Newsy - Sci/Health The Latest Videos From <![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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. 

<![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.

<![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

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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."

<![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. 

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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

<![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.

<![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. 

<![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. 

<![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. 

<![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."

<![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

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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. 

<![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.

<![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.

<![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. 

<![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.

<![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. 

<![CDATA[ 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 — 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. is up for sale in the event of a nuclear catastrophe. 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 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 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. 

<![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 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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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. 

<![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.

<![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. 

<![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. 

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![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. 

<![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 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 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. 

<![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. 

<![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

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.

<![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. 

<![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. 

<![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.

<![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.

<![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.

<![CDATA[Addicted To Coffee? It's In Your Genes]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 13:42:00 -0500
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Do you secretly feel guilty for gulping an extra large coffee with a double shot of espresso each morning?

It turns out it might not be your fault. According to a new study, your need for a highly-caffeinated beverage could lie in your genes. (Video via WDIV)

The study comes from the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital as part of a Coffee and Caffeine Genetics Consortium, which examined 120,000 coffee drinkers and 2.5 million variants in their genetic codes.

The findings published recognize six specific genetic variants that affect our coffee-drinking practices. These add to the two variants already identified in 2011, according to The Verge

The genes studied have different roles. Some set your individual metabolic rate for caffeine, some help determine the rewarding effects of caffeine consumption and the rest establish neurological responses to caffeine.

According to Daniel Chasman, the study's senior author, "This research serves as an example of how genetics can influence some types of habitual behavior" ... i.e. that cup of joe that you just have to have during your afternoon slump.

The focus on genetics is most important because it settles an age-old dispute: whether coffee consumption is bad for you. With this new information, scientists are figuring out beneficial caffeine intake is, in fact, personalized.

Multiple studies of moderate caffeine consumption show that it can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, stroke and type II diabetes. It can even lower blood pressure and accelerate weight loss, as reported by Caffeine Informer

Of course, caffeine is also known to have a few drawbacks. According to Drug Info, some long-term effects of caffeine abuse include osteoporosis, severe insomnia and even infertility.

Food Manufacturing says a staggering 83 percent of adult Americans drink coffee, meaning this study could have a significant impact on the American public.

Specifically, Marilyn Cornelis, one of the study's co-authors, suggests we might be looking at a shift to individualized intake plans from doctors and nutritionists for beneficial caffeine consumption in the future. Food for thought. 

This video contains an image from Christos Kotsakis / CC BY NC ND 2.0. 

<![CDATA[Nobel Prize Rewards Crucial Blue LED Invention]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 09:08:00 -0500
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This year's Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to three scientists for an invention that has started to re-shape how we light our lives — the blue LED 

The prize was awarded to a trio of Japanese scientists who in the 1990s developed the blue LED, which, when combined with red and green LEDs led to white LED light. (Video via Nobel Foundation)

That enabled the use of LED lighting to light homes, which could greatly reduce energy consumption, as LED lights last much longer and are much more efficient than traditional lightbulbs. (Video via American Lighting Association

The initial invention of the high-brightness blue LED is credited to Professor Shuji Nakamura, who developed it at Nichia Corporation in Japan, one of the world's largest manufacturers of LED lights. (Video via Lux Magazine)

That invention was preceded by fellow laureates Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano's invention of the original — non-high-brightness — blue LED at Nagoya University.

Nakamura's compensation for his invention led to a legal conflict with Nichia Corporation, which was ultimately forced to pay him some $8.1 million in compensation back in 2005.    

Nakamura eventually left Japan and gained American citizenship, which led a number of American outlets to describe the prize's announcement Tuesday like this.

WKBW: "The Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded this morning, it's gone to two Japanese and one American scientist." 

WRC-TV: "An American scientist is among the recipients of this year's Nobel Prize in physics."

While we're not disputing the fact that Nakamura is an American citizen, outlets seemed pretty eager to claim him as such, neglecting the fact that Nakamura has spent almost all his life in Japan where he created his award-winning invention.  (Video via 愛媛新聞社 Online)

Anyway, if you need proof of the wide reach of Nakamura's invention, and you have a smart phone, the light it uses as flash for your pictures or as a flashlight comes from that combination of red, blue and green light. Nakamura, Amano and Akasaki will share the $1.1 million prize. 

<![CDATA[Is 'Deep Sleep' An Option For Humans-To-Mars Mission?]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 08:33:00 -0500
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Humans have been dreaming about going to Mars for a very, very long time. 

And now that we have rovers on Mars, we know we don't have to fear aliens who will attack Earth ... and also happen to hate yodeling. (Video via Warner Bros. / "Mars Attacks!")

The next step? From rovers on the Red Planet to humans. But ... a machine is one thing, how do we get people there?

Going to the moon seems simple in comparison. Trained astronauts get into a spaceship and rocket off into space, eventually landing on the moon in just a few days.

But Mars ... that's a 180-day trip, being optimistic. The amount of supplies needed would be astronomical.  

So, scientists have come up with a potential option ... put people into what's called torpor. It's a deep, hypothermic sleep, almost like how some animals hibernate in winter. (Video via BBC)

KLAS"NASA hopes by reducing an astronaut's metabolic function, it could cut back on costs."

WTIC"The weight of the cargo on the ship would be nearly cut in half. ... This isn't just something that's going to happen anytime soon, it still requires a lot of testing." 

Here's how torpor works: if given coolant through the nose, the body temperature is lowered by one degree every six hours. Another option is a chemical-induced hibernation. That won't affect body temperature. 

Yes, this all sounds like something out of a science-fiction movie, but torpor has been used for trauma patients regularly for at least the last decade. (Video via Oxford Medical Videos)

However, the longest anyone has been in torpor is about a week. 

And again, NASA is aiming for 180 days.

If scientists do figure it out, the Mars One project may pick up the technology, too. 

In April 2013, the program was launched for people interested in becoming permanent Martians. The launch date is 2023. And, according to Popular Science, these people don't have the option of coming back. 

This video includes an image from NASA.

<![CDATA[Spanish Nurse First To Be Infected With Ebola Outside Africa]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 18:40:00 -0500
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A nurse's assistant in Spain has tested positive for Ebola, making her the first to contract the disease outside of Africa.

The Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato announced Monday the 44-year-old woman tested positive for Ebola in two separate tests. Her name has not yet been released.

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported the patient was admitted to a hospital with a high fever. Further details on her condition have not yet been announced. 

She reportedly contracted the disease while helping treat a Spanish priest who contracted Ebola in West Africa and was sent home for treatment. That man died late last month. 

The Telegraph quotes a Spanish health official who says, "All measures have been taken to give the best care to the patient, and guarantee the safety of all citizens."

All 30 members of the team that treated the Spanish priest are now being monitored, and officials are tracking down anyone else who might have come in contact with the infected nurse's assistant. 

There have been approximately 7,500 confirmed cases of Ebola worldwide, with the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia being hit the hardest. 

It's estimated 3,400 people have died during the outbreak so far. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[It's Official: You Get Your Height From Your Parents]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 13:08:00 -0500
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All you folks on the shorter side, if you're looking for someone to blame for being vertically challenged, take the complaints to Mom and Dad. 

A new study published in the journal Nature Genetics confirms what causes variations in height. It is apparently 80 percent determined by DNA, with the other 20 percent coming from nutrition and other environmental factors. Anyone surprised? 

Yeah, it might sound pretty obvious. But as it turns out, the genetic makeup of height wasn't fully understood. Now we might be closer.

Scientists involved in the study make up the aptly named GIANT consortium — that is, the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits. Together, they analyzed the genetic makeup of more than 250,000 individuals — making this the largest study of its kind.

