Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Henry Wellman is the Harold W. Stevenson Collegiate Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. Kimberly Brink is a doctoral candidate in developmental psychology at the University of Michigan.


Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov collected a series of his short stories on robots in his now famous anthology I, Robot.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

By now, millions of people around the world have seen the video: A polar bear, gaunt and weak from starvation, pawing through garbage at an abandoned fishing camp on Baffin Island. The bear seems so exhausted from hunger, it can barely stand. The filmmakers believe the bear was just hours from death.

The Mystery Of The 'Oumuamua' Asteroid

Dec 16, 2017

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Chris Newman used to be a software engineering manager, well-paid, but he worked long hours, ate fast food and went to the doctor a lot.

Eventually, enough was enough. He and his wife moved from the Washington, D.C., area to Charlottesville, Va., to become farmers. Now he is healthier, has fewer stomach problems and can eat dairy products again. He raises pigs, ducks and chickens.

Psychedelic drugs are getting a makeover, with scientists exploring their potential in treating debilitating conditions like cluster headaches, addiction or anxiety, with promising results.

That's despite the fact that very few researchers are legally allowed to study psychedelics, largely because of LSD's decades-old reputation as a counterculture drug that sparked bad trips.

Earth is facing an extinction crisis – and humans shoulder the blame.

Wildlife poaching and illegal trade. Climate change. Urbanization. Mining. These are some of the myriad things we do that endanger animals and, in the process, damage our own well-being.

Adolescent female monkeys in Japan have repeatedly engaged in sexual behaviors with sika deer, for reasons that are not yet clear, according to researchers who study macaque behavior.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed Archives of Sexual Behavior, follows up on a single report from earlier this year of a male macaque mounting a female sika deer on Yakushima Island.

Half a billion years. That's how long the Earth existed as a barren world.

Half a billion years of hell before the planet's molten seas of liquid rock cooled to give the world a solid surface.

Only then did life appear. Only then did our world's fantastic history of microbes evolving to mollusks, evolving to dinosaurs, evolving to us, begin.

But what, exactly, was that beginning?

Between my dad's love for upstate New York's sharp cheddars and the annual gift-pack of farmhouse cheeses my brother sends from California, cheese figures pretty heavily in my holiday season. This year Bronwen and Francis Percival's new book, Reinventing the Wheel: Milk, Microbes, and the Fight for Real Cheese, makes that not just cause for pleasure, but reflection as well.

Behold, the cocktail avocado. No, that's not a weird cucumber. It's the latest in avocado innovation, on offer at British retail chain Marks & Spencer.

Have you ever walked out of a movie theater and said to your companion, "Wow, the science in that film was awesome?"

Penitent penguins. A seal aghast. A turbocharged wigeon, a vain gnu and a kickboxing kangaroo.

The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards are back. This year's winners were announced Thursday morning.

Wildfires in December are the new norm for California.

In the West, they are burning hotter and more intensely than ever due to climate change, and the situation is made worse by the explosion of development in fire prone areas and past firefighting decisions. Here are three reasons the fires are massive and likely won't abate anytime soon.

1. It's nearly impossible to put out a modern mega-fire

This has been tough year for America's west coast vineyards. Wildfires in October in Northern California and this month in Southern California have left acres of wine country scorched and black. While California's 2017 grapes have been safely harvested already, winemakers around the world are wary about a threat that is growing along with the frequency of wildfires: smoke taint.

Two years ago yesterday, Dec. 12, nearly 200 countries came to a consensus that greenhouse emissions — mostly caused by the burning of fossil fuels — had to be drastically cut if we were to halt the planetary-changing consequences of a choking atmosphere.

An international team of scientists have announced the discovery of a previously unknown species of prehistoric penguin.

The bird waddled around off the east coast of New Zealand between 55 and 60 million years ago. And it was a giant as far as penguins go. The researchers estimate that it probably weighed about 220 pounds and was around 5 feet 10 inches tall.

It's time to find out what, if anything, our "mysterious interloper" has to say.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

All this week we are talking to our friends here at NPR about their favorite things from 2017. And we're nerding out here. These are not, like, simple best-of lists.

Thousands of firefighters who have traveled from across the country to Southern California have started making progress containing the fifth-largest wildfire in the state's history.

The week-old, nearly 230,000-acre Thomas Fire is now 20 percent contained, after firefighters on the ground and in aircraft took advantage of weakened Santa Ana winds on Monday night. The fire has consumed an area larger than the size of New York City.

This week, the skywatchers will experience a flashy double feature: The Geminid meteor shower — one of the year's best — will coincide with an unusually close encounter by an asteroid.

That asteroid? It's called 3200 Phaethon, discovered by a NASA satellite in 1983. With a diameter of about 3 miles, it's the third-largest near-Earth asteroid classified by the space agency as "potentially hazardous."

In Westfield, N.Y., perch, bass, catfish and trout are growing fat on the byproducts of an adjacent brewery and distillery. The fish, still young but intended to be harvested and eaten next year, are the first fruits of an innovative project aimed at turning waste into food while addressing a suite of problems associated with more conventional means of catching and farming seafood.

The Arctic is a huge, icy cap on the planet that acts like a global air conditioner. But the air conditioner is breaking down, according to scientists who issued a grim "report card" on the Arctic on Tuesday.

They say the North Pole continues to warm at an alarming pace — twice the rate as the rest of the planet, on average. This year was the Arctic's second-warmest in at least 1,500 years, after 2016.

Ticks sucked the blood of feathered dinosaurs some 99 million years ago, a new study suggests.

Modern ticks are infamous for biting humans and other mammals. But ticks are very ancient, and scientists who study their evolution have long wondered what (or who) the little vampires ate before there were lots of mammals to feed on. Feathered dinosaurs apparently were among the possible creatures on the menu.

When it comes to the extinction of modern animal species, humans usually end up taking the rap.

The traditional view of the disappearance of the Tasmanian tiger is no different. It follows a well-worn indictment: After the first humans began arriving in Australia (by recent estimates) some 65,000 years ago, the dog-like predatory marsupial began to disappear.

French President Emmanuel Macron, in a not-so-subtle jab at President Trump, has awarded long-term research grants to 18 climate scientists — 13 of them U.S.-based researchers — to relocate to France and pursue their work with the blessing of a government that doesn't cast doubt on the threat of climate change.

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President Trump has formally told NASA to send U.S. astronauts back to the moon.

"The directive I'm signing today will refocus America's space program on human exploration and discovery," he said.

Standing at the president's side as he signed "Space Policy Directive 1" on Monday was Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, one of the last two humans to ever walk on the moon, in a mission that took place 45 years ago this week.

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