Science & Health

All sciences, health & medical news

When humorist and writer Mara Altman was 19 and attending college at UCLA, she learned something about herself which, she says, felt devastating at the time.

It happened while she was flirting with a server at a Mexican restaurant one evening. His name was Gustavo and he said five simple words: "I like your blonde mustache."

Now, she knew about this blonde mustache. But she had been bleaching it for years in the hopes that no one else would notice it.

In Redding, Calif., where the Carr Fire burned more than 200,000 acres and destroyed more than a thousand homes, there's a feeling of desperation. Something has to be done to clear the dense stands of trees and thick brush in the mountains around town, or the next fire will be even worse.

"It's not just global warming," said Ryan Adcock, who grew up here. She was forced to evacuate her home for five days due to the Carr Fire and was taking advantage of a rare smoke free morning walking with her kids along a river front bike path.

Pssst: Parenting Twins Can Be Depressing

Aug 29, 2018

In 2014, when Crystal Duffy found out she was pregnant with twins, she felt shocked and overjoyed. "Twins run in our family," says the Houston resident, who was 33 at the time, and already the mom of a 2-year-old. "But we still weren't prepared for the news."

Duffy had hoped for a joyful twin pregnancy. But during her second trimester, she began having complications.

"I had a very high-risk pregnancy, and my twins were born premature," she explains. "They spent five weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit. It was a very stressful time. I felt anxious and traumatized."

On Mike Pink's potato farm at dawn, the sun is an angry red ball low in the sky.

This summer, wildfire smoke has blanketed much of the West for days and weeks. And that smoke has come between the sun and ripening crops.

Pink watches as his year's work tumbles onto a fast-moving belt and into a waiting semi truck. He's got most of his 1,600-acre potato fields yet to harvest on his 3,000-acre farm, spread over about 40 miles between Burbank and Basin City, Wash. And this thick smoke makes him nervous.

A new study suggests that ketamine, an increasingly popular treatment for depression, has something in common with drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone.

The small study found evidence that ketamine's effectiveness with depression, demonstrated in many small studies over the past decade, comes from its interaction with the brain's opioid system. A Stanford University team reported their findings Wednesday in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Using lessons learned from harbor seals and artificial intelligence, engineers in California may be on to a new way to track enemy submarines.

The idea started with research published in 2001 on the seals.

Scientists at the University of Bonn in Germany showed that blindfolded seals could still track a robotic fish. The researchers concluded that the seals did this by detecting the strength and direction of the whirling vortex the robot created as it swam through the water.

For the fourth year in a row, federal health officials report that there has been a sharp increase in sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallied nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2017 — an increase of 200,000 cases over the previous year, and a record high.

Sarah Anne, a 59-year-old chimpanzee, is famous enough to have her own Wikipedia page. That's because she was captured from the wild as an infant and raised in the home of a language researcher who taught her to use symbols for words. These days, she lives at Chimp Haven, a wooded sanctuary for former research chimps in Louisiana, along with a new pal named Marie.

A consumer advocacy organization is asking federal health officials Tuesday to halt a large medical study being conducted at major universities nationwide.

Public Citizen says that the study, involving treatment for sepsis, puts patients at risk and will at best produce confusing results.

Scientists have taken another step toward understanding what makes the human brain unique.

An international team has identified a kind of brain cell that exists in people but not mice, the team reported Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Everybody loves a winner — even toddlers, according to a study published Monday. But even though kiddos tend to like high-status individuals, they don't like those who win conflicts by using force.

"It seems like toddlers care about who wins, but they also care about how they win," says Ashley Thomas, now a researcher in cognitive development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.

The world of social science got a rude awakening a few years ago, when researchers concluded that many studies in this area appeared to be deeply flawed. Two-thirds could not be replicated in other labs.

Some of those same researchers now report those problems still frequently crop up, even in the most prestigious scientific journals.

But their study, published Monday in Nature Human Behaviour, also finds that social scientists can actually sniff out the dubious results with remarkable skill.

