Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

India has formally joined the Paris climate change agreement, handing over its country's official ratification documents to the United Nations on Sunday.

India's ambassador to the U.N., Syed Akbaruddin, smiled as he delivered the ratified agreement to the international body's office of legal affairs. The ceremony was held in front of a banner depicting Mahatma Gandhi and recognizing Oct. 2, the Indian peace leader's birthday, as an international day of nonviolence.

A wildfire in the mountains of California's Santa Clara County has destroyed a dozen homes and consumed about 4,400 acres of forest.

The Loma fire has been burning in the Santa Cruz mountains since September 26, and although it is more than 60 percent contained, it still threatens more than 150 structures, according to Cal-Fire, the state agency in charge of wildfire efforts. Almost 2,000 personnel, including inmate fire crews, are fighting the blaze.

Perhaps, you're among the more than 36 million people that have watched social psychologist and Harvard professor Amy Cuddy's TED talk about "power poses" — poses she says would make people feel more powerful and more willing to take risks. For example, poses like leaning back in your chair or standing with your hands on your hips.

Hurricane Matthew is roaring across the Caribbean Sea as a monster Category 5 storm on a course that puts Jamaica, as well as parts of Haiti and Cuba, in the path of its potentially devastating winds and rain.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center called it the strongest Atlantic hurricane since Felix in 2007, and said Matthew will be approaching Jamaica late Sunday night. It is expected to reach the eastern part of the island on Monday.

The U.N. is planning to launch its first space mission into orbit, packed with scientific experiments from countries that can't afford their own space programs.

It's teaming up with the Sierra Nevada Corporation, which makes the Dream Chaser, a reuseable spacecraft that, when it returns from orbit, can land at an ordinary airport. They formally announced the plans this week at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Are We Headed Into Another Mass Extinction?

Sep 30, 2016

Part 3 of TED Radio Hour episode Anthropocene

About Peter Ward's TED Talk

At various times, life on earth has come close to being erased. Paleontologist Peter Ward explains what we can learn from previous mass extinctions

About Peter Ward

What's The Anthropocene?

Sep 30, 2016

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Anthropocene

About Kenneth Lacovara's TED Talk

Have we entered a new age defined by humans? Paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara says there's "no doubt" that humans' impact on Earth will show up in the geological record.

About Kenneth Lacovara

How Do We Embrace All Kinds Of Nature?

Sep 30, 2016

Part 2 of TED Radio Hour episode Anthropocene

About Emma Marris's TED Talk

Environmental writer Emma Marris wants us to broaden our definition of nature to one that embraces urban and wild spaces in order learn to protect and care for it.

About Emma Marris

Can We Preserve Seed Diversity For The Future?

Sep 30, 2016

Part 5 of TED Radio Hour episode Anthropocene

About Cary Fowler's TED Talk

Biodiversity archivist Cary Fowler explains how the Svalbard Global Seed Vault will prepare humans for the climate change and its effect on our environment and our food supply.

About Cary Fowler

How Can Dinosaurs Help Us Understand Our Own Species?

Sep 30, 2016

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Anthropocene

About Kenneth Lacovara's TED Talk

Earth's rocks and fossils can help us understand our own species. Paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara says there's "no doubt" that humans' impact on Earth will show up in the geological record.

About Kenneth Lacovara

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

On Wednesday evening, the city of Reykjavik, Iceland, turned off street lights and encouraged people to darken their homes so that everyone could watch the northern lights.

The city council released a statement saying street lights would be turned off in multiple sections of the city between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. local time and warning people to drive carefully.

Federal health officials are urging all Americans to get their flu shots as soon as possible, and are especially concerned that too few elderly people are getting vaccinated.

"Flu is serious. Flu is unpredictable," Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters during a joint briefing Thursday with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. "Flu often does not get enough respect."

What rats can remember may help people who forget.

Researchers are reporting evidence that rats possess "episodic memories," the kind of memories that allow us to go back in time and recall specific events. These memories are among the first to disappear in people who develop Alzheimer's disease.

The finding, which appears Thursday in Current Biology, suggests that rats could offer a better way to test potential drugs for Alzheimer's. Right now, most of these drugs are tested in mice.

On Friday, the Rosetta spacecraft will smack into the icy surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and go silent. Scientists with the historic mission are wondering how they'll feel as the orbiter makes its death-dive toward the comet that has been its traveling companion for more than two years.

Researchers trying to understand diseases and find new ways to treat them are running into a serious problem in their labs: One of the most commonly used tools often produces spurious results. More than 100 influential scientists met in California this week and agreed on a strategy to address the troubling issue.

Artificial intelligence is one of those tech terms that seems to inevitably conjure up images (and jokes) of computer overlords running sci-fi dystopias — or, more recently, robots taking over human jobs.

But AI is already here: It's powering your voice-activated digital personal assistants and Web searches, guiding automated features on your car and translating foreign texts, detecting your friends in photos you post on social media and filtering your spam.

A new study of violent behavior in more than 1,000 mammal species found the meerkat is the mammal most likely to be murdered by one of its own kind.

The study, led by José María Gómez of the University of Grenada in Spain and published Wednesday in the journal Nature, analyzed more than 4 million deaths among 1,024 mammal species and compared them with findings in 600 studies of violence among humans from ancient times until today.

The findings tell us two things:

There are less than 500 North Atlantic right whales left in the world. And now, one less: This weekend, one of the 45-ton creatures was found dead off the coast of Maine, completely entangled in fishing line — head, flippers and all.

This was not an isolated incident.

Commercial trade of pangolins, the aardvark-like mammal that is the world's most-trafficked animal, has been officially banned by the international body responsible for regulating the international trade of endangered species.

First, a story:

Late one night, a man searches for something in a parking lot. On his hands and knees, he crawls around a bright circle of light created by a streetlamp overhead.

A woman passes, stops, takes in the scene.

"What are you looking for? Can I help?"

"My car keys. Any chance you've seen them?"

"You dropped them right around here?"

"Oh, no. I dropped them way over there," he says, gesturing vaguely to some faraway spot on the other side of the lot.

"Then why are you looking here?"

The man pauses to consider the question.

A doctor who treats infertility in New York City says he has helped a couple have the first baby purposefully created with DNA from three different adults.

John Zhang of the New Hope Fertility Center in Manhattan traveled to Mexico earlier this year to perform a procedure for a couple from Jordan that enabled them to have the baby in May, according to a clinic spokesman.

Eating well has many known benefits. But a good diet may not be able to counteract all the ill effects of stress on our bodies.

A new study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, suggests stress can override the benefits of making better food choices.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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

It has been a common belief that low-emissions vehicles, like hybrids and electric cars, are more expensive than other choices. But a new study finds that when operating and maintenance costs are included in a vehicle's price, cleaner cars may actually be a better bet.

The cars and trucks we drive are responsible for about a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions in this country. That's why Jessika Trancik, an energy scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, decided it was time to take a closer look at vehicle emissions.

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

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton went head to head Monday night in the first presidential debate.

NPR's politics team, with help from reporters and editors who cover national security, immigration, business, foreign policy and more, live annotated the debate. Portions of the debate with added analysis are underlined in yellow, followed by context and fact check.

Scientists have seen what might be plumes of water vapor erupting out of the icy surface of Jupiter's moon Europa, suggesting that its subsurface ocean could be probed without having to drill through miles of ice.

That's according to new findings from images captured by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope that were released Monday and that will be published this week in The Astrophysical Journal.

The largest radio telescope in the world officially opened on Sunday, according to China's official Xinhua News.

The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, is named after its diameter, which at 500 meters makes it 195 meters wider than the second largest telescope of its kind, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

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