Science & Health

Around the Nation
3:33 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

California Builders Prepare For Future Water Needs As Population Grows

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 5:56 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



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Shots - Health News
2:19 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Why Would A Fish Make Its Own Sunscreen?

The lowly zebra fish can make its own sunscreen.
Marrabbio2 Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Thu May 14, 2015 2:25 pm

Creatures that venture out into the daylight can be damaged by the sun's ultraviolet rays. Humans produce melanin, a dark pigment, to help protect our skin. And now many of us slather on sunscreen, too.

Bacteria, algae and fungi make their own chemicals that sop up UV rays. And there's one called gadusol that's been found in fish and their eggs.

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The Salt
1:29 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

How To Feed A Numbat: Zoo Cookery Aids Endangered Species

Peter Mawson, director of animal health and research at the Perth Zoo in Australia, shows off a Western Swamp Tortoise in the zoo's breeding area (where visitors are not allowed). Like numbats, these tortoises are critically endangered and Mawson and his team are working to breed them in captivity for release back into the wild.
Sujata Gupta for NPR

Originally published on Mon May 18, 2015 1:01 pm

To make the New Numbat Artificial Diet, mix together powdered cat chow, hen's eggs and water. Cook on low heat for 10 minutes and cool. Add calcium carbonate, a vitamin-mineral supplement, cellulose powder, fish oil, Vitamin B12 and crushed termite mound.

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The Two-Way
6:32 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

How Bird Beaks Got Their Start As Dinosaur Snouts

The skull of a chicken embryo (left) has a recognizable beak. But when scientists block the expression of two particular genes, the embryo develops a rounded "snout" (center) that looks something like an alligator's skull (right).
Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullar

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 11:01 am

Scientists say they have reversed a bit of bird evolution in the lab and re-created a dinosaurlike snout in developing chickens.

"In this work, we can clearly see a comeback of the characteristics which we see in some of the first birds," says Arhat Abzhanov, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University.

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Shots - Health News
12:14 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

Seasons May Tweak Genes That Trigger Some Chronic Diseases

Originally published on Thu May 14, 2015 2:26 pm

The seasons appear to influence when certain genes are active, with those associated with inflammation being more active in the winter, according to new research released Tuesday.

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Research News
5:01 am
Tue May 12, 2015

What Might Make Young People Practice Safe Sex? Lottery Tickets!

In a study in Lesotho, the prospect of earning a cash prize in a lottery motivated young people to practice safe sex.

Originally published on Wed May 13, 2015 8:13 am

Let's say you're a young person, around 30 years old. And you're the kind of person who likes to take risks. So maybe you're taking risks in your sexual relationships. You're not practicing safe sex.

What would make you change your behavior?

That's a question that's long been pondered by public health officials. And now new research from a World Bank-funded team in Lesotho, a tiny country in southern Africa, has produced a surprising answer.

Lottery tickets!

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The Salt
2:40 am
Tue May 12, 2015

In 'Organic Life,' The Making Of America's First Certified Organic Restaurant

Chef, cookbook author and owner of Washington, D.C.'s Restaurant Nora, Nora Pouillon, in the restaurant's garden.
Courtesy of

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 11:56 am

When restaurateur Nora Pouillon moved to the United States from Austria in the 1960s, she was surprised by how hard it was to get really fresh food. Everything was packaged and processed. Pouillon set out to find the find the best ingredients possible to cook for her family and friends. She brought that same sensibility to her Restaurant Nora, which eventually became the first certified organic restaurant in the country.

Pouillon writes about her lifelong devotion to food in a new memoir, My Organic Life: How A Pioneering Chef Helped Shape The Way We Eat Today.

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Goats and Soda
5:41 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

Exotic Vinegar Flies Invade California After World Tour

Welcome to America! Before it was spotted in Los Angeles, the fruit fly species Drosophila gentica had been seen only in El Salvador back in 1954.
Courtesy of Kelsey Bailey, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 7:33 pm

Here at the Goats and Soda blog, we talk a lot about tiny critters moving around the globe — and often causing trouble.

Last summer it was Ebola hopping on a plane to Texas. Then a painful virus from eastern Africa, called chikungunya, found its way to Florida via the Philippines and the Caribbean.

