Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

As Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has moved to roll back a sweeping array of Obama-era regulations he's relentlessly cited his goal of providing "regulatory certainty."

In his first address to career employees last year he told the gathered room at the EPA, "Regulators exist to give certainty to those that they regulate. Those that we regulate ought to know what we expect of them, so that they can plan and allocate resources to comply."

If you have a genetic mutation that increases your risk for a treatable medical condition, would you want to know? For many people the answer is yes. But typically such information has not been a part of routine primary care.

For patients at Geisinger Health System, that could soon change. Starting in the next month or so, the Pennsylvania-based system will offer DNA sequencing to 1,000 patients, with the goal of eventually extending the offer to all 3 million Geisinger patients.

There's a moment from nearly a decade ago that's still on loop in Laura Ogden's mind. When Laura plays back this mental video, she imagines an alternate ending. A happier ending.

There's a technical name for this kind of thinking: A counterfactual.

A counterfactual is a mental simulation where you think about something that happened, and then imagine an alternate ending.

Kathleen Vohs, a professor at the University of Minnesota, says we come up with counterfactuals all the time.

There's going to be a changing of the guard in space. On Tuesday, NASA is launching two new satellites, collectively called GRACE, to replace two that have been retired after 16 years in orbit.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, there was a world leader who signaled his desire to create a new branch of the military: the space force.

OK, it wasn't a long time ago, and it was right here on Earth, in the Milky Way galaxy.

In an address to the West Point football team at the White House earlier this month, President Trump expressed an idea to add a "space force" military branch that would conduct warfighting missions beyond Earth's atmosphere.

Lava from the Kilauea volcano is pouring into the Pacific Ocean off of Hawaii's Big Island, generating a plume of "laze" – which Hawaii County officials describe as hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles — into the air. Officials say it's one more reason to avoid the area.

"Health hazards of laze include lung damage, and eye and skin irritation," says the Hawaii County Civil Defense agency. "Be aware that the laze plume travels with the wind and can change direction without warning."

Floods on the Mississippi River are getting more frequent and more severe. But scientists warn that the infrastructure meant to protect towns and farms against flood waters is making the problem worse.

A series of analyses have helped confirm what engineers have posited for more than a century: that earthen levees built along the river are increasing flood risk for everyone, and especially hurting those who live across from them.

A new forensic study of remains jealously guarded by Russian intelligence for seven decades has determined with certainty what historians have always assumed — with World War II irredeemably lost by Germany, Adolf Hitler did in fact kill himself at his Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945.

California Game Warden Pat Freeling got the first tip off that something was wrong in Mendocino county back in mid-December, when he received an anonymous call from a disgruntled postal patron.

The tipster told Freeling that she'd gotten stuck in the post office line behind a man, shipping dozens of large cardboard boxes to east Asia. When asked what he was shipping, the man apparently told the caller that it was something very valuable, and gestured toward the coastline.

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Foods that contains genetically modified ingredients will soon have a special label.

We recently got the first glimpse of what that label might look like, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its proposed guidelines.

Chimps owned by the National Institutes of Health should be moved from research facilities to retirement sanctuaries unless that relocation is "extremely likely" to shorten their lives, a report issued Friday says.

"Chimpanzees should be relocated to the federal sanctuary system unless relocation would place the chimpanzee's life, safety, and welfare at extreme risk," says the report from a working group convened by the NIH to examine the safety of transferring chimps to retirement homes.

Another fissure has emerged on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, bringing the total to 21, as authorities handed out protective masks and local officials warned that toxic ash and sulfur dioxide gas are the biggest health concerns for people near the mountain.

The new fissure was discovered at Leilani Estates, the neighborhood in Puna where the first new fissures were seen this month when Kilauea suddenly became more active. Since then, more than two dozen homes have been inundated in slow-moving lava flows.

There may be hope for the nearly extinct northern white rhino yet, thanks to the pregnancy of a closely related subspecies.

"Victoria," a southern white rhino in California, was impregnated through artificial insemination, researchers announced on Thursday.

