Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Scientists have discovered a new kind of spidey sense. We already knew that jumping spiders have exceptional vision. We knew that they are great at perceiving vibrations. We even knew that they can "hear" at extremely close range. But in research published in Current Biology , researchers at Cornell University found that a common species of jumping spider called Phidippus audax can actually hear from much farther away than we thought — at distances of 10 feet away, or more. "I've worked with...

Suppose I take the candy from the cabinet where you left it and put it someplace else. Where will you look for it when you get home? Children younger than 5 will rarely get this right. When questioned, they will say, mistakenly, that you will look for the candy at its new location. They don't understand that your actions will be controlled by your false belief that the candy is where you left it. The "false belief" test suggests kids haven't yet come to appreciate that people are distinct...

On the final day of June 2015, Colin LePage rode waves of hope and despair. It started when LePage found his 30-year-old son, Chris, at home after an apparent overdose. Paramedics rushed Chris by helicopter to one of Boston's flagship medical centers. Doctors revived Chris' heart, but struggled to stabilize his temperature and blood pressure. At some point, a doctor or nurse mentioned to LePage that his son had agreed to be an organ donor. "There was no urgency or, 'Hey, you need to do this.'...

Twelve years ago, a car wreck took away Nathan Copeland's ability to control his hands or sense what his fingers were touching. A few months ago, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center gave Copeland a new way to reach out and feel the world around him. It's a mind-controlled robotic arm that has pressure sensors in each fingertip that send signals directly to Copeland's brain. The scientists published details of their work online Thursday...

Updated 11:30 a.m. ET People in Bermuda were bracing themselves as Hurricane Nicole, a Category 3 storm, hit the island Thursday. The eye passed over the island nation around 11 a.m. local time. The National Hurricane Center called the storm "extremely dangerous," with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph and a wide path that whips everything within 65 miles of its center with hurricane force winds. "A dangerous storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 6 to 8 feet above normal tide...

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Farmers, more than anyone else, manage America's land and water. They grow crops or graze cattle on more than half of the country's land outside of Alaska. "Farming has huge impacts on water. Huge impacts on wildlife. It has big impacts on air, especially from animal feeding operations," says Craig Cox , senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the Environmental Working Group , or EWG, a nonprofit environmental organization. Agriculture, for example, has been blamed for...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: President Obama wants people to go to Mars, but first he's traveling to Pittsburgh. Tomorrow he's hosting a science and technology conference there, and space exploration is on the agenda. NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce has this look back at his eight years in office to see what he's done to put NASA on track to reach the Red Planet. NELL GREENFIELDBOYCE, BYLINE: Six years ago President Obama spoke at Kennedy Space...

Coffee lovers, alert! A new report says that the world's coffee supply may be in danger owing to climate change. In the world's biggest coffee-producing nation, Brazil, the effects of warming temperatures are already being felt in some communities. You can see the effects in places like Naygney Assu's farm, tucked on a quiet hillside in Espirito Santo state in eastern Brazil. Walking over his coffee field is a noisy experience, because it's desiccated. The leaves from the plants are curled up...

When doctors want to help untangle confusing and sometimes contradictory findings in the scientific literature, they often turn to specially crafted summary studies. These are considered the gold standard for evidence. But one of the leading advocates for this practice is now raising alarm about them, because they are increasingly being tainted by commercial interests. For many years, these studies — called meta-analyses and systematic reviews — seemed to solve a big problem. Doctors who had...

For years, President Obama has been saying the U.S. must send humans to Mars. Permanently. There was the 2010 speech when he said, "By the mid-2030s, I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it." There was that time in 2012 when he said the Curiosity rover was inspiring kids to tell "their moms and dads they want to be part of a Mars mission — maybe even the first person to walk on Mars."...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrZMSyhzcXg A class of fifth-graders from Green Acres Elementary in Lebanon, Ore., asked us to find out how pencil lead is made. That quest took us all the way back to the dawn of the universe and then all the way up to a factory in Jersey City, N.J. In the process, we learned that pencil lead (actually not lead at all but a mineral called graphite) has a storied past. A graphite windfall Here's the legend: In the mid-16th century, a storm uprooted a tree in...

Scientists in Michigan have found a new dwarf planet in our solar system. It's about 330 miles across and some 8.5 billion miles from the sun. It takes 1,100 years to complete one orbit. But one of the most interesting things about the new object, known for the time being as 2014 UZ224, is the way astronomers found it. David Gerdes of the University of Michigan led the team that found the new dwarf planet. Gerdes describes himself as "an adult-onset astronomer," having started his scientific...

Paternity leave can make a big difference in a dad's long-term engagement with the child, doctors find. Paid family leave also fosters breastfeeding and reduces the incidence of maternal depression. As part of All Things Considered's series Stretched: Working Parents' Juggling Act , NPR talked with Dr. Benard Dreyer , a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at the New York University School of Medicine and president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, to get a better sense of what the...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: Hurricane Matthew is making its way northward. It is now a Category 2 storm. The center of the storm has remained just offshore. But the eye wall has brushed the coast, bringing wind gusts over 100 miles per hour and damaging storm surges. AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: We're hearing about docks that have been destroyed and fallen trees on homes. Officials say the destruction will continue. Despite evacuation orders for...