But it's not just viruses and microbes that take advantage of Boeing 747s, vacationers and international development.

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The Two-Way
5:14 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

U.S. Gives Conditional OK To Shell Oil For Drilling Off Alaska's Arctic Shore

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 5:59 pm

The Obama administration has given conditional approval to Shell Oil's plan to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean this summer. The company wants to resume drilling in the Chukchi Sea off northwestern Alaska; it broke off that effort in 2012 because of safety problems.

Monday's news is a new sign that Shell could soon recoup some of the several billion dollars it has spent on federal leases and other preparations in recent years.

From Alaska's Aleutian Islands, KUCB's Annie Ropeik reports:

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The Salt
5:10 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

Why Food Companies Should Be More Afraid Of Water Scarcity

Coca-Cola cans on a production line at a bottling plant near New Delhi in 2013. The company decided in April 2015 not to build an $81 million bottling plant in southern India because local farmers said it might exhaust groundwater supplies.
Prakash Singh AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 8:50 am

America's biggest food production companies face a growing threat of water scarcity, according to a new report from Ceres, an environmental sustainability group.

Producing food, after all, requires more water than almost any other business on Earth. And the outlook isn't pretty: One-third of food is grown in areas of high or extremely high water stress, while pollution and climate change are further limiting supplies of clean water around the world.

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All Tech Considered
4:22 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

Using Investments And Technology To Rebuild Hawaii's Koa Forests

Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods has created an Internet interface so customers can zoom in and view information about specific koa trees from their computers.
Courtesy of Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 8:00 pm

As with tropical trees around the world, the koa forests of Hawaii have been decimated — cut down to make way for sugar plantations and cattle ranches. One company is using an innovative business model to bring back koa forests. The secret is a digital tag that helps track individual trees.

At upscale Hawaiian shopping malls like Kings' Shops, wood from the native koa tree is in high demand. Its color ranges from light to dark brown. Koa's curving lines make it popular for furniture, or ukuleles.

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4:21 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

In Midst Of Drought, Why Not Harvest Water From The Air?

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 8:00 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



So that's water conservation. What about water production? Is there some way for us to harvest water?


SHELAGH FRASER: (As Aunt Beru) Luke...

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1:08 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

The Great 'Beyond': Contemplating Life, Sex And Elevators In Space

Astronomer Chris Impey examines the possibilities of the universe in his new book Beyond. "I like the idea that the universe — the boundless possibility of 20 billion habitable worlds — has led to things that we can barely imagine," he says. In the 1970s, NASA Ames conducted several space colony studies, commissioning renderings of the giant spacecraft which could house entire cities.
Rick Guidice NASA Ames Research Center

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 3:53 pm

The possibility of humans colonizing outer space may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but British astronomer Chris Impey says that if the U.S. were pumping more money into the space program, the sci-fi fantasy would be well on its way to reality.

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2:25 am
Mon May 11, 2015

Two Guys In Paris Aim To Charm The World Into Climate Action

ADP Co-chairs Daniel Reifsnyder (left) and Ahmed Djoghlaf (center) say their negotiation work is difficult but worth it. "We only have one planet, you know," Reifsnyder says. "We have to protect it."
Courtesy of IISD/ENB

Originally published on Mon May 11, 2015 5:32 pm

Here's a job that sounds perfect for either a superhero or a glutton for punishment: Get nearly 200 countries to finally agree to take serious action on climate change.

Two men have taken on this challenge. They're leading some international negotiations that will wrap up later this year in Paris at a major United Nations conference on climate change.

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Author Interviews
4:15 pm
Sat May 9, 2015

If Science Could 'Clone A Mammoth,' Could It Save An Elephant?

A woolly mammoth skeleton gets auctioned off in Billingshurst, England.
Peter Macdiarmid Getty Images

Originally published on Sat May 9, 2015 7:21 pm

It's been more than 20 years since Jurassic Park came out, and scientists have been cloning animals almost as long.

So where are the baby velociraptors already?

In Russia, there is a park all ready for woolly mammoths and scientists there say it's just a matter of time before they can bring back actual mammoths to enjoy it. But why bring back a species that went extinct thousands of years ago?

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