Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

GOP Health Bill Penalizes Patients Who Let Insurance Lapse

May 16, 2017

Before he was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in 2015, Anthony Kinsey often went without health insurance. He is a contract lawyer working for staffing agencies on short-term projects in the Washington, D.C., area and sometimes the 90-day waiting period for coverage through a staffing agency proved longer than the duration of his project — if health coverage was offered at all.

The Greek poet Archilochus wrote, "the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."

There are many different interpretations of this parable, but psychologist Phil Tetlock argues it's a way of understanding two cognitive styles: Foxes have different strategies for different problems. They are comfortable with nuance, they can live with contradictions. Hedgehogs, on the other hand, focus on the big picture. They reduce every problem to one organizing principle.

More than 37 million pieces of plastic debris have accumulated on a remote island in the South Pacific, thousands of miles from the nearest city, according to estimates from researchers who documented the accumulating trash.

Turtles get tangled in fishing line, and hermit crabs make their homes in plastic containers. The high-tide line is demarcated by litter. Small scraps of plastic are buried inches deep into the sandy beaches.

It was 2 a.m. on a Sunday night in January 2016. Ben and Jerry's flavor guru, Kirsten Schimoler, had been at the ice cream plant in St. Albans, Vt., all weekend. Now she stood mesmerized in the wee hours as 180 cups of non-dairy almond "ice cream" whizzed past her every single minute.

Bears do it; bats do it. So do guinea pigs, dogs and humans. They all yawn. It's a common animal behavior, but one that is something of a mystery.

There's still no consensus on the purpose of a yawn, says Robert Provine, professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Provine has studied what he calls "yawn science" since the early 1980s, and he's published dozens of research articles on it. He says the simple yawn is not so simple.

American Indian and Alaska Native families are much more likely to have an infant die suddenly and unexpectedly, and that risk has remained higher than in other ethnic groups since public health efforts were launched to prevent sudden infant death syndrome in the 1990s. African-American babies also face a higher risk, a study finds.

Officials in Egypt say they've uncovered 17 mummies in an ancient burial site, most of which are intact.

Egyptology professor Salah al-Kholi of Cairo University said there may be as many as 32 mummies in the underground chamber, Reuters reports.

The burial site, which sits about 26 feet underground, was first discovered a year ago by students using radar. It's located in the Tuna al-Gabal village in central Egypt, about 135 miles south of Cairo.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

My 8-year-old daughter is a fourth-generation perfectionist. In my family, the trait is matrilineal, so I know from firsthand experience that it has a few advantages. My daughter is likely to pay her bills on time and use semicolons correctly. She will not be intimidated by details. She will have a certain baseline competence that will make her life, in some ways, a great deal easier.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

The number of new Hepatitis C cases leaped nearly 300 percent from 2010 to 2015, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the CDC points to the likely culprit behind the spike in cases of the infectious disease: the use of heroin and other injection drugs.

The glaciers in Montana's Glacier National Park are rapidly disappearing.

Some have been reduced by as much as 85 percent over the past 50 years, while the average loss is 39 percent, according to a new study from the U.S. Geological Survey and Portland State University.

The researchers looked at historic trends for 39 glaciers, 37 of which are found in the park. The other two are on U.S. Forest Service land.

Tesla is now accepting deposits for its new solar roof system, offering an "infinity" warranty for tiles that integrate solar power into roof coverings. Installations will begin in June, the company says.

Firearms safety is key for people who use weapons at work or for recreational shooting. But one risk has been little acknowledged: Lead dust exposure.

In a standard bullet, a solid lead core wrapped in a copper jacket sits atop a stack of gunpowder and lead primer. When the gun fires, the primer ignites, the gunpowder lights, and some of the lead on the bullet boils. When the casing snaps out of the ejection port, lead particles trail behind it. As the bullet hurtles down the barrel of the gun, a shower of lead particles follows.

Why Do Children Love Those Fad Toys So?