In a classic episode of Seinfeld from 1991, Jerry famously declares that he thinks the worst part about being blind would be "not being able to tell if there was bugs in my food. How could you ever enjoy a meal like that?"

The Trump's administration's proposal to relax regulations on carbon emissions is welcome news in coal producing states like Wyoming, even as people in the industry acknowledge its impact would be limited.

Researching Heatstroke In Athletes

Aug 26, 2018

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Helping Clean Florida's 'Red Tide'

Aug 26, 2018

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More Americans die from the effects of heat than of any other form of severe weather, and this summer has seen one heat wave after another. Some places in the U.S. and elsewhere have recorded their highest temperatures ever. In fact, the average temperature around the planet over the past four years has been the highest ever recorded, and nine of the 10 hottest years were all in this century. (The other was 1998.)

Talkin' Birds: The Damage Of Plastics

Aug 25, 2018

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(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCKIN' ROBIN")

BOBBY DAY: (Singing) Tweedilly, tweedilly, deet.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Time now for "Talkin' Birds."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROCKIN' ROBIN")

DAY: (Singing) Tweedilly, tweedilly, deet. Tweedilly, dillidy, deet.

New research suggests one effective evolutionary strategy: be lazy.

Species of mollusks that are now extinct had higher metabolic rates than the species that exist today, scientists announced in a paper published this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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Countless scientific studies have espoused the idea that a glass of red wine a day can be good for the heart, but a new, sweeping global study published in The Lancet on Friday rejects the notion that any drinking can be healthy.

No amount of alcohol is safe, according to The Global Burden of Diseases study, which analyzed levels of alcohol use and its health effects in 195 countries from 1990 to 2016.

How To Survive A 10,000-Foot Fall

Aug 24, 2018

Falling from an airplane would ruin most people's day.

But if you're James Bond, it's no big deal.

After getting pushed out of a plane in the 1979 film Moonraker, Bond initiates a midair fight with a nearby skydiving villain and takes the evildoer's parachute.

As his enemy plunges to the ground, Bond fights off a second bad guy, deploys his chute and floats gracefully to Earth. Piece of cake.

A lengthy drought in Europe has exposed carved boulders, known as "hunger stones," that have been used for centuries to commemorate historic droughts — and warn of their consequences.

The Associated Press reports that hunger stones are newly visible in the Elbe River, which begins in the Czech Republic and flows through Germany.

"Over a dozen of the hunger stones, chosen to record low water levels, can now be seen in and near the northern Czech town of Decin near the German border," the AP writes.

There's a light in the night sky over Canada that's puzzling scientists. It looks like a white-purple ribbon. It's very hot, and doesn't last long. And it's named STEVE.

A huge pack of floating ice along the northern Greenland coastline is breaking up and drifting apart into the Arctic Ocean — another consequence, scientists say, of global warming caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

"We've never seen anything this large in terms of an opening north of Greenland," says polar scientist Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, which collaborates with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Scientists along Florida's Gulf Coast are working to battle an unusually intense red tide algae bloom, which has killed tons of wildlife, shut down businesses and kept tourists away from beaches this summer.

Updated at 3:23 p.m. ET

John Somerindyke of the Fayetteville Police Department couldn't stop smiling.

"We made an arrest," he told a roomful of reporters on Wednesday. "Finally."

For more than 10 years, police In Fayetteville, N.C., had been trying to identify a serial rapist. They had tied him to at least six rapes in the same neighborhood between 2006 and 2008. They called him the "Ramsey Street Rapist."

In the Altai mountains of southern Siberia, there's a cave that was inhabited for millennia. It's called Denisova, and it shelters something remarkable: the bones of different types of ancient human relatives.

Maersk, the world's largest container line, is about to test the frigid waters of the Arctic in a trial of shorter shipping lanes that could become viable as warmer temperatures open up the Northern Sea Route.

On or around Sept. 1, Denmark-based Maersk plans to send its first container ship through the Arctic to explore whether the once inhospitable route could become feasible in the future. Many analysts see the test as a turning point for both the shipping industry and the Arctic.

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