily Rhythm Of Birds

Originally published on Mon June 10, 2013 6:08 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

You've heard the expression Bright Lights, Big City. For many people, city living can mean long hours at work and play and never enough sleep. Now a new study suggests that cities can have a very similar effect on another group of residents: birds. NPR's Rhitu Chatterjee reports.

RHITU CHATTERJEE, BYLINE: Since the 1930s, scientists have noticed that birds in cities, like robins and starlings, can keep different hours than their relatives in forests. Barbara Helm is a biologist at the University of Glasgow.

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Shots - Health News
1:55 am
Mon June 10, 2013

With Epilepsy Treatment, The Goal Is To Keep Kids Seizure-Free

Barton Holmes, 2, sits with his father, Kevin Holmes, and his mother, Catherine McEaddy Holmes, during an appointment at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Tue June 11, 2013 7:48 am

Barton Holmes was 16 months old when he had his first seizure. "He was convulsing and his eyes were rolling in the back of his head," his mother, Catherine McEaddy Holmes, says. "His lips were blue. I thought he was dying."

The seizure ended in less than a minute. And by the time an ambulance arrived, Barton was back to his old self. Even so, doctors at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where the family lives, kept him overnight while they tried, without success, to figure out what had caused the seizure.

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