Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

What Would Enrico Fermi Think Of Science Today?

Dec 5, 2017

David N. Schwartz is the author of The Last Man Who Knew Everything: The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age. You can find him on Twitter at: @dschwa8059.


I have been living with Enrico Fermi for the past four years.

Making Pizza In Space

Dec 5, 2017

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Telling people what to eat is perilous, whether the advice is aimed at a friend or an entire country. Of course, people and governments do it anyway. Dozens of countries have come up with recommendations for the perfect, most health-promoting diet.

With the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season finally over, scientists are taking stock of what they say was a monumental year.

A total of 10 hurricanes swept the region. Six were major storms of Category 3 or higher, and three of those were Category 4 or higher when they made landfall, spreading havoc from the Caribbean to Texas.

The Atlantic Ocean is vast and has always made its own weather. But a typical year sees about six hurricanes, not 10. And three strong hurricanes hitting land — Harvey, Irma and Maria — is extraordinary.

So what's going on?

Peregrine falcons, known for making spectacular dives to snatch smaller birds midair, conduct their aerial assaults in much the same way that military missiles hit moving targets, scientists have found.

Peregrines have been known to dive at 200 mph or more, plummeting toward dinner with astonishing precision. How, exactly, the birds are able to do that at such speeds has been the subject of decades of research.

The Ground Beneath Our Feet

Dec 4, 2017

During a major soil catastrophe — the Dust Bowl — President Franklin Roosevelt told state governors, “The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”

Still, we treat our soil like dirt. By growing food and storing carbon dioxide and water, the loam and peat that coats the earth sustains us all. In return, we till it, treat it with chemicals and generally walk all over it.

Stephen Jay Gould famously described the relationship between science and religion as one of "non-overlapping magisteria," with science restricted to facts and theories about the empirical universe, and religion to questions of moral meaning and value.

This is one way to understand the relationship between science and religion: two compartments with a solid wall between them, fixed and non-porous.

But it's by no means the only, or even the most popular, approach.

Fishermen are worried about an offshore wind farm proposed 30 miles out in the Atlantic from Montauk, N.Y., the largest fishing port in the state. They say those wind turbines — and many others that have been proposed — will impact the livelihood of fishermen in New York and New England.

Scallop fisherman Chris Scola fishes in an area 14 miles off of Montauk. He and his two-man crew spend 2 ½ hours motoring there, then 10 more dredging the sea floor for scallops before heading back to port.

Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

On a visit to Utah on Monday, President Trump announced his proclamations dramatically shrinking the size of the state's two massive national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Taken together, Trump's orders mark the largest reversal of national monument protections in U.S. history.

The change has already been challenged in court by conservation groups.

People who experience frequent migraines may soon have access to a new class of drugs.

In a pair of large studies, two drugs that tweak brain circuits involved in migraine each showed they could reduce the frequency of attacks without causing side effects, researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The Many Eyes Of Scallops

Dec 3, 2017

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The light coming from screens, like the one on your smartphone, is known as blue light, and it can interfere with sleep. So some people use apps to filter out some of that blue light. NPR's Jon Hamilton had some questions, so he rang up some scientists.

The Call-In: DNA Testing

Dec 3, 2017

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Time now for The Call-In - last week, we asked you about your experiences with DNA testing kits. Hundreds of you responded.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: And it found a link between her and my father.

U.N. Body Alarmed Over Mining Waste Disasters

Dec 2, 2017

Some of the worst mining disasters do not happen in mines.

They take place at dams.

After minerals are extracted from mines, there are waste materials — including sand, rock and chemicals. They're known as "tailings" and are permanently stored in dams constructed of earth, rock-fill or concrete.

For more than a century, corn has been the most widely planted crop in the country and a symbol of small-town America. Think of the musical Oklahoma, where the corn is as tall as an elephant's eye, or the film Field of Dreams, in which old-time baseball players silently emerge from a field of corn.

Even farmers are partial to corn, says Brent Gloy, who grows some himself, on a farm in Nebraska. (He also graduated from the University of Nebraska. You know, the Cornhuskers.)

At a meeting in Geneva today, the treaty organization that shook the music industry with new trade regulations on rosewood took formal action to clarify and potentially ease some of the regulations.

Rosewood is a prized "tonewood" used for musical instruments from guitars to clarinets and oboes.

The treaty cracked down on the material's international movements late last year to combat worldwide depletion of rosewood trees, driven by China's burgeoning demand for rosewood furniture.

That bag of frozen cauliflower sitting inside your freezer likely sprang to life in a vast field north of Salinas, Calif. A crew of men and women here use a machine to drop seedlings into the black soil. Another group follows behind, stooped over, tapping each new plant.

It is backbreaking, repetitive work. Ten-hour days start in the cold, dark mornings and end in the searing afternoon heat.

As the tax bill moves through Congress, an issue has risen that hits dangerously close to U.S. efforts in science.

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The Empire State building, pizza and Broadway are just a few things synonymous with New York City — and then there's the rats.

Like many other major metropolitan areas, New York City has a rat problem. But that doesn't mean that all the rats are the same.

For 17 years, Chalfonte LeNee Queen suffered periodic episodes of violent retching and abdominal pain that would knock her off her feet for days, sometimes leaving her writhing on the floor in pain.

"I've screamed out for death," says Queen, 48, who lives in San Diego. "I've cried out for my mom, who's been dead for 20 years, mentally not realizing she can't come to me."

The Afghan girls robotics team has taken home a top prize at Robotex, Europe's largest robotics festival.

The team previously made headlines because their visas were temporarily denied in the run-up to a robotics contest in the U.S. — but they always wanted to be recognized for their work, not for the politics over their travel. Ultimately, they were allowed into the U.S, placed 114th overall (higher than the teams from the U.S. and U.K.) and received a medal for "courageous achievement."

A cache of hundreds of eggs discovered in China sheds new light on the development and nesting behavior of prehistoric, winged reptiles called pterosaurs.

Pterosaurs were fearsome-looking creatures that flew during the Lower Cretaceous period alongside dinosaurs. This particular species was believed to have a massive wingspan of up to 13 feet, and likely ate fish with their large teeth-filled jaws.

Researchers working in the Turpan-Hami Basin in northwestern China collected the eggs over a 10-year span from 2006 to 2016.

The intercontinental ballistic missile that North Korea launched on Wednesday appears to be significantly larger and more powerful than previous versions, according to independent analysts.

Silence

Nov 30, 2017

It’s a noisy world, inside and out.

Whether it’s the barrage of sounds that surrounds us or the constant droning of our own thoughts, finding peace and quiet can be difficult, and some people go to great lengths to get a break from the noise.

It has been nearly a decade since Congress passed the Mental Health Parity And Addiction Equity Act, with its promise to make mental health and substance abuse treatment just as easy to get as care for any other condition. Yet today, amid an opioid epidemic and a spike in the suicide rate, patients are still struggling to get access to treatment.

When you think of Polynesia, what images first come to mind?

Well, it looks like women have been balancing a full-time job and motherhood for thousands of years. All the while, they haven't gotten much credit for it.

By studying the bones of ancient women in Europe, archaeologists at the University of Cambridge have uncovered a hidden history of women's manual labor, from the early days of farming about 7,500 years ago up until about 2,000 years ago.

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Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist Dan Katz has two cellos. The better one — the one he prefers to play with the orchestra — is 200 years old and has rosewood tuning pegs. When the orchestra went on an 11-concert European tour in January, he purposefully left it home.

"I worry with that instrument about international travel now, because of those pegs," Katz said after rehearsing for a performance of Schubert's Ninth Symphony earlier this month.

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