Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

Editor's note: This story has been updated.

As drug-related deaths rise to record numbers, at least a dozen U.S. cities are considering opening supervised injection sites, where people can use illicit drugs with trained staff present, ready to respond in case of an overdose.

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Dying Well.

About Michelle Knox's TED Talk

How can we better cope with grief? After observing funerals around the world, banker and travel blogger Michelle Knox suggests we talk about death with our loved ones — especially when we're healthy.

About Michelle Knox

Michelle Knox works in Finance Transformation for Westpac Banking Corporation in Sydney Australia.

As fall — usually California's busiest fire season — approaches, officials say the agency that oversees emergency fire responses is running out of money.

Cal Fire's director, Ken Pimlott, asked lawmakers for an additional $234 million to be made available as soon as possible, in a letter to state lawmakers on Thursday.

He wrote that fires caused by "climate change driven extreme weather conditions" have triggered massive spending across the state.

In 1967, Jocelyn Bell Burnell was a graduate student at Cambridge, working on a dissertation about strange objects in distant galaxies known as quasars.

She and her supervisor, Antony Hewish, had built a radio telescope to observe them. Data from the telescope scrolled out from a machine — a line in red ink, scrawling across 96 feet of chart paper each day.

Insects and birds might have an innate drive to migrate at certain times and in certain directions, but a new study suggests that large mammals such as moose and bighorn sheep have to learn to do it.

In fact, it takes decades for cultural knowledge about migration to build up before populations can effectively move across the land to find the best food, according to a report in the journal Science.

What Happens When A.I. Takes The Wheel?

Sep 6, 2018

For many, if not most Americans, the idea of a world in which we don't drive cars is a distant and possibly unlikely future.

Scores of coastal research labs around the U.S. are helping communities plan for sea level rise. But now many are starting to flood themselves, creating a dilemma: stay by the coast and endure expensive flooding, or move inland, to higher ground, but away from their subject of study.

The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium lab is located along the state's fragile coast, about 80 miles southwest of New Orleans. The giant X-shaped building is at the end of a gravel road, surrounded by open water and grassy marshes.

When I was a kid, my family would take summer road trips to the Oregon Coast, where a favorite stop was always Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach. The 250-foot-high, grassy behemoth of an outcropping just off the coast is a prominent backdrop in old family photos.

What I didn't realize back then was just how important a sanctuary this rock was for rare seabirds. I discovered that while on a recent reporting trip in Oregon, when I had a few hours to spare and decided to make the nostalgic, winding drive on U.S. Route 26 from Portland to Cannon Beach.

Here's a bold idea to fight back against bacteria that can't be stopped by antibiotics: Go after them with germ-eating microbes. That reasoning lies behind an intriguing line of research that might also be put to use in the event of a germ-warfare attack.

The explosion of deaths related to opioid misuse has underscored a pressing need for better ways of treating pain, especially chronic pain.

Duquesne University pharmacology associate professor Jelena Janjic thinks she's on to one. It involves using a patient's own immune system to deliver non-opioid pain medication to places in the body where there's pain.

Russian officials are saying that a tiny leak at the International Space Station was likely caused by a human hand. Now, they're trying to figure out who did it, why they did it and whether it happened in space or on the ground.

The crew identified the source of the leak as a 2-millimeter hole in the upper section of a Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, which is docked in the Russian section of the space station.

Have you ever wondered why kiwi fruits are green instead of red? Why okra is slimy but cooking it with tomatoes cuts the goo factor? Or how artichokes became giant balls of thick, spiny leaves endlessly furled over a small, soft heart? If so, you're not alone.

Can Anyone Fix A Rigged Economy?

Sep 4, 2018

A key component of political stump speeches is summed up in this longstanding idea: “The economy is rigged.”

Two new books have indicted the super-wealthy as a source of major societal ills — even when they mean well.

Anand Giridharadas is a former columnist for The New York Times, and Steve Hilton is the host of Fox News’ “The Next Revolution.”

A North Carolina State University researcher is using underwater microphones to help better understand the extensive array of animals living in the state's oyster reefs.

In the 1600s, oysters reefs were so robust in U.S. waterways that they created a hazard for ships. But centuries of harvesting the delicious bivalve have decimated these reefs, which serve as breeding grounds for future oysters.

That's why nearly every U.S. state with a coastline has a program to rebuild oyster reefs.

