Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

When children in Turkey head back to school this fall, something will be missing from their textbooks: any mention of evolution.

The Turkish government is phasing in what it calls a values-based curriculum. Critics accuse Turkey's president of pushing a more conservative, religious ideology — at the expense of young people's education.

At a playground in an upscale, secular area of Istanbul, parents and grandparents express concern over the new policy.

Last week, NPR had a story that garnered a huge response from listeners and Shots readers.

The day of the long-awaited coast-to-coast solar eclipse has arrived — and if history is any guide, it's likely that somebody's eyes are going to get hurt.

One of Tesla CEO Elon Musk's companies, the nonprofit start-up OpenAI, manufactures a device that last week was victorious in defeating some of the world's top gamers in an international video game (e-sport) tournament with a multi-million-dollar pot of prize money.

We're getting very good, it seems, at making machines that can outplay us at our favorite pastimes. Machines dominate Go, Jeopardy, Chess and — as of now — at least some video games.

From the thirteenth floor of a glass tower at the Oregon Health & Science University, you get a panoramic view of downtown Portland and the majestic mountains in the distance. But it's what's happening inside the building that's brought me here.

"Should we go do this thing?" lab manager Amy Koski asks.

Spectators around the country are gearing up, eclipse glasses at the ready, for the solar eclipse on Monday. But another group — perhaps more anxious than eager — is preparing as well: the people who run California's electric grid.

California is home to almost half of all the solar power in the country. So even a partial loss of the sun will mean a major dip in the energy supply.

On Aug. 21, a 70-mile-wide ribbon from Oregon to South Carolina called the "path of totality" will experience a total solar eclipse. Large swaths of farmland in the Great Plains and Midwest will be plunged into darkness for 2 1/2 minutes, and temperatures will drop about 10 degrees in the middle of the day.

But as millions of people look up at the sky, many Midwest scientists will turn their eyes and cameras toward the plants and animals on the ground. And they're not sure what will happen.

All this summer, bears have been on my mind.

Last month, Undark Magazine published an essay I wrote about the time I thought I was a bear.

Updated at 10:55 a.m. ET

It's a common refrain among whiskey enthusiasts: Add a few drops of water to a glass to open up the flavors and aroma of the drink.

For example, hard-liquor expert Alice Lascelles said in a demonstration for The Sunday Times that "if you're tasting with a master blender, they will always add some water at some stage."

During the full moon in my small border town in Arizona, my mom and I would pack into her car, drive up towards the mountains, and hike to a boulder she called Full Moon Rock. We'd set out jars and create moon water, drink wine, eat snacks and watch the moon cast an evening shadow over our quiet two-person picnic.

My mom and I were following centuries of tradition by devoting time and energy towards capturing the powers of the full moon. This week, I'll be practicing rituals focused on the solar eclipse, along with astrologer Sarolta DeFaltay and author Jaya Saxena.

Hundreds of years before solar viewing glasses were readily available, scientists and casual spectators could still enjoy these rare celestial events without frying their eyeballs. They'd use a combination of pinholes and mirrors to redirect the sun's rays onto a screen.

If one glass of wine takes the edge off, why not drink a few more?

This thinking may help explain the findings of a new study that points to an increase in drinking among adults in the U.S., especially women.

If you're in desperate need for some good news, look no further.

Scientists in the U.S. and India have found an inexpensive treatment that could possibly save hundreds of thousands of newborns each year.

And it turns out, the secret weapon was sitting in Asian kitchens all along: probiotic bacteria that are common in kimchi, pickles and other fermented vegetables.

A SpaceX craft docked at the International Space Station on Wednesday carrying more than 6,400 pounds of lab equipment and supplies for crew members living there.

But perhaps the most eagerly awaited cargo on the resupply mission may also be its most perishable: ice cream.

We all remember astronaut ice cream, those little dehydrated bricks of neopolitan.

President Trump's astonishing press conference on Tuesday was, ostensibly, an announcement about infrastructure. But his brief remarks on the permitting process were entirely overshadowed by his defense of attendees at a white supremacist rally, among other remarks.

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

"Nature loves to hide."

This is how, more than 25 centuries back, the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus expressed the sense of mystery we all feel when we start pondering how the world works.

There seem to be hidden mechanisms, secret pacts between the things that make the world the world, from the smallest building blocks of matter to the neurons in our brains to the way the whole universe is stretching out in its inexorable expansion.

On Monday, the moon will completely eclipse the sun, and people all over the U.S. will watch.

For those who have been boning up on eclipse trivia for weeks, congratulations. For everyone else, here are the things you need to know about the phenomenon.

In July of 1878, Vassar professor Maria Mitchell led a team of astronomers to the new state of Colorado to observe a total solar eclipse. In a field outside of Denver, they watched as the sun went dark and a feathery fan of bright tendrils — the solar corona — faded into view.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Can We Feed The World With Farmed Fish?

Aug 15, 2017

For years, scientists and activists have sounded the alarm that humans' appetite for seafood is outpacing what fishermen can sustainably catch.

But new research suggests there is space on the open ocean for farming essentially all the seafood humans can eat. A team of scientists led by Rebecca Gentry, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that widescale aquaculture utilizing much of the ocean's coastal waters could outproduce the global demand for seafood by a staggering 100 times.

If, for some reason, you find yourself in a situation where you need to wash radioactive material from your body, don't reach for the bottle of hair conditioner. Conditioner can bind radioactive particles to your hair.

This week, you can't reach me by email, or text, or Tweet.

This week, I'm not taking anyone's calls, either.

That's because I'm walking the Appalachian Trail — alone. And while I am, without doubt, scared of being eaten by a bear, I'll be out there looking for that most precious of possibilities: solitude.

More than two weeks after they were first spotted, wildfires on the western coast of Greenland are still burning, worrying local residents and drawing the attention of scientists.

American doctors have been noticing an increase in osteoarthritis of the knee. They have suspected two driving forces: more old people and more people who are overweight.

A study published in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argues that's far from the whole story. Even correcting for body mass index and age, osteoarthritis of the knee is twice as common now as it was before the 1950s.

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The Trump administration has begun the process of rolling back tough fuel standards for America's car and light truck fleet.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department have opened the public comment period on the rewriting of standards for greenhouse gas emissions for cars and light trucks for model years 2022-2025.

A few years ago, my daughter requested that her nightly lullaby be replaced with a bedtime story.

I was happy to comply, and promptly invented stories full of imaginary creatures in elaborate plots intended to convey some important lesson about patience or hard work or being kind to others.

Anyone who gets to see the total solar eclipse on August 21 will be lucky — and humanity is lucky to live on a planet that even has this kind of celestial event.

Mercury and Venus, after all, don't even have moons. Mars has a couple, but they're too small to completely blot out the sun. Gas giants like Jupiter do have big moons, but they don't have solid surfaces where you could stand and enjoy an eclipse.

And, even with solid land and a moon, Earth only gets its gorgeous total solar eclipses because of a cosmic coincidence.

The Call-In: The Solar Eclipse

Aug 13, 2017

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Now it's time for The Call-In.

(SOUNDBITE OF CORDUROI'S "MY DEAR")

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