Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

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.

APR

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.

NASA

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — NASA has received a flood of new black-and-white pictures from the Curiosity rover on Mars that it will stitch together to make a panorama. The photos began pouring in Wednesday morning after the nuclear-powered rover raised its mast that's equipped with the cameras. The raw images reveal portions of the rover's instrument deck, its shadow on the ground and the Martian horizon. Since touching down inside Gale Crater Sunday night, Curiosity has beamed home a steady stream of images, including the first color view from the landing site.

The coastal town of Fairhope has problem with geese. Officials will hold a public meeting today to discuss how to deal with the large number of birds that gather on the city's public beaches along Mobile Bay. Scientists say water is contaminated near the beaches, and goose waste may be part of the problem.

 Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

NASA

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — A north Alabama company has won a contract worth as much $51.6 million for work at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. The space agency says Analytical Services Inc. will provide strategic research and analysis at Marshall. It will also provide support services for communications at the NASA center. The one-year contract can be lengthened through extensions. ASI is based in Huntsville and has offices in Montgomery, Troy, Mich., and the Washington, D.C., region.

There's been a lot of controversy over the health care overhaul's requirement that most health plans this month to start covering contraceptive services for women as a free preventive benefit.

But that requirement may prevent some young women from falling into a coverage gap of a different kind: no maternity coverage.

NASA

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — NASA's Curiosity rover has beamed back its first color photo from the ancient crater where it landed. The view showed a pebbly landscape and the rim of Gale Crater off in the distance. Curiosity snapped the photo on the first day on the surface after touching down on Mars Sunday night. The rover took the shot with a camera at the end of its robotic arm, which remained stowed. The landscape looked fuzzy because the camera's removable cover was coated with dust that kicked up during the descent to the ground.

NASA

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Cheers and applause echoed through the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena on late Sunday after the robotic explorer Curiosity signaled it had survived a harrowing plunge through the thin Mars atmosphere. The most high-tech interplanetary rover ever built touched down on the Martian surface inside of a giant crater after a tricky landing routine that included a series of braking tricks, a heat shield and a supersonic parachute.

It's Saturday night at the Metropolitan Room, a comedy club in New York City. Host Jimmy Failla is warming up the crowd.

"Where you guys from?" he asks one group in the audience. "Boston? Home of the Red Sox. Personally, we'd prefer you rooted for the Taliban!"

There are 50 or 60 people in the audience, sipping cocktails. Failla has a system. He asks people where they're from. Most are locals. He then hits them with something they can relate to.

Drugs to lower cholesterol run neck and neck with antidepressants for popularity in the U.S.

There's ample evidence cholesterol-lowering pills called statins can reduce the risk of a repeat heart attack. The pills are frequently prescribed for people who've never had a heart attack or stroke, but are at high risk for trouble.

Red Cross Launches Hurricane App For Smart Phones

Aug 1, 2012
redcross.org / American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is launching a hurricane app for smart phones.

The nonprofit organization said the technology is designed for people who visit or live in hurricane-prone areas.

Officials say the free app is available for use on both iPhone and Android platforms.

Authorities say the new app gives instant access to local and real-time information on what to do before, during and after hurricanes. It also allows people to monitor personalized weather alerts in locations where family and friends reside and share information with others in their social networks.

Beginning today, most new and renewing health insurance plans must begin offering a broad array of women's preventive health services, most notably coverage of birth control, at no upfront cost.

But even as they take effect, the new rules remain the subject of legal challenges.

The Gilliam Cemetery, which lies 60 miles north of San Francisco, appears to be gaining residents lately. But it's not only because new people have been interred there. Instead, headstones that wound up being buried a century ago have been found and resurrected.

The cemetery's story begins in 1850, when a wagon train of pioneers left Missouri and settled near what is now Sebastopol, Calif. The Gilliam Cemetery was started in 1852, when Polly Gilliam Sullivan and her husband, Isaac, needed a place to bury their stillborn son.

Telescope Targets Black Holes' Binges And Burps

Jul 31, 2012

NASA's newest space telescope will start searching the universe for black holes on Wednesday. Scientists hope the NuSTAR X-ray telescope, which launched about six weeks ago and is now flying about 350 miles above the Earth, will help shed some light on the mysteries of these space oddities.

Mission control for the telescope is a small room on the University of California, Berkeley, campus, where about a dozen people with headsets rarely look up from their screens.

It's a diagnosis nobody in grad school would ever expect.

Arijit Guha, who's working on a doctorate at Arizona State, felt sick after coming back from a trip to India in early 2011. His severe stomach pain, which he thought was probably from a bug he caught on the journey, turned out to be caused by colon cancer. He was 30.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham says a new federal program focused on disease prevention is having a positive impact on the region. UAB’s local coalition aims to decrease death rates for cervical and breast cancer.

“Our program focused on women in eight counties in Alabama, particularly around screening for breast cancer and cervical cancer,” says Dr. Edward Partridge, Director of UAB’s Comprehensive Cancer Society.

You may not have heard of pectus excavatum — or "sunken chest," as it's commonly known — but there's a good chance you know someone who was born with it.

It's the most common deformity of the chest wall, affecting roughly one in 500 people — boys much more often than girls. And while sunken chest can be corrected with surgery, the procedure is invasive and very painful. Many families won't do it.

One rite of passage most teenagers look forward to and parents dread is learning how to drive. Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens by far, on the order of five times more than poisoning or cancer. Does that mean you should scare the daylights out of teens to encourage safe driving? Traditional driver education classes tend to do exactly that, with gruesome videos and photos of fatalities and smashed-up cars.

NASA

MOSCOW (AP) — An unmanned Russian cargo spacecraft (similar to the one pictured here) has redocked with the International Space Station after an aborted attempt five days earlier. The Progress cargo ship had separated from the station a week ago to perform engineering tests and try out a new docking system and had been due to reconnect with the station on Tuesday. But problems developed with the avionics in the docking system. The second attempt early Sunday was successful. Video streamed from Russian mission control reported no problems.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana researcher says the "dead zone" that develops every spring and summer in the Gulf of Mexico is smaller than usual this year. Nancy Rabalais (RAB uh LAY) of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium says the area of low-oxygen in gulf waters covers 2,889 square miles. In a news release, Rabalais says that is the fourth smallest dead zone measured since mapping of the zones began in 1985. The dead zone forms because fertilizer and other nutrients run into the Mississippi River, which empties into the gulf.

Where Did All The Watermelon Seeds Go?

Jul 26, 2012

Many people think of the seedless watermelons popping up at grocery stores and markets everywhere in the last few years as a marvel of modern scientific technology. In fact, more than 60 percent of watermelon shoppers seek this smoother pink flesh, and the numbers are increasing every year, according to a recent survey done for the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

'Calling My Children' And The Faces Of AIDS

Jul 26, 2012

Photographer David Binder began documenting stories about AIDS in the late 1980s and became well known for humanizing the epidemic for various publications, including Life magazine and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The big question hanging over the International AIDS Conference this week is whether all 34 million people in the world with HIV can possibly get antiviral drug treatment.

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