Newsy - Sci/Health The Latest Videos From Newsy.com http://www.newsy.com/ <![CDATA[Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes, Killing A Pilot]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:30:00 -0500
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A test flight of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo spaceplane ended in catastrophe Friday after some sort of anomaly caused the craft to break apart in midair.

SpaceShipTwo was conducting a test of its rocket engines over the Mojave Desert when it experienced an unknown failure at about 50,000 feet. There were two crew members on board at the time of the accident; California Highway Patrol officials told KERO one of the pilots died in the crash and another suffered major injuries.

Virgin Galactic says the craft suffered a "serious anomaly," which destroyed SpaceShipTwo. Its mothership, White Knight 2, apparently landed safely. The company added it will work with authorities to determine what caused the crash.

Friday's launch would have been the fourth powered flight for SpaceShipTwo — its last rocket test was conducted back in January. Since then, Virgin has switched the plane's fuel mixture and conducted several nonpowered gliding test flights.

The tragedy comes just four days after another high-profile space disaster — the Antares resupply rocket was exploded seconds after takeoff after it became clear the rocket was suffering a critical problem.

Variety notes the accident raises questions about the future of NBC's upcoming reality show "Space Race," which offered a trip in the now-destroyed SpaceShipTwo as its grand prize.

As of Friday afternoon, the surviving pilot was being airlifted by medical helicopter to a hospital in Lancaster, California, for treatment.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Daylight Saving Time Has Made Some Enemies]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:16:00 -0500
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It's that time of the year again. Sunday at 2 a.m., many clocks will fall back an hour for the end of daylight saving time. But was it really beneficial in the first place?

During the energy crisis of the 1970s, President Nixon signed an act establishing daylight saving time. Supporters argued it would save people money by allowing them to keep their lights off for an extra hour in the evening.

But a 2008 National Bureau of Economic Research study found the extra hour of daylight increases air conditioning use, so it doesn't really help save energy after all. 

And medical experts aren't big fans of the time changes. 

A 2012 study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham found the risk of heart attack goes up by 10 percent in the days following moving the clocks forward in the spring. Researchers believe sleep deprivation and disrupting the body's internal clock might cause the spike. 

And increases in headaches, disrupted sleep and depression are also reported in the spring.

But, as a HealthDay writer points out, the fall time change is usually easier on the body. 

WebMD recommends exercise and avoiding caffeine and alcohol as a way to help your body adjust in the days following either time change. 

Some states actually find it easier not to observe daylight saving time. Arizona and Hawaii don't participate, most likely because there's plenty of sun in those states. 

State senators in Alabama are planning to introduce a bill in 2015 that would eliminate the time changes in their state. They argue changing times is too much of a "disruption."

There are similar movements in Utah and Kentucky to do away with the time adjustments.

And there are even several online petitions calling Congress to end daylight saving time for the whole country.

This video includes images by Yeimaya / CC BY NC ND 2.0, Paul Sullivan / CC BY ND 2.0, R. Nial Bradshaw / CC BY NC 2.0Thomas Hawk / CC BY NC 2.0, Ed Yourdon / CC BY NC SA 2.0 and Janelle / CC BY NC ND 2.0.

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<![CDATA[More Babies, More Happiness? Maybe Not If You Have 3]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:52:00 -0500
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Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! But if it's your third child — maybe you should expect less joy this time.

That's from a London School of Economics study published in the journal Demography, which says parents are happy about the first baby, about half as much with the second's arrival — then for the third, it's just not close.

Sounds official, right? Not sure this guy buys it, though.

ANCHOR: "Somebody did a study on this. ... Researchers don't think the third child is any less loved, just that parenthood is less novel." (Video via WVUE)

Well, that makes sense. But did we need a study to spell that out? 

There are some finer details, as this Washington Post article points out. For example, "When it comes to the third child, it isn't so much that parents are unhappy — they simply don't get the big happiness boosts they experienced with their first two children."

And don't pat yourselves on the back too hard, first children. This Huffington Post article notes parents level off in the happiness department not long after that first baby arrives.

Minor details for morning-show hosts having some fun on a Friday, right?

VOICE IN STUDIO FOR HLN: "What number are you?"

ROBIN MEADE: "I'm No. 2. And you are? You're No. 1! So you made your parents very happy."

Smile. It's only a study. 

This video includes images from Ernest F / CC BY SA 3.0Umezo KAMATA CC BY SA 3.0 and Nate Grigg / CC BY 2.0.

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<![CDATA[World's Salamanders At Risk From Flesh-Eating Fungus]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 09:15:00 -0500
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A skin-eating fungus is now a severe threat to salamander populations in Europe, according to a new study.

Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, or Bs, is deadly to almost all salamanders but appears to spare other amphibians. And yes, it's BS.

Researchers think the fungus originated with salamander hosts somewhere in Asia. Their evidence suggests it’s been around for some 30 million years and only started to spread as humans moved salamanders around the globe.

One co-author who talked to the BBC points to the amphibian import trade — aka salamanders as pets — saying those millions of salamanders brought to the U.S. and Europe from Asia pose a significant risk of spreading the fungus.

Fire salamanders in the Netherlands, for example, have been devastated — Bs cut their population down to four percent of what it was four years ago.

The diverse Salamander species in the U.S. are so far uninfected, but the study authors warn if the fungus catches on and spreads it could be uncontrollable. (Video via National Geographic)

“The fact that Bs can be spread by multiple species of carriers puts it among ‘the most worrisome’ kinds of pathogens,” one ecologist told National Geographic.  “Such disease-causing agents are the most likely to cause extinctions.”

Another told the New York Times Bs poses the risk of a domino effect in the larger environment. “We need to think about biosecurity not just in terms of humans and food that we eat and crops that we grow. We need to think about functioning ecosystems.”

The results of this study have been published in the journal Science.

This video includes images from William Warby / CC BY 2.0 and Dave Huth / CC BY NC 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Alcoholic Drinks In The E.U. Could Get Calorie Labels]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 09:13:00 -0500
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Most of us have been probably been there — you've had a couple drinks and are sitting there deciding whether you should grab one more. But what if you knew the calorie count in that next pint of beer or glass of wine?

That's what the London-based Royal Society for Public Health is calling for in the European Union after performing a nationwide survey on whether people knew how many calories were in drinks.

RSPH: "I would guess it's about 100 calories for a pint."

"I would suggest around 250?"

"I would say about 350?"

The BBC received similar results in their own survey with folks sorting drinks and a doughnut in order of calories.

"I reckon that one first."

"Red wine, doughnut."

"The lager next."

"Probably that the lowest."

Turns out, people generally don't know how many calories are in their drinks. And that can lead to weight gain, according to the Royal Society for Public Health.

Comparing drinks to food, the health organization says one large glass of white wine equals about one slice of pizza at 180 calories. 

A pint of beer sits around 170 calories, or your average doughnut. 

And a pina colada? A whopping 450 calories, or the same as a McDonald's double cheeseburger. Yikes.

With alcohol itself not necessarily being a cause of weight gain, the society notes the relationship between obesity and alcohol is complex. It also says additives such as sugar need to be considered.

In an interview with The Telegraph, a British Beer & Pub Association spokeswoman said while they don't disagree with calorie labeling, space may be an issue.

BRIGID SIMMONDS VIA THE TELEGRAPH: "To be quite honest we're not against labeling on alcohol. ... The other real issue here is have you got room to put all these things on the back of a bottle?"

The European Commission will rule in December on whether to require mandatory calorie labeling on alcoholic beverages throughout the E.U. 

This video includes images from Getty Images and Randy Robertson / CC BY 2.0.

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<![CDATA[How Colleges Use Tanning Beds To Attract Students]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:16:00 -0500
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Research shows about half of U.S. colleges are using free or cheep tanning beds to lure students, despite doctors' adamant warnings about the dangers. 

ANOKHI JAMBUSARIA, M.D., VIA MAYO CLINIC"You should never use a tanning bed."

RICHARD W. JOSEPH, M.D: "Melanoma is definitely related to tanning-bed use."

A study by the University of Massachusetts Medical School found tanning beds are available either on campus or in off-campus housing in 48 percent of the country's colleges and about half a million students have access to tanning beds on campus. 

The study found "campus cash" debit cards can be used for tanning in about 14 percent of the colleges that have tanning on campus, and in about 96 percent of off-campus housing tanning facilities, the service is offered for free. 

In adults under 30, tanning beds increase the risk of getting skin cancer by 75 percent, and the number of young adults contracting the disease increases every year. 

MELISSA PILIANG, M.D., VIA NBC: "The rate of melanoma-type skin cancer in young people is increasing by 6 percent per year, and at least some of that is related to tanning-bed use."

Plus research has shown people who begin tanning early in life can develop a dangerous addiction.  

TRUTH OF ADDICTION: "Those with a tanning dependence appear to have obsessive thoughts about it and a compulsion to tan, which are similar symptoms to other addicts." 

Researchers urge colleges to attract students with healthier options like gyms and healthy dining and get rid of their tanning beds for good. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[As Ebola Outbreak In Liberia Slows, WHO Stresses Caution]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:52:00 -0500
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After announcing the total number of confirmed Ebola cases surpassed 13,000, the World Health Organization had some good news on Wednesday for the region worst afflicted with the deadly disease.

CNN"There are some encouraging signs we can report, though, out of Liberia — the rate of infection there seems to be slowing."

AL JAZEERA"The WHO says it's cautiously optimistic that the rate of new cases is slowing."

Yes, according to health officials, the appearance of new cases seems to be slowing down in Liberia. The reason is that there's less of this:

VICE REPORTER: "Do you guys ever worry about Ebola? Do you think that's real?"

LIBERIAN: "No. I don't believe that Ebola is real."

And more of this:

BRUCE AYLWARD VIA UNITED NATIONS"With the concerted community engagement, with safe burials, with a big push on getting the right information out through the right channels, you can rapidly get the behavior changes that are critical to protecting populations and helping them protect themselves."

Early on, misinformation on how to prevent the disease or even doubts over its existence plagued the West African countries afflicted with the disease. 

Now, with almost 5,000 confirmed deaths, educational efforts appear to be paying off.

A health writer at The New York Times compares the realization of Ebola's dangers to lung cancer in the U.S, saying:

"It took 30 years for Americans to fully accept that smoking caused lung cancer. Once they believed, fewer started smoking. Deaths from lung cancer are now much lower than they used to be because many Americans in their [50s and 60s] didn’t start as teenagers, or quit."

It's worth emphasizing that health officials aren't saying they have Ebola under control — just that the rapid increase in cases in Liberia looks like it's slowing down. 

Al Jazeera quotes WHO Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward as saying he would be "terrified" if any wrong conclusions were made from this recent announcement. He also said saying Ebola is under control is "like saying your pet tiger is under control."

And although this is good news for Liberia, Aylward stressed that with rates still not improving in Sierra Leone and Guinea, West Africa still needs international assistance.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:13:00 -0500
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A new species of frog has been officially confirmed close to 80 years after its existence was first theorized. 

The frog, Rana kauffeldi, is a type of leopard frog, and the process of establishing it as a new species started with this — the frog's unique chorus, or its advertisement call, as it's known by scientists. 

As all the headlines have read, the discovery in that video technically happened in New York City, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Scientists didn't find the frog hiding in the subway or somewhere in Central Park. 

Instead, they made the discovery on Staten Island, sometimes called "the forgotten borough," in the island's extensive wetlands, which constitute one of the last remaining examples of the city's marshy past. (Video via The Trust for Public Land)

It's also appropriate the frog was noticed on the island considering the first person to posit its existence was Staten Island resident and herpetologist Carl Kauffeld back in 1936. (Video via New York Daily News)

MATT LANIER VIA NEW YORK DAILY NEWS"He was sort of the first Steve Irwin."

As the study notes, his proposal that there were three species of leopard frog in the Northeast wasn't widely accepted, and it wasn't until the scientists from the study closely examined the frogs and tested them genetically that the new species could be confirmed. 

So that's why the new frog takes the species name "Kauffeldi," in his honor. As for its common name? The BBC might have inadvertently taken a stab at it:

BBC: "The Staten Island frogs."

Though scientists have been taking reports of its distinctive call over the past couple of years and have charted that the species reaches as far south as North Carolina, which is why they've named it instead, the "Atlantic Coast leopard frog."

The study says, despite its very recent confirmation, the frog is already a vulnerable species because of its highly specific habitat needs and the threat of habitat loss. 

This video includes an image from Feinberg et al. / CC BY 3.0 and music from Broke For Free / CC BY NC 3.0.

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<![CDATA[Tiny, Lab-Grown Stomachs Could Treat Stomach Diseases]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:07:00 -0500
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There are tons of people who, much like these animals, are probably thinking, "Hey, I could use a smaller stomach." Well, they aren't alone.

A group of researchers decided they, too, could use some smaller — like, really small — stomachs, and their experiment could help us better understand deadly stomach diseases.

The research team began by manipulating stem cells:

"Stem cells are cells that are undifferentiated, meaning they do not a specific job or function. ... Stem cells do have the potential to become all other kinds of cells in your body." 

Because these cells have the ability to become anything, known as pluripotency, the researchers were able to add growth hormones to them to help them develop into gastric tissue. The mini-stomachs, which were the size of BB bullets and not as cute as "mini-stomachs" sound, were later called gastric organoids. (Video via Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center)

One of the things the researchers were able to do with these tiny stomachs is observe what happens when a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori first meets the stomach. 

According to WebMD, Helicobactor pylori can produce excess stomach acid. Scientists believe the infection can spread through food or water and can ultimately lead to stomach cancer — which the American Cancer Society estimates will kill nearly 11,000 people in the U.S. this year alone. 

The researchers injected the tiny stomachs with the bacteria and found that it began attacking the stomach immediately, "attaching to the stomach lining and causing tumors to start growing in response." 

Dr. James Wells, who led the research, said this particular observation could help save countless lives in the future. 

DR. JAMES WELLS, CINCINNATI CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL MEDICAL CENTER: "We can now study the early stages of that disease and then use this as a research tool to try to identify therapies to prevent stomach disease. Up until now, there's been no good way to study stomach diseases in human." 

Wells told Bloomberg it'll be a while before one of these gastric organoids can replace a stomach, but he added we'll soon be able to grow pieces of stomach tissue to patch-up ulcers. The study was published in the journal Nature

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

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<![CDATA[Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:27:00 -0500
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Most Americans have grown up hearing about the health benefits of drinking milk.

Dairy, particularly milk, has been a fixed part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's food pyramid for decades. 

CALIFORNIA MILK PROCESSOR BOARD: "We'll Mr. Miller told me he never drinks milk and look at him. *screams*" 

But a new study out of Sweden actually links milk consumption to the problems it's supposed to prevent, like cardiovascular disease and bone fractures. One possible explanation for the findings is a simple sugar found in milk called galactose. 

CBS"It can create compounds that create inflammation within our blood vessels and something called oxidative stress in our cells. What we know about both of those things is that they cause illness like heart disease, stroke, and they're bad for our bones." 

One of the study's authors explained to LiveScience"If you provide galactose to experimental animals, they will die faster by induction of oxidative stress and inflammation. ... I've been involved in this research area for several decades now. This last study really convinced me."

The study relied on health surveys in Sweden, which, the authors warn, isn't an ironclad way to nail down cause and effect. But their numbers are pretty shocking. 

The researchers looked at participants who drank three or more glasses of milk a day. 

For women, it seemed the risk for early death or cardiovascular disease was much higher than for men, with chances doubling and the risk for cancer increasing by 44 percent. That's compared to a 10 percent increase for early death or cardiovascular disease in men. 

An interesting side note"When fermented milk products such as [yogurt] were considered, the opposite pattern was observed - people who consumed more had a lower risk of fractures." 

Although you shouldn't change your diet because of one study, there are other reasons to make sure you're not going overboard with milk consumption. 

FOX NEWS: "You don't want to have too much calcium. ... I think that drinking one cup of milk a day is OK, so if you're having a little milk with your cereal or coffee, that's fine. But drinking excessive amounts is not good." 

So it looks like the lesson here is, if you're going to drink milk, do so in moderation along with a balanced diet. 

This video includes images from the U.S. Department of AgricultureMinistry of Information Photo Division Photographer, Jynto and Ben MillsStefan Kühn / CC BY SA 3.0 and the Library of Congress.

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<![CDATA[States And White House Disagree On Ebola Quarantines]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:45:00 -0500
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Nurse Kaci Hickox is looking at her legal options after being ordered to stay in her home for the rest of her 21-day quarantine. 

The Doctors Without Borders nurse is with her boyfriend in Fort Kent, Maine, near the Canadian border. It's from there she talked to Matt Lauer Wednesday morning. 

HICKOX VIA NBC: "You know, I don't plan on sticking to the guidelines. I remain appalled by these home quarantine policies that have been forced upon me even though I'm in perfectly good health." 

Hickox says if the quarantine isn't lifted by Thursday, she'd violate the quarantine and take her complaints to court. Hickox's case has highlighted the differences between the White House's stance on Ebola response and that of the governors from some states. 

Specifically, the governors of New York and New Jersey, who have instituted quarantines for health workers, which the president himself implied he was against on Tuesday. (Video via CBS)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA VIA THE WHITE HOUSE: "We want to make sure that when they come back that we are prudent ... but we don't want to do things that aren't based on science or best practices because if we do, we're just putting another barrier on somebody who's already doing really important work on our behalf."  

Those comments echo the federal response to Ebola, which has pushed the need to not panic and cited health experts who say quarantines and travel bans aren't the best way to approach the virus. 

As Politico reports, popular opinion has been overwhelmingly skewed toward quarantine, with 80 percent of Americans polled saying they support the measure. 

Still, there are some signs that the fear of Ebola among the general public is abating. Bloomberg points to a poll that found fear of Ebola wreaking havoc in the U.S. has dropped from 69 percent in early October to 61 percent Wednesday. 

As for Hickox, the governor of Maine said the state is exploring legal options to enforce her quarantine. 

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<![CDATA[Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 09:18:00 -0500
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From 15 to more than 1,000 — the recovery of the Galapagos tortoise over the past few decades is nothing short of remarkable. 

A new study in the journal PLOS One charts exactly how the tortoises recovered in an effort to better understand the science of reintroducing species. 

By the early 1970s, tortoise populations in the Galapagos had been devastated by invasive feral goats, who had essentially stripped a lot of the vegetation the tortoises need to survive. (Video via Google)

So, starting in the 1990s, a program started to get rid the goats by systematically hunting them until they were virtually eradicated from the islands. (Video via BBC)

The elaborate system of hunting the goats, which Radiolab did an extensive report on in the summer, removed close to 90 percent of the goats in under a year. 

JOSH DONLAN VIA WNYC: "It's relatively easy to remove 90 percent of a goat population from an island. But as they become rarer and rarer they're harder and harder to detect."
TIM HOWARD: "So the goats start hiding."

You can check out that show to find out how so-called "Judas goats" were used to eventually kill off the last of some 250,000 goats on the island. The new study, however, says even though they're gone, the goats' impact is going to be felt for a while. 

The study says the goats damaged some plant species more than others, in particular making it hard for the cacti the tortoises feed off to spread, and allowing woody plants, which restrict their movement, to propagate. (Video via National Geographic)

The study's lead author, Professor James Gibbs, told The Washington Post"'The tortoises will eventually recover everything themselves, but it's going to take a very long time,' Gibbs said. If the Galapagos National Park Service wants the island restored fully in less than a few hundred years, they may need to go in and clear out some of the woody vegetation themselves."

The study did say, despite the ecosystem recovery being a long-term process, tortoise populations are now self-sustaining. 

This video includes an image from Niccie King / CC BY 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Google To Use Nanoparticles, Wearables To Detect Disease]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 07:08:00 -0500
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Google X — you know, the team behind Google's self-driving cars and contact lenses that measure glucose levels — is at it again.

This time, the company's looking to tackle disease detection and prevention by pairing tiny, tiny ingestible particles with a wearable device that can monitor those particles. (Video via The Wall Street Journal)

The concept itself isn't too difficult to understand. Certain diseases have specific biomarkers — in cancer, for example, diseased cells might have proteins not present in normal human cells.

Google's nanoparticles would be crafted to target these biomarkers — the proteins in the cancer cells — and communicate that information back to the wearable device. 

It's all an attempt by Google to treat diseases long before symptoms begin to manifest — to tackle breast cancer before a screening reveals a tumor.

In an interview with Backchannel, Google X Project Manager Andrew Conrad, said this addresses a flaw in modern medicine. 

"Some cancers have ninety percent success rate if you diagnose them in early stage one. But most cancers have a five or ten percent survival rate if you diagnose them in stage four. We’re diagnosing cancer at the wrong time."

Conrad went on to compare the hardware to a Tricorder — the device used by characters in Star Trek to identify ailments, analyze data and more.

And while the company is hoping to bring this technology to market as soon as it can, there are plenty of challenges it will have to overcome.

Realistically, industry experts say the tech is "more than five years off." The Wall Street Journal points out Google still has plenty of technical issues to address — How many nanoparticles need to be ingested? How exactly will they target specific cells? — And one major social issue: in a society that's increasingly favoring privacy over almost anything else, how do you convince people to let Google essentially invade their body?

But a writer for The Verge notes "more than 100 Googlers are now working on the project," all working to undermine what Andrew Conrad identifies as their foe"unnecessary death."

If you want to learn more about Google X's attempt at a Tricorder, we recommend you check out the entire interview over on Backchannel. 

This video includes images from Google and Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Unmanned Antares Rocket Explodes Upon Liftoff]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 18:40:00 -0500
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The NASA launch of Orbital Sciences’ unmanned Antares spacecraft suffered a catastrophe Tuesday, exploding only six seconds after liftoff.

The rocket was launched from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia around 6:22 p.m. local time. No injuries were reported although NASA officials say there was significant property and vehicle damage. (Video via CNN)

And, according to videos posted online, witnesses experienced the blast and the resulting shockwave. (Video via YouTube / Matthew Travis)

The explosion destroyed at least $200 million of equipment — not including supplies. Officials still don't know what caused the rocket to fail, but the explosion itself was most likely part of NASA protocol.

