Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

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There are about 1,600 black bears and roughly 10.7 million people in Great Smoky Mountains National Park every year, and Ryan Williamson is responsible for the safety of both.

Williamson is a wildlife biologist at the park. He's an expert in bear behavior and practically a field medic for wildlife. He can rattle off a list of anesthetizing drug concoctions that would make your tongue twist and your head spin.

With the weather warming, it's the season for spring cleaning. But before you reach for the broom and mop, consider who else is sharing your home. The variety of uninvited guests in your dustpan may surprise you.

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NASA announced Tuesday the discovery of an unprecedented number of planets beyond our solar system — astronomers have confirmed the existence of 1,284 new worlds orbiting distant stars.

These planets beyond our solar system — exoplanets — were discovered with the help of NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, which launched in 2009.

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Our friend and colleague Peggy Girshman, a longtime NPR editor and co-founder of Kaiser Health News, died in March. But her passion for health journalism survives her. She made sure of that.

Beyond the many journalists whose careers she launched and nurtured, Girshman wrote her own eulogy, complete with some hard-earned advice on matters of personal health and how to cover health and medicine.

The chef picked up the nubby stick of fresh wasabi. Through a translator, he explained the good ones are straight and deep green in color. It was the first time I had seen it fresh. The green dab you get at most American sushi restaurants is almost always horseradish and food coloring squeezed from a tube. While that may have been my introduction to freshly harvested wasabi, it wasn't my first time seeing something far more precious — Pacific bluefin tuna.

The National Institutes of Health is overhauling the leadership of its world-renowned Clinical Center, after an independent task force found the center was putting research ahead of patient safety.

If you can dream it, you can do it, right? Right? Well ... not so fast. While fantasizing feels good and believing in yourself is surely better than not, research shows that keeping your head in the clouds can keep you, er, from reaching the stars. This week Shankar talks with psychologist Gabriele Oettingen, author of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside The New Science Of Motivation.

When you're settling in to watch a movie, and the music starts playing, it's hard to ignore the names that flash first in the opening credits: The Director. The Big Stars.

Name placement matters in academia, too. A recent study reveals there's a gender gap in who gets top billing on medical studies published in several of the most prestigious research journals.

How does a country bring its people into the 21st century without pumping huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere? This challenge is more acute in India than anywhere else. Though India already has the third-largest carbon footprint in the world, around 400 million people still don't have access to reliable electricity.

The federal government is getting into hip-hop — well, sort of.

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

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Americans have until May 10 to help the Food and Drug Administration with one of philosophy's greatest riddles: What is the meaning of "natural"?

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect Strava's latest figures for the number of GPS-tracked activities uploaded to its database.

Cyclists often find themselves pedaling between huge trucks and speeding cars or stranded when protected bike lanes abruptly end at busy intersections.

Chris Cassidy moved to San Francisco in 2005. He used to cycle through Market Street, a busy downtown thoroughfare.

Deep in the ocean, a mission is underway to explore the "unknown and poorly known areas" around the Mariana Trench.

Discarding the results of a public poll that embraced "Boaty McBoatface" as the name for a $300 million research vessel, Britain's science minister has instead named the ship for famed naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

Boaty McBoatface received more than 124,000 votes in the online poll that was set up by Britain's Natural Environment Research Council — more than 10 times the 11,000 votes Attenborough's name received.

Scientists have had a literal breakthrough off the coast of Mexico.

After weeks of drilling from an offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico, they have reached rocks left over from the day the Earth was hit by a killer asteroid.

Let's say you're an environmentally motivated eater. You want your diet to do as little damage as possible to our planet's forests and grasslands and wildlife.

But how do you decide which food is greener?

Take one example: sugar. About half of America's sugar comes from sugar cane, and half from sugar beets. They grow in completely different climates. Sugar cane is a tropical crop, and sugar beets grow where it's colder and dryer.

Each one has an impact on the environment — sometimes a dramatic impact — but in very different ways.

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Evidence is mounting that Prince may have died of a drug overdose. While the medical examiner hasn't yet released the results of the autopsy and toxicology scans in this case, opioid overdose in middle age is all too common.

In 2013 and 2014, according to the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people ages 45 to 64 accounted for about half of all deaths from drug overdose. Prince died on April 21 at his home and music studio, Paisley Park, in Minneapolis. He was 57.

Last week, there was a big development in the long-running, bitter, complicated battle over a 9,000-year-old set of bones known variously as "Kennewick Man" or "The Ancient One," depending on whom you ask.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed that the ancient bearer of the bones is genetically linked to modern-day Native Americans. Now, under federal law, a group of tribes that has been fighting to rebury him will almost certainly get to do so.

For several decades now, Georgia Tech professor Tom Conte has been studying how to improve computers: "How do we make them faster and more efficient next time around versus what we just made?"

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a sweeping package of tobacco bills into California law on Wednesday, including one that will raise the legal age to buy products from 18 to 21 and another that dramatically tightens restrictions on e-cigarettes.

Nearly every day for eight years, a former chemist in Massachusetts was high on drugs — drugs stolen from the lab where she worked.

It's 2:00 p.m. and you have a few more hours until the end of your workday.

Your eyes sting, your vision is getting blurry and your head hurts. The computer screen that you've been staring at for the past six hours seems so bright that you want to shut your eyes.

Sound familiar? We'd bet yes.

Piotr Le, a Georgetown University grad student, thinks so, too. He used to work in consulting — and that meant staring at a computer screen for 12 or more hours every workday.

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