Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Last week, the PBS series Nova presented an episode on black holes, these most mysterious and mind-boggling physical objects.

Updated at 10 a.m. ET

Michigan residents got a surprise Tuesday night when a meteor punched through the clouds with an explosive flash. It was powerful enough to register on seismic instruments.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Nearly all of the seats on the U.S. National Park Service advisory board are vacant following a mass resignation Monday night, with ex-members citing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's unwillingness to meet with them.

Colin Campbell needs help dressing, bathing and moving between his bed and his wheelchair. He has a feeding tube because his partially paralyzed tongue makes swallowing "almost impossible," he says.

Campbell, 58, spends $4,000 a month on home health care services so he can continue to live in his home just outside Los Angeles. Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, which relentlessly attacks the nerve cells in his brain and spinal cord and has no cure.

This year, trucks and other heavy-duty motors in America will burn some 3 billion gallons of diesel fuel that's made primarily from vegetable oil. They're doing it, though, not because it's cheaper or better, but because they're required to, by law.

The law is the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS. For some, especially Midwestern farmers, it's the key to creating clean energy from American soil and sun. For others — like many economists — it's a wasteful misuse of resources.

Food Stamp Program Makes Fresh Produce More Affordable

Jan 16, 2018

Rebeca Gonzalez grew up eating artichokes from her grandmother's farm in the central Mexican state of Tlaxcala. But for years after emigrating to the U.S., she did not feed them to her own kids because the spiky, fibrous vegetables were too expensive on this side of the border.

When she prepared meals at her family's home in Garden Grove, Calif., Gonzalez would also omit avocados, a staple of Mexican cuisine that are often costly here.

Altering A Species: Darwin's Shopping List

Jan 15, 2018

By genetically modifying organisms, we can now create glow-in-the-dark cats and fish, mice with singing voices, less flatulent cows, carbon-capturing plants,

In 1545, people in the Mexican highlands starting dying in enormous numbers. People infected with the disease bled and vomited before they died. Many had red spots on their skin.

It was one of the most devastating epidemics in human history. The 1545 outbreak, and a second wave in 1576, killed an estimated 7 million to 17 million people and contributed to the destruction of the Aztec Empire.

But identifying the pathogen responsible for the carnage has been difficult for scientists because infectious diseases leave behind very little archaeological evidence.

It's just before Thanksgiving, and artist Christopher Marley is packing up items for a big exhibition outside Miami. Marley transforms poisonous snakes, tropical fish and exotic insects into works of art — and he just realized he forgot to frame a foot-long isopod that's still in the freezer.

People diagnosed with cancer understandably reach for the very best that medical science has to offer. That motivation is increasingly driving people to ask to have the DNA of their tumors sequenced. And while that's useful for some malignancies, the hype of precision medicine for cancer is getting far ahead of the facts.

It's easy to understand why that's the case. When you hear stories about the use of DNA sequencing to create individualized cancer treatment, chances are they are uplifting stories. Like that of Ben Stern.

When Arline Geronimus was a student at Princeton University in the late 1970s, she worked a part-time job at a school for pregnant teenagers in Trenton, N.J. She quickly noticed that the teenagers at that part-time job were suffering from chronic health conditions that her whiter, better-off Princeton classmates rarely experienced. Geronimus began to wonder: how much of the health problems that the young mothers in Trenton experienced were caused by the stresses of their environment?

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

At the start of the new year, parents may encourage their teens to detox from social media, increase exercise, or begin a volunteer project. While kids may bristle at the thought of posting fewer selfies, surveys indicate 55 percent of adolescents enjoy volunteering. And according to a recent study, when it comes to helping others, teens may benefit psychologically from spending time helping strangers.

A new study suggests that the polar jet stream has been fluctuating more than normal as it passes over the parts of the Northern Hemisphere, and that's affecting weather in Europe and North America.

Search and rescue efforts continue in Santa Barbara County, Calif., after deadly mudslides killed at least 17 people and destroyed dozens of homes.

Flash floods swept down hillsides recently devastated by wildfires, highlighting the heightened risk of mudslides after firefighters contained the flames. Officials say 43 people are still missing, and experts are warning that more rainfall could cause more destruction.

You've seen the Orion Nebula before – but not like this.

