Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Health care in the U.S. Virgin Islands remains in a critical state, five months after Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria pummeled the region.

The only hospital on St. Thomas, the Schneider Regional Medical Center, serves some 55,000 residents between the islands of St. Thomas and St. John. Schneider's facilities suffered major structural damage, forcing a decrease in its range of services, mass transfers of its patients, staff departures and significant losses in revenue. Only about one-third of the beds are currently available for patient care.

Updated 8:38 a.m. ET

A White House official confirms with NPR that Kathleen Hartnett White's controversial nomination to head the Council on Environmental Quality is being withdrawn.

Humans have wanted to go to Mars for a long time. NASA says it wants to send people there by the 2030s, while private companies like SpaceX have proposed building colonies on the Red Planet.

There are, of course, a lot of kinks that have to be worked out for us to get there. One of them is living in an enclosed space with a few other people for months on end.

Humans have suffered from migraines for millennia. Yet, despite decades of research, there isn't a drug on the market today that prevents them by targeting the underlying cause. All of that could change in a few months when the Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce its decision about new therapies that have the potential to turn migraine treatment on its head.

The president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, Wayne Pacelle, has resigned effective immediately, the nonprofit group announced Friday.

Here's a reminder that while you are out in the world buying groceries, picking up dry cleaning or catching up on The Crown, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is on the red planet doing work.

By raining down laser pulses on some 770 square miles of dense forest in northern Guatemala, archaeologists have discovered 60,000 Maya structures that make up full sprawling cities.

And the new technology provides them with an unprecedented view into how the ancient civilization worked, revealing almost industrial agricultural infrastructure and new insights into Maya warfare.

On a blustery winter day, Dr. Don Milton and his undergraduate research assistants, Louie Gold and Amara Fox, are recruiting students for his new study on how the flu — and other viruses — spread.

As incentives, they have vouchers for the school convenience store and free hot chocolate.

The Trump administration released a report on the state of America's nuclear weaponry on Friday. The assessment, known as a Nuclear Posture Review, mainly concerns U.S. nukes and missiles.

Patricia Fara is the president of the British Society for the History of Science and a fellow at Clare College, Cambridge, U.K. Her latest book is A Lab of One's Own: Science and Suffrage in the First World War.


I've got a degree in physics, but I have not stepped inside a laboratory since I graduated from Oxford.

Cold-pressed juice fills refrigerator cases at juice bars, health food shops, even big box stores – especially at the beginning of the year, when people are trying to "cleanse" after holiday excess.

Federal weather officials say that California is headed into another drought with severely dry conditions in three counties that are home to one-quarter of the state's population.

That assessment, released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor, says that 44 percent of the state is experiencing a moderate drought.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

When Sarah Jay had her first seizure, she was in her mid-20s and working a high-stress job at a call center in Springfield, Mo.

"I was going to go on break," she says. "I was heading towards the bathroom and then I fell and passed out."

When we read books, why do we forget so much of what we read, in only weeks or even days after we read it?

Coming across an article on this topic by Julie Beck in The Atlantic over the weekend, I found insight and even some consolation. I'm not the only one who forgets the plots of novels I've truly loved.

Say hello to an orca, and it might say hello back — or at least try to.

An international team of researchers, working with two orcas at an aquarium in France, have found that the whales were able to replicate the sounds of human speech, including words like "hello" and "bye-bye," as well as series of sounds like "ah ah."

Somewhere around 300,000 years ago, our human ancestors in parts of Africa began to make small, sharp tools, using stone flakes that they created using a technique called Levallois.

The technology, named after a suburb of Paris where tools made this way were first discovered, was a profound upgrade from the bigger, less-refined tools of the previous era, and marks the Middle Stone Age in Africa and the Middle Paleolithic era in Europe and western Asia.

In 1519, conquistador Hernán Cortés wrote a letter home to Spain from Mexico, detailing a surprising element of the local cuisine. "They roast many chickens ... which are as large as peacocks."