The agency said the range safety officer, the person in charge of protecting the public should a vehicle veer out of control, might have activated a self-destruct signal to “cripple” the rocket before it could hit the launchpad.

The rocket was carrying a Cygnus cargo ship with 5,000 lbs of supplies to the International Space Station, including science experiments from U.S. and Canadian schools and satellites from Planetary Resources.

But with tons of material lost, NASA officials assured reporters Tuesday night none of the lost equipment was essential for crew aboard the ISS. (Video via NASA)

Orbital Sciences, the company that built the rocket, released a statement, saying: “It is far too early to know the details of what happened. … We will conduct a thorough investigation immediately to determine the cause of this failure and what steps can be taken to avoid a repeat of this incident.”

Orbital Sciences has a $1.9-billion contract with NASA to make eight delivery trips to the ISS — this trip would’ve been the third.

The initial rocket launch was delayed Monday when a sailboat entered and slowly passed through the so-called hazard launch during the scheduled time of liftoff. 

Orbital Sciences will lead the investigation and the Federal Aviation Administration will join in. NASA officials noted that other companies — like SpaceX — will be launching rockets to the ISS within the coming weeks and some of the lost supplies could be added to their cargo.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Here's Why Teal Pumpkins Are Popping Up This Halloween]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 18:01:00 -0500
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This Halloween, you might see more than just orange pumpkins on your neighbors' porches. Teal pumpkins are all the rage this year, and there's an important message behind them.

Food Allergy Research & Education, or FARE, is hoping to start a new tradition with this untraditional pumpkin color. 

The organization is calling it the "Teal Pumpkin Project", and the goal is to raise awareness about food allergies and promote inclusion of children with allergies. 

How it works is simple: if parents see a home with a pumpkin painted teal outside, they know that home is offering allergy-friendly options for trick-or-treaters. 

FARE says 1 in 13 children have a food allergy, and for some it can be life-threatening. The organization says it hopes its efforts will allow kids with allergies in on the trick-or-treating fun — while keeping them safe. 

FARE has offered some ideas for "Teal Pumpkin Project" participants to give out instead of candy — including bubbles, bouncy balls, stickers, and crayons or markers. 

The project started in Tennessee last year before it was adopted nationally by FARE. The idea has quickly taken off and has garnered a lot of support from parents who have children with allergies. 

WOIO: "I think it's a wonderful advancement for a parent and a family to learn how to incorporate these great holidays safely."

LAURA HASS VIA WPTV: "To have two hours one day a year where my kids just get to delight in being kids, that would be a dream."

The Hashtag #TealPumpkinProject is becoming more popular on Facebook  Halloween approaches. FARE has asked for families to post their teal pumpkin pictures on social media as a way to generate awareness about the project. 

And why teal? It's the color of choice because it is the national color for food allergy awareness.

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<![CDATA[Obama Speaks On Ebola As Dallas Nurse Released 'Ebola-Free']]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 17:18:00 -0500
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Two weeks after contracting the deadly Ebola virus, Dallas nurse Amber Vinson has now been declared Ebola-free. 

AMBER VINSON VIA KXAS"I'm so grateful to be well and first and foremost I want to thank God. ... While this is a day for celebration and gratitude, I ask that we not lose focus on the thousands of families who continue to labor under the burden of this disease in West Africa."

Vinson now joins Nina Pham as the second Dallas area nurse to contract and beat the virus. 

NINA PHAM VIA FOX NEWS"I join you in prayer now for the recovery of others including my colleague and friend Amber Vinson and Dr. Craig Spencer." 

Both Vinson and Pham are believed to have contracted the virus from the first patient diagnosed in the U.S., Thomas Eric Duncan. 

Dr. Spencer, the latest U.S. Ebola patient, is currently listed in serious but stable condition at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York after reportedly contracting the disease in Guinea. Spencer recently received a plasma transfusion from Nancy Writebol, an Ebola survivor. (Video via ABC, CNN)

While both nurses recovering is big news in the U.S., President Obama spent the majority of his Tuesday news conference addressing America's efforts in West Africa. 

PRESIDENT OBAMA VIA BBC"We're going to have to stay vigilante here at home until we stop the epidemic at its source." 

Though Obama did circle back around to the domestic response to the virus, noting government quarantine policies are not meant to discourage American workers from volunteering in Africa. 

PRESIDENT OBAMA VIA NBC"America cannot look like it is shying away because other people are watching what we do. ... Those workers who are willing and able and dedicated to go over there and do a really tough job, that they are applauded, thanked and supported."

Obama's comments might refer to the recent case of nurse Kaci Hickox, who was quarantined against her will in New Jersey after coming back from West Africa despite not showing any symptoms of Ebola according to her attorney. 

Vinson was transported to Emory Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia after contracting Ebola but will now return to her home in Dallas after being released Tuesday. 

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<![CDATA[How Flavored Water Can Help Your Kid's Nighttime Cough]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 13:43:00 -0500
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Regular water can help ease your child's cough... if presented the right way. 

According to new research published in JAMA Pediatrics, administering a dose of caramel-colored water with grape flavoring to coughing children creates statistically significant improvements in the "Cough frequency, cough severity, cough bothersomeness, congestion severity, rhinorrhea severity, and cough effect on child and parent sleep."

Interestingly, a dose of pasteurized agave nectar produced roughly the same positive effects, if not slightly better.

This new study is reinforcement for parents who like to use natural remedies for their children's nighttime coughs. 

Honey is an especially popular one. It was discovered to have "superior" effects to no medicine in children and teens ages 2-18 years old, according to a 2007 study published by the National Institutes of Health.

But honey has its drawbacks for certain age groups. Children younger than 1 are prohibited from consuming honey, as it has the potential to cause botulism, a paralytic and potentially fatal disease.

According to the authors of this new study, pasteurized agave nectar doesn't pose the same risk to children younger than 1, though only ages 2 to 4 were examined. But these findings are important for parents who struggle with remedies for kiddos' coughs in that 2-4 age group.

Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that "Non-prescription cough medicines are not recommended" because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found no health benefits in over-the-counter products for children younger than 4.

So ... flavored water? Agave nectar? You might be wondering how these two could possibly have positive outcomes on calming kids' coughs. It turns out it's all down to the placebo effect.

"What if you found out the medicine your doctor has been giving you wasn't proven to make you feel any better, but yet you did get better? This is called the placebo effect. It's one of the strangest and least-understood phenomenons." (Video via YouTube / Plethrons)

Doctors have long sought the placebo effect as an enigmatic test cure for all sorts of medical problems. Different findings report decreased pain after dental operations, decreased hypertension and improved quality of live after pacemaker implantation surgery, all thanks to the placebo effect.

Harvard Health Publications explains: "Recognize that it may be 'in your head' — but there's nothing wrong with that. Behind the subjective experience of feeling better (and worse) are objective changes in brain chemistry."

In this case, the authors of the double-blind cough study postulate subjectivity on both sides. Kids felt treated and soothed by their parents, and parents felt like they were giving their children useful medicine. Therefore the parents, who reported the kids' symptoms, perceived a positive reaction to the both the placebo and the agave nectar.

HealthDay reports this new study adds strength to the argument the placebo effect is useful. It's cheap, easy to manufacture, and has little to no side effects ... especially in this study, where kids were being basically being served plain old water.

Of course, neither the agave nectar nor the flavored water can cure all ailments. If your child's symptoms worsen, a visit to a health care provider is always recommended.

This video includes an image from Rachel / CC BY NC 2.0.

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<![CDATA[How America Is Both Threatening And Helping African Lions]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 13:07:00 -0500
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The African lion is in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future. 

That's according to a press release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is pushing for the lion to be listed as threatened. 

The push comes in light of the decline in lion numbers and habitat as well as a decrease in prey due to human hunting, which has brought the lions into conflict with humans. (Video via National Geographic)

As The Washington Post notes, the move could bring lions — whose numbers have decreased by 30 percent over the last 20 years — closer to the rest of the big cats, such as leopards and tigers, all of which have endangered status. 

There are an estimated 30,000 or so lions in the wild, down from 100,000 only 50 years ago. 

The biggest factor in their decline will be familiar to anyone who's read about other threatened species. 

KEVIN RICHARDSON VIA GOPRO: "Talk about any species, you've got the same dilemma — habitat loss. Habitat, habitat, habitat. Even large reserves like us, the area's not big enough."

The report from the Fish and Wildlife service pointed to the fact that lions currently inhabit only a little more than 20 percent of their historical range. 

But observers expect the move to designate the big cat as threatened will do more to curtail a different threat — trophy hunting.  

With this designation, hunters could still kill lions but only bring them back to the U.S. as trophies with permission from the government in the form of permits. (Video via The Guardian)

JEFF FLOCKEN VIA PBS: "Americans responsible for over 60 percent of all African lions killed for sport in Africa. This new system will help to monitor and regulate how these trophies come back into the U.S." 

The service plans to publish the proposed rule to designate lions as threatened on Oct. 29. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Deepwater Horizon's Footprint Actually A 'Bathtub Ring']]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 08:42:00 -0500
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Two hundred ten million gallons is a lot of oil. So much so that four years after the Deepwater Horizon spill, it can still be seen on the ocean floor of the Gulf of Mexico. 

That's according to a new study, which says the 2010 spill — the biggest oil spill in history — left what it calls a "bathtub ring" on the gulf. (Video via NBC)

The study says hydrocarbons from the oil plume of the well have contaminated an area of some 1,200 square miles in the deep waters of the gulf. 

The study's lead author David Valentine spoke on how the geography of the ocean floor in the gulf, keeps the residual oil in the gulf. (Video via PBS)

DAVID VALENTINE VIA AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR MICROBIOLOGY: "At this depth of 3,000 or 4,000 feet, it's bounded on three sides so there's no current that flushes through. ... Water tends to slosh back and forth."  

So if the water sloshes around the gulf, like in a bathtub, and takes the oil with it, it makes sense that there'd be a bathtub ring around the gulf. And it's easy to see in samples from the ocean floor. 

CHIP REID FOR CBS"This is mud."

MANDY JOY: "Yeah, and this is the oily layer."

REID: "That's from the spill four years ago. Oily residue that she worries could adversely affect marine life in the longer term."  

BP has unsurprisingly disputed the study's findings, saying the researchers haven't been able to distinguish between oil from the spill and naturally occurring oil in the gulf. 

But Valentine told The Times-Picayune the oil from the well was easy to trace because, "The discharge from the Macondo well simply swamped the signal from other sources in a clear and distinctive way that points right to the Macondo well as source."

BP has plenty of incentive to try to downplay the study's findings. It's still wrestling with the legal fallout of the spill as the affected gulf states try to get compensation for the damage. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Orbital Sciences Launch Scrubbed Thanks To Sailboat]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 04:34:00 -0500
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The Orbital Sciences Corporation was supposed to send one of its Antares rockets on a resupply mission to the International Space Station on Monday. 

The rocket was prepped and ready to take off from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia. But at T-12 minutes the launch was scrubbed because of a sailboat in the launch path of the Antares rocket. (Video via NASA / Orbital Sciences)

It remains unclear how exactly a sailboat found its way into the rocket's launch path.

But, as is the way of the Internet, it didn't take long for WaywardBoat to show up on Twitter. Yes folks, even scrubbed NASA launches can inspire parody Twitter accounts. Our favorite: “I once dated a rocket. Isn't this just like the last scene of the movie where the guy stops the girl at the airport before she leaves?”

NASA and Orbital Sciences have since rescheduled the launch. Barring anymore wayward boats, the Antares launch will take place Tuesday at 6:22 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time.

NASA says the mission, dubbed Orb-3 will transport nearly 5,000 pounds of supplies to the International Space Station, including food, science experiments, hardware and spare parts.

This will mark Orbital Sciences' third resupply mission to the ISS. The company's contract with NASA outlines eight missions, ending in late 2016. (Video via NASA)

If you'd like to follow along with Tuesday's launch (and keep a lookout for any wayward boats), you can head to NASA's website where the agency plans to live stream the event.

This video includes images from NASA / Joel Kowsky and music from Chris Zabriskie / CC BY 3.0.

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<![CDATA[Nurse's Ebola Quarantine Leads To Lawsuit For Christie]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 19:24:00 -0500
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Nurse Kaci Hickox was released from quarantine on Monday, ending a four-day detention that focused the spotlight on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the rights of health care workers and the best way to protect the public from Ebola.

Hickox's detention meant she was confined to in an unheated tent, where she was forced to wear paper scrubs and talk with others through a screen. She had no fever, no symptoms and her Ebola test came back negative. 

Governor Christie defended the policy last week, arguing it protects the public. “These actions that we are taking jointly today are I believe necessary to protect the public health of the people of New Jersey and New York.”

But Hickox was not happy to be the first health care worker forced into isolation. In an editorial for Dallas News, she wrote, "I am scared for those who will follow me." She also spoke to CNN.

"I completely don’t understand. It is completely not understandable to me. It is not based on any clear public health evidence, and it's not the recommendation of public health experts and medical health experts at this point." 

Yet despite her outrage, the American public has been, at best, dismissive of Hickox's plight. 

NBC: “So, we did ask the questions and as I mentioned you guys made a strong statement; 94% of you say there should be a mandatory quarantine in the United States."

Some, including many on Twitter, are downright angry about her statements, and accuse Hickox of being irresponsible and selfish. 

But there is at least one place where Hickox is finding some sympathy: the public health community.

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI VIA ABC: "First, protect the American public, but do so based on scientific data. ... As a scientist and as a health person, if I were asked I would not have recommended that."

Hundreds of medical workers have returned to the U.S. from West Africa since the outbreak began in March. So far, none of those workers have transmitted the disease to anyone else, and there's no evidence Hickox would have been the first.

But as concerns about an Ebola outbreak at home reach a fever pitch, politicians like Governor Christie will feel more and more pressure to detain medical workers — even when there's no evidence they're actually sick.

And with or without public support, Hickox's battle against general quarantines is far from over: her lawyers announced they'll be suing Governor Christie over the detainment. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 13:04:00 -0500
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For all you die-hard chocolate fans out there, here's some good news to sweeten your Monday a little. 

ABC: "They've been looking for years for ways to reverse or prevent that age-associated decline in memory. ... Flavanols, this compound that's in chocolate, can increase the blood flow to the part of the brain that's related to memory."

WTIC: "For three months, three dozen volunteers between the ages of 50 and 67 had a daily cocoa drink. ... Researchers say those who had the higher amount of the compound showed the memory of an average 30- to 40-year-old." 

But we should make clear the study was partly funded by Mars, a candy company that makes chocolate bars. 

With that in mind, according to the study, it would take about 20 chocolate bars a day to get the needed intake. Wow. Oh, and by the way, milk chocolate doesn't count. 

But no matter how you slice it, that amount of chocolate intake might be good for your memory but not for overall health. 

WGN-TV: "So gorging could actually cause other health problems." 

But if you aren't a chocolate fan, The Telegraph reports there are also healthier foods that contain the substance. 

To name a few: teacelery, parsley, buckwheat, the white pulp of oranges.

The researchers are conducting further studies that will hopefully help them find a way to put flavanols in capsule form. 

This video includes images from Fir0002 / CC BY NC 3.0André Karwath / CC BY SA 2.5, Lombroso and Candrichuk / CC BY SA 3.0

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<![CDATA[Study Doesn't Prove Megalodons Are Extinct, Never Needed To]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:11:00 -0500
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There's a new study out trying to pinpoint exactly when the world's biggest shark, Megalodon, went extinct, and some outlets are kind of missing the point. 

JASON FEINBERG, KVVU: "Researchers say the Megalodon shark became extinct 2 million years ago. Recently, some scientists had claimed the shark was still lurking in the deep sea."

The problem is, that's not true. The study used an extinction model to determine Megalodon's disappearance as a species to 2.6 million years ago. 

That region of 2 million years ago had been the general agreement among scientists. So why would people think there's no consensus? Basically, the Discovery Channel. 

DISCOVERY CHANNEL: "Sightings around the world lend support to the idea of Megalodon hunting in our oceans today."

That's from a 2013 fictional TV special Discovery used to kick off its Shark Week marathon that year. 

Leading to the confusion — the special was sold as fact in what many saw as a ratings grab, and that led to condemnation from the scientific community.  

JOSEPH STROMBERG, VOX: "The scientist was an actor, the footage was faked and the deaths didn't even happen. Viewers had no way of knowing this; there was just a disclaimer saying the scenes were dramatized. ... An online poll afterwards showed that 73 percent of viewers thought it was real."

So in the wake of that, it's no surprise that outlets like the Daily Mail greet this new study with headlines like, "The Megalodon IS extinct," as though that were some kind of revelation.

For its part, Discovery reported the study by saying, "Controversy has surrounded the timetable of existence for Megalodon," despite the fact that it hasn't — and the only dissenting voice has been Discovery's.

So what's really the takeaway from the study? Well, it has less to do with when Megalodon went extinct and more with what happened when it did. 

The study says Megalodon's extinction 2.6 million years ago was followed by baleen whales reaching their gigantic modern sizes. The Megalodon — their predator — was gone. (Video via National Geographic)

Apex predators — animals who have no natural predators — play a crucial part in any ecosystem, and their removal can substantially affect the balance, as this video you should check out explains, focusing on how wolves in Yellowstone changed the park's rivers. 

SUSTAINABLE HUMAN: "By driving the deer out of some places, and the vegetation recovering on the valley sides, there was less soil erosion because the vegetation stabilized that as well."

In the case of Megalodon, it's possible the removal of such a powerful predator allowed the whales more time and a wider range to feed, leading to the increase in size. 

So despite the fact that Megalodon is definitely, well and truly extinct, its impact can still be seen and heard in our oceans today.

This video includes an image from Gunnar Ries / CC BY NC ND 2.0 and music from Chris Zabriskie / CC BY 4.0.

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<![CDATA[What Is An Ebola Quarantine, And Why All The Hubbub?]]> Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:44:00 -0500
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Late last week, news broke of a mandatory quarantine for people traveling to New York, New Jersey or Illinois from areas affected by the Ebola outbreak. 

FOX NEWS: "Requiring a mandatory 21-day quarantine for anyone, including healthcare workers, who have been in direct contact with Ebola patients in West Africa."  

CNN: "This new development comes as New York City heath officials continue to urge calm as they look for anyone who has contact with Dr. Craig Spencer, the city's first Ebola patient." 

But one point missing from a lot of the coverage is an explanation of what a quarantine is and what the mandate could mean for doctors coming back from Ebola-stricken countries. So, let's set the record straight.

We'll start with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It makes an important point: there's a different between isolation and quarantine. "Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick," while "quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick." So a quarantine includes, but is not limited to, isolation and involves those who have yet to show symptoms. 

So for example, Thomas Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., was in isolation in the Dallas hospital — keeping a sick person away from the non-sick. (Video via KPRC)

Duncan's family, who shared their apartment with him while he was showing symptoms, was put under quarantine. That means they could not legally leave their apartment or have any visitors. Anything the family needed was delivered to them and police continuously surveyed the area. (Video via KTRK)

NPR talked to a health professor who explained, "When you have a really sick patient, like someone who has symptoms of Ebola ... they take care of a person in an isolation room in a hospital and use all kinds of infection control practices and patients usually want that. ... Only in a handful of cases do you have the possibility of involuntary isolation." 

Which brings us back to the newly implemented involuntary regulations in New York, New Jersey and Illinois.   

Under these controversial guidelines, anyone who comes in contact with an Ebola patient in West Africa and then travels to one of those three states must undergo a mandatory 21-day isolation — forced to stay in the hospital even if they've tested negative for the virus on the chance it could develop later. 

These regulations go far beyond what the CDC recommends — which is to wait for isolation until after a traveler begins showing symptoms. An analyst for MSNBC explains one possible reason for the strict measures. 

"People are really anxious about Ebola ... and so implementing these measures to provide that assurance to the public is probably helpful for our collective psychological health, even if it's not strictly necessary from an infection control standpoint."

But that stance could raise a whole different issue — possible human rights violations. 

The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey explained to The New York Times, “Mandatory quarantine of people exhibiting no symptoms and when not medically necessary raises serious constitutional concerns about the state abusing its police powers. ... Ebola is a public health issue, and the government’s response should be driven by science and facts and not by fear.”

Kaci Hickox, a nurse who was working with patients in Sierra Leone, is the first to experience the strict regulations. According to Hickox, she was isolated for about seven hours at Newark airport before being escorted by eight police cars to the hospital. 

Hickox initially displayed a slight fever and was tested for the virus — but her fever subsided and the test came back negative. Regardless, she will have to stay in an isolation unit for a full 21 days. 

NJ.com talked to the 33-year-old's mother, who said Hickox is being treated as though she has Ebola, confined to an isolation tent outside the hospital without a TV, shower or books. Also, her waste is being bagged as a precaution. 

Hickox, who is from Texas and was in New Jersey for a connecting flight, has openly displayed her disdain for the policy, saying dogs are treated better. Saturday, The Dallas Morning News published a scathing essay by Hickox describing her time at the hospital: "I sat alone in the isolation tent and thought of many colleagues who will return home to America and face the same ordeal. Will they be made to feel like criminals and prisoners?"

That's a sentiment we're likely to hear again as more people are affected by the mandate. New York Magazine points out a past study that found isolation can lead to depression and PTSD. The researcher who published those findings explained, "In terms of PTSD, it was a lot of anxiety, a lot of nightmares. ... And in terms of depression, it was that feeling of being completely alone and isolated, with that concern of 'Would someone be there for me if I got sick?'"

There is concern the new regulations could discourage health care workers from visiting West Africa to help stop the outbreak that is now responsible for the deaths of nearly 5,000 people. 

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<![CDATA[Poisoned Halloween Candy: More Fiction Than Fact]]> Sun, 26 Oct 2014 15:31:00 -0500
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We hear the warnings every year.

ABC: "They say moms and dads should always check their kids Halloween candy before they dig in."