Most of America's poultry producers have been promising to cut back on the use of antibiotics in recent years. One of them, however, has consistently led the way. Perdue Farms, based on Maryland's Eastern Shore, began getting rid of antibiotics from feed in 2007, eliminated the drugs from its hatcheries in 2014, and last year it announced that more than half of its chickens received no antibiotics at all. This week, Perdue announced that it has ended the routine use of all antibiotics in its...

In the world of illegal wildlife trade, the most valuable appendage — even more than elephant ivory — is the horn of the rhinoceros. Investigative journalist Bryan Christy estimates that the wholesale market for rhino horn is roughly a quarter of a billion dollars. Christy, who traveled to Africa while investigating the rhino horn trade for National Geographic Magazine, tells Fresh Air 's Terry Gross that he looked forward to seeing his first rhino in the field while on assignment. But...

The teenage brain has been characterized as a risk-taking machine, looking for quick rewards and thrills instead of acting responsibly. But these behaviors could actually make teens better than adults at certain kinds of learning. "In neuroscience, we tend to think that if healthy brains act in a certain way, there should be a reason for it," says Juliet Davidow, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University in the Affective Neuroscience and Development Lab and the lead author of the study ...

Researchers have unearthed 13 cannabis plants in an ancient tomb in northern China, suggesting that prehistoric central Eurasians had ritualistic or medicinal uses for the mind-altering plant. In a recent paper published in Economic Botany , the scientists say that the "extraordinary cache" of 13 "nearly whole" female cannabis plants were arranged diagonally like a shroud over the body of a dead man. The man was about 35 years old, appeared to be Caucasian and might have been a shaman, they...

Houston-based Legacy Community Health Services, a federally qualified health center, is trying hard to fight the Zika virus. It's screening pregnant women and following federal guidelines to test people at risk. But despite best efforts, there's a problem, says Legacy's chief medical officer, Dr. Ann Barnes . Pregnant women (and, often, their sexual partners) who get tested for Zika frequently have to wait as long as a month to know if they are indeed infected, and the pregnancy is at risk....

Updated at 6:00 p.m. ET The wind ripped roofs off buildings. It flattened trees. It snapped power poles. The rain, in some places more than 2 feet of it, washed out bridges and flooded entire communities, cutting people off as it overwhelmed their homes. And more than 100 people in Haiti have died as a result of Hurricane Matthew, according to the Haitian civil protection service. Two days after the storm made landfall in southwestern Haiti as a Category 4 hurricane, the extent of the...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. DAVID GREENE, HOST: Methane is what many people use to cook with. It is also what rises from landfills and also from the stomachs of cows. Unfortunately, when methane gas reaches the atmosphere, it warms the planet. As NPR's Christopher Joyce reports, research out today reveals new details about how much methane is coming and from where. CHRISTOPHER JOYCE, BYLINE: Methane, pound for pound, is one of the most powerful greenhouse gases...

Nurse practitioner Kim Hamm talks in soothing tones to her 14-year-old patient as she inserts a form of long-acting contraception beneath the skin of the girl's upper arm. "This is the numbing medicine, so you're going to feel me touch you here," she says, taking the teen's arm. "Little stick, one, two three, ouch. And then a little bit of burn." Hamm works at the Gaston County Teen Wellness Center, in Gastonia, N.C., which provides counseling, education and medical care. The teenager has...

Human life spans have been increasing for decades thanks to advances in treating and preventing diseases and improved social conditions. In fact, longevity has increased so much in recent decades that some researchers began to wonder: What is the upper limit on human aging? "We never had so many centenarians as we have now," says Jan Vijg , who studies molecular genetics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. "Maybe we can actually live much longer than 100. Maybe this goes...

"Dirty water everywhere." That's how Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald described the situation in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in an interview with NPR Wednesday morning . "A lot of rain and a lot of wind," she said. "Before [Hurricane] Matthew, the ground was already saturated, so the idea that you could have 25 inches of rain is a very scary thought." Charles says state and local governments are so cash-strapped, they do not have the capacity to move people, even after voluntary evacuation...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: This morning's Nobel Prize is for chemistry. And it will be shared by three scientists who've figured out how to make tiny machines. These machines are a thousand times smaller than a human hair, and they are not just fanciful. The technology could someday be used in computers, for energy storage and other ideas still just imagined. Joining me now is NPR's science correspondent, Richard Harris. Good morning....

The 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to three scientists for their groundbreaking work on molecular machines — tiny, man-made structures with moving parts capable of performing tasks. Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L. Feringa share the prize equally. Sauvage linked two tiny rings to create a molecular chain, or "catenane," in 1983; Stoddart designed a "rotaxane," or a ring on an axle; and Feringa designed the first molecular motor by making a motor blade...

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The European Parliament voted Tuesday to ratify the landmark Paris climate accord, paving the way for the international plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions to become binding as soon as the end of this week. With U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon watching, representatives from the 28 European Union member countries voted 610 to 38 in favor of the agreement . Now, each individual country must sign off before the ratification documents can be formally presented to the United Nations. The...

Most of us have been tempted at one time or another by the lure of sugar. Think of all the cakes and cookies you consume between Thanksgiving and Christmastime! But why are some people unable to resist that second cupcake or slice of pie? That's the question driving the research of Monica Dus , a molecular biologist at the University of Michigan. She wants to understand how excess sugar leads to obesity by understanding the effect of sugar on the brain. Dus's interest in how animals control...

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