It's part of the Orion constellation, easily visible from Earth: The bright center "star" in Orion's sword, located off Orion's belt, is actually an active nebula where new stars are formed.

Science is not a philosophy or a spiritual path; it's a way of behaving in the world.

But since tribalism and polarization have made "alternative facts" a reality of public life, there is something we can learn from science to help us navigate the troubled waters and find a more resilient civic life.

The lesson begins with understanding the right relationship not to knowing but to not knowing. To be blunt, if we want to fight ignorance, we must start with our own.

A giant black hole located at the center of a galaxy 800 million light-years from Earth has been caught on camera letting out not one, but two massive "burps" of highly charged particles.

It is the first time astronomers have viewed the phenomenon twice in the same black hole.

Images released Thursday and credited to the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory were presented at the American Astronomical Society's winter meeting in National Harbor, Md., outside Washington, D.C.

Recent scientific reviews have found substantial evidence that marijuana can be useful in easing at least some types of chronic pain. Yet even for the majority of Americans who live in states that have legalized medical marijuana, choosing opioids can be much cheaper.

Scientists say that images from Mars show large slopes of ice — and provide a hint at how they were formed. One likely theory involves snowfall on the Red Planet.

The researchers say that the size and accessibility of the ice sheets, as well as the fact that they are made of relatively clean water, could be an important resource for astronauts who might travel to Mars in the future.

The Flu Goes Viral

Jan 11, 2018

Have you been feeling under the weather?

You’re not alone.

From Australia to California to your sofa, the flu has hit the world hard this year, and it might get worse

From the New York Times:

The federal government's top fisheries experts say that three widely used pesticides — including the controversial insecticide chlorpyrifos — are jeopardizing the survival of many species of salmon, as well as orcas that feed on those salmon.

It's a fresh attack on a chemical that the Environmental Protection Agency was ready to take off the market a year ago — until the Trump administration changed course.

In a post published by the conservation organization Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI) last month, the behavior of a mountain gorilla female in Rwanda was described in striking terms.

The 26-year-old female, named Pasika, has been traveling alone with her baby for more than seven months in Rwanda's Virunga mountains, ever since her social group fell apart at the death of its silverback leader. Her infant, Mashami, is now one year old.

Editor's Note: This story was originally published in 2017 and has been updated.

Tennis superstar Serena Williams clearly has conflicted feelings about marshmallows.

In a just-published interview in Vogue magazine, she and her husband talked about the so-called "marshmallow test." It's a well-known experiment to study children's self-control first run by a Stanford psychologist in the 1960s.

A bumper sticker spotted in Montana reads, "No barley, no beer." It's a reminder that Montana's barley farmers are struggling. Barley is an unforgiving crop that needs a precise recipe of water and sunshine to thrive — too much of either will cause it to wither and die. And amid a changing climate and unpredictable seasons, that's exactly what's happening.

Most Americans drink safely and in moderation. But a steady annual increase in trips made to emergency rooms as a result of drinking alcohol added up to 61 percent more visits in 2014 compared with 2006, according to a study published this month in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Visits to hospital emergency rooms for alcohol-related issues rose rapidly over a nine-year period, though it's unclear why.

It's summer in Australia and extreme heat is causing bats' brains to fry.

Hundreds of fur-covered flying fox bats, which lack sufficient canopy cover and shade in Australia's suburbs, died outside Sydney over the weekend as temperatures soared to 117 degrees F, the hottest it's been since 1939.

An apology for "tweeting out such fake news" didn't come from a media member accused by President Trump, but from a Japanese astronaut whose growth in outer space was miscalculated.

In a tweet on Monday, Norishige Kanai claimed he had grown by as much as 3 1/2 inches since arriving at the International Space Station on Dec. 19.

Warming temperatures are having a profound and potentially devastating impact on one of the most important green sea turtle populations in the world.

Scientists were surprised to find that "virtually no male turtles" are being hatched in a key breeding ground in the northern Great Barrier Reef.

Like many reptiles, the sex of a turtle is determined by how warm the egg is as it's being incubated. And small temperature differences can cause dramatic changes in the male-to-female ratio.

The results of an IQ test can depend on the gender of the person who's conducting the test. Likewise, studies of pain medication can be completely thrown off by the gender of the experimenter. This underappreciated problem is one reason that some scientific findings don't stand the test of time.

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