HOWCAST"You can ask your local hospital or care center if they X-ray candy on Halloween night or go the easier route. Just toss it and replace it with candy you've bought yourself."

Parents are told to check their kid's Halloween loot for poisoned candy and razor blades. But when did this paranoia about Halloween candy begin and is it legitimate?

It might have started with the media. In 1970, New York Times reporter Judy Klemesrud wrote, "that plump red apple that Junior gets ... may have a razor blade hidden inside. The chocolate 'candy' bar may be a laxative, the bubble gum may be sprinkled with lye."

And a syndicated advice columnist known as "Dear Abby" warned in the 80s, "somebody’s child will become violently ill or die after eating poisoned candy or an apple containing a razor blade." 

But those articles were short on specifics for a reason: there really aren't many examples of that kind of thing happening. And yet the fear took off and can still be felt today.

University of Delaware sociologist Joel Best has been looking into this fear for about 30 years, and he says the idea that strangers are out there using Halloween candy to poison random children just isn't true. 

One Halloween candy poisoning case has occurred, but it was not a random act. A father was convicted of poisoning his 8-year-old son via candy in 1974 to collect life insurance money.  

And as for razor blades, the cases are very rare but are highly publicized. 

Razor blade in candy stories occasionally pop up and are heavily covered by the media. Fortunately, when they do happen, there's typically no serious injury.

So parents feel free to relax a bit. All that high-sugar candy might not necessarily be good for your kid, but it's not as dangerous as all the bad press makes it out to be.

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<![CDATA[Rosetta Finds This Comet Stinks Of Rotten Eggs]]> Sun, 26 Oct 2014 08:07:00 -0500
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The Rosetta mission is close enough to its target comet to smell it.

Rosetta has detected comet 67P/C-G emitting a mix of chemicals including hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, formaldehyde and hydrogen cyanide. In less scientific terms, the comet reeks of rotten eggs, ammonia and vinegar.  

The presence of these chemicals has come as something of a surprise to scientists, and not just because they smell bad.

Discovery explains “it was assumed that only the most volatile of ices — water and carbon dioxide — would be sublimated into space as the comet approaches the sun.”

It’s a low enough concentration that humans probably wouldn’t notice. New Scientist quotes Kathrin Altwegg, the scientist in charge of Rosetta’s spectrometer. "You would probably need a good dog to smell it."

In other words, 67P/C-G is already more active than we thought. In this image from last month, the comet was more than 280 million miles from the sun. It’s expected to release even more gases as it gets closer and heats up.

The European Space Agency explains “a detailed analysis of this mixture and how it varies as 67P/C-G grows more active will allow scientists to determine the comet’s composition,” and compare it to other comets.

Rosetta will have a year to gather that sort of data. The mission is expected to last at least that long as the comet swings around the sun.

Its historic first step will come next month. Rosetta’s Philae lander will touch down in the first soft landing on a comet and begin analyzing the surface of 67P/C-G on November 11. (Video via European Space Agency)

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<![CDATA[Toxin-Packed Stem Cells Used To Kill Cancer]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 18:00:00 -0500
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Harvard scientists believe they've found a way to effectively kill brain cancer cells, while leaving other cells unharmed. 

The team genetically engineereed stem cells so they can produce and discharge tumor-destroying toxins. 

Stems cells are body cells that have the ability to develop into many different cell types. These cells are often used by scientists in regenerative or reparative medicine because of their potential for treating diseases, although more work needs to be done to fully understand them. (Video via YouTube / bmedinago)

Researchers tried out the improved stem cells on mice that had recently had tumors removed. They put a biodegradable gel full of stem cells on the former tumor site and found it was able to destroy remaining cancer cells. 

Besides the obvious — killing cancer cells — this research is significant in two ways: first, by using the gel, the research team was able to effectively deliver the stem cells to the correct area — something previous teams had not been able to do by injecting cells directly. (Video via YouTube /  Caring Medical and Rehabilitation Services

Second, the stems cells would normally be killed by the cancer-destroying toxins they emit, but this team created toxin-resistant cells for much longer lasting results.

Medical Daily even called the cells "one-of-a-kind."

Head researcher Khalid Shah said, "We do see the toxins kill the cancer cells and eventually prolonging the survival in animal models of resected brain tumors."

And Beta Wired reports cancer specialists in this field of regenerative medicine are in "the beginning of a new wave of treatments for cancer."

Researchers are currently pursuing FDA approval to bring this approach to a clinical trial. The study can be found in the journal STEM CELLS

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<![CDATA[Can A Hug Cure Ebola Fears?]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:23:00 -0500
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PRESIDENT OBAMA VIA THE WHITE HOUSE: “Today I want to speak to you directly and clearly about Ebola.”

Ever since Ebola made landfall in the U.S., the Obama administration and health professionals have been trying to curb fears about Ebola — most of them stemming from misinformation. 

Maybe that’s why this moment Friday was so big. Dallas nurse and former Ebola patient Nina Pham was declared Ebola-free and was later embraced by President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

And that moment had everyone talking.

CNN: “What we heard from the White House was that no extra precaution was taken.”

FOX BUSINESS: "There was no fear.”

AL JAZEERA: “Embracing President Obama in the Oval Office, a clear message that the White House is trying to send.”

...Or messages. Let’s be clear: this move was a pretty obvious PR stunt by the White House — no reporters were allowed in the meeting, only photographers and they snapped tons of pictures. But it was a move that could help curb fears about Ebola for a number of reasons.

JOSH EARNEST VIA THE WHITE HOUSE“He is the president and he was not at all concerned.”

And most Americans shouldn’t be concerned either.

Researchers have reiterated the virus doesn’t just randomly jump from person-to-person. The hug demonstrated that a cured patient isn’t in danger of getting anyone else infected.

Maybe this is a way to show that, despite fears about the virus, Ebola survivors should be welcomed back into society without reservation.

An all-clear diagnosis for Pham and Amber Vinson, the other Dallas nurse who was declared Ebola-free this week, is hugely significant given that they were infected by Thomas Eric Duncan — the only Ebola patient in the U.S. to die from the illness. (Video via KDFW)

Duncan’s treatment and the infection of two of his nurses raised questions about America’s preparedness to deal with Ebola. (Video via MSNBC)

The hug between President Obama and Pham obviously won’t get rid of Ebola, but it could be just another small victory in helping cure Americans of their fears surrounding this deadly disease.

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

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<![CDATA[Google Exec (Accidentally) Breaks Free-Fall Jump Record]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 21:52:00 -0500
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If you're afraid of heights, maybe turn this video off right now. For everyone else, get ready to see something awesome.

Thrill-seeker Alan Eustace was taken up into the stratosphere by a balloon while wearing a suit similar to those worn by astronauts, and dropped nearly 136,000 feet. He fell so fast he broke the sound barrier, with peak speeds of more than 800 miles per hour.

His fall lasted about 15 minutes giving him the world record for the highest free fall. The previous record holder, professional skydiver Felix Baumgartner, dropped from about 128,000 feet. His jump was sponsored by Red Bull.

But Eustace isn't a stuntman — he's the vice president of knowledge at Google. Sounds like a cool job, but not one that would prepare you for a record-breaking plummet through Earth's atmosphere.

And maybe one of the craziest parts about all this is that Eustace and his team broke the record ... by accident. Forbes reports they just wanted to test technology used for human exploration in the stratosphere and other extreme environments. 

It took Eustace two hours to make the climb into the stratosphere and once he got up there he decided to just hang out for about a half hour.

A press release from World View, the company who helped develop the technology to make this possible, quotes Eustace from space saying, "I can see the curvature of the Earth and the darkness of Space and it's really awesome!" 

Google actually wanted to help with Eustace's jump but The Verge reports that he turned them down to avoid turning it into a marketing stunt. Instead, he and his team quietly spent three years working on the self-funded project. 

World View hopes to one day adapt the technology for private space travel that would allow them to send people comfortably to space in luxury space capsules.  

This video contains an image from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Uber Flu Shots: Where Publicity And Health Care Intersect]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 15:18:00 -0500
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If you need a flu shot, you might be able to turn to … Uber?

On Friday the rideshare company is deploying UberHealth, one-time flu shot courier services for users who request them in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.

Uber will shuttle health care workers around, who will be distributing flu shots to as many as 10 patients per call, free of charge. Uber says there are no strings attached — Insurance is not required, and Uber will even donate to the Red cross on the behalf of recipients.

It’s a collaboration with HealthMap, a vaccine tracker run by Boston Children’s Hospital; and travel medicine provider PassportHealth.

The minds behind UberHealth told NBC the program will also test the concept of couriered vaccinations for use in more serious medical scenarios, where it might be safer to bring the medicine to the people than vice versa.

The initiative is a seemingly rare bit of good publicity for Uber. If it’s not dealing with pushback from the taxi industry or media backlash from sexist promotions, it’s allegations of drivers assaulting passengers with hammers or kidnapping them.

Of course, it’s not just Uber benefiting from this new program. Wired says the vaccination drive is unambiguously good news.

One day of on-demand vaccinations does not a comprehensive anti-flu campaign make, “But the example it sets of using an app-based on-demand service to promote not just consumer instant gratification but an actual public good is one that should inspire others to undertake similar experiments.”

UberHealth runs through 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Patients can file a request for immunization through the Uber app.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:16:00 -0500
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A lava flow that's been steadily getting closer and closer to a town on Hawaii's Big Island could potentially become a much larger threat.

CLAYTON SANDELL FOR ABC: "This came from the Kilauea volcano. This particular lava flow started on June 27. And it's traveled about 11 miles so far."

The rate of lava flow has accelerated tremendously in recent days, as evidenced by this alert issued Thursday by the Hawaii County Civil Defense. 

"This morning's assessment shows that the narrow finger that was advancing along the south edge of the flow has advanced approximately 425 yards since yesterday."

That's a little more than the length of four football fields. 

The agency also said the lava was within 0.3 miles of a street in Pahoa near the town's transfer station. 

But the Honolulu Star-Advertiser is reporting officials said the lava "is not an immediate threat to homes at this time." Therefore, no evacuations have been ordered. 

This is most likely because burning activity has been limited, according to KHNL. There's also no threat of brush fire at this time. 

Still, authorities aren't just waiting around for the lava to close in. ABC says they're "preparing for the inevitable" by creating emergency roads. 

Kilauea first began erupting in January 1983, and since then, lava has steadily flowed out of it at different points. 

The U.S. Geological Survey discovered by the end of 2012, lava from the volcano had covered 48.4 square miles and created about 500 new acres of land when it hardened. 

ABC reports residents of Pahoa will be given three days' notice to leave if the lava keeps moving on its current path. In the meantime, officials are hoping the lava will start to move in another direction. 

This video includes images from Getty Images and the U.S. Geological Survey

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<![CDATA[Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 19:01:00 -0500
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A study released over the summer says eating breakfast will help you lose weight, but another released just this week says skipping the meal will help you trim down. So which one is true? Let's break down these conflicting studies.

A team at Monash University in Australia found skipping the meal actually helped people lose weight. Researchers asked 32 liver-disease patients to begin skipping breakfast and watched them for 12 weeks. In the end they found all participants lost weight and reported better liver health. 

This might be surprising, as we've all heard skipping breakfast encourages overeating later in the day. But let's look at the obvious. We don't know what kind of breakfasts the participants usually ate. If they were eating breakfasts like any of these, it makes sense that they lost weight and their livers were healthier when they cut out this meal. Then there are some other factors to consider:

7 NEWS"Those who participated in the trial could essentially eat whatever they wanted, as long as they eat sensibly and didn't gorge on food. They were also encouraged to exercise."

Eating right and exercising — so in other words, those participants were asked to adopt healthy practices that could've caused their weight loss independent of their breakfast habits. And they were told not to eat too much later in the day, so we don't really know if they would have overeaten otherwise.

On the other hand, researchers from the University of Missouri-Columbia say eating breakfast is important for maintaining a healthy weight. Again, they pointed to evidence those who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat throughout the day. 

Aimed at learning more about obesity in young adults, the study compared teen girls who did eat breakfast and those who didn't. 

"Both breakfast meals reduced post-meal cravings for sweet and savory foods. ... Between breakfast meals, the [high-protein] breakfast tended to elicit greater reductions in post-meal savory cravings vs. [normal protein]."

The study says it's likely the protein in the breakfast foods that's curbing people's appetite throughout the day. It states a chemical reaction in the brain causes feelings of contentment. 

This isn't exactly a new idea. Protein in general has been shown to ease appetite, regardless of what time you consume it. 

ANN KULZE VIA DR. ANN WELLNESS: "One of the easiest ways to get your hunger under wraps is to get some protein at each feeding."

So the breakfast debate still hasn't been settled, but we do know this much: In order to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you take in throughout the day — morning, afternoon and night.

 This video contains images from Luke Bryant / CC BY NC SA 2.0Janine / CC BY 2.0Joits / CC BY 2.0Iban / CC BY NC SA 2.0, Carmen Eisbär / CC VY NC SA 2.0 and Flickr / VV BY ND 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:35:00 -0500
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A dinosaur mystery 50 years in the making is finally solved, but the answer is a little baffling. 

This is Deinocheirus mirificus, a 16-foot-tall omnivore first unearthed in Mongolia back in 1965. Or, as some are describing it: (Video via University of Alberta)

SPENCER BLAKE VIA KNIN: "It actually kind of looked like a cross between the hit cartoon dinosaur Barney and Jar Jar Binks from 'Star Wars.'"

"Is that like a scientific term there?"

We frankly don't see the Jar Jar Binks comparison, so here's our own stab at it, using the BBC's description. "It was huge" like Godzilla, "had a beak" like Big Bird, "a humpback" like Quasimodo, "and hoofed feet" like, uh, a horse. (Video via Buena Vista Pictures / "The Hunchback of Notre Dame")

The discovery of two skeletons in 2006 and 2009 was key in connecting that weirdly humped body to the original finding, which was just a pair of enormous arms. Those arms are the reason for the name Dinocheirus, which means "horrible hand," more or less. (Video via BBC)

As for the hump...

SOHN JUNG-IN VIA ARIRANG: " ... a series of extra-long bones in its back that formed the hump. Researchers think that the long spine may have helped the creature balance and support its huge mass on its hind legs." 

The researchers' findings, published in the journal Nature, also say Deinocheirus was probably omnivorous — fish remains were found in its stomach, despite its toothless beak being more suited toward a herbivorous diet.  

As the Los Angeles Times' Amina Khan writes, the story of how researchers were able to get all the bones together is a long one. That's because bones from the 2009 fossil were actually poached and sold to buyers in Japan and Germany. 

One aspect of the long story of Deinocheirus that's been a little lost in the coverage — this isn't actually the first time we've seen Deinocheirus' body. 

Last year, the same scientists presented a very different-looking mock-up of the disproportionate dino at a conference in Los Angeles, before all the reassembly had been finished. 

This video includes an image from LR_PTY / CC BY NC ND 2.0, Paul VanDerWerf / CC BY 2.0 and Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:49:00 -0500
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China is headed back to the moon: state newspaper Xinhua confirms China is preparing an unmanned moon mission for launch later this week.

It’s sending a spacecraft to orbit the moon, return to Earth and reenter the atmosphere — the first such round trip attempted by the nation’s space program.

This week’s mission will confirm China’s spacecraft can land back on Earth in the right place at the right speed. It’s an important test run for another unmanned mission planned for 2017, which will retrieve and return samples of the lunar surface to Earth.

This will also be China’s fourth mission to the moon as part of a program leading up to manned missions. In December 2013, China launched a rocket carrying a lunar rover called Jade Rabbit. (Video via Sky News)

It was intended to run experiments for three months, but Jade Rabbit suffered mechanical trouble in January 2014. Reports in state media declared it dead on the surface of the moon. (Video via BBC)

By eventually progressing to returning Lunar samples to Earth, New Scientist says China will be “following a path blazed by other major spacefaring nations.”

U.S. astronauts returned samples during Apollo missions, and the Soviet Union ran automated missions to bring back moon rocks in the '70s.

CNN quotes a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who says China’s space program has yet to reach the scientific or military significance of U.S. or former Soviet programs, but it’s a great public confidence tool.

“For the domestic audience that is the chief concern of China's leaders, the space program produces invaluable results."

The Lunar orbit mission is expected to last about a week and will touch down somewhere in Mongolia.

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<![CDATA[Oldest Bone Ever Sequenced Shows Human/Neanderthal Mating]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:02:00 -0500
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A 45,000-year-old-bone is giving us some news about a 50,000-year-old boner.

Look, we can't play it any other way, this story is about sex. And science.

Scientists are trying to figure out more about our origins — including when humans and Neanderthals first mated. And a team just released their findings on a thighbone discovered in Siberia in 2008.  (Video via BBC)

They determined it's a man's bone, and it's about 45,000 years old. It's the oldest human bone ever sequenced. 

The researchers spoke with LiveScience, which reports the man, "carried a similar level of Neanderthal ancestry as present-day Eurasians. Their research suggests Neanderthal genes flowed into the ancestors of this man 7,000 to 13,000 years before he lived."

That means humans and Neanderthals could have first interbred about 50-60,000 years ago, giving this man, and many modern-day humans, Neanderthal DNA. (Video via Natural History Museum)

Fifty to 60,000 years ago is also around the time that, according to findings released in 2012, a group of humans migrated out of Africa. 

Because the bone was found in Siberia, it suggests that early humans migrated from Africa into the Middle East through other routes than previously thought. We used to think they had only taken Southern routes. 

Before this bone was analyzed, the oldest human bone ever genome sequenced was 24,000 years old. So, this about twice as old, and it's giving scientists a lot to think about. Including sex.

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<![CDATA[More People Diagnosed With TB In 2013, But There's Good News]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:51:00 -0500
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The World Health Organization released a new report Wednesday showing nearly 9 million people developed tuberculosis in 2013 — a nearly 500,000-person increase compared to 2012.

More than 1.5 million people died from the disease in 2013 — that number is also up from around 1.3 million deaths in 2012.

Around 95 percent of cases are in developing countries. But there could be some good news behind those alarming numbers.

One of the biggest factors behind that increase is better data collection, meaning more people were properly diagnosed and thus treated, greatly improving their chances of survival.

Health officials say the disease itself has been decreasing steadily over the long term — the death rate has dropped by 45% since 1990.

And even though more were properly diagnosed last year, WHO estimates about 3 million cases still either went undiagnosed or unreported.

WHO officials have identified lack of funding as a major contributor to people falling through the cracks. The agency says a “full response” would require $8 billion in funding each year, but there is currently a shortfall of about $2 billion.

WHO Representative Karin Weyer said, “The gap between detecting and actually getting people started on treatment is widening and we urgently need increased commitment and funding to test and treat every case.”

TB is caused by bacteria that attacks the lungs and spreads through the air from person to person. If untreated it can be fatal, but is generally curable with the right medication.

Certain strains of TB can be drug-resistant, but that only accounted for about 3.5% of the 2013 cases.

15 vaccines for TB are currently being tested around the world.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Native American Roots Can Mean Lower Breast Cancer Risk]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:21:00 -0500
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One in five American Latinas has a decreased risk for breast cancer thanks to her DNA, according to new research funded by the National Cancer Institute.

The study, published by the University of California, San Francisco, specifies that it's a genetic variant from indigenous Americans that decreases some Latinas' breast cancer risk by a staggering 40 to 80 percent. (Video via American Museum of Natural History)

The benefit of such heritage is statistically significant, compared to other ethnic groups. The lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is 13 percent for non-Hispanic whites, 11 percent for blacks, and less than 10 percent for Latinas.

This study pushed that idea further, showing that Latinas with some indigenous American ancestry have an even lower risk than those without such roots.

Even though other races might also have indigenous American predecessors, a CNN report in 2011 stated that "since 2000, the number of Hispanics who identified themselves as Native American grew from 407,073 to 685,150, according to the 2010 census."

This growth was mainly due to newfound ties to indigenous populations. 

In fact, the nonprofit organization called the Indigenous Cultures Institute was created in 2005 to show people who label themselves as "Hispanic" that they might actually have strong Native American lineage. 

This point is not lost on scientists, who found both Native North American and Native South American ancestry in four subsets of Latinos, according to a previous study.

This research comes at a time when the number of Latinos living in the U.S. is growing exponentially. According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2013, Latinos were the nation's largest minority group, and half the entire nation's population growth between 2000 and 2010 was due to the Latino population increase.

The genetic variant that protects these Latinas, found on chromosome 6, still puzzles scientists, who haven't pinpointed how it helps. But the study's lead author called this research both "interesting and important" because it could pave the way to personalized prevention in the future, based on people's DNA.

The National Human Genome Research Institute seems to agree. It cites individualized medicine through genetic distinction as a new frontier, saying, "It has the potential to transform healthcare through earlier diagnosis, more effective prevention and treatment of disease, and avoidance of drug side effects."

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<![CDATA[First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:41:00 -0500
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Alright, we're officially in the future. A first-of-its-kind treatment performed by an English-Polish medical team used cells associated with smell to give him the ability to walk again. 

Darek Fidyka, seen in this BBC footage, had his spinal cord severed by a knife attack in 2010. But by transplanting olfactory ensheathing cells in the brain and nerve fibers from the ankle, surgeons were able to form a bridge to repair the injury.

It's something which Professor Geoff Raisman of University College London's Institute of Neurology told the BBC is "more impressive than a man walking on the moon."

Fidyka was understandably happy himself, telling the BBC being able to walk again after two years is like being born again. 

The Times reports Fidyka can now get around with the help of a frame, drive a car solo and now even hunts with his friends.

Part of the research was funded by the United Kingdom-based Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation. The organization's founder, David Nicholls, has a son who's paralyzed. 

According to The Guardian, he plans to make the research available to other scientists around the world working on cures for paralysis. 

The Independent reports that the English-Polish medical team now need to raise about $16 million to fund the same treatment for 10 more patients in Poland to further verify the results.

The treatment was published in the medical journal Cell Transplantation.

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<![CDATA[CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 23:25:00 -0500
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Following severe criticism from politicians, pundits, and healthcare workers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued stricter guidelines about how healthcare workers should protect themselves from the Ebola virus.

