Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Viral Video From A Somali Comic Conquers The Internet

Jan 26, 2018

Over the past few months, the Amazon drama-comedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been the show everyone loves to talk about.

Dr. Andrey Ostrovsky's family did not discuss what killed his uncle in 2015. The man was young, not quite two weeks past his 45th birthday, when he died and had lost touch with loved ones in his final months. At the time, Ostrovsky wondered if his uncle had perhaps killed himself.

Archaeologists in Israel have discovered the oldest fossil of a modern human outside Africa. The fossil suggests that humans first migrated out of the continent much earlier than previously believed.

For more than four decades, she didn't have a name. Since 1975, when her mummified body was unearthed in a church in the Swiss city of Basel, she had been a scientific mystery — a well-preserved corpse buried with proofs of her wealth, who for lack of identification took on a distinguished title: the Lady from Barfüsser church.

The Bialowieza Forest, which spans 350,000 acres between Poland and Belarus, is home to a vulnerable population of about 600 bison. But this winter, the forest also became home to a reddish brown cow who decided to escape domestic life for some time in the wild. Poland's TVN24 news portal reports an ornithologist first spotted her in November, wandering the outskirts of the forest with a herd of about 50 bison.

Human skin is a cornucopia of fragrances.

The bacteria living on our skin emit more than 200 odor chemicals.

"Many of these molecules smell quite pleasant," says biologist Jeff Riffell at the University of Washington. "They smell grassy or a little bit like mushrooms. Some human scents are the same ones found in flowers."

Other chemicals — well — they aren't so nice. "They're pretty funky," Riffell says, like an overripe Brie cheese or a musty basement.

Imagine the following experiment: you choose people at random and play snippets of songs they've never heard. A grocery clerk in Illinois listens to an 8th century Berber ballad. A child in Beijing listens to Childish Gambino.

How would listeners react? Would they immediately recognize something universal, say "Oh, this song is clearly for dancing!" Or would the differences in musical style and language leave people confused?

Millions of tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean every year. And the trash stays there: Whether it's grocery bags or water bottles or kids' toys, plastic is practically indestructible.

Now marine scientists have discovered that it's killing coral reefs.

A new study based on four years of diving on 159 reefs in the Pacific shows that reefs in four countries — Australia, Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar — are heavily contaminated with plastic. It clings to the coral, especially branching coral. And where it clings, it sickens or kills.

Late last year, an infant elephant in the state of Kerala in India fell into a well as the baby's herd moved to cross a river.

Together, villagers and government officials mounted a five-hour rescue, using heavy earth-moving equipment to clear a path of packed-down soil that allowed the youngster to climb out.

Grumpy Cat finally has something to smile about.

The perpetually scowling kitty, whose real name is Tardar Sauce, has been awarded a cool $710,000 in a copyright infringement case. Or at least her human, Tabatha Bundesen, has.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The year was 2004, and according to certain TV ads in California, great medical breakthroughs might be just around the corner.

The flu doesn't just make you feel lousy. A study published Wednesday finds it can increase your risk of having a heart attack, too.

"We found that you're six times more likely to have a heart attack during the week after being diagnosed with influenza, compared to the year before or after the infection," says study author Dr. Jeff Kwong, an epidemiologist and family physician with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Public Health Ontario in Canada.

Last summer, Zac Peterson was on the adventure of a lifetime.

The 25-year-old teacher was helping archaeologists excavate an 800-year-old log cabin, high above the Arctic Circle on the northern coast of Alaska.

They had pitched tents right on the beach. Over the course of a month, Peterson watched a gigantic pod of beluga whales swim along the beach, came face-to-face with a hungry polar bear invading their campsite and helped dig out the skull of a rare type of polar bear.

But the most memorable thing happened right at the end of the trip.

Chinese researchers have finally figured out how to clone a primate, using the same technique Scottish researchers devised to clone the first mammal, Dolly the sheep, in the mid-1990s.

Research teams spent a decade trying to reach the moon and win the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize. But organizers are declaring an end to this leg of the space race, saying none of the teams are able to launch a lunar rover project by the March 31, 2018, deadline.