Medical News Today notes previous studies have speculated there are many genes that influence height, but they have not been large enough to confirm that.

In a press release, the researchers in this study explain they were able to pinpoint double the number of known gene regions that influence height. "In 2007 we published the first paper that identified the first common height gene. ... We have now identified nearly 700 genetic variants that are involved in determining height."

The findings pave the way to possibly treating a variety of diseases partly influenced by height, such as osteoporosis, cancer or heart disease. (Video via University of Texas)

And because some of the genes were found to be involved in skeletal growth, the findings could even aid in the understanding and treatment of abnormal skeletal growth in children.

The researchers say their next step will be to analyze what the specific genes are within the identified gene regions. They hope to further understand the genetic variations that make up who we are.

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

<![CDATA[Company Recalls 90,000 Pounds Of Beef After Metal Complaints]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 12:43:00 -0500
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We're guessing this isn't something you would want to bite into at your next tailgate.

KRIV: "About 91,000 pounds of ground beef that may be contaminated by pieces of metal is being recalled."

ROBIN MEADE FOR HLN: "One person reportedly chipped a tooth from metal in the beef, they say."

The more than 45 tons of ground beef products were packaged by Sam Kane Beef Processors out of Corpus Christi, Texas. (Video via CNN

And the meat was recalled after four separate consumer complaints of pieces of metal in the food — some reportedly as big as 3 mm in size. (Video via KDAF)

According to reports, the beef was shipped only throughout Texas — with most of it going to H-E-B grocery stores. (Video via KFOX)

FOX NEWS: "The USDA says the recalled packages were produced between Sept. 9 and 18 with sell-by dates between Sept. 29 and Oct. 8."

KOKH: "All of the beef in that recall will have the number 337 stamped on the USDA inspection mark."

And it's not the only report of foreign objects in the food the company has seen in recent weeks.

One Texas woman says she found a piece of metal in an H-E-B beef product not covered by the recall this week as well.

KXAN: "Right when I looked down at it there was piece of metal right on top. A small piece."

And according to this USDA recall report, Sam Kane Beef Processors also recalled more than 2,600 pounds of beef in late September — that due to pieces of "blue plastic" in the meat.

<![CDATA[Nobel Prize Awarded For Explanation Of Brain's 'Inner GPS']]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 11:18:00 -0500
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The Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to three scientists Monday for their work determining how the brain perceives places and where we are. 

The ceremony in Stockholm honored British-American John O'Keefe and Norwegian married couple May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser. The three have worked on what's being described as the brain's inner GPS. (Video via Nobel Foundation)

O'Keefe, who is currently based at University College London, has been studying that aspect of the brain — in particular place cells — since the 1970s. 

Place cells are neurons that activate depending on where the brain perceives itself to be. So if you move from one place to another, the corresponding place cells will fire.

The way place cells work has been studied extensively in rats, as you can see in this video. The rat's brain is monitored as it travels around a maze, mapping out which neurons fire and when. (Video via Fabian Kloosterman Lab)

May-Britt and Edvard Moser have focused their research on grid cells, which mentally map our environment. So grid cells provide the map, and place cells tell you where you are on it. (Video via Boston University)

EDVARD MOSER VIA NTNU: "The system uses the rat's position and movement, speed, but doesn't care about what it looks like around. It just uses the change in position, just like a GPS."

Later in that video from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, which is where the two work, May-Britt explains our memories of places and landmarks are then layered over that grid. 

As The New York Times notes, the Mosers' discovery of those grid cells came more than 30 years after O'Keefe's original research on place cells, and their combined efforts could have very real medical applications. 

"The laureates' findings may eventually lead to a better understanding of the loss of spatial awareness associated with Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases."

As the two discoveries are so closely intertwined, the prize money — about $1.2 million — will be split between O'Keefe and the Mosers.

This video includes an image from Tim Ereneta / CC BY NC 2.0 and NTNU / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[Would A Travel Ban Help Stop The Spread Of Ebola?]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 09:18:00 -0500
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If you've ever been on an airplane, this might look familiar. It's an air-sickness bag, meant for motion sickness.

But the Ebola outbreak has changed how some people might react to seeing a fellow passenger vomiting on a plane.

WHBQ: "Over the weekend, CDC agents removed two passengers from a plane landing in Newark, New Jersey, after a possible Ebola scare. One man on board was reportedly vomiting." 

CNN: "The Port authorities said it was a routine response to to a sick passenger. But airport officials told CNN that authorities were taking precautions because of heightened concerns about Ebola."

While authorities took the man and his daughter, whom he was traveling with, to a local hospital, other passengers were forced to wait on the plane with little information about what was going on. The man and his daughter both tested negative for Ebola, but one passenger told the outlet he believed the man was traveling from Liberia.   

ABC"Experts say that scare comes from people here truly worried, a nation on edge, and that this fear is the new normal."

"This may be the new norm when somebody shows signs of an illness that could be Ebola."  

But should it be? Yes, Ebola is scary, and yes, it has been brought over from West Africa to the U.S. But the chances of someone actually catching it on an airplane are extremely slim. 

And that fact has been reiterated countless times over the past months. In August, the World Health Organization explained, "On the small chance that someone on the plane is sick with Ebola, the likelihood of other passengers and crew having contact with their body fluids is even smaller."

But still, some question why there's been no travel ban between the U.S. and Africa, and outlets are exploring that question.

Businessweek notes both Texas Rep. Ted Poe and Rep. Alan Grayson from Florida have called on the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to implement travel restrictions. But Businessweek dubs the White House's refusal to do so is the "right thing to do." 

"Restricting travel to and from the affected region will have little impact on the already minimal risk to Americans from the Ebola virus while further worsening the situation in West Africa."

And CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said: "Although we might wish we could seal ourselves off from the world, there are Americans who have the right of return; there are many other people who have the right to enter this county. We're not going be able to get to zero risks, no matter what we do, unless and until we control the outbreak in West Africa."

Wednesday the White House noted"We've provided guidance to pilots, flight attendants and others who are responsible for staffing our transportation infrastructure to ensure that if they notice individuals who are exhibiting symptoms ... that the proper authorities are notified."

As of now, U.S. officials say there are no plans to implement travel restrictions. 

This video includes images from Getty Images and espring4224 / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[Is The U.S. At Fault For Pakistan's Polio Outbreak?]]> Sat, 04 Oct 2014 18:29:00 -0500
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Pakistani officials said Saturday the country is experiencing its largest polio outbreak in 15 years, with 202 cases reported so far in 2014. 

Polio is highly contagious but is easily prevented through a vaccine. The disease has been widely eradicated in most of the world, but can still be found in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

Pakistan almost had the disease wiped out in 2012 and only experienced 58 cases, but that all changed once the Taliban banned the immunizations. 

The Taliban is known to attack and kill vaccination teams and most of the polio cases in the country are coming from the parts of the country where there is a heavy militant presence. 

Since 2012, around 60 people have been killed by the Taliban's targeting of polio vaccinators. "This was the fate of two young female health workers who did go to a neighborhood — shot dead."

The Taliban's distaste for immunizations came after the U.S. announced a Pakistani doctor was helping the CIA find Osama bin Laden through a fake immunization campaign.  

Because of this, some are blaming the outbreak on the U.S. "The country was on its way to eradicating the disease until the Taliban found out the CIA used the vaccine to do its dirty work."

In May, U.S. officials said they will no longer use health workers as spies because of this kind of backlash. 

Director-general of the World Health Organization Margret Chan told the U.N. General Assembly  last month, “Pakistan is the single most important stumbling block along the road to ending polio once and for all.”