The new guidelines focus on improving and standardizing Ebola response training in hospitals across the country. The CDC recommends healthcare workers routinely practice to familiarize themselves with protective gear. Anyone who comes in contact with an Ebola patient shouldn't have any skin exposed, and should be be supervised by a trained monitor. 

The CDC's previous guidelines were meant to be flexible, according to the agency. But after two nurses became infected while treating Ebola patient Thomas Duncan, those guidelines came under some serious scrutiny. 

MEGYN KELLEY VIA FOX NEWS: "I looked at the website and it says you're only supposed to wear one pair of gloves, and it says you don't have to cover your head and you don't have to cover your feet. Wouldn't you admit that is insufficient?"

CHRIS HAYES VIA MSNBC"There is no question, I think, that they underestimated the difficulty or the danger to front-line healthcare workers." 

NATIONAL NURSES UNITED CO-PRESIDENT JEAN ROSS VIA C-SPAN: "From the nurses point of view, there really was no protocol."

The CDC's new guidelines are based on those regularly used by Doctors Without Borders in Ebola-stricken countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, adapted for a U.S. hospital setting.

But those new guidelines will only be effective if they're followed — and as one analyst told CNN, the CDC doesn't have the authority to mandate its recommendations in private hospitals nationwide.

DR. IRWIN REDLENER VIA CNN: "It is a scientific body that issues guidelines, but the actual implementation happens on a local level. ... It's a national resource, the CDC, but it's not a national implementer, and that's really up to the local authorities."

The new guidelines come just as 43 people in Dallas who came in contact with Duncan were declared free of any Ebola risk. The CDC and the Pentagon are both prepping rapid response teams for any future Ebola infections.

This video contains images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Kamra Inlay Could Replace Reading Glasses - If FDA Approves]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 18:24:00 -0500
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Older Americans who find it more and more difficult to see up close might be able to ditch those reading glasses soon — assuming they're up for an expensive surgery. 

A study presented at the American Academy of Ophthalmology's annual convention said, "A thin ring inserted into the eye could soon offer a reading glasses-free remedy for presbyopia, the blurriness in near vision experienced by many people over the age of 40."

The thin ring they're talking about is AcuFocus's Kamra, a small, thin disk that's inserted into the eye directly above the cornea at a per-eye price roughly equivalent to Lasik.

The disk has a small hole over the pupil that lets in a narrow beam of light. If you've ever tested your vision by looking through a pinhole, you know that focusing light helps improve near vision. Some people even wear glasses made primarily out of pinholes. 

The Kamra inlay essentially does that all the time, allowing patients to see up close without detracting from their vision at a distance. It's billed as the glasses-free solution to blurry cellphones and newspapers by clinicians who implant them

But none of those clinicians are operating in the U.S. Even though Kamra has been available to the public in Europe and Asia for years, the FDA hasn't approved its use, though it's getting close.

This past summer, a committee within the agency said the benefits of Kamra outweigh the risks, though the vote very nearly went against the product. The FDA still has some safety concerns and will likely require further testing.

But one of the major selling points of corneal inlays is that, if you have problems with them, they can be removed — although two surgeries just to get rid of reading glasses might be too steep a price tag for many patients.  

This video includes images from paulorear / CC0stevepb / CC0 and nummer9 / CC BY SA 3.0.

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<![CDATA[How Dangerous Is That Brazilian Wandering Spider?]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 14:48:00 -0500
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Getting groceries delivered to your home is a wonderful convenience — not so much when they contain venomous Brazilian spiders you definitely didn't order. 

And that’s exactly what one London family got when upscale supermarket Waitrose delivered a Brazilian wandering spider hidden in a bushel of bananas. (Video via Waitrose)

The Daily Mail broke the story, playing up the scary factor by reproducing a full-sized picture of the spider on the front page, along with some fun facts, like the spider's venom is "30 times more powerful than that of a rattlesnake" and it "can kill in 2 hours."

GILLIAN JOSEPH FOR SKY NEWS: "The people in our ears are cringing at this photo. Have a look."

STEPHEN DIXON: "I'm going to look … augh!"
JOSEPH: "I won't blow it up."

The spider was eventually captured by a pest control expert and safely removed from the house without biting anyone, so disregarding the rampant fear — how about some spider facts?

The Brazilian wandering spider has been rated the most venomous spider in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records, and it does have a reputation for being aggressive. (Video via ITN)

But the spider doesn't always deliver a full dose of venom when it bites. 

There are only 14 recorded deaths caused by the spider's bite going back to 1926, and they mainly pose a threat to children and the elderly. (Video via YouTube / Geoff McCabe)

A study found that over a 12-year period, out of more than 400 people bitten by the spider, only 2.3 percent actually needed antivenom to survive. 

Plus this kind of incident has happened on multiple occasions in the U.K. and other parts of Europe over the years with only one reported bite — a Somerset man who had to be hospitalized but recovered. 

So why the fear? Well there's the obvious, reaching-into-a-bushel-of-bananas-and-finding-a-giant-spider-instead thing. 

Bananas are often their preferred residence in the wild, which is why they're so often swept up in the bushels and shipped overseas from their home in South and Central American rainforests. (Video via YouTube / Triple B)

But you could also make the argument that some outlets play up the scariness of the spider — the Daily Mail being a repeat offender — with headlines like, "World's deadliest spiders nesting on my banana from Sainsbury's."

As for the latest family affected by the wandering spider, they opted to spend the night at a friend's house, even after the spider was removed. 

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<![CDATA[Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:38:00 -0500
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According to a new study, temperatures affect temperament: The season you're born in can determine what kind of general mood you have. But you might be a little surprised by which season indicates which mood. 

We think summer lovin' ... well, that's only sort of true, according to this. The study says people born in spring and summer do tend to be more positive but that people born in summer are much moodier than others, often swinging "between cheerful and sad." (Video via Paramount Pictures / "Grease")

And those born in the icy cold of winter are actually more even-tempered folks, the research shows.

The study comes from researchers in Hungary and was just presented in Berlin. 

It looked at 400 people, matching their general moods with when they were born. The researchers say they found seasons influence certain neurotransmitters, the chemicals that transmit signals between the neurons in your brain. The ones they influence — dopamine and serotonin — control your mood.

Now, the scientists still need to look into how exactly this effect happens. 

"We can't yet say anything about the mechanisms involved. What we are now looking at is to see if there are genetic markers which are related to season of birth and mood disorder."

But they say this could provide a more scientific explanation for something that's long been a bit of folklore.

Ever check your horoscope, for example? What's your sign?

And of course, we've long known seasons can affect our current moods — if you have seasonal affective disorder, you likely get depressed in fall and winter. 

But what's new about this study is it's claiming when you're born can affect your mood for the rest of your life. Future parents, something to think about. 

This video includes images from Getty Images, Chiara Vitellozzi Fotografie / CC BY NC ND 2.0 and Riccardo Cuppini / CC BY NC ND 2.0 and music from Podington Bear / CC BY NC 3.0.

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<![CDATA[How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:03:00 -0500
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After six weeks without any new cases, Nigeria is now free of Ebola, according to the World Health Organization. Here's how it beat the outbreak. 

The initial response was critical. The disease was introduced back in July when a man displaying Ebola symptoms traveled from Liberia to an airport in Lagos. It could have been a disaster scenario. (Video via ENCA

After all, at 21 million people, Lagos is the most populous city in Africa. But a bit of luck kept the virus from spreading.

A lecturer at the University of Pretoria tells Scientific American it's a good thing the patient's symptoms were spotted at an airport before he had the chance to travel elsewhere. 

The same day he was diagnosed, the Nigerian government came up with an incident management center and shortly after declared an Ebola emergency. Granted, that diagnosis came three days after the patient arrived in Lagos. 

He was first treated for malaria and during that time infected 11 health workers in Lagos. One of them then spread the infection to the city of Port Harcourt. 

In all, eight people died out of a total of 20 cases — a pretty remarkable figure compared to the thousands of infections reported in other countries.

To keep those 20 cases from spreading to Nigeria's slums, health officials used a method called contact tracing, which essentially means tracking down everyone who came in direct contact with an Ebola patient.

In Nigeria, the 20 Ebola patients had contact with a total of 898 people.

"You need to wash your hands."

A public awareness campaign also played a part. Officials went door to door and explained the disease to the 26,000 families who lived within 2 kilometers of those 20 patients. (Video via PBS

And unlike some of the poorer, harder-hit countries, Nigeria — Africa's wealthiest nation — had at its disposal some key resources, including multiple labs able to test for the virus.

Senegal is also free of Ebola, but Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have not been able to stop its spread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there could be as many as 1.4 million cases worldwide by January.

This video includes images from Getty Images,  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Google

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<![CDATA[Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:41:00 -0500
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That little blue pill known for helping guys out in the bedroom could help their hearts, too.

In a study published Oct. 20 in BioMed Central, researchers worked with 1,622 subjects and gave some PDE5i, an ingredient in erectile-dysfunction medications like Viagra. Overall, researchers saw improved heart performance in patients who took it. 

And since the pill is on the market and, as The Telegraph points out, known to be safe, researchers say there's no reason heart disease treatments with Viagra couldn't become a practice, say ... now.

"The analysis shows that PDE5i prevented the heart increasing in size and changing shape in patients suffering from left ventricular hypertrophy, a condition which causes thickening of the muscles in the left ventricle."

Viagra helps increase blood flow to the penis.

But News 12 Long Island points out Viagra's history, which we're guessing most people don't know.

"The sexual performance booster was originally tested as an aide to the heart."

The headlines for this were pretty fun, too, saying Viagra doesn't just perform in bed; it's time to "forget sex"; and hey — get a heart on with Viagra.

ABC: "A Viagra a day — not an apple — a Viagra a day may keep heart problems away."

The study also showed patients had few side effects like drops or rises in blood pressure or photosensitivity.

However, this isn't exactly a breakthrough. In 2007, a different study was conducted that also proved Viagra helped improved heart function. 

So, why, seven years later, are we still trying to figure out if Viagra should be used to treat heart disease?

NBC spoke to a specialist who says different studies are giving us different info. "As interesting as this paper is, there have been conflicting results. ... If there is a silver bullet, it remains to be seen."

Several researchers point to a need to experiment on the benefits with different racial groups and men vs. women. Researchers say for this most recent study, larger clinical trials would help build on the findings. 

This video includes images from Tim Reckmann / CC BY NC SA 2.0.

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<![CDATA[White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 08:13:00 -0500
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As of last Thursday, there were seven northern white rhinos left in the world. 

Come Friday, there were only six. Suni, a northern white rhino at a conservancy in Kenya, died. 

The conservancy released a statement announcing Suni's death, saying the rhino didn't die at the hands of a poacher. 

"In 2006, [Suni's] father ... died [at a] Zoo by natural causes at the same age as Suni was now." 

Suni was 34. 

The International Rhino Foundation says white rhinos can live to be up to 50 years old.  

And with Suni being one of only two breeding males, the outlook for the subspecies looks grim. The rhino's death was reported using pretty stark language. 

KGTV: "One of the most endangered species in the world is one step closer to total extinction ... the rhino that died was one of just two breeding-aged males, making extinction even more likely."

CBS: "One step closer to extinction ... there are only six of these animals left on Earth."

Euronews"Experts warn that a rare northern white rhino is closer than ever to extinction."

Although the press release from the conservancy, says the species "stands at the brink of complete extinction," it also said it will continue to breed the three located there, in hopes of one day having a successful pregnancy. 

On the bright side, its cousin — the Southern White Rhinoceros — is thriving, having been brought back from near extinction a century ago, to now number close to 20,000. 

The conservancy website says "excessive hunting" largely depleted the white rhinos, and there aren't believed to be any left in the wild.

This video includes an image from Heather Paul / CC BY ND 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 21:49:00 -0500
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A 380-million-year-old fish is once again rewriting the history of sex. 

This is the placoderm, an ancient class of bony fish. Aside from having cool armor plating, placoderms are significant because the more they're studied, the more they reveal about the origins of sex. 

The latest discovery is that the earliest-known form of copulation ever performed on Earth was done side-by-side with arms locked, like partners in a square dance. Great mental image.

Australian paleontologist John Long has been studying placoderms for more than 20 years. In that time, he's made a series of big discoveries about early sex acts. (Video via Museum Victoria)

For instance, prior to Long's work, scientists believed all ancient fish reproduced outside the body like many modern fish do: with the female laying her eggs and the male fertilizing them. (Video via National Geographic)

But in 2008, Long announced he'd found a fossil of a pregnant placoderm, complete with umbilical cord, making it what Nature called "the oldest pregnant mum."

He later found out the males of one species had articulated reproductive organs like modern sharks and manta rays, meaning they may have been the earliest animals on Earth to have penetrative sex.

The newest finding is that sex and live birth may have actually been the norm for placoderms, and took place much earlier than he thought. Plus, you know, that whole "doing it sideways" detail.

This video includes images from Haplochromis / CC BY SA 3.0Ghedoghedo / CC BY SA 3.0 and Deirdre / CC BY SA 3.0.

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<![CDATA[Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 18:31:00 -0500
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It's something that only happens once in a million years — a comet from the outer regions of the solar system flew extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving scientists an unprecedented opportunity to observe it.

Comet Siding Spring, named for the Australian observatory which spotted it, is a frozen chunk of rock from the Oort Cloud which surrounds the solar system. It's barreling through our solar system at about 125,000 miles per hour, and came within 87,000 miles of the surface of Mars — a hair's breadth away in astronomical terms.

Here's the exact moment Siding Spring — the grey smudge on screen — hit its closest point to Mars, which is the bright light in the center. Not very visually exciting, is it?

The real excitement from this event unfolds over the next few days. Space agencies around the world have orbiters stationed around Mars, and the data they've gathered from Siding Spring could give astronomers valuable information from billions of years in the past.

DR. MICHELLE THALLER VIA SPACE.COM: "It's literally five billion years old, and its coming in for the first time. Analyzing the comet will give us clues about how the planets formed. We actually even think that comets have some of the building blocks of life on them." 

Siding Spring's approach did also put the Mars robots at some risk. There wasn't any real chance of a direct collision, but the trail of dust and debris emitting at high speeds from the comet could have damaged one of the orbiters.

NASA prepared for that possibility by maneuvering its orbiters to the other side of the planet during the moment of Siding Spring's closest approach. So far, the agency hasn't reported any damage from the comet.

Siding Spring's orbit reaches its closest point to the Sun on Oct. 25, six days after its close shave with Mars. From there, the comet heads back to the outer reaches of the solar system. It should be back within the next 1 million years or so. 

This video includes images from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and NASA / JPL-Caltech.

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<![CDATA[Study Links Soda To Accelerated DNA Aging]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 13:08:00 -0500
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We already know drinking soda can lead to obesity, but new research suggests drinking a can of the carbonated beverage everyday can be as bad as smoking. Yikes.

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco found those who drank 20-ounces of soda had DNA typical of someone 4.6 years older. 

To come to this conclusion, researchers looked at how soda intake effected the DNA of more than 5,000 people nationwide. 

But it's important to point out researchers did not find diet soda to have the same effect, making the extraordinary amount of sugar in each can of regular soda the likely culprit. 

Senior study author Elissa Epel said, “Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development, not only by straining the body’s metabolic control of sugars but also through accelerated cellular aging of tissues.”

However, even though diet soda might not age you quite as much, it's probably not a good idea to make a habit of drinking either. 

Previous studies have shown the artificial sweeteners in diet soda may even cause cancer. 

And both regular and diet soda can be bad for your teeth

But some good news — soda consumption has actually been going down in the U.S. for years now. 

Last year, water replaced soda as America's favorite drink.

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<![CDATA[How Ebola Started A Debate Over Race]]> Sat, 18 Oct 2014 18:45:00 -0500
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Discussion over the Ebola outbreak in the U.S. has gotten into some pretty contentious territory lately.

ALEX WAGNER VIA MSNBC: "I mean, it's not even thinly-veiled racism at this point."

BILL O'REILY VIA FOX NEWS: "This is a public health issue and a safety issue, not a race issue."

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY VIA MSNBC: "The only person to have died in this country of Ebola is a West African black man."

The argument here is that black victims of the disease, which of course originated in West Africa, have been ignored — and that Africans are being discriminated against more broadly because of the disease's origins.

This debate over race and Ebola has been going on since before the U.S. even saw its first death from Ebola. In August, Newsweek faced backlash over the cover of one of its magazines, which featured a chimp and warned that African bushmeat could be a "back door for Ebola."

There have also been cases where students from Africa attempting to enroll in colleges have been denied due to new restrictions blocking applications from international students from countries stricken with Ebola. 

And perhaps one of the more overt cases would be the assertion that the U.S.'s first Ebola death, Thomas Eric Duncan, was initially denied treatment at the hospital because he was West African. 

JOHN WILEY PRICE VIA KTVT:"If a person who looks like me shows up without any insurance, they don't get the same treatment."

So what makes the discourse surrounding Ebola so different from, say, the SARS outbreak in 2003?

A Jezebel writer says this habit of "us versus them" is as old as European colonialism, with an emphasis on cleanliness eventually transforming into a social stigma against people from places seen to be unclean. (Video via Al Jazeera)

In July Slate wrote that stigmatizing those from foreign countries over disease in the U.S. is nothing new. In 1832 there were fears Irish immigrants would bring cholera. Then Chinese for the bubonic plague. And eventually Italians over polio.

An op-ed for The Guardian explains the result of the viewpoint like this: "Ebola now functions in popular discourse as a not-so-subtle, almost completely rhetorical stand-in for any combination of 'African-ness', 'blackness', 'foreign-ness' and 'infestation' — a nebulous but powerful threat, poised to ruin the perceived purity of western borders."

Proponents for measures like travel bans or tightening up border security say it's in the country's best interest — to eliminate as much of the chance of Ebola entering the U.S. as possible. 

But the United Nations, for one, has cautioned against such steps, which it says are counterproductive.

The U.N.'s newly appointed high commissioner for human rights warned on Thursday that: "We must also beware of 'us' and 'them,' a mentality that locks people into rigid identity groups and reduces all Africans ... to a stereotype."

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<![CDATA[Media Not Really Covering The Flu Amid Ebola Scare]]> Sat, 18 Oct 2014 15:20:00 -0500
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This time of year, the media is usually filled with coverage of the start of flu season. 

HLN: "After you touch something, hand sanitizer. Before and after."

CRISTINA MUTCHLER VIA CNN: "When using common cold and flu products check the label."

But instead, this year the coverage is all about Ebola. 

DR. SEEMA YASMIN VIA CNN: "It it avery contagious virus, but you have to have direct contact with bodily fluids."

ANDREA TANTAROS VIA FOX NEWS: "I think a lot of people are pretty scared about what's happening even though they're seeing a lot of focus on Dallas."

The deadly virus, of course, should not be taken lightly. But compare it to the flu — a health threat that affects far greater numbers of Americans every year. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the flu or a flu associated complication kills between 3,000 and 49,000 people in the U.S. each year  and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from it.  

Last week, 282 Americans tested positive for the illness and we're not even in peak flu season yet. 

That's compared to the three confirmed Ebola contractions in the U.S. and one death. 

Flu season usually peaks between November and March and the CDC recommends that everyone over 6 moths old get a flu shot. Immunity to the flu usually sets in about two weeks after you get the shot. 

A study by Vanderbilt University found parents were much more likely to get their child immunized if they saw something in the media suggesting they do it, creating a strong link between media coverage and the prevention of child illness and death from the flu. 

Experts believe the flu primarily spreads through bodily fluids spread through coughing, sneezing and talking. Staying away from those who are contagious and lots of hand washing is recommended as a way to avoid the flu during flu season. 

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<![CDATA[Bono Wears Sunglasses So Often Because He Has Glaucoma]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:15:00 -0500
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We've seen Irish rock band U2 in the news quite a bit lately. 

Particularly after the band received harsh backlash when its new album "Songs of Innocence" was automatically added to 500 million iTunes customers' playlists. (Video via Apple

But now it's the band's frontman Bono that's making headlines. Take a look at these pictures —notice a trend in the singer's style? We'll give you a hint — sunglasses. 

The 54-year-old is known for rocking tinted shades 24-7, and now we know why. Bono admitted on the BBC's Graham Norton show Friday he suffers from glaucoma. 

"I have glaucoma for the last 20 years. ... Have you ever had any strange visions and steam coming into the room and rings around the lights. And I went, oh, yeah." 

Glaucoma is an eye disease that, without treatment, can lead to blindness. There is no cure but proper care can delay progression. 

Glaucoma is caused by a build up of fluid in the eye that would, under normal circumstances, drain on a regular basis. That build up causes pressure on the optic nerve which transfers visual information to the brain and that's what can cause blindness. (Video via Divya Prabhac Eye Hospital

People mag quotes Bono as saying he has good treatments for the disease.  The award winner continued saying, "You're not going to get this out of your head now and you will be saying, 'Ah, poor old blind Bono.'" 

But not everyone is doting over the singer's newly reveled condition — there's actually been some criticism regarding the timing of his announcement.  

With The Washington Post writing, "​Bono has really tried to endear himself to people this week​: First, apologizing for the whole 'U2 album suddenly showing up in your iTunes library' thing. Now, he’s explaining ... the reason he wears his signature sunglasses. "

BONO VIA THE TELEGRAPH: "Oops. I'm sorry about that. ... Got carried away with ourselves. ...  Drop of megalomania, touch of generosity, dash of self-promotion" 

Bono says with the treatment he will be just fine, but noted without his glasses, his eyes are very sensitive to light. 

This video includes images from Getty Images and che / cc by sa 2.5.

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<![CDATA[Ebola Scare On Cruise Ship Raises Travel Fears]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 19:35:00 -0500
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Today's Ebola scare takes place on the high seas for a change — a Carnival cruise ship was turned away from Cozumel, Mexico, after identifying a potential Ebola risk on board.

The cruise ship is carrying a Texas health care worker who handled the lab samples of Thomas Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. The worker has isolated herself on board the ship, and the vessel is returning to Galveston, Texas after being denied entry by Mexican authorities.

