Science & Health

Shots - Health News
6:22 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Miss. Turns To 'Cord Blood' To Track Down Statutory Rapists

Gov. Phil Bryant, at the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Summit in Jackson, Miss., in 2012, supports a controversial effort to identify men who impregnate teen girls.
Rogelio V. Solis AP

Originally published on Wed June 5, 2013 7:43 am

Mississippi lawmakers have embarked on a controversial campaign to discourage older men from having sex with teenagers.

Starting in July, doctors and midwives in the state will be required by law to collect samples of umbilical cord blood from babies born to some girls under the age of 16. Officials will analyze the samples and try to identify the fathers through matches in the state's DNA database.

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The Salt
2:06 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

Grass: It's What's For Dinner (3.5 Million Years Ago)

Some 3.5 million years ago, our ancestors put grass on the menu.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon June 3, 2013 2:49 pm

If you could travel back in time about 8 million years, you'd find a creature in an African tree that was the ancestor of all current apes and humans. And that creature in all likelihood would have spent a big part of its day munching leaves and fruit — pretty much what apes eat now.

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Krulwich Wonders...
12:46 pm
Mon June 3, 2013

What Did Rachel Carson Hear? The Mystery of the 'Fairy Bell Ringer'

Bob Schutz AP

Originally published on Mon June 3, 2013 2:08 pm

This is the season of night noises, chirps, buzzes, little cries. The air is telling you, "Things are going on out here," and if you like you can step out onto the porch and do what the writer Rachel Carson did back in 1956: She played a hunting game. The rules were simple: You stand outdoors, near the house. You go quiet. When you hear something interesting, you either: a) take a flashlight and go hunt for it; or b) you don't go anywhere. You just imagine it.

The best find Rachel Carson ever made, she never found.

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The Deadly Tornado In Moore, Okla.
5:11 pm
Sat June 1, 2013

No 'Universal' Best Practice To Save Yourself From Tornadoes

A tornado forms over I-40 in Midwest City, Okla., during rush hour on Friday.
Alonzo Adams AP

Friday's tornadoes came less than two weeks after an F-5 tornado destroyed a large section of Moore, just south of Oklahoma City. Both episodes raise two sides of one question: When caught in a tornado's path, should you run or hide?

For Morning Edition the day after the powerful tornado on May 20, NPR's Wade Goodwyn spoke with Molly Edwards, who was covered in pink insulation and standing on the rubble of her home with her family.

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Environment
5:39 am
Sat June 1, 2013

New Maps Aim To Raise Awareness Of Storm Surge Danger

Streets flooded in the Staten Island borough of New York after Superstorm Sandy hit in October. The storm caused multiple fatalities, halted mass transit and cut power to more than 6 million homes and businesses.
John Minchillo AP

Originally published on Sat June 1, 2013 11:39 am

Hurricane season begins Saturday, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting an active season, with perhaps seven to 11 hurricanes.

With memories of last year's destruction from Hurricane Sandy still fresh, meteorologists are working on ways to improve how they forecast storms and communicate warnings to the public.

When Sandy was making its way northward in the Atlantic and began to turn toward the East Coast, the National Hurricane Center tried to emphasize the danger that storm surge posed for residents, especially those near New York City.

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Parallels
4:30 am
Sat June 1, 2013

After Years Of War, Ugandan Children Face New Deadly Threat

Grace Aber stands in the shade of a mango tree with her children in the remote village of Tumangu in northern Uganda. Four of Aber's nine children have been diagnosed with nodding syndrome, starting with Partick (front), who first showed symptoms in 2002.
Matthew Kielty for NPR

Originally published on Sat June 1, 2013 7:27 am

The village of Tumangu, in northern Uganda, defines remote. It's hard even to find on maps. But it shows up frequently in news stories. Grace Aber is about to show me why.

She leads me down a narrow dirt path, passing a couple of clay huts. We get to a big mango tree. Aber's 17-year-old son, Patrick, sits under it. His shoulders are slouched. His eyes look like glass.

Aber tries to get him to say his name. A small grunt is the only sound he makes.