Pakistan launched an anti-polio drive this week in attempt to get the country's tens of millions of children vaccinated. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Woman Becomes First To Give Birth Through Womb Transplant]]> Sat, 04 Oct 2014 08:43:00 -0500
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In what's a first in the medical world — a woman given a womb transplant successfully gave birth to a baby boy. 

LIZA JOHANNESSON VIA BBC: "It actually gives hope, and it gives hope to those women and men also of course that thought they'd never have a child."

According to the report, which appeared in the medical journal The Lancet, the 36-year-old Swedish mother had received a donated uterus from a 61-year-old family friend who had undergone menopause seven years earlier.

The uterus transplant was performed at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. A year later, doctors implanted a frozen embryo that was fertilized in-vitro with one of the mother's eggs and the father's sperm.

The Local reports last month the baby was successfully delivered by caesarian section 31 weeks into the mother's pregnancy.

MATTS BRANNSTROM VIA SKY NEWS"It screamed almost immediately and that is a good sign that the baby is doing fine and of course that was fantastic happiness among me and the whole team."

According to Bloomberg, the woman was born with Rokitansky syndrome, a rare condition which affects 1 out of about 4,500 women and results in a missing uterus. 

The Telegraph quotes the baby's father as saying "He's no different from any other child, but he will have a good story to tell."

Speaking to the BBC, the chairman of the British Fertility Society said "The scale of it feels a bit like [in-vitro fertilization]. It feels like a step change. The question is can it be done repeatedly, reliably and safely."

Transplanting a uterus is still a very rare procedure, with only a few attempts being taken in the past. None of them resulted in a live birth either.

The first was in Saudi Arabia in 2000. According to New Scientist, it was considered a "partial success" because the womb had to be removed after 99 days due to blood clotting.  

Another, done in Turkey in 2011 was more successful with the uterus eventually becoming fully functional. The Daily Mail said the woman attempted to give birth using in-vitro fertilization but ultimately experienced a miscarriage.

The Swedish parents will reportedly soon be able to decide whether or not they want to try for a second child or have the womb removed due to the negative long-term effects of the drugs being used to keep it in place.

This video contains an image from Eva the Weaver / CC BY NC SA 2.0.

<![CDATA[Can Curiosity Boost Memory And Learning?]]> Sat, 04 Oct 2014 08:15:00 -0500
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Ever wonder why you remember some bits of information and forget others? According to University of California at Davis researchers, it might have something to do with your curiosity.

In a study published in the journal Neuron, the researchers found those who felt particularly curious about a subject remembered even unrelated information both in a short-term period and after 24 hours.

Participants were given a series of trivia questions followed by an image, and were asked to rate their level of curiosity in answering them. The more curious they were, the better they remembered details about the images.

Some headlines made sure to mention some variations of the obvious expression here: Curiosity killed the cat. But at least it boosts learning and memory, right?

In a press release, the researchers explain it all has to do with curiosity interacting with the brain's reward system, adding, "Curiosity may put the brain in a state that allows it to learn and retain any kind of information, like a vortex that sucks in what you are motivated to learn, and also everything around it."

So the key to remembering that bit of information when, say, studying for an exam is to actually be interested in it. But it might not always work out as intended.

As a neuroscientist unrelated to the study tells Scientific American, curiosity could actually be a negative experience. "Being uncertain about the identity of the murderer may be a pleasant reward-anticipating feeling when you know this will be revealed. But this will turn into frustration if the last chapter is missing."

The researchers say the findings could be beneficial in boosting learning in classroom settings with students potentially being more motivated to learn if dull material can be enhanced to pique their interest. (Video via Google)

This video includes images from Getty Images and The Popular Science Monthly / D. Appleton and Company.

<![CDATA[What's With Facebook's Foray Into Health And Wellness?]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 21:41:00 -0500
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The past few days could be described as Facebook's week of contrition — company reps apologized to those affected by its flawed "real names" policy and vowed to change its research methods after using controversial methods to conduct a study on emotions.

But an exclusive report from Reuters Friday revealed some positive news for the network and potentially its users, saying the social media network could be jumping into the health and wellness industry. 

The report cites information from three anonymous sources who said the company is working on online support groups for Facebook users who suffer from various ailments and preventative care apps. 

Facebook's new development will join the likes of Apple's HealthKit app (available with iOS 8) and Google Fit. 

So, why is Facebook planning to join an already crowded field of available mobile health services? 

For one, Facebook has tried, and has had some success, with health-related projects, like its push to have users share their organ donor statuses. Bloomberg reported in 2013 that project "helped boost the number of people who registered as donors 21-fold in one day."

Around the same time Facebook first encouraged organ donation, founder Mark Zuckerberg said he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, a medical student, often talked about healthcare — so maybe the venture has some personal significance. 

Finally, the move into health and wellness could be potentially lucrative for Facebook. The Washington Post writes, "There's ... a lot of money floating around the healthcare industry — an estimated $3 trillion worth." 

But the success of this new project ultimately depends on how much users trust Facebook with their information, especially after the network's emotions study, which some argue used Facebook users as test subjects without their consent. 

Frank Williams, chief executive of Evolent Health, told CNET for Facebook to be successful, "people would need anonymity and an assurance that their data and comments wouldn't be shared with their online contacts, advertisers, or pharmaceutical companies."

Details about the health and wellness venture are limited, but Facebook could reveal more details at the 2014 Mobile Health and Innovation Conference Thursday. 

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[U.S. Sanitation Could Be Difference In Containing Ebola]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 15:58:00 -0500
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In an effort to contain the Ebola virus, a hazardous materials team has sanitized the apartment where the four family members of U.S. Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan are in quarantine. 

Duncan was hospitalized in late September after returning to the country from Liberia. He was eventually diagnosed with Ebola and is said to be in serious but stable condition. 

The hazmat team collected the sheets, towels and other materials Duncan came in contact with while he was staying in the apartment. The apartment was supposed to be sanitized Thursday, but those plans were delayed because of permit issues regarding the transfer of hazardous waste. 

There has been a lot of media discussion about how sanitary practices like these set the U.S. apart from other countries facing Ebola. 

MAGGIE FOX VIA MSNBC: "The Americans who have been treated here all survived because of the good medical care they got. In Liberia, in Sierra Leone, in Guinea, that care is not available."

ALAN COLMES VIA FOX NEWS: "We don't automatically trust the government, but I certainly trust our physicians who know what they're doing."

And a CNN reporter noted the fact that none of Duncan's family members in quarantine have exhibited signs of Ebola could be a good sign the U.S. is having success in containing the disease. 

MARTIN SAVIDGE VIA CNN: "That is great news because if they're not showing symptoms, in theory no one has Ebola there and no one is in danger of transmitting the disease to anyone else."

Meanwhile in Washington, another possible Ebola case in the country has been reported. Howard University Hospital has confirmed it's treating a patient with symptoms that could be associated with Ebola. 

The hospital says the patient, who had recently traveled to Nigeria, is receiving medical treatment in isolation. 

That patient has not been identified but is said to be in stable condition. 

This video includes images from the City of Dallas and Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[How Alcohol Might Reduce Sperm Quality]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 12:37:00 -0500
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Listen up, men. It's widely known consuming a lot of alcohol negatively affects general health, but a recent study found it also has effects on reproductive health.

As Medical News Today reports, researchers found an up to 33 percent reduced sperm count in men who drank excessive alcohol at 40 units a week — but they also saw lower sperm quality among men who drank even just moderate amounts of 5-10 units a week.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one unit of alcohol is equivalent to one glass of wine, one can of beer or a shot of liquor.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal and surveyed more than 1,200 men. All subjects were Danish and young — between the ages of 18 and 28.

Now, there's no cause-and-effect relationship here. The researchers say the findings don't necessarily mean drinking a lot of alcohol will directly affect sperm cells, only that there is an observed correlation. It's also not clear whether these effects are permanent.

