Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

In a shaded stream in the middle of Berlin's rambling Tiergarten park, fisherman Klaus Hidde lowered himself into the water recently. Several children stood on a platform above him and watched him wade in, wearing high rubber overalls. Hidde pulled a netted trap out of the water and shook it in the air.

"There's too few," Hidde says, shaking his head.

After more than three months, the volcanic eruption on Hawaii's Big Island appears to be slowing.

Geologists at the Hawaiian Volcanic Observatory say the flow of lava from a crack in the earth at the foot of the Kilauea volcano has greatly diminished in recent days. It was lava from that vent, Fissure 8, that ran toward the coast in a molten river, inundating two seaside communities and reshaping the island's southeast coast.

That doesn't mean the event is over. Tina Neal, the scientist in charge of the observatory, noted that eruptions like this typically wax and wane.

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Tangier Island is disappearing. It lies 16 open-water miles from the closest mainland town in Virginia. The island loses around 15 feet of coastline per year, due to rising sea levels and erosion.

Tangier Island, and its 450 residents, vaulted onto the national stage after an interview the mayor and some town residents gave to CNN. In it, they asked President Trump for help in saving the island. Eighty-seven percent of island residents voted for Trump, who has previously called climate change a “hoax.”

Since Zika emerged as a threat to babies, it has been a mystery exactly how much of a danger the mosquito-borne virus poses to children.

But now, the largest study to follow kids who were exposed to the virus in the womb is providing more answers.

The study involved 1,450 babies who had been exposed to the virus, and who were 1-year-old by February 2018. Six percent were born with birth defects, and 14 percent developed problems that could be blamed on the virus by the time they turned 1, the study found.

Taking a genetic test in your 20s or 30s could, indeed, affect your ability to get long-term-care insurance later — or at least the price you'll pay. And people who are considering enrolling in Medicare after age 65 would do well to read the fine print of the sign-up rules. Readers have insurance questions on these topics this month, and we have answers:

Q: Can getting a genetic test interfere with being able to buy long-term-care insurance in the future? If you do get a plan, can the insurer drop you after you find out the results of a genetic test?

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lit up the sky around Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida early Tuesday with a successful launch, placing an Indonesian telecommunications satellite into orbit and demonstrating the reusability of the company's upgraded booster.

The antipsychotic drug Seroquel was approved by the FDA years ago to help people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other serious mental illnesses. But too frequently the drug is also given to people who have Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. The problem with that? Seroquel can be deadly for dementia patients, according to the FDA.

Each year, Dylan Jennings harvests wild rice from the lakes and rivers near his home in northern Wisconsin. He and a partner use a canoe, nosing carefully through rice beds and knocking rice kernels into the boat's hull using special sticks.

"It's a really long process," he says. "It starts with identifying the area where you are going to go ricing and knowing those areas in a very intimate way."

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

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BuzzFeed host Tracy Clayton recently asked her Twitter followers to share a picture that they had uploaded to social media — one in which they looked great, but were actually going through a very difficult time.

The tweet went viral. An outpouring of smiling snapshots, accompanied with heart-wrenching behind-the-scenes anecdotes.

Mankaprr Conteh is one of the hundreds who responded. She remembers when the picture she shared was taken, two years ago, when she was 22. She was in the Caribbean.

Changing Autos, Changing Climate

Aug 6, 2018

The Trump administration wants to relax fuel efficiency standards. But some states are fighting back.

From Reuters.

The Battle for the Beach

Aug 6, 2018

The world is running out of sand. And it’s a problem.

Here’s how Vincent Beiser, writing for Wired, puts it.

The first prescription medication extracted from the marijuana plant is poised to land on pharmacists' shelves this fall. Epidiolex, made from purified cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound found in the cannabis plant, is approved for two rare types of epilepsy.

Its journey to market was driven forward by one family's quest to find a treatment for their son's epilepsy.

There are 18 wildfires now blazing across California, which means many of the state's residents are waking up to the smell of smoke and hazy skies. The Carr fire near Redding has scorched at least 145,015 acres and killed seven people, and three fires in Mendocino County are all less than an hour away from Santa Rosa — where some neighborhoods burned to the ground last year.

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Sand. It's everywhere, even in places you don't expect.

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This is Lulu's log - stardate August 5, 2018 - where we explore matters of space, the stars and the universe.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOOG CITY'S "C418")

Last week was a momentous one for the future of genetically engineered foods, both in the U.S. and in Europe. On July 24, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Impossible Burger, an all-veggie burger that "bleeds" and sizzles just like meat.

As legalization of recreational and medical marijuana continues to expand, police across the country are more concerned than ever about stoned drivers taking to the nation's roads and freeways, endangering lives.

With few accurate roadside tools to detect pot impairment, police today have to rely largely on field sobriety tests developed to fight drunk driving or old-fashioned observation, which can be foiled with Visine or breath mints.

At a pier in San Diego, researchers on Wednesday recorded the warmest sea surface temperature since record-keeping began there in 1916.

Every day, researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego collect data — by hand — from the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier.

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NASA has announced the names of the astronauts who will be the first people in history to ride to orbit in private space taxis next year, if all goes as planned.

Farmers face a growing dilemma. Specifically, a food-growing dilemma.

How do you feed an increasing number of people without harming the environment?

As it turns out, growing as much food as possible in a small area may be our best bet for sustainably feeding the world's population, according to new research.

It all comes down to how we manage greenhouse gases and climate change.

Leaders can have many different styles — just compare President Donald Trump to Malala Yousafzai to your boss or the coach of your kid's soccer team.

NOAA has released the latest State of the Climate report, its annual checkup on our planet.

So, how did Earth fare in 2017?

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere: record highs. Global surface temperature: near-record high. Sea surface temperature: near-record high. Global sea level: highest on record.

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Getting Micro: The Deal With Stem Cells

Aug 1, 2018

Stem cells represent an exciting frontier with a lot of potential to change science and medicine.

From The San Francisco Chronicle:

Embryonic stem cells are the starter cells of the human body. They are undifferentiated, which means they have not matured and specialized, and they are able to become any other kind of cell in the body.

We think of whales as creatures of the sea, but scientists now believe that 40 million to 50 million years ago, whales had four legs and lived at least part of their lives on land.

"We can tell that they're whales based on key features of their anatomy — specifically parts of their skull," paleobiologist Nick Pyenson says. "But they were certainly not like the whales that you would see today."

Each year, more than 100,000 Americans are shot. And the wounds to bone and tissue caused by specially designed bullets also are getting more severe, according to surgeons.

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