Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

What do listening to music, hitting a baseball and solving a complex math problem have in common? They all activate less gray matter than drinking wine.

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Humans have long looked to animals for design inspiration. From basic camouflage to a quiet bullet train in Japan to the Wright brothers' wings, the process called biomimicry is a basic tenet of human engineering.

Jonathon Keats has turned it on its head.

Don't be tricked by their appearance — fangblenny fish aren't just a cute face. They use special opioid-based venom to avoid being eaten.

The fish are 2 inches long and live in places such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef. When one is caught and swallowed up by a predator, the blenny literally bites its way out. The venom disorients the bigger fish, and the blenny escapes to freedom.

If you wanted a bag of Doritos from one of Brad Appelhans' experimental vending machines, you'd have to wait. The associate professor of preventative medicine at Rush University Medical Center designed a device that fits inside of vending machines and waits 25 seconds before releasing the typical processed snacks. But healthier fare — like peanuts or popcorn — drops instantly.

The astronomer Carl Sagan said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Last week, a physician made the extraordinary claim that he had an effective treatment for sepsis, sometimes known as blood poisoning.

Sepsis is a bodywide inflammation, usually triggered by infection, and the leading cause of death in hospitals, taking 300,000 lives a year. So, even a 15 percent improvement in survival would save 40,000 lives — the number of Americans who die on the highway each year, or from breast cancer.

It has been more than eight decades since the last known Tasmanian tiger died. In that time, the marsupial has become the stuff of textbook sketches and yellowing photographs, little more than a memory aging into oblivion.

But Thylacinus cynocephalus may still be out there.

Recent "plausible sightings" have challenged the accepted wisdom that the animal has gone extinct — and have inspired researchers at Australia's James Cook University to commence a quest to find it themselves.

Take a deep breath in through your nose, and slowly let it out through your mouth. Do you feel calmer?

Controlled breathing like this can combat anxiety, panic attacks and depression. It's one reason so many people experience tranquility after meditation or a pranayama yoga class. How exactly the brain associates slow breathing with calmness and quick breathing with nervousness, though, has been a mystery. Now, researchers say they've found the link, at least in mice.

Driving up the coast toward Bay Center, Wash., it's obvious when you start to approach Willapa Bay. Fifteen-foot high piles of empty shells begin to appear on the side of the road. This is an oyster town.

But it's also home to a sinking piece of history.

Seventeen-year-old Indrani Das just won the top high school science prize in the country. Das, who lives in Oradell, N.J., took home $250,000 from the former Intel Science Talent Search, now the Regeneron Science Talent Search, for her study of brain injuries and neuron damage. In her spare time, she's already working with patients as a certified EMT.

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There is some good news about Zika. Health organizations are reporting fewer cases of Zika-linked birth defects than projected. But, as NPR's Michaeleen Doucleff reports, the findings are causing researchers to take a closer look.

After millions of dollars of flood damage and mass evacuations this year, California is grappling with how to update its aging flood infrastructure. Some say a natural approach might be part of the answer.

All the water that poured down spillways at the Oroville Dam in northern California did a lot of damage to the area — and for miles down the river.

"It looks like a bomb's gone off," says John Carlon of River Partners, a nonprofit that does river restoration. "That's what it looks like."

Updated 7:55 p.m. ET

The most expensive part of doing business in outer space is getting there. The private space flight company SpaceX thinks it can change all that, and Thursday's successful reuse of a rocket was a big test of its business model.

SpaceX launched a communications satellite from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida using a rocket stage that had already been to space and back. SpaceX is betting that this kind of recycling will lower its costs and revolutionize space flight.

MacArthur Park is in the middle of Los Angeles, near downtown. At the center of the park is a small lake, and it's not most people's idea of a picturesque fishing spot.

It was there that the California Ghetto Carping club caught a record breaking fish this week — a 50-pound carp.

Update 7:06 P.M. Eastern: The EPA says it's reversing course and keeping chlorpyrifos on the market.

That's despite the agency's earlier conclusion, reached during the Obama administration, that this pesticide could pose risks to consumers. It's a signal that toxic chemicals will face less restrictive regulation by the Trump administration.

You'd think that a vaccine that protects people against more than a half dozen types of cancer would have patients lining up to get it. But the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which can prevent roughly 90 percent of all cervical cancers as well as other cancers and sexually transmitted infections caused by the virus, has faced an uphill climb since its introduction more than a decade ago.

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So last year, Ian Griffin, an astronomer in Dunedin, New Zealand, was able to catch a ride on the NASA SOFIA. It's a Boeing 747 airplane with an observatory on board.

IAN GRIFFIN: And on that flight it had an absolutely amazing view of the aurora australis.

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President Trump issued a sweeping executive order on Tuesday that will begin to undo a slew of government efforts to fight global warming.

Among those worrying and watching to see how the executive order plays out are scientists who actually are in favor of exploring bold interventions to artificially cool the climate.

A New Kind Of March Madness Hits Schools

Mar 29, 2017

It's a little after 8 a.m. at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va., and Michelle Harris' AP Environmental Science class is getting right to it.

"All right, you guys got your brackets out?" Harris asks.

The class of mostly juniors and seniors ruffle through folders and pull out pieces of paper with brackets — 64 slots, four quadrants, and one central box to predict the championship. But there's something a little different about these brackets ...

"We're going to jump down to the fourth-seeded spider monkey against the 12th-seeded antelope squirrel," Harris says.

A paralyzed man has regained the use of his arm and hand using a system that decodes his thoughts and controls his muscles.

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President Trump today signed a sweeping executive order designed to undo many of the Obama administration's efforts to combat climate change.

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Scientists say they've made a device in the lab that can mimic the human female reproductive cycle.

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Primate brains may have grown larger and more complex thanks to a fruit-filled diet, a new study suggests.

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