But the study does seem to reflect similar findings from several previous studies involving alcohol and sperm count.

And the researchers believe these findings are worrisome, saying in a press release, "Given the fact that young men in the western world [drink a lot], this is of public health concern, and could be a contributing factor to the low sperm count."

Plus, lead author Tina Jensen tells The Washington Post young Danish men generally drink more than any other young men in Europe.

Recommended alcohol consumption levels vary by country. According to this table from the International Center for Alcohol Policies, Denmark's current recommended limits for men stand at 21 alcohol units a week — about seven more than current U.S. guidelines.

This video includes an image by Getty Images.

<![CDATA[3 Deaths In 1 Week: How Risky Is High School Football?]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 11:47:00 -0500
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A 16-year-old high school football player died Wednesday following an on-field collision.

Tom Cutinella was a junior at Shoreham-Wading River High School. He was pronounced dead after collapsing during the third quarter of a varsity football game.  But school officials say football is not to blame.

STEVEN COHEN, SHOREHAM-WADING SUPERINTENDENT ON WNBC"It was the result of a typical football play.  It was just a freak accident."

Cutinella's death is the third death of a high school football player due to football-related injuries in a week.  Demario Harris Jr. of Troy, Alabama died Friday after being tackled. That same day, Isaiah Langston of Rolesville High School collapsed and died during pre-game warm-ups.

That certainly makes for an eye-catching headline. But let's look at the overall numbers behind school football deaths.

In a 2013 study, The American Journal of Sports Medicine found football-related fatalities in high school and college average 12.2 per year.  That is about 1 in every 100,000 participants. Fatalities are most commonly from indirect causes, such as heat illness and cardiac failure. College football players are also 2.8 times more likely to suffer fatal injury than high schoolers.

And the popularity of college football may be an issue here. The New York Times paraphrases Kate Carr, president and chief executive of Safe Kids Worldwide, as saying that "some of the intense culture of professional and collegiate football is trickling down to the high school level."

Some school districts have instituted stricter practice and equipment guidelines in response to evidence that deaths have increased since 1994.

According to a study in the International Journal of Biometeorology, deaths from heat-related injuries nearly tripled from 1994 to 2009. Researchers said some of the increase may be explained by higher temperatures during practice times and an increase in average BMI among football players, though those are only a couple of possible factors.

Students and teammates held a candlelight vigil for Cutinella on the school's football field Thursday.  Cutinella's grandfather told The New York Times that even though there are risks associated with football, he would never ask his grandsons to quit playing.

<![CDATA[Scientists Use Satellites To Remap Earth's Oceans]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 11:40:00 -0500
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One of Earth's last great uncharted frontiers is a little less mysterious. Using satellites, scientists have created an entirely new, more accurate map of our planet's oceans.

And they've discovered thousands of new "seamounts," or underwater mountains, with more trenches, ridges and scars than you can shake a snorkel at.  

Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego mapped the seafloor with the European Space Agency's CryoSat-2 satellite, which has primarily been used to measure polar ice data, and NASA's Jason-1 satellite.

Creating something called a "gravity map," Scripps used radars on the satellites to make gravitational measurements of the ocean floor. Add a little Google Earth action, and you suddenly have the most accurate map of the ocean floor ever.

Even though researchers say they've barely had a chance to look at the new data, they've already discovered new continental connections across South America and Africa and 150 million-year-old ridges in the Gulf of Mexico.

They're not very useful for climbing enthusiasts, but a researcher from the team told The Guardian the discovery of new features on the ocean floor could be helpful for military or oil exploration.

A report detailing the new map was published Friday in the  journal Science says seamounts between 1 and 2 kilometers tall are now more apparent than they were in older mapping data.

While that doesn't sound all that significant, one of the researchers told BBC where before oceanographers only knew of 5,000 seamounts, now they might be able to detect another 25,000.

Scripps estimates the new satellite scanning technique will allow them to improve data on 80 percent of the oceans which have been unexplored by the slower boating method.

This video includes images from Getty Images, David Sandwell / Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and Alice Radford / CC BY NC ND 2.0.

<![CDATA[Study Reveals Origins Of AIDS Pandemic: A 'Perfect Storm']]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 10:20:00 -0500
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The origins of AIDS discovered? While AIDS came to prominence in the 1980s, a new study published Friday says it was actually around decades before, in the 1920s.

In what an international team of scientists are calling a "perfect storm" for spreading the virus, they think its proliferation started in the city of Kinshasa, the capital of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

That "storm" took place over about 30 years. Between the 1920s and 1950s, the city saw massive growth. Railways developed, millions of people traveled through and with more male laborers than female citizens, a sex trade emerged. 

Plus, medical practices were less sanitary. The disease spread largely unnoticed by most of the globe.

And these researchers say African independence in 1960 led to infected people bringing the disease to other areas of the world. The team looked at more than 800 HIV samples, and basically built a massive family tree.

The virus is believed to have originated and mutated from chimpanzees and at some point jumped from an ape to a human in the early 20th century. It's unconfirmed as to how...

Though National Geographic offers: " ... probably because central African hunters ate infected chimpanzees and other nonhuman primates."

The Guardian says it was possibly transmitted in Cameroon, then made its way to Kinshasa.

And it's believed the virus actually made the jump from apes to humans on multiple occasions.

As Sky News notes, tens of thousands of people were infected in Cameroon at one point. It was just one jump that created a pandemic.

Ultimately, AIDS has affected 75 million people worldwide.

And what other researchers are finding interesting here is that this study suggests it was more social change and development than the virus' ability to adapt that caused the spread, which was previously thought. 

And that's why one professor told the BBC he expects the study to spark "lively debate."

Indeed, there are already criticisms: a professor of the history of medicine told HealthDay he's questioning the records the study's authors used, because for much of that time Africa was under European control. "Colonial records are well-known by historians and anthropologists to be biased," he said.

And with the spread of Ebola making headlines worldwide, the information comes at an interesting time. 

The president of the EcoHealth Alliance told National Geographic as countries develop in transport and agriculture, healthcare must develop too. "If we want to stop isolated viral spillover events from becoming pandemics in the future, this is the sort of research we need."

The study was published in the journal Science.

<![CDATA[Sharks May Have Unique Personalities]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 20:05:00 -0500
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Humans have a variety of personality traits. And now, a new study says sharks have personalities as well. Yes, sharks. 

Researchers at the Marine Biological Association of the UK and the University of Exeter studied ten small groups of cat sharks in three different habitats, and looked at their behavioral patterns. 

The research shows that even though sharks are depicted as mindless, eating machines they have unique social patterns that determine how they interact with other sharks.

One of the researchers explained in a press release: "These results were driven by different social preferences ... that appeared to reflect different strategies for staying safe. Well-connected individuals formed conspicuous groups, while less social individuals tended to camouflage alone."

These social or antisocial personality traits were likely developed by the young sharks to avoid being another animal's lunch. 

BBC notes this is far from the first piece of research to suggest that animals have personalities. There has been a lot of evidence that shows individual behavior differences in a large number of species. 

And these findings for the catshark actually line up with some results from completely separate research on the lemon shark. Those findings showed consistent personality traits in their test subjects as well.

So do you think Jaws hung out with other sharks or was more of a loner when he wasn't terrorizing fisherman?

This video includes images from Joachim S. Muller / CC BY NC SA 2.0Emoke Denes and Anthony Patterson.

<![CDATA[Liberia Says Dallas Ebola Patient Could Face Charges]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 19:03:00 -0500
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Liberian officials announced Thursday the first Ebola victim to be diagnosed in the U.S. could face prosecution for allegedly lying during an airport screening process.