Fortunately, according to the U.S. State Department the isolated traveler has shown no symptoms in the 19 days since she handled the samples. Ebola has an incubation period of 21 days.

A KMGH reporter on board the ship says the passengers have kept relatively calm.

KMGH REPORTER ERIC LUPHER: "I wouldn't say there's any panic going on on the boat, but at the same time what are you going to do, jump off the boat? There's nothing you can do. I think everyone's just kind of talking about it and waiting to get home, now."

But even if — as is likely the case —  this scare does turn out to be a false alarm, it is raising some questions about the Ebola response. Well, just one question, really.

WOLF BLITZER ON CNN: "Some are already saying, why was she on this ship to begin with?"

ANDREA MITCHELL ON MSNBC: "People are raising questions about why she was even permitted to travel."

GRETCHEN CARLSON ON FOX NEWS: "A lot of people are asking, why was she allowed to travel in the first place on that ship?"

At the time the worker left Texas, CDC guidelines only required people who came in contact with Duncan to self-monitor their condition — they were free to travel if they didn't report any Ebola symptoms. And that's something Texas Governor Rick Perry isn't happy about.

GOV. PERRY VIA KTVT: "It defies common sense from my perspective that has been in close proximity or has treated these patients ... that they would travel out of state, that they would go on a cruise."

Gov. Perry and the state's health agency imposed new, voluntary travel restrictions Friday, asking anyone who helped treat Thomas Duncan to avoid public places and transportation until the 21 day period is up. The order isn't mandatory, but anyone who violates it could face quarantine measures.

Perry's also joined the growing chorus of lawmakers asking President Obama to enact travel bans on countries with severe Ebola outbreaks — an idea both the CDC and the administration have resisted as counterproductive and difficult to enforce.

Two other health care workers who came in contact with Duncan are being treated for Ebola. One of the afflicted workers boarded two flights before being diagnosed; the CDC is currently hunting down and monitoring the passengers of both flights.

This video contains images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Is It Too Soon For An Ebola TV Show?]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:16:00 -0500
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News broke Thursday that British filmmaker Ridley Scott is working on a TV series about the Ebola virus. Although it won't be about the current outbreak, some feel the timing is insensitive.

The "Bladerunner" director is reportedly working with producer Lynda Obst to adapt Richard Preston's 1994 book, "The Hot Zone," for a limited TV series. The nonfiction thriller chronicles the Ebola outbreak of the late 80s.

Obst told The Hollywood Reporter"I think it's the speed with which it kills that makes the disease so frightening. People hoped it would stay in some remote part of the world. But that's a fantasy in the modern world. The modern world makes us one big connected family."

The subject matter has certainly never been more timely. The most recent outbreak has killed approximately 4,400 people in West Africa. Two nurses in the U.S. also became infected after treating an Ebola patient who later died from the disease.

So an Ebola TV series is certain to get a lot of attention. But some feel the show isn't such a great idea.

E! News writes "File this one under: way too soon."

The Inquisitr agrees, saying, "We barely have a handle on being fully informed about Ebola, but apparently that's not going to stop Hollywood from making a TV series about it."

And a writer for Bustle was pretty critical about it as well, calling the recent Ebola scare "prime bait for Hollywood executives."

Although the timing seems very convenient, this isn't a new project for Scott and Obst.

The Hollywood Reporter, which broke the story, says the pair acquired the rights to the book two decades ago and initially planned to turn it into a movie starring Jodie Foster, but those plans fell through. 

Apparently the pair has been quietly working on the project for the past year, so work was already underway before the West African outbreak got serious back in March. However, since then, the project has reportedly been fast-tracked. 

And we should note not everyone thinks this is such an awful idea. A writer for the International Business Times notes, "Fictionalizing the event might actually help to contain the outbreak of paranoia that threatens to overtake the news coverage."

There's no word yet on when the limited series from Fox Television Studios will premiere.

This video contains images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[How Far Would You Walk For A 20-Ounce Soda?]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:03:00 -0500
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How many miles does it take to walk off a 20-ounce bottle of soda?

The answer is about five. And knowing that could make people less likely to drink soda.

A study led by Sara Bleich of Johns Hopkins University placed signs in six corner stores in low-income, predominantly black neighborhoods in Baltimore. (Video via WMAR)

The brightly colored 8.5- by 11-inch signs carried one of four messages: 

--"Did you know that a bottle of soda or fruit juice has about 250 calories?"

--"Did you know that a bottle of soda or fruit juice has about 16 teaspoons of sugar?"

--"Did you know that working off a bottle of soda or fruit juice takes about 50 minutes of running?"

--"Did you know that working off a bottle of soda or fruit juice takes about 5 miles of walking?"

And the study found that last sign to be the most effective at lowering the number of calories teens purchased in sugary drinks. (Video via PBS)

The results come just months after first lady Michelle Obama and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed changes to nutrition labels in February.

MICHELLE OBAMA VIA THE WHITE HOUSE"You as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into a grocery store, pick an item off the shelf and tell whether it's good for your family."

The proposed changes include presenting the total calories in an item that's usually consumed in one sitting, like a soda. In other words, these items will be treated as single servings.

And an often over-looked clause in the Affordable Care Act requires restaurants with more than 20 locations to display the calorie content of each food and drink item they serve. (Video via Fox News)

But as Bleich told NPR, the Johns Hopkins study suggests printing calories might not be the most effective way to inform consumers.

"If we're going to put the information in restaurants, there's got to be a better way to do it. And what this study suggests is that miles of walking may be the more persuasive way."

Bleich noted black adolescents are among the groups at highest risk for obesity. Posting the signs used in the study is a low-cost way to combat that.

This video includes images from Getty Images, Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0, and wisley / CC BY 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 13:09:00 -0500
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Saturn's smallest main moon — called Mimas, or the "Death Star" — appears from Saturn to slightly wobble or rock back and forth as it orbits. New data and research provide theories as to why this is. (Video via NASA)

Astronomers in the U.S., France and Belgium based their models and calculations on measurements from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. They came up with two possibilities.

The first, via the BBC, is that beneath the moon's thick layer of ice is a global ocean. 

Which, of course, many news outlets are eating up. Numerous headlines read that Mimas could be "life-friendly."

Or the second, that Mimas, which is only 250 miles in diameter, could have an elongated or oval-shaped core. 

But Discovery explains these two theories don't make complete sense. So far, scientists have found no clues of an irregularly shaped core, which should be visible from the surface. And Mimas' surface is showing "no signs of heating."

However, it's important to note that Mimas' temperature distribution is known to be "bizarre" and "mysterious" by NASA. "Mimas is divided into a warm part and a cold part with a sharp, v-shaped boundary between them."

But the lead researcher of the study seems to favor the global sea theory.

He told the BBC"When we saw this wobbling, the first thing we thought of was an ocean. ... This brings the spotlight back to this moon, which was a little bit ignored."

The researchers say more investigation is needed to refine their measurements. This study was published in Science Magazine.

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<![CDATA[Nurse With Ebola Arrives In Maryland For Treatment]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 05:55:00 -0500
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The first nurse in the U.S. to test positive for Ebola after caring for a Texas patient has arrived at a special treatment facility in Maryland.

Twenty six-year-old Nina Pham, seen here prior to her departure from Texas, battled tears but appeared to be in good spirits. 
NINA PHAM: "Come to Maryland, everybody! Party in Maryland!"

Pham will receive treatment inside the National Institute of Health's special isolation unit in Bethesda, Maryland — one of a handful of facilities in the U.S. equipped to handle Ebola cases. (Video via WBFF)

Pham is one of two nurses who became infected while treating the first Ebola patient in the U.S, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died at a Dallas hospital last week. A second nurse, Amber Vinson, was moved from Dallas to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment Wednesday.

Prior to receiving her Ebola diagnosis, Vinson had flown from Dallas to Cleveland, Ohio. CDC officials have received some flack for giving her clearance to make her return flight to Dallas Monday despite knowing she had an "elevated temperature" before boarding.

As an extra precaution, CNN says Frontier Airlines, the airliner she used, reached out to 800 passengers who either boarded Vinson's flights or flew on subsequent flights with that exact plane.

Still, the CDC reportedly says "there's an 'extremely low' risk" for anyone who was onboard her return flight from Cleveland to Dallas to have contracted Ebola. At any rate, in addition to the airline reaching out to travelers, the agency is contacting all 132 passengers on that return flight to check on their condition.

This video contains images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Study Casts Doubt On Slow-But-Steady Diet Advice]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 15:39:00 -0500
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For weight watchers, it's a widely held belief that losing weight fast just means you'll gain it right back. Because of that, a more gradual plan is believed to be better. Well, researchers at the University of Melbourne looked into that, and it turns out, slower doesn't necessarily mean better.

Their research, published by the medical journal The Lancet on Thursday, found folks who lose weight rapidly and gradually both gained back the same amount of weight in the end. 

How'd they find that out? First they split 200 obese participants into two different weight loss groups, one rapid and one gradual. The gradual participants simply reduced their calorie intake by 500 for 36 weeks while the rapid dieters ate only between 450 and 800 calories a day for 12 weeks.

More of the rapid dieters ended up losing the targeted amount of weight than the gradual dieters. And in the end, 71 percent of both groups regained the weight they had lost over three years. 

It's notable that the diet rapid weight loss participants were on is considered dangerous for some people and requires a doctor's approval.

DOCTOR TARA NARULA VIA CBS"There are definitely risks that come with that. With these very low calorie diets you know you can induce skin changes, hair thinning, cold intolerance, electrolyte imbalances like potassium and magnesium, fatigue. So it can be dangerous."

Even so, the study's lead author told the University of Melbourne that the study highlighted the need for new official guidelines on how to lose weight. 

And The Guardian spoke to a health professional at the University of Oxford who said the findings mean doctors can more often suggest very low calorie diets in cases a patient needs to lose weight quickly.

Authors of the study told Fairfax Media's The Age they believe their work helps reinforce the idea that obesity is not caused by lifestyle but is instead a genetic disorder.

Speaking with Health Day, a health professor at the Icahn School of Medicine says while the study was sound, it may not take into account how people think, adding: "Ultimately, the answer lies not in a particular type of diet, but in making lifelong healthy adjustments to eating habits."

According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.4 billion adults were considered overweight in 2008 with 500 million of them being obese.

This video includes images from Getty Images and music from Broke For Free / CC BY NC 3.0.

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<![CDATA[The Largest Volcano In Centuries Is Spewing Toxic Gas]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 12:57:00 -0500
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The land of fire and ice is experiencing its greatest volcanic eruption in about 300 years. 

Iceland is currently monitoring the eruption of Bardarbunga, which began in August 2014, triggered by an earthquake. (Video via YouTube / Photovolcanica)

Iceland has 30 active volcano systems and has produced one-third of the world's lava output since the 1600s. (Video via RT)

A volcano researcher at the University of Edinburgh told Newsweek that Bardarbunga is "spraying out of the ground as high as the Statue of Liberty is tall" and is covering more than half a square mile in lava flow each day. 

The constant spread of lava, however, is not the biggest point of concern for researchers and scientists. 

The focus instead is on the increase in the emission of sulfur dioxide, a common byproduct of volcanic eruptions. Bardarbunga is currently outstripping the emissions of any other Icelandic volcano eruption in the past several centuries. (Video via Euronews)

The Iceland Review reports that sulfur dioxide pollution is now more than double the maximum safety limit for humans and animals in northern parts of Iceland and more than six times the safety limit in eastern Iceland.

Even more troubling is that, depending on the shift of the wind, Iceland's major population center to the southwest, Reykjavik, could be in the path of this sulfur dioxide plume. This capital city is home to more than 100,000 people. So far, the gas has spewed into mainly unpopulated areas of the island, affecting few.

But scientists are worried about sulfur dioxide because exposure to high levels of the colorless gas can be life-threatening.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, effects of sulfur dioxide on people and animals include "burning of the nose and throat, breathing difficulties, and severe airway obstructions." These problems are worse for anyone already struggling with normal lung function, like asthmatics. 

Bardarbunga doesn't appear to be stopping — or even slowing — soon, which means sulfur dioxide emissions could even increase. Decoded Science reports that Bardarbunga has a Volcanic Explosivity Index of 5 out of 8, which means this eruption could be on par with the likes of Mount Vesuvius and Mount St. Helens. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images and peterhartree / CC BY SA 2.0

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<![CDATA[So Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 09:19:00 -0500
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When we think of kangaroos, we think of a hopping mammal that lives in Australia and occasionally boxes world-famous movie directors. (Video via CBS)

But a new study finds an extinct group of the kangaroo family couldn't actually hop. 

Not only that — the study, published in PLOS One, says thousands of years ago, this group of kangaroos — the Sthenurines — could weigh more than 500 pounds, which kept its feet firmly on the ground. 

ANCHOR VIA BBC: "Researchers believe the 9-foot tall creature, which had a rabbit-like face, would have strolled around on two legs. They believed it weighed too much to hop."

There are several other differences researchers pointed out between those ancient and enormous kangaroos and the ones we know today: rigid spines, tails that weren't flexible, larger hip and knee joints and a flared pelvis. These are all findings that led researchers to the conclusion that the prehistoric 'roos couldn't hop.

The study did conclude that unless a fossilized trackway — science speak for fossilized footprints — was found, it'd be hard to "completely" verify the hypothesis. 

It's not the first time scientists have found species' ancestors that don't look a whole lot like their modern descendants — just think of Megatherium. This giant looked like a cross between a bear and an anteater, but was actually an ancestor of the sloth. 

This video includes images from Getty Images and Angela Marie Henriette / CC BY 2.0 and music from Pierlo / CC BY 3.0.

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<![CDATA[Hurricane Gonzalo Is A Category 4 And Heading To Bermuda]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 06:26:00 -0500
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The most powerful Atlantic hurricane in years could have Bermuda in its sights as it moves north from the Caribbean. 

NBC: "Gonzalo remains a powerful hurricane."

Hurricane Gonzalo is projected to hit Bermuda, or pass just by it on Friday, with the hurricane strengthening to a Category 4 early Thursday morning. 

That means 140 mph winds, and even if it doesn't directly hit Bermuda, the effects could be devastating. 

THE WEATHER CHANNEL: "Maybe passing just west of Bermuda, and that would bring the very worst of the weather into Bermuda."  

Already on Wednesday, Gonzalo caused inclement weather in Bermuda, with heavy rains and high winds preceding the arrival of the actual hurricane. (Video via The Royal Gazette)

Local paper The Royal Gazette reported the expected hurricane led to a shopping frenzy, with thousands of people stocking up on hurricane supplies, after getting hit by a strong tropical storm this past Sunday. 

The Weather Channel reports two back-to-back systems like that are pretty rare outside of certain Pacific hotspots — the last time it happened in Bermuda was in 1981, when two storms passed on either side of the island within five days. 

The worst of the hurricane is expected to start hitting Bermuda around midday on Friday, continuing on through the night as it passes over the island of 60,000. 

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<![CDATA[CDC Didn't Restrict 2nd Nurse With Ebola From Flying]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 22:18:00 -0500
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The second nurse to contract Ebola on U.S. soil — 29-year-old Amber Vinson — arrived at Emory University Hospital Wednesday night to begin treatment after caring for America's first Ebola victim — and then taking a round-trip flight. 

CNN: "Vinson took two Frontier Airlines flights. First, from Dallas to Cleveland, then back to Dallas. She didn't show symptoms at the time." 

But Vinson did have a low fever — 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. She called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Monday before boarding her flight, but she wasn't restricted from flying. 

NBC REPORTER KATE SNOW: "The CDC did not tell the hospital to tell their staff not to travel?" 

DALLAS COUNTY JUDGE CLAY JENKINS: "The staff that was under self-monitor." 

CDC Director Tom Frieden said Wednesday Vinson should not have flown. But considering her fever and the fact that she treated an Ebola patient, how exactly did she make it on a plane?

DR. JON LAPOOK VIA CBS: "The person at the CDC looked at a chart and because her fever wasn't 100.4 or higher, she didn't officially fall into the group of 'high risk.'" 

It's uncertain what sort of protocol was in place before Vinson or Nina Pham tested positive for Ebola, but Frieden added Wednesday, "We will from this moment forward ensure that no other individual who is being monitored for exposure undergoes travel in any way other than controlled movement."

While Vinson is receiving treatment, health officials are urging the other 132 passengers aboard Frontier Airlines flight 1143 to call the CDC. 

Also Wednesday, an official at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas Hospital admitted the hospital made mistakes in its care for Thomas Eric Duncan. Chief clinical officer Dr. Daniel Varga said in part, "We did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. We are deeply sorry." 

Frieden said the CDC has not identified anyone else that should be tested for Ebola, but will continue to closely monitor other health workers. 

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

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<![CDATA[Lockheed Martin's Fusion Concept Basically An Advertisement]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 20:17:00 -0500
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Lockheed Martin made a big announcement Wednesday saying its Skunk Works team is creating a compact fusion reactor (or CFR) that could be viable within the next few years. 

Of course, a term like "compact fusion reactor" comes with an obligatory explanation: fusion reactors are a way to perform nuclear fusion, the process that powers the sun. High-energy atoms collide, create a new nucleus and give off tremendous amounts of energy. You might've also heard of nuclear fusion as a way to harness the energy of the sun and solve our renewable energy needs. (Video via YouTube / Crash CourseNASA)

There are plenty of fusion reactor concept designs out there, but Lockheed Martin says its design will be smaller — able to fit on the back of a truck — and give off far more energy.

The company touts its announcement as a huge breakthrough, but fusion experts and science writers are a bit skeptical, saying we shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves.

Dr. Swadesh Mahajan, a thermonuclear plasma physicist at the University of Texas, told Mother Jones making a fusion reactor smaller is tough because you need tons of materials and tons of heat. He adds, "Getting net energy from fusion is such a [G-D] difficult undertaking." (Video via YouTube / Rajya Sabha TV)

A writer for Ars Technica says Lockheed Martin's plan is short on details and is only in the beginning stages. So why the hype? The writer guesses the company is "looking for commercial partners to help fund the intervening years of research that will be required. By making the developments sound inevitable, the company increases its chances of attracting someone to share the risk.

Interestingly enough, Ars Technica is right — but Tom McGuire from Skunk Works frames it a bit differently.

McGuire told The Washington Post, "We’ve strategically chosen this time because of our technical progress and exposure to our patents pending. We are also looking for partners to work with us on the project, plus we think it is important for the public and decision makers to understand the real promise that compact fusion has for our nation and the world as a near-term solution to our energy needs."

There are still a few unanswered questions about Lockheed Martin's plan — like how much money it'll spend on the endeavor. But the company says it'll be able to design, build and test a CFR within a year; produce a working prototype within five years; and deploy those reactors within a decade. 

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

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<![CDATA[Scathing Critiques Say Dallas Hospital Had No Ebola Protocol]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 19:48:00 -0500
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Texas Health Presbyterian, the Dallas hospital that treated the first U.S. Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, hasn't exactly come off glowingly in the press.

NBC: "Where he first sought treatment, and where, as we learned today, he was sent home with a 103-degree fever even after telling a nurse he had traveled from Africa."

CDC DIRECTOR TOM FRIEDEN VIA C-SPAN: "At some point, there was a breach in protocol and that breach in protocol resulted in this infection."

Well, now the bad news is piling on. Nurses at the Texas Health Presbyterian have given a scathing critique of hospital policy, and we've also learned the workers who treated Duncan didn't even use hazmat suits until two days after he was admitted, despite the Ebola-like symptoms and his travel history.

The Dallas Morning News reports Duncan was well into the more contagious stages of Ebola, with symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, before health care staff abandoned their gowns and scrubs.

"The misstep — one in a series of potentially deadly mishandling of Duncan — raises the likelihood that other health care workers could have been infected."

The hospital has said 76 staff were involved in treating Duncan, but it hasn't said how many were exposed to him without protective gear in those first two days. 

Some of those staff members lashed out at the hospital through the National Nurses United webpage, saying, "There was no advance preparedness on what to do with the patient, there was no protocol, there was no system." The statement also says nurses didn't have the right protective gear.

We've heard a lot about the importance of protective gear and how medical staff have to be properly trained in taking off protective gear after having contact with an Ebola patient. 

BBC: "Without flicking. No flicking."

And about what can go wrong.

CDC DIRECTOR TOM FRIEDEN VIA C-SPAN"The protocols work. ... But we know that even a single lapse or breach can result in infection."

Hopefully we won't see any more nurses come down with the disease, but that can't be ruled out yet. As for the second nurse to test positive, Amber Vinson, she'll be transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment — which could be seen as an admission that Texas Health Presbyterian dropped the ball. 

SANJAY GUPTA VIA CNN"It should be able to be done in Dallas. It can be done in West Africa by these Doctors Without Borders in these rural tent camps ... but for some reason it could not be done well in Dallas."

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<![CDATA[You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:56:00 -0500
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We’ve all heard of alcohol, gambling, and drugs, among other things causing addictions — but here’s a slightly more high-tech version.

How about an addiction to Google Glass?

“Google photos of tiger heads. Hmmmm.”

Yes, if new reports are to be believed, addiction to Google’s face-mounted tech could — in fact — be a thing.

The evidence comes from the journal Addictive Behaviors, in which researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy Servicemen.

And the symptoms sound a little bit worse than Mashable’s diagnosis of a quote “glasshole.”

“Abuse of Glass may cause unwanted side effects. In extreme cases, social ineptitude and general douchiness.”

Or, whatever this guy is doing. (Video via YouTube / Grovo)

According to Newsweek, the man, who was actually checked into the U.S. Navy’s Substance Abuse Program for alcohol addiction in September of 2013, went through withdrawal symptoms from his Google Glass which was confiscated along with the alcohol.

As the Guardian writes, the man “complained of feeling irritable and argumentative without the device. In the two months since he bought the device, he had also begun experiencing his dreams as if viewed through the device’s small grey window.”

On top of that the study reports the patient also suffered “involuntary movements to the temple area and short-term memory problems.”

