Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Last year, the Texas legislature approved a $350 million cut in Medicaid reimbursement rates to early childhood intervention therapists and providers. The cuts, made to help balance a billion dollars in property tax relief, affect the most vulnerable Texas children — those born extremely prematurely or with Down syndrome or other genetic conditions that put them at risk for developmental delay.

There's a seductive idea, currently being road-tested, for how to stop the world's forests from disappearing. It relies on big food companies.

That's because most forests are being cleared in order to grow crops or graze cattle. And the resulting palm oil, soybeans or beef find their way into foods being sold by a relatively small number of global companies.

So here's the strategy: Get those companies to boycott products from deforested land, and much of the economic incentive to clear more forests will disappear. This should slow down or even stop the loss of forests.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's hard for Zachary Lane to wake up in time for school every day.

"I have four alarms set and it still takes me a long time to wake me up," says Lane, a 17-year-old high school junior in Zionsville, Ind.

He says he regularly gets detention for being tardy. "I get to school and I'm talked to like I'm attempting to skip school — like I'm attempting to be truant," he says. "I feel terrible. It's awful."

And when Lane does make it to class on time, he has a hard time focusing.

"I feel kind of like lagging behind myself," he says. "I don't feel totally there."

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

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A bomb goes off. It's noisy. It's smoky. Lights are flashing, people are shouting. The wounded are bloody and dying. But this isn't a real war zone. It's a training class inside a simulator in San Antonio that recreates the real-life chaos and pressure of combat.

A report out this morning from Australian investigators offers a handful of new clues about the greatest aviation mystery of the 21st century: the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

For many Missouri health advocates, an increase in the state's tobacco tax is long overdue. But onlookers might be surprised to hear that tobacco companies are spending a fortune this election year to get one or another increase in that tax passed, while health groups are urging a no vote.

Lots of people think this is how science works: A genius sits in a lab working late into the night and, finally — "Eureka!" After that come big prizes, and maybe even lucrative patents, right?

Discoveries are rarely so straightforward. A recent biotech advance that goes by the long, awkward acronym of CRISPR-Cas9 is a perfect case.

Alaska's Bureau of Land Management regularly posts photos and videos of flying squirrels, scampering porcupines, majestic moose or dramatic landscapes.

But the video that went up last week was different. It was ominous. It was mysterious. It was ... the Chena River Ice Monster, as captured by a baffled BLM employee.

The video shows a strange, undulating icy shape appearing to move through the water. The video has a dramatic soundtrack and an overlay of a camcorder, but BLM insisted the footage itself was unedited.

A federal judge has tentatively signed off on a $151 million settlement between residents of Charleston, W.Va., and two companies implicated in a 2014 chemical spill that poisoned drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people.

In 1969, Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist from Stanford University, ran an interesting field study. He abandoned two cars in two very different places: one in a mostly poor, crime-ridden section of New York City, and the other in a fairly affluent neighborhood of Palo Alto, Calif. Both cars were left without license plates and parked with their hoods up.

A new study suggests some Los Angeles-area earthquakes in the 1920s and 1930s could have been caused by the oil boom at the time.

The paper, scheduled to be published online Tuesday in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, presents evidence that drilling around Los Angeles between 1915 and 1932 could have been associated with damaging earthquakes in the area, including the magnitude 6.4 Long Beach quake in 1933 that killed 120 people.

Three space travelers landed safely back on Earth late Saturday night.

The journey began in the evening, 5:12 p.m., ET to be exact, when the hatch to the International Space Station closed, and Kate Rubins, Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi climbed into the cramped Russian-made Soyuz spacecraft that would bring them home.

A large space rock came fairly close to Earth on Sunday night. Astronomers knew it wasn't going to hit Earth, thanks in part to a new tool NASA is developing for detecting potentially dangerous asteroids.

Matt O'Hayer thought he was in the idyllic part of the egg business. He's CEO of Vital Farms, based in Austin, Texas, which markets eggs from hens that run around outdoors, on grassy pastures, at about a hundred different farms.

"I thought that there's nothing more beautiful than eggs, where you have sort of a symbiotic relationship; you take care of the hen and she gives you this little gift every day," says O'Hayer.

Until a few years ago, he never thought about where those hens come from, or what happened to their male siblings.

Those first bubbles were almost a revelation. A couple of days before, I had mixed together flour and water into a paste. But now pockets of gas percolated through that seemingly inert glob. It was breathing. It was alive.

This gloppy mess, exuding a whiff of vinegar, was my nascent sourdough starter. When mature, it would be a pungent brew of yeasts and bacteria, a complex ecosystem that would hopefully yield delicious loaves of sourdough bread.

After years of negotiations, nations have reached an agreement to establish the world's largest marine sanctuary in Antarctica's Ross Sea.

Twenty-four countries and the European Union reached the unanimous deal at an international meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources in Hobart, Australia on Friday.

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

When Katlyn Burbidge's son was 6 years old, he was performing some silly antic typical of a first-grader. But after she snapped a photo and started using her phone, he asked her a serious question: "Are you going to post that to Facebook?"

She laughed and answered, "Yes, I think I will." What he said next stopped her.

"Can you not?"

That's when it dawned on her: She had been posting photos of him online without asking his permission.

Scientists have long suspected that the common swift remains airborne for extraordinary amounts of time during its annual migration.

Now, a team of scientists in Sweden has proved that these birds fly for tremendously long periods of time. They affixed data loggers onto a total of 19 of the master fliers in 2013 and 2014, and recaptured the birds months or years later. Researchers found that the birds can spend almost their entire 10-month nonbreeding period on the wing.

It's been a brutal forest fire season in California. But there's actually a greater threat to California's trees — the state's record-setting drought. The lack of water has killed at least 60 million trees in the past four years.

Scientists are struggling to understand which trees are most vulnerable to drought and how to keep the survivors alive. To that end, they're sending human climbers and flying drones into the treetops, in a novel biological experiment.

A new report by the World Wildlife Fund warns that global wildlife populations are in steep decline worldwide.

A rusty-brown rock found on a beach by a fossil hunter might contain a bit of preserved dinosaur brain.

If so, it would be the first time scientists have ever found fossilized brain tissue from a dinosaur.

The fossil comes from a species closely related to Iguanodon, a large herbivore that lived about 130 million years ago. A collector named Jamie Hiscocks found it in 2004, near Bexhill in the United Kingdom.

Placebos can't cure diseases, but research suggests that they seem to bring some people relief from subjective symptoms, such as pain, nausea, anxiety and fatigue.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, is called The Nation's Report Card for good reason; the tests are administered the same way year after year, using the same kind of test booklets, to students across the country.

If you want to feel virtuous the next time you chug a brewski, consider the Long Root Ale. This new beer, mildly fragrant and with a rye-like spiciness, is the first to use Kernza, a kind of wheat that could make agriculture more sustainable, especially in the face of climate change.

Public health authorities and infectious disease specialists now say we may not be able to rid the U.S. of the Zika virus. Despite months of intense work — including house to house inspections and aggressive mosquito control — federal, state and local officials have not been able to stop the spread of Zika in Miami.

West Virginia residents have settled part of a civil lawsuit over a chemical spill that contaminated drinking water for thousands of people in 2014, according to The Associated Press.

It's one of the biggest medical mysteries of our time: How did HIV come to the U.S.?

By genetically sequencing samples from people infected early on, scientists say they have figured out when and where the virus that took hold here first arrived. In the process, they have exonerated the man accused of triggering the epidemic in North America.

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