Thomas Eric Duncan, who's currently being treated at a Dallas hospital, left Liberia on Sept. 19 after he contracted the virus but before displaying any symptoms. At a Liberian airport, Duncan filled out a health questionnaire asking whether he'd come in contact with an Ebola patient in the past 21 days. (Video via NBC)

Duncan apparently answered "no," but, as The New York Times reports, he did help transport a family friend with Ebola to and from a Liberian hospital four days before leaving the country. That patient died of the disease hours after Duncan last came in contact with her. 

The head of Liberia's airport authority told reporters the country's justice department plans to charge Duncan for knowingly providing false information on an official form and for endangering lives.

A lawsuit is probably the least of Duncan's worries at this point — he's currently listed as in serious but stable condition at Texas Health Presbytarian Hospital. (Video via KTVT)

And, as CNN's Sanjay Gupta points out, it could be hard for Liberian authorities to prove Duncan willfully lied on the questionnaire.

"I think some of the details do matter here. Did he in fact know that the person who was sick in fact had Ebola?"

So why is Liberia announcing its plans to prosecute Duncan now? It might have something to do with the country's image. 

Mashable highlights remarks from the official announcing the lawsuit, who said infected Liberians traveling to other countries "have brought a 'stigma' upon Liberians living abroad."

The Los Angeles Times reports members of Texas's Liberian community report being harassed since Duncan's case was made public.

Liberia has been one of the hardest hit countries during the Ebola outbreak. Of the 3,300 deaths caused by the epidemic, Liberia has accounted for almost 2,000, according to World Health Organization estimates.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Pluto Still Not A Planet, But Fans Might Be Winning Debate]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 18:54:00 -0500
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Have fans of Pluto succeeded in making it a planet again?

You might have seen some headlines over the last few days saying Pluto has regained the title of planet, as well as loads of celebratory tweets.

But don't get ahead of yourselves, Pluto planet-ists. Your cheers are premature.

The story stems from a panel discussion that took place two weeks ago at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. 

Three planetary scientists revisited the debate on whether Pluto's 2006 demotion from planet to dwarf planet was the right move. At the end, the audience voted that Pluto should be considered a planet. 

That news then sort of snowballed into "Public votes that Pluto is a planet!" then to "Harvard scientists say Pluto is a planet!" and finally to "Pluto is a planet again!"

Sorry to throw cold water over the excitement, because if there's one thing we've learned about the whole Pluto debate, it's that the pro-Pluto side is very strongly attached to that tiny, distant chunk of rock and ice. 

Maybe it's the Disney character that gives people such a strong attachment to Pluto.

Or the fact that the "Pluto is not a planet" side can come off a little harsh.


Or maybe it's just because they prefer their very excellent mothers serve them nine pizzas instead of nachos.

But for whatever reason, some folks just aren't letting this go.

They will get a chance to see Pluto in the headlines again soon, though. NASA's New Horizons space probe is scheduled to reach the dwarf planet next summer after a nine-and-a-half-year journey. It's the agency's first mission directly to Pluto, so hopefully we'll get some better photos than this.

This video includes images from NASA, Getty Images and javacolleen / CC BY NC ND 2.0.

<![CDATA[Fatal Heroin Overdoses Doubled Between 2010 And 2012: CDC]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 17:05:00 -0500
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U.S. health officials say deaths from heroin overdoses doubled in the country from 2010 to 2012. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compiled data from 28 states to come to this conclusion. 

The CDC found heroin deaths increased across the board, regardless of sex, age, religion and race. 

However, the study found deaths from opioid pain reliever overdoses went down during that same time period.

The CDC wrote this decrease in OPR deaths is likely linked to the increase in heroin. Researchers think heroin may have taken over as the drug of choice. 

So why the change? Well, The Daily Beast points out cost is likely a factor. It says prescription pills can go for $40 each, while a bag of heroin can go for $10. 

The study goes on to imply OPRs may be a sort of gateway drug that leads to heroin, information researchers feel is important in trying to reduce heroin deaths.

CDC Director Thomas Frieden said“Addressing prescription opioid abuse by changing prescribing is likely to prevent heroin use in the long term.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says heroin addictions can be treated through both behavioral therapy and medication. It says integrating both of those is usually the most successful. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Midlife Moodiness Linked To Higher Risk Of Dementia]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 14:13:00 -0500
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Everyone has days when they're down in the dumps. But could your bad mood actually increase your probability of developing dementia?

Scientists in Sweden think so, especially for women, according to new research published in the journal Neurology. They followed 800 women over the course of 38 years "to study the association between midlife neuroticism ... and development of late-life dementia."

According to HealthDay, women who were the "most anxious, jealous and moody" of all the subjects studied had two times the risk of developing Alzheimer's compared to those who were the most easygoing.

The study has far-reaching implications, as women are at the heart of the Alzheimer's crisis. Two-thirds of all Americans diagnosed with the disease are women, according to the Alzheimer's Association

But it's important to clarify that the association of midlife neuroses and a later diagnosis of dementia is just that — an association. Scientists stress that moodiness does not necessarily trigger Alzheimer's disease.

Dr. Ingmar Skoog, an author of this study, says the link instead lies with stress levels in individuals. He told Time"It seems like the personality factor makes people more easily stressed, and if people are more easily stressed, then they have an increased risk of dementia."

There's also a combination factor. Individuals who became easily distressed  — neurotic, by the authors' definition — and who also showed signs of introversion were the most likely to develop dementia. (Video via National Institute on Aging)

Lena Johansson, the study's lead author, says more research needs to be done. According to Johansson, "It remains to be seen whether neuroticism could be modified by medical treatment or through lifestyle changes." Alzheimer's disease remains the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.

<![CDATA[Could Enterovirus Strain Cause Polio-Like Symptoms?]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 13:58:00 -0500
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The enterovirus D68, also known as EV-D68, is a respiratory virus that's been hospitalizing children across the nation. In the past three weeks, EV-D68 has spread from 12 states to 42, with four recent deaths linked to the virus. 

Though according to HealthDay"It's not clear what role – if any – the virus played in those deaths." The source reports health officials are trying to figure out whether the virus is connected to cases of muscle weakness and paralysis. 

CBS reports some children who have EV-D68 are also showing polio-like symptoms. There have been 10 reported cases of children with these symptoms in Colorado, and health officials in California reported a similar case Wednesday. 

An infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University told WebMD"This could be just coincidental, so we can't leap to the conclusion that enterovirus D68 is the cause of this paralysis. ... It's right at the top of our list of suspects, but we haven't nailed it yet."

The unknown is leaving health officials and families in confusing and difficult situations.

DR. TERI SCHREINER VIA CBS"It's very frustrating not to be able to give a good prognosis to these parents who all of a sudden have a child with in some cases marked weakness of one or more of their limbs."

According to The New York Times, as of Wednesday, there were 472 confirmed cases of the infection. The virus hit early in Kansas City, but one doctor from that area thinks cases might have plateaued and they likely won't see any more before the end of the month. 

That would, of course, be welcome news. But CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta points out this disease isn't unlike many common illnesses.

"Regular flu kills some 30,000-40,000 people a year in this country, and it's sad to think about, but that's the reality, and enterovirus is one of those types of strains that can lead to death."

There are currently no preventive vaccines for this illness, but there are steps you can take to improve your chances of staying healthy.

COMMUNICABLE-DISEASE PROGRAM SUPERVISOR VIA KULR"To prevent catching it is going to be the same thing with this as we tell people to prevent against the influenza — you must wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands."

Other tips include keeping a distance from people who are sick and cleaning surfaces that are touched often. 

