Newsy - Sci/Health The Latest Videos From <![CDATA[Study Says Droughts In The Southwest Could Become More Frequent]]> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 13:18:00 -0600
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A federally funded study published Thursday argues the Southwest is moving into a drier climate, where droughts will be more frequent. 

Researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research took data from 1979 to 2014 and identified broad storm patterns linked to wet weather. They noted the three patterns most connected to precipitation have become increasingly rare. 

The leader of the study said in a press release: "A normal year in the Southwest is now drier than it once was. If you have a drought nowadays, it will be more severe because our base state is drier." (Video via CNN)

But 35 years of data may not be enough time to consider the shift to drier climates abnormal.

California, which is in the middle of a drought, is a good example. Scientists told The New York Times last April if you look at California's history, the state had droughts that lasted not just years but decades. In at least two cases during the last 1,200 years, droughts have lasted roughly two centuries. (Video via CBS)

One researcher told The New York Times: "We consider the last 150 years or so to be normal. But you don’t have to go back very far at all to find much drier decades, and much drier centuries."

What could be worse for California may not be future dry-periods but that it developed its water infrastructure during an abnormally wet period from the mid-1970s to late 1990s when the state's population roughly doubled. 

The National Center for Atmospheric Research's study supports other predictions of a drier climate in the Southwest. The authors said they hope their work will help water be conserved and dispersed strategically. 

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Some Trees Might Slow Climate Change Better Than Others]]> Sat, 06 Feb 2016 16:05:00 -0600
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Planting trees to help fight climate-change works, right? Well, according to a new study that's not always the case.

It turns out that conifer trees, like evergreens, may actually cause temperature increases where they've taken root in place of broad-leafed trees.

For example, look at Europe where the study was focused. Once upon a time, its forests were largely leafy deciduous trees. Now, a majority of Europe's trees are managed by humans, and we've been planting trees like pines and spruces because they grow faster.

But by replacing older forests with ones that are newer and faster-growing, Europe has gone into "carbon debt." Harvesting those older trees and replacing them with conifers has released 3.1 billion metric tons of carbon.

Researchers say this change caused a temperature increase equal to 6 percent of warming attributed to fossil fuels. Which may not sound like much, but small changes in temperature can ripple out to larger changes in the environment.

It's not just about the carbon that's released, though. Conifer trees are darker and absorb more solar radiation. When less of that radiation is reflected into space, the planet can heat up.

Some countries are already planting trees to help combat climate change. China, for instance, has been planting a "green wall" in the Gobi Desert, a project that would eventually include over a million square miles of trees. (Video via American History of Natural History)

And in 2014, the U.N. established the New York Declaration on Forests to restore deforested land.

But the study warns that those types of plans risk failure if countries don't consider the type of trees used or the forestry management techniques used to maintain them.

This video includes images from Getty Images, Nicholas A. Tonelli / CC BY 2.0Gabriel / CC BY 2.0S. Rae / CC BY 2.0 and Nicolas Raymond / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[People Who've Passed The Bar Are More Likely To Drink At The Bar]]> Sat, 06 Feb 2016 12:59:00 -0600
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You may have heard the saying "my job is driving me to drink." But according to a new study, that may hold some truth if you're a lawyer.

The study from the American Society of Addiction Medicine found one in five U.S. lawyers have drinking habits that are "hazardous, harmful, and potentially alcohol-dependent."

So one fifth, or 20 percent, might not sound like a huge number, but consider that the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism puts the national average of those with "alcohol use disorders" at 7 percent.

So what's causing this? Researchers say stress. Younger people in the field are more likely to respond to that stress with alcohol than their older co-workers. Men also had higher levels of alcohol abuse than their female peers.

The study suggests stress also leads to mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. (Video via TED Conferences)

But before you give up your legal dreams, we should note that it's not the only profession linked to drinking. (Video via DLA Piper)

A survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that mining, construction and food services had the highest rates of excessive drinkers from 2008 to 2012. Just over 17 percent of miners were found to binge-drink.

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Fentanyl Abuse, Overdoses On The Rise In New Hampshire]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 19:13:00 -0600
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New Hampshire is facing a serious drug crisis at the hands of an opioid most often used for pain management in patients with cancer.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid commonly administered as either a patch or a lozenge.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the drug is nearly 100 times more potent than morphine. It's very easy to overdose on fentanyl, and those overdoses often lead to death.

In New Hampshire alone, about 266 overdose deaths involving fentanyl have been reported.

The U.S. as a whole is facing an opioid and prescription drug crisis. The DEA says more people will die this year from drug overdoses than from car accidents. (Video via CNN)

This video includes images from Alcibiades and Eric Norris / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[What Zika Virus Is — And Isn't]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 16:41:00 -0600
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Zika is a type of Flavivirus, which means it's mosquito-borne, like West Nile Virus or Yellow Fever. It's named for the Zika Forest in Uganda and was first isolated in rhesus monkeys.

The virus causes a relatively mild infection in humans: fever, rash and conjunctivitis that lasts as long as a week. Roughly 20 percent of those infected display symptoms. There is no treatment or vaccine.

Like other Flaviviruses, Zika is carried and primarily transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. In rarer cases, pregnant women can pass it to their unborn babies. There have also been reports of the disease spreading through sexual contact and blood transfusions. It's not transmitted directly from person to person the way a cold might spread.

And it's not confirmed that Zika causes birth defects, despite increased incidents in infants alongside rising Zika infections in Brazil. Zika's link to microcephaly, or head deformations in newborns, are circumstantial and not fully understood yet.

On Feb. 1, the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern — for microcephaly, not Zika — and directed health workers to investigate if there's a causal link between the two. (Video via World Health Organization)

In the meantime, the Centers for Disease Control and the WHO recommend that potential and expecting mothers exercise caution.

The CDC says in the U.S. the only confirmed cases of Zika have been transmitted through sexual contact. The CDC warns case counts are likely to increase — and the virus will go where the Aedes mosquito can survive.

On Friday, the CDC issued new recommendations to those who have traveled to Zika-prone areas: Use condoms during sex or don't have sex.

