Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

For a brief moment last week, just off the coast of southwestern Canada, the typically grim outlook confronting orcas took on a hopeful hue. A whale watch operator, staring through binoculars, had caught sight of a healthy calf swimming beside its mother — a rare beacon for a population that had not seen a healthy infant in years.

It was not to last, however. By the time experts with the Center for Whale Research arrived, just half an hour later, the calf had already died.

But that's not the end of this story.

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

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A mother orca was still carrying her dead calf in the waters off the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday more than a week after the baby whale died.

Heading May Be Riskier For Female Soccer Players Than Males

Jul 31, 2018

The first rule of soccer is pretty obvious: don't use your hands. But soccer's signature move, heading the ball, can cause a detectable impact on players' brains. And according to a study published Tuesday in Radiology, female players are more sensitive to the impact than males.

A hint of optimism creeps into Darius Kasprzak's voice as he pilots his boat, the Marona, out of Kodiak harbor on a recent calm day.

"We're in the morning, we're at the start of the flood tide," he says. "This is where you want to be."

He is fishing a bay on the northwestern edge of the Gulf of Alaska, about 200 miles southwest of Anchorage. The chilly waters here are some of the most productive fish habitat on Earth. In a good year, Kasprzak could catch more than 100,000 pounds of cod.

For Many College Students, Hunger 'Makes It Hard To Focus'

Jul 31, 2018

As students enter college this fall, many will hunger for more than knowledge. Up to half of college students in recent published studies say they either are not getting enough to eat or are worried about it.

We all hope for a little peace at the end of life, for ourselves and for our loved ones. Hospice services can play a big role, relieving pain and providing spiritual and emotional support. But a federal report published Tuesday synthesized patient and Medicare payment data going back to 2005 and found that, while patients generally can count on hospice to relieve their suffering, some hospice providers are bilking Medicare and neglecting patients.

This summer, NASA's Parker Solar Probe will embark on a mission to "touch the sun."

San Francisco may become the next U.S. city to ban plastic straws. The city's board of supervisors approved the ban on a preliminary basis last week and the final decision is on its agenda Tuesday. That has shops that sell boba, or bubble tea – a drink that has to be sucked through a straw – concerned.

Bubble tea is typically served in a big plastic cup over ice. It has balls of tapioca at the bottom the size of small marbles. You use a wide straw to suck up the tapioca — or boba — from the bottom of the cup.

Standing between peach and cherry trees on her 6.5-acre Utah farm, Blake Spalding points to the Kaiparowits Plateau. The looming bluff is dotted with thousand-year-old pinyon pine and juniper trees.

"That is one of the areas they're hoping to mine," she tells a group of visiting chefs from Salt Lake City. "It's full of dinosaur fossils and more than 650 documented species of wild bees."

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

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Was it hard to concentrate during that long meeting? Does the crossword seem a little tougher? You could be mildly dehydrated.

A growing body of evidence finds that being just a little dehydrated is tied to a range of subtle effects — from mood changes to muddled thinking.

A photograph shows a polar bear lying lifeless on a beach; mouth slightly agape, a ring of blood on its neck.

Norwegian authorities confirmed the bear was shot and killed on Saturday.

It happened on the northernmost island of Svalbard archipelago, a region between mainland Norway and the North Pole known for polar bears and ice caps. In recent years, the area has become a popular destination for arctic tourism, especially during the summer months.

Dramatic weather events happened this past week in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere. There were wildfires in Greece, Scandinavia, and the Western U.S. Flooding followed record rainfalls in the Northeast. And dangerous heat waves settled over the Southwest, Japan, and the U.K.

If it continues like this, 2018 could end up being one of the hottest years on record.

Questions Rise About Shortcomings Of DNA Tests For Dogs

Jul 28, 2018

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Nuclear power plants in Europe have been forced to cut back electricity production because of warmer-than-usual seawater.

Plants in Finland, Sweden and Germany have been affected by a heat wave that has broken records in Scandinavia and the British Isles and exacerbated deadly wildfires along the Mediterranean.

Read these sentences aloud:

I never said she stole my money.

I never said she stole my money.

I never said she stole my money.

Emphasizing any one of the words over the others makes the string of words mean something completely different. "Pitch change" — the vocal quality we use to emphasize words — is a crucial part of human communication, whether spoken or sung.

You can buy water with electrolytes, minerals or completely "purified." You can buy it with the pH changed to make it alkaline. You can purify your own tap water or even add nutrients back into it. But after seeing a video of a pricey, high-tech filter (about $400 U.S. on sale) that you can monitor with your phone, we wondered, how much of our water filtration fixation is healthy, and how much of it is hype?

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