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

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A record number of grizzly bears are being killed by cars as they roam the roads in and around Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana. At the same time, they're causing an unprecedented amount of damage to crops and livestock.

Walking through the woods alone can be a scary prospect for a kid, but not for 7-year-old Matthew of Portland, Oregon. He doesn't have much of a backyard at his condo, so the woods behind his house essentially serve the same purpose. He spends hours out there: swinging on a tire swing, tromping across the ravine to a friend's house, and using garden shears to cut a path. He lays down sticks to form a bridge across the small stream that flows in the winter.

And he does all of this without any adult supervision.

Melting cakes and melting guests. Wilting flowers and wilting brides. A hot day can spell disaster for a wedding unless there's detailed preparation beforehand.

The United States, on average, experiences about 74 "mild weather days" every year, according to a 2017 study in the Journal of Climatic Change.

There's a new effort underway make hundreds of thousands of dried and preserved plants collected along the East Coast available through a digital database.

For centuries, explorers, scientists, and amateur botanists scoured the country to document and preserve plant species. Once prized like fine art, the collections were often bequeathed to institutions that housed herbaria, or libraries for plants.

The Defunding Of Grand Canyon Science

Sep 1, 2018

Copyright 2018 KNAU - Arizona Public Radio. To see more, visit KNAU - Arizona Public Radio.

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Diabetic ketoacidosis is a terrible way to die. It's what happens when you don't have enough insulin. Your blood sugar gets so high that your blood becomes highly acidic, your cells dehydrate, and your body stops functioning.

Diabetic ketoacidosis is how Nicole Smith-Holt lost her son. Three days before his payday. Because he couldn't afford his insulin.

"It shouldn't have happened," Smith-Holt says looking at her son's death certificate on her dining room table in Richfield, Minn. "That cause of death of diabetic ketoacidosis should have never happened."

The Houston Ship Channel has the rhythm of an ant colony. Barges and oil tankers lumber through the silty water; tangles of exposed pipe rise hundreds of feet above a sea of white tanks. Residents of the coastal plain between Houston and Galveston will tell you the plain is flatter than a regulation pool table. But if you can get up high enough you'll see trains and ships and trucks moving ceaselessly from dock to dock, terminal to terminal.

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

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In Germany, record temperatures and no rainfall since early April have led to a drought and thousands of farms are facing bankruptcy because of crop failure.

This week, the government pledged $390 million in federal and state aid, but for many farmers, it's not enough. Many of the country's farmers are starting to question whether they can cope with climate change.

Viviana Aguirre, 14, knows the air is bad when she has to reach for her inhaler once, maybe twice a week.

The air in her low-income neighborhood in East Bakersfield, Calif., has been thick with smoke for weeks, she says, forcing her to remain indoors most of the time. It's hard to tell, she says, whether the smoke is coming from the usual controlled burns in the farmers' fields surrounding her home — or from the record-breaking wildfires blazing to the north and south of her.

The Houston Ship Channel has the rhythm of an ant colony. Barges and oil tankers lumber through the silty water, tangles of exposed pipe rise hundreds of feet above a sea of white tanks. Residents of the coastal plain between Houston and Galveston will tell you the plain is flatter than a regulation pool table. But if you can get up high enough you'll see trains and ships and trucks moving ceaselessly from dock to dock, terminal to terminal.

A Texas hospital that charged a teacher $108,951 for care after a 2017 heart attack told the patient Thursday it would slash the bill to $332.29 — but not before a story about the huge charge sparked a national conversation over what should be done to combat surprise medical bills that afflict a growing number of Americans.

The story of Drew Calver was first reported by NPR and Kaiser Health News on Monday as part of the "Bill of the Month" series, which examines U.S. health care prices and the troubles patients run up against in the $3.5 trillion industry.

A Canadian court sided unanimously with environmentalist and indigenous groups on Thursday in a decision that indefinitely halts the construction of the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project.

The ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal reverses the Canadian government's approval of the troubled multibillion dollar project. The court said the government failed to "fulfill the duty to consult owed to Indigenous people."

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

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The truth can be a tough pill to swallow.

We avoid getting an important medical test done, fearing bad results. We turn off the news when the headlines make us upset, even though the information is pertinent to us.

This behavior, according to economist Joshua Tasoff, is irrational.

"A person should never avoid information, because information can never hurt a decision," he says.

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