Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Contraceptive implants and IUDs are very effective in preventing pregnancy — nearly 100 percent, statistics show. A new federal survey finds many more women are making this choice than did a decade ago.

Harriet Kelly has one word to describe the day she stopped driving four years ago: miserable.

"It's no fun when you give up driving," she says. "I just have to say that."

Kelly, who lives in Denver, says she was in her 80s when she noticed her eyesight declining. She got anxious driving on the highway, so decided to stop before her kids made the move for her.

"I just told them I'd stop driving on my birthday — my 90th birthday — and I did. And I was mad at myself because I did it," she says, laughing. "I thought I was still pretty good!"

Astronauts Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren left the International Space Station on Friday for their second spacewalk in less than two weeks. Their assignment was to configure a vent door on the port side ammonia tank. That meant they were outside the space station, tied only with a tether, floating in outer space.

State officials have closed both recreational and commercial fishing for Dungeness and rock crab on the California coast north of Santa Barbara to the Oregon border, due to a large algae bloom that's making the crab unsafe for consumption.

The bloom, created by an organism called Pseudo-nitzschia, produces a neurotoxin called domoic acid that can build up in marine life. It causes vomiting, diarrhea and cramping in humans — and even death, in severe cases.

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The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline has prompted some head scratching in Texas. From member station KUT in Austin, Mose Buchele explains why.

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Tonight, environmental activists celebrated at Lafayette Park in front of the White House.


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President Obama has rejected the Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed pipeline which would've carried 800,000 barrels of oil a day from the Canadian tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast had been under review for seven years.

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Surgery to reduce the stomach's size is often seen as a last resort for severely obese teenagers, partly because there has been little information on the procedure's long-term effects on young people.

But a study published online Friday in the New England Journal of Medicine tracked teens for three years and suggests that bariatric surgery as part of a weight-reduction plan was not only safe, but increased their heart health and the quality of their lives.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and on The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. On Fridays, we highlight some of the best stories.

This week, we bring you three items.

From social media editor Lori Todd:

The West Coast's historic drought has strained many Californians — from farmers who've watched their lands dry up, to rural residents forced to drink and cook with bottled water. Now, thanks to a blazing hot summer and unusually warm water, things are looking pretty bad for salmon, too – and for the fishermen whose livelihoods depend on them.

Preliminary counts of juvenile winter-run Chinook are at extreme low levels. These are salmon that are born during the summer in California's Sacramento River and begin to swim downstream in the fall.

English bursts with consonants. We have words that string one after another, like angst, diphthong and catchphrase. But other languages keep more vowels and open sounds. And that variability might be because they evolved in different habitats.

A region of southeastern Brazil is struggling to cope with a devastating flood, after two dams broke outside an iron ore mine and sent mineral waste and thick red mud over a large valley.

How Do Stereotypes Of Mental Health Affect Us?

Nov 6, 2015

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Headspace.

About Alix Generous' TED Talk

Twenty-three-year-old Alix Generous describes her years-long journey through misdiagnosis in the mental health system and how it affected her sense of confidence and self-worth.

About Alix Generous

Why Is It So Hard To Talk About Depression?

Nov 6, 2015

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Headspace.

About Andrew Solomon's TED Talk

Writer and psychologist Andrew Solomon describes how he hid from — and eventually confronted — his own serious depression.

About Andrew Solomon

An intense debate has flared over whether the federal government should fund research that creates partly human creatures using human stem cells.

New York's attorney general would like to know: Did Exxon Mobil lie to you about the risks of climate change and to investors about how those risks might reduce profits?

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's office confirms that a New York Times story is correct in reporting that an investigation has been launched into Exxon Mobil. That story said Schneiderman issued a subpoena on Wednesday, seeking financial records, emails and other documents.

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It's getting harder to see the stars in North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and it's due to flares, drilling rigs and all the lights from the Bakken oilfield.

Since 2010, scientists with the National Park Service have measured a 500 percent increase in the amount of anthropogenic light there — no other national park in America has seen such a rapid increase in light pollution.

Kent Friesen is standing in a dark field in the North Dakota Badlands, peering into a huge telescope.

Climate change isn't just something to worry about here on Earth. New research published today shows that Mars has undergone a dramatic climate shift in the past that has rendered much of the planet inhospitable to life.

About 3.8 billion years ago, Mars was a reasonably pleasant place. It had a thick atmosphere filled with carbon dioxide that kept it warm. Rivers trickled into lakes across its surface. Some researchers think there might even have been an ocean.

In September, we reported on a charming little study that found people who feel blue after watching sad videos have a harder time perceiving colors on the blue-yellow axis.

Now the researchers may be feeling blue themselves. On Thursday they retracted their study, saying that errors in how they structured the experiment skewed the results.

Biologist Ethan Bier runs a laboratory at the University of California, San Diego where fruit flies are used to help unravel the processes that lead to some human diseases. One day recently, a graduate student in the lab called him over to take a look at the results of the latest experiment.

Bier was stunned by what he saw. "It was one of the most astounding days in my personal scientific career," Bier says. "When he first showed me, I could not believe it."

The latest front in the debate over religious freedom is all about an 8 1/2-by-11-inch piece of paper.

This particular piece of paper is a notice — one the state of California will soon require to be posted in places known as crisis pregnancy centers. These resource centers, often linked to religious organizations, provide low-cost or free services to pregnant women, while encouraging these women to not have abortions.

A brain system that helps us find our way to the supermarket may also help us navigate a lifetime of memories.

At least that's the implication of a study of rats published in the journal Neuron.

It found that special brain cells that track an animal's location also can track time and distance. This could explain how rat and human brains are able to organize memories according to where and when an event occurred.

Our world is made of matter. "Everything you see and feel — your laptop, your desk, your chair — they are all ordinary matter," says Aihong Tang, a researcher at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

But matter has a counterpart called antimatter. Each kind of fundamental particle of matter has an antimatter nemesis lurking in the shadows. And true to science-fiction stereotype, if matter and antimatter ever meet, they annihilate in a flash of light.

Tribal Clinic Deploys A Gym To Fend Off Diabetes

Nov 4, 2015

Johnny Gonzales kneels next to his client, Jorje Mendez, who is struggling through the last set of pushups at the gym.

"Give me eight of them!" says Gonzales. "Be strict. This is where all the gains are made, right here. If you can do this, you can do anything!"

It's a pretty typical gym in an atypical setting. Gonzales works with patients of the Lake County Tribal Health Clinic, in Lakeport, Calif., and the gym is within the clinic itself.

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York County, Neb., is on Keystone's proposed route. Jenni Harrington's family has a farm there, and the pipeline would have and could still cut through it. Jenni Harrington, welcome back to the program.

JENNI HARRINGTON: Thank you very much.

Today Twitter rolled out a a new icon for showing approval for tweets. Instead of clicking on a star to turn it yellow, Twitter users click on a heart to turn it red.

Twitter product manager Akarshan Kumar explained the change on the company blog:

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