Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

The 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded to researchers Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson for their work that developed cryo-electron microscopy, which the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences says "both simplifies and improves the imaging of biomolecules."

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It is Nobel Prize week. And so far, Nobels have been handed out in physics and medicine. Today it's chemistry.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken.)

Fresh evidence that the body's immune system interacts directly with the brain could lead to a new understanding of diseases from multiple sclerosis to Alzheimer's.

A study of human and monkey brains found lymphatic vessels — a key part of the body's immune system — in a membrane that surrounds the brain and nervous system, a team reported Tuesday in the online journal eLife.

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

In 1915, Albert Einstein concluded his General Theory of Relativity, a theory that would revise our understanding of gravity in radical ways.

Before Einstein, the dominant description of gravitational phenomena was based on Isaac Newton's theory, proposed in 1687. According to Newton, every two objects with mass attract one another with a force proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the square of their distance: double the distance, the attraction falls by a factor of four.

Three colleagues, Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish, and Kip S. Thorne, have won the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics, for their contributions to work that led to the observation of gravitational waves — something that happened for the first time in 2015.

Speaking of decades of trial and error that preceded their discovery, Weiss said Tuesday, "It's very, very exciting that it worked out in the end."

Weiss spoke by phone to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, roughly one hour after he had been woken up by Secretary General Göran K. Hansson.

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Expectant parents often daydream about their children's future. What sports will they play in school? Will they become musicians, or scientists?

Royce and Jessica James had big dreams for their baby, too. But when an ultrasound revealed they were having a daughter, Jessica began to worry about how gender stereotypes would affect their child.

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

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded today to three American scientists for their discoveries about how our internal clocks work. NPR health correspondent Rob Stein has the details.

Research that helped discover the clocks running in every cell in our bodies earned three scientists a Nobel Prize in medicine on Monday.

My 4-year-old recently called out to me that he was all dressed for school and going to play outside.

A moment later, I watched him appear outside the kitchen window and begin to happily blow bubbles — in his pajamas.

It can be alarming to parents when children begin telling lies like this (as well as humorous because they are so easily caught in their falsehoods). But in early childhood, lying reflects an important milestone in cognitive development.

Whether it's food production, medical microbiology or alcohol-fermentation, one yeast genus holds a near monopoly on research: Saccharomyces.

It's "the most well-studied organism in history," according to Indiana University's Matthew Bochman, a microbiologist specializing in the research of new bacteria and yeast for beer-brewing.

Teens and children struggling with anxiety are often prescribed medication or therapy to treat their symptoms. For many, either drugs or therapy is enough, but some young people can't find respite from anxious thoughts. For them, a study suggests that using both treatments at once can help.

Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young are the joint winners of the 2017 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, winning for their discoveries about how internal clocks and biological rhythms govern human life.

The three Americans won "for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm," the Nobel Foundation says.

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

This is Lulu's log, stardate October 1, 2017, where we consider matters of space, the stars and the universe.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

When Chris Tuan was a Department of Defense contractor in the early 1990s, the Air Force asked him to think of something that could de-ice its airfields around the world.

Heavy cargo aircraft were landing on icy runways and skidding off, he says, "so they wanted to find out some innovative way to de-ice the runway."

The challenge? He couldn't use any salt or de-icing chemicals because of the damage they can do to concrete.

The Golden Record is basically a 90-minute interstellar mixtape — a message of goodwill from the people of Earth to any extraterrestrial passersby who might stumble upon one of the two Voyager spaceships at some point over the next couple billion years.

But since it was made 40 years ago, the sounds etched into those golden grooves have gone mostly unheard, by alien audiences or those closer to home.

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

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

When Boyd Coble heard the sheriff's deputy pounding on his door in Houston in the middle of the night, he rolled over and went back to sleep. Coble, who lives alone, except for his Australian sheepdog, Wally, knew all about Hurricane Harvey. He just didn't think his own home would flood. It never had before, and even if a little water did trickle in, Coble was pretty sure he and Wally could ride it out.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Philosophers have long worried whether it is ever really possible to know how things are, internally, with another.

After all, we are confined to the external — to mere behavior, or perhaps to behavior plus measurements of brain activity. But the thoughts, feelings, images, sensations of another person, these are always hidden from our direct inspection.

The situation of doctors facing unresponsive victims of brain injury is a terrifying real-world example of the fact that we our locked out of the minds of another.

Hurricane Harvey flooded more than a dozen Superfund toxic waste sites when it devastated the Texas coast in late August. An EPA report predicted the possibility of climate-related problems at toxic waste sites like those in Texas, but the page detailing the report on the agency's website was made inactive months before the storm.

Many companies are investing money in social media to advertise new products. But they could be paying a hidden price for those ads.

Read more:

Wang, Shuting and Greenwood, Brad N. and Pavlou, Paul A., Tempting Fate: Social Media Posts by Firms, Customer Purchases, and the Loss of Followers (July 10, 2017). Fox School of Business Research Paper No. 17-022.

Let's say you're a scientist, and you've invented what you think is a useful treatment for pain. But you have a problem. You don't have the money to go through the regulatory approval process. Should you try to sell it to consumers anyway, and run the risk of being accused of selling snake-oil?

In 1981, the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould's book The Mismeasure of Man hit the presses.

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

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

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

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Now we're going to dust off some old words, starting with this one - dotard.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

It means an old person, especially one who has become weak or senile. It was popular during Shakespeare's time.

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

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

It might surprise you that Australia doesn't already have a space agency.

The country has been involved in the space field for decades — in 1967, it was among the first countries to launch a satellite. Two years later, a NASA tracking station in Australia received and transmitted the first TV images of Neil Armstrong taking the first steps on the Moon.

1 In 5 Teens Reports A Concussion Diagnosis

Sep 26, 2017

Concussions have gotten a lot of attention in recent years, especially as professional football players' brains have shown signs of degenerative brain disease linked with repeated blows to the head. Now, a new analysis confirms what many doctors fear — that concussions start showing up at a high rate in teens who are active in contact sports.

Pages