Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Here's a timely reminder for all you would-be revelers out there: Be careful with your countdowns this New Year's Eve. There will be a little extra time to bask in the glow of a retreating 2016 — or curse its name, as the case may be.

Whatever your inclination may be, one thing is certain: Before the year is out, the world's foremost authority on time will be adding one more second to the clock.

A tiny pink peanut is not a white rhinoceros. Nor is it a green turtle or a Bengal tiger. But until a few years ago the Carolina African runner peanut — at one time, the South's most praised peanut, packed with flavor and rich with oil — was much like the rhinoceros and turtle and tiger. That is, it was nearly extinct.

On the top of Hawaii's Mauna Kea mountain Thursday, astronomers will point the large Subaru Telescope toward a patch of sky near the constellation of Orion, looking for an extremely faint object moving slowly through space.

If they find what they're looking for, it will be one of the most important astronomical discoveries in more than a century: a new planet in our solar system.

Where Does Alzheimer's Treatment Go From Here?

Dec 29, 2016

In a disappointment to Alzheimer's patients and researchers, drugmaker Eli Lilly said in late November that a clinical trial of solanezumab, an experimental medication to treat the degenerative neurological condition, had failed.

Democratic senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee say Donald Trump's choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency should reveal his connections with energy insiders before his confirmation hearings get underway.

In the letter dated Tuesday, the senators told Scott Pruitt, currently Oklahoma's attorney general, they were concerned about his close ties to energy lobbyists and wanted him to disclose lists of donors who contributed to a nonprofit organization that took funds from a network connected to the Koch brothers.

Studies of fish oil and health are like studies about coffee — there's plenty of contradictory information out there.

With that in mind, here's the latest turn: A Danish study finds that women who took fish oil supplements during pregnancy reduced the risk of asthma in their children.

At first glance, food policy seems to be an afterthought in the Trump administration. The campaign saw few debates about food or farming. And the president-elect hasn't yet nominated someone to head the Department of Agriculture or the Food and Drug Administration.

Chinese officials have seized 3.1 tonnes (more than 3.4 tons) of illegally trafficked pangolin scales from a port in Shanghai, according to state media.

It's the largest such seizure China has ever made, Xinhua News Agency reports.

Pangolins are the world's most widely trafficked mammals — their meat is a delicacy and their scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

All eight species of pangolin are facing extinction.

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Rosemary Navarro was living in Mexico when her brother called from California.

Something wasn't right with their mom, then in her early 40s. She was having trouble paying bills and keeping jobs as a food preparer in convalescent homes.

Navarro, then 22, sold her furniture to pay for a trip back to the U.S. for herself and her two young children. Almost as soon as she arrived, she knew her mother wasn't the same person. "She was there but sometimes she wasn't there," she said. "I thought, 'Oh, man, this isn't going to be good.' "

Vera Rubin, the groundbreaking astrophysicist who discovered evidence of dark matter, died Sunday night at the age of 88, the Carnegie Institution confirms.

Rubin did much of her revelatory work at Carnegie. The organization's president calls her a "national treasure."

In the 1960s and 1970s, Rubin was working with astronomer Kent Ford, studying the behavior of spiral galaxies, when they discovered something entirely unexpected — the stars at the outside of the galaxy were moving as fast as the ones in the middle, which didn't fit with Newtonian gravitational theory.

It's a time of year when we're often urged to be grateful; for friends, for family, for presents under the tree. But not everyone experiences gratitude as a positive force in their life.

At 44 years old, Dave Adox was facing the end of his two-year battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He needed a ventilator to breathe and couldn't move any part of his body, except his eyes. Once he started to struggle with his eyes — his only way to communicate — Adox decided it was time to die.

He wanted to donate his organs, to give other people a chance for a longer life. To do this, he'd need to be in a hospital when he went off the ventilator.

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How Kitchen Sounds Influence Food Flavor

Dec 24, 2016

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American Hearing Loss In Decline

Dec 24, 2016

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Lori Dajose is a recent member of "Friends of Joe's Big Idea." After studying planetary science as an undergraduate, she found her calling as a science writer. Lori describes science writing as "the perfect way to combine my love for words and my love for asking questions about the universe."


Interview Highlights

Background

It's a continuing paradox of the meat industry. Every year, more restaurants and food companies announce that they will sell only meat produced with minimal or no use of antibiotics. And every year, despite those pledges, more antibiotics are administered to the nation's swine, cattle and poultry.

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Life often requires improvisation, especially when things don't go according to plan. NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam brings us the story of one woman who's had to reinvent herself again and again.

Rare Snowfall Blankets Dunes in The Sahara

Dec 22, 2016

On Monday, a rare and beautiful thing happened: There was a dusting of snow on the red sand dunes of the Sahara.

The snow fell on the northern Algerian town of Ain Sefra, which is known as the "gateway to the desert."

Karim Bouchetata, an amateur photographer there, grabbed his camera and took a number of photos before the snow melted later that day. He uploaded them to Facebook, where the surreal images quickly went viral.

The holiday season is a time when lots of people take to the air, flying to see relatives or go on vacation. But when it comes to seasonal travel, humans are totally outnumbered by insects.

That's according to a newly published study in the journal Science, which found that more than 3 trillion migrating insects fly over south-central England each year.

Researchers looking into whether a shorter course of antibiotics would treat young children's ear infections as well as a longer course found that not only was the shorter treatment less effective but it didn't reduce antibiotic resistance or side effects.

For patients with serious brain injuries, there's a strong link between sleep patterns and recovery.

A study of 30 patients hospitalized for moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries found that sleep quality and brain function improved in tandem, researchers reported Wednesday in the journal Neurology.

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