Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

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Shortly after Hurricane Harvey rolled over Houston, country music stars put on a show to rally those affected.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TEXAS")

GEORGE STRAIT: (Singing) I wouldn't be an American if it wasn't for Texas.

Science can just knock me to the floor.

Sometimes it's the revelation of some previously unseen phenomena. Other times, it's a new way to see something you thought you already understood. Then there are the times when connections pop up between things you never imagined to be connected.

And sometimes, it's all of them at once.

This year, deep inside a mountain, North Korea detonated a giant nuclear bomb.

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There's a race on. The way to win is to eradicate a human disease. That's only been done once before - smallpox. This year, two diseases got tantalizingly close, but unexpected roadblocks have popped up. NPR's Michaeleen Doucleff reports.

3 Months After Irma, The State Of Barbuda

Dec 23, 2017

In early September, Hurricane Irma cut a path of destruction across the Atlantic. Barbuda is among the tiny islands in the Caribbean that suffered some of the worst damage. Freelance journalist Anika Kentish provides a sense of how Barbuda is doing.

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An iridescent streak lit up the sky over Southern California on Friday night, stopping traffic and leading some residents to marvel and others to worry about a UFO or even a nuclear bomb attack. In reality, it was a SpaceX rocket lifting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, north of Santa Barbara, Calif., carrying 10 satellites for the Iridium constellation. They will be used in mobile voice and data communications.

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The end of the year is a time of holiday gift giving, and finding just the right gift can sometimes feel like an impossible task. But folks at an animal eyeball lab say that a gift they've just received, partly thanks to NPR, has made this the "best Christmas ever."

It's a massive whale eye, probably from a blue whale, and the story of how it ended up at the lab starts in the 1960s.

Leah Bahrencu's kidneys and liver shut down. Samantha Blackwell spent a month in a coma. Cindel Pena suffered heart failure. Heather Lavender lost her uterus.

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Rethinking Medicine.

About Siddhartha Mukherjee's TED Talk

When it comes to medicine, one rule of thinking has generally prevailed: Have disease, take pill, kill something. But physician Siddhartha Mukherjee says treatment should take a broader approach.

About Siddhartha Mukherjee

A warming planet due to human-induced climate change is likely to contribute to an increase in volcanic activity, according to

Trump's Busy Year On Energy And Environment

Dec 22, 2017

President Trump campaigned on a platform to make American energy great again.

"We're loaded," he said, at a 2016 campaign appearance in North Dakota, referring to fossil fuel reserves. By unleashing those reserves and slashing regulations, Trump promised, he would usher in an era of "energy independence" and, ultimately, American energy dominance.

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Chadwick the African Lion gets up slowly from a late morning nap in a spot of warm sunshine that's become somewhat of a rarity in these often smoke-filled days here at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

"He's a very majestic older lion," Dr. Julie Barnes, director of Animal Care and Health at the Santa Barbara Zoo tells a visitor. "He's 19-years old so he is definitely geriatric at this time. But he is very beloved here by the people who work at the zoo and by our visitors."

Unless you do live in a galaxy far, far away, you know episode VIII of the Star Wars saga opened last week to much anticipation.

I took my family on Saturday afternoon, making sure I didn't talk to anyone that had seen it already.

[Spoiler Alert: If you haven't watched the movie you may want to wait to read this review until you do.]

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Scientists have now edited genes inside mice to prevent a form of inherited deafness.

While cautioning that much more research is needed, the scientists said they hope the technique might someday be used to prevent deafness in children born in families with a history of genetic hearing loss.

Before that could happen, however, extensive tests would be needed to determine whether the treatment is safe — and whether it would actually work in humans.

An international team of astronomers has concluded that when it comes to theories about colliding neutron stars, Einstein got it right. Everybody else, not so much.

A neutron star is what's left when a star burns out and collapses in on itself, leaving a small, incredibly dense ball.

A new study describes, in detail, the stiffness of beetle penises, which might serve as inspiration for people who design medical catheters.

The industry has long struggled with an engineering problem: How do you keep a very thin tube flexible enough to snake into hard-to-reach places but rigid enough to withstand insertion? Plus, there is the problem of buckling — when a thin tube crimps so fluids can't flow through it anymore.

Editor's note: This story contains language that may be offensive.

In February 2009, Samantha Pierce became pregnant with twins. It was a time when things were going really well in her life.

She and her husband had recently gotten married. They had good jobs.

"I was a kick-ass community organizer," says Pierce, who is African-American and lives in Cleveland. She worked for a nonprofit that fought against predatory lending. The organization was growing, and Pierce had been promoted to management.

Record low sea ice this fall, and near record warm temperatures, are bad news for villages along Alaska's coast. Winter ice used to serve as a buffer, protecting the shoreline during the region's strong fall storms. Now, it's forming later in the year, leaving communities exposed.

Nowhere is that more evident than in Newtok, which sits on a river not far from the Bering Sea. The later freeze-up has allowed the river to eat away at the village's thawing permafrost. During a storm, blocks of tundra the size of a minivan slump into the water and disappear.

Two years ago, news headlines blared, "Cheese really is crack," citing research that was widely misinterpreted as asserting cheese was addictive. Now, it's chocolate's turn.

Facebook is expanding its use of facial recognition software to alert users when photos of them are posted on the platform — whether or not they are tagged in the photo.

By default, Facebook users in the U.S. will be signed up for these face recognition alerts, unless they have previously opted out of a similar, more limited feature. But users can turn off face recognition, Facebook says.

Additionally, the company says it will roll out new tools to alert users if someone else may be impersonating them with a misleading profile photo.

In my house, we celebrate Christmas.

In preparation, we selected a beautiful, aromatic Fraser fir tree for our den. This means that our five indoor rescued cats get to enjoy their annual holiday enrichment activity — climbing partway up through the branches, batting down ornaments, and attempting to shred the wrapping and ribbon from presents under the tree.

Some chaos definitely ensues, but it's fun to see the cats so excited — and we've never yet had an outright tree crash like this one.

GOP Tax Bill Leaves Health Savings Accounts Untouched

Dec 19, 2017

The ongoing uncertainty about congressional changes to the health law — and their impact on insurance and the online marketplaces — continues to raise questions among consumers. Here are answers to recent queries.

Does the GOP tax bill affect health savings accounts?

At this time, there are no changes aimed specifically at HSAs. These are savings accounts linked to high-deductible health plans, and are exempt from tax liability.

When Ayanna Howard was a little girl, her favorite TV show was the Bionic Woman.

Scientists could soon resume controversial experiments on germs with the potential to cause pandemics, as government officials have decided to finally lift an unusual three-year moratorium on federal funding for the work.

The research involves three viruses — influenza, SARS, and MERS — that could kill millions if they mutated in a way that let the germs spread quickly among people.

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