Science

NPR Health
6:32 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

Kids exposed to 'startling' amounts of background TV, researchers say

It might be time to pull the plug, even if she doesn't seem to be watching.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Mon October 1, 2012 2:51 pm

Parents, if nobody is watching the TV, please turn it off.

Researchers who conducted a national survey of kids' exposure to TVs droning on in the background say, "The amount of exposure for the average child is startling."

How much is it, exactly? Try just under four hours a day for the typical kid.

Read more
NPR science
9:05 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Nail Biting: Mental Disorder Or Just A Bad Habit?

Pathological nail biting may be a form of grooming on steroids, but it also makes the biter feel good, unlike fear-driven OCD.
Andrea Kissack for KQED

Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 6:54 am

Do you bite your nails? For 30 years, I did. We nail biters can be "pathological groomers" — people for whom normal grooming behaviors, like skin picking or hair pulling, have become virtually uncontrollable.

Read more
NPR science
6:30 pm
Sun September 30, 2012

A tiny ocean world with a mighty important future

Plankton make up 98 percent of the biomass of ocean life and provide half of the oxygen on the planet. Scientists are working to figure out how climate change may be affecting these important microorganisms.
M. Ormestad Tara Oceans

Originally published on Sun September 30, 2012 4:11 pm

As you take in your next breath of air, you can thank a form of microscopic marine life known as plankton.

They are so small as to be invisible, but taken together, actually dwarf massive creatures like whales. Plankton make up 98 percent of the biomass of ocean life.

"This invisible forest generates half of the oxygen generated on the planet," Chris Bowler, a marine biologist, tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered.

And, as climate change alters the temperature and acidity of our waters, this mysterious ocean world may be in jeopardy.

Read more
NPR science
12:57 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

Streams Of Water Once Flowed On Mars; NASA Says Photos Prove It

NASA says it has found proof that water shaped the rocks on the left, in a photograph taken by the Mars rover Curiosity (left). For comparison, the agency released an image of rocks from the Earth (right).
NASA

Originally published on Fri March 21, 2014 1:20 pm

NASA's Curiosity rover has found definitive proof that water once ran across the surface of Mars, the agency announced today. NASA scientists say new photos from the rover show rocks that were smoothed and rounded by water. The rocks are in a large canyon and nearby channels that were cut by flowing water, making up an alluvial fan.

"You had water transporting these gravels to the downslope of the fan," NASA researchers say. The gravel then formed into a conglomerate rock, which was in turn likely covered before being exposed again.

Read more
Earthquakes
10:58 am
Thu September 27, 2012

New warning system could alert you seconds before quake hits

A pilot project shows what the quake warnings might look like.
U. S. Geological Survey

What would you do if you knew a major earthquake was about to strike in 10 seconds? Some scientists say even a few moments’ warning could save lives, and they’re setting up a system that might soon give Washingtonians time to act before the shaking starts.

Read more
NPR science
6:58 am
Thu September 27, 2012

Big Quakes Signal Changes Coming To Earth's Crust

A prison official examines the damage a day after a powerful earthquake hit the west coast of Indonesia in Banda Aceh on April 12.
Adek Berry AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 6:31 am

On April 11 of this year, an extraordinary cluster of earthquakes struck off Sumatra. The largest shock, magnitude 8.7, produced stronger ground-shaking than any earthquake ever recorded. And it surprised seismologists by triggering more than a dozen moderate earthquakes around the world.

The quakes are also a sign of big changes to come in the Earth's crust.

Read more
Science
8:27 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Newly detected parasite turns Northwest honey bees into 'zombees'

A "zombie fly" (Apocephalus borealis) lays its eggs inside a honey bee. Photo courtesy SFSU

Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 4:41 pm

There's more trouble for your hard-working backyard honey bee. Researchers have confirmed the first cases of "zombee" bees in Washington state and in the Portland area. Infection by a parasite prompts the bees to embark on what's being called a "flight of the living dead."

The initial Washington detection came from an observant beekeeper in the Seattle suburb of Kent.

"The odd thing is they're attracted to light. Bees normally aren't attracted to light. And they're flying at night. Bees don't normally fly at night," says Mark Hohn. He keeps bees as a hobby.

