Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed landmark legislation last October that would allow terminally ill people to request life-ending medication from their physicians.

But no one knew when the law would take effect, because of the unusual way in which the law was passed — in a legislative "extraordinary session" called by Brown. The bill could not go into effect until 90 days after that session adjourned.

Plastic makes great food packaging. It's waterproof and flexible. And best of all, it's impervious to all known bacteria — until now. Researchers have found a bacterium in the debris fields around a recycling plant in Japan that can feed off a common type of plastic used in clothing, plastic bottles and food packaging.

When it's time for medical care, where do you go? The doctor's office? An urgent care clinic? Or the nearest hospital?

As many as 1 in 3 Americans sought care in an ER in the past two years, according to a recent poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. That relatively high frequency may be a matter of convenience, even though many in the poll also report frustration with the cost and quality of care they received in an ER.

Five years after an earthquake and tsunami caused a series of meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan, there are signs of progress. Many workers cleaning up the ruined plant no longer need to suit up in full respirators. Some nearby villages that were evacuated are open to residents.

But there are still plenty of problems.

How Best To Test For Zika Virus?

Mar 10, 2016

Let's say you're a pregnant woman who recently traveled to Latin America or the Caribbean. You got a little sick shortly after the trip, with some combination of mild fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. The big question now is: Did you have Zika virus? And, if so, is your fetus still healthy?

"Probably every day, patients come in questioning whether or not they would qualify for testing," says Dr. Christine Curry, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of Miami, and Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Canada and the U.S. have announced a cooperative plan to tackle climate change by cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, investing in clean energy research and reducing future hydrofluorocarbon use.

At a joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Obama praised the strong ties between Canada and the U.S. They also announced plans to further facilitate trade between the two countries and expressed a shared commitment to protect the environment.

By the time they're in elementary school, some kids prove to be more troublesome than others. They can't sit still or they're not socializing or they can't focus enough to complete tasks that the other kids are handling well. Sounds like ADHD. But it might be that they're just a little young for their grade.

Eric O'Grey knew he was in trouble. His weight had ballooned to 320 pounds, and he was spending more than $1,000 a month on medications for high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

In 2010, a physician told him to buy a funeral plot, because he would need it in five years. He was 51 years old.

The Cleveland Clinic says it has removed a transplanted uterus — the first-ever in the U.S. — after the patient suffered from a "sudden complication."

The clinic conducted the landmark operation in late February. As we reported, the procedure is intended to "open up another possible path to parenthood besides surrogacy or adoption for U.S. women who do not have a uterus, or who have a uterus that does not function."

Miss Manners and skilled prep cooks should be pleased: Our early human ancestors likely mastered the art of chopping and slicing more than 2 million years ago. Not only did this yield daintier pieces of meat and vegetables that were much easier to digest raw, with less chewing — it also helped us along the road to becoming modern humans, researchers reported Wednesday.

And our ancestors picked up these skills at least 1.5 million years before cooking took off as a common way to prepare food, the researchers say.

Anyone can follow the pregnancy of a monkey infected with Zika virus in real time, thanks to an experiment in data sharing that's unusual for biology.

The once routine practice of getting a glass of water before a restaurant meal in Flint, Mich., is now fraught with apprehension, since lead pipes started leaching into the drinking water after officials switched to the highly corrosive Flint River as the city's water supply.

For Barbara Radley, there is "before" and "after." Before was when she could work — moving furniture, and driving a long-haul truck.

"It was nothing for me to throw a couch on my back and carry it up a flight of stairs," says the 58-year-old from Oshkosh, Wis.

Then there's after. After she herniated five disks in her back. And after, she says, her blood pressure medicine destroyed her pancreas.

Now Radley is disabled, suffering from diabetes, liver failure and scleroderma.

And she is bankrupt.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Though the majority of Americans have a primary care doctor, a large number also seek treatment at urgent care centers, statistics show. For many people, the centers have become a bridge between the primary care doctor's office and the hospital emergency room.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Something was wrong with Nat.

I got the call about my 25-year-old severely autistic son just as I was parking, about to meet a friend for coffee. It was from Richard, the day program director. Like many adults with significant disabilities, Nat spends his weekdays at a day program, an organization that helps his employer so that he can work — he does carriage return at a local Shaw's. When Nat is not working at Shaw's, he is out in the community with support staff and other individuals in his program, volunteering at Meals on Wheels and various activities.

The annual letter from the Gates Foundation calls for an "energy miracle" — the creation of a cheap and clean source of energy to get power to the 1.2 billion people on the planet without electricity.

In the ocean near Hawaii, more than 2 1/2 miles underwater, scientists have discovered a small, delicate-looking and ghostlike little octopod — possibly a new species.

The animal was discovered by Deep Discoverer, a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV — picture a small, unmanned submarine equipped with cameras and a robotic arm — that was working to collect geological samples.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Time now for some talking birds.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "TALKIN' BIRDS")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: It's a bird show. I like that. I like birds.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Ray Brown's "Talkin' Birds."

Monarch Butterflies Are On The Rebound

Mar 5, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Cancer dogma holds that most malignancies are caused by DNA mutations inside the nuclei of cells, mutations that ultimately lead to runaway cellular proliferation. Given the countless genetic blips that have been associated with various cancers, the illness has actually come to be seen as a complex of diseases for which personalized treatments might offer the best chances of success.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Science has taken a big step backwards. And despite the way that sounds, in this instance that's a good thing.

JENNIFER WISEMAN: We are so excited to report the discovery of the most distant galaxy ever detected.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Anyone looking for a little peace and quiet on this Earth might think they'd find some at the bottom of the ocean. They'd be wrong. And so were researchers who didn't expect to hear much when they dropped a microphone 6 miles down into the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.

For the past several years, a scientist in Brookings, S.D., has been engaged in an escalating struggle with his employer, the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. The scientist, Jonathan Lundgren, says that he has been persecuted because his research points out problems — including harm to bees — with a popular class of pesticides called neonicotinoids.

Think of it as a galactic baby photo: a red blotch representing what a galaxy looked like just 400 million years after the Big Bang. NASA says the "surprisingly bright infant galaxy" known as GN-z11 is the farthest galaxy ever seen from Earth, at 13.4 billion years in the past.

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode How Things Spread

About Yuval Harari's TED Talk

Historian Yuval Harari explains how human imagination powered the growth and spread of homo sapiens around the world.

About Yuval Harari

How Do Our Social Networks Affect Our Health?

Mar 4, 2016

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode How Things Spread

About Nicholas Christakis' TED Talk

Physician and social scientist Nicholas Christakis explains how face-to-face social networks and their structures influence behaviors and phenomena in human society and the natural living world.

About Nicholas Christakis

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