Science & Health

Shots - Health News
2:33 am
Mon March 23, 2015

Rethinking Alcohol: Can Heavy Drinkers Learn To Cut Back?

Maria Fabrizio for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 7:34 am

The thinking about alcohol dependence used to be black and white. There was a belief that there were two kinds of drinkers: alcoholics and everyone else.

"But that dichotomy — yes or no, you have it or you don't — is inadequate," says Dr. John Mariani, who researches substance abuse at Columbia University. He says that the thinking has evolved, and that the field of psychiatry recognizes there's a spectrum.

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The Two-Way
12:48 pm
Sun March 22, 2015

Top Beijing Scientist: China Faces 'Huge Impact' From Climate Change

Smoke billows from chimneys of a steel plant on a hazy day in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, earlier this month.
Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun March 22, 2015 6:06 pm

China's top weather scientist has made a rare official acknowledgement: climate change, he says, could have a "huge impact" on the country's crop yields and infrastructure.

Zheng Guogang, the head of China's meteorological administration, tells Xinhua news agency that China is already experiencing temperature increases that outpace those in other parts of the world.

As a result, China — the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases — faces a possible "ecological degradation," he says.

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Your Health
6:11 am
Sat March 21, 2015

How The First Bite Of Food Sets The Body's Clock

Originally published on Sat March 21, 2015 9:56 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Science
6:11 am
Sat March 21, 2015

Why Some Mushrooms Glow In The Dark

N. gardneri mushrooms grow at the base of young babassu palms in Brazil. A bland tan by day, the fungi emit an eerie green light by night.
Michele P. Verderane/IP-USP

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 6:57 pm

A team of scientists recently created some fake, glowing mushrooms and scattered them in a Brazilian forest in hopes of solving an ancient mystery: Why do some fungi emit light?

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Shots - Health News
4:12 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Scientists Urge Temporary Moratorium On Human Genome Edits

Microbiologist Jennifer Doudna at the University of California, Berkeley. She's co-inventor of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology — a tool that's recently made the snipping and splicing of genes much easier.
Cailey Cotner UC Berkeley

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 6:58 pm

A new technology called CRISPR could allow scientists to alter the human genetic code for generations. That's causing some leading biologists and bioethicists to sound an alarm.

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Goats and Soda
2:57 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

For The Love Of Pork: Antibiotic Use On Farms Skyrockets Worldwide

Regions that produce the most pork and chicken also use the most antibiotics on farms. Hot spots around the world include the Midwest in the U.S., southern Brazil, and China's Sichuan province. Yellow indicates low levels of drug use in livestock; orange and light red are moderate levels; and dark red is high levels.
PNAS

Originally published on Sat March 21, 2015 1:21 am

Sorry bacon lovers, we've got some sad news about your favorite meat.

To get those sizzling strips of pork on your plate each morning takes more antibiotics than it does to make a steak burrito or a chicken sausage sandwich.

Pig farmers around the world, on average, use nearly four times as much antibiotics as cattle ranchers do, per pound of meat. Poultry farmers fall somewhere between the two.

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Shots - Health News
1:53 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Wireless Sensors Help Scientists Map Staph Spread Inside Hospital

Grey lines connecting health care workers (marked with "+") and patients represent contacts between them. The red figures are carriers of MRSA.
Obadia et al. PLOS Computational Biology

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 4:34 pm

Whatever lands you in the hospital or nursing home also puts you at risk for acquiring an infection, possibly one that's resistant to antibiotic treatment.

Staph infections are common problems in health care facilities, and many Staphylcoccus aureus bacteria are now resistant to drug treatment.

Chances are you've heard of MRSA, which is the kind of staph that isn't susceptible to methicillin, the antibiotic that used to be a silver bullet.

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The Two-Way
12:03 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Interior Department Issues New Fracking Rules For Federal Lands

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell speaks in Anchorage, Alaska. The Obama administration is requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations.
Dan Joling AP

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 7:18 pm

The Department of the Interior has unveiled new regulations on hydraulic fracturing operations that take place on federal lands, requiring companies using the drilling technique to ensure wells are safe and to disclose chemicals used in the process.

The rules change follows a more than three-year review process and will affect the 90 percent of oil and gas wells on federal lands that now use so-called fracking to extract oil and gas.

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The Two-Way
9:28 am
Fri March 20, 2015

Solar Eclipse Wows Parts Of Europe, Middle East And Russia

A drone flies in the foreground of the partial solar eclipse in Vienna, Austria.
Joe Klamar AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 3:05 pm

People throughout Europe, as well as parts of the Middle East, Russia, Africa, Asia and South America, got a stunning view of a partial solar eclipse Friday. A very few lucky ones at sea and in the high Arctic caught a glimpse of the same event as a total eclipse, as the moon passed in front of the sun.

Sky and Telescope magazine wrote earlier this month:

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Animals
4:05 am
Fri March 20, 2015

No Pain, No Scientific Gain: One Man's Quest To Quantify Bug Stings

University of Arizona entomologist Justin Schmidt was stung well over 1,000 times while creating the Schmidt Sting Pain Index.
Sam Droege/USGS Flickr

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 6:03 pm

Spring is officially here and that means flowers, gardens and bugs. At least one man couldn't be happier about the return of insects — especially the ones that hurt.

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The Salt
5:24 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Watch Your Back, Kale. Kelp Is Gunning For The Veggie Du Jour Title

Alaria, a type of seaweed also known as "Wild Atlantic Wakame," grows in the North Atlantic Ocean and is similar to Japanese wakame, a common ingredient in miso soup.
Courtesy of Sarah Redmond

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 1:47 pm

The story of how kale went from frumpy to trendy is a great inspiration to Gabriela Bradt, a fisheries specialist at the University of New Hampshire in Durham.

"Nobody cared about kale. Then it became the green du jour," says Bradt.

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Science
4:00 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Fossil Collection Calls Berkeley's Clock Tower Home

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 7:19 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
2:29 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

'Looks Like Laury' Shines The Power Of Friendship On A Failing Mind

Laury Sacks and her husband, Eric. The actress and writer developed frontotemporal dementia in her late 40s and died in 2008 at age 52.
Courtesy of Eric Sacks

Originally published on Mon March 23, 2015 7:09 am

More than 5 million Americans have dementia, and that number is only climbing. Each case leaves some people wondering what's left in a friendship when the bond between confidants becomes literally unthinkable, when language and thinking fail. But a good friend can sometimes help in ways that a spouse, a child or a paid professional can't.

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The Salt
10:33 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Cramped Chicken Cages Are Going Away. What Comes Next?

Free-range houses allow chickens to move around freely, but operating costs were 23 percent higher than for traditional cages, according to a new study.
Dan Charles NPR

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 2:57 pm

For the past two years, at an undisclosed location in the Upper Midwest, a large commercial egg farm has been probed with every tool of modern science. Researchers have collected data on feed consumed, eggs produced, rates of chicken death and injury, levels of dust in the air, microbial contamination and dollars spent. Graduate students have been assigned to watch hours of video of the hens in an effort to rate the animals' well-being.

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Science
2:35 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Scientists Catch Up On The Sex Life Of Coral To Help Reefs Survive

Staghorn coral planted by scientists in the Florida Keys. Researchers hope to give the same sort of boost to the world's shrinking population of pillar coral, now that they can raise the creatures in a laboratory.
Joe Berg/Way Down Video/Mote

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 6:54 am

For the first time, biologists have caught a rare type of coral in the act of reproducing, and they were able to collect its sperm and eggs and breed the coral in the laboratory.

The success is part of an effort to stem the decline in many types of coral around the world.

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