Science & Health

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More Religious Leaders Challenge Silence, Isolation Surrounding Suicide

Feb 11, 2018

The Rev. Talitha Arnold was just 2 years old when her father, a World War II veteran, took his own life.

"You just didn't talk about those things back then. We didn't even talk about suicide when I was in the seminary," says Arnold, who leads the United Church of Santa Fe in New Mexico.

Then, when the wife of one of her divinity school professors killed herself and no one muttered a word about it during the service, Arnold says she was appalled. "I was sitting there thinking, 'This was nuts. Why can't you name it?' " That was almost 40 years ago.

Fiona the hippo may be one of the greatest living social media stars of the decade, but in terms of those who aren't living, look no further than Sue the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Though she's a fossil, Sue is a true Chicagoan and has been on display in her home at The Field Museum since 2000.

Like many of us these days, Sue is sassy and shares her hot takes on Twitter with adoring fans.

It's hard to imagine that a blue dye sold in pet food stores in the U.S. to fight fungal infections in tropical fish could be a potent weapon against malaria.

A long time ago, when I was working on my Ph.D. research, I learned to use supercomputers to track the complex 3-D motions of gas blown into space by dying stars.

Using big computers in this way was still new to lots of researchers in my field and I was often asked, "How do you know your models are right?"

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Peering Into Space.

About Jedidah Isler's TED Talk

Scientists believe at the center of every galaxy is a supermassive black hole. Jedidah Isler describes how gamma ray telescopes have expanded our knowledge of this mysterious aspect of space.

About Jedidah Isler

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Peering Deeper Into Space.

About Natasha Hurley-Walker's TED Talk

Natasha Hurley-Walker explains how a new radio telescope helps us "see" without light. She says these telescopes can tell us about millions of galaxies — and maybe even the beginning of time.

About Natasha Hurley-Walker

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode Peering Deeper Into Space.

About Sara Seager's TED Talk

In our galaxy alone, there are hundreds of billions of planets. And Sara Seager is looking for the perfect one, a "Goldilocks" planet — neither too hot nor too cold — that could support life.

About Sara Seager

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Peering Deeper Into Space.

About Allan Adams's TED Talk

In 2015, scientists first detected gravitational waves - ripples in space caused by massive disturbances. Allan Adams says this discovery helps answer some of our biggest questions about the universe.

About Allan Adams

Karen Byrne's left hand sometimes operates on its own terms. It has unbuttoned shirts and stubbed out cigarettes, without her permission. Oh, and a few times, her own hand has slapped her across the face.

This is a documented medical occurrence, not a premise for a Jim Carrey movie. The condition's name? Alien hand syndrome.

A lick of cold, creamy gelato isn't just magic. It's mathematics.

"You have to respect the range," emphasizes Gianpaolo Valli, a senior instructor at Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna, Italy, who has spent decades drilling aspiring gelato chefs on the right ratio of solids to water in any given recipe. (FYI: Solids need to be between 32 and 46 percent.) If your numbers are off, you're likely to end up with a disaster instead of a dessert.

Different neurological conditions like autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder appear to have more in common than scientists thought they did. A new study finds that they have important similarities at a molecular level.

And understanding the molecular basis of those disorders could help in developing better treatments.

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In the time of smartphones, checking a horoscope might seem as quaint as making a call. But technology has a new generation looking to the sky charts.

Mercury retrograde trends on Twitter. YouTubers analyze the stars. And hip publications keep astrologers on contract.

Much of the U.S. remains firmly in the grip of winter, even as the sports-enthused world prepares to cheer on athletes in snow-and-ice-centered events at the Winter Olympics.

Stop Crying! Tear-Free Onions Are Here

Feb 8, 2018

Using onions to explain away crying is a familiar gag. On The Brady Bunch, housekeeper Alice answers the phone and cries as the caller tells her a sad story. After hanging up she says, "Darn onions," holding up the offending allium. And Rowlf the Dog sang on The Muppet Show, "I never harmed an onion. So why should they make me cry?"

More than a dozen states oppose the Trump administration's proposal to open up nearly the entire U.S. coastline to offshore oil leasing. Federal officials will get public feedback on the plan in Sacramento on Thursday. The Interior Department says it takes local concerns into account — as happened in a recent controversial move with Florida — but states have no direct say, since the leasing would take place in federally controlled waters.

As complicated as it as to launch and operate a telescope in space, it's almost as complex to move a space telescope around here on Earth.

On Tuesday, Elon Musk's SpaceX successfully launched its most ambitious rocket to date, the Falcon Heavy.

This is a transformative spacecraft, a behemoth that essentially straps three Falcon 9 rocket cores together. At 224-feet tall, it's smaller than NASA's giant Saturn V (363 feet) — but it is the largest privately built spacecraft to date. The Falcon Heavy is capable of lifting 70 tons of payload to low-Earth orbit and almost 30 tons to a geostationary transfer orbit.

Linguists working in the Malay Peninsula have identified a language, now called Jedek, that had not previously been recognized outside of the small group of people who speak it.

The newly documented language is spoken by some 280 people, part of a community that once foraged along the Pergau River. The Jedek speakers now live in resettlement area in northern Malaysia.

A Japanese farm introduced a new crop this winter: an organic banana with a peel that's thin enough to eat. In a nod to this appealing outer covering, Setsuzo Tanaka, the banana's inventor, has named his creation the Mongee ("mon-gay") banana — which means "incredible banana" in Japanese.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

On the 40th floor of a new Denver skyscraper, overseeing workers in hard hats and orange vests, construction manager Michael Bjes touts some of the measures that will make this building energy efficient: Energy Star appliances, LED lights, "water efficient toilet fixtures throughout the entire building."

A study published Monday by Human Rights Watch finds that about 179,000 nursing home residents are being given antipsychotic drugs, even though they don't have schizophrenia or other serious mental illnesses that those drugs are designed to treat.

Researchers have found a link between today's eight-legged spiders and an ancient group of arachnids that also possessed tails, according to two studies published in the latest issue of Nature Ecology & Evolution.

About 100,000 Americans have sickle cell disease (formerly known as sickle cell anemia). Most of them are black. And many of them have faced challenges from the health care industry in getting their condition addressed.

Abigail Marsh is an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Georgetown University and author of the book The Fear Factor: How One Emotion Connects Altruists, Psychopaths, and Everyone In-Between. You can follow her on Twitter: @aa_marsh.


Individualism is that rugged frontier quality that reflects a mix of independence, valuing free expression, and eschewing close family ties relative to more distant relationships.

An outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that killed 12 people and sickened at least 87 in Flint, Mich., in 2014 and 2015 was caused by low chlorine levels in the municipal water system, scientists have confirmed. It's the most detailed evidence yet linking the bacterial disease to the city's broader water crisis.

The world of artificial intelligence has exploded in recent years. Computers armed with AI do everything from drive cars to pick movies you'll probably like. Some have warned we're putting too much trust in computers that appear to do wondrous things.

But what exactly do people mean when they talk about artificial intelligence?

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