Science

Science news

Could swallowing the eggs of a parasitic worm help treat a disease?

It might just work in some cases, according to the work of P'ng Loke and Ken Cadwell, two researchers at New York University who study parasites and the immune system.

On Tuesday, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced a plan to send interstellar probes to the Alpha Centauri star system. The audacious project would use a giant laser on Earth to accelerate scores of postage-stamp-size spacecraft to nearly the speed of light. They would cross the void in just 20 years — virtually no time on the scale of interstellar travel.

Ian Burkhart, now 24, was paralyzed in 2010 after diving into a wave in shallow water. The accident left him with some arm movement but no use of his hands.

Some users of LSD say one of the most profound parts of the experience is a deep oneness with the universe. The hallucinogenic drug might be causing this by blurring boundaries in the brain, too.

Physicist Stephen Hawking and billionaire Yuri Milner have a vision of interstellar exploration — taking place over the course of not thousands of years, but decades.

Together with a team of scientists, they suggest that within a generation, humans could send a probe to Alpha Centauri — more than 4.3 light-years away, or 25 trillion miles — on a trip that would take just over two decades. That's 1,000 times faster than the current fastest spacecraft, the scientists say.

They're thinking big — by thinking very small.

Artificial limbs have come a long way since the days of peg legs and hooks for hands. But one thing most of these prosthetics lack is a sense of touch.

Zhenan Bao intends to change that.

Hear it in Rio, Kathmandu or Timbuktu — it doesn't matter. A hearty, belly laugh means the same thing on every continent: joy.

But when we laugh with someone else, our chuckles may divulge more than we realize.

Scientists have found that people around the world can tell whether folks are friends or strangers by listening to them laughing together. And the ability transcends culture and language.

Days after they declared a spacecraft emergency over the Kepler space telescope, NASA engineers say the craft has now recovered and that they're working to figure out what happened.

Kepler, which is currently nearly 75 million miles away from Earth, placed itself into Emergency Mode sometime in the middle of last week. But it wasn't until a scheduled contact on Thursday that mission engineers discovered the problem. That led NASA to declare a wider emergency, giving the mission priority access to communications through its Deep Space Network.

Blisters are the bane of weekend hikers and Olympic marathoners alike. Stanford researchers say they've found a simple, cheap method to help prevent them.

That humble hero is paper surgical tape, which often costs less than a dollar and is sold at most any pharmacy.

Their study, published Monday in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, found that the paper tape reduced the instance of blisters by 40 percent.

David Gang / Washington State University

 

Orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime orchards are being wiped out across Florida from a plague called citrus greening disease. A team of scientists from Washington State University in Pullman is studying the bacterium that causes the condition. They hope to find a cure.

David Gang, a biological chemist at Washington State University, said the bacterium that causes greening disease is transmitted by a psyllid, a winged insect about half the size of a fruit fly, which spreads it from tree to tree.

 

Courtesy of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences

 

Children who are raised in a bilingual home appear to have a head start in building the part of the brain that deals with everything from impulse control to mental flexibility. These findings are in a new study that’s out of the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences.

If you've been following any of the big news stories on food fraud lately, you'll know that it's tough to know what exactly is in our food — and where it's been before it makes it onto our dinner plates.

Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research

 

A new study shows that some one-on-one attention paid to Latinas can boost the likelihood they will be screened for breast cancer.

For the study, low-income Latinas were visited by a Spanish-speaking health care worker called a "promotora" who provided them with information about getting a mammogram. After the visit, the women received a follow-up phone call, reminding them to make an appointment.

 

A lone hunter stealthily stalking its prey; a shrill cry in the night.

Last November, a couple from Washington, D.C., took a weeklong vacation. They visited Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. And got bitten by plenty of mosquitoes.

Two days after they returned home, the woman — who was pregnant — fell ill. She had muscle pain, a fever and a rash.

"At first she didn't think much about it," says OB-GYN Rita Driggers, who saw the woman at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "But then all the news started coming out about Zika, so the woman went and got tested."

In the 1980s and '90s, many doctors told women going through menopause that they should take female hormones — estrogen and progestin — to alleviate symptoms like hot flashes and sleep problems. The hormone therapy was thought to have other benefits, too, like preventing broken bones, colon cancer and heart attacks.

