Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

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. A team of researchers at the University of Arizona sequenced HIV virus taken from Canadian flight attendant Gaetan Dugas, the man called "Patient Zero"...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: Hillary Clinton rather famously spoke of cracks in the glass ceiling - that invisible barrier that stops women from rising to the highest rungs of power. Some psychologists see it differently - not a ceiling, but a labyrinth. And the problem does not stop once a woman is elected to public office or reaches the corner office. NPR's Shankar Vedantam explores a painful double bind that affects women who seek to...

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Cori Bargmann's new job description includes "to help cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century." That's quite a lofty goal. Bargmann is a neuroscientist and president of science for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative , the joint venture of pediatrician Priscilla Chan and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. The couple pledged $3 billion to solve major medical problems by helping scientists and engineers collaborate long term, over 25, 50, even 80 years. All Things Considered...

When scientists want to know what our ancient ancestors ate, they can look at a few things: fossilized animal bones with marks from tools used to butcher and cut them; fossilized poop; and teeth. The first two can tell us a lot, but they're hard to come by in the fossil record. Thankfully, there are a lot of teeth to fill in the gaps. "They preserve really well," explains Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg , a dental anthropologist at Ohio State University. "It's kind of convenient because teeth hold...

Antarctica's ice has been melting, most likely because of a warming climate. Now, newly published research shows the rate of melting appears to be accelerating. Antarctica is bigger than the U.S. and Mexico combined, and it's covered in deep ice — more than a mile deep in some places. Most of the ice sits on bedrock, but it slowly flows off the continent's edges. Along the western edge, giant glaciers creep down toward the sea. Where they meet the ocean, they form ice shelves. The shelves are...

The Amorphophallus titanum is a striking plant even before you get close enough to smell it. Its scientific name means giant, misshapen phallus and it is not hard to see why. A giant column called a spadix rises 7 feet into the air from the center of a pleated funnel. When the plant blooms (every decade or so) that spadix actually heats up to about 90 degrees. The stench that inspires its common name — the corpse flower — comes from the putrid blend of chemicals the bloom sends into the air....

Parents can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome by keeping their child's crib in the same room, close to their bed, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. That's one of the key recommendations in new guidance released today aimed at preventing SIDS, which claims the lives of approximately 3,500 infants every year in the United States. That number "initially decreased in the 1990s after a national safe sleep campaign, but has plateaued in recent years," the AAP adds. The...

New research finds little lies pave the way for big ones. The study , published Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience , is the latest addition to the catalog of scientific findings that make many people think, "Well yeah, we knew that." (Other examples include the findings that sugar makes bees hyper , that holiday food makes us fatter and that not many people read online service contracts , all of which led to a collective "Duh.") But testing the truth of what appears obvious is kind of...

It's one thing to appreciate a 20-year-old fine wine. It is something else to brew up a 2,500-year-old alcoholic beverage. While sifting through the remains of an Iron Age burial plot dating from 400 to 450 B.C. in what is today Germany, Bettina Arnold , an archaeologist and anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and others uncovered a cauldron that contained remnants of an alcohol brewed and buried with the deceased. "We actually were able, ultimately, to derive at least...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N0FY-fe_hA When scientists recently announced that they had discovered a new planet orbiting our closest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centuri, they also released an artist's conception of the planet. The picture of a craggy canyon, illuminated by a reddish-orange sunset, looked like an image that could have been taken on Mars by one of NASA's rovers. But the alien scene was actually completely made-up. It's part of an ever-increasing gallery of images depicting...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: It's no secret that this presidential campaign season has been tense, with disagreement and rancor even louder than usual. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: You know, people are actually watching this at home. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) HILLARY CLINTON: Well, that's because he'd rather have a puppet as president than... DONALD TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet... CLINTON: And... (SOUNDBITE...

Astronauts used the International Space Station's robotic arm to grapple the Cygnus cargo spacecraft early Sunday morning, starting the process of bringing more than 5,100 pounds of supplies and research equipment aboard. The cargo's experiments include one thing astronauts normally avoid: fire. "The new experiments include studies on fire in space, the effect of lighting on sleep and daily rhythms, collection of health-related data, and a new way to measure neutrons," NASA says. Aboard the...

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Can Mental Illness Be Prevented In The Womb?

Oct 22, 2016

Every day in the United States, millions of expectant mothers take a prenatal vitamin on the advice of their doctor. The counsel typically comes with physical health in mind: folic acid to help avoid fetal spinal cord problems; iodine to spur healthy brain development; calcium to be bound like molecular Legos into diminutive baby bones. But what about a child's future mental health? Questions about whether ADHD might arise a few years down the road or whether schizophrenia could crop up in...

Instead of drifting gently onto Mars' surface, the Schiaparelli Mars lander hit the planet hard — and possibly exploded. That's the word from the European Space Agency, which says new images taken by NASA show the possible crash site. The NASA images, taken on Oct. 20, show two recent changes to the landscape on Mars' surface — one dark blotch, and one white speck — which are being interpreted as Schiaparelli's parachute and its crash site. With the warning that analysis is still ongoing,...

Can A Place Still Be Home Even After Becoming Toxic?

