Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Former astronaut Neil Armstrong, known for his words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," has died. The first man ever to walk on the moon was 82.

Update at 5:15 p.m. ET:

Armstrong's family has released a statement, saying he died following cardiovascular procedures. NASA published it here. They say, "Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job."


CINCINNATI (AP) — The family of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, says he has died at age 82. A statement from the family says he died following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. It doesn't say where he died. Armstrong commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon July 20, 1969. He radioed back to Earth the historic news of "one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong and fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin spent nearly three hours walking on the moon, collecting samples, conducting experiments and taking photographs.

Ala. Readying For Strike From Isaac Next Week

Aug 24, 2012 / National Hurricane Center

The weather along Alabama's coast should be sunny for one of the season's last big tourist weekends, but officials are urging residents to get ready for the approach of Isaac next week.

With weather service maps showing the storm could hit the Alabama coast as a hurricane on Wednesday, choppy surf and higher-than-normal tides may reach the coast Saturday or Sunday.

Flooding could be worse than usual because of heavy rains along the coast this summer, but officials say even that's hard to predict because of the uncertainty of the storm's track.

Alabama Records 12 West Nile Cases, 1 Death

Aug 24, 2012
dr_elling / Flickr

Alabama has recorded 12 cases of West Nile virus this summer, with one death so far. State Health Officer Don Williamson said Friday that Alabama is ahead of where it was at the same time in 2008, when 18 cases were diagnosed. 2009 saw no cases, and 2010 had three. Six of the cases this summer have been in Montgomery County, and that's where the fatality occurred with a man over 60 years old. Three cases were in Mobile County, and one each in Baldwin, Jefferson and Tuscaloosa counties.

When Ashley Beecher had her first daughter, nursing was a struggle, and she sometimes had to supplement her baby's diet with formula. But when she had her second daughter in January, it was a very different story.

"Very early on I noticed [that] I've got so much more milk than what this child is drinking," said Beecher, a 29-year-old Houston mom, who started expressing her milk and storing it in plastic bags in her freezer. "There's probably, I would say, estimated around 50 bags containing six ounces of milk in each one and that's just what I have right now."



Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Dr. Catherine Baucom was late for surgery, but didn't give up. She was stuck in a massive traffic jam caused by an accident in Baton Rouge. And then she recalled a friend's house nearby and went to borrow a bike. TV station WAFB says the friend loaned his seven-year-old daughter's bike. So Dr. Baucom, almost six feet tall and wearing a green surgical outfit, pedaled for miles to surgery on a small, pink bike with a pink princess helmet. It's MORNING EDITION. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

There's growing evidence that the bacteria in our gut influence our health, including how much we weigh. So what happens when antibiotics knock out some of the microbes that help us?

A study, published online today in the journal Nature, finds that antibiotics make young mice fatter by changing the mix of their gut bacteria.

Alabama, Georgia AGs Applaud Air Pollution Ruling

Aug 21, 2012

Attorneys generals from Georgia and Alabama have applauded a 2-1 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that overturned a regulation clamping down on power plant pollution that contributes to unhealthy air in neighboring states.

Alabama and Georgia joined with 13 other states in challenging the rule.

The EPA had adopted the rule in an attempt to cut down on downwind air pollution from power plants.

There's a growing interest in what our genes say about our health. And in recent years, quite a few companies have sprung up to help us listen with the help of personalized DNA tests.

For a few hundred dollars and a vial of spit, these companies will search your DNA for sequences that predict your physical traits, your response to certain drugs and your risk for any number of diseases.

Roxana Castro sits in an orange chair in the waiting room at Mary's Center in Washington, D.C. She's 17, and expecting a baby boy next month. The pregnancy was a surprise, she says, mostly for her parents, but also for the baby's father.

Even with her mother's help, Castro admits she's nervous. The father of the baby says he'll be there, but she knows this is a big responsibility, and says she's not ready to start a family just yet.

"A baby is so fragile," she says. "I don't know how to take care of it or anything."

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say a half-dozen people in Alabama have been diagnosed with the West Nile virus this year. Alabama public health officials tell The Tuscaloosa News ( ) that it's the highest number of cases in the state in three years. The virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, causes symptoms such as fever, body aches, joint paints, vomiting, diarrhea or rash in about one out of every five people who are infected. Authorities say most people infected with the mosquito-borne virus won't get sick.

In 1991, a man named Stephen Mobley robbed a Domino's pizza in Hall County, Ga., and shot the restaurant manager dead.

Crimes like this happen all the time, but this particular case became a national story, in part because Mobley seemed so proud of his crime. After the robbery, he bragged about the killing and had the Domino's logo tattooed on his back.