Agencies are not yet banning travel in affected regions outright, but the American Red Cross and Canadian Blood Services have instituted blood donation delays for those returning from places where Zika is known to spread. (Video via American Red Cross)

Defense against mosquitoes is defense against Zika. The CDC recommends long clothing and insect repellent. If you develop symptoms, go see a doctor. (Video via knglaser / CC BY 3.0)

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[France Now Won't Let Its Grocery Stores Throw Away Unsold Food]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 13:20:00 -0600
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It's now illegal for grocery stores in France to throw out unsold food that's about to expire. And it's the first country to enforce this kind of law. (Video via Unilever)

The legislation passed last year but hadn't gone into effect until Wednesday.

The food that would usually get tossed and sometimes bleached to reportedly prevent food poisoning will instead be making its way to food pantries and other charities of the store's choice.

Stores larger than 4,305 square feet have to comply, or it could cost them up to $84,000 in fines and even jail time.

For some proponents advocating this move, the next step is encouraging other European Union countries to do the same.

One online petition has more than 750,000 signatures to stop European food waste by enacting similar laws in surrounding countries.

While tossing food in the trash costs a hefty amount of money every year, the United Nations says it also harms the environment.

This video includes an image from Richard Ying and Tangui Morlier / CC BY SA 3.0.

<![CDATA[More Couples Aren't Sleeping Together, But Lost Love Isn't Always Why]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 11:28:00 -0600
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More and more couples are starting to sleep separately. But that doesn't necessarily mean they're unhappy.

A survey from the Better Sleep Council found 26 percent of respondents said they sleep better alone than they do with a partner.

A housing developer even told Newsy's partners at WFTX that more homes have two master bedrooms.

"About 15-20 percent of our buyers are interested in the dual master-suite concept," said home builder Gary Aubuchon.

And a sex therapist says couples sleeping alone doesn't always mean that the relationship is on the rocks.

"If your partner's sleep is being interrupted consistently, that could lead to some resentment in the relationship," said sex therapist Alicia Allen.

She said that health reasons, such as snoring or acid reflux, are the main reason she sees couples sleeping apart.

<![CDATA[There's A Tarantula Species Named After Johnny Cash]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 09:59:00 -0600
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If you thought the late Johnny Cash couldn't get any cooler, think again. The Man in Black now has a tarantula named after him.

The tarantula, Aphonopelma johnnycashi, got its new name because it lives near Folsom Prison in California, made famous by Cash's song "Folsom Prison Blues."

One researcher said male johnnycashi's all-black appearance resembles the trademark all-black outfits Cash would wear during performances. (Video via DR)

"Johnny was kind of a rebel back in the day, and he frightened people. ... But yet, you know, apparently he was an incredibly wonderful man," he told Sky News.

Biologist Chris Hamilton helped with the "taxonomic revision" after new species of tarantula were discovered in the California Floristic Province and Madrean Pine-Oak Woodlands.

He told the BBC, "A lot of people think of new species as coming from areas of the Earth that not many humans have been to before ... but that's really frankly not the case."

Hamilton said one reason the johnnycashi species wasn't recognized earlier is probably because of the similar appearance of female johnnycashi to a different tarantula found in the Mojave Desert.

Full disclosure: The biologist also mentioned in the interview he has a Johnny Cash tattoo. We're guessing this is a pretty great moment for him. (Video via DR)

This video includes images from Chris Hamilton et al. / CC BY 4.0 and Joel Baldwin.

<![CDATA[Gulf Coast States React To Growing Cases Of Zika Virus]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 20:02:00 -0600
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There are now over 50 confirmed cases of the Zika virus here in the U.S. But a lot of the cases are located in just two states: Texas and Florida

And these states have something in common: a warm climate. Experts fear states along the Gulf Coast could be especially at risk for a more explosive outbreak because of that.

The number of cases in Florida jumped to 12 Thursday, up three from the day before. And people in the Sunshine State seem to be panicking. (Video via WFTX)

The virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects in newborns in Brazil, prompted Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency in five counties.

The declaration basically allows the state to stock up on tests that would help doctors diagnose the virus more quickly. It also instructs counties to spray for mosquitos

But so far there haven’t been any reports of infected mosquitoes in Florida. Rather, all the patients with the Zika virus acquired it while traveling to Latin America and the Caribbean

The same is true in Texas, for the most part. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, nine people were reportedly infected while traveling abroad and a 10th contracted the disease through sexual contact with an infected person. Again, no infected mosquitos.

The response to infections in the Lone Star State has been a bit different from the way it’s being handled in Florida. Even though seven cases are confirmed in one Texas county alone, the state’s governor, Greg Abbott, hasn’t issued any emergency declarations. 

But Abbott did announce he created a Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response — a step some say is important, especially in the months to come. (Video via KVUE)

“As we head toward the springtime, if we have a lot of people infected with Zika, either because they’re imported cases or sexually acquired cases, if you will, that may trigger the mosquitoes to get infected with the virus and start that transmission cycle,” Dr. Jeffrey Kahn told KXAS.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Why Are There So Few New Antibiotics?]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 18:15:00 -0600
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For more than a decade, health experts have been warning us that antibiotics are becoming less and less effective. There's widespread fear that the world might revert to the era when common infections were fatal. (Video via Wexler Film Productions / "Hospital Sepsis")

"This is becoming so serious that I think we need to very carefully consider how we're going to behave in the next five years. ... Something has to be done now, and without something being done now, we'll have an epidemic of infectious disease deaths," oceanographer William Fenical said.

William Fenical of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, searches the ocean for new compounds that can be turned into useful drugs.

His warning is the same one the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have been making for years: that we have to quickly rebuild our antibiotic toolkit.

"More and more essential medicines are failing. The therapeutic arsenal is shrinking," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said.

Drug resistance is an unavoidable arms race. When a drug kills all of the susceptible strains of a bacteria, the more resilient strains survive and spread. The process speeds up the more the drug is used.

Not overusing antibiotics is important, but so is finding new ones. So why has the development of new antibiotics slowed to a crawl?

"In about 1995, most of the American companies decided not to invest in antibiotics. And this was partly due to the fact that they were not able to discover brand-new compounds," Fenical said.

Antibiotics aren't big moneymakers: They're expensive to develop, patients only take them for a week or two and ideally, they're only used when absolutely necessary.

"Antibiotics, even today, are a couple dollars a pill, and this doesn't sustain the discovery and costly development process in industry," Fenical said.

But here's another, lesser-known reason so many companies stopped searching. (Video via Everett Kane, created for the journal Nature)

"It sounds like sort of an excuse, but antibiotic research is ridiculously hard," pharmaceutical researcher Derek Lowe said.

