Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

People are being warned not to feed the animals: kangaroos, specifically, at a psychiatric hospital in Australia's New South Wales that has become a hot spot for tourists seeking the perfect #rooselfie with the marsupials.

For some who ignore the advice, the consequences range from kicks and scratches to serious injury in a few cases — two men were attacked recently, one who received a deep gash to the stomach and another who required 17 stitches to his face, according to Greg Piper, a member of the New South Wales Parliament.

Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that would prohibit the sale of over-the-counter sunscreens containing chemicals they say are contributing to the destruction of the state's coral reefs and other ocean life.

If signed by Gov. David Ige, it will make Hawaii the first state in the country to pass such a law and will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

Scott Pruitt, the current head of the Environmental Protection Agency, first came to national prominence back when he was Oklahoma's attorney general. In that role, he sued the agency he now runs 14 times, in a series of court cases alleging overreach by the federal government.

New research suggests that global warming could cause temperature swings to get unusually extreme. And the regions where the biggest swings will occur are among the poorest in the world — and the least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

Climate scientists already know that as the planet warms, there's a bigger chance of extreme weather: bigger hurricanes, for example, or heavier rainfall.

Scientists are one step closer to understanding how modern birds evolved to have beaks, and the answer starts millions of years ago with some of the sexiest dinosaurs.

Updated at 10:10 a.m. ET

Iowa's Legislature has passed a bill that would make most abortions illegal once a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

The measure, which would effectively ban abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, passed the state House late Tuesday and the state Senate early Wednesday. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has not said whether she will sign the bill.

A coalition of 17 states and the District of Columbia, led by California, is suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its plan to change vehicle efficiency standards. The states are asking a court to review the EPA's proposed actions, arguing that they violate the Clean Air Act.

"We're not looking to pick a fight with the Trump administration, but when the stakes are this high for our families' health and our economic prosperity, we have a responsibility to do what is necessary to defend them," California's attorney general, Xavier Becerra, said.

Former weapons inspectors say an apparent trove of information on Iran's nuclear weapons program will increase pressure for more intrusive inspections of its atomic sites.

On Monday, the Israeli government disclosed it had obtained thousands of pages of documents and nearly 200 CDs' worth of data on Iran's nuclear program.

An engineer in California has an invention that she hopes will someday help people with damaged lungs breathe easier.

Stanford University's Annelise Baron has developed a synthetic version of something called lung surfactant. Lung surfactant coats the tiny air sacs in the lung. Without it, every breath would be a struggle, like blowing up millions of little balloons. With surfactant, breathing is as easy as blowing soap bubbles.

World's Oldest Spider Dies At 43

May 1, 2018

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We're going to take a moment to remember the long life of a spider. She was 43, thought to have been the world's oldest spider. And her demise didn't have to happen the way it did.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The Sunday before Scott Pruitt's confirmation hearing to run the Environmental Protection Agency, Pruitt stood on the stage of his hometown church, bowed his head, and prayed.

In a big grass pasture in the shadow of Mount Rainier in Washington state, hundreds of chickens crowd around a little house where they can get water and shelter from the bald eagles circling overhead. This is the original location of Wilcox Family Farms, an egg farm that also has locations in Oregon and Montana.

Ellen Stofan saw her first rocket launch when she was 4 years old. Now, more than 50 years later, she's director of the National Air and Space Museum — the first woman to hold the position.

Stofan, a former chief scientist at NASA, comes to the position with more than 25 years of field experience. But before all that, she was just a kid who fell in love with science — specifically, with rocks.

If you’re a kid or the parent of one, you have no shortage of choices when it comes to family-friendly TV shows. Fifty years ago, the options were much more limited. And educational programs for kids were a relatively new genre.

From an August 1969 article in The Atlantic that profiled three stars of children’s television, including the iconic Fred Rogers:

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A massive floating nuclear power plant is now making its way toward its final destination at an Arctic port, after Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom launched the controversial craft over the weekend. It's the first nuclear power plant of its kind, Russian officials say.

Called the Akademik Lomonosov, the floating power plant is being towed at a creeping pace out of St. Petersburg, where it was built over the last nine years. It will eventually be brought northward, to Murmansk – where its two nuclear reactors will be loaded with nuclear fuel and started up this fall.

