Science & Health

Shots - Health News
4:43 pm
Tue June 9, 2015

Costs Of Slipshod Research Methods May Be In The Billions

iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed June 10, 2015 2:10 pm

Laboratory research seeking new medical treatments and cures is fraught with pitfalls: Researchers can inadvertently use bad ingredients, design the experiment poorly, or conduct inadequate data analysis. Scientists working on ways to reduce these sorts of problems have put a staggering price tag on research that isn't easy to reproduce: $28 billion a year.

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The Salt
3:08 pm
Tue June 9, 2015

Monsanto, Angling For Global Pesticide Dominance, Woos Syngenta

Central Illinois corn and soybean farmer Tim Seifert loads his field planter with Syngenta insecticide while planting seed corn in 2011. Monsanto has made a bid to buy Syngenta for its pesticide business.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 4:18 pm

Selling seeds and pesticides used to be a sleepy, slow-moving business. That was, until about 20 years ago, when the chemical company Monsanto introduced genetically modified crops and started buying up seed companies. Ever since, companies in this industry have been maneuvering like hungry fish in a pond, occasionally dining on pieces of each other, hoping to survive through size and speed.

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Shots - Health News
11:19 am
Tue June 9, 2015

To Beat Insomnia, Try Therapy For The Underlying Cause Instead Of Pills

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 1:47 pm

Lots of people say they have trouble sleeping. And 1 in 10 Americans has chronic insomnia.

Most often, sleep disorders are treated with medication. Between 6 and 10 percent of adults in the U.S. use sleeping pills.

But a review of the medical evidence has found that therapy might help people with chronic sleep troubles just as much — or even more — than pills.

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Research News
4:09 am
Tue June 9, 2015

Smoking Pot Interferes With Math Skills, Study Finds

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 7:08 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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Goats and Soda
7:46 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

As MERS Outbreak Surges, Genetic Tests Show Virus Hasn't Mutated

In front of the emergency room at the Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, medical workers care for a man suspected of having the Middle Respiratory syndrome on Monday.
Jung Yeon-Je AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 12, 2015 9:25 am

An outbreak of the Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, has swelled to 95 cases in South Korea. Seven people have died, and scientists are trying to figure why the outbreak has grown so rapidly.

Although there's no vaccine or treatment for MERS, the disease isn't usually very contagious.

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The Two-Way
4:53 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Solar Sail Unfurls In Space

The new spacecraft, called LightSail, is orbiting Earth. Future versions could travel to the moon and beyond.
The Planetary Society

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 6:34 am

A group of space enthusiasts has successfully launched a solar sail into orbit.

The test could be a first step to cheaper exploration of the solar system, according to Bill Nye, the CEO of the nonprofit Planetary Society, which launched the satellite.

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The Salt
3:39 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Pitmasters Embrace New Barbecue Truth: Rested Meat Is Sublime

This cooler may be the most important part of perfecting your barbecue.
Jim Shahin for NPR

Originally published on Thu June 11, 2015 2:31 pm

For years, barbecue hounds planned their visits to barbecue joints with the precision of a Special Forces operation.

Why? Because they knew there was a narrow window when the smoked meat would be at its juiciest, smokiest best. Once the window had closed, a platter of would-be sublimity typically deteriorated into a pile of dried-out disappointment.

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The Two-Way
2:34 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

NASA's 'Flying Saucer' Test For Advanced Parachute Appears To Fail

An image from NASA shows its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator after launch Monday.
NASA

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 6:35 am

It's a big day for NASA: The agency's new "flying saucer" is getting a crucial test, part of a plan to land on Mars someday. A giant balloon is carrying the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator to an altitude of 120,000 feet. Then it'll go even higher — and engineers hope its parachute guides it safely to Earth's surface.

You can watch NASA TV online to follow events live. "Drop time" — when the saucer's rocket will be ignited — is slated for 5:35 p.m. ET.