Derek Lowe is a researcher who says even when drug companies invest in finding new antibiotics, they usually come up empty-handed. (Video via GlaxoSmithKline)

"Bacteria have defenses. They have those thick cell walls and membranes. ... Killing human cells is easy. Killing bacteria is hard," Lowe said. (Video via Michael Elowitz, Caltech University)

Most antibiotics we have were discovered in nature: in plants, in fungi and in microbes in the soil. But after decades of scouring these sources, the odds of finding a new antibiotic are low.

"You will spend all your time and money reinventing the wheel, over and over and over ... because the low-hanging fruit has most definitely been harvested by now," Lowe said.

So how do you get around these problems? One way is to dangle more money in front of drug companies to make the effort worth their while. The GAIN Act in 2012 created new incentives for antibiotics research, like fast-tracking new drugs and giving companies exclusive rights for five more years. (Video via Everett Kane, created for the journal NatureC-SPAN)

Since then, a few companies have taken up the search, but not many. The other solution is to look where we haven't looked before: unspoiled rainforests, caves and, like Fenical, the bottom of the ocean. (Video via Al JazeeraVice)

"The world's oceans represent our major remaining natural resource. ... The microorganisms in the ocean are different genetically; they tend to produce different kinds of molecules. ... So why would we be pessimistic about discovering antibiotics when we have such a massive resource remaining?" Fenical said. 

This video includes images from Jeff Hasty Lab, UC San Diego, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Ivo Ivov / CC BY ND 2.0

<![CDATA[The Only Known Wild Jaguar In The US Caught On Camera In Rare Video]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 09:42:00 -0600
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This is the only known wild jaguar in the U.S., and this is the only public video of him.

He's known as "El Jefe" (The Boss). 

El Jefe lives about 25 miles from downtown Tucson, Arizona.

Jaguars are pretty solitary animals, which makes them difficult to follow.

So researchers have used remote sensor cameras to take pictures of him. (Video via Center for Biological Diversity)

Jaguars once roamed the Southwest, but they've nearly disappeared because of habitat loss and efforts to protect livestock.

Experts say jaguars from Mexico could migrate to the region.

This video includes images from Leland Jackson / CC BY 2.0Charles Barilleaux / CC BY 2.0 and William Warby / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[Here's What People Are Saying About That New CDC Guideline]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 19:38:00 -0600
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a new health guideline for women that has a lot of people talking.

It's a report that aims to bring awareness to fetal alcohol syndrome. According to the CDC, "An estimated 3.3 million women between the ages of 15 and 44 years are at risk of exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, sexually active and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy."

So basically this means young women need to either get on birth control or give up alcohol, right? Well, that’s how some headlines made it seem. 

Like this one from USA Today that reads, "CDC: Young women should avoid alcohol unless using birth control." Cue shocked reactions.

And one way reactions materialized was in the form of lots of opinion articles. Writers argued this new recommendation reduces women to "incubators" and places the blame for unwanted pregnancies solely on women.

So maybe that's not how the CDC intended the message to come across. And we should note, this isn't the first time a CDC recommendation aimed at young women has been poorly received.

Back in 2006, the CDC released federal guidelines encouraging women of child bearing age to regard themselves as "pre-pregnant" and suggested they take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking and maintain a healthy weight. 

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

<![CDATA[New Deal Protects 85 Percent Of Canada's Massive Great Bear Rainforest]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 10:24:00 -0600
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Bears and various other animals in one of Canada's temperate rainforests can continue to live comfortably in most of their habitats.

The latest agreement among aboriginal tribes, logging companies and environmental organizations will protect 85 percent of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia. 

To put that in perspective, the total span of the forest, at 21 million acres, is a little under the acreage of Indiana.

About 15 percent that's not protected will be allowed for loggers to use, with monitoring to ensure practices are sustainable. (Video via Al Jazeera)

For some environmental organizations, this agreement has been a long time coming. Some are saying it has taken them nearly two decades of activism. 

The forest is home to a variety of bears, including the white Spirit Bear, and other species specific to Canada. 

This video includes images from Megan Coughlin / CC BY ND 2.0 and Dogwood Initiative CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[Tornadoes Reported In Mississippi And Alabama]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 09:23:00 -0600
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Severe storms tore through the southern United States on Tuesday with reports of tornadoes in Alabama and Mississippi.

A tornado touched down in Aliceville, Alabama, near the Mississippi border. A federal prison there and several homes were damaged. Only minor injuries were reported.

Homes in Mississippi were also damaged, and multiple tornadoes were reported there. The Weather Channel says most of those reports were within a two- to three-hour window. (Video via WLBT)

And in the north-central part of the country, winter storm Kayla is creating "blizzard or near-blizzard conditions" across parts of the Midwest. (Video via KOLN)

The National Weather Service Prediction Center says there could be weaker thunderstorms in southeastern states Thursday. (Video via WIAT)

<![CDATA[First Case Of Sexually Transmitted Zika Virus Confirmed In US]]> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 19:48:00 -0600
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Health officials in Texas have confirmed the first case of the Zika virus acquired through sexual transmission.

Dallas County health officials made the announcement Tuesday after confirming the case with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The county tweeted the infected person had sex with someone who acquired the mosquito-borne virus in Venezuela and who had recently traveled back to the U.S. 

On Monday, the World Health Organization declared the Zika outbreak a global health emergency; a label only used a handful of times in the past. 

Most infected individuals only suffer a mild fever, skin rash and joint pain. The real concern lies in what the virus could do to unborn babies.

Experts are concerned a sharp rise in reports of babies born with microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with unusually small heads and brain damage, could be linked to the Zika virus.

According to CNN, prior to this case, there were only two other known cases where the Zika virus was passed through sexual transmission. 

The director of the CDC told CNN: "The virus is in the blood for about a week. How long it would remain in the semen is something that needs to be studied, and we’re working on that now."

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Your Deodorant May Be Messing With Your Body's Microbes]]> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 18:18:00 -0600
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Let’s talk about armpits. More specifically, let’s talk about that deodorant you use for your armpits. 

It comes in spray and stick, clear and extra-strength and dozens of different scents. But aside from keeping you smelling fresh and ready to work outside all day, it’s also messing with your body’s bacterial community.

At least, that’s what a group of researchers concluded after conducting a small study on the topic. The researchers wanted to find out how regular antiperspirant or deodorant application alters a person’s underarm microbe population.

