Science & Health

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She sails by the memory of the stars.

Her bones are lashed together with 6 miles of rope. Her twin wooden masts are lowered and outstretched only by the power of muscled arms. And once fully extended, the red, V-shaped sails announce who she is.

She is the Hokule'a, Hawaii's famous voyaging canoe, built in the double-hulled style used by Polynesian navigators thousands of years ago to cross the Pacific.

A germ that can't be treated with an antibiotic that is often used as the last resort has shown up for the first time in the United States.

Government scientists say the case is cause for serious concern but doesn't pose any immediate public health threat.

The germ was discovered in a 49-year-old woman in Pennsylvania with a urinary tract infection. The infection was caused by E. coli bacteria that had a gene that made them resistant to an antibiotic known as colistin.

The deep-sea researchers were surveying an ocean ridge off the coast of Hawaii in 2015 and amid ordinary ocean floor fare — a bit of coral, some volcanic rock — they came across something surprising.

"Where did this guy come from? Holy cow!" one researcher said to his colleague.

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

Andrew Herrington slips on a battered green backpack, stashes a .308 bolt-action rifle under his arm and steps off a boat onto the steep, rocky shores of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"It's about a half-mile that we're going to walk up to for those traps," he says.

In almost every circumstance, hunting is strictly forbidden at national parks. But there's an exception to that rule. Herrington's job is to hunt at Great Smoky Mountains National Park for an invasive and hugely destructive species: feral hogs.

NASA called off today's effort to inflate an expandable module attached to the International Space Station after its first attempt fell flat.

Here's a mystery found in a French cave. It appears that a group of Neanderthals walked into that cave about 176,000 years ago and started building something. Neanderthals were our closest living relatives but they weren't known as builders or cave explorers.

Scientists identify the forms as "constructions," but they can't figure out what they were for.

It has been more than 18 months since California's governor signed a law that allows pharmacists to distribute most types of hormonal birth control methods without a prescription.

Shareholders of Exxon Mobil and Chevron have voted to reject a series of resolutions aimed at encouraging the companies to take stronger actions to battle climate change.

But Exxon Mobil shareholders voted in favor of a rule that could make it easier for minority shareholders to nominate outsiders to the company's board, a potential victory for environmentalists.

Activist shareholders at both companies had placed an unusual number of resolutions on the ballot related to climate change.

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

You can't help but notice that Scott Pitnick has a big tattoo. It's a sperm with a long tail that winds down his right arm.

People sometimes stare. "And when I tell them what it is, they either are very interested or they pivot on their heel and walk away," says Pitnick, an evolutionary biologist at Syracuse University. "All eye contact ceases."

Some people just don't like talking about sperm. But not him. He's spent his career trying to unravel the mystery of giant sperm.

Whenever I'm out reporting in the field, I can tell many ranchers have a powerful connection with their cattle — it seems they can almost understand them. But researchers today are digging deeper to figure out exactly what cows are saying — and how they communicate through their moos.

I drove out to the research farm at the University of Missouri to ask cattle geneticist Jared Decker to share his expert insights.

The Florida Everglades is a swampy wilderness the size of Delaware. In some places along the road in southern Florida, it looks like tall saw grass to the horizon, a prairie punctuated with a few twisted cypress trees. The sky is the palest blue.

But beneath the surface a different story is unfolding. Because of climate change and sea level rise, the ocean is starting to seep into the swampland. If the invasion grows worse, it could drastically change the Everglades, and a way of life for millions of residents in South Florida.

At the end of 2013, snowy owls started showing up far south of their usual winter range. The big white birds were reported in South Carolina, Georgia, even Florida.

Dave Brinker, an ecologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, had never seen anything like it.

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

Mosquito control is serious business in Harris County, Texas.

The county, which includes Houston, stretches across 1,777 square miles and is the third most populous county in the U.S. The area's warm, muggy climate and snaking system of bayous provide an ideal habitat for mosquitoes — and the diseases they carry.

The county began battling mosquitoes in earnest in 1965, after an outbreak of St. Louis encephalitis. Hundreds of people contracted the virus and 32 died.

It started with a report published last year titled "Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science." It's a rather unassuming title given the amount of hand wringing, head scratching, and eye rolling it's incited in what's come to be known as psychology's "replication crisis."

Antibiotics can save lives, but sometimes they can work too well.

Most antibiotics can't tell the difference between good and bad bacteria. That means the medicines kill helpful bacteria in your gut while they're obliterating the bacteria making you sick.

In a lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all the work that happens in a vast pharmaceutical manufacturing plant happens in a device the size of your kitchen refrigerator.

A 5,000-year-old brewery has been unearthed in China.

Archaeologists uncovered ancient "beer-making tool kits" in underground rooms built between 3400 and 2900 B.C. Discovered at a dig site in the Central Plain of China, the kits included funnels, pots and specialized jugs. The shapes of the objects suggest they could be used for brewing, filtration and storage.

It's the oldest beer-making facility ever discovered in China — and the evidence indicates that these early brewers were already using specialized tools and advanced beer-making techniques.

The Colorado River has been a major source of water in the Southwestern United States region, but many worry that it's beginning to dry up. Some observers point to population growth, climate change and water mismanagement as causes in discussions regarding the dwindling river.

Could the water crisis that has struck many Western states be a sign of what's to come for the rest of the nation? And who decides how much water is used or who controls it?

We often associate climate change with too much water — the melting ice caps triggering a rise in sea levels. Now a new World Bank report says we also need to think about too little water — the potable sort.

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

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

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

A massive space shuttle fuel tank is winding its way through the streets of Los Angeles Saturday, on a 16-mile trek heading to the California Science Center.

It's set to be displayed with the space shuttle Endeavour. The tank, which was never used in a mission, is the "last flight-qualified space shuttle external tank in existence," according to the science center.

Solar Impulse 2, the experimental plane attempting to circumnavigate the world using only the sun's power, has taken off from Tulsa on the latest leg of its journey.

The team says the flight to Dayton, Ohio — the 12th stage of the journey around the globe — is expected to take 18 hours, landing at approximately 11p.m. local time.

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

A new label on some of the steaks in your grocery store highlights a production process you may never have heard of: mechanical tenderizing.

This means the beef has been punctured with blades or needles to break down the muscle fibers and make it easier to chew. But it also means the meat has a greater chance of being contaminated and making you sick.

The labels are a requirement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that went into effect this week.

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