Children are most susceptible to the virus, but if you're an adult and having breathing problems or other symptoms that are common with a bad cold, you shouldn't take any chances and should get checked out by a doctor.

<![CDATA[Ebola Might Not Be Out Of Control In U.S., But Coverage Is]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 10:56:00 -0500
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If you're watching the news in the U.S., you might notice a trend.

FOX NEWS: "We're not going to stop flights. Even during this time, even with this scare for the first time with Ebola in America."

MSNBC: "The spread of Ebola in America has so far been limited to just one man."

CNN: "Because it's going on somewhere else, how real is the fear that it should or could happen here?"

FOX BUSINESS: "I'll talk about car sales next hour. You know what? If you don't want Ebola, drive your ass."

So, to fear or not to fear? Online media are just as confusing.

There's panic as children are being pulled from their schools, analysis on who profits from Ebola in the U.S., questions as to how the American Ebola patient "escaped" for two days.

Everything from reports that the patient vomited outdoors to analysis on "ground zero," or the patient's apartment.

But there's also commentary on why the U.S. health care system is the only one that can stop the disease.

At this point, the coverage is overwhelming, and the age-old journalism adage of "If it bleeds, it leads" seems to be prevailing.

Even though the bottom line from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remains, "Ebola poses no significant risk to the United States."

It's not airborne. It's easily deterred with proper sanitation. And as The Guardian noted in early August, the disease spreads linearly — that is, one person only infects around one other person. Ebola's spread is not exponential where one person infects dozens of others.

So why is everyone in the U.S. getting so worked up it?

NBC asked that same question in August before news broke about the U.S. patient. A risk communication expert summed it up like this: "We all kind of imagine catching Ebola because that's what you do with something new and really, really, really scary."

A health communication expert who wrote an op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman is a little more pointed with what’s to blame, saying: "when examining the level and tenor of much of the media coverage of Ebola, one might assume that this virus has already spread throughout our country, which it has not. … this is sensationalized journalism."



The CDC's Director Tom Frieden assured CBS News Wednesday the U.S' strong public health system and infection control will help the CDC stop Ebola "in its tracks in the U.S."

This video includes images from Getty Images, Placbo / CC BY NC SA 2.0 and Patrick Lauke / CC BY NC ND 2.0.

<![CDATA[Study Says Losing Sense Of Smell Can Indicate Death]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 05:41:00 -0500
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Sense of smell is important ... it attracts you to others, and, conversely, lets you know when you're not so attractive to others ...

But a new study says our sense of smell is even more important than that. If you're starting to lose this one of the five senses, you could be in serious trouble.

Researchers interviewed more than 3,000 adults ages 57-85 living in the United States. Their senses of smell were tested with five scents.

Rose, leather, orange, fish ... yuck and peppermint. Individuals were scored on their results, which were surprising ... or we wouldn't be bringing you this story. 

Five years later, the researchers checked back in. Thirty-nine percent of participants who had failed the smell test had died. Only 10 percent of those with a good sniffer died within those five years.

Also ... a story on impending doom? It's been quick to make the media rounds — our favorite headline may be, "your nose knows death is imminent."

But we need to say, obviously losing your smell isn't the CAUSE of death, it's more like an early warning sign.

WREX"They believe the decline in the ability to smell is an indicator of some other age-related degeneration and not the cause of the death."

"Well, hopefully not, no, you can't smell anything and then you die."

The study's lead author, from The University of Chicago, says: 

"We think loss of the sense of smell is like the canary in the coal mine ... It doesn't directly cause death, but it's a harbinger, an early warning ... Our findings could provide a useful clinical test, a quick and inexpensive way to identify patients most at risk."

It's still unclear exactly how the loss of smell can indicate an early death, but researchers are considering "several hypotheses."

This video contains images from Getty Images, Bradley Gordon / CC BY 2.0, Stephen Poff / CC BY NC ND 2.0 and Brad Montgomery / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[Ebola Not Found In Those Who Made Contact With U.S. Patient]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 18:03:00 -0500
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We're now learning more about the Texas Ebola patient — the first diagnosed in the U.S. — and how a possible miscommunication allowed the patient to come in contact with other people. 

The Associated Press has identified the patient, but we have chosen not to at this point. He's reportedly a Liberian national who arrived in Dallas to visit family Sept. 20. By the 26th he had developed symptoms and sought care. 

Texas Health Resources Executive Vice President Mark Lester said Wednesday a triage nurse performed a screening on the patient, who said he had recently been to Africa. But for whatever reason, that information wasn't passed along to the team evaluating whether to keep him or send him home, and he was released.

Health officials and Texas Gov. Rick Perry said at a press conference the man had possibly been in contact with up to 18 individuals. 

RICK PERRY VIA NBC: "We've learned that some school-aged children have been identified as having contact with the patient." 

SUPERINTENDENT OF DALLAS SCHOOLS MIKE MILES: "We have the five students that attend four different schools." 

Meanwhile, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention arrived in Dallas and began tracking down anyone else who had contact with the patient. KTVT reports the paramedics who brought the patient to the hospital Sept. 28 are being monitored but have tested negative for Ebola. 

As for the patient, The New York Times reports the man could've initially become infected by his landlord's sick daughter in Liberia. The Times says the man "helped his landlord and his landlord's son carry the stricken girl to the hospital. ... She died the next day. Soon, the landlord's son also became ill, and he died on Wednesday in an ambulance on the way to the hospital."

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where the patient is being treated, hasn't commented on the specific drugs being used to treat the man. KDFW reports health officials are discussing using experimental drugs, but not the ZMapp drug that was given to earlier patients because it's no longer available.

The patient is in intensive care, but his condition has improved. 

This video includes images from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Astronomers Spot Largest, Brightest Solar Flare Ever]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 14:04:00 -0500
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Astronomers at NASA spotted a solar flare from a nearby red dwarf star earlier this year — the largest ever recorded.

The flare came from one of a pair of binary red dwarf stars about 60 light-years from our solar system. It's designated DG Canum Venaticorum — DG CVn for short.

They used the SWIFT gamma ray observatory — an orbital telescope designed to spot and map high-intensity bursts of radiation. And this one was very high intensity.

"The largest solar flare ever recorded happened on Nov. 4, 2003. It was so powerful that it overloaded the sensors measuring it. DG CVn's flare, however, was much larger."

The scientists say if there were instruments measuring the flare from the same distance Earth's telescopes monitor the sun, DG CVn's burst would have appeared more than 10,000 times more powerful than any flare ever recorded.

NASA says the flare was 12 times hotter than the core of our own sun and temporarily drowned out all the other light coming from the star system.

So what causes these things? Long answer, the rotation of the star causes its magnetic field to build up unsustainable levels of stored energy. Short answer, think of it like a rubber band.

DG CVn completes a revolution in less than 24 hours, which NASA says is more than 30 times faster than the spin rate of our own sun. The star's magnetic field gets torqued and twisted by the rotation, accumulating energy until something eventually snaps.

It's the same phenomenon that causes flares from our own sun, but lucky for us, not as explosively.

NASA researchers say flares from DG CVn are a common occurrence and plan to use SWIFT to monitor the system for more of them. You can learn more about the recent flare on NASA's website.

This video includes images and video from NASA.

<![CDATA[Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 11:17:00 -0500
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Researchers say the chances of your child being born with autism could depend on pregnancy spacing. 

A new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says children born less than one year or more than five years after the birth of a sibling are more likely to be diagnosed with autism. 


So, having a child between that two to five year gap could result in a decreased chance of autism. 

Researchers for the study say they can't definitively say why this is, but stress the bigger picture of the study. 

Study leader Keely Cheslack-Postava says, "The importance of this finding lies in the clues that it can provide in terms of understanding how the prenatal environment is related to outcomes after birth."