By microbe population we mean the tiny bacteria, viruses and fungi that live on our skin and in our body. It’s normal — don’t freak out. 

The co-author on the study, Julie Horvath, told Quartz: "When you have all these microbes on your skin, most of them are potentially beneficial or at least benign. They don’t do anything except for maybe create a protective barrier on your skin."

But after conducting an eight-day study, researchers found that protective barrier is changed by repeated use of products. 

For eight days, a group of 17 men and women wore deodorant, antiperspirant or neither. After testing bacterial count for each group, researchers found people who wore antiperspirants had the most altered armpit bacterial communities.  

But this doesn’t necessarily mean you should ditch the stuff just yet. According to Horvath: "It’s a balance. Wearing a product does affect the microbes under your arm, but what those short and long-term consequences are, we don’t really know yet."

This video includes images from Getty Images and Rich Anderson / CC BY SA 2.0

<![CDATA[This University Now Requires New Students To Wear Fitbits]]> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 15:19:00 -0600
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You've heard of the freshman 15. Now meet the freshman 900. 

Oral Roberts University, a religious school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has updated its mandatory fitness program this year. The change requires all 900 of its freshman students to purchase and use Fitbit trackers with heart rate-monitoring capabilites. (Video via Oral Roberts University)

The cost of the fitness tracker falls on the student, and a professor told The Washington Post so far that cost has been the only complaint from students. Fitbit's $150 Charge HR is the least-expensive option that fulfills the program's requirements. (Video via Fitbit)

The school also requires students to take an average of 10,000 steps each day and participate in at least 150 minutes of "intense activity" every week.

Sure, having to share step and heart rate data with a school feels a little odd — maybe even a little invasive. But Oral Roberts has actually been requiring students to report their exercise habits for a long time.

Students used to have to log a point-based value for any physical activity. At the end of the week, 30 to 50 points were required to get full credit. Not meeting the requirement could mean a lower grade in health and P.E. classes, which are part of the school's "whole person education" curriculum. (Video via Oral Roberts University)

One thing's for sure: When this university's students graduate, they'll be more than prepared for any corporate wellness program.

<![CDATA[When Owls Bob Their Heads, They're Not Trying To Be Creepy]]> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 11:21:00 -0600
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Have you ever wondered if owls are just naturally creepy or if they're intentionally trying to weird us out with the way they move their heads?

Well, a recent BirdNote podcast helped explain exactly why owls bob their heads like that. (Video via Peace River Wildlife Center)

"All of these varied head movements help the owl judge the position and distance of things around it, essentially to triangulate on objects," said Mary McCann.

Owls' eyes are actually in a fixed position, so all those odd head motions help them see their surroundings better. But this isn't exactly a new discovery. (Video via International Owl Center)

As a 1988 Stanford University paper put it, many bird species bob their heads to determine how far away something is by judging how fast objects move across their field of vision — the closer the object, the faster it crosses their field of vision. (Video via Blandford Nature Center)

But owls aren't the only birds that do this. Falcons, hawks and other species frequently bob their heads to gauge how far away their prey is. See? Not so weird after all.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[President Obama Announces $755 Million In Cancer Funding For 2017]]> Mon, 01 Feb 2016 17:39:00 -0600
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"For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the families that we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all. What do you say, Joe?" President Obama asked. (Video via the White House)

President Obama has announced how he plans to follow through on the promise he made during his State of the Union address to ramp up efforts to eradicate cancer.

The White House’s first budget proposal for the 2017 fiscal year is a $755 million package to fund cancer research.

That's a huge bump up from the $195 million the White House said it will commit this year to the effort led by Vice President Joe Biden. (Video via the White House)

The money will go to fund research efforts to develop new treatments, as well as aiding in early detection and immunotherapy.

While the nearly $1 billion boost sounds like a lot, those in charge of the effort aren’t expecting results anytime soon, but White House press secretary Josh Earnest says it’s still an important step to take. (Video via the White House)

"This is part of the essential work that’s necessary to lay the groundwork for a cure," Earnest said.

Biden has echoed that sentiment, saying, "Our job is to clear out the bureaucratic hurdles — and let science happen." And there's reason to be optimistic that it could work. (Video via the White House)

The Republican-controlled Congress added $264 million to the National Cancer Institute’s 2016 budget within a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health.

<![CDATA[The Zika Outbreak Is Officially An International Health Emergency]]> Mon, 01 Feb 2016 15:43:00 -0600
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The explosive spread of the Zika virus, and the fear that it might be causing birth defects, is now the World Health Organization's fourth-ever international public health emergency. 

The decision comes after outbreaks in South America were linked to a rise in microcephaly, a condition that can mean babies' brains don't develop normally. The fear is that the virus is causing the condition, most likely when infected mosquitoes bite pregnant women, but that's still not conclusive. 

The WHO isn't waiting around for a final verdict. It's been criticized for taking too long to declare 2014's Ebola outbreak an international public health emergency. Director-General Margaret Chan has said she doesn't want people to say it failed to take action this time. 

Declaring something an emergency can be a big deal: The organization's decision can kick-start new research into fighting diseases and lead to travel and trade restrictions.

At this point, the WHO says the Zika virus doesn't merit those kinds of restrictions. For now, most of its efforts will go into mosquito control. 

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Until You Can Go To The Moon, These Photos Are The Next Best Thing]]> Mon, 01 Feb 2016 14:21:00 -0600
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Hundreds of photos have been released by China's National Space Administration.

The photos were taken on China's Chang'e 3 exploration mission, launched in 2013.

They show the country's Chang'e 3 lander; the lunar rover, Yutu; high-resolution shots of the moon's surface; and a few new photos of planet Earth. 

You can view and download all the photos on The Science and Application Center For Moon and Deepspace Exploration website.

This video includes images from the China National Space Administration and NASA

<![CDATA[Bedbugs Are Developing A Strong Resistance To Most Common Insecticides]]> Mon, 01 Feb 2016 09:08:00 -0600
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Bedbugs are reportedly building up a strong resistance to some of the most powerful insecticides due to overuse, which means we might need to turn to non-chemical solutions to get rid of them.

Researchers from Virginia Tech and New Mexico State University tested the most common class of insecticide called neonicotinoids, or neonics, which is often combined with pyrethroids in commercial treatments for bedbugs. 