Say you're at your local coffee shop.

You order a cappuccino or a caramel macchiato and look for a cozy spot where you can settle in for an hour or two. But there's one problem: A bunch of chairs are blocking the aisle.

At this critical moment, do you: a) Contort and squeeze your body around the misplaced chairs, just in case someone had a good reason for putting them there? Or b) Move the chairs, so you can quickly sit down and start drinking your beverage before it gets cold?

Australia's government is investing 500 million Australian dollars (more than $377 million U.S.) to protect the Great Barrier Reef, which has been struggling to cope with storm damage, coral-eating starfish and bleaching events triggered by warmer oceans.

The government announced the new funding on Sunday. Most of the money will go to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, which will use it to limit pollution, fund restoration work, fight the coral-destroying crown-of-thorns starfish and monitor the reef's condition.

When Melisa Martinez's son, Juelz, was born very prematurely at 25 weeks back in January, doctors at University of California, Davis Children's Hospital gave him probiotics. "They told me the probiotics may help reduce the risk of infection," Martinez says. Now, Juelz is home and doing well.

Military personnel may be endangering their own brains when they operate certain shoulder-fired weapons, according to an Army-commissioned report released Monday.

The report, from the Center for a New American Security, says these bazooka-like weapons pose a hazard because they are powered by an explosion just inches from the operator's head.

Our series "Take A Number" looks at problems around the world — and the people trying to solve them — through the lens of a single number.

From the boat, Rebecca Kochulem points at the hills surrounding Lake Baringo. It is a spectacular specimen of natural beauty: red cliffs plunging into water, steam rising from gurgling hot springs and the hills, lush and green with acacia trees.

Kochulem, a zoologist, sees this as a perfect habitat for giraffes.

After you read this sentence, pause for a moment to think back on advertisements you first heard when you were a child.

Perhaps you recall a favorite jingle or the catchphrase of a cereal mascot. You probably can remember more than just one.

On this week's Hidden Brain radio show, we look at the shelf life of commercials. According to University of Arizona researcher Merrie Brucks, an ad we watched when we were five years old can influence our buying behavior when we're fifty.

Citing concerns for food production, the environment and biodiversity, the European Union is set to "completely ban" the outdoor use of neonicotinoid insecticides that have been blamed for killing bees, and for keeping other bees from laying eggs.

"All outdoor use of the three substances will be banned and the neonicotinoids in question will only be allowed in permanent greenhouses where no contact with bees is expected," the EU announced on Friday.

A critical part of NASA's next $2 billion rover mission to Mars broke during testing earlier this month.

The Mars 2020 mission's heat shield was undergoing stress-testing when it developed a crack that appeared around its entire circumference. The shield is designed to protect the rover as it enters the Martian atmosphere.

For today, there are no doctor's visits. No long afternoons with nothing to do. No struggles over bathing.

At the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., a group of older adults — some in wheelchairs, some with Alzheimer's — sit with their caregivers in a semicircle around a haunting portrait of a woman in white.

Updated at 2:54 p.m. ET

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt faced withering criticism from congressional Democrats on Thursday, with one lawmaker calling him "unfit to hold public office." But Republican members of Congress — especially those representing states with large fossil fuel industries — rallied to Pruitt's defense.

When it comes to the nitty, gritty details, life in antiquity was pretty stinky – in a literal sense. Without high food and personal hygienic standards, most people probably contracted an intestinal worm at some point or another, says veterinary scientist Martin Søe. "I think it's fair to say it was very, very common. In places with low hygienic standards, you still have a lot of whipworm and round worm."

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

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies on Capitol Hill tomorrow, and it could be a make-or-break appearance. It'll be his first time in front of lawmakers since a string of allegations of ethical misconduct.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Bits of human brain tissue no larger than a pea are forcing scientists to think about questions as large as the nature of consciousness.

These clusters of living brain cells are popularly known as minibrains, though scientists prefer to call them cerebral organoids. At the moment, they remain extremely rudimentary versions of an actual human brain and are used primarily to study brain development and disorders like autism.

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