Cheslack-Postava published a similar study in early 2011. That one focused more on how closely spaced pregnancies related to autism. 

Epidemiologist Michael Rosanoff, who was not involved in this study, told Autism Speaks this most recent study, " in line with studies suggesting that depleted folic acid or iron during pregnancy may increase autism risk." 

A study published in 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association says women who take folic acid supplements around the time of conception can reduce the risk of autism in their child. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 68 children have an autism spectrum disorder. 

<![CDATA[Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 08:08:00 -0500
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Scientists have made an unprecedented observation about the way that chimpanzees transmit knowledge from one individual to another in the wild — a building block of chimp culture. 

Dr. Catherine Hobaiter, of Saint Andrews University caught the activity on camera as chimps sat to drink at a watering hole. Chimps often use leaves like sponges to drink water — but here you can see the alpha male chimp grabbing moss to add to his leaf to absorb more water. Over time, Hobaiter observed how other chimps who saw that innovation started doing it themselves, until it had spread across the group. (Video via Hobaiter et al.)

Hobaiter and her colleagues mapped the spread and created a model for it In the study, which you can find online in the journal PLOS One. She told the BBC:

DR. CATHERINE HOBAITER, VIA BBC: “We’ve never actually been able to see the start of something new in a wild group spread from individual to individual. And that was the final piece in the puzzle to be able to say, ‘yes, these differences in chimp behavior are cultural.’”

Chimps have particularly interested humans since Jane Goodall’s discovery some 50 years ago that chimps — our closest genetic relatives — use tools in a way we previously thought only humans did. (Video via Yale University)

Cultural transmission — the way animals share knowledge and teach behaviors to one another — has long been a point of interest, especially in primates.

One of the older studies has to do with macaques in Japan, learning to wash sweet potatoes given to them by researchers, and even using saltwater to season them. (Video via Yoshida Wildlife Photo Museum)

And other Japanese macaques who lived near a mountain resort and were fed by patrons, over time developed leisure activities like bathing in the resort’s hot springs. (Video via The Guardian)

But in both of those cases there was human intervention of some kind — where this most recent discovery was purely in the wild. And it’s also worth noting macaques and chimps are pretty distant relatives.

This most recent discovery follows another breakthrough in chimp research this past summer — which also came from a team led by Dr. Hobaiter. (Video via National Geographic)

They studied the way chimps communicate with one another and were able to chart as many as 66 different gestures which the apes use to communicate some 19 different meanings.

Scientists have known for awhile that chimps were capable of cultural learning, having previously observed it in captivity.  

<![CDATA[Doctors Reassure Public Ebola Patient Won't Cause Outbreak]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 20:58:00 -0500
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Following confirmation of the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the U.S., Texas health officials held a separate press conference Tuesday to reassure the public Ebola will not become widespread in the states.  

Much of what was said in the second press conference has already been said before:

DR. EDWARD GOODMAN VIA KDFW: “It is not an airborne disease.”

“We’re not talking about a chronic illness, like HIV. … We’re talking about an illness with a well-defined incubation period and well-defined symptoms.”

But we also learned that the patient first went to the hospital Friday with non-specific symptoms and was given antibiotics. He was then brought back to the hospital by paramedics Sunday after symptoms worsened.

Health officials said they were ready for something like this and have already begun the process of tracking down people who might have come into contact with the patient — which CDC Director Tom Frieden said was one of the next steps in stopping the virus in its tracks.

Dallas Fire-Rescue told a KXAS reporter the paramedics crew that came into contact with the patient over the weekend will be monitored for 21 days, the virus' incubation period.

Texas health officials also said the patient is not being treated with the experimental drug ZMapp, which was given to earlier U.S. patients. Supplies of the drug were exhausted in August. (Video via Euronews)

WFAA: "The treatment is really the normal things that you would do with infectious diseases, like influenza: you'll give them fluids, you'll maintain their blood pressure. If they need blood products, you'll get that." 

Frieden told reporters during his press conference there's little chance anyone on the flight with the patient, who was traveling from Liberia to the U.S., is at risk of being infected. He said Ebola is only contagious once someone begins showing symptoms and can only be spread through bodily fluids.

<![CDATA[Some Positive Ebola News: Outbreak 'Contained' In Nigeria]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 19:45:00 -0500
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Finally, there's a hint of good news regarding the deadly Ebola disease. 

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on Ebola in Nigeria released Tuesday says, "No new cases had occurred since August 31, suggesting that the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria might be contained."

Though, that timeline might not be exact. 

Elsewhere on the CDC's website, the health institute also writes, "Nigeria and Senegal have not reported any new cases since September 5, 2014, and August 29, 2014, respectively." — different dates than reported in the CDC's release just a day later.

And the timeline is important. The CDC says those who suspect they have Ebola should be medically monitored for 21 days. Since no cases have been reported in the area since the beginning of the month at the latest, it appears the spread of the disease could be coming to an end in the region. (Video via EuronewsBBC

But, as PBS reports, it's not necessarily all good news.

REPORTER FRED DE SAM LAZARO VIA PBS"Nigeria could attract Ebola patients from nearby countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea."

DR. FAISAL SHUAIB: "We've had record levels of people surviving the Ebola virus disease and they might start feeling, 'Well, maybe this is the place to come.'"

The Ebola outbreak started in March of this year and has spread through much of West Africa, with the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia being some of the hardest hit. 

President Obama, among other world leaders, spoke at an emergency U.N. meeting on Ebola last week. 

PRESIDENT OBAMA VIA THE WHITE HOUSE"The Ebola virus is spreading at alarming speed. ... If ever there were a public health emergency deserving an urgent, strong, and coordinated international response, this is it."

Already, at least 3,000 people have died due to the disease, and estimates by health experts say, if not contained, at least half a million people could be infected in just a few months. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[New Breast Cancer Drug Extends Lives In Clinical Trial]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 16:19:00 -0500
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Here's some potential good news for breast cancer patients.

Patients with advanced breast cancer were given the drug Perjeta in a clinical trial conducted by Roche pharmaceuticals, which also manufactures the drug. The results were promising. 

KTVK"Clinical studies reveal patients treated with this drug Perjeta lived, on average, 16 months longer than those who were not."

The positive results came when the drug was used in combination with Herceptin. 

The study looked at more than 800 patients from 25 countries who had metastatic breast cancer tumors that were HER2-positive. That means it's a type of breast cancer that tested positive for a protein that promotes cancer cell growth. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, "These cancers, which produce too much HER2-receptor protein, are a particularly aggressive form of the disease and account for approximately 20 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses."

But as The Guardian points out, Perjeta is expensive. 

"A new but very expensive breast cancer drug has shown 'unprecedented' benefits. ... The results will raise the stakes in the battle in the UK over the funding of cancer drugs."

To break it down, Perjeta costs about $3,900 per 420mg vial. To start, patients need double that, then it's one vial every three weeks. The first double dose would bring the total to about $7,800 alone. Then, an entire year's supply would be about $70,000. 

This video contains an image from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:52:00 -0500
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Dolphins can jump. They can shake. Make friends with NBA all-stars. And according to new research released Monday, they might have an even cooler trick.

The study, conducted by researchers in France, provided evidence of magnetoreception in dolphins. Basically, that means dolphins might be able to sense Earth's magnetic field.

If that were the case, researchers say the animals could use this sense as a means of navigation — a sort of biological Google Maps. (Video via Green Works)

The study looked at six bottlenose dolphins. Researchers set up two barrels — one contained magnetized blocks; the other had demagnetized blocks. Dolphins swam toward the magnetized one more quickly. (Video via GoPro)

Researchers say, "This is, to our knowledge, the first experimentally obtained behavioural evidence for sensitivity to magnetic stimuli in cetaceans."