Read more
NPr science
1:46 pm
Sun September 23, 2012

The Next Frontier For Elite Med Schools: Primary Care

Mount Sinai Medical student Demetri Blanas wants to specialize in family medicine. It is a new specialty offered by his medical school.
Jenny Gold Kaiser Health News

Originally published on Sun September 23, 2012 2:51 pm

Johns Hopkins, Yale, Harvard, Columbia and Cornell. What do these medical schools have in common?

Beyond their first-rate reputations, they're also on the short list of top U.S. med schools that don't have departments of family medicine. Elite schools have long focused on training specialists and researchers, but with the federal health law's emphasis on primary care, some schools are looking harder at family medicine.

Read more
NPR science
6:39 am
Thu September 20, 2012

Why mental pictures can sway your moral judgment

iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu September 20, 2012 6:41 am

When we think about morality, many of us think about religion or what our parents taught us when we were young. Those influences are powerful, but many scientists now think of the brain as a more basic source for our moral instincts.

Read more
health care
5:42 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Layoffs and cost-cutting coming to Group Health

Group Health Cooperative says it lost money in August and needs to cut costs.  That will include some layoffs this year. 

It’s not a calamity, says CEO Scott Armstrong, but the trend could lead Group Health to finish the year in the red if it doesn't make changes.

(For the complete story, click the "listen" button above.)  

obesity trends
6:22 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Watch out: Half of Washington residents could be obese

Washington state is not immune from America’s obesity epidemic. A new study looking at where the trends are headed on weight-gain shows half the population headed for obesity by the year 2030. 

Currently, 26.5% of Washington residents are already considered obese. That’s a step beyond overweight, using the standard measurement of body-mass-index (BMI). 

Read more
NPR Science
6:54 am
Tue September 18, 2012

As genetic sequencing spreads, excitement, worries grow

Slides containing DNA sit in a bay waiting to be analyzed by a genome sequencing machine.
David Paul Morris Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 2:43 pm

Ever since James Watson and Francis Crick cracked the genetic code, scientists have been fascinated by the possibilities of what we might learn from reading our genes.

Read more
NPR science
5:06 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

What drove early man across the globe? Climate change

An artist's re-creation of the first human migration to North America from across the Bering Sea.
DEA Picture Library De Agostini/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon September 17, 2012 3:39 pm

Anthropologists believe early humans evolved in Africa and then moved out from there in successive waves. However, what drove their migrations has been a matter of conjecture.

One new explanation is climate change.

Anthropologist Anders Erikkson of Cambridge University in England says the first few hardy humans who left Africa might've gone earlier but couldn't. Northeastern Africa — the only route to Asia and beyond — was literally a no man's land.

Read more
Smoking laws
1:36 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Should hookah bars remain open despite Washington's indoor smoking ban?

In this 2005 file photo Cary Wilson (right) and Lyle Klyne smoke a hookah in Fire and Earth, a former Olympia hookah lounge, days prior to the smoking ban. The business continues to sell hookahs, smoking supplies and gifts.
John Froschauer AP

Washington banned indoor smoking nearly seven years ago, but one exception survives: hookah lounges.

Local health departments have struggled to shut them down. 

The lounges say they’re private clubs, not public venues, so the law doesn’t apply. They all charge some sort of membership fee, typically about $5.

That defense doesn’t sway health officials, like Frank DiBiase of the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department. His office inspected three hookah bars in Tacoma last year.

Read more
NPR science
10:30 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Monkey, new to science, found in Central Africa

Researchers have identified a new species of African monkey, locally known as the lesula.
Maurice Emetshu, Noel Rowe PLOS ONE/AP

Originally published on Thu September 13, 2012 8:19 pm

It would seem difficult to overlook something as large as a new species of monkey, but scientists had no idea about the lesula until just a few years ago when conservation biologist John Hart discovered a specimen being kept as a pet in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In retrospect, the monkey's striking, almost humanlike face should have made it hard to miss, and Hart, who spoke with All Things Considered host Melissa Block, is the first to admit that this new monkey was apparently not such a mystery to the Congolese themselves.

Read more

Pages