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The Two-Way
2:56 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Report Of Liquid Woolly Mammoth Blood Prompts Clone Talk

A file photo from 2011 shows a man touching a giant bronze sculpture of a mammoth in the Siberian city of Khanty-Mansiysk. A team of Russian and South Korean scientists who found a well-preserved frozen woolly mammoth carcass this month say it also included blood.
Natalia Kolesnikova AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 3:38 pm

Scientists in Siberia say they've extracted blood samples from the carcass of a 10,000-year-old woolly mammoth, reviving speculation that a clone of the extinct animal might someday walk the earth, if scientists are able to find living cells. But researchers say the find, which also included well-preserved muscle tissue, must be studied further to know its potential.

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Research News
12:18 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Gizmo Uses Lung Cells To Sniff Out Health Hazards In Urban Air

Adam Cole NPR

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 8:23 pm

Cities like Houston are dotted with air-sniffing monitors that measure levels of benzene and other potentially unhealthy air pollutants. But those monitors can't answer the question we care about most: Is the air safe?

That's because there's no simple relationship between toxic air pollutants and health risks. Researchers at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill are trying to get a leg up on that problem. They are building an instrument that uses human lung cells to measure health hazards in the air more directly.

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Mental Health
12:03 pm
Fri May 31, 2013

Bad Diagnosis For New Psychiatry 'Bible'

Originally published on Tue June 4, 2013 6:22 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

There's ADHD, OCD, DMDD, PTSD, along with hoarding disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and dissociative identity disorder. You will find all of them in the DSM, that's the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the so-called Bible of psychiatry. The fifth edition of the manual just came out after 14 years in the making, but instead of a round of applause, psychiatrists, psychologists, ethicists, even columnist are panning the book, saying it has outlived its usefulness.

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Science
11:24 am
Fri May 31, 2013

The SciFri Book Club Takes a Hike

The book club regulars gather to chat about the best-sellingA Walk in the Woods, writer Bill Bryson's 1998 account of a hiking trip along the Appalachian Trail. Plus, journalist Deborah Blum joins the club to talk about the best science books to stash in your beach bag (or backpack).

NPR Story
11:09 am
Fri May 31, 2013

With Chemical Tweaks, Cement Becomes A Semiconductor

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY, I'm Ira Flatow. In 2011, a group of researchers in Japan made a surprising discovery: With the right process, they could turn cement, in fact a component of the Portland cement you can find in the hardware store, they can turn that into a metal, and in its metallic state they could coax the cement to act as a semiconductor.

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NPR Story
11:09 am
Fri May 31, 2013

Teacher Feature: Ethnobotanist Tom Carlson

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

Joining us now is Flora Lichtman with our Video Pick of the Week. Hi, Flora.

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Ira.

FLATOW: We got something really special this week.

LICHTMAN: It is special. We're turning the spotlight on an underrepresented, under-celebrated, you might say, group: science teachers or anyway. I don't think we're in danger of over-celebrating them.

(LAUGHTER)

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Science
11:09 am
Fri May 31, 2013

Researchers Revive A Plant Frozen In Time

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. It sounds like something from the movies, but it's true: Researchers unearth an organism frozen inside a glacier, take it back to the lab and discover it's still alive. In this case it's a plant called a bryophyte, a moss that survives being frozen in a glacier in the dark for some 400 years. Wow.

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The Two-Way
9:08 am
Fri May 31, 2013

Huge Asteroid Makes Its Closest Pass To Earth Today

Radar images of asteroid 1998 QE2, taken when the cosmic traveler was about 3.75 million miles from Earth, revealed that the asteroid, with a 1.7-mile diameter, has a moon or satellite revolving around it.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSSR

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 10:29 am

An asteroid nine times the size of a cruise ship is dropping by Earth on Friday, and it's not coming alone. Asteroid 1998 QE2 will be about 3.6 million miles from our planet at its closest approach. And its proximity has already given scientists a surprise: It has its own moon, measured at about 2,000 feet wide.

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Animals
4:16 am
Fri May 31, 2013

Big-Mouthed Toucans Key To Forest Evolution

Channel-billed toucans are important seed dispersers in rain forests.
Courtesy of Lindolfo Souto AAAS/Science

Originally published on Fri May 31, 2013 7:34 am

Brazil is a paradise for birds; the country has more than 1,700 species. Among them is the colorful toucan, a bird with an almost comically giant bill that can be half as long as its body. There are lots of different types of toucan — red-breasted, channel-billed, keel-billed, saffron toucanet — each with its own color-scheme and distinctive call.

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