"It's very exciting because this is our first pregnant rhino from artificial insemination here at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park," Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive sciences at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, told NPR.

For the first time, the U.S. military is speaking publicly about what it's doing to address potential health risks to troops who operate certain powerful shoulder-mounted weapons.

These bazooka-like weapons produce forceful explosions just inches from the operator's head.

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

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Starbucks has an ambitious plan to try to address discrimination and unconscious bias by training nearly 175,000 of its workers one afternoon later this month.

Someone appears to be producing a banned ozone-depleting chemical, interfering with the recovery of Earth's damaged ozone layer, according to a newly published study led by scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The illicit emissions are believed to be coming from somewhere in eastern Asia, but nothing else is known about the offender. It's a scientific whodunit — or rather, a who's-doing-it.

The oceans are getting warmer and fish are noticing. Many that live along U.S. coastlines are moving to cooler water. New research predicts that will continue, with potentially serious consequences for the fishing industry.

Updated at 4:25 p.m. ET

Just after 4 a.m. local time Thursday an explosion within Kilauea's Halemaumau crater on the island of Hawaii produced a volcanic cloud reaching as high as 30,000 feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey .

Updated at 11 p.m. ET

If you are reading this, you are likely one of the more than 14 million people who vehemently believe that this audio clip is saying either the word "yanny" or the word "laurel."

If you haven't heard it yet, take a listen:

Sometimes less may be better when it comes to treatment for breast cancer. A new study finds that women who have been diagnosed with early-stage HER2-positive breast cancer did just as well with six months of treatment with the drug Herceptin (trastuzumab) as did women who received a 12-month course of this treatment.

And the women with the shorter treatment had fewer side-effects, most notably less damage to their hearts.

Kermit the Frog used to sing that it wasn't easy being green, but that isn't the case for some real-life lizards. They apparently find being green so easy that even their blood is green.

A study published Tuesday suggests seems that this lime-green blood has evolved independently several times in lizards.

Scientists are now trying to understand how these lizards might benefit from blood that's green. The answer could provide new insights into human illnesses like jaundice and malaria.

School officials have issued warnings to parents ahead of the second season of the Netflix drama "13 Reasons Why," which premieres this week.

The number of kids who struggle with thoughts of suicide or who attempt to kill themselves is rising. New research, published Wednesday in Pediatrics, finds children ages 5 to 17 visited children's hospitals for suicidal thoughts or attempts about twice as often in 2015 as in 2008.

The study found kids of all ages are affected though increases were greatest for older adolescents.

Asteroid 2010 WC9 was lost, then it was found — and now the small space rock that is hundreds of feet wide is zooming toward Earth, making a close but safe pass on Tuesday that will see it fly roughly halfway between our planet and the moon.

Before we continue: There is no risk of even a partial collision, and the asteroid will stay tens of thousands of miles away from the outer limits of Earth's atmosphere. So there's no reason to take cover when the asteroid makes its closest approach at 6:05 p.m. ET Tuesday.

At Mote Marine Lab's Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration in the Florida Keys, Joey Mandara is like a baby sitter. But instead of children he tends to thousands of baby corals, growing in large, shallow tanks called raceways.

Mote has been doing this work for five years, raising corals from embryos into adult colonies, then planting them on Florida's reefs. Now, the emergence of a new, debilitating coral disease makes his work more important than ever.

Children and adolescents are getting fewer prescription drugs than they did in years past, according to a study that looks at a cross-section of the American population.

Over the past century, Louisiana has lost more than 2,000 square miles of coastline, leaving it more vulnerable to storms, flooding and sea level rise. State officials have been fighting back, building levees, artificial marshes and barrier islands. Now they want to harness the muddy Mississippi River, diverting its sediment-rich waters into shrinking marshes and wetlands.

Women who become pregnant face an unexpected danger in the U.S.: maternal mortality. Complications from pregnancy, labor and childbirth result in the death of an estimated 700 to 900 women each year — a rate higher than any other developed Western nation.

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