Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

One spring morning in 2015, Barbara Lipska got up as usual, dyed her hair and went for a jog in her suburban Virginia neighborhood.

But when she returned from a much longer than expected run, her husband Mirek was completely taken aback.

"I was lost in my own neighborhood," Lipska says. "The hair dye that I put in my hair that morning dripped down my neck. I looked like a monster when I came back home."

The Pattern Problem

Mar 29, 2018

Content Warning: This episode contains descriptions of sexual abuse.

A panel of judges sits to decide the fate of the young woman. She's the child of addicts and an ex-addict and ex-felon herself, and she's asking the court to trust her to become an attorney. The outcome of her case hinges on a question we all struggle with: are we destined to repeat our patterns, or do we generally stray in surprising directions? - a question increasingly relevant in an age when algorithms are trying to predict everything about our behavior.

The U.S. electricity sector is eyeing the developing electric car market as a remedy for an unprecedented decline in demand for electricity.

Imagine this: A pesky mosquito sips some of your blood. Hours later, the blood-sucker drops dead, poisoned by the very blood it just slurped down.

A man in the U.K. has contracted a strain of gonorrhea that is resistant to the two main drugs used to treat it, according to British health officials.

This is the latest in a long history of gonorrhea developing resistance to antibiotics – in fact, the World Health Organization has warned that doctors are running out of ways to treat it.

Treading into ethically and legally uncertain territory, a New York end-of-life agency has approved a new document that lets people stipulate in advance that they don't want food or water if they develop severe dementia.

The directive, finalized this month by the board for End Of Life Choices New York, aims to provide patients a way to hasten death in late-stage dementia, if they choose.

Marcelo Gleiser is a theoretical physicist and writer — and a professor of natural philosophy, physics and astronomy at Dartmouth College. He is the director of the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Engagement at Dartmouth, co-founder of 13.7 and an active promoter of science to the general public.

China's Tiangong-1 space station may fall from the sky on April 1.

That is not an April Fools' joke. It's a real possibility.

The European Space Agency has narrowed its window for re-entry of the long-abandoned orbiting lab — the current estimate is that it will plunge from orbit in a fiery ball of flame sometime between March 31 to April 2.

But that window is considered "highly variable" and no one is sure yet where exactly it will come down.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

If you've got a boatload of cash and someone you really want to impress, a Japanese company says it can help. It says it will soon be able to make meteor showers to order.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

And now a story about an instantly recognizable voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STEPHEN HAWKING: Can you hear me?

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: Yes.

Each spring in the global north, brown bears around the world emerge from their dens with new cubs. The cubs come into the world hapless and fragile. Their fathers are long gone; bear mothers must find a way to raise the cubs while surviving themselves.

Female bears generally spend either 1.5 or 2.5 years with their young. In many ways, the pressures of bear life favor the shorter option — a mother with cubs cannot mate, so the more time she spends with each litter, the fewer offspring she'll have over her lifetime.

During the past two years, fake news has been a frequent topic of real news, with articles considering the role of social media in spreading fake news, the advent of fake videos and the role these play in the political process.

Something less well-known, though, is that fake news has also become a topic of scientific investigation.

A lot of smart people spend a lot of time trying to predict how much oil and gas is going to come out of the ground in the future.

Lately, they've been getting it wrong.

"Unpredictability, measured as the frequency of extreme errors in ... projections, has increased in the most recent decade," according to an unusual new study by a team at Carnegie Mellon University that found analysts are getting worse at predicting both how much oil and gas will be produced and how much Americans will need.

It's 3 a.m. You wake up abruptly with a bad case of dry mouth. You drag yourself out of bed and begin fumbling in the dark to get a glass of water.

You flip on the light switch, and there it is — a brown flash. A cockroach skitters across the counter.

Did reading this disgust you?

It may seem instinctive to recoil in horror after seeing a roach in your kitchen. But psychologist Rachel Herz argues that it's not.

Abraham Haileamlak is a professor of pediatric cardiology at Jimma University in Ethiopia. He's also the editor-in-chief of the Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal.

Dr. Haileamlak does research on children's health and rheumatic heart disease. But when he shares his studies with journals based in high-income countries, he's often greeted with surprise.

"They say they do not expect such quality research from a low-income country," he says.

Adam Frank is a co-founder of the 13.7 blog, an astrophysics professor at the University of Rochester and author of the upcoming book Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth. His scientific studies are funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA and the Department of Education.

Skiers in Russia posted some bizarre photos on social media over the weekend: slopes covered in snow with an unmistakably orange tinge.

Meanwhile in Crete, the sky had a similar mandarin glow, as if scooped from the same pint of sherbet.

It turns out these two phenomena have the same cause: strong winds in North Africa that are stirring sand from the Sahara and blowing it northeast across the Mediterranean.

Rachel Ralph works long hours at an accounting firm in Oakland, Calif., and coordinates much of her life via the apps on her phone.

So when she first heard several months ago that she could order her usual brand of birth control pills via an app and have them delivered to her doorstep in a day or two, it seemed perfect. She was working 12-hour days.

"Food was delivered; dinner was often delivered," Ralph says. "Anything I could get sent to my house with little effort — the better."

Sunita Williams wasn't the kind of kid who wanted to be an astronaut when she grew up. She wanted to be a veterinarian. But she managed to achieve the former kid's dream job, anyway.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The endangered North Atlantic right whale population took a big hit last year with a record number of animals killed by fishing gear entanglements and ship strikes. Now, an ongoing debate over threats posed by Maine's lobster industry is gaining new urgency as scientists estimate these whales could become extinct in just 20 years.

When Allison Ruddick was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer in October 2014, she turned to the world of hashtags.

After her initial diagnosis it wasn't clear if the cancer had metastasized, so she was in for a nerve-wracking wait, she says. She wanted outside advice. "But they don't really give you a handbook, so you search kind of anywhere for answers," Ruddick says. "Social media was one of the first places I went."

Between California and Hawaii, there's a teeming patch of garbage that's stretched over an area more than double the size of Texas.

We already knew it was huge. There's a reason it's called the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." But new research has found that there is many times more garbage in this patch than previously thought – 4 to 16 times more than past estimates, according to a paper published today in Nature Scientific Reports.

To reach the Martinez home in Puerto Rico's central mountains, social worker Eileen Calderon steers around piles of dirt, treacherous potholes and power company trucks that block the road. Finally, we pull up to a sagging cement home, the roof done in by Hurricane Maria. Laundry hangs under a tarp, and a cat is tied to a leash outside the door.

The Antipodes had a mouse problem. But no more.

New Zealand, which owns the subantarctic archipelago, says its years-long effort to rid the rodents has finally paid off.

"This is huge news for conservation both in New Zealand and internationally," said conservation minister Eugenie Sage.

The Trump administration named HIV expert Dr. Robert Redfield to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ignoring complaints that he botched high-profile vaccine research more than 20 years ago.

The Army in 1994 acknowledged accuracy issues with HIV vaccine clinical trials led by Redfield, but concluded at the time that the data errors did not constitute misconduct.

Scientific advancement: It's all in the wiggle.

Pages