Granted he was reportedly wearing the device around 18 hours a day — and only removing it to sleep and bathe. (Video via Google

But that doesn’t necessarily discount the plausibility of Glass addiction as a real thing.

As a writer for New York Magazine notes, some of the man’s symptoms were similar to those of a condition called “game transfer phenomena.” Where images and sounds from video games “start to seep into the real world and/or your dreams after you turn the game off.”

OK. Probably not on a ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’ level, but io9 points out the condition may also fall into the debatable, but much talked about category of “internet addiction disorders,” which is reportedly marked by “severe emotional, social, and mental dysfunction in a number of areas of daily activities owing to their overuse of technology and the internet.”

The man reportedly felt less irritable following the addiction program, though still felt the a “strong desire” to use Glass.

This video includes images from Just Add Light / CC BY 2.0, Benjamin Watson / CC BY 2.0, epSos .de / CC BY 2.0

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<![CDATA[Why Is Whole Foods Rating Its Organic Produce?]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:41:00 -0500
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Whole Foods Market, the grocery store that specializes in natural and organically grown food, just got ... more organic.

CBS: "The supermarket chain is introducing a program that labels its fruits and vegetables as good, better or best. The new system will also ban the use of several common pesticides." 

The program is called Responsibly Grown. In a statement Whole Foods explained it "seeks to reward growers for existing accomplishments and raise the bar to encourage continuous improvement while minimizing additional burdens for growers." It added, "We are excited to ... drive more transparency in the industry."

Wednesday the changes were made in the nearly 400 Whole Foods Markets throughout the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.

So about that rating system — how exactly does it work? Well, the company considers several factors when deciding what's good, better or best. 

Whole Foods Market: "We seek out farmers and growers who maintain the highest standards and that are providing safer working conditions for all the people that plow, plant and pick all the produce and flowers. We're committed to sharing that knowledge with you." 

As this graph shows, the good rating means the growers use basic practices like staying away from pesticides. Better goes a step further, supporting conservation efforts, and best implements all those practices plus takes environmental protection into consideration. 

Lady Moon Farms is one of the produce companies carrying that "best" rating. Its founder explained: "Being truly sustainable means more than just not using harmful chemicals. Energy conservation is a big focus for us so we installed solar panels."

But as many outlets are pointing out — the timing of Responsibly Grown was likely carefully strategized.

KTVT: "This comes as Whole Foods faces a lot more competition with traditional supermarkets offering more organic food."  

Just a week before Whole Foods' announcement, Business Insider reported Trader Joe's sales have now doubled those of Whole Foods. The outlet explains price, of course, is the biggest contributor. "Consumers view Trader Joe's as high-quality but inexpensive. Meanwhile, Whole Foods is seen as being too expensive. The grocer even earned the nickname 'Whole Paycheck.'"

Ouch. But hey, the numbers don't lie, and at this point they're screaming that Whole Foods has some work to do. 

In 2014 alone, Whole Foods Market stock plummeted a gut-wrenching 34 percent. 

The grocery chain has tried other methods to stay popular with consumers, though. In mid-September it rolled out a rewards program. It was supposedly something shoppers had been asking about for quite a while. There's been no word yet on the results of that effort, but it's still pretty new.

When it comes to the Responsibly Grown program, prices are not expected to change based on a product's rating, but the company has said the idea is that "such labeling typically helps boost sales because people feel better about what they’re buying."

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Space Selfie Steals Rosetta Comet-Landing Headlines]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:21:00 -0500
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Selfies are all the rage — #obvi — but, what about selfies for outer space robots? Now THAT is impressive. 

Check this one out by the European Space Agency's Philae lander, part of the Rosetta mission. Philae can be seen sizing up its next opponent — Comet 67P/C-G.

So, Philae kind of said "I'm going to land on you, but first, let me take a selfie.' (Video via 604 Records / Dim Mak / "The Chainsmokers"

ESA was given final confirmation to land on comet 67P from the Lander Operations Readiness Review on Tuesday. The BBC reports that a successful mission will be difficult and will likely need a healthy dose of luck too. 

"To get down safely, Philae will have to miss some large cliffs and boulders. Little is known about the composition and strength of the comet's surface layers. The fear is that the robot could simply bounce off 67P in what will be a very low-gravity environment. Foot-screws and harpoons will be deployed at the moment of touchdown to try to ensure that does not happen."

The ESA describes this mission as "the first-ever attempt at a soft touchdown on a comet." 

Philae has been orbiting the comet for a little while now, choosing exactly where to land on the comet, known as 'Site J', back about a month ago. 

New Scientist points out that this latest selfie from Philae is slightly, yet largely different from this one last month. Look at how much further away Comet 67P is. The outlet reports that was the lander orbiting about 30 miles from the comet. This newest selfie? Hanging out just 10 miles away. 

This robot-on-comet mission by the ESA will likely help NASA scientists plan their 2021 mission to lasso an asteroid and put humans on it. 

The Rosetta mission is about a month away from releasing Philae onto the comet. The ESA says November 12 is the targeted landing date.

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<![CDATA[Stem Cells, Blindness And Why The Media Loves Miracle Cures]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 10:06:00 -0500
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They set out to test the safety of stem cell treatments, but along the way, a group of Massachusetts scientists actually improved the vision of their test patients.  

Researchers at Advanced Cell Technologies looked at treatments for two disorders, which involved replacing damaged cells behind the retina with new cells derived from stem cells. 

DR. EDDY ANGLADE: "It was essentially beyond our thoughts that we would actually see improvements in visual acuity. ... Importantly, no patient lost vision, and in some cases vision was enhanced."

The paper, published in the medical journal The Lancet, found that 13 of 18 patients saw recovery thanks to the cells and vision-related quality of life improved by up to 25 points in some patients. 

The researchers were mainly looking to address concerns that stem cell-derived cells would be rejected by the body's immune system or possibly form tumors or the wrong type of cell. (Video via European Consortium for Stem Cell Research)

None of those things happened, and the biggest takeaway in terms of coverage is the treatment is already being hailed as a potential cure for blindness, among other speculation. 

But Dr. Steven Schwartz, one of the lead scientists on the study, told NPR they want to avoid that kind of hype because the treatment is still in such early stages and the sample size is small. "I don't want patients to come in to their doctor saying, 'Hey, I heard about the stem cells on the radio and I'd really like to get that treatment done, and what do you think?' ... It's not ready."

And as The New York Times points out, Dr. Schwartz and his colleague on the study, Dr. Robert Lanza, have reason to be cautious. "[They] were criticized by their colleagues for premature optimism when they published an earlier paper on this study in early 2012, after only two patients had been treated and followed for only a few months."

Still, despite their hesitation, some of the early coverage has looked like this, with banners saying "Stem Cells To Help Blind See Again" not uncommon, despite the fact the treatment is nowhere near ready for the general public. (Video via KHOU)

Human embryonic stem cell research has gotten pushback in the past from conservative groups like the Family Research Council who say that because the research often involves destroying human embryos, it's akin to destroying human lives.  

For its part, the study — which the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says is "the largest, and longest" test of this kind of treatment on humans — won't address those concerns, but it will help settle controversy about stem cell treatment safety.

This video includes an image from Getty Images and music from Chris Zabriskie / CC BY 4.0.

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<![CDATA[Another U.S. Ebola Case: Blame The System?]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 09:13:00 -0500
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A second health care worker has tested positive for Ebola at the Texas hospital which treated the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S.

Like Nina Pham, the first health care worker who contracted the disease, this person was one of the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital staff who took care of Thomas Eric Duncan, who died from Ebola on Oct. 8.

A statement released by the Texas Department of State Health Services says the worker, who was not named, reported a fever on Tuesday after which she was immediately isolated.

While the statement doesn't say how the worker became infected, nurses working at the hospital have reportedly described a "confused and chaotic" response to Duncan's initial arrival.

RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, criticized U.S. hospitals for their lack of preparedness in an article published by The Washington Post, suggesting it was the symptom of a bigger issue:

“Ebola is exposing a broader problem: the sober reality of our fragmented, uncoordinated private health-care system. … Hospitals have wide latitude to pick and choose what protocols they will follow.”

In response to a similar claim at a press conference, the chief clinical officer of Texas Health Presbyterian’s parent company said while they don’t believe it’s an institutional problem, they’re still looking into it: (Video via Fox News)

DR. DANIEL VARGA VIA MSNBC“We're looking at every element of our personal protective equipment and infection control inside the hospitals. We don’t have an answer for this right now, but we’re looking at every possible angle around this.”

Some say the blame doesn’t lie with the hospital, but instead with standards set by the CDC which can leave some health care workers vulnerable.

DEBORAH BURGER VIA FOX BUSINESS“Right now we’re concerned because the CDC is saying there’s one standard if you’re a lab worker and another standard if you’re providing nursing care for the patient."

SANJAY GUPTA VIA CNN“In some ways it’s not even so much that the guidance wasn’t there, it’s that the guidance is not good guidance.”

Texas health officials are monitoring anyone who may have potentially been exposed to Ebola through the worker

This video includes an image from Getty Images. 

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<![CDATA[CDC Ebola Teams Might Have Stopped Dallas Infection]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 19:44:00 -0500
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The CDC has been criticized over its response to the first cases of Ebola in the U.S., but Tuesday CDC Director Tom Frieden said the agency will now take charge of stopping the spread directly.

"For any hospital anywhere in the country that has a confirmed case of Ebola, we will put a team on the ground within hours."

The team will travel to hospitals, like Texas Health Presbyterian in Dallas where the first U.S. Ebola patient, Thomas Duncan, was treated, to make sure hospital workers are trained and equipped to treat patients while keeping themselves safe.

Frieden didn't say when the CDC came up with this idea, but it's most likely a response to the Dallas nurse who contracted the virus while treating Duncan. 

Nina Pham's condition is reportedly improving, which is good news, but the fact that she got infected at all is very concerning. After all, we've spent the last few months hearing things like this

"Any hospital with an intensive care unit has the capacity to isolate patients. There's nothing particularly special about the isolation of the Ebola patient, other than it's really important to do it right."

Officials still don't know how Pham got infected, but Frieden made some people angry when he said a "breach of protocol" must be to blame. That was interpreted as him saying the nurse must have made a mistake.

But by his own admission, it's easy to make a mistake like that. For all Frieden's talk about how enacting the proper protocols are well within the reach of most hospitals, he's also been saying things like this

"We know that even a single lapse or breach, inadvertent, can result in infection."

So, given the risks involved and how easy it is to, say, use protective equipment incorrectly or fail to follow protocol to the letter, shouldn't the CDC have set up this rapid response system much earlier? Guess who seems to think so.

"I wish that we had put a team like this on the ground the day the patient, the first patient, was diagnosed. That might have prevented this infection."

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Dallas Dog Raises Questions About Animals And Ebola]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 15:49:00 -0500
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Texas nurse Nina Pham is the first person to contract Ebola within the U.S. She's currently being treated at a Dallas hospital — but what will happen to her pet dog? 

It was the same question raised in response to a nurse who contracted Ebola in Spain. The Madrid later government made the decision to have the woman's dog euthanized, over fears it could be a carrier of the virus. 

But it seems Pham's dog will avoid that same fate. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told USA Today the dog will be kept safe and quarantined in another location while Pham is treated. Her apartment is also being decontaminated.

The Dallas Police Department has even been keeping the public updated on the dog during this process. 

But why is there so much attention on a furry friend? Some media outlets note what happened in Spain versus the States highlights what experts don't know. 

The reality is — there's not a lot of information about the risk of Ebola in animals or whether humans can even become infected by domesticated pets. 

Here's what we do know — The Washington Post points out Ebola can spread to humans by way of other mammals. One possible way is by eating infected meat. But it's still unclear whether dogs transmit Ebola through bodily fluids in the same way humans do.

A medical expert tells CNN this shouldn't worry anyone. "Pets have not been a feature of Ebola spread, whether in Africa and certainly not here in the developed world."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been no reported Ebola sicknesses in dogs or cats so far. Probably because there isn't even a known test available for animals.

As for why the dog in Spain was euthanized, the International Society for Infectious Diseases says, "In some legal systems, as in the law of the European Union, the application of the precautionary principle has been made a statutory requirement in some areas of law."

Nina Pham continues to receive treatment as her dog is kept safe. She says she is currently doing well after receiving a blood transfusion.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Zuckerberg Latest Tech CEO To Pledge Millions To Ebola Fight]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 15:30:00 -0500
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It’s become the worst Ebola outbreak in history — more than 4,000 now dead and nearly 8,500 infected. But help to end the crisis will soon be coming from silicon valley.

On Tuesday Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, along with his wife Priscilla Chan, announced they would be donating $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation to help fight the virus around the world. (Video via NBC

The announcement came, appropriately enough, in a Facebook post, with Zuckerberg writing the outbreak was at a “critical turning point.”

He added, “We believe our grant is the quickest way to empower the CDC and the experts in this field to prevent this outcome. … We are hopeful this will help save lives and get this outbreak under control.”  

According to USA Today the aid money will go specifically to response efforts in the Western African Nations of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone — where the virus Ebola has hit hardest.

It’s a big check to write, but it’s nothing new for Zuckerberg and Chan — who aren’t exactly strangers to giving to a good cause.

As The Verge reports, Zuckerberg was named 2013’s most charitable philanthropist — pledging nearly $1 billion to charitable causes.

And other tech luminaries have joined the fight as well. As Politico notes, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $50 million to the fight against Ebola last month.

That amongst other large donations the foundation has made to fight disease like Malaria and Aids.

Zuckerberg and Chan are reportedly making their grant through their fund at the non-profit Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

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<![CDATA[Compound Found In Broccoli Could Ease Autism Symptoms]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:03:00 -0500
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Broccoli might help ease autism symptoms. Based on new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could the findings give the age-old motherly phrase "eat your vegetables" a whole new meaning?

Yes and no, depending how you view the results. The study in question looked at 44 males aged 13-27 with moderate to severe autism. Those who did not receive a placebo were administered pills containing the compound sulforaphane, which is found naturally in broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage. (Video via CBS)

On the positive side, after 18 weeks, a whopping 46 percent of the males receiving the compound showed improved social skills. About the same number exhibited better verbal communication, and more than 50 percent reined in "aberrant" behavior tendencies.

Some study participants even took on new skills such as shaking hands with others and making eye contact.

In fact, study co-author Dr. Andrew Zimmerman told the The Telegraph"When we ... revealed who was receiving sulforaphane and who got the placebo, the results weren't surprising to us, since the improvements were so noticeable."

That's probably because the subjects who received the placebo showed no improvement in any category, which seemed to verify sulforaphane's positive impact. But of course, this broccoli study needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

First, it's critical to note that one-third of all participants who received sulforaphane showed no symptom improvement whatsoever. Second, the positive effects of the compound wore off four weeks after subjects stopped taking it. And a third, worrying point is that two participants receiving the compound had seizures during the course of the study. 

The two males in question each had a history of seizures, but the study authors noted that no participants receiving the placebo had seizures during the study, so they must consider it a possible side effect. 

Finally — and perhaps most frustrating for parents looking for an easy answer — broccoli from the grocery store is not going to give kids with autism the same benefits as the pills. The amount of sulforaphane is much higher in pill form than is found naturally in the leafy greens, and higher doses are not commercially available right now. (Video via KCPQ)

It seems the most important point to draw from this study is that scientists are calling it intriguing.

Susan Hyman, chief of neurodevelopment and behavioral pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, told ABC, "The trial needs to be replicated and evaluated in larger and more age-diverse samples." She added, "But the data is certainly worth pursuing."

The potential of such a breakthrough is far-reaching, as the National Autism Association says 1 in 68 children are now affected by autism.

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<![CDATA[Why Apple, Facebook Are Paying To Freeze Women's Eggs]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 13:37:00 -0500
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So the news that Facebook and Apple are offering egg-freezing services for their employees has only recently broken, and already there's speculation about what it means.

There's no speculation, however, about what the services look like — up to $20,000 in coverage for the pricey procedure, which allows women to freeze eggs and preserve them for future fertilization. (Video via Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York)

NBC reported the story and said the latest in a long list of Silicon Valley perks could be a ploy to attract women to the notoriously male-dominated field. It paraphrased a fertility specialist who suggested, "Covering egg freezing can be viewed as a type of 'payback' for women's commitment."

Egg freezing — officially known as oocyte cryopreservation — has quickly evolved from an experimental, expensive and often unsuccessful luxury, to a no longer experimental, still expensive and slightly less unsuccessful option for women over the past few years. (Video via YouTube / reafertility)

Writer Sarah Elizabeth Richards explained the appeal in a column for The Wall Street Journal last year. 

"Once you land the job and man you want, you can have your frozen eggs shipped to your fertility clinic, hand him a semen collection cup and be on your way to parenthood. You mitigate the risk of birth defects by using younger eggs, and you can carry a baby well into middle age."

In that context it's easy to see why high-powered companies like Facebook and Apple would want to offer that option to the equally high-powered, career-oriented women they hope to attract. 

But there's another way to look at it. The Atlantic points out the egg-freezing option could be a sign of the times. As more and more women have their eggs frozen, "you could also read it as a sign that egg-freezing has reached a kind of cultural normalcy."

And The Atlantic also pointed to another possibility, that it's just the latest in a long-running competition among tech companies to offer more extensive employee benefits than competitors. 

The lavish benefits of Silicon Valley are well-documented, with Google as one example. It offers perks such as nap pods, wide-ranging and free meal options, and recreational spaces, among others. (Video via CBS

Whatever the actual motivation, NBC reports Facebook has already started offering egg-freezing, and Apple is set to start doing so in January. 

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<![CDATA[Ebola.com Domain Could Be Yours For Only $150K]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 09:09:00 -0500
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For anyone who has ever wanted to own a Web domain associated with one of the worst disease outbreaks in recent memory, good news — Ebola.com is up for sale.

The site is pretty bare bones with just a single page containing some scant information on the disease and an ad for Ebola books on Amazon. There are also some links to outdated articles hyping up the worst-case scenario for an Ebola outbreak.

So you're probably wondering, how much does a site like this go for when the deadly disease is making daily headlines?

To find out, CNBC spoke to the man behind the site and president of Blue String Ventures earlier this month — Jon Schultz. He's asking for the pricey sum of $150,000 for the site, something he says is a steal compared to other site sales.

SCHULTZ: "$150,000 is not a tremendous amount for a premium domain. The fact that this is a top news story makes it very reasonable, in our opinion, as many domains sell for seven figures."

It turns out Schultz and his business partner, Chris Hood, have a taste for domains that ring disaster. 

PotassiumIodide.com is up for sale in the event of a nuclear catastrophe. Fukushima.com looks to be in a little better shape than the others and is apparently up for bid as well.

They're what Foreign Policy calls "domain squatters" — or folks in the business of buying domain names they think will be worth something in the future. 

Schultz's inspiration for buying Ebola.com? Apparently 1995's "Outbreak" with Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo. 

Schultz is nothing less than a forward-thinking man, telling The Washington Post in a recent interview he snagged Ebola.com back in 2008 for $13,500. Now he tells the paper he hopes to sell it to pharmaceutical companies working on potential cures. 

Schultz, who appears to own some less-than-stellar Web domains aside from the disease-related ones, never mentions in either interview whether he has actually managed to successfully flip one of his sites.

Before you think a guy like Schultz seems pretty low, he does make sure to remind the Post he has a link to donate to Doctors Without Borders — one of the nongovernment organizations in West Africa helping fight the Ebola outbreak.

For now, there doesn't seem to be much interest in anyone buying the site. Maybe it's that whole "profiting off a deadly disease" thing. 

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<![CDATA[Air Force's Secret Space Plane To End 22-Month Mission]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 18:59:00 -0500
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The Air Force's secret space plane is returning to Earth this week after spending close to two years in space doing something classified.

It's been a while since the X-37B made headlines, so we'll refresh your memory: it's a Boeing-built, unmanned, solar powered space plane, and the government has never said exactly what its mission is.

Last week, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California said it was preparing for the X-37B to land, capping off a 22-month mission that began in December, 2012.

This is the third flight for the program and the second for this particular spacecraft. The vehicle is meant to be reusable and to carry out long-range missions, so it looks like the mission has been a success. 

Of course, it's hard to know for sure. In May, Air Force General William Shelton gave a statement to Space.com that kind of sums up the whole program: "X-37 is doing great. I can't tell you what it's doing, but it's doing great."

The spacecraft's classified mission has been fodder for conspiracy theorists saying it's testing space weapons or carrying out a spying mission or combating aliens. 

Although you might actually be shocked at how much information about the secret mission isn't secret. We know, for instance, what the vehicle's heat shield is made of, how its powered, we know about its brakes, its wings, its propulsion system.

We know that it's based on the design of NASA's space shuttle but scaled down to around a quarter the size.

We also know it will soon be housed in the space shuttle's old storage facility and will operate out of Cape Canaveral.

We know it guides itself during takeoff, orbit, re-entry and landing. There are really just two main things we don't know: what was its payload, and what has it been doing up there all this time? (Video via Boeing)

Whatever it was, the Air Force says it will may need to send X-37B into orbit several more times before the mission objectives are complete, so there's plenty of time to work up your own theory.

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<![CDATA[How Conservatives Have Made Ebola A Border Security Issue]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 12:32:00 -0500
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Public health officials have said repeatedly there's no reason to think the U.S. is headed for an Ebola outbreak. But you wouldn't know it based on comments like this.

FORMER ARKANSAS GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE VIA FOX: "If someone with Ebola really wants to come to the U.S., just get to Mexico and walk right in."

NORTH CAROLINA SENATE CANDIDATE THOM TILLIS VIA C-SPAN: “We have an Ebola outbreak, we have bad actors who can come across the border. We need to seal the border and secure it.”

Some politicians on the right have used the opportunity to link the deadly virus to the nation's border security. We didn't find any Democrats making similar claims.  

It's a far-fetched assertion for a few reasons. First off, there's yet to be a single case of Ebola in Latin America. Also consider how unlikely it would be for an Ebola patient to even survive the journey across the border.  

