Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Biting Into the First In Vitro Burger

Aug 9, 2013

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Desktop Diaries: Tim White

Aug 9, 2013

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Time for our Video Pick with Flora Lichtman. She's here. Hi, Flora.

FLORA LICHTMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Ira.

FLATOW: Oh, a special one this week.

Comet Dust Brings a Spectacular Sky Show

Aug 9, 2013

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The Hackers

Aug 9, 2013

A hacker is somebody who doesn't ask how something works — they just see what works. — Jay Silver

Science and technology now allow us to "hack" solutions to the biggest challenges of our time. But how far is too far? And what are the consequences of these hacks? In this hour, we hear stories from TED speakers who dare to hack the brain, the climate, and even the animal kingdom in hopes of creating a better world.

Are We Ready To Hack The Animal Kingdom?

Aug 9, 2013

Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Hackers.

About Stewart Brand's TEDTalk

Mankind has driven species after species extinct. Now Stewart Brand says, we have the technology to bring back the species that we wiped out. So should we? Which ones? He asks a big question whose answer is closer than you may think.

About Stewart Brand

Can Hacking The Brain Make You Healthier?

Aug 9, 2013

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Hackers.

About Andres Lozano's TEDTalk

Neurosurgeon Andres Lozano talks about dramatic findings in deep brain stimulation including a woman with Parkinson's who instantly stops shaking, and brain areas eroded by Alzheimer's that are brought back to life.

About Andres Lozano

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Hackers.

About David Keith's TEDTalk

Environmental scientist David Keith proposes a cheap and shocking way to address climate change: What if we inject a huge cloud of sulfur into the atmosphere to deflect sunlight and heat?

About David Keith

In the early to mid-1900s, the islands of Hawaii were a far-away, exotic destination. People who managed to get there often kept mementos of that journey including kitschy menus from Hawaiian fine dining restaurants and hotels like like Trader Vic's and Prince Kuhio's.

Now these old menus are serving a purpose beyond colorful relics from the past. Kyle Van Houtan, an ecologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says he's found a scientific purpose for the menus.

You don't need to be a social scientist to know there is a gender diversity problem in technology. The tech industry in Silicon Valley and across the nation is overwhelmingly male-dominated.

A viable, effective vaccine against malaria has long eluded scientists. Results from a preliminary study have ignited hope that a new type of vaccine could change that.

The experimental vaccine offered strong protection against malaria when given at high doses, scientists report Thursday in the journal Science.

The study was extremely small and short-term. And the candidate vaccine still has a long way to go before it could be used in the developing world.

Plant life on our planet soaks up a fair amount of the carbon dioxide that pours out of our tailpipes and smokestacks. Plants take it up during the summer and return some of it to the air in the winter. And a new study shows that those "breaths" have gotten deeper over the past 50 years.

This isn't just a curiosity. Plant life is helping to reduce the speed at which carbon dioxide is building up in our atmosphere. That's slowing the global warming, at least marginally, so scientists are eager to understand how this process works. The new study provides some clues.

A U.S. radar system that tracks thousands of objects orbiting Earth — from satellites to harmful debris — has been slated for shutdown, according to the Space News site. The ground-based network known as the "Space Fence" may cease to operate in October.

Wouldn't it be grand (and delicious) if we could boost our brain power with a daily dose of chocolate?

At first blush, a study published in the journal Neurology this week appears to offer tantalizing evidence that this may be the case, at least when it comes to seniors.

Our nearest star is about to pull a once-in-11-years move by swapping its north and south magnetic poles.

The sun's polarity switch is a natural part of "solar max" — the period of peak activity during what averages out to be roughly an 11-year cycle. According to NASA, this year will mark the fourth time since 1976 that scientists have observed the 180-degree pole flip.

The Smithsonian's National Zoo has announced the birth of a pair of Sumatran tigers, a species that has dwindled to less than 500 in the wild. Both mother and cubs are reportedly doing well.

There was no immediate word Thursday on the sex of the cubs.

Four-year-old Damai gave birth on Monday. The new arrivals appear healthy, and so far, "Damai is being a great mom, and is nursing and grooming both cubs," the zoo says on its website.

Imagine a friend of a friend brings his family to stay with you — his family of tiny survivalists. For weeks or months you all live quietly side by side with no problems. You share meals. Your kids play together.

Then one day you get sick — maybe felled by a bad cold or the flu. Suddenly certain the end is near, your jittery houseguest breaks out an armory's worth of chemical weapons. He abandons his community to save himself and hunt for a new home, wreaking havoc on the way out the door.

Here's what the Swedish artist Oscar Reutersvard did. In 1934, he got himself a pen and paper and drew four cubes, like this.

Then he drew some more, like this.

And, then — and this is where he got mischievous — he drew one more set, like this.

He called this final version "Impossible Triangle of Opus 1 No. 293aa." I don't know what the "293aa" is about, but he was right about "impossible." An arrangement like this cannot take place in the physical universe as we know it.

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It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.

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And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

This story comes to us from our friends at the science desk. They produced the 7-minute video documentary you see above.

"Modern-day rappers — all they talk about is money, and all these unnecessary and irrelevant topics," says Victoria Richardson, a freshman at Bronx Compass High School. Richardson's rhymes tackle a much less-popular subject: DNA.

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to let oil companies continue to dump polluted wastewater on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. This includes chemicals that companies add to the wells during hydraulic fracturing, an engineering practice that makes wells produce more oil.

Scientists have known for years that dolphins recognize each other by the sound of each animal's signature whistle. But it wasn't known for just how long dolphins could remember these whistle calls.

The individually specific whistle that each dolphin generates before its first birthday "for them functions like a name," says Jason Bruck, who studies animal behavior at the Institute for Mind and Biology at the University of Chicago.

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Across the Western U.S., yearly areas of snowpack are decreasing, and researchers are trying to figure out what that means for everything that relies on the snowmelt — from farms to power plants to a little creature known as the Cascades frog.

The family of the late Henrietta Lacks finally got the chance to weigh in on how scientists use cells taken from her — without consent — more than 60 years ago.

When a new strain of bird flu cropped up in China last winter, the billion-dollar question was whether the deadly virus could transmit between people.

Now, Chinese scientists offer the first clear evidence that the bird flu is indeed contagious, although only slightly.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service / Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a plan to build up the population of the Alabama Sturgeon, one of the rarest fish in America.

Fish and wildlife officials say an Alabama Sturgeon was last captured in 2007.

Fish and Wildlife officials say the purpose of the new plan is to build up the population of the fish to the point that it no longer needs to be protected by the Endangered Species Act.

The Alabama Sturgeon has been listed as endangered since 2000 due to over-fishing and the loss of habitat in south Alabama rivers.

Wells Are Running Dry In Parts Of Kansas

Aug 6, 2013

Imagine enough water to fill a couple of Great Lakes, but spread under some of the driest parts of eight Western states. That was the High Plains Aquifer 60 years ago.

But now, Nate Pike, whose been riding the dry rolling ranch lands south of Dodge City, Kan., for most of his 80 years, can't even go fishing at his favorite spring called St. Jacob's Well.

"And that thing had a lot of water in it. It never went down, never changed," he says. "But as you can see now, I can't believe I can't see the water from up here."

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