Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

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It's a long way, metaphorically speaking, from the campus of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., to the Sonic Drive-In burger joints that line America's highways and small towns, particularly in the South.

The two well-preserved mummies from Egypt's Gebelein site – a male and a female — have been in the British Museum's collection for more than 100 years.

But thanks to new technology, archaeologists have just discovered that they have some of the world's oldest tattoos – and what they say are the earliest known to contain figures.

Climate change could decrease the yield of some crops in California by up to 40 percent by 2050. That's a big deal for farmers in the state, which provides about two-thirds of the nation's produce.

Last year, according to government figures, there were 16 "climate disaster events" with losses exceeding $1 billion each in the U.S.

So the weather is something to keep an eye on, and since 1870 what's now known as the National Weather Service has been doing that. But for the last several years, it's been doing so with serious staff shortages.

Now, it faces the prospect of permanent job losses.

The Trump administration wants to eliminate 355 jobs, and $75 million from the weather service budget.

An analysis published Friday confirms the state of American gun policy science is not good, overall.

The nonprofit RAND Corporation analyzed thousands of studies and found only 63 that establish a causal relationship between specific gun policies and outcomes such as reductions in homicide and suicide, leaving lawmakers without clear facts about one of the most divisive issues in American politics.

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Editor's note: As the Oscars approach, we're celebrating America's favorite movie snack by bringing back this story, first published in 2014.

Western Illinois might be close to the Mississippi and Illinois rivers, but it's the driest part of the state this year.

"We really haven't really had any measurable rain since the middle of October," says Ken Schafer, who farms winter wheat, corn and soybeans in Jerseyville. "I dug some post-holes this winter, and it's just dust."

Tania Lombrozo is a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley. She writes about psychology, cognitive science and philosophy, with occasional forays into parenting and veganism. You can keep up with more of what she is thinking on Twitter: @TaniaLombrozo

The central challenge of dolphin existence is that your oxygen is on the surface and your dinner is in the deep. Hang out breathing air too long and you'll starve. Dive too deep for food and you'll drown.

To thrive, dolphins must use their oxygen wisely. A new study of one type of dolphin suggests they do that by carefully planning each dive, using information from previous dives to predict where food might be.

Scientists have probed a period of the universe's early history that no one has been able to explore before — and they got a surprise: It was far colder in the young universe, before the first stars blinked on, than astronomers previously thought.

What's more, that cosmic chill may have come from previously unknown interactions between normal matter and mysterious, so-called dark matter, according to two new reports in the journal Nature.

If so, it's the first time scientists have observed any effect of dark matter other than its gravitational pull.

When the body gets dehydrated, the brain tells us to start chugging fluids. But what tells us when to stop?

The answer appears to be a brain circuit that acts like a water meter, constantly measuring how much fluid we are taking in, a team reports Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Is humanity doomed? Are we one of the last generations of homo sapiens — soon to be supplanted by engineered cyberbeings, with a distant semblance to their creators (us)?

On winter days when the weather is good, a research plane takes off from St. Simons, a barrier island in Georgia. Pilots from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fly straight lines out and back along Georgia's Atlantic coast, covering hundreds of miles of open ocean. Riding in the plane, surveyors are glued to the window scanning the water for North Atlantic right whales.

An imagined conversation between two yeast cells appears in Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions. "They were discussing the possible purposes of life," Vonnegut writes. If that's not absurd enough, their existential discussion takes place against a weird, dismal backdrop, "as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement." Little did they know, their little yeasty lives had an important, human-centric purpose.

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The United States is now producing 10 million barrels of crude oil a day. The last time that happened...

(SOUNDBITE OF NORMAN GREENBAUM SONG, "SPIRIT IN THE SKY")

The highest court in the home of Volkswagen and BMW has reached a verdict: And it goes against some diesel cars.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig ruled that cities have the right to ban some heavily polluting diesel cars. The decision could drive manufacturers away from combustion engines and force them to improve exhaust systems.

When the economy takes a turn for the worse, birth rates go down. It's both common sense and an empirically observed phenomenon.

But it's not the whole story.

A team of economists, taking a closer look at the connection between fertility and recessions, found that conception rates begin to drop before the economy starts its downturn — and could even be used to predict recessions.

Veteran children's book publisher Philip Lee is describing his a-ha moment. Nine years ago, he was visiting with members of Washington State's Farm to School office. Someone began talking about the achievement gap for low-income students and its implications for test scores. "But they pointed out, 'Kids that don't have a proper breakfast can't learn by 10 a.m., so we don't really have a learning problem; we have a public health problem,' " Lee remembers.

Can Nuclear Power Plants Generate Artistic Inspiration?

Feb 27, 2018

Vincent Ialenti is a MacArthur Nuclear Waste Solutions Fellow at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs. He holds a PhD in anthropology from Cornell University and an MSc in Law, Anthropology & Society from the London School of Economics.

Seventy percent of the world's king penguin population could face threats to its habitat by the end of this century, according to a new scientific model.

The researchers say the problem is that the animals' primary source of food is moving farther away from places where the penguins can breed. They're very likely going to have to swim farther for their dinner.

Lani Estill's family ranches on thousands of acres in Modoc County on the border of Nevada and California. Her operation, Bare Ranch, sits in a place called Surprise Valley. It's a beautiful, almost forgotten place "Where the West still lives" — that's the county's motto.

"We have things going on here that you just don't see going on everywhere in the nation," Estill says. "Cattle are still gathered on horseback. We have cattle drives down the main country road."

To see if you're bending correctly, try a simple experiment.

"Stand up and put your hands on your waist," says Jean Couch, who has been helping people get out of back pain for 25 years at her studio in Palo Alto, Calif.

"Now imagine I've dropped a feather in front of your feet and asked to pick it up," Couch says. "Usually everybody immediately moves their heads and looks down."

Hopes were dashed this week that the United States was finally making progress in the fight against childhood obesity.

Contrary to previous reports, the epidemic of fat has not abated. In fact, there's been a big jump in obesity among the nation's youngest children, according to the latest analysis of federal data, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

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