Here's how the scenario — however ludicrous — could play out, according to one expert who spoke with PolitiFact:

"An African could fly from an infected area, land in a Mexican airport, take a bus toward the border, hire a coyote to take him across and then 'present' with Ebola. … But this presupposes a suicidal person who also has the resources for this kind of travel."

The claims of Ebola-spreading immigrants seem even more unfounded when you also take into account the Department of Homeland Security says "all incoming detainees to screen for any symptoms of contagious diseases of possible public health concern."

Political opportunism could be to blame for some of the misinformation. With midterm elections just around the corner, conservatives are eager to portray the Democrats as incompetent when it comes to protecting Americans from Ebola and ISIS. 

NARRATOR: "Evil forces around the world want to harm Americans every day. They're entering our country through Arizona's backyard. Yet Kirkpatrick votes against protecting Arizona." (Via National Republican Congressional Committee

NARRATOR: "Terrorism experts say our border breakdown could provide an entry for groups like ISIS." (Video via Perdue For Senate

According to the latest Pew Research polling, just 11 percent of Americans are "very worried" they'll be exposed to the Ebola virus. In an August survey, a greater number — 67 percent — saw ISIS as a major threat to U.S. well-being. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Scientists Replicate Alzheimer's In Petri Dish]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 09:08:00 -0500
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Scientists have taken a big step toward better understanding Alzheimer's disease by replicating it with brain cells in a petri dish. 

Scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston managed to recreate the effects of Alzheimer's on brain cells by first using gel to foster the growth of networks with brain cells grown from embryonic stem cells, like ones you'd find in the brain. (Video via WebsEdge)

The scientists, led by Dr. Rudy Tanzi, then introduced the genes for Alzheimer's disease and saw as the two characteristic symptoms of the disease — plaques and tangles — developed. (Video via The Chopra Well)

Tanzi is widely recognized as a leading expert in the field of Alzheimer's research, having spearheaded the Cure Alzheimer's Fund's research efforts as well as researching the disease for more than 30 years. 

Still, The New York Times reports the crucial idea — of growing the cells in gel — actually came from one of Tanzi's colleagues, Dr. Doo Yeon Kim.

The study, published in the journal Nature, says this way of modeling gives credence to a long-standing theory that one of the driving causes behind the formation of plaques and tangles is the production and accumulation of beta amyloid protein in the brain. 

Previous methods of modeling the disease and the role of those amyloids involved studying mice, but that method of study took considerably longer and didn't necessarily yield benefits because of the differences between mice and human brains. (Video via University of Minnesota)

As it stands, Alzheimer's disease affects more than 25 million people around the world, so there is a large effort to better understand the disease and eventually find a cure. 

There are a number of drugs that aim to treat Alzheimer's, with varied effectiveness, but there are many more that have yet to be tested, and that's one area where Dr. Tanzi hopes the new research can help. (Video via Consumer Reports)

Tanzi told the Times he plans on using the new method to test some 1,200 drugs that are already on the market and another 5,000 that are still in testing. 

This video includes music from Chris Zabriskie / CC BY 4.0.

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<![CDATA[LAX Ebola Scare Highlights Patchwork Response Plans]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 23:22:00 -0500
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Let's get this out of the way: officials determined the sick passenger who began vomiting and exhibiting flu-like symptoms on a flight from New York to Los Angeles Sunday does not have Ebola.

But the risk of another outbreak of the virus was great enough to ground United Airlines Flight 703 at LAX, quarantine all 148 passengers on board for hours, and reveal a few unsettling details about how agencies respond to the threat of the virus.

Aircraft personnel first sounded the alarm mid-flight, when the ill passenger stated they'd recently been to Africa. The plane was greeted by the Los Angeles Fire Department when it landed at 1:58 p.m.

As multiple passengers on the plane reported via Twitter, the flight was moved to a separate, remote terminal, where it sat for over two hours while multiple agencies were apparently arguing about what to do with the passengers.

Eventually, the authorities determined the ill passenger was likely exhibiting symptoms of motion sickness rather than Ebola, and furthermore had only been to South Africa rather than West Africa where the outbreak is centered. The patient was evacuated and the passengers were sent home shortly after. 

The LAFD said in a statement responders followed a CDC-recommended protocol, which included isolating the plane from the rest of the airport, to the letter. There was no mention of any inter-agency dispute.

This Ebola scare comes just as the CDC confirms a second case of Ebola inside the U.S., this time in a nurse who treated the first Ebola patient at a Texas hospital. The agency is now looking at the hospital's protocols to determine how the nurse was infected. (Video via KTVT)

Incidents like these highlight potential flaws in Ebola procedures across the U.S. According to an informal National Nurses United survey, 76 percent of nurses say their hospital hasn't trained them on Ebola procedures.

And it's not just nurses who are concerned.

DR. LINDA GIRGIS ON NBC: "There's a gap in the system getting the information from the CDC down to the doctors on the front line."

That doesn't mean the U.S. is completely unprepared — some hospitals, like this one in New Jersey, have conducted exhaustive drills to practice receiving Ebola patients. 

But as one Yahoo writer points out, not all response plans for Ebola are created equal. Current preparations range from practice drills to handing out flyers, and there's no effective way to standardize protocols.

"In the decentralized U.S. health care system, hospitals don't necessarily have to take the CDC's advice — and federal funding streams to help them do so have been slashed in recent years. ... Hospitals have to make tough choices about whether it's worth taking valuable nurses and doctors out of circulation for time-consuming drills."

The CDC does have Ebola preparedness guidelines for healthcare workers publicly available on its website. It's just a question of whether agencies and individuals are properly prepared to follow them, should the need arise.

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<![CDATA[Google Trial Offers Video Chats With Doctors]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 15:44:00 -0500
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Here's one way to get a doctor's opinion without ever having to leave your home. 

Google is testing out a new feature that allows you to video chat with a doctor. The option to chat with a doctor comes up when you search your symptoms. The service is HIPPA-compliant and can be used for a large variety of minor ailments. 

A Google spokesperson said, "When you're searching for basic health information — from conditions like insomnia or food poisoning — our goal is provide you with the most helpful information available."

This new feature goes right along with the company's new service Helpouts. Introduced in 2013, Helpouts provide video chatting services with experts who can help you with day to day needs. 

Here's the catch. You might have to pay for it. The Helpouts experts can choose to charge for their help and Google gets a cut of that cash. So, although the Google doctors are free right now, we'll probably have to pay to use it eventually. 

And Google has a little competition in the web doctors field. Teladoc and Doctor on Demand provide similar services. 

Teladoc charges vary patient to patient while Doctor on Demand charges a flat fee of $40 per session, so it will be interesting to find out how Google will handle its pricing. 

 VentureBeat predicts Google will end up the leader of the digital doctor industry because of its global popularity. 

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<![CDATA[Health Worker Contracts Ebola At Texas Hospital]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 09:35:00 -0500
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Sunday afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed a healthcare worker in Texas tested positive for Ebola — making her the first person to contract the virus inside the U.S.

The worker had extensive contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who died of Ebola Wednesday at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. (Video via NBC)

The Texas Department of State Health Services said Sunday the patient, who was self-monitoring, reported a fever Friday and tested positive during a preliminary test. At the first sign of symptoms, the worker was put into isolation where she currently remains in stable condition. 

During a press conference, CDC Director Tom Frieden said the department interviewed the patient and found she had been in contact with one individual while she might have been infectious. That person is now also under active monitoring. 

FOX NEWS"We are evaluating other potential healthcare worker exposers. Because if this individual was exposed, which they were, it is possible that other individuals were exposed." 

A doctor with the Texas Health Resource confirmed that, while having contact with Duncan, the healthcare worker wore gloves, a gown, a mask and a shield, which brings up the worrying question of how she contracted the virus. 

It also, as CBS reports, raises concerns of a breach of protocol within the hospital. During an interview with the outlet, Frieden explained, "Even a single breach can result in contamination and one of the areas that we look at closely are things like how you take off the gear that might be infected or contaminated." 

The hospital has been criticized for its handling of Duncan's case, initially turning him away despite his symptoms and travel history, before ultimately diagnosing and admitting him. (Video via KTVT)

Duncan was diagnosed at the end of September, and, in the weeks since, fear of the virus has swept through the country. 

A Pew poll conducted during the first week of October found 41 percent of responders had little to no confidence in the governments' ability to prevent a widespread outbreak. 

It's gotten to the point, as The Washington Post reports, where some hospitals are preparing for Ebola panic, hiring more people ahead of an expected increased ER traffic as people are more conscious of possible symptoms. 

But still, health officials are continuing to emphasize the point that the virus can be easily contained as long healthcare workers meticulously follow safety protocols.

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<![CDATA[FDA Approves Pricey Breakthrough Hepatitis Pill]]> Sat, 11 Oct 2014 19:11:00 -0500
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Big news from the medical community for people who suffer from type one of Hepatitis C: Friday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first once-a-day combination pill to fight the virus.  

The breakthrough medication for adults is called Harvoni and is made by biotechnology company Gilead Sciences. According to the FDA, the pill will completely transform the treatment standard for the more than 3 million Americans living with HCV.

Hepatitis C affects the liver, leading to inflammation, and is contracted through the blood of an infected person.

Harvoni will eliminate the need for the once standard and painful interferon injection treatment that causes a number of side effects, including intense itching and flu-like symptoms. In trials, Harvoni didn't just get rid of symptoms; it essentially cured over 80 percent of patients with few side effects. (Video via Gilead Sciences

But gaining access to the drug could prove challenging for many Americans. Harvoni is very expensive. 

WTVT: "Harvoni cost over $1,000 per dose. That's over $95,000 for a 12-week supply." 

KABC: "The price has draw scorn from patient groups, insurers and politicians." 

A spokeswoman with Gilead says the price is a reflection of the medication's value. And as an analyst for CNBC points out, the price is actually lower than the current standard treatment. 

"What perviously had been a combination with Sovaldi and Johnson and Johnson was over $150,000 dollars." 

And that relatively lower price rage could actually help more patients gain access to the new medication. A writer for Forbes notes the higher cost of Gilead's Sovaldi hit medical insurers hard — forcing them to implement strict regulations on which patients would be eligible for coverage. 

It's still unknown how insurance companies will handle coverage of Harvoni. Members of the U.S. Senate have reportedly asked Gilead to show documentation explaining why the medication will cost so much. 

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<![CDATA[Coffee, Not The Caffeine, May Be Good For Your Liver]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 20:25:00 -0500
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It appears its the coffee, not the caffeine, that's good for you, or for your liver anyway. 

Previous studies have told us drinking coffee may lower the risk of heart disease, Parkinson's disease, dementia, type 2 diabetes and liver disease. 

But before now, we didn't know much about why coffee lowered the risk of liver disease. It was unclear if it was the coffee or the caffeine that provided the benefits. 

This week researchers from the National Cancer Institute released a study showing caffeine is not a factor in the drink's preventative benefits. 

The study included more than 27,000 people and found people who drank three cups of coffee a day had healthier livers than those who did not, regardless if they drank decaf. 

Researcher Dr. Qian Xiao said"These data suggest that ingredients in coffee, other than caffeine, may promote liver health. Further studies are needed to identify these components."

And in addition to keeping you healthy, studies have even proven coffee can lead to a longer lifespan

But, doctors across the board say moderation is key. An overabundance of coffee can lead to upset stomach, fast heartbeat, and insomnia. 

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

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<![CDATA[As Ebola Death Toll Tops 4,000, World Response Still Lacking]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 18:39:00 -0500
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The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has hit another grim milestone: The World Health Organization reports over 4,000 people have been killed by the virus during the current outbreak. 

And health officials have been issuing increasingly dire warnings about the epidemic.

CDC DIRECTOR THOMAS FRIEDEN VIA WORLD BANK: "The only thing like this has been AIDS. And we have to work now to make sure this is not the next AIDS."

The virus has been rampaging across West Africa for months, and recent Ebola cases in the U.S. and Spain have heightened fears of a global Ebola pandemic. So, how's the world's response to the crisis coming along?

Countries and NGOs have pledged substantial sums of money to help fight the outbreak. The Guardian has a comprehensive breakdown of the pledges made so far, which include a $350 million commitment from the U.S., a $400 million finance package from the World Bank, and $50 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Countries around the world are also sending people to help combat the virus — 100 U.S. Marines arrived in Liberia on Thursday, part of the Obama administration's pledge to send almost 4,000 troops into affected countries.

The U.K. has also promised to send 750 troops to West Africa, and countries like Germany, Cuba and China have sent or are sending medical workers to the region. (Video via Al Jazeera)

But so far, the recurring theme of the global response has been "too little, too late." The international community has been criticized harshly for failing to respond fast enough and allowing the epidemic to grow out of control.

And the disease won't be going away anytime soon. The Washington Post has a feature on Ebola's "reproduction number," the average number of people that each new Ebola patient will infect. To stop the spread of the virus, that reproduction number needs to be below one — and instead, one analyst told the Post it's currently hovering between 1.5 and two.

West Africa has seen a total of 8,399 confirmed or suspected Ebola cases since the outbreak began, according to WHO. 416 of those victims are health care workers; 233 of those workers were killed by the disease.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Are Airport Ebola Screenings Just For Show?]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 15:23:00 -0500
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This is what temperature screening looks like — and starting next week it's how some passengers at five U.S. airports will be screened for fever. 

Fever — which is a symptom of Ebola. (Video via ABC)

And after the death of an Ebola patient in Dallas, health officials are keen to assure the public they're doing everything they can to prevent the disease's spread. 

But a tropical disease specialist told Canada's CBC, the temperature screenings in particular are "Mostly a waste of time. This is optics to make the country feel safer."

Making people feel safer could be a valid concern, though. A poll released by CNN says 1 in 4 Americans is worried about getting Ebola. 

But it's not clear whether taking temperatures at airports would be effective at assuring the public or catching potential Ebola victims.

You can obviously have a high temperature from more than just Ebola. Not to mention the fact that it's flu season.  

Ebola takes between 2 and 21 days to incubate. So, someone carrying the disease likely would not have a fever in its early stages. 

Thomas Eric Duncan, the Dallas patient who died from the disease, had his temperature taken several times before he left Africa, but it wasn't until days later when he arrived at his Texas home that he began having symptoms. 

We have seen temperature screening at airports not really work before. In 2003, around 1.8 million people were screened in airports for SARS and almost 800 of those people were found to have elevated temperatures. However no one who was found with SARS.

Which kinda raises the question of whether airport screenings are just a formality, an attempt by the government to have the appearance something is being done. 

Georgetown University professor Larry Gostin told NPR governments are, "Under a lot of pressure to do something [to] make the public feel reassured, even if it really doesn't make them safer."

But the much more extreme step of banning travel from Ebola-stricken countries is unlikely — and arguably unnecessary. The New York Times is reporting the Obama administration may be exploring additional screening measures. 

This video includes images from Getty Images and Phil Moyer / CC BY NC ND 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Stem Cells Could Produce Insulin]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 14:04:00 -0500
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By using stem cells, a group of Harvard scientists have brought the medical world closer than ever to effectively treating diabetes. 

The scientists claim to have successfully created large amounts of the vital insulin-producing betatrophin cells that those diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes lack. 

Currently those with Type 1 diabetes, which is usually first diagnosed during childhood, must inject themselves with insulin multiple times a day in order to make up for their lack of beta cells.

It's a treatment that one stem-cell researcher at Harvard Medical School told NPR is "a kind of life-support for diabetics. It doesn't cure the disease and leads to devastating complications of the disease."

But this latest research would change that by providing diabetic patients with the beta cells required to maintain their blood glucose levels, and possibly paving the way for a cure for diabetes. 

The team published their findings in the scientific journal Cell on Thursday and said one or two flasks of the stem-cell-generated beta cells might be enough to treat a diabetic patient. 

The Harvard Gazette says Doug Melton, who led the research, started searching for a cure 23 years ago after his infant son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. His daughter was also eventually diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

But even with this latest development, The Boston Globe says Melton cautions the work still has a long way to go before it will be tested in patients.

That didn't stop others in the medical field from hailing Melton and his team's work, though.

One professor told The Telegraph the research was "one of the most important advances to date in the stem cell field," while another told Harvard Magazine it will "leave a dent in the history of diabetes."

Although the team still needs to solve the issue of immune systems attacking foreign beta cells injected into a patient, Bloomberg says Melton is considering using a small dispensing device instead, which could bypass the problem.

This video contains an image from momboleum / cc by nc nd 2.0.

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<![CDATA[NASA Research Fleet Prepares For Mars Comet Flyby]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 11:52:00 -0500
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NASA is preparing its fleet of research probes to monitor a comet flyby at Mars.

C/2013 A1, or Siding Spring, after the Australian observatory that discovered it, will pass within 87,000 miles of Mars. In celestial terms, that's a very near miss — and a big opportunity for the various science missions NASA has in the neighborhood.

This is the first time Siding Spring has made it into the inner solar system. The comet is the first one from the distant Oort Cloud that human spacecraft have had a chance to study so closely. NASA says it could carry clues about the formation of the early solar system. (Video via NASA)

Thus, NASA plans to turn every sensor it can on the comet. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will examine its size and composition. The newly arrived MAVEN mission will be monitoring Siding Spring's effects on atmosphere. The Curiosity and Opportunity rovers will watch the flyby from the surface.

Siding Spring is humming along at 35 miles a second and going the wrong way — that is, its orbit is roughly "clockwise," compared to the "counterclockwise" paths traced by Mars and the other planets.

NASA has adjusted the orbits of several Mars probes to put them on the far side of the planet during the flyby, just in case. Even trailing dust is dangerous when it's moving that fast.

"The hazard is not an impact of the comet nucleus itself, but the trail of debris coming from it. Mars will be right at the edge of the debris cloud, so it might encounter some of the particles -- or it might not."

Closer to home, NASA will turn the Hubble and STEREO orbital telescopes on Mars; as well as the ground-based infrared observatory on Mauna Kea. It's even used a high-altitude balloon-borne telescope to get early images of Siding Spring as it approaches the orbital plane. (Video via JHU Applied Physics Laboratory)

The flyby itself is about a week away. Siding Spring is expected to be closest to Mars on Oct. 19. NASA says you'll be able to see it from the Southern Hemisphere with the aid of binoculars or a small telescope.

This video includes images from NASA, NASA/JPL-Caltech, NASA/JPL/Corby Waste, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and Afshin Darian / CC BY 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Robot Sidewinds Like A Real Snake To Climb Sandy Slopes]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 07:42:00 -0500
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Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Oregon State University, and Zoo Atlanta tapped into the power of Mother Nature to solve a robotics problem.

The goal was to mimic this behavior — certain snakes’ ability to climb sandy slopes by sidewinding their way up. (Video via Animal Planet)

The BBC explains it’s harder than it looks. The steeper the slope, the more likely the sand will start slipping. “Getting enough purchase without making too much sand flow downhill is a delicate balancing act.”

The researchers found sidewinders climb those sandy slopes by “simply increasing the amount of their body area in contact with the granular surfaces they're climbing.”

Using that knowledge, the researchers were able to get the robotic snake — which was once only able to travel across level ground — to climb sandy surfaces. (Video via Carnegie Mellon University)

It’s still not quite as graceful as the real thing, but the team says with enough refinement the robot will be able to handle all kinds of terrain — including extraterrestrial terrain.

DR. JOE MENDELSON, ZOO ATLANTA: “Robots are expensive, and a robot gets stuck in the sand — that’s a problem. Especially if that sand happens to be on another planet.” (Video via Georgia Tech)

The team has published its research in the journal Science.

This video includes footage from ensiematthias / CC BY NC SA 2.0.

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<![CDATA[What's Driving U.S. Ebola Fear, And How Afraid Are We?]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 21:31:00 -0500
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For weeks, we've been seeing frightening headlines about Ebola panic in the U.S.

AL JAZEERA: "Ebola fears are sweeping the nation."

FOX NEWS"Fears of an Ebola outbreak stirring panic across the country."

And also no end of articles trying to calm people down, telling us not to worry.

So with all the mixed messages saying "panic" and "don't panic" and "you're already panicking," it's worth taking a look at how scared Americans actually are of an Ebola outbreak and what might be driving it.

A poll this week from the Pew Research Center found around one in three Americans are worried they or one of their family members will be exposed to the virus, with 11 percent saying they were "very worried."

That means most Americans aren't as scared as media reports might imply they are. And you could argue they're actually less scared than before the U.S. got its first Ebola case. 

A late August poll from the Harvard School of Public Health found nearly 40 percent of Americans were concerned about a large outbreak in the U.S.

Those pollsters found one of the main drivers of that fear was the widespread belief that Ebola spreads easily. It shouldn't be any surprise, then, that health officials have been relentlessly targeting that misconception ever since the Dallas case first came to light.

BLOOMBERG: "You're not going to get the virus from being next to somebody who is not having any of the symptoms, not having any fever. You're not going to get the virus."

THE WHITE HOUSE"The nature of the Ebola virus itself, which is difficult to transmit…"

C-SPAN"The spread is nowhere near as contagious as measles or TB or the common cold."

But, of course, it's still possible to understand Ebola and also be frightened of it.

For instance, airport workers in New York carried out a 24-hour strike this week saying their working conditions put them at risk of contracting the disease.

"We encounter human feces, sometimes blood, most of the time vomit. … We don't get the right sanitary equipment to deal with it. We work with short-sleeved shirts."

And then there's the Spanish nurse who caught the virus while treating a patient. She was infected despite wearing protective gear.

Her coworkers told Spanish newspaper El Pais the hospital's gear is substandard, while hospital officials implied the nurse used it incorrectly.

But either way, it's clear: lapses can and do happen, even with modern protective gear.

C-SPAN"If you take it off and don't do it carefully, you might contaminate yourself by mistake."

A recent poll by a nursing union found as many of 80 percent of U.S. nurses say they haven't been trained in how to handle Ebola patients, and those outside the healthcare industry, like the men who cleaned the Dallas Ebola patient's vomit off a sidewalk, may not even have safety equipment or know how to use it.