Scientists have found specialized brain cells in mice that appear to control anxiety levels.

The finding, reported Wednesday in the journal Neuron, could eventually lead to better treatments for anxiety disorders, which affect nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.

Advertising campaigns, tobacco taxes and public bans have lowered rates of smoking significantly in the U.S. since the 1960s. And for people who never smoke or manage to quit, there are major health benefits: lower risk of cancer, heart problems and stroke.

But 15 percent of Americans — about 40 million people — continue to smoke.

Who are they? And why are they still smoking?

If Victorians were offended by Charles Darwin's claim that we descended from monkeys, imagine their surprise if they heard that our first ancestor was much more primitive than that, a mere single-celled creature, our microbial Eve.

Updated 10:25 a.m. ET Wednesday

Early Wednesday morning brought a lunar event that hasn't been seen since 1866.

It was at least partially visible in all 50 U.S. states, though the views were better the farther west you live.

Let's break this down. This event – called a super blue blood moon – was actually three fairly common lunar happenings all happening at the same time.

And scientists say that information gathered during the event could help them figure out where to land a rover on the moon.

In 2016, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told a radio host in Tulsa, Okla., "I believe that Donald Trump in the White House would be more abusive to the Constitution than Barack Obama, and that's saying a lot."

His comments surfaced at a routine Senate committee hearing on Tuesday, when Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., read from a transcript of the interview and asked administrator Pruitt whether he remembered it. "I don't, Senator," Pruitt replied, "and I don't echo that today at all."

Why Males Are Biology's Riskier Sex

Jan 30, 2018

Robert D. Martin is emeritus curator of biological anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago, a member of the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago, and academic guest at the Institute of Evolutionary Medicine at the University of Zürich.

NASA's IMAGE spacecraft spent five years studying the Earth's magnetosphere, but when its signal blinked off in 2005, the space agency called it a mission and moved on.

Twelve years later, enter amateur astronomer Scott Tilley.

As the story goes, Henry Schwartz's grandfather bought a herd of cows in Manhattan in the early 1900s and walked them across the Williamsburg Bridge all the way to the family farm in Elmurst, a neighborhood in Queens. By 1919, Schwartz's father, Max, and uncle, Arthur, were bottling milk under the name Elmhurst Dairy. By the 21st century, Elmhurst's milk could be found across New York City, from elementary schools to Starbucks.

The impacts of climate change aren't a far-off possibility for the Pacific shellfish industry. Acidifying seawater is already causing problems for oyster farms along the West Coast and it's only expected to get worse.

That has one Bay Area oyster farm looking for ways to adapt. It's teaming up scientists who are studying how the local ecosystem could lend a helping hand.

"We need help," says Terry Sawyer of Hog Island Oyster Company. "That 'canary in a coalmine' analogy drives me crazy, but that's what we are."

Tuesday is an anniversary worth noting: On Jan. 30, 1868, Charles Darwin published a follow-up to his masterpiece On The Origin Of Species. This less-popular tome (897 pages!) contained a vexing puzzle:

Why do pets and livestock tend to have "drooping ears?"

A couple of years ago, at the peak of my children's reluctance to eat vegetables, I decided to try an experiment.

When the kids arrived home from daycare one afternoon, I had bowls of colorful vegetables cut up and ready to go: crunchy red and yellow peppers, bushy little florets of broccoli, tomatoes and mushrooms and olives. I gave them each a cheese pizza base to "decorate" for dinner, and they gleefully complied. My older daughter made a face with olive eyes, broccoli hair, and a bright, red-pepper mouth. My younger daughter loaded on veggies by the fistful.

It was the tiny streams of slime that stood out.

As a microbiologist who studies the rinds of cheeses like Stilton, Gruyere and Taleggio, Benjamin Wolfe had done plenty of experiments on bacteria, yeast and mold. But he'd never seen anything like this.

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