Science & Health

Science
1:03 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

How To Become A Neanderthal: Chew Before Thinking

By comparing "Skull 17" from the Sima de los Huesos site with many others found in the same cave, researchers were able to discern the common facial features of the era.
Javier Trueba Madrid Scientific Films

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 9:54 am

Scientists have long puzzled over the origin and evolution of our closest relative, the Neanderthal. Now, researchers say Neanderthals seem to have developed their distinctive jaws and other facial features first, before they evolved to have big brains.

That's according to an analysis of 17 skulls, all taken from one excavation site in a mountain cave in Atapuerca, Spain, known as the Sima de los Huesos — the "pit of bones."

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ACA-Individual Mandate
5:27 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

No Health Insurance? You May Owe More Money On Next Year's Taxes

You could be paying more on your 2014 taxes if you do not have health insurance.
iStockphoto

All year long, Alabama Public Radio is collaborating with A-L-dot-com on the Affordable Care Act. The federal deadline to sign-up for health insurance is now well in the rear view mirror and you find yourself without health care. You don’t receive insurance from your employer. You don’t qualify for Medicaid, and you didn’t sign up in the federal marketplace during the open-enrollment. The Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate says that Americans have to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.

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The Salt
4:23 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Eating Broccoli May Give Harmful Chemicals The Boot

Researchers say eating broccoli sprouts could help protect against the harmful effects of air pollution.
Julie Gibbons/Flickr

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 10:14 am

We get a little suspicious when we hear the claims that it's possible to get rid of the gunk that accumulates in our cells by doing a cleanse with "clean" foods.

But what if some foods actually do help detox the body?

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Shots - Health News
11:49 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Kids In Juvenile Detention Face Risk Of Violent Death As Adults

Girls who were arrested and detained were at particular risk for premature death in adulthood.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 8:24 am

Delinquent children are much more likely than their nondelinquent peers to die violently later in life, a study finds. And girls who ended up in juvenile detention were especially vulnerable, dying at nearly five times the rate of the general population.

"This was astonishing," says Linda Teplin, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University's medical school and the lead author of the study.

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The Salt
11:15 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Goats In The City? Making A Case For Detroit's Munching Mowers

Leonard Pollara, of Idyll Farms, with some of the goats housed in the Brightmoor neighborhood of Detroit.
Max Ortiz Courtesy of The Detroit News

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 4:14 pm

As more urban folk strive to produce their own food, gardens both large and small are popping up everywhere. And while it's not unheard of for city dwellers to keep bees and even chickens, only a brave few have been willing to try their hand at goats.

Like hedge fund manager Mark Spitznagel, who recently tried to revitalize Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood with a herd of 18 baby goats.

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The Two-Way
8:26 am
Wed June 18, 2014

U.S. Offshore Wind Energy Area Would Nearly Double Under New Plan

The Department of the Interior is proposing a large expansion of U.S. efforts to make energy from offshore winds, with a plan centered off the Massachusetts coast. Here, a 2010 photo shows a sunrise over Nantucket Sound.
Julia Cumes AP

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 10:55 am

A large swath of the Atlantic Ocean could soon be used to generate electricity, as a U.S. agency proposes opening more than 1,000 square miles of ocean to wind energy projects. The area is off the coast of Massachusetts, which has been working on the proposal with federal officials.

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Science
2:25 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Is Collecting Animals For Science A Noble Mission Or A Threat?

DNA from these crab plovers, collected in Djibouti, Africa, should help scientists figure out how the unusual species fits into the family tree, says the Smithsonian's Helen James.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 7:29 am

Behind the scenes at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, there's a vast, warehouse-like room that's filled with metal cabinets painted a drab institutional green. Inside the cabinets are more than a half-million birds — and these birds are not drab. Their colorful feathers make them seem to almost glow.

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Environment
5:15 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Plastics Don't Disappear, But They Do End Up In Seabirds' Bellies

Plastic floats ashore in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Bay Ismoyo AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 7:33 pm

The vast majority of debris in the ocean — about 75 percent of it — is made of plastic. It can consist of anything from plastic bottles to packaging materials, but whatever form it takes, it doesn't go away easily.