For some people with Lyme disease, the illness seems to take a lasting toll.

Years after a standard two-week course of antibiotics against Borrellia burgdorferi or closely related organisms that cause the disease, these patients remain exhausted and foggy-headed. They suffer from chronic aches and pains and poor sleep.

Just how, exactly, could we wipe out a species of mosquito?

That's the question some of our readers wanted to know after reading our story that pondered the fate of the mosquito that carries the Zika virus, the Aedes aegypti. Would attempting to eliminate them be a good thing, or would it somehow backfire the ways things often do when humans meddle with nature?

If you're young and single, chances are you're rejecting potential dates left and right on apps like Tinder, Bumble and OkCupid.

It's a brutal virtual world. Hundreds of people are whittled down to a few in minutes. In the seconds you lingered on one person's profile, four pictures and an ambiguous job title, what made you swipe him or her to the right?

Earlier this year, Weekend Edition profiled three families and their experiences after a child was diagnosed with autism. At the time, we also asked listeners to share their own stories.

Among the responses were many from people who didn't get diagnosed until they were adults. Some had suspicions about their condition growing up. For others, the diagnosis was a revelation as much as it was a relief.

Here are three that struck a chord. (These first-person stories have been edited for length and clarity.)

John Consentino

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told doctors they should really, really think twice before prescribing opioids for chronic pain.

And now the doctors are telling us that meditation and cognitive behavioral therapy often work better than pain meds and other medical treatments for chronic back pain.

NASA has released a new gravity map of Mars, providing a detailed look at the Red Planet's surface and revealing new information about what lies beneath it.

Pot-infused edibles are big sellers in states that have legalized marijuana. The problem is, it's been tough to measure and regulate the potency of these ganja-laced gummy bears, lollies and brownies.

Forget About It: Your Middle-Aged Brain Is Not On The Decline

Mar 16, 2016

Faced with her own forgetfulness, former NPR correspondent and author Barbara Bradley Hagerty tried to do something about it. She's written about her efforts in her book on midlife, called Life Reimagined. To her surprise, she discovered that an older dog can learn new tricks.

A confession: I loathe standardized tests, and one of the perks of reaching midlife is that I thought I'd never have to take another.

There's something different about the way these babies cry.

That's a realization that hit me after spending day after day with babies in Brazil who were born to mothers who were infected with the Zika virus when they were pregnant.

It's not just that they cry more easily, and longer — which they do. There's also something strange — harsher and more pained — about the cries of many of these babies.

Eighty million years ago, tyrannosaurs were the top predators in Asia and North America.

And scientists say a newly discovered dinosaur from Uzbekistan helps to explain their rise.

In a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers said they have found a specimen from a 20 million-year gap in fossil records — between the small-bodied "marginal hunters" and the "apex predators" the tyrannosaurid group would become. This group includes Tyrannosaurus rex, Albertosaurus and Tarbosaurus.

Plastic makes great food packaging. It's waterproof and flexible. And best of all, it's impervious to all known bacteria — until now. Researchers have found a bacterium in the debris fields around a recycling plant in Japan that can feed off a common type of plastic used in clothing, plastic bottles and food packaging.

The Cleveland Clinic says it has removed a transplanted uterus — the first-ever in the U.S. — after the patient suffered from a "sudden complication."

The clinic conducted the landmark operation in late February. As we reported, the procedure is intended to "open up another possible path to parenthood besides surrogacy or adoption for U.S. women who do not have a uterus, or who have a uterus that does not function."

Miss Manners and skilled prep cooks should be pleased: Our early human ancestors likely mastered the art of chopping and slicing more than 2 million years ago. Not only did this yield daintier pieces of meat and vegetables that were much easier to digest raw, with less chewing — it also helped us along the road to becoming modern humans, researchers reported Wednesday.

And our ancestors picked up these skills at least 1.5 million years before cooking took off as a common way to prepare food, the researchers say.

Anyone can follow the pregnancy of a monkey infected with Zika virus in real time, thanks to an experiment in data sharing that's unusual for biology.

Pages