Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

A five-hour drive southwest of Madrid, I pull into a tiny town square filled with songbirds and an outsized Catholic church — where Eduardo Sousa and Diego Labourdette are waiting.

They're an odd couple. Sousa is a jovial fifth-generation Spanish farmer. Labourdette is a soft-spoken academic — an ecologist and migratory bird expert — who teaches at a university in Madrid. But they're in business together — in the foie gras business.

When agricultural extension agent Tom Barber drives the country roads of eastern Arkansas this summer, his trained eye can spot the damage: soybean leaves contorted into cup-like shapes.

He's seeing it in field after field. Similar damage is turning up in Tennessee and in the "boot-heel" region of Missouri. Tens of thousands of acres are affected.

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

A wildfire on the central California coast has burned more than 38,000 acres and could continue throughout August. Already, the Soberanes fire has destroyed at least 60 homes, and one man died when a bulldozer he was driving near the fire line rolled over on steep terrain.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Adam Summers used to trade Snickers bars to get free CT scans of dead fish.

He likes fish. A lot.

Summers is a professor at the University of Washington in the biology department and School of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences.

"I've always been a fish guy," he says. "It's just been in my blood since I was as small as I can remember." Summers was a scientific consultant on Finding Nemo and did similar work with Finding Dory.

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

The introduction of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft hasn't had any impact on the number of fatalities related to drunken driving, a newly published study finds.

Researchers at the University of Southern California and Oxford University looked at the 100 most populated metropolitan areas, analyzing data from before and after the introduction of Uber and its competitors, and found that access to ride-sharing apps had no effect on traffic fatalities related to drinking alcohol.

Backers of ColoradoCare — the state ballot initiative that would establish universal health care in Colorado — think they have the perfect job for former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Failure Is An Option

About Astro Teller's TED Talk

Entrepreneur Astro Teller rewards colleagues when their ambitious projects fail. Teller says this helps people take risks so they can achieve their "moonshot" goals, like a balloon-powered internet.

About Astro Teller

When he was in college, the thing that enraged Brett Cohen the most was celebrity culture. One day he had the idea to mock it by pretending to be a celebrity, gathering a fake entourage and walking through Midtown Manhattan. It was a big success, and then a film he made of the day went viral.

But there was one small problem: Once Cohen tasted fame, even fake fame, he discovered that he didn't want to give it up.

Can Diabetes Alert Dogs Help Sniff Out Low Blood Sugar?

Jul 29, 2016

For people with diabetes who take insulin, the risk of losing consciousness from low blood sugar is a constant fear. Devices called continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) can alert wearers to dropping levels, but not everyone has access to them. And even among those who do, some prefer a furrier and friendlier alert option: a service dog with special training to alert owners when their blood sugar reaches dangerously low levels.

Researchers have found a curious purple orb near California's Channel Islands – and it's left them stumped.

Iranian-Swedish mathematician Sara Zahedi has won a prestigious European Mathematical Society Prize, the top honor for young European mathematicians awarded once every four years.

Zahedi is being recognized for her efforts to improve computer simulations of the behavior of fluids that don't mix together.

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

A bone from a human ancestor that died between 1.8 million and 1.6 million years ago shows evidence of cancer, a newly published study finds. It is the oldest known example of a malignant tumor in a human ancestor.

Maybe it was a meteor? Or space junk? People on the West Coast weren't sure what the bright object was that streaked across the sky Wednesday night, but they knew it was spectacular. Now comes word that the object — which separated into bright fragments — was a stage of China's large new rocket.

After Hinckley, States Tightened Use Of The Insanity Plea

Jul 28, 2016

The insanity ruling that sent President Ronald Reagan's would-be assassin John Hinckley, Jr., to a government psychiatric hospital rather than prison was handed down 34 years ago, but its repercussions still affect hundreds, if not thousands, of people who commit a crime and also have mental illness.

A group of nano-scientists has discovered a way to arrange individual atoms to store and rewrite data 500 times more efficiently than the best hard drives on the market.

Times are tough for Chesapeake oysters.

For one thing, they used to be bigger. "If you look at what people were saying back in the 1600s and 1700s about oysters, people had to cut them in half before they could even eat them," says Denise Breitburg, an ecologist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

What Women Need In A Checkup: Test Less, Talk More

Jul 28, 2016

Healthy young women can be forgiven for being confused about how often they're supposed to be getting into see their primary care doctor.

For decades, Japanese fishermen have told stories about the existence of a dark, rare beaked whale that they called karasu — the "raven."

But now, scientists say they have genetic proof to back up these tales. Long mistaken for its relative, the Baird's beaked whale, scientists say it represents an entirely new species.

As he takes the stage Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine is firmly in Hillary Clinton's camp — and his party's — on the big health care issues. Now a U.S. senator from Virginia, Kaine supports the Affordable Care Act and pushed its Medicaid expansion. He also worked to overhaul the mental health system when he was governor of Virginia.

Here are highlights and a few flashpoints of controversy from Kaine's health policy record:

Mental health

The federal government released its first overall hospital quality rating on Wednesday, slapping average or below average scores on many of the nation's best-known hospitals while awarding top scores to many unheralded ones.

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

With antibiotic-resistant super bugs on the rise, researchers are on an urgent hunt for other bacteria that might yield chemicals we can harness as powerful drugs. Scientists once found most of these helpful bacteria in soil, but in recent decades this go-to search location hasn't delivered.

Now, researchers at the University of Tübingen in Germany say that to find at least one promising candidate, we need look no further than our own noses.

Dead men tell no tales, but their phones might.

Early last month, two detectives walked into the lab of Anil Jain, a professor of computer science and engineering at Michigan State University. They had heard of Jain's cutting-edge work in fingerprint recognition and wanted his help in a murder investigation.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot is such a crazy, turbulent storm that it creates sound waves that travel hundreds of miles up and actually heat the planet's upper atmosphere.

That's the conclusion of scientists who found a striking hotspot right above the Great Red Spot. They describe their finding Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Whatever South Korean women are eating, pass it around!

The country is having a massive growth spurt. And it doesn't look like it's slowing down anytime soon.

Women in South Korea have gained a whopping 8 inches in height, on average, in the past century — the biggest jump of any other population in the world, researchers report Tuesday.

For men, Iranians are the big winners, gaining 6.5 inches in the past hundred years.

The 2,200-year-old mummy of an Egyptian man who spent a lot of time sitting and eating carbs went on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on Tuesday and will be open to the public beginning Wednesday.

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