They took a group of bedbugs that came from homes in Ohio and Michigan, which had previously been exposed to neonics, and compared those bedbugs to a population that has been kept in isolation for 30 years, before the insecticide was used. (Video via National Geographic)

A third group of bedbugs that was resistant to pyrethroids but never exposed to neonics was also included in the study. 

Depending on the specific types of neonic tested, the Ohio and Michigan bedbugs were hundreds to tens of thousands of times more resistant than the isolated group. 

The third group's results were in the middle: more resistant than the isolated group but less resistant than the Ohio and Michigan bedbugs. 

Because that third group had never been exposed to neonics, the researchers believe the bedbugs may have a pre-existing resistance mechanism. (Video via BraemarPCS / CC BY 3.0)

The researchers said more non-chemical methods need to be used to combat bedbug infestations. However, they noted the most resistant bedbugs in the study only came from two areas, and not all of the U.S. may be facing this level of resistance. 

This video includes images from Getty Images, U.S. Department of Agriculture / CC BY 2.0Gilles San Martin / CC BY-SA 2.0louento.pix / CC BY-ND 2.0 and AJC / CC BY-SA 2.0.

<![CDATA[50,000 Years Ago, Humans Ate A 500-Pound Bird Into Extinction]]> Sun, 31 Jan 2016 13:14:00 -0600
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Roughly 50,000 years ago, an Australian bird species went extinct, not because of competition for space or resources but because its eggs were simply too delicious.

According to a study published Friday in the journal Nature Communications, humans helped wipe out the 500-pound species of flightless bird called Genyornis newtoni. 

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder figured this out by looking at eggshell fragments in 10 regions of Australia, which they discovered had been partially charred.

The charred shell fragments were usually found in "a tight cluster" near other fragments that weren't burnt at all, meaning it's unlikely something like a wildfire burned the eggs. 

Rather, the researchers said "these characteristics are most consistent with humans harvesting one or more eggs from a nest, making a fire and presumably cooking the egg."

Fast forward a few thousand years, and the bird was extinct, though humans weren’t the only factor at play. The Australian climate was drying out at the time, putting more stress on bird populations.

Still, the study says that sort of shift in climate had happened before and says human activity was "more likely to have been the decisive factor" in the extinction of Genyornis newtoni. 

The bird is yet another animal we now know met its demise due in part to human actions, which isn't exactly uncommon. Scientists say human activity is wiping out enough species that we’re on the verge of a mass extinction for just the sixth time in our planet’s history. 

This video includes images from Gifford Miller et al. / CC BY 4.0 and Nobu Tamura / CC BY 3.0.

<![CDATA[Shark Gives Herself More Personal Space By Eating Tank-Mate]]> Sat, 30 Jan 2016 19:20:00 -0600
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A female shark at a Seoul aquarium apparently got annoyed at her tank-mate invading her personal space. So she ate him.

The sand tiger shark took her sweet time with her revenge, eating the banded hound shark for 21 hours starting with his head.  (Video via Daily Mirror)

In the sand tiger's defense, he was bumping into her and she might have taken the first bite out of surprise. 

According to National Geographic, sand tiger sharks "are a docile, non-aggressive species, known to attack humans only when bothered first." Apparently this also applies to their fellow sharks.

The cannibal shark is the aquarium's biggest, at 7.2 feet long. The shark she ate was only about four feet long, which is a lot bigger than a sand tiger's typical meal of small fish.

The aquarium said the shark will not be able to digest its meal and will regurgitate her former roommate after a week. (Video via Daily Mirror)

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Zika Virus Prompts Brazilian Petition For More Legal Abortion Access]]> Sat, 30 Jan 2016 16:57:00 -0600
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In light of the Zika virus outbreak, a group in Brazil plans to petition the country's Supreme Court to expand abortion laws.

Researchers suspect a link between the the birth defect microcephaly in infants and pregnant women with the virus.

"What we have at this moment, in this country, is a group of women who's in fear of getting pregnant and not knowing what will happen during the pregnancy," a law professor at Brasilia University told the BBC.

In Brazil, abortion is illegal except in cases of rape or to save a woman's life.

In 2012, another exception was added for a different birth defect that affects brain development – anencephaly. Most babies born with that condition die shortly after birth.

A law professor involved in the anencephaly case and also involved in the Zika petition said early detection of microcephaly and access to contraception are also concerns.

One 2010 study found about 1 in 5 women in urban Brazil had at least one abortion – despite criminal charges associated with abortion in the country.

According to the study, about half of those women had to be hospitalized afterwards, which has made the issue a public health concern in the country.

Some are concerned fear over the Zika virus could lead to more illegal abortions that jeopardize women's health.

This video includes images from Getty Images, Rodrigo Soldon / CC BY 2.0 and Senado Federal / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[Super-Fast Space Laser Satellites Could Help Save Lives On Earth]]> Sat, 30 Jan 2016 15:06:00 -0600
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Lasers. In space. That's how the European Space Agency is planning to improve response time to potential issues back on Earth. And this week, it launched the first satellite in a new network to make that possible.

The new satellites could be used for a lot of things, from collecting up-to-date data about the environment to helping first responders in a natural disaster. They might even be useful in tracking piracy or pollution. In short, they could save lives.

That's because these satellites will relay information to Earth quicker than older satellites. How? They use lasers to communicate with one another, allowing for data to transfer at up to 1.8 Gigabits per second. That's about 150 times faster than the average Internet speed in America.

The new network collects pictures and data from those older satellites closer to Earth and then relays that information to the ground.

And while it sounds like adding an extra step would be slower, it's actually quicker this way. That's because the new satellites are located in geostationary orbit. We'll explain.

Normally, satellites only have a few minutes to send information back to Earth because they have to wait until they pass over a receiving dish. But the new satellites don't have to worry about that small window, because they stay fixed relative to receiving stations on the ground, meaning they orbit as fast as the Earth rotates.

The European Space Agency's director of telecoms told the BBC the network could lead to near real-time Earth observation.

This is just the first of the new satellites. Another one is scheduled to go up in 2017, and the space agency hopes to have the whole system ready to go by 2020.

This video includes images from Getty Images

<![CDATA[United Nations Had To Help Israel Get Its Vulture Back From Lebanon]]> Sat, 30 Jan 2016 12:35:00 -0600
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Lebanon captured an Israeli vulture because it was suspected of spying. The vulture was eventually freed thanks to the help of the United Nations. Considered a "vulnerable" species in Israel, conservationists are trying to reintroduce more of the birds into the region.