May 10, 2017

First, it was Pokémon. Then came a special trick yo-yo, Magic: The Gathering cards, and some kind of "thinking putty." Over time, my 9-year-old's obsessions have changed. But one thing has remained consistent: When he wants something, he really, really wants it — often because, in his words, "everyone else has one."

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The bones of a humanlike creature have puzzled scientists ever since they were found in a South African cave in 2013.

Homo naledi is primitive in some ways, with a small brain and other physical features reminiscent of our early ancestors. But it also walked upright, and had hands that may have been capable of making tools.

Old rocks found in the Australian Outback have some weighty implications, scientists say: They hint at the environment in which life on Earth originated and suggest a location to search for life on Mars.

Scientists in Australia say they have found biological signatures of life in rocks that also show the presence of a hot spring, lending weight to a theory that the earliest life on Earth might have originated in freshwater hot springs on land rather than in deep-sea hydrothermal vents.

Meet Beibeilong sinensis, the most recently identified dinosaur species.

The name means "baby dragon from China." The dinosaur had massive feathered wings and a birdlike skull. It probably looked most like a cassowary, flightless birds slightly smaller than an ostrich.

Magic.

That's what it feels like when you bump into your childhood friend on the first day of college ... or meet someone at a party in Paris, only to discover she lives in your dad's childhood home in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. But mathematician Joseph Mazur says these coincidences are not as extraordinary as we might think.

"People think that their address book is essentially the people they know, and it turns out any address book is about one percent of the people they know in some way," Mazur explains.

Another day, another study undercutting the myth surrounding the 18th-century Italian violin maker Antonio Stradivari.

Since the early 20th century, musicians and instrument experts have been trying to figure out what, if anything, makes the violins he made sound better.

For 51 years, a small federal program has been paying scientists to keep American waterways healthy. It's called Sea Grant — part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — and President Donald Trump"s proposed budget for next year would eliminate it.

The Air Force's experimental X-37B space plane announced the end of its nearly two-year mission by creating a sonic boom on Sunday that surprised residents along Florida's Space Coast. Officials have provided only vague details about the unmanned craft's more than 700-day mission.

"Not much is known about the 30-foot-long robotic spacecraft or what it took to space," as member station WMFE reports.

NASA Has A Spacesuit Shortage

May 7, 2017

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

This is Lulu's log - stardate May 7, 2017, where we consider matters of space, the stars, the universe.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The United States is funding work on the International Space Station until the year 2024. But...

If you were feeling blue after Crayola's March announcement that the company would be retiring the bright yellow hue, Dandelion, you'll soon have a new blue crayon to color in your tears with.

The company announced in March that a member of the blue family would take Dandelion's spot, but the specifics were lacking, until now. On Friday, Crayola announced that the new blue is inspired by the YInMn blue pigment.

Why Taste Buds Dull As We Age

May 5, 2017

Sometimes people develop strange eating habits as they age. For example, Amy Hunt, a stay-at-home mom in Austin, Texas, says her grandfather cultivated some unusual taste preferences in his 80s.

"I remember teasing him because he literally put ketchup or Tabasco sauce on everything," says Hunt. "When we would tease him, he would shrug his shoulders and just say he liked it." But Hunt's father, a retired registered nurse, had a theory: Her grandfather liked strong flavors because of his old age and its effects on taste.

It's been an awfully long time since a wolf pack has called Denmark home — roughly two centuries, in fact.

After weeks of will-they-or-won't-they tensions, the House managed to pass its GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act on Thursday by a razor-thin margin. The vote was 217-213.

Democrats who lost the battle are still convinced they may win the political war. As the Republicans reached a majority for the bill, Democrats on the House floor began chanting, "Na, na, na, na ... hey, hey, hey ... goodbye." They say Republicans could lose their seats for supporting a bill that could cause so much disruption in voters' health care.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

There are thousands of parks, refuges and wilderness areas in the U.S. that are kept in something close to their natural state. But one form of pollution isn't respecting those boundaries: man-made noise.

New research based on recordings from 492 protected natural areas reveals that they're awash in noise pollution.

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