Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

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Cockroach Milk: Yes. You Read That Right

Aug 6, 2016

Pour out that almond milk — the new hip thing cockroach milk.

Well, kind of.

The female Pacific beetle cockroach is one of a kind. Unlike other insect species, this Hawaiian native gives birth to live young. And she feeds them a pale, yellow liquid "milk" from her brood sack.

But the craziest thing: Cut open an embryonic beetle roach, and they're guts will spill out nutrient-rich milk crystals that shimmer like glitter.

When I walked dogs at a Chicago animal shelter, I wondered how each one got there. Whether a stitched-up pup shirked from my touch or happily greeted me tongue-first, my eyes would well up with salt. I wanted to keep them all.

People who work in animal shelters or veterinary clinics try to save the animals that come through their doors. But they're at high risk of compassion fatigue, a sustained stress that takes a toll on a caregiver's mind and body — and her heart.

Scientists have answered a burning question central to the charm of sunflowers: Why do young flowers move their blooms to always face the sun over the course of a day?

And then: Once sunflowers reach maturity, why do they stop tracking the sun and only face east?

Buried below the ice sheet that covers most of Greenland, there's an abandoned U.S. Army base. Camp Century had trucks, tunnels, even a nuclear reactor. Advertised as a research station, it was also a test site for deploying nuclear missiles.

Using specialized X-ray imaging, a team of researchers in Australia has revealed a striking painting of a woman's face hidden under French Impressionist Edgar Degas' Portrait of a Woman.

The researchers believe the auburn-haired woman in the hidden work — which they also attribute to Degas — is Emma Dobigny, who was reportedly one of Degas' favorite subjects and modeled for him in 1869 and 1870.

In light of John Hinckley Jr.'s release from a psychiatric hospital 35 years after attempting to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, Shots is exploring the use of the not guilty by reason of insanity plea. We're talking with legal and medical professionals about how the plea works, and how it doesn't work. In this fourth of a four-part series, we look at what happens to defendants when a state has no insanity defense.

If you want to send something to the moon, the first thing you have to do is get through bureaucracy. Lots of it.

That's what Moon Express Inc. is in the midst of right now. It intends to send a robot to the moon next fall.

"It's called MX-1E, and it's a very small lander. Think of it as probably the size of a washing machine," says Naveen Jain, one of the company's founders.

Many medical studies involving children never end up being put to use because scientists frequently don't publish the results of their work, according to an analysis published online Thursday.

The findings raise both scientific and ethical issues regarding research on this vulnerable population.

The federal government announced plans Thursday to lift a moratorium on funding of certain controversial experiments that use human stem cells to create animal embryos that are partly human.

The National Institutes of Health is proposing a new policy to permit scientists to get federal money to make embryos, known as chimeras, under certain carefully monitored conditions.

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The American bald eagle, once near-extinct, is back with a vengeance. And there's a rar e-- and frankly, brutal — video, perhaps the first ever footage of osprey predation by an eagle in Hog Island, Maine, to prove it.

Looking for a healthy variety of bugs? You might want to try searching in your wealthiest friend's house.

Neighborhood income is a good predictor of the number of kinds of insects found indoors, according to a recently-published study in Biology Letters. The researchers went searching in the dark corners of 50 homes in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area for bug life.

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

Teens are driving unsupervised too late at night, a recent study suggests, and expanding restrictions on their nighttime driving to include the hours before midnight could save lives.

There's a voracious little bug destroying forests across the eastern U.S. Scientists say emerald ash borers, exotic beetles imported accidentally from Asia, have killed as many as 50 million trees.

They're now threatening groves in New York's Adirondack Mountains that are used to make an iconic kind of baseball bat.

In light of John Hinckley Jr.'s release from a psychiatric hospital 35 years after attempting to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, Shots is exploring the use of the not guilty by reason of insanity plea. We're talking with legal and medical professionals about how the plea works, and how it doesn't work. In this second of a four-part series, we look at how juries respond to insanity defenses.

McDonald's is no longer serving chicken raised on antibiotics that are important to human medicine. The company made the pledge last year, and now reports that it has completed its transition to the new antibiotic policy ahead of schedule.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

How should schools best prepare kids to live and work in the second half of the 21st century?

In previous eras, the job of school was simple: Teach them math and reading skills. Have them learn some basic facts about the world.

Today the challenge is a lot different. Most people all over the world, even in the poorest countries, have much easier access to a calculator, a dictionary and great swaths of knowledge in their pockets.

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

It may sound trite, but the Olympic Games truly are a chance to witness what unites us all as human beings: Our joy in triumph and our anguish in defeat.

David Matsumoto believes this truism, but on an entirely different level.

Matsumoto is a professor of psychology at San Francisco State University and a former Olympic judo coach. He has analyzed the behavior of Olympic athletes. He spoke recently with Shankar Vedantam about what his research reveals.

A pair of scientists have a new hypothesis about why the female orgasm exists: It might have something to do with releasing an egg to be fertilized.

Scientists have puzzled over, and sometimes even questioned the existence of, a phenomenon that appears to have no physical effect on conception. While a male orgasm is crucial to impregnate a female, it is not obvious how a female orgasm affects whether she is impregnated.

It's official. The Zika virus has established a toehold in Florida.

Fourteen people likely caught Zika in a neighborhood north of downtown Miami, health officials said Monday. That means mosquitoes in that area have picked up the virus and are spreading it.

Zika can cause severe birth defects if a woman is infected at anytime during pregnancy.

So the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is doing something it has never done before: issuing a travel advisory to a part of the continental U.S. because of an outbreak of an infectious disease.

A five-hour drive southwest of Madrid, I pull into a tiny town square filled with songbirds and an outsized Catholic church — where Eduardo Sousa and Diego Labourdette are waiting.

They're an odd couple. Sousa is a jovial fifth-generation Spanish farmer. Labourdette is a soft-spoken academic — an ecologist and migratory bird expert — who teaches at a university in Madrid. But they're in business together — in the foie gras business.

When agricultural extension agent Tom Barber drives the country roads of eastern Arkansas this summer, his trained eye can spot the damage: soybean leaves contorted into cup-like shapes.

He's seeing it in field after field. Similar damage is turning up in Tennessee and in the "boot-heel" region of Missouri. Tens of thousands of acres are affected.

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

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

A wildfire on the central California coast has burned more than 38,000 acres and could continue throughout August. Already, the Soberanes fire has destroyed at least 60 homes, and one man died when a bulldozer he was driving near the fire line rolled over on steep terrain.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

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