Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

The hard line against marijuana is softening all across the country.

Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia allow some form of marijuana use, mostly for medicinal purposes, though a few allow recreational use. And more states could decriminalize marijuana this year. But if you play in the NFL and you use weed it could cost you your job.

Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan would like to change that; he would at least like the NFL to look into the health benefits of marijuana in a profession where injuries and ongoing pain is normal.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

It wasn't meant for the bees.

The pesticide raining down from the sky in Dorchester County, S.C., was meant to kill mosquitoes — for the sake of safety, the county says. Mosquitoes, after all, can carry West Nile and Zika, and four cases of Zika were recently confirmed in the county.

But on Sunday morning, from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., as the county conducted aerial spraying, the bees fell by the millions.

NASA has released the first close-up images ever taken of Jupiter's north pole. They were photographed by the Juno spacecraft now in orbit around the gas giant.

The north pole looks totally different from the rest of the planet. "It's bluer in color up there than other parts of the planet, and there are a lot of storms," Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute, says in a NASA statement on Friday.

From the air, it looks like a 2,300-square-mile field of submerged doughnuts on the ocean floor.

The limestone circles amount to a second, deeper reef behind the Great Barrier Reef, researchers say. The scientists who discovered it off the coast of northern Australia say they're surprised by its vast size — and by the strange shapes.

If it were a phone call, we might call it a butt-dial: A strong radio signal that set off questions about whether it emanated from an advanced alien race earlier this week is now believed to have come from a terrestrial source, and possibly from a Russian military satellite.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In the ferocious, sprawling brawl over genetically modified crops, one particular question seems like it should have a simple factual answer: Did those crops lead to more use of pesticides, or less?

Sadly, there's no simple answer.

In Idaho, a wildfire has burned nearly 250 square miles of forest and is growing quickly. About 157,000 acres are currently on fire in Boise National Forest in the western part of the state, northeast of Boise.

The blaze, known as the Pioneer Fire, has been burning for several weeks, but hot, dry weather this week caused the wildfire to get much larger.

Scott Graf of Boise State Public Radio reports for NPR's Newscast Unit:

Two days before SpaceX was to launch a communications satellite that would widen Internet access in Africa, an unmanned rocket and its payload were destroyed in an explosion on a launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Smoke billowed from the pad where the AMOS-6 satellite was to be launched Saturday morning.

Just over a month ago, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague issued two important rulings. One soundly rejected Beijing's extensive claim of sovereignty in the South China Sea. The other focused on whether China had caused environmental damage as it constructed artificial islands in the region to help prop up its claim.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Summer is winding down, but when members of Congress return to Washington from their vacations next week, many of their constituents want them to do something about the mosquitoes — the ones carrying Zika virus, to be specific.

A new survey shows that three quarters of Americans say Congress should make the allocation of more money to deal with the Zika outbreaks in Florida and Puerto Rico an "important" or "top priority" when they return to Washington.

Against the backdrop of the picturesque Lake Tahoe, President Obama said environmental conservation is a key part of fighting the impact of global warming.

Obama spoke on the first of a two-day environmental tour at an annual summit designed to keep the health of Lake Tahoe a priority for the federal government and the states it borders, Nevada and California.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

It's been four years since scientists first started accusing a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics for short, of killing bees. These pesticides are used as seed coatings on most corn and soybean seeds.

An experimental drug dramatically reduced the toxic plaques found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease, a team reports in the journal Nature.

Results from a small number of patients who received a high dose of the drug, called aducanumab, hint that it may also be able to slow the loss of memory and thinking.

"I'm not comfortable eating a watch battery." That's how researcher Christopher Bettinger describes one of the biggest obstacles for sending tiny medical robots into the human body for diagnosing and treating diseases.

These devices run on batteries (like those in watches) and they are usually made of toxic materials such as lithium.

Residents of Hawaii are keeping a close eye on two hurricanes in the Pacific, Madeline and Lester.

And astronauts have been watching the storms, too — from a different angle.

On Tuesday, the International Space Station caught a spectacular view of both storms, as well as a powerful hurricane in the Atlantic.

The strongest storm in the video is Gaston, currently passing through the open ocean far from land. It's a Category 3 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour.

At a campground in northwestern Montana, 30 people are groggily gearing up for a day of mushroom picking.

Most are here because they want an excuse to get outside and taste some of Montana's more exotic wild mushrooms. But others, like Matt Zaitz from Kansas, are here to turn a profit.

"It's not easy work," Zaitz says. "It's tough."

The extended drought in California has farmers looking for ways to use less water. Among them: growing feed indoors using hydroponics. The new diet is making some Central Valley sheep very happy.

On Golden Valley Farm an hour north of Fresno, Mario Daccarett's employees milk 500 sheep every day, in rounds of 12. This creamy milk eventually is turned into cheese and sold at places like Whole Foods.

"They tell me that our Golden Ewe cheese is the best for grilled cheese sandwich ever," Daccarett says. (I bought some and it was really tasty.)

We are running out of ways to treat gonorrhea, the World Health Organization announced today.

The U.N. health agency released new guidelines warning doctors that it no longer recommends an entire class of antibiotics, quinolones, because quinolone-resistant strains of the disease have emerged all over the world.

Instead, the health agency recommends using cephalosporins, another class of antibiotic. The new protocol replaces guidelines that had not been changed since 2003.

When you praise a dog, it's listening not just to the words you say but also how you say them.

That might not be huge news to dog owners. But now scientists have explored this phenomenon by using an imaging machine to peek inside the brains of 13 dogs as they listened to their trainer's voice.

They aren't saying it's alien, but they are saying it's "interesting."

The SETI Institute — the private organization that looks for signals of extraterrestrial life — has announced that it is investigating reports of an unusual radio signal picked up by Russian astronomers.

The signal was detected on a much wider bandwidth than the SETI Institute uses in its searches, and the strength of the received signal was "weak," SETI Institute astronomer Seth Shostak wrote in a blog post.

Alabama health officials are planning to test for tuberculosis at an automotive plant near Montgomery after one employee was confirmed to be infected.

Pam Barrett, the director of tuberculosis control with the Alabama Department of Public Health, says testing and evaluations will begin today at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama outside Montgomery. Barrett says only the employees who were in close contact with the infected worker will need to be tested.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Pages