Update 6:02 p.m. ET:

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Shots - Health News
10:18 am
Mon June 8, 2015

Do Creativity And Schizophrenia Share A Small Genetic Link? Maybe

Originally published on Tue June 9, 2015 4:31 pm

The genetic underpinnings of psychosis are elusive and diffuse. There are hundreds of common genetic mutations scattered throughout the human genome that each bump up by just a tiny bit the risk of developing a mental illness like schizophrenia. Many people carry some set of those genes, but most don't end up with a psychotic disorder. Instead, a study suggests, they might be getting a small creative boost.

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The Salt
8:55 am
Mon June 8, 2015

Drought-Friendly Recipes Kick Up The Flavor — And Cut Back On Water

This Alaskan cod taco with pickled radish salsa is one of several drought-friendly recipes that chef Nathan Lyon and his culinary manager, Sarah Forman, have cooked up.
Courtesy of Sarah Forman

Originally published on Mon June 8, 2015 3:02 pm

When television chef Nathan Lyon read about California's worsening drought earlier this year, he started thinking about the amount of water it takes to grow the food in recipes he creates.

That's when he and his girlfriend and culinary manager, Sarah Forman, decided to develop what they call "drought-friendly recipes."

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Goats and Soda
2:25 am
Mon June 8, 2015

Lost Posture: Why Some Indigenous Cultures May Not Have Back Pain

Primal posture: Ubong tribesmen in Borneo (right) display the perfect J-shaped spines. A woman in Burkina Faso (left) holds her baby so that his spine stays straight. The center image shows the S-shaped spine drawn in a modern anatomy book (Fig. I) and the J-shaped spine (Fig. II) drawn in the 1897 anatomy book Traite d'Anatomie Humaine.
Courtesy of Esther Gokhale and Ian Mackenzie/Nomads of the Dawn

Originally published on Tue June 16, 2015 5:08 pm

Editor's note, June 10: We have added an acknowledgement of several sources that Esther Gokhale used while developing her theories on back pain. These include physiotherapy methods, such as the Alexander Technique and the Feldenkrais Method, and the work of anthropologist Noelle Perez-Christiaens.

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All Tech Considered
4:28 pm
Sun June 7, 2015

What Makes Algorithms Go Awry?

By clicking "Like" and commenting on Facebook posts, users signal the social network's algorithm that they care about something. That in turn helps influence what they see later. Algorithms like that happen all over the web — and the programs can reflect human biases.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed June 10, 2015 1:23 pm

Like it or not, much of what we encounter online is mediated by computer-run algorithms — complex formulas that help determine our Facebook feeds, Netflix recommendations, Spotify playlists or Google ads.

But algorithms, like humans, can make mistakes. Last month, users found the photo-sharing site Flickr's new image-recognition technology was labeling dark-skinned people as "apes" and auto-tagging photos of Nazi concentration camps as "jungle gym" and "sport."

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Environment
6:40 am
Sun June 7, 2015

Both Sides Claim Victory Over EPA Fracking Study

Originally published on Sun June 7, 2015 11:35 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Environment
4:18 pm
Sat June 6, 2015

Once Feared, Now Celebrated, Hudson River Cleanup Nears Its End

Crews perform dredging work along the upper Hudson River in Waterford, N.Y. General Electric's cleanup of PCBs discharged into the river decades ago will end this year.
Mike Groll AP

Originally published on Sat June 6, 2015 5:40 pm

For half a decade, General Electric has been paying for a massive dredging operation on the upper Hudson River in New York.

The billion-dollar cleanup, designed to remove toxic PCBs, sparked fierce controversy when it was proposed. But as the project enters its final summer, it's been so successful that even some of the cleanup's most vocal critics want it expanded.

A Symbol For Sick Rivers

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The Salt
6:37 am
Sat June 6, 2015

For New Mexico's Chiles, The Enemy Isn't Just Drought But Salt, Too

Salt appears in white clumps in a newly sprouted chile field in Garfield, N.M.
Mónica Ortiz Uribe KJZZ

Originally published on Sat June 6, 2015 11:44 am

For some people, too much salt is bad for health. Too much salt is also bad for growing most crops.

Salty soil is a common problem for farmers in the arid West and it's gotten worse because of the ongoing drought. Water is necessary to flush salts out; without it, salt builds up over time.

In New Mexico, one crop that's suffering is the state's beloved chile pepper.

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