This video includes images from Greg Schechter / CC BY 2.0 and music by MADS / CC BY 3.0.

<![CDATA[Ancient Babylonians Might Have Used Geometry To Track Jupiter]]> Fri, 29 Jan 2016 11:18:00 -0600
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A new discovery shows ancient Babylonians had a surprisingly sophisticated method for tracking how Jupiter moves across the sky. (Video via NASA)

Last year, a researcher came across a cuneiform tablet that appeared to match up with four others that date between 50 B.C. and 350 B.C. They all depicted the same trapezoidal shape that represents the speed that Jupiter moves across the sky over a 60-day period.

Researchers say the horizontal line represents time and the vertical line represents velocity. The slanted top line shows how Jupiter's velocity decreases over time.

This is such a big deal because it was previously believed this technique wasn't invented until more than a thousand years later in 14th century Oxford and Paris.

So why Jupiter? The city of Babylon had a patron god, Marduk, who is often identified with Jupiter.

So it's believed the tablets were created by priests in Marduk's temple who were pulling double duty as astronomers.

This video includes images from Mathieu Ossendrijver (HU) and Maj. Mike Feeney.

<![CDATA[The Zika Virus Might Interrupt The 2016 Rio Olympics]]> Fri, 29 Jan 2016 10:57:00 -0600
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Researchers are seeing if major sporting events could contribute to the rapid spread of the Zika virus.

Brazil is one of the main areas of concern, where local transmission was first reported in May of 2015.

In June of 2015 a study was published in a Brazilian medical journal suggesting the 2014 World Cup could have been when the virus arrived in the country.

The speculation has raised concern about the Rio Olympics scheduled for this summer. (Video via Rio 2016)

Zika is transmitted through mosquito bites. Once a mosquito bites a person who has the virus, the mosquito can then pass the virus on to the next person it bites.

Most symptoms of the virus are mild and most people infected don't actually become ill.

The concern centers around the possible link between pregnant mothers infected with the virus and a birth defect that affects brain development in newborns.

The World Health Organization told The New York Times it would be very unlikely that it would urge people not to go to Brazil for the Olympics.

<![CDATA[Breastfeeding Could Save More Than 800,000 Children's Lives A Year]]> Fri, 29 Jan 2016 07:50:00 -0600
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Breastfeeding could prevent the deaths of more than 800,000 children each year around the world, according to new research.

Children who are breastfed are found to have higher IQs, less risk of infection and lower death rates. It can also protect against diabetes and obesity later in life.

The benefits are there for mothers, too. Women who breastfeed also have a lower risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and type 2 diabetes. 

However, breastfeeding is not a standard health practice throughout the world. In lower-income and middle-income countries, only 1 in 3 children were exclusively breastfed for the first six months. 

Research shows countries with more national wealth breastfeed less than countries with lower incomes.

Researchers say that breastfeeding should be far more common given the health benefits and the fact it's cheaper than buying formula. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[The Truth Is In Here: CIA Organizes UFO Files For 'The X-Files' Reboot]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 17:44:00 -0600
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Just in time to coincide with the return of the hit sci-fi show "The X-Files," the CIA organized some declassified reports on UFOs stretching across six decades.

The CIA even made some handy reading lists of the top five articles for true believers like agent Fox Mulder and skeptics like agent Dana Scully. 

Many of the reports dismissed potential UFO sightings as unlikely, since no evidence was presented.

A 1953 scientific advisory panel stated that it would be “a great waste of effort to try to solve most of the sightings,” since most had simple explanations. Mulder would probably find that highly suspect.

But some of the sightings were so mysterious that the government simply couldn’t come up with an explanation, making us wonder if the truth really is out there.

Reports from places like northern Africa, Spain and Germany all had eerie amounts of detail, while other witnesses were able to snap photos of what appear to be flying saucers.

So real or fake, the CIA has provided us with some wisdom on what to do if we really do encounter a UFO. The advice? Establish a group to help you investigate, consult with experts and discourage false reporting. 

<![CDATA[Zoologists Who Said Spider-Man Can't Climb Walls Were Wrong]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 12:48:00 -0600
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Earlier this month, researchers at the University of Cambridge's Department of Zoology broke our hearts. They basically said that Spider-Man — yes, the fictional character — couldn't possibly be real. (Video via Marvel Enterprises)

Obviously, he's isn't a real person. But the researchers published a paper saying due to Peter Parker's size, he's not plausible as a wall-climber, like a gecko. The group blamed the web-slinger's feet because unlike the gecko, they wouldn't be large enough to support the weight of his body while scaling walls. (Video via Columbia Pictures)

"But no wall-climbing? That's one of the main things that Spider-Man does. Without that, he just shoots goo and is radioactively guilty about his uncle," said Stephen Colbert on "The Late Show." (Video via CBS)

Exactly! So, engineers from Stanford University set the record straight this week.

"Now here at Stanford, we had an issue with that because if you don't just copy the gecko, but instead you're clever about how you distribute your weight, you can use a device like this. And a human can climb a glass wall," a Stanford engineer said.

This is actually a kind of re-introduction of Stanford's gecko-inspired adhesive pads. The technology debuted in November 2014.

At the time, Stanford news wrote, "The engineers have shown that the special springs in their device make it possible to maintain the same adhesive strength at all sizes from a square millimeter to the size of a human hand."

So, I guess what I'm saying is this: Cambridge, don't mess with Spider-Man ... or, apparently, Stanford.

<![CDATA[More Water Won't Solve The World's Water Crisis]]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 12:03:00 -0600
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Less than 1 percent of the Earth's water is available for human use. 

That should be enough. 

"There is probably enough water for everybody, but where it is is a problem," said Michael Tiboris, Global Cities Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs

"So, about a third of planet, about a third of the population of the planet faces moderate to severe water stress." 

"One of the challenges with water scarcity on the planet is where the water is; it's not always where we want it to be."

"The problems with water scarcity are often more a matter of being able to get water to the people who need it effectively and safely, than they are just in terms of whether or not the sheer total volume of water on the planet is enough to sustain a population."

Like wealth, water distribution is uneven. 

"The poor deal with water scarcity the most. Even in places where there is relatively little water available, the difference between being poor and having economic resources puts you at a pretty serious disadvantage with respect to getting access to the water."

