Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

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Richard Dawkins On Terrorism And Religion

May 27, 2017

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Impulsive children become thoughtful adults only after years of improvements to the brain's information highways, a team reports in Current Biology.

A study of nearly 900 young people ages 8 to 22 found that the ability to control impulses, stay on task and make good decisions increased steadily over that span as the brain remodeled its information pathways to become more efficient.

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Wired For Altruism.

About Abigail Marsh's TED Talk

When Abigail Marsh was 19, a complete stranger risked his life to save her from a car accident. Today, she studies what motivates us to help others — and why some of us are "extraordinary" altruists.

About Abigail Marsh

Most anyone who has encountered a flamingo has probably been impressed by its signature ability to balance on a single long, spindly leg for remarkably long periods of time.

But actually, scientists have now shown that what appears to be a feat requires almost no muscle activity from the bird.

NASA's Juno spacecraft has spotted giant cyclones swirling at Jupiter's north and south poles.

That's just one of the unexpected and puzzling findings being reported by the Juno science team.

Many Adults Don't Think Exposure To Vaping Is Bad For Kids

May 25, 2017

Despite the toxic ingredients commonly found in e-cigarettes and other vaping products, many adults don't think secondhand e-cigarette aerosol poses a risk to children, according to a report published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About one-third of adults surveyed didn't know if secondhand aerosol caused harm to children, and 40 percent of the adults said this kind of exposure caused "little" or "some" harm to children.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

There's a rich body of evidence that links chocolate to heart health.

Now comes a new study that finds people who consume small amounts of chocolate each week have a lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation, a heart condition characterized by a rapid or irregular heartbeat.

Sleek, high-tech wristbands are extremely popular these days, promising to measure heart rate, steps taken during the day, sleep, calories burned and even stress.

Last year's Zika outbreak in Miami likely started in the spring of 2016, with the virus introduced multiple times before it was detected, researchers say. And most of those cases originated in the Caribbean.

The year was 1945, and 2-year-old Lindy Thomson had been given a few weeks to live. She suffered from diarrhea and projectile vomiting, and she was so thin and weak, she could no longer walk. Her parents had taken her from doctor to doctor. Finally, Dr. Douglas Arnold in Buffalo, N.Y., offered a most unusual prescription: She was to eat bananas.

"At least seven bananas a day," recalls the patient, who now goes by her married name, Lindy Redmond.

Whales are the largest animals on the planet, but they haven't always been giants. Fossil records show that ancient whales were much smaller than the currently living behemoths.

So when did whales get so big, and how?

A new study suggests it might be due to changes in climate that affected the food that some whales eat: krill and small fish. Instead of being spread throughout the ocean, lots of krill started being packed into a small area. Bigger whales were simply more efficient at eating the dense pockets of krill, and they beat out their smaller cousins.

A remarkably complete fossil of a young child suggests that key elements of the human spinal structure were already in place in an ancient human relative 3.3 million years ago.

The child, about three years old, likely died suddenly and quickly drifted into a body of water, where she was covered in sediment that eventually hardened to sandstone, Zeray Alemseged of the University of Chicago tells The Two-Way.

It's normal to feel drawn to people you share something with — whether that's a name, or a birthday, or a shared profession or background.

But Brett Pelham finds this preference for things and people associated with us goes far beyond what we might expect. He calls this phenomenon Implicit Egotism.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Building a better battery is the holy grail for people who want better technology. Now researchers at the University of Texas, Austin say they may have found that battery — or something close. But their claims have sparked controversy.

At the center of this debate is a towering figure in the world of science — John Goodenough, who teaches material science at the university.

Kids under the age of 1 should avoid fruit juice, older kids should drink it only sparingly and all children should focus, instead, on eating whole fruit, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The pediatricians' group previously advised against giving fruit juice to infants under 6 months, but expanded that recommendation given evidence linking juice consumption to tooth decay and to gaining too much or too little weight.

They're seemingly unavoidable on Instagram these days: photos of bright yellow egg yolks nestled in a fluffy bed of egg whites, like the sun framed by billowy clouds. They're called cloud eggs, and they're pretty enough to look like a taste of heaven ... which is probably why people are obsessively whipping them up and sharing their pictures on social media.

Yet the latest food fad du jour is actually a modern spin on a nearly 400-year-old recipe.

It took an explosion and 13 pounds of iron to usher in the modern era of neuroscience.

In 1848, a 25-year-old railroad worker named Phineas Gage was blowing up rocks to clear the way for a new rail line in Cavendish, Vt. He would drill a hole, place an explosive charge, then pack in sand using a 13-pound metal bar known as a tamping iron.

With the help of high-speed cameras, CT scanners and some nail-art supplies, scientists in Japan have managed to catch a glimpse of the elaborate way that ladybugs fold their wings to tuck them away.

The research could have implications for everything from aeronautics to umbrellas.

We Have Always Been Bored — 'Yawn' Wonders Why

May 20, 2017

Boredom is a going concern, particularly in a Western culture over-saturated with things designed to make every moment count. Freelance researcher Mary Mann began writing Yawn: Adventures in Boredom because she was concerned with her own restlessness; was she succumbing to the depression that ran in her family? Was modern malaise taking hold? Was she fundamentally ungrateful for life, as her parents had always suggested about bored people? If she was broken, was there a cure? (And if you're already rolling your eyes at Mann, this is not going to be an easy read for you.)

The list of things that can be created with 3-D printers keeps getting longer: jewelry, art, guns, food, medical devices and, now, mouse ovaries.

Scientists have used a 3-D printer to create a mouse ovary capable of producing healthy offspring. And researchers hope to create replacement human ovaries the same way someday.

As part of President Trump's executive order to review "job-killing regulations," the Environmental Protection Agency last month asked for the public's input on what to streamline or cut. It held a series of open-mic meetings and set up a website that has received more than 28,000 comments, many of which urge the agency not to roll back environmental protections.

President Trump is expected to face pressure from European Union leaders at the G-7 summit in Italy next week to keep the U.S. in the Paris Climate Treaty.

Storms are dropping record rainfall in the Midwest. Tornadoes are also appearing in parts of the country where they don’t commonly touch down. There is major damage in western Wisconsin after a massive severe storm system traveled from the South Plains of Texas to the Great Lakes.

Dozens of scientists recently glued fake green caterpillars onto plants around the world in an unusual study to see how the caterpillars' risk of getting eaten varied from pole to pole.

Any ant, slug, lizard, bird or beetle that attacked the soft clay caterpillars left telltale bite marks that were later analyzed by a lab in Finland.

The livelihoods of farmers and ranchers are intimately tied to weather and the environment. But they may not be able to depend on research conducted by the government to help them adapt to climate change if the Trump administration follows through on campaign promises to shift federal resources away from studying the climate.

Is 'Internet Addiction' Real?

May 18, 2017

When her youngest daughter, Naomi, was in middle school, Ellen watched the teen disappear behind a screen. Her once bubbly daughter went from hanging out with a few close friends after school to isolating herself in her room for hours at a time. (NPR has agreed to use only the pair's middle names, to protect the teen's medical privacy.)

"She started just lying there, not moving and just being on the phone," says Ellen. "I was at a loss about what to do."

Wild Chinook salmon, probably the most prized seafood item on the West Coast, could all but vanish from California within a hundred years, according to a report released Tuesday.

The authors, with the University of California, Davis, and the conservation group California Trout, name climate change, dams and agriculture as the major threats to the prized and iconic fish, which is still the core of the state's robust fishing industry.

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