Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Updated March 8 at 1:53 p.m. ET

A major study is challenging the widely held view that adult human brains make new neurons.

The study of 59 samples from 29 brains of people of various ages found no immature neurons in anyone older than 13, scientists report online Wednesday in the journal Nature.

"Hauntingly beautiful." "Terrifying and seductive." "A bit too crazy for me."

These are some viewer reactions after watching Alex Garland's Annihilation, a fantasy sci-fi drama that leaves you in a weird state for days.

Twenty-one top tech companies are banding together to try to stop wildlife traffickers from trading endangered species on their platforms.

The Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online, organized by Google and the World Wildlife Fund, was announced Wednesday morning. It includes companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, eBay, Facebook, Instagram and Microsoft, and they're pledging to "work together to collectively reduce wildlife trafficking across platforms by 80% by 2020."

Jacob Katz is on the hunt — not for geese or ducks. On a farm about 40 minutes north of Sacramento, he wades through a rice paddy with an aquarium net in hand. But he's not fishing.

"We're going bug hunting," Katz says.

The senior scientist for California Trout, a conservation group with a focus on protecting wild fish, is at River Garden Farms. Founded in 1913, they typically grow things like corn, wheat and around 5,000 acres of rice — the kind local sushi restaurants use.

Phyllis Petruzzelli spent the week before Christmas struggling to breathe. When she went to the emergency department on Dec. 26, the doctor at Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital, near her home in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood, said she had pneumonia and needed hospitalization.

Then the doctor proposed something that made Petruzzelli nervous: Instead of being admitted to the hospital, she could go back home and let the hospital come to her.

OK, so maybe you're one of those people who don't wash their hands even after going to the bathroom because your dad never did and he never got sick.

Or you think a three-second hand scrub is more than enough.

Or you squirt on some hand-sanitizer and figure you've done your duty.

I have some news for you.

There's a new study out on norovirus and the role hand-washing can play in stopping an outbreak.

To sum it up: Wash up!

Robert Taylor isn't sure why he's alive.

"My mother succumbed to bone cancer. My brother had lung cancer," he ticks them off on his fingers. "My sister, I think it was cervical cancer. My nephew lung cancer." A favorite cousin. That cousin's son. Both neighbors on one side, one neighbor on the other. "And here I am. I don't understand how it decides who to take."

Is there anything more Floridian than a flamingo?

Flamingo iconography is everywhere in the state: decorating front lawns, swizzling cocktails, lighting up motel signs.

The long-legged pink birds were once common in Florida. But their striking feathers were prized decorations for ladies' hats, and they were hunted out of existence for the plume trade in the 1800s.

At least, scientists thought the flamingos had been wiped out.

Like the human gut, the belly of every bovine contains a microbial engine — engines, really — since cows have four-part stomachs. Those unicellular inhabitants do most of the digestive acrobatics of processing a cow's gnarly, fibrous diet of grains, hay, and grass. They're also responsible for some of the cattle industry's greenhouse gas contributions, since, as it turns out, cows don't make methane. Microbes make methane.

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Here's how contentious the wind industry has become in Oklahoma: When a state representative discovered a GPS tracker on his pickup truck late last year, he immediately suspected the industry, in an allegation straight out of a political thriller.

"I pissed off a huge corporation," Rep. Mark McBride told a police officer, according to audio from a police body camera obtained by StateImpact Oklahoma. "You know anything about wind farms?"

McBride explained he may have been targeted because he was writing legislation to increase taxes on the wind industry.

Some of the worst flooding during this past weekend's East Coast storm happened during high tides.

Shoreline tides are getting progressively higher. A soon-to-be-published report obtained by NPR predicts a future where flooding will be a weekly event in some coastal parts of the country.

For scientists who monitor the health of the Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest estuary, simply watching grass grow underwater can be very, very exciting.

The floor of the Chesapeake Bay off Solomon's Island "had no grass since 1972," says Robert Orth, a marine scientist at the College of William & Mary, and there's a undertone of amazement in his voice. "It was just last year, for the first time, we saw small patches of grass appear in front of the lab. Truly remarkable."

Barbara J. King is an anthropology professor emerita at the College of William and Mary. She often writes about the cognition, emotion and welfare of animals and about biological anthropology, human evolution and gender issues. Barbara's new book is Personalities on the Plate: The Lives and Minds of Animals We Eat.

People who are diagnosed with prediabetes can delay or prevent the disease if they change their lifestyle and lose a significant amount of weight. But here's the challenge: How can people be motivated to eat healthier and move more? Increasingly, the answer might include digital medicine.

"Just telling people to do things doesn't work," says Sean Duffy, CEO of Omada Health. If it were easy, there wouldn't be more than 80 million adults in the U.S. with prediabetes.

With sensors that can collect data on body movements, heart rate, blood pressure and other metrics, the list of health trackers that go beyond activity trackers like Fitbits gets longer each year.

"There's definitely an explosion of these things," says Dr. Joseph Kvedar, the vice president for connected health at Partners HealthCare in Boston, and an associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School.

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2018 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It's a long way, metaphorically speaking, from the campus of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., to the Sonic Drive-In burger joints that line America's highways and small towns, particularly in the South.

The two well-preserved mummies from Egypt's Gebelein site – a male and a female — have been in the British Museum's collection for more than 100 years.

But thanks to new technology, archaeologists have just discovered that they have some of the world's oldest tattoos – and what they say are the earliest known to contain figures.

Climate change could decrease the yield of some crops in California by up to 40 percent by 2050. That's a big deal for farmers in the state, which provides about two-thirds of the nation's produce.

Last year, according to government figures, there were 16 "climate disaster events" with losses exceeding $1 billion each in the U.S.

So the weather is something to keep an eye on, and since 1870 what's now known as the National Weather Service has been doing that. But for the last several years, it's been doing so with serious staff shortages.

Now, it faces the prospect of permanent job losses.

The Trump administration wants to eliminate 355 jobs, and $75 million from the weather service budget.

An analysis published Friday confirms the state of American gun policy science is not good, overall.

The nonprofit RAND Corporation analyzed thousands of studies and found only 63 that establish a causal relationship between specific gun policies and outcomes such as reductions in homicide and suicide, leaving lawmakers without clear facts about one of the most divisive issues in American politics.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Editor's note: As the Oscars approach, we're celebrating America's favorite movie snack by bringing back this story, first published in 2014.

Western Illinois might be close to the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, but it's the driest part of the state this year.

"We really haven't really had any measurable rain since the middle of October," says Ken Schafer, who farms winter wheat, corn and soybeans in Jerseyville. "I dug some post-holes this winter, and it's just dust."

Tania Lombrozo is a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley. She writes about psychology, cognitive science and philosophy, with occasional forays into parenting and veganism. You can keep up with more of what she is thinking on Twitter: @TaniaLombrozo

Pages