"This literal 'moonshot' is hard," X Prize's Peter Diamandis and Marcus Shingles said in a statement about the contest that began in 2007. They said that while they had expected a winner by now, the grand prize "will go unclaimed."

A short drive north of Fairbanks, Alaska, there's a red shed stuck right up against a hillside. The shed looks unremarkable, except for the door. It looks like a door to a walk-in freezer, with thick insulation and a heavy latch. Whatever is behind that door needs to stay very cold.

"Are you ready to go inside?" asks Dr. Thomas Douglas, a geochemist at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Power Hour

Jan 23, 2018

If you've ever visited the palm-lined neighborhoods of Beverly Hills, you've probably noticed that the rich and famous aren't the only ones drawn there.

Stargazers also flock to this exclusive enclave, seeking a chance to peer into — and fantasize about — the lives of movie stars and film directors.

Call it adulation, adoration, idolization: we humans are fascinated by glamour and power.

But this turns out to be only one side of our psychology.

Mount Mayon, the Philippines' most active volcano, erupted for eight minutes on Monday afternoon, spewing a 3-mile-tall column of debris and volcanic gas. It exploded at least five more times Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Cape Town officials are tightening water restrictions amid claims the city could run out of water by April 21. After three years of intensive drought, officials say residents are bracing for "Day Zero," the day water could stop flowing.

South Africa's second-largest city would be the first major city in the developed world to run out of water, if residents do not heed new stricter water measures. The region is experiencing its worst drought in a century, which experts say has been exacerbated by climate change and in Cape Town, rapid population growth.

I'm old enough to have grown up in a household with a single rotary telephone.

I imagine that most children would not know what to do with one today. Conversely, my grandparents, if I could bring them back to life, would have had no idea of what to do with a smartphone.

Technology changes the way we live — and it also changes us.

A powerful magnitude 7.9 earthquake struck off the coast of Alaska late Monday night, initially prompting a tsunami warning for a large section of the state's coast and parts of Canada. As more data came in, the U.S. Tsunami Warning System downgraded the threat to an advisory for Alaska's Chignik Bay.

Updated at 1:27 p.m. ET

The sudden eruption of a volcano overlooking a ski resort in central Japan rained ash on the slopes and may have triggered an avalanche that left at least one person missing and 10 others injured.

Japan's Meteorological Agency reports that Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, located about 120 miles northwest of Tokyo, erupted early Tuesday.

Scientific Theory And The Multiverse Madness

Jan 22, 2018

Sabine Hossenfelder is a research fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies in Germany. Her research focuses on general relativity and quantum gravity. She is author of the blog Backreaction and her first book, Lost in Math, is set to appear in June. You can find her on Twitter at @skdh.

Maybe you got one of those find-your-ancestry kits over the holidays. You've sent off your awkwardly-collected saliva sample, and you're awaiting your results. If your experience is anything like that of me and my mom, you may find surprises — not the dramatic "switched at birth" kind, but results that are really different from what you expected.

Living Well Now: What Does It Take?

Jan 21, 2018

Randall Curren is a professor of philosophy at the University of Rochester. His work spans sustainability studies, the philosophy and psychology of well-being, social and political philosophy, and ancient Greek philosophy. You can follow his work here.

The man was unconscious and alone when he arrived at University of Miami Hospital last summer. He was 70 years old and gravely ill.

"Originally, we were told he was intoxicated," remembers Dr. Gregory Holt, an emergency room doctor, "but he didn't wake up."

"He wasn't breathing well. He had COPD. These would all make us start to resuscitate someone," says Holt. "But the tattoo made it complicated."

It's not even a month into winter, and the cold temperatures have already crushed my spirits. Bundling up every time I leave the house, unexpected school snow days, a sidewalk obstacle course of frozen dog poop: I'm over it. I find myself dreaming of not just spring but warmth in any form. So a sauna is sounding particularly good about now. And besides the respite from the cold, there are a host of claimed health benefits from regular sessions.

The Trump administration must decide by next week whether to impose tariffs on the imports of solar panel components.

Some U.S. manufacturers have complained that cheap imports are forcing them out of business, while domestic installers oppose tariffs because cheap, imported solar panels have driven the industry's recent growth.

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