That said, all other behavior remained consistent between the barrels, so researchers say further study is needed to provide conclusive findings.

Time reports"If the findings hold up to scrutiny, it would be a momentous discovery. Although many animals are suspected to orient themselves using the Earth's magnetic pull, there's precious little proof that this is the case."

A previous study from researchers at Baylor found pigeons also use the Earth's magnetic field as a GPS.

LiveScience says animals that do this might have "ferromagnetic" particles, like magnetite, in their bodies. "Although magnetite has been found in the brain membranes of dolphins, it doesn't prove the animals use it to sense magnetic fields."

Researchers say it is possible dolphins were simply intrigued by the magnetized blocks, rather than physically drawn to them.

This story includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[How To Battle Stink Bug Season]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:06:00 -0500
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It's a smelly time of the year for homeowners in 33 states.

That's because we're officially entering stink bug migration season, when the pesky insects transition from their outdoor residences to our climate-controlled homes to stay warm through the winter.

According to Plow & Hearth, this has only become a problem in the past 15 years, as the stink bug variety that creates such a fuss is native to eastern Asia. This species was first sighted in Pennsylvania around the turn of this century and has been spreading rapidly nationwide since.

Stink bugs become a problem for two reasons. First, they're resistant to many common pesticides. Second, the odor they emit when squashed actually attracts more of them, which can double your problem. So what can you do?

Thankfully, you're not in the fight alone. Many sites, including Stop Stink Bugs!, cover both outdoor tips to keep the bugs out and a few indoor tricks to kill them once they're inside. 

Multiple sources agree the best defense is a good offense. Try to seal the nooks and crannies of your home, the same way you'd do weatherproofing. And use silicone caulk around windows and siding.

More important than the do's are the don'ts: Don't crush them or their putrid smell will be released. Using pesticides in your home will also produce an odor as the bugs decay. Stink bugs are also attracted to light and the color yellow, so it's best to leave outside lights off at night.

Once they're inside, though, the strategy changes. You can vacuum them, but make sure you use a vacuum with a bag that you can empty "immediately to prevent odor from permeating the area," says PestWorld.

Best of all? The most effective method for killing stink bugs is also one of the cheapest, according to WikiHow. Simply flick stink bugs into soapy water. The soap penetrates their shield-like bodies, and the water drowns them within minutes — no stink involved.

This video includes images from the U.S. Department of Agriculture / Stephen Ausmus and Mandy Gambrell.

<![CDATA[Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 09:56:00 -0500
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While life for humankind has no doubt improved since 1970, it turns out the past 40-plus years haven't been as good for our planet's wildlife.

According to a new "Living Planet" study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature, the populations of Earth's vertebrates — mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and birds — have declined by 52 percent since 1970.

MARCO LAMBERTINI VIA WWF: "We are cutting trees faster than they can regrow, we are catching fish faster than they can reproduce, we are emitting more CO2 than oceans and forests can absorb. So we are on a total unsustainable path."

The study is based off of 10,000 populations of a little over 3,000 different species from data kept by the Zoological Society of London.

From those numbers, the WWF found that freshwater wildlife was hit the hardest at an average decline in populations of 76 percent. Terrestrial and marine wildlife both showed a 39 percent average decline since 1970.

Three of nine "planetary boundaries" defined by the study — climate change, biodiversity loss and Earth's nitrogen cycle — have already been crossed. Any more could do irreversible harm to the planet, the report warns.

And if you thought that was it, it gets worse. Scientists say humanity's ecological footprint — or amount of resource consumption — is in bad shape as well.

Nations such as Qatar and the U.S. are consuming large amounts of the planet's resources. If everyone on Earth consumed as much as the average person in Qatar, the WWF says we would need 4.8 planets. If it were the U.S, we'd need 3.9 planets.

But, as bad as the Earth losing half its vertebrate wildlife in the past 40 years sounds, it's not all doom and gloom.

Marco Lambertini, the WWF's director, says awareness of the planet's state has never been higher at both the corporate and local levels.

And a columnist for The Guardian noted the importance of studies like this one and the stories that follow, saying: "It may not 'matter' to me that the gibbon or the viper become extinct, any more than it matters that a park I never visit goes under housing or a coral reef disappears to mass fishing. What does matter is my awareness of my relationship to nature."

The study, which was last published two years ago, showed a 28 percent decline in vertebrate wildlife between 1970 and 2008.

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

<![CDATA[Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:09:00 -0500
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We've all heard how we should be keeping our brains active, and there are no end of services dedicated to helping you accomplish that, promising to make you smarter or improve your memory by training your brain.

But instead of making 15 minutes of "brain training" part of your normal routine, what if you could get that mental boost from games that are meant for fun rather than exercise?

A recent study pit Portal 2, Valve's critically-acclaimed puzzle game, against Lumosity, one of the top-selling brain training programs.

Participants were assigned to spend eight hours playing one of the games over two weeks. They were given cognitive tests both before and after their gaming homework.

And the researchers say Portal 2 is king. While the Lumosity group saw no changes in their scores, the Portal 2 group saw gains in problem solving, spatial skill and persistence tests.

Of course, saying Portal 2 is the new brain training champion is a bit of a stretch. Lumosity advertises itself as helping your brain improve over time, not just with the handful of sessions described in the study.

But this does highlight something interesting: lots of recent studies have shown that video games do affect the brain in some positive ways.

One study found that gamers who were assigned to play Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day saw gray matter increases in parts of the brain related to spatial reasoning, problem solving and fine motor skills.

Another found that having older adults play Blizzard's popular World of Warcraft online game boosted cognitive abilities — particularly in those seniors who scored the lowest on the initial tests. One of the researchers said"The people who needed it most ... saw the most improvement."

Video games seem particularly good at strengthening areas of the brain related to spatial reasoning and problem solving — not surprising, since so many games focus on navigating virtual worlds and solving puzzles. 

But, oddly enough, the jury is still out on those games meant specifically to train your brain. While some studies have shown they can improve brain function, most have found either no benefit or mixed results.

Of course, there can be too much of a good thing: studies have also shown that spending too much time on video games can influence mood and social skills. For the moment, most experts recommend limiting gaming to around an hour a day.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Report Reveals Late NFL LB Javon Belcher Had Signs Of CTE]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 18:00:00 -0500
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The life of former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher ended tragically one December afternoon in the parking lot of his team's practice facility. 

KSHB: "Whatever drove Jovan Belcher to kill the mother of his child drove him here in remorse. ... As police started to arrive, Belcher started walking away, fell to his knees, and ended his life."

Now, ESPN reports the young linebacker, like many NFL players before him, showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

ESPN's investigative reporting show "Outside The Lines" says the neuropathologist who examined Belcher's brain after his death found, "detected neurofibrillary tangles of tau protein, which is identified with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The tangles were distributed throughout Belcher's hippocampus, an area of the brain involved with memory, learning and emotion." 

Belcher played college football at the University of Maine and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009. There he played nearly three years until his death in December 2012 when he shot himself in front of then-head coach Romeo Crennel and General Manager Scott Pioli. 

But, sadly, Belcher's story has the same ending as several other former NFL players who took their own lives after playing for years in the NFL and reportedly suffering traumatic brain injuries. 

In July, a federal judge approved a settlement between the NFL and former players and players' families. The original settlement of $765 million was agreed to in 2013, but a judge later halted that believing it wouldn't be enough money. The NFL agreed to remove the cap on the payout.

Belcher's case also highlights another big issue ongoing in the NFL — domestic violence. Belcher was 25-years-old when he died. His girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, was 22. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.