Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Nuclear power plants are typically hulking structures made using billions of dollars of concrete and steel. But one company thinks that by going smaller, they could actually make nuclear power more affordable.

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Networks

About Avi Rubin's TED Talk

Computer scientist Avi Rubin says all our smart devices — cars, phones, even fitness trackers — can be hacked. He warns that our network of connected technology puts us at increased risk for cyberattacks.

About Avi Rubin

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Networks

About Wanis Kabbaj's TED Talk

Wanis Kabbaj wants traffic to flow smoothly and efficiently, like the blood in our veins. He says driverless cars may be the solution to today's highway gridlock.

About Wanis Kabbaj

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Networks

About Robin Dunbar's TED Talk

Anthropologist Robin Dunbar believes the evolutionary structure of social networks limits us to 150 meaningful relationships at a time — even with the rise of social media

About Robin Dunbar

How Do Trees Collaborate?

Jan 13, 2017

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Networks

About Suzanne Simard's TED Talk

Ecologist Suzanne Simard shares how she discovered that trees use underground fungi networks to communicate and share resources, uprooting the idea that nature constantly competes for survival.

About Suzanne Simard

So far, more than half of all U.S. states have legalized marijuana for medical use, and eight (plus the District of Columbia) have legalized the drug for recreational use. Varieties of cannabis available today are more potent than ever and come in many forms, including oils and leaves that can be vaped, and lots of edibles, from brownies and cookies to candies — even cannabis gummy bears.

Six years ago, Don Cameron, the general manager of Terranova Ranch, southwest of Fresno, Calif., did something that seemed kind of crazy.

He went out to a nearby river, which was running high because of recent rains, and he opened an irrigation gate. Water rushed down a canal and flooded hundreds of acres of vineyards — even though it was wintertime. The vineyards were quiet. Nothing was growing.

"We started in February, and we flooded grapes continuously, for the most part, until May," Cameron says.

Tying a knot can be tricky. Just ask any kid struggling with shoelaces. And scientists have it even harder when they try to make knots using tiny molecules.

Now, in the journal Science, a team of chemists says it has made a huge advance — manipulating molecules to create the tightest knot ever.

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Mice that kill at the flip of a switch may reveal how hunting behavior evolved hundreds of millions of years ago.

The mice became aggressive predators when two sets of neurons in the amygdala were activated with laser light, a team reported Thursday in the journal Cell.

Menopause is a mystery to evolutionary biologists, but new insights could come from a long-term study of killer whales.

In these whales, the explanation may lie in a combination of conflict and cooperation between older and younger females, according to a report published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.

It has spent some 175 years homeless, wandering many paths of taxonomy without a single branch to call its own. In the time since it was first described, this now-extinct, cone-shaped sea creature has known a number of presumed families — from mollusks to designations much more nebulous — but the tiny hyolith never quite fit in any of them.

Oklahoma lawmakers are staring into a budget hole that's nearly $900 million deep — and they might not be able to cut their way out of it. Legislators are considering tax increases to help fund state government, and one idea is gaining traction: hiking taxes on gasoline and diesel.

It's no secret that American children have gotten heavier in recent decades.

What stands out upon entering Mai Dang's nail salon, located on a busy street in Berkeley, Calif., is what's missing — the stinging smell of polish, remover and other nail products. That wasn't always the case. For a decade, Dang suffered from the effects of the chemicals she used at work every day.

"When you do nails, workers get itchy skin and watery eyes," says Dang, 40. She also used to have frequent headaches, and one of her workers developed asthma. So when she heard about an opportunity to improve the safety at her salon, she signed up.

The Affordable Care Act brought the rate of uninsured Americans to a record low 9 percent in 2015. It's the major achievement of the controversial health care law and one the Obama administration likes to tout whenever it can.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell did just that in an interview with NPR on Tuesday.

There's a new jungle Jedi out there.

Scientists who discovered a new primate, which lives in eastern Myanmar and southwestern China, are such big Star Wars fans, they named the ape after Luke Skywalker.

They also chose the name, skywalker hoolock gibbon, because the Chinese characters mean "Heaven's movement," according to the BBC. The new species is also known as the Gaoligong hoolock gibbon, named for Mt. Gaoligong on the border between China and Myanmar.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Fitness tracking is all the rage right now. If you want to, you can monitor your heart rate, count your footsteps and calories burned, and even monitor your sleep patterns, all by using devices that can fit around your wrist or in your pocket. But that's if you're human. Fresno Chaffee Zoo, in Fresno, Calif., is taking fitness tracking to a mammoth new level — part of a national project to guard the health and happiness of zoo elephants.

The nightshade family has some of the most economically important and useful crops on Earth. That includes, of course, deadly nightshade or belladonna, which produces the medicine atropine, as well as potatoes, tomatoes, chili and bell peppers, tobacco and eggplant.

West Coast crab fishermen just ended an 11-day strike over a price dispute. But a more ominous and long-term threat to their livelihood may be on the horizon. A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found a link between warming ocean conditions and a dangerous neurotoxin that builds up in sea life: domoic acid.

NPR's YouTube channel, Skunk Bear, answers your science questions. This week, we picked one in honor of David Bowie.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Scientists predict that a pair of stars in the constellation Cygnus will collide in 2022, give or take a year, creating an explosion in the night sky so bright that it will be visible to the naked eye.

If it happens, it would be the first time such an event was predicted by scientists.

When South Korea's mountain town of PyeongChang hosts the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games next year, a white tiger and a black bear, respectively, will serve as mascots. They've been introduced as cuddly icons of Korean history and folklore.

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(SOUNDBITE OF SPEEDOMETER SONG, "RUBBERNECK")

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Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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When I told my coworker that I was participating in a study that involved fasting, she laughed until she nearly cried.

My boyfriend, ever supportive, asked hesitantly, "Are you sure you want to try this?" Note the use of "try" instead of "do."

When I told my father over the phone, the line went silent for a moment. Then he let out a long, "Welllllll," wished me luck, and chuckled.

Turns out, luck might not be enough.

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