Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Sardines, herring and other small fish species are the foundation of the marine food web — they're essential food for birds, marine mammals and other fish. But globally, demand for these so-called forage species has exploded, with many going to feed the livestock and fish farming industries.

Sutter Health, a large network of doctors and hospitals in Northern California that has long been accused of abusing its market power, is now squaring off against major U.S. corporations in a closely watched legal fight.

The battle is over Sutter's demand that companies sign an arbitration agreement to resolve any legal disputes with the health system. If firms don't sign the agreement, Sutter says, the companies will have to pay sharply higher rates for medical treatment of their employees at Sutter's hospitals, surgery centers and clinics – 95 percent of Sutter's full charge.

Residents of Flint, Mich., may tell you lead is a serious menace, but for most of the last 5,000 years, people saw lead as a miracle metal at the forefront of technology.

"You can think about lead as kind of the plastic of the ancient world," says Joseph Heppert, a professor of chemistry at the University of Kansas. He says it was because lead is easy to melt — a campfire alone can do it. Unlike iron, lead is malleable.

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

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

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

Scientists have discovered a supermassive black hole that may be the biggest ever spotted — and its location in a ho-hum group of galaxies suggests that cosmic monsters like this one might be more common than astronomers previously thought.

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

For decades, Cassandra Steptoe felt like she couldn't talk about her HIV diagnosis with anyone.

"I couldn't forgive myself for getting HIV," says Steptoe, who spent much of her early adult life in and out of jail for shoplifting and burglaries linked to her IV drug use. "But someone told me a long time ago, if you are looking for a reason to feel shame, you can always find it. I learned to look for something else: forgiveness."

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

In the 1940s, an elite team of mathematicians and scientists started working on a project that would carry the U.S. into space, then on to the moon and Mars. They would eventually become NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (or JPL), but here's what made them so unusual: Many of the people who charted the course to space exploration were women.

Nathalia Holt tells their story in her new book, Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars. Holt tells NPR's Ari Shapiro that the women worked as "computers."

Americans throw away about a third of our available food.

But what some see as trash, others are seeing as a business opportunity. A new facility known as the Heartland Biogas Project is taking wasted food from Colorado's most populous areas and turning it into electricity. Through a technology known as anaerobic digestion, spoiled milk, old pet food and vats of grease combine with helpful bacteria in massive tanks to generate gas.

In Chicago, one neighborhood's rat problem is about to get a lot worse.

Crews are preparing to tear down an old hospital and when the wrecking ball starts swinging, the rodents living in and underneath the aging structure will scurry.

The city and the developer are setting poison baits and traps to help control the problem, but some residents are turning to one of the rats' worst enemies instead — cats.

Construction On Old Buildings Worsens Rat Problem

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

Saying they found "a darker link between religion and the evolution of modern hierarchical societies" than has been previously suggested, a group of scientists say ritual human sacrifice promoted stratified social systems – and helped to sustain inherited class systems once they were established.

When parents suffer depression, there can be a ripple effect on children. Kids may become anxious, even sad. There may be behavior problems. Health may suffer.

Recently, a large Swedish study showed that grades may decline, too, when a parent is depressed.

If you've been following any of the big news stories on food fraud lately, you'll know that it's tough to know what exactly is in our food — and where it's been before it makes it onto our dinner plates.

How Cacti Can Clean Drinking Water

Apr 2, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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

Prosthetic limbs for people who have lost an arm or a leg have come a long way in the past decade. They are now lighter and more comfortable and flexible. You can change out a prosthetic foot for a ski, an ice skate, or a "cheetah foot" for high-performance running.

Athletes and a new generation of wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan are also changing the way wearers feel about the prosthesis — pride is replacing stigma.

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

The World Health Organization says there is now scientific consensus that the Zika virus is connected with microcephaly — a condition in which babies are born with very small heads and brain damage.

Scientists have been working for months to confirm a link between Zika and microcephaly, ever since Brazil reported a startling increase in cases last fall.

It was a controversial move when Madison, Wis., decided to replace all its lead pipes in 2001. But that decision put the city ahead of the curve — allowing it to avoid the lead water contamination that is plaguing cities like Flint, Mich., now.

Madison started using copper instead of lead water pipes in the late 1920s. The bulk of the lead lines were located in the older part of the city, which is downtown near Wisconsin's state Capitol.

A lone hunter stealthily stalking its prey; a shrill cry in the night.

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

The price of quinoa tripled from 2006 to 2013 as America and Europe discovered this new superfood. That led to scary media reports that the people who grew it in the high Andes mountains of Bolivia and Peru could no longer afford to eat it. And while, as we reported, groups working on the ground tried to spread the word that your love of quinoa was actually helping Andean farmers, that was still anecdote rather than evidence.

One of the keys to providing good care in nursing homes is simply having enough staff. The federal government says about a quarter of all nursing home complaints can be traced back to low staffing levels. And studies have connected low staff levels to lousy treatment. The state of New Mexico connects it to fraud.

Ever stood on the coastline, gazing out over the horizon, and wondered what's on the other side? Pondered where you'd end up if you could fly straight ahead until you hit land?

Turns out the answer might be surprising. And even if you pulled out an atlas — or, more realistically, your smartphone — you might have trouble figuring it out. Lines of latitude won't help, and drawing a path on most maps will lead you astray.

Copyright 2016 Alaska Public Telecommunications Inc.. To see more, visit Alaska Public Telecommunications Inc..

When a Connecticut woman who was HIV-positive died earlier this month, her family decided to donate her organs to others who needed them.

Doctors in Maryland announced Wednesday that they performed two landmark, successful surgeries with her kidney and liver — transplanting the organs to HIV-positive patients.

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