Oct 21, 2016

Part 6 of the TED Radio Hour episode Toxic About Holly Morris's TED Talk Even thirty years after the devastating nuclear accident in Chernobyl, there are still people who call the place home. Filmmaker Holly Morris tells the stories of the mostly elderly women who decided to stay despite the toxicity. About Holly Morris Holly Morris is a writer, producer and director. She is the author of Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for a New Kind of Heroine and writer and director of its companion...

How Does Our Brain Get Rid Of Toxins?

Oct 21, 2016

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Toxic About Jeff Iliff's TED Talk Neuroscientist Jeff Iliff talks about his research, which explores how the brain naturally flushes out toxins during sleep. About Jeff Iliff Neuroscientist Jeff Iliff is an Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. Iliff was a part of a University of Rochester Medical Center team that discovered a brain cleansing system , which they dubbed the "glymphatic system...

How Can Your Home Make You Sick?

Oct 21, 2016

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Toxic About Rishi Manchanda's TED Talk When Dr. Rishi Manchanda worked in a clinic in South Central Los Angeles, he saw that patients were getting sick because of toxic living conditions — so he tried a unique treatment approach. About Rishi Manchanda Rishi Manchanda is a physician and public health innovator. He aims to reinvigorate primary care by teaching doctors to think about and treat the social and environmental conditions that often underlie...

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Toxic About Emily Penn's TED Talk Ocean advocate Emily Penn has seen first hand how much plastic ends up in the oceans. She explains how the toxins from plastic makes their way into our food chain and how we might be able to stop it. About Emily Penn Emily Penn is an ocean advocate and director of Pangaea Exploration, which helps scientists, filmmakers and everyday people visit the most remote parts of our planet. Emily is the youngest and only female...

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Toxic About Tyrone Hayes's TED Talk Biologist Tyrone Hayes talks about the concerning effects of the herbicide atrazine, which is part of a group of chemicals that are found in everyday food and household products. About Tyrone Hayes Professor Tyrone Hayes studies frogs and other amphibians at the University of California, Berkeley. He's become an active critic of the farm chemical atrazine, which he's found to interfere with the development of amphibians'...

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Toxic About Holly Morris's TED Talk Filmmaker Holly Morris talks about her time with the " Babuschkas of Chernobyl " — the elderly women who decided to stay in Chernobyl, Ukraine, after the worst nuclear accident in history. About Holly Morris Holly Morris is a writer and film director and producer. She is the author of Adventure Divas: Searching the Globe for a New Kind of Heroine and writer and director of its companion PBS documentary series. A former...

If there's one rule that most parents cling to in the confusing, fast-changing world of kids and media, it's this one: No screens before age 2. As of today , that rule is out the window. The American Academy of Pediatrics, which first issued that recommendation back in 1999, has extensively updated and revised its guidelines for children and adolescents to reflect new research and new habits. The new guidelines, especially for very young children, shift the focus from WHAT is on the screen to...

Whether your kid is 3 and obsessed with Daniel Tiger videos or 15 and spending half her conscious hours on Snapchat, you are probably somewhat conflicted about how to think about their media habits. How much time? What kind of media? What should our family's rules be? When the American Academy of Pediatrics released its latest recommendations on these burning questions Friday, it also did something pretty cool: it launched an online tool that parents can use to create their own family media...

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The remains of two gigantic dinosaurs discovered in Australia may shed light on how dinosaurs spread across the globe. The dinosaurs are both titanosaurs , massive plant-eaters with long necks and thick limbs. The first, a new species known as Savannasaurus elliottorum , was about half the length of a basketball court and lived about 95 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. Paleontologists also found the skull of a Diamantinasaurus matildae , which grew longer than a city bus and...

The Schiaparelli Mars lander got very close to the red planet before something went wrong. It entered the planet's atmosphere, managed not to burn up as it hurtled down and unfurled its parachute. It's unclear what happened in the final minute of descent, but it wasn't what the European and Russian space agencies had planned. Scientists working on the ExoMars mission say the lander let go of its parachute early. Then, the thrusters that were supposed to help slow its descent — from a crazy...

Snakes used to wander the Earth on legs about 150 million years ago, before they shifted from strut to slither. Now, two scientists have pinpointed the genetic process that caused snakes to lose their legs. What's more, they say the "molecular machinery" for leg development still persists in snakes after these millions of years — it's simply switched off. Some snakes, such as pythons, retain tiny vestiges of legs in the form of two small bumps on either side of their pelvis. The scientists at...

Whether it's jet lag, a new work schedule, daylight saving time or just a Monday morning, shifting sleep schedules takes a toll. But scientists think they might have found a way to reset our internal timers that's more than hot air. At least, it works if you're a mouse. The solution, it seems, is thin air. A study published Thursday in the journal Cell Metabolism found that decreasing oxygen levels for a short period of time helped mice recover from jet lag faster. According to Dr. Gad Asher ...

Giant panda Bao Bao, born at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., in August 2013, will be heading to China this winter. Bao Bao's parents, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, are on loan from China, and the agreement calls for any pandas born to the breeding pair to be sent to the Chinese breeding program before they turn 4. Bao Bao's older brother, Tai Shan, made the journey in 2010 . Now it will be Bao Bao's turn. FedEx will be flying her to Chengdu "within the first few months of 2017," the National...

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