Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

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Few images can put life's trivialities into perspective quite like the sight of our planet in the interminable blackness of space.

And at the very least, it's a cool view.

On Monday, NASA announced that this view will be available every day on a new website dedicated to publishing images from a satellite camera 1 million miles away from Earth.

Babies born prematurely are much more likely than other children to develop autism, ADHD and emotional disorders. Now researchers think they may have an idea about how that could happen.

There's evidence that preemies are born with weak connections in some critical brain networks, including those involved in focus, social interactions, and emotional processing, researchers reported at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago.

As Dean Cole's dementia worsened, he began wandering at night. He'd even forgotten how to drink water. His wife, Virginia, could no longer manage him at home. So after much agonizing, his family checked him into a Minnesota nursing home.

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No names. No pictures. No direct conversation.

And don't touch the plutonium.

Those were the ground rules before NPR was allowed a rare opportunity to see nuclear inspectors learning their craft. The inspectors came from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the world's nuclear watchdog.

Guruduth Banavar is an executive at IBM leading the team developing a new generation of cognitive systems — don't call it artificial intelligence — known as Watson.

A hidden chemistry lab was unearthed by a worker doing renovations to the iconic Rotunda at the University of Virginia, and school officials say the room is directly linked to the third U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson, who helped design the building.

The "chemical hearth," which dates back to the 1820s, is thought to be one of the few remaining in the world. It featured two sources of heat for conducting experiments and a system for pulling out fumes.

A sexual harassment case is sending shock waves through the scientific community this week, and raising questions nationwide about how common sexual harassment is in science and why so little is typically done to stop it.

A six-month investigation by the University of California, Berkeley concluded in June that a faculty member, renowned astronomer Geoffrey Marcy, violated multiple sexual harassment policies over the course of a decade.

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Pluto is not dead. That's the bottom line, according to new research published in the journal Science. The dwarf planet is home to mountains, glaciers and a hazy atmosphere that stretches for a hundred miles above the surface.

In America, it seems only unicorns get seven or eight hours of sleep a night, and the rest of us suffer. But people may be meant to sleep as little as 6 1/2 hours nightly and were doing so long before the advent of electricity and smartphones, researchers say.

To find that out, they consulted with some of the few people on the planet who live roughly the same lifestyle humans did in the Paleolithic.

The 22 states that didn't expand Medicaid eligibility as part of Obamacare last year saw their costs to provide health care to the poor rise twice as fast as states that extended benefits to more low-income residents.

It's a counterintuitive twist for those states whose governors, most Republicans who opposed the Affordable Care Act, chose not to accept federal funds to extend Medicaid to more people.

Overturning a 136-year-old ban, the Los Angeles City Council voted on Wednesday to legalize urban beekeeping.

Once the ordinance is signed by the mayor, Los Angeles will join cities including New York, San Francisco and Washington in allowing beekeeping. There is even a beehive on the White House grounds.

How Long Can Ebola Linger In The Semen Of Male Survivors?

Oct 14, 2015

Ebola can linger in the semen of male survivors. That's been known for a while now. When male patients were released in West Africa, health workers would tell them not to have unprotected sex for about three months.

But two new research papers raise the possibility that the virus can be present in semen for a much longer period and can infect a sexual partner. The papers were published today in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Tens of thousands of Americans are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year for problems caused by dietary supplements, federal health officials are reporting.

The complications include heart problems such as irregular or rapid heartbeat or chest pain, says Dr. Andrew Geller of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who led the study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Mississippi River basin has gotten a report card from a group that monitors watershed health and economic impact — and the grade is D+.

The organization, America's Watershed Initiative, cited the poor condition of infrastructure such as locks and dams, and a lack of funding that could lead to water security issues.

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The Great Red Spot on Jupiter continues to shrink, spectacular new images from the Hubble Space Telescope show. (See big versions of the pictures here and here.)

But, scientists say, the big storm, which has been swirling around the planet for hundreds of years, will likely put up a fight before it dissipates.

NASA and the European Space Agency report:

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Many people have experienced the magic of a wonderful teacher, and we all know anecdotally that these instructors can change our lives. But what if a teacher and a student don't connect? How does that affect the education that child receives?

Is there a way to create a connection where there isn't one? And how might that change things, for teachers and students alike?

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When you think of a nuclear meltdown, a lifeless wasteland likely comes to mind — a barren environment of strewn ashes and desolation. Yet nearly 30 years after the disaster at the nuclear reactor in Chernobyl, in the former Soviet Union, a very different reality has long since taken root.

In and around Chernobyl, wildlife now teems in a landscape long abandoned by humans. The area has been largely vacant of human life since 31 people died in the catastrophe and cleanup.

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Color images of Pluto released by NASA this year show the dwarf planet has a reddish brown surface. But an even newer photo shows that despite those colors, Pluto's atmosphere has a blue haze.

The discovery results from the New Horizons probe's fly-by of Pluto, which also captured data showing that the planet contains "numerous small, exposed regions of water ice," NASA says.

But first things first: Why would a planet that's been known to be reddish — even pink — have a blue sky?

Could A Mushroom Save The Honeybee?

Oct 9, 2015

Honeybees need a healthy diet of pollen, nectar and water. But at a bee laboratory in eastern Washington state, Steve Sheppard fills their feeding tubes with murky brown liquid from the forest.

His bees are getting a healthy dose of mushroom juice.

The Nobel Prize has a special aura. Winning one instantly certifies you as someone who has reached the pinnacle of science.

But what does it take to win the prize? And what does it do to your life? There are different answers for every scientist, of course. But for Nobel laureate and chemist Harold "Harry" Kroto, some of the answers might surprise you.

"I've always felt that the Nobel Prize gives me nothing as far as science is concerned," Kroto told me when I visited him earlier this year in Tallahassee, Fla.

Mars is cold and dry, but billions of years ago, it was cold and wet. That's according to new evidence from NASA's Curiosity rover, which is currently exploring a large crater on Mars.

Something unusual is happening in America's wilderness — some animals and plants are moving away from their native habitats. The reason is a warming climate. It's getting too hot where they live.

Species that can't migrate may perish, so some biologists say we need to move them. But they admit that's a roll of the dice that violates a basic rule of conservation: If you want to keep the natural world "natural," you don't want to move plants and animals around willy-nilly.