"So think of a place like Yemen, where there are really high rates of water scarcity. It's a very water-poor place in general, but even there we see pretty significant differences between reliable water access for the poor and water access for people who have more money." (Video via UNICEF

Quantity isn't always the issue. It's quality. 

"There's almost nobody on the planet that has literally no access to water because you die pretty quickly if that happens. The people that don't have access to reliable clean water on the planet? They're just drinking the polluted water."

"About 20 percent of the population of the world doesn't have reliable access to clean drinking water. So that means 1 in 5 people on the planet have, on a day-to-day basis, have the same sort of crisis that people in Flint do."

"And there's no end to that problem for them, there's no foreseeable future where their government steps in and solves that problem for them in the short term."

The world population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. Currently, more than 1.2 billion people lack access to clean drinking water. 

"We're expecting that to increase as the developing world modernizes and urbanizes, because production requires quite a bit of water, food production requires quite a bit of water, and urbanizing populations use water differently than rural populations do."

How do you solve the scarcity problem? 

"You can't treat it like it's a mathematical equation because the causes of scarcity, the causes of water stress and the solutions to it are pretty heavily dependent on non-technical factors —  on our ability to make thoughtful decisions about how we use the resource."  

"Governments that are more stable, that are more democratic, that have a better relationship with their population can have a better chance at managing their resources well, so we need to do the things that help them do that, which means encouraging democracy and political stability."

This video includes contributions from Khaki Martin and images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[The Zika Virus Is Spreading And Has 'Pandemic Potential']]> Thu, 28 Jan 2016 09:39:00 -0600
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As the Zika virus continues to spread, the World Health Organization says it's "spreading explosively" in the Americas.

WHO director general Dr. Margaret Chan said during a speech in Geneva, "The level of concern is high, as is the level of uncertainity." 

Currently, there's no cure or vaccine for the mosquito-borne disease that's believed to have caused birth defects and killed newborns, prompting countries to urge women not to get pregnant.

However, medical experts say the disease only causes minor symptoms for adults and most children. (Video via Expedia)

Zika began spreading in May and now is in 23 countries. Several U.S. travelers have reportedly gotten the virus after returning from Central America and South America.

On Wednesday, one medical journal warned the spread has "pandemic potential." Part of this potential is from air travel, which can transport sick patients and infected mosquitoes.

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[The Science Behind Why Some Fruits Help Your Waistline]]> Wed, 27 Jan 2016 21:31:00 -0600
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The secret to staying skinny may not be such a secret anymore. A new study looks at why certain fruits and vegetables can help you avoid weight gain over time.

It has to do with the types of natural compounds found in a variety of fruits. And it turns out the compounds found in apples, pears and berries may help your body avoid packing on the pounds.

These fruits are high in flavonoids, compounds already known to be linked to weight loss. In the fight against the scale, you may have heard about the seemingly magical benefits of drinking green tea. At least part of that is thanks to flavonoids.

Before now, there wasn't a whole lot of information on how flavonoids in fruits and vegetables helped your waistline, so researchers decided to find out.

For over two decades, researchers tracked more than 120,000 men and women across the U.S. Every two years participants reported their weight and lifestyle habits. Every four years participants reported their diet. 

The study found three subclasses of flavonoids were associated with less weight gain over time. The most consumed foods in those three subclasses included blueberries, strawberries, orange juice, oranges, tea and onions.

The study also noted people in the U.S. are consuming less fruits and vegetables than needed. The authors suggest upping the daily intake of fruit to two cups and vegetables to two-and-a-half cups.

This video includes images from Getty Images, Dani Lurie / CC BY 2.0 and Alan Cleaver / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[A Root Cause Of Schizophrenia May Have Finally Been Found]]> Wed, 27 Jan 2016 18:37:00 -0600
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Scientists at the Broad Institute say they're finally cracking open the root causes of schizophrenia. 

Until now, the biology behind the disease has been hard to pin down. 

Earlier research had shown that the brain cells of people with schizophrenia have fewer connections than the brain cells of people without the disease. (Video via Salk Institute for Biological Studies)

Scientists also knew the immune system plays a role, and that symptoms don't usually appear until patients are in their teens or 20s. 

But to truly understand and eventually treat the disease, scientists needed some underlying cause that tied those three findings together. And now they have it. 

It's a gene behind C4, a protein that plays a role in telling the immune system what to attack. 

It also plays a part in a process humans undergo in their teens and 20s called synaptic pruning. It's when unused connections in our brain cells get snipped. Too much C4 can send that process into overdrive. 

The Broad Institute isn't shying away from grand proclamations about the discovery. 

"This will turn out to be the most important break in the disease," the institute's director Eric Lander said. 

But in a lot of ways, it's just a first step. It means researchers can finally start exploring new treatment options, new screening techniques and maybe eventually find a cure. But it's going to be a while before any of those things are available to the public. 

This video includes images from Madcoverboy / CC BY SA 3.0Shimono K et al. / CC BY 2.0, the National Institutes of Health and the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium.

<![CDATA[He Can Barely Walk, But He's A (Future) Budweiser Clydesdale]]> Wed, 27 Jan 2016 18:16:00 -0600
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Budweiser Clydesdales are one of the most recognizable parts of the Anheuser-Busch brand. After hearing about a new birth at the Warm Springs Ranch in Boonville, Missouri, — "breeding farm for the Budweiser Clydesdales" — we decided to go greet the newest member of the Budweiser family.

John Soto, ranch supervisor, introduced us to days-old Mac and first-time mom, Jules. Mac was the first of an expected 32 births for Warm Springs in 2016. Interestingly enough, we were the first nonranch staffers to meet Mac. Although he could barely walk, Soto told us Mac's a "perfect prospect" for the Budweiser Clydesdale team. (Videos via BudweiserABC)

This video includes music by MADS / CC BY 3.0.

<![CDATA[How Our Consumption Of Packaged Food Is Hurting The Rainforest]]> Wed, 27 Jan 2016 10:19:00 -0600
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Want to improve your waistline and save the rainforest?

Well, that might be possible. (Video via Greenpeace)

The Rainforest Action Network says all the palm oil we use is ruining rainforests.

Many packaged foods use palm oil. Cookies, we're looking at you. (Video via Oreo)

Palm oil is also found in fast food and shampoo. 

And the U.S. is one of the biggest consumers

U.S. businesses are big culprits. 

