Science & Health

Shots - Health News
3:59 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Gerbils Likely Pushed Plague To Europe in Middle Ages

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 8:43 am

Gerbils are a beloved classroom pet, but they might also be deadly killers. A study now claims that gerbils helped bring bubonic plague to Medieval Europe and contributed to the deaths of millions.

Plague is caused by bacteria (Yersinia pestis) found in rodents, and the fleas that live on rodents. The rodent that's usually Suspect Zero is the rat.

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The Salt
1:33 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Tea Tuesdays: The Chemis-Tea Of Pouring The Perfect English-Style Cuppa

Meredith Rizzo NPR

Originally published on Wed March 4, 2015 3:41 pm

Tea is a daily ritual for millions of Britons. And the British are very specific about how they take their cuppa: black, traditionally with milk and sugar. In 1946, George Orwell wrote an essay in which he claimed to have cracked the code to putting together the perfect cup of tea with milk. But taste preferences can be very individual, so his solution may not be your ideal brew.

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Goats and Soda
10:35 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Emotional Scars Of Modern Slavery Run 'Deeper Than Any Visible Wound'

Burmese migrant Thazin Mon Htay and her father Ko Ngwe Htay were trafficked to Thailand to peel shrimp. They worked 16-hour shifts, seven days a week, for less than $10 a day, Ko Ngwe told PBS NewsHour.
Jason Motlagh/Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for NPR

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 5:00 pm

Some recall getting burned. Others say they've been strangled or attacked by dogs. Many suffer from depression and anxiety. These are only a small sampling of what tens of millions modern slaves endure daily, researchers in London reported Wednesday.

The study, published in The Lancet Global Health, is the largest one, so far, to detail the mental and physical health of people who have survived human trafficking.

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Research News
5:21 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Angry Tweets Predict Patterns Of Heart Disease, Researchers Say

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 6:48 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Science
2:52 am
Tue February 24, 2015

'Weird' Fern Shows The Power Of Interspecies Sex

Botanists say this plant is the fern equivalent of a human-lemur love child.
Harry Roskam

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 8:48 am

The love between two ferns knows few bounds, it appears. A DNA analysis of a hybrid fern shows that its parents are two different species separated by nearly 60 million years of evolution.

"A 60 million year divergence is approximately equivalent to a human mating with a lemur," says Carl Rothfels, a fern researcher at the University of British Columbia, who headed the study. The hybrid is a record, he says.

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The Salt
4:48 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Acidifying Waters Are Endangering Your Oysters And Mussels

Crew members pull an oyster dredge in Tangier Sound of the Chesapeake Bay near Deal Island, Md., in 2013. A study found that the Chesapeake Bay shellfishery is a "hot zone" for ocean acidification.
Patrick Semansky AP

Bad news for bivalves comes this week from scientists studying ocean acidification.

Ocean water in parts of the world is changing. Its chemistry is very slowly becoming more acidic, like lemon juice, and less alkaline, a la baking soda.

The change so far is small — you wouldn't notice if you swam in the ocean or even drank it (not recommended, in any case). But numerous scientific studies show that it could get worse. One reason is that as humans produce more carbon dioxide, a lot is absorbed into the oceans. That makes the water more acidic.

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The Salt
3:56 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Feeding Babies Foods With Peanuts Appears To Prevent Allergies

Originally published on Thu February 26, 2015 1:28 pm

Babies at high risk for becoming allergic to peanuts are much less likely to develop the allergy if they are regularly fed foods containing the legumes starting in their first year of life.

That's according to a big new study released Monday involving hundreds of British babies. The researchers found that those who consumed the equivalent of about 4 heaping teaspoons of peanut butter each week, starting when they were between 4 and 11 months old, were about 80 percent less likely to develop a peanut allergy by their fifth birthday.

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Animals
3:56 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Catching A Southern Coyote, Then Letting It Go In The Name Of Science

Professional trapper Dan Eaton starts to release a coyote after it was fitted with a GPS collar. University of Georgia biologists will track the animal for two years as part of a study of Southern coyotes.
Grant Blankenship Georgia Public Broadcasting

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 5:40 pm

The hunt for coyotes starts in Dan Eaton's truck.

Eaton is a professional trapper. He's been doing it for a long time — since he was 10 years old — so he's nonchalant about the dead beaver in the truck bed that he sometimes uses to attract coyotes.

On a recent day, Eaton heads to a trap line set on private hunting land outside Augusta, Ga.

"Everybody wants you to trap coyotes for free until you tell them you're collaring them and letting them go," Eaton says.

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Shots - Health News
11:41 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

Kids, Allergies And A Possible Downside To Squeaky Clean Dishes

Vidhya Nagarajan for NPR

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 10:21 am

Could using a dishwashing machine increase the chances your child will develop allergies? That's what some provocative new research suggests — but don't tear out your machine just yet.

The study involved 1,029 Swedish children (ages 7 or 8) and found that those whose parents said they mostly wash the family's dishes by hand were significantly less likely to develop eczema, and somewhat less likely to develop allergic asthma and hay fever.

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Arts & Life
4:18 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

The Scents And Sensibility Of LA's Nosy New Perfume Enthusiasts

Scent Bar, in central Los Angeles, is home to over 700 niche fragrances — several of which are neatly arranged here.
Courtesy of LuckyScent

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 12:54 pm

The sense of smell is a powerful trigger — capable of calling to mind the sight of a new car, or the memory of a freshly mown lawn from many years past. But this power doesn't just serve to remind; it's also captivating scientists and inspiring a burgeoning subculture in Los Angeles, where many people are collecting fragrances like some people collect stamps.

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Environment
7:01 am
Sun February 22, 2015

Parks Service Surveys The Environment's Accoustical Health

Originally published on Sun February 22, 2015 11:36 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Over the past decade, The National Park Service has placed hundreds of microphones around the country. These are some of the sounds those mics captured.

(SOUNDBITE OF WILDERNESS)

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Author Interviews
4:09 pm
Sat February 21, 2015

Exploring The Solar System Through The Eyes Of Robotic Voyagers

This NASA file image shows a true color photo of Saturn assembled from images collected by Voyager 2.
HO AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 27, 2015 8:06 am

The Voyager spacecraft have revolutionized our understanding of our solar system since their launch in 1977. After decades of sending back data on our planetary neighbors, Voyager 1 and 2 are entering new territory: interstellar space.

In a new book, The Interstellar Age: Inside The Forty-Year Voyager Mission, planetary scientist Jim Bell shares the amazing human stories behind the machines' mission.

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The Two-Way
5:22 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

For The Evolution Of Marine Creatures, Bigger Is Better, Study Says

A blue whale is seen in Timor waters in an undated photo. The marine mammal buttresses Cope's rule, the notion that over the course of evolution, most animals tend to get bigger.
Kiki Dethmers AP

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 11:02 pm

For more than 500 million years, sea creatures have been getting bigger — much bigger as it turns out, according to a study by scientists who say that the evolutionary trend toward larger body size fits with a 19th-century principle known as Cope's rule.

The rule, first posited in the late 1800s by Edward Drinker Cope, "states that evolution tends to increase body size over geologic time in a lineage of populations."

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Goats and Soda
2:13 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

15-Minute Ebola Test Approved For Fighting The Epidemic

The rapid Ebola test from Corgenix Medical Corporation is small and easy to use. But because it involves blood, health workers would still need to run the test at a lab to stay safe.
Courtesy of Corgenix Medical Corp.

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 3:57 pm

Speed. That's key to ending the Ebola epidemic, health officials have been saying for months. Now there's a new tool to help do the trick.

The World Health Organization approved the first quick test for Ebola Friday. The test gives results in about 15 minutes, instead of hours. So people infected can get treatment and be quarantined more quickly.

"It's definitely a breakthrough," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said Friday in Geneva.

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TED Radio Hour
8:20 am
Fri February 20, 2015

What Does It Take To Map The Human Brain?

"Human cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience are starting to give us an answer to...who we are as thinkers." - Nancy Kanwisher
James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 6:32 pm

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Unknown Brain

About Nancy Kanwisher's TED Talk

Nancy Kanwisher studies the brain partly by staring at her own. She's spent countless hours in an fMRI scanner, mapping her own brain to gain insight into what makes us human.

About Nancy Kanwisher

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