The CDC says no special precautions are necessary beyond standard infectious disease protocols, but those have to be followed to be effective.

Which leads us back to the Dallas case. You've probably heard how Thomas Duncan was originally sent home from the hospital when he went to the emergency room the first time — despite the fact the hospital knew he had been to Liberia.

Texas Health Presbyterian originally blamed a flaw in its electronic records program for the oversight but later retracted that, saying, for whatever reason, hospital staff just didn't believe Duncan had Ebola.

All of this suggests what Americans need to hear now is what hospitals around the country are doing to make sure the next patient isn't sent home and that all hospital staff know how to protect themselves.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Lung Cancer Can Stay Dormant For 20 Years Before Flaring Up]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 17:48:00 -0500
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Scientists believe new information about the most deadly form of cancer could lead to fewer victims in the future. 

A study published in the journal Science and conducted by Cancer Research UK says lung cancer can lie dormant in ex-smokers for two decades before flaring up and becoming aggressive.  

The study, however, dealt with a very small sampling size, a total of seven people including current smokers, ex-smokers and and some who have never smoked. 

According to the study, the original mutations in lung cells that cause lung cancer may happen years before symptoms appear so the cancer is not detected until additional mutations occur in the lung cells potentially years later. (Video via YouTube / BioDigital)

And that's the big problem: Patients and physicians don't detect the original mutations, but by the time additional mutations occur in the lung, the cancer has progressed significantly, putting doctors a step behind. 

The chief scientist at Cancer Research UK said in a statement"This fascinating research highlights the need to find better ways to detect lung cancer earlier when it's still following just one evolutionary path. If we can nip the disease in the bud and treat it before it has started travelling down different evolutionary routes we could make a real difference in helping more people survive the disease."

While lung cancer predominantly affects those who are 65 and over, it also kills more than 85 percent of those who develop the disease within five years of the diagnosis.

Lung cancer is also one of the most common forms of the disease, causing more deaths per year than breast and pancreatic cancer combined.  

This video includes an image from Julie Bocchino / CC BY 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Why Does The Pill Require A Prescription In The U.S.?]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 16:53:00 -0500
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A few political ads this campaign season raise a really interesting question: Why does birth control require a prescription in the U.S.?

CORY GARDNER, COLORADO CANDIDATE FOR SENATE (R): "I believe the pill ought to be available over the counter, round the clock without a prescription."

There are politics to the debate to be sure, but we were more curious about the underlying question. 

As it turns out, worldwide, the U.S. is in the minority in requiring a prescription to get the pill. Only about a third of the world's countries limit access, including Canada, Australia and Japan. Countries like China, Russia, and Mexico offer the drugs over the counter. 

So first — what's the rationale behind requiring a prescription?

Proponents say the pill can increase women's risk for blood clots, heart attacks and stroke, especially among smokers and older women. The thinking there is — under a physician's direction, those risks are mitigated. 

But many over-the-counter drugs, like aspirin, which can cause stomach bleeding, also have potentially serious risks and don't require a prescription. 

On top of that, critics of the current prescription-only system argue women can do the research and decide for themselves whether they're good candidates for birth control. 

Critics like The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which says unplanned birth rates would likely go down in the U.S. if prescriptions were no longer required to get contraceptive pills.

In 2012 it found 60 percent of women not currently using contraceptives would begin using them if they became available over the counter. 

And consider this: Sales of nicotine replacement therapies went up by 150 to 200 percent the first year they were offered without a prescription. 

The Food and Drug Administration would have to approve any changes to oral contraception's prescription-required status. There aren't plans to do that yet, but as we mentioned earlier, there are a couple Republican candidates for Senate that are calling for it to happen. 

Cynics will say that's a move to skirt Obamacare requirements that insurance companies completely cover the cost of birth control. 

Or as two Health Affairs writers put it, "replace one barrier (ease of access) with another (cost)."

And that's why proponents of change in general say — in order to really improve access to oral contraceptives — both have to happen: Over the counter status as well as preserving the requirement insurance companies cover the cost. 

This video contains images from Nate Grigg / CC BY 2.0Pietro Izzo / CC BY NC SA 2.0, and Daniela Alejandra Robles /  CC BY SA 3.0.

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<![CDATA[Death With Dignity Or Assisted Suicide? Oregon Opens Debate]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 13:31:00 -0500
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Brittany Maynard knows when, where, and how she's going to die. 

BRITTANY MAYNARD VIA YOUTUBE / COMPASSIONCHOICES"I will die upstairs in my bedroom that I share with my husband... with my mother and my husband by my side."

She has stage 4 gliobastoma, a very aggressive form of brain cancer.

People first reported on 29-year-old Maynard, who, after being terminally diagnosed with that malignant brain tumor, decided to end her own life.

Supporters call the practice "death with dignity," and it's only legal in five states. Which is why Maynard and her husband moved from California to Oregon.

Under the state's 1997 Death with Dignity Act, a person is allowed to end his or her life through self-administered lethal medication provided that person is 18 years or older, a resident of Oregon, capable of making and communicating health care decisions for him or herself, and has been diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months. 

By creating the Brittany Maynard Fund, Maynard hopes her case will help make the practice accessible in more states. But it is a controversial debate.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ VIA CNN: "This is an issue whose time is coming, and I think soon we will see more and more states accept the right to die. But it's difficult."

PETER WOLFGANG VIA AL JAZEERA: "Our deepest sympathy to Brittany at this time. But this is assisted suicide. These terms 'aided dying,' 'death with dignity,' they're not recognized by the legal community, by the medical community."

But here's what makes Oregon different from other famous cases of so-called assisted suicide. As Carmen St. George told HLN, it's the requirement of self-administration.

CARMEN ST GEORGE VIA HLN"I think the courts would look at it differently when it's the individual for whom this responsibility lies. And ultimately it's her own life."

By contrast, before Dr. Jack Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree homicide, he himself administered lethal injections after being given fully informed consent from his patients. (Video via CBS

There are no legal hurdles for Maynard herself. She has planned her death for Nov. 1, six days after her husband's birthday. She plans to record a video testimony for California lawmakers before then. 

This video contains images from The Brittany Maynard Fund and Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Swarm Of 800,000 Bees Kills Ariz. Man]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 09:00:00 -0500
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A massive swarm of Africanized bees killed a man doing landscaping work in southern Arizona Wednesday and sent others to the hospital.

The attack happened in Douglas, Arizona, when landscapers accidentally disturbed a colony in the attic of a home with noise from a lawnmower. The colony was home to an estimated 800,000 bees. (Video via KNXV)

Firefighters used foam and pesticides to fight the swarm before they were ultimately able to remove the hive — which an exterminator said could have been there for as many as 10 years. (Video via KOLD)

According to authorities, a 90-year-old man lived in the home and was possibly unaware of the hive, which was the size of a 55-gallon drum. The homeowner was not stung.

Africanized bees are particularly well-established in the Southwest, having been first detected on Texas' border with Mexico back in 1990. 

So much so that the massive attack, which probably sounds almost unbelievable to many, didn't come as a total shock to the Douglas Fire Department. (Video via KPRC)

FIRE CHIEF MARIO NOVOA VIA KMSB: "We have one, two, three, four calls a week. We're used to the bee calls. Our crews actually have bee suits inside the trucks, so we're ready for these types of incidents. However, nothing of this magnitude."

Although the numbers on bee colonies are pretty varied, on average, a colony of Western honeybees will number around 50,000-60,000, so a colony of 800,000 is significant, to say the least. (Video via Peaceful Valley Farm Supply)

Still, Africanized bees, as the USDA notes, have been "melodramatically labeled 'killer bees' by Hollywood hype" because of their aggressive nature and previous attacks. 

And headlines like this one from Gawker play right into that hype, saying that the bees were "hiding" in the man's attic, as if they were a horror movie villain. 

Then again, the USDA itself helped stoke the fires of that fear with PSAs like this one from 1985.

USDA: "The newcomers are Africanized bees, sometimes called killer bees, and they have a nasty disposition."

Africanized bees are more prone to swarming and defending their colonies more aggressively than Western honeybees, which are more common in most of North America. 

They're actually a crossbreed of that Western honeybee and its African counterpart, originally bred in Brazil in the 1950s by a scientist who was looking to create a hardier, more productive species of bee. (Video via National Geographic)

Some bees escaped the original apiary where they were being bred and have since established themselves across South and Central America before their arrival in the U.S. in the early 1990s. (Video via Fox News

Another man who was taken to the hospital after the attack in Arizona was reportedly in critical condition Wednesday night. 

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<![CDATA[Ebola's Most Popular Victim: Excalibur, The Dog]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 21:56:00 -0500
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One of the most popular stories since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa began causing global hysteria centers around a rescue dog named Excalibur. 

The dog's owner, Maria Teresa Romero Ramos, is a Spanish nurse and Ebola patient currently being treated in Madrid. The city's regional government announced then followed through Thursday with euthanizing the dog due to fears it could carry the deadly virus. 

The announcement itself sent people into an uproar online and in real life. Romero's husband posted a video asking for help saving Excalibur and a Change.org petition calling for the resignation of those who euthanized the dog has gained nearly 400,000 signatures. 

By contrast, another petition to fast-track vaccine research for Ebola has gained just over 150,000 signatures. 

To be clear, some reports say protestors have it out for Madrid authorities not just because an innocent dog was put down. Spanish people also demonstrated because there was an unclear protocol in handling the dog, so they feel like authorities might have put other people at risk.

But many writers felt the reaction to this dog's death far exceeds responses to any one of the more than 8,000 humans that have been infected or the nearly 4,000 humans who have lost their lives. A headline from the UK's Channel 4 asks, "Who matters?"

At least one columnist from AZCentral.com writes that people caring for the dog aren't exactly overlooking human lives, writing, "We can have it both ways. We can feel empathy and concern for our brothers and sisters battling this terrible disease and also feel bad about a dog."

Commenting on the concern for Excalibur, a Bloomberg writer said, "We've long known that as a species, we lack perspective about the relative value of life, as well as risk." He adds Spanish authorities need to figure out how Ramos went so long without receiving care. 

Also today, Vox pointed out one "terrifying" paragraph from The Daily Beast, which describes an allegedly slow response to caring for Romero, who eventually tested positive for Ebola:

"[She called the] hospital several times between September 30 and October 2 when her fever finally hit the 38.6 threshold. Still, it took until October 6 when she had become so deathly ill she was begging for an Ebola test before anyone at the hospital where she worked reportedly reacted."

The article goes on to say that by the time Romero did receive care, she was already showing symptoms of the virus which means she was most likely contagious. 

The New York Times cites comments from Spanish health officials who said Wednesday Romero might've mishandled her equipment while caring for a Spanish missionary with Ebola. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images. 

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<![CDATA[New Prosthetic Technology Helps Patients 'Feel' Objects]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 19:23:00 -0500
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New technology is helping those with prosthetic limbs 'feel' objects once again. 

Igor Spetic lost his right arm in a manufacturing accident years ago. He's been through a series of experimental trials regarding prosthetic limbs, and now, with a new system developed by Case Western Reserve University out of Ohio, he can feel, adjust force and do much more with his prosthetic hand. (Video via MIT Technology Review

The Columbus Dispatch writes, "The system uses electrical stimulation to give amputees such as Spetic the sense of touch again, and in some cases, the ability to distinguish textures."

DR. DUSTIN TYLER VIA CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY"What I think is fascinating about this is the perception of touch actually occurs in the brain, not in the hand itself, so losing the limb is really just losing the switch turns that sensation on and off."

Spetic and Case Western University also made headlines back in December 2013 for similar reasons, so this recent news is more of an update on the research than a breakthrough.

But it also wasn't the only prosthetics news Wednesday. CBS brought attention to a related study published the same day. This one comes out of Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. 

The study involved connecting the prosthesis to the bone, nerves and muscles through a process known as osseointergration. Previously, the electrodes controlling prosthetic arms have largely been placed on the skin. (Video via Max Ortiz-Catalan / Science Translational Medicine

 These findings were publishing in the journal Science Translational Medicine. 

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<![CDATA[Does Online Dating Actually Work?]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 14:11:00 -0500
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Online dating. It will find you dates ... but according to new research, they likely won't be the type you grow old with. 

That seems a bit unfortunate, considering Pew Research Center reports that online dating has exploded since 2005. Over one-fifth of all 22- to 34-year-old Americans have used online dating apps and sites at some point, and statistics are high for older and younger singles, too.

In fact, Social Media Week reported in early 2014 online dating is now the second most popular way to meet a significant other, trumped only by being introduced by mutual friends.

In general, recent news has been good for online match mavens. Multiple sources report that the stigma associated with online dating has been decreasing. "Dating online" is no longer code for "desperate." It may just mean you're too busy to meet someone elsewhere. (Video via Match.com)

But unless your meet-and-greet approach is all about quantity and not about quality, you'll probably find yourself disappointed with the Internet's ability to find you a mate.

That's because most dating sites operate off the idea of similarity. You say you like dogs, a potential match says he or she likes dogs, and all of a sudden, an algorithm is pairing you two up. Most outlets agree this method is pretty successful for expanding your pool of potential first dates, at least.

But many scientists say true compatibility is not found in simply matching up characteristics. Eli Finkel, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, told The Wall Street Journal the items you type into a search box don't necessarily translate into relationship chemistry.

It turns out the "fluid, spontaneous interaction" of communicating in person is what creates a romantic spark for most people, according to Harry Reis, a psychology professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center. 

And with the shopper's mentality of weeding out online profiles with the mere swipe of a finger or click of a button, very few people are giving themselves a chance to interact with online matches that way, even after they've met in person.

This has long-term repercussions, too. Michigan State University recently released a study showing "married couples who met online are three times more likely to divorce than those who met face to face," according to The Telegraph.

So the next time you're heading to a first coffee date with an online dating match, go ahead and give your number to that barista with the nice smile. Statistics say you two might have a better chance of becoming a successful couple.

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<![CDATA[Chain Restaurants Cutting Calories Ahead Of Regulations]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 13:54:00 -0500
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American chain restaurants have been cutting calories in their new menu options.

A recent study looked at America's largest chain restaurants and found an average drop of nearly 60 calories on new items added to menus last year. 

According to the study, Americans eat hundreds of excess calories every day, and this change in menu offerings could really make a difference.

Researcher Sara N. Bleich says, "If the average number of calories consumed at each visit was reduced by approximately 60 calories ... the impact on obesity could be significant."

It is important to note there was only a calorie drop on new items added to menus, and a lot of those new items were healthier options anyway, like salads. 

The signature dishes have just as many calories as they've always had. 

Researchers think this reduction in calories in the new dishes might be in anticipation of future federal regulations that will require restaurants to post the calories in each item on their menus. 

The 2010 Affordable Care Act included provisions requiring chain restaurants of 20 or more locations to include nutrition information on their menus, and the the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it will soon begin enforcing it. 

The FDA has faced some criticism for taking so long to enforce the provisions. The agency says changes in the final regulations and difficulties deciding which restaurant chains are subject to the law caused the delays. 

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<![CDATA[First U.S. Ebola Death Comes Amid Increasing Fears]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 12:18:00 -0500
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Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national who was the first in the United States to be diagnosed with Ebola died Wednesday morning. 

Texas Health Resources, a non-profit that manages the hospital where Duncan was being treated announced Duncan's death saying, "It is with profound sadness and heartfelt disappointment that we must inform you of the death of Thomas Eric Duncan." 

Duncan entered the United States from Liberia September 19th after coming in close contact with a Liberian pregnant woman who died from the disease. He flew into Washington D.C. and then into Dallas. 

Duncan went to Texas Presbyterian Hospital to ask about his symptoms but was sent home with antibiotics, he was brought back in two days later and diagnosed with Ebola. 

"Every individual that had contact with the initial case has been identified ... All of those individuals are being seen once a day."

This terrible news comes at a time when the threat of Ebola in the United States — and the resulting coverage — are at a peak. But here are some facts:

While six Americans have contracted Ebola and one of them has died – in West Africa more than 7,400 people have contracted Ebola and more than 3,400 of them have died. The CDC also says infections in West Africa if not contained could reach 1.4 million in four months time. 

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<![CDATA[CDC Study Finds Americans Are Living Longer Than Ever Before]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 09:32:00 -0500
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This story is an oldie, but a goodie. Americans are living longer than ever.

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, babies born in 2012 will live to be 78.8 years old on average — a new record.

While that’s only 0.1 years up from 2011’s count, it’s a lot longer than the average life expectancy of an American born in 1930. Back then, people were only expected to live 59.7 years.

And the data’s not just for newborn’s either. The study notes folks 65 and older can expect to live another 19.3 years — so around 84 years or so.

But this isn’t to say the U.S. reigns supreme in lifespan — it doesn’t. 

The World Health Organization put Japan at the top in 2012 with an average of 84 years. The CIA’s 2014 World Fact Book says the city-state of Monaco currently has the highest average at 89 years.

Regardless of where your data is coming from, most of the countries ahead of the U.S. in life expectancy are European, with some Asian countries holding some spots too.

But what’s to credit for this increase in life expectancy? What can we look at and say, “Hey, thanks for making me live longer.”

Well the CDC chalks up this most recent record to reductions in deaths from heart disease, cancer or stroke.

But while advances in medicine have helped recently — it turns out life expectancy was on the rise before things like vaccines or antibiotics were made more widely-available.

In 2013, Slate did a week-long series on longevity in the U.S. and found a multitude of earlier factors — things such as cleaner drinking water and better standards of living — jumpstarted longer lives.

This most recent report by the CDC also found that women tend to outlive men, something the lead author told USA Today could be attributed to genetics and men taking more risks.

This video contains images from Getty Images and an image from the Library of Congress.

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<![CDATA[Nobel Prize In Chemistry Rewards Thinking Very, Very Small]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 09:32:00 -0500
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Three men have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their big ideas about very, very small things. 

Americans Eric Betzig and W. E. Moerner, and German Stefan Hell were named as the winners on Wednesday for their work on microscopy — getting clear images of the tiniest things. (Video via Nobel Foundation)

Specifically, the three have worked toward getting images of individual molecules — with Moerner being the first to do it, in 1989, and Betzig and Hell developing the technology even further. (Video via Washington University in St. Louis, Molecular Frontiers, SPIETV)

Working independently, the three were able to surpass what was thought to be the physical limit of microscopy, established in 1873. They got better resolution images of things at a molecular level than anyone ever had before. (Video via ESRIC Microscopy)     

There are a couple ways the laureates were able to get around that limit, but they all have to do with light. 

Betzig focused his research on stimulating certain proteins to get them to light up — fluorescence — and produce an image on a scale of nanometers — 1/1000 of a micrometer. He even quit his job and worked from his living room. (Video via iBiology)

Stefan Hell, on the other hand, has worked on making the light used to elicit that fluorescence as pinpoint as possible, by surrounding the exciting light — which causes fluorescence — with another light, to focus it further. (Video via Leica Microsystems)

Moerner, who is currently the chair of Stanford's chemistry department, opened the door for both of them by combining different types of modulations to isolate a single fluorescent molecule for the first time back in 1989. 

These technologies are especially impressive because they're able to get those molecular images — of cells and bacteria and viruses — in motion and alive, whereas before a bacterium would have to be killed and broken apart to get a detailed look at it. (Video via Zeiss Microscopy)

If that seems a bit like science fiction to you, you're not alone. Look how the chairman of the prize committee described it.

SVEN LIDIN, NOBEL FOUNDATION: "They can be studied in real time, while they live long and prosper."

What that means from a practical standpoint, as the Nobel Foundation pointed out in its announcement, is possible medical breakthroughs as scientists can now "track proteins involved in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases as they aggregate..." 

And, the smaller we can see, the smaller we can eventually build — with nanotechnology, engineering on a molecular scale, considered by many to be the wave of the future. (Video via Wayne State University)

This video contains music from Chris Zabriskie / CC BY 4.0.

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<![CDATA[Ocean Warming Is Faster, Less Uniform Than We Thought]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 14:23:00 -0500
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Scientists often look to the world's oceans to study how fast the planet's been warming, but new reports show that over the last few decades, they haven't gotten the full picture. 

The reports, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, say that estimates of ocean temperatures since 1970 have been too low, because the models for regions with little data were too conservative. 

Still, the warming isn't uniform. 

SAM CHAMPION, THE WEATHER CHANNEL: "While the upper portions of the oceans, they continue to absorb heat from global warming, these pictures show that the deeper sections of the ocean have not ... these findings are really just trying to understand the different levels of the ocean." 

Those deeper ocean sections are known as the Ocean Abyss, and NASA says despite those deeper waters not warming since 2005, ocean levels are rising, and the findings don't cast doubt on the fact the planet is warming. 

DR. WALT MEIER, NASA: "That's simply not true, if you look at just simply the magnitude of the changes we're seeing, in wintertime the Arctic is decreasing twice as fast as what the Antarctic is increasing." 

But there is a fair amount of mystery, in part because our records — even in so-called 'data-rich' regions — don't go back that far. In fact, a lot of the estimates are built on reconstructions, often from corals and sediments to build models spanning thousands of years.

BRADDOCK LINSLEY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: "Intermediate waters have been warming quite a lot, in the last 50 years. The rate of warming today is about 15 times what it was ever in the past, in the last 10,000 years." 

As for how scientists currently measure surface temperatures, as the BBC reports, one source — used in the most recent reports — is Argo, a robotic fleet of some 3,600 thermometers deployed across the planet's oceans, starting in 1999. 

DR. SUSAN WIJFFELS, CSIRO: "It will dive to one kilometer, drift for a while and then dive to two kilometers, and then start measuring things all the way up to the surface." 

And there's no mystery about the Argo floats' findings — the surface temperatures are definitely rising, and fast. 

That's probably at least partly because they bear the brunt of the sun's energy, which is increasingly absorbed and retained. (Video via NASA)

Some experts have suggested to clear up the remaining mysteries about why the surface water temperatures are increasing so much faster than deeper waters, scientists will need new probes, like Argo, to go deeper. 

This video contains an image from Sean McCann / CC BY NC SA 2.0.

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