Though some companies say they're monitoring their effect on rainforests. (Video via Cargill)

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

<![CDATA[Yahoo Japan Accused Of 'Fueling Elephant Extinction' With Ivory Sales]]> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 19:02:00 -0600
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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer can add another item to her to do list: figure out how to stay far, far away from Yahoo Japan. Turns out, some think the site has a hand in illegal elephant poaching.

An investigation by the Environmental Investigation Agency, or EIA, found that between 2012 and 2014, more than 12 tons of whole elephant tusks and ivory trinkets were sold through Yahoo Japan.

Wired points out the ivory trade would've brought in $7 million through sales on the site in 2014. Yahoo could take a small transaction and listing fee from that amount.

More than one million people have signed a petition urging Mayer and Yahoo Japan’s CEO to end the "deadly ivory trade" and stop "fueling elephant extinction."

The campaign director behind the petition, Bert Wander, told Gizmodo: "If you think how many tusks are required to make a ton, that’s an enormous amount of dead elephant. Yahoo is one of the only big Internet companies that allows this to go on."

But Yahoo isn't interested in taking any blame. The California-based company was quick to remind everyone that Yahoo Japan is a separate company, though it's an investor in the site.

A spokesperson said in a statement, "Yahoo Japan determines their own policies, and we refer you to the Yahoo Japan team for comment regarding their policies."

According to Wired, Yahoo Japan did comment on its policies, saying it only sells ivory from legal sources and reports and deletes all illegal listings of products.

Still, activists say more can be done. Wander said: "We won't let go. If we need to up the pressure, we will."

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Your Favorite Conspiracy Theories Would Have Unraveled By Now]]> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 15:41:00 -0600
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Long-running global conspiracies are really unlikely. Yes, even your favorite one. 

A University of Oxford scientist has created a formula for just how unlikely they are. It predicts that any massive group of conspirators will inevitably let the cat out of the bag within a few years. 

The findings are meant to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek. David Robert Grimes, a physicist and cancer researcher, has been known to dabble in the lighter side of science, like developing formulas for why guitar solos sound cool. (Video via University of OxfordBBC)

But he's also a science writer and columnist who challenges conspiracy theories, especially when it comes to health

He tested his conspiracy formula by comparing it to the NSA's surveillance program and the Public Health Service's experiments on African-American syphilis patients. 

Those conspiracies were blown open by whistle blowers, but the formula also relies on the fact that big groups are just bad at keeping secrets. 

Security experts love to remind us that the weakest link in any security system is the human one. 

The U.S. government recently launched the "Don't be this guy" campaign, reminding the millions of Americans with security clearance not to get too chatty about their work on Facebook. 

Even people in high ranking positions can make bad security calls. 

"I do take responsibility for having made what was clearly not the best decision," Hillary Clinton told ABC

So Grimes's formula and, well, common sense don't bode too well for some of the most famous global conspiracy theories. 

He estimates that faking the moon landings would require 411,000 people to be in on the secret. The best case scenario for a group that large is to keep the secret for three and a half to four years. 

The formula also gives some helpful advice to any super-villains: If you want your plot to outlive you, limit the number of people who are in on it to around 100. 

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

<![CDATA[Arkansas Officials Confirm Zika Virus Case, And It Could Spread]]> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 13:48:00 -0600
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The mosquito-borne Zika virus will likely spread across South America, Central America and North America, according to a new warning from the World Health Organization.

Zika virus is thought to be linked to a rare birth defect called microcephaly that gives newborns abnormally small heads. This condition often results in an underdeveloped brain and can even cause death.

There have already been reported cases in 21 of the 55 countries and territories in the Americas, and that number is expected to grow.

On Monday, officials in Arkansas confirmed a resident tested positive for the Zika virus. The person had recently returned from traveling out of the country. (Video via PBS

The WHO says two reasons for the spread are the populations previously unexposed to the virus and the prevalence of Aedes mosquitoes, the main carriers. (Video via Oswaldo Cruz Foundation)

"The role of Aedes mosquitoes in transmitting Zika is documented and well understood," the WHO said, but also warned of rare cases of transmission via sexual contact and blood.

Canada and Chile are the only countries of the 55 that don't have Aedes mosquitos, which could help keep the virus out of their borders.

Since November, CNN reports there have already been more than 4,000 reported cases of microcephaly in babies in Brazil, where the outbreak began; there were 146 cases there in 2014.

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Whole Foods Recalls About 74,000 Pounds Of Mislabeled Frozen Pizza]]> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 13:41:00 -0600
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Whole Foods is recalling nearly 74,000 pounds of frozen pizza due to a labeling error that said they were topped with beef — but they weren't.

According to a press release from the USDA, the pizza labels said they had uncured beef pepperoni, when they really had uncured pork pepperoni.

And this could be a big problem for Whole Foods customers who can't eat pork due to dietary or cultural reasons.

The recall applies to 8- and 10-inch pizzas. The packaging is marked with the code "EST. 20234" and has sell-by dates of Jan. 12, 2015, through Jan. 30, 2016. (Video via Whole Foods Market)

Customers in the New England area should be especially aware. The pizzas were reportedly shipped to Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island.

Whole Foods said in a statement, "The problem was discovered by [the USDA Food and Safety Inspection Service] during a label review at the establishment and occurred as a result of a change in ingredient suppliers."

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions to the pizzas. (Video via Whole Foods Market)

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Argentina Is Facing The Worst Locust Plague In 50 Years]]> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 13:34:00 -0600
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Argentina is facing a plague of locusts. (Video via Servicio Nacional De Sanidad Y Calidad Agroalimentaria)

Officials say it's the worst invasion the country has seen in 50 years.

The locusts are covering more than 700,000 hectareas or about 1.7 million acres in northern Argentina.

That part of Argentina is important for agriculture, and many are worried about the economic impact of the swarm.

The government is trying to control the outbreak before it gets worse by fumigating young locusts.

But officials say at this point, they can't stop the plague; they can only try to reduce the damage.

<![CDATA[Transplanted Cells Wearing 'Invisible Cloaks' Could Treat Diabetes]]> Tue, 26 Jan 2016 11:50:00 -0600
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Researchers at MIT and Harvard University believe they've almost perfected a Type 1 diabetes treatment that would eliminate the need for insulin shots.

The body relies on insulin to push blood sugar (or energy) into cells. People with Type 1 diabetes don't produce enough insulin to prevent the sugar from backing up in the bloodstream.

One treatment that's been in the works for decades involves transplanting insulin-producing cells into the patