Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Though the majority of Americans have a primary care doctor, a large number also seek treatment at urgent care centers, statistics show. For many people, the centers have become a bridge between the primary care doctor's office and the hospital emergency room.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Something was wrong with Nat.

I got the call about my 25-year-old severely autistic son just as I was parking, about to meet a friend for coffee. It was from Richard, the day program director. Like many adults with significant disabilities, Nat spends his weekdays at a day program, an organization that helps his employer so that he can work — he does carriage return at a local Shaw's. When Nat is not working at Shaw's, he is out in the community with support staff and other individuals in his program, volunteering at Meals on Wheels and various activities.

The annual letter from the Gates Foundation calls for an "energy miracle" — the creation of a cheap and clean source of energy to get power to the 1.2 billion people on the planet without electricity.

In the ocean near Hawaii, more than 2 1/2 miles underwater, scientists have discovered a small, delicate-looking and ghostlike little octopod — possibly a new species.

The animal was discovered by Deep Discoverer, a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV — picture a small, unmanned submarine equipped with cameras and a robotic arm — that was working to collect geological samples.

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LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Time now for some talking birds.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIO SHOW, "TALKIN' BIRDS")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: It's a bird show. I like that. I like birds.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Ray Brown's "Talkin' Birds."

Monarch Butterflies Are On The Rebound

Mar 5, 2016
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Cancer dogma holds that most malignancies are caused by DNA mutations inside the nuclei of cells, mutations that ultimately lead to runaway cellular proliferation. Given the countless genetic blips that have been associated with various cancers, the illness has actually come to be seen as a complex of diseases for which personalized treatments might offer the best chances of success.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Science has taken a big step backwards. And despite the way that sounds, in this instance that's a good thing.

JENNIFER WISEMAN: We are so excited to report the discovery of the most distant galaxy ever detected.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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

Anyone looking for a little peace and quiet on this Earth might think they'd find some at the bottom of the ocean. They'd be wrong. And so were researchers who didn't expect to hear much when they dropped a microphone 6 miles down into the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.

For the past several years, a scientist in Brookings, S.D., has been engaged in an escalating struggle with his employer, the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. The scientist, Jonathan Lundgren, says that he has been persecuted because his research points out problems — including harm to bees — with a popular class of pesticides called neonicotinoids.

Think of it as a galactic baby photo: a red blotch representing what a galaxy looked like just 400 million years after the Big Bang. NASA says the "surprisingly bright infant galaxy" known as GN-z11 is the farthest galaxy ever seen from Earth, at 13.4 billion years in the past.

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode How Things Spread

About Yuval Harari's TED Talk

Historian Yuval Harari explains how human imagination powered the growth and spread of homo sapiens around the world.

About Yuval Harari

How Do Our Social Networks Affect Our Health?

Mar 4, 2016

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode How Things Spread

About Nicholas Christakis' TED Talk

Physician and social scientist Nicholas Christakis explains how face-to-face social networks and their structures influence behaviors and phenomena in human society and the natural living world.

About Nicholas Christakis

How Can We Prevent The Next Global Health Epidemic?

Mar 4, 2016

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode How Things Spread

About Bill Gates' TED Talk

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates stresses our dire need for a system that can take on the challenges of the next global health epidemic.

About Bill Gates

Why Is Laughter Contagious?

Mar 4, 2016

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode How Things Spread

About Sophie Scott's TED Talk

Neuroscientist Sophie Scott studies laughter, specifically its effect on our body and brain. She discusses laughter's contagious nature, as well as its role in maintaining social bonds.

About Sophie Scott

A few miles outside Glacier National Park in northwest Montana is land known as the Badger-Two Medicine, the ancestral home of the Blackfeet tribe.

But it's also the site of 18 oil and gas development leases, and an energy company is heading to federal court March 10 to fight for the right to drill there after decades of delay.

Blackfeet tribal historian John Murray doesn't want the drilling to begin.

San Jorge Children's Hospital is Puerto Rico's largest pediatric hospital, drawing patients from throughout the Caribbean. It's a bustling facility in San Juan, with specialties in surgery, rheumatology and oncology. It also has brightly colored live parrots at every entrance.

"It just sends a message to the patient that they're in a friendly place," explains San Jorge's vice president of operations, Domingo Cruz Vivaldi. "That they're here to be treated, but they're also going to have a good time."

We know we should put the cigarettes away or make use of that gym membership, but in the moment, we just don't do it. There is a cluster of neurons in our brain critical for motivation, though. What if you could hack them to motivate yourself?

These neurons are located in the middle of the brain, in a region called the ventral tegmental area. A paper published Thursday in the journal Neuron suggests that we can activate the region with a little bit of training.

Oregon's biggest power companies will have 14 years to wean themselves from coal, under a new bill approved by lawmakers Wednesday. The measure has the support of Gov. Kate Brown — and the state's two largest electric companies.

Several environmental groups have backed the bill, which calls for requiring large utilities to ensure that at least 50 percent of their power comes from renewable sources by 2040.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

You know, from Wall Street to Las Vegas, a lot of people take chances. And there's now some new social science research looking at how the mood of a gambler can change the way he thinks about the risk. NPR's Shankar Vedantam is here to explain this. Hey, Shankar.

There's lots of evidence that getting too little sleep is associated with overeating and an increased body weight.

The question is, why? Part of the answer seems to be that skimping on sleep can disrupt our circadian rhythms. Lack of sleep can also alter hunger and satiety hormones.

If you've stopped for gas lately, you've probably noticed a price jump.

A week ago, the national average for a gallon of regular gas was around $1.70. Now it's about $1.80, according to GasBuddy.com, which tracks prices.

So rising gas prices must reflect shrinking oil supplies, right?

Nope.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

When a whooping crane stands up, you notice. At 5 feet in height, it's America's tallest bird. Its wingspan is more than 7 feet, its body snowy white, its wingtips jet black.

By the 1940s, the birds had nearly gone extinct. Biologists have worked hard to bring them back, by breeding whoopers in captivity and releasing them in the wild. There are now several small wild populations in the U.S.

Chances are, you've never heard of flubendiamide. It's not among the most toxic insecticides, and it's not among the widely used chemicals, either. In recent years, it has been used on about a quarter of the nation's tobacco and 14 percent of almonds, peppers and watermelons.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We all know ancestors give us our hair color, but the roots of gray hair have been less clear. Is it genetics, or stress?

Marie Antoinette supposedly went completely white the night before they lopped off her head. And our presidents seem to go gray much faster than those of us with less weighty roles.

It turns out you can blame Mom and Dad, at least a bit. Scientists say they've identified the first gene for gray hair.

Here's an exercise in deductive logic, with implications for our food supply.

Fact: Insects such as bees and butterflies are helpful, and sometimes essential, for producing much of our food, including a majority of our fruits, vegetables and nuts.

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