While plastic may break down into smaller and smaller pieces, some as small as grains of sand, these pieces are never truly biodegradable. The plastic bits, some small enough that they're called microplastics, threaten marine life like fish and birds, explains Richard Thompson, a professor of marine biology at Plymouth University in the U.K.

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The Two-Way
3:59 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Hubble To Search For Last Stop On Pluto Probe's Itinerary

Artist concept of New Horizons spacecraft. The Hubble Space Telescope is being pressed into service to help scientists look for a post-Pluto target for the space probe.
Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

The Hubble Space Telescope is being pressed into service to search for a post-Pluto "icy body" as a last stop for NASA's New Horizons probe.

The Baltimore-based committee that metes out observing time for the HST announced today that it is allotting time to look for a suitable Kuiper Belt object for New Horizons to flyby after it passes close to Pluto in July 2015.

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The Salt
3:20 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

'Pink Slime' Is Making A Comeback. Do You Have A Beef With That?

South Dakota-based meat processor Beef Products Inc. shows a sample of its lean, finely textured beef in September 2012.
AP

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 3:36 pm

A much-maligned beef product that was once frequently added to hamburger is making a comeback. Two years ago, beef processors cut back sharply on producing what they call "lean, finely textured beef" after the nasty nickname for it, "pink slime," caught on in the media. Now, higher beef prices are leading to increased demand for the product.

To prepare, grocery stores and beef processors are getting ready for a new round of questions from consumers.

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Shots - Health News
3:06 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Your Brain's Got Rhythm, And Syncs When You Think

"Dance for PD" classes use music to temporarily ease tremors and get Parkinson's patients moving.
Maggie Starbard NPR

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 3:47 pm

Even if you can't keep a beat, your brain can. "The brain absolutely has rhythm," says Nathan Urban, a neuroscientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

When you concentrate, Urban says, your brain produces rapid, rhythmic electrical impulses called gamma waves. When you relax, it generates much slower alpha waves.

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The Salt
12:37 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Red Fish, Blue Fish: Where The Fish Flesh Rainbow Comes From

Yellowfin tuna; Chinook salmon; lingcod; Pacific halibut.
Chang/iStockphoto; Debbi Smirnoff/iStockphoto; via TeachAGirlToFish; Andrea Pokrzywinski/Flickr

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 3:36 pm

From red to white to orange to blue, fish flesh can land almost anywhere on the color spectrum.

What's behind this huge variation? A lot of things — from genetics to bile pigments. And parsing the rainbow can tell us something about where a fish came from, its swimming routine and what it ate.

Red yellowfin tuna: A classic of the sashimi counter, the yellowfin tuna is also the Michael Phelps of the fish world. And its athletic prowess has a lot to do with its ruby red flesh.

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The Two-Way
3:13 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Finally! A Decent Espresso On The International Space Station

The new ISSpresso orbital espresso machine.
Argotec

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 10:31 am

Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, during his stay on the International Space Station last year, said the one thing he missed was a real cup of espresso.

Engineers on the ground in Italy were way ahead of him.

They had already been hard at work solving the problems of zero-gravity espresso, and now they're ready to launch ISSpresso, "the first capsule-based espresso system able to work in the extreme conditions of space."

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Shots - Health News
12:26 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Microwave Helmet Could Diagnose Strokes As Patients Ride To Hospital

Andreas Fhager, a biomedical engineer at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, adjusts the Strokefinder device on a test subject's head.
Gunilla Brocker

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 3:21 pm

When a stroke hits, brain cells perish at an alarming rate. The faster a patient gets treatment, the less likely it is that he or she will suffer permanent damage.

But to pick the right treatment, doctors must find the underlying cause of the stroke fast.

Most strokes occur when a clot blocks blood flow in the brain. For the best results, treatment of those strokes with clotbusting drugs should start less than 90 minutes after onset.

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Krulwich Wonders...
6:38 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Lights, Lights, Lights, Action! A Crazy New Light Projector

A dandypunk Vimeo

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 11:25 am

What can you do with a spotlight?

You can light a spot.

But what if you give yourself more options and invent a tool that lets light spill, splash or tighten into a beam as thin as a pencil line — a beam of light that can draw!

Draw what? Oh my God, so many things: a galloping unicorn, a friendly girl, a guy who kicks you in the face, a wormhole, a ball that splashes into a fluid, a cube, a spiral, a rabbit, a squid, a scribble.

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