But there was another reason Mobley's case became famous.

Feds Provide $100K Grant For Passenger Rail Study

Aug 16, 2012
Bruce Fingerhood / Flickr

Federal railway officials are providing $100,000 to study the possibility of passenger train service linking Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham. The Federal Railroad Administration said Thursday it is earmarking the money in response to an application from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Amtrak used to run passenger trains linking the three cities, and the study will look at restoring the service.

"You've got a bad case of deconditioning," the doctor says.

Actually, it would be the rare doctor who would say that to anyone. And though it might sound like something to do with hair, in fact, deconditioning is a familiar and more profound problem: the decidedly unnatural state of being physically inactive.

YouTube Satire: 'We're NASA And We Know It'

Aug 16, 2012



Good morning. I'm David Greene. You may have heard about NASA's Curiosity mission to Mars. Well, I bet you didn't know it had a backbeat.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing) Crane, lower that rover. Crane, lower that rover. Crane, lower, that rover.

GREENE: Yes, this popped up on a YouTube channel called Satire. It's to the tune of LMFAO's song (Singing) "Sexy and I Know It." The cast in this video dressed in NASA garb, kicking at the console.



We realize the skinny on chocolate seems too good to be true, but there have been positive signs lately that a bit of the sweet stuff is OK.

A few months back we reported on a study that found a regular chocolate habit — in moderation, of course — may be good for the waistline.

Fun And Free Science In Providence, R.I.

Aug 15, 2012

Despite being a busy M.D.-Ph.D. student at Brown University, Bill Brucker is determined to improve science education in the United States.

To that end, Bill has set up the Providence Alliance for Clinical Educators that combines captivating storytelling with exquisite illustrations to teach scientific principles in a fun and memorable way.

A couple of thousand years before the Egyptians preserved some of their dead, a much simpler society made the first known mummies.

The Chinchorros, the first mummy makers, lived about 7,000 years ago in South America, on the coast near the border between modern-day Peru and Chile. The desert area where they lived was so dry, dead people turned into mummies naturally. / Tennessee Valley Authority

Federal regulators have issued a violation to the Tennessee Valley Authority after an inspection at its Browns Ferry nuclear power plant in northern Alabama. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in a statement that its staff will increase oversight at the facility. The agency said the "white" finding for all three of the facility's units comes after NRC inspectors found that plant operators and employees were unable to adequately perform newly implemented procedures for a safe plant shutdown. The NRC said it determined that workers were not adequately trained on the new procedures.

Science journalist Michael Lemonick doesn't want to be a doomsday prophet, but he does want to be realistic about the threat of climate change. "Since I started writing about climate change all the way back in 1987, we've known what the cause is, we've known what the likely outcome is, and we've had time to act — and essentially we haven't acted," he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.

If you've been applauding yourself recently for choosing the apple slices over the french fries for your kid's fast food meal, or an apple-laden prepackaged salad for your own dinner, you might want to hit the pause button.

Around the country, environmentalists are cooking up ways to battle invasive species by serving them up on a platter.

Ala. Ranks 4th Nationally For Obesity

Aug 13, 2012
Paul H. / Flickr

A new study says Alabama is the nation's fourth-fattest state. The report released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 32 percent of Alabama's adults are obese. That's slightly better than the obesity rates in Mississippi, Louisiana and West Virginia. The state obesity rate for 2011 is a little less than the number from 2010, but the CDC says the two numbers can't be compared because it changed statistical methods. So it's hard to gauge whether there's been any real improvement in fighting obesity. Alabama health officials are trying to get people to slim down.

If you feel like your employer is more interested in your health lately, you're probably right.

There's word from the wife of first-man-on-the-moon Neil Armstrong that he's "doing great" after cardiac bypass surgery on Tuesday, NBC News reports.

And that's good, tweets second-man-on-the-moon Buzz Aldrin, because he and Armstrong have "agreed to make it [to] the 50th Apollo Anniv in 2019."

Armstrong turned 82 on Sunday.

This map is disturbing, once you understand it. It's a new attempt to visualize an old problem — the shrinking of underground water reserves, in most cases because farmers are pumping out water to irrigate their crops.

Dr. Regina Benjamin wants a culture of fitness, and she's asking black women to stop worrying about their hair, and hit the gym. She's promoting a contest for the best gym-friendly hairdos.


Alabama Public Radio News Director Pat Duggins spoke with host Sacha Pfeiffer on NPR station WBUR's nationally broadcast program "Here & Now" about the upcoming landing of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. Duggins covered NASA for NPR for 25 years, authored the book "Trailblazing Mars," and writes about space for the magazine "Modern Weekly" in China.