Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Food waste is a huge problem globally — starting with our own refrigerators. Over this Thanksgiving week, Americans will throw out almost 200 million pounds of turkey alone, according to figures from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

But before you toss that bird, read on. We asked Massimo Bottura, one of the world's best chefs, to help us figure out what to do with our holiday leftovers.

When I was a kid, my mom always told me to rinse the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. This was especially true for dishware with tacky residue. Peanut butter, cream cheese, frosting — these adversaries were simply too powerful for the dishwasher's meek cleanse. Today, still harboring a distrust of dishwashers, I tend to wash my dishes by hand.

But I often wonder about the consequences of my sponge-scrubbing ways — am I wasting water by avoiding the dishwasher, or saving it?

The world's oceans are rising. Over the past century, they're up an average of about eight inches. But the seas are rising more in some places than others. And scientists are now finding that how much sea level rises in, say, New York City, has a lot to do with exactly where the ice is melting.

A warming climate is melting a lot of glaciers and ice sheets on land. That means more water rolling down into the oceans.

But the oceans are not like a bathtub. The water doesn't rise uniformly.

NASA has big hopes for virtual reality technology. The agency is developing a suite of virtual reality environments at Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland, that could be used for everything from geological research to repairing orbiting satellites.

One displays fiery ejections from the Sun. In another, scientists can watch magnetic fields pulse around the earth. A virtual rendering of an ancient lava tube in Idaho makes scientists feel like they're standing at the bottom of an actual cave.

A brain system involved in everything from addiction to autism appears to have evolved differently in people than in great apes, a team reports Thursday in the journal Science.

The system controls the production of dopamine, a chemical messenger that plays a major role in pleasure and rewards.

The ever-widening use of artificial lights is making the nighttime Earth glow increasingly brighter, with the amount of global light growing about 2 percent each year.

That worries advocates for the protection of dark skies, who say that artificial night glow can affect wildlife like migrating birds and keeps people from connecting to the stars. What's more, they say, all that wasted light sent out into space is effectively wasted money.

Puerto Rico is in the midst of the worst electricity outage in U.S. history. Most of the island remains without power more than two months after Hurricane Maria hit the island.

Some Puerto Ricans are saying that the current crisis should be a wake-up call that the island needs to move to a less centralized power system — and that solar power might be part of the solution. In other words, they believe Puerto Rico should follow the lead of many developing nations where solar power production is expanding rapidly.

A Sunday column by David Sax in The New York Times quotes a cheering statistic from the Association of American Publishers: Sales of "old-fashioned print books" are up for the third year in a row.

Back in the 1960s, the fact that our diets influence the risk of heart disease was still a new idea. And there was a debate about the role of fats and the role of sugar.

The sugar industry got involved in efforts to influence this debate. "What the sugar industry successively did," argues Stanton Glantz of the University of California, San Francisco, "is they shifted all of the blame onto fats."

Research investigating a popular form of surgery aimed at easing chronic shoulder pain doesn't fix the problem, a careful, placebo-controlled study suggests.

In the condition known as shoulder impingement, certain movements, such as reaching up to get something off a shelf, for example, or even scratching your own back, can be painful and get worse during a night of tossing and turning.

Dogs shower their owners with affection and demand walks on a regular basis. And according to medical researchers, a corresponding link between dog ownership and heart health — previously called "probable" by experts — is supported by Swedish data.

An examination of Sweden's national records — spanning more than 3.4 million people and 12 years — found that registered dog owners had a lower rate of cardiovascular disease and a lower risk of death.

After Hurricane Harvey, some Texas residents, politicians and scientists are wondering whether the whole U.S. system for predicting floods is any good.

The storm's deluge flooded parts of southeast Texas that had rarely, or never, been underwater before. Some areas got more than 50 inches of rain in a few days. "When the numbers started coming in it was a little scary," says Matt Zeve, the director of operations for the Harris County Flood Control District, which includes Houston.

How Much Hotter Is It In The Slums?

Nov 20, 2017

When Nairobi gets hot, its slums get even hotter.

That's what a new study published in PLOS ONE has found. In 2015, researchers put dozens of thermometers in poor communities and monitored them during Nairobi's warmest months of December, January and February — during what turned out to be the capital's hottest summer in 30 years.

They found that slums were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the city's official weather station less than half a mile away.

In The Devil's Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce describes the mind as "a mysterious form of matter secreted by the brain," engaged in a futile attempt to understand itself "with nothing but itself to know itself with."

The Keystone XL pipeline, an $8 billion project that has attracted significant protest from environmental groups, has cleared a major regulatory hurdle on its path to completion. On Monday, the Nebraska Public Service Commission certified the pipeline to run through the state.

Spit Test May Help Reveal Concussion Severity

Nov 20, 2017

A little spit may help predict whether a child's concussion symptoms will subside in days or persist for weeks.

A test that measures fragments of genetic material in saliva was nearly 90 percent accurate in identifying children and adolescents whose symptoms persisted for at least a month, according to a study published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.

That's in contrast to a concussion survey commonly used by doctors that was right less than 70 percent of the time.

If Houston's record deluge during Hurricane Harvey highlighted the dangers of unchecked, sprawling development, then Tulsa — another city built on oil — is a showcase for the opposite.

The Western U.S. is just starting to recover after a prolonged, 16-year drought. A lack of water can force people to take a hard look at how they use it, and make big changes. That's what happened in southern Colorado, where farmers have tried a bold experiment: They're taxing themselves to boost conservation.

Colorado's San Luis Valley is a desperately dry stretch of land, about the same size as New Jersey.

The tiny nation of Denmark has just three stations for monitoring atmospheric radiation. Each week, scientists change out air filters in the detectors and take the used ones to a technical university near Copenhagen.

There, Sven Poul Nielsen and other researchers analyze the filters. They often snag small amounts of naturally occurring radioactivity, radon for example.

In the Spring of 2009, the H1N1/09 virus — dubbed "swine flu" — made the jump from pigs to people and began claiming its first victims.

Fearing the beginning of a global swine flu pandemic, terrified health officials began planning for the worst. Shutting down the world's major airports became the nuclear option of their arsenal — the last hope for halting the virus from reaching unstoppable thresholds of contagion.

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Simple Solutions

About Mileha Soneji's TED Talk

When designer Mileha Soneji's uncle got Parkinson's, his quality of life deteriorated rapidly. Mileha couldn't cure her uncle's disease, so she designed simple ways to improve his everyday life.

About Mileha Soneji

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Simple Solutions

About Amos Winter's TED Talk

In many countries, uneven and unpaved roads make it hard to get around in a standard wheelchair. MIT engineer Amos Winter describes his design for an affordable, lever-powered, all-terrain wheelchair.

About Amos Winter

Johannes Selbach's family has made wine in Germany's Mosel Valley for four centuries, and he spares little of the history on a tour of his vineyards. He has had three soil profiles extracted from the ground and mounted on the wall of his winery.

"The places where the sun melts the snow first have been known for thousands of years," he says. "The good spots are known for generations."

Astronomers in California are building the largest digital camera in the world. It will go on a giant telescope taking shape in Chile called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.

LSST is different from most large telescopes. Instead of staring at a tiny patch of the sky and taking essentially one snapshot in time, LSST will take a panorama of every part of the sky...and it will do so over and over and over. The idea is to see what's moving or changing in the heavens.

Ask people in Canada what they make of U.S. health care, and the answer typically falls between bewilderment and outrage.

Canada, after all, prides itself on a health system that guarantees government insurance for everyone. And many Canadians find it baffling that there's anybody in the United States who can't afford a visit to the doctor.

It's tough getting old, and that goes as much for giant pandas as people.

Veterinarians at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., say Tian Tian, an adult male panda, received laser treatment and acupuncture for what they initially thought was a touch of arthritis in his left shoulder.

During the exam earlier this week while the 20-year-old Tian Tian (pronounced t-YEN t-YEN) was under anesthesia, vets also took blood and urine samples and performed X-rays.

Updated at 8 p.m. ET

TransCanada, the company that owns and operates the Keystone Pipeline, says that an estimated 210,000 gallons, or 5,000 barrels, of oil have spilled near the small town of Amherst, S.D.

Would you be curious and excited if, out on a walk near your home, you came face-to-face with a young owl, not yet a confident flyer?

Scientists believe they may have new insights into why passenger pigeons went extinct, after analyzing DNA from the toes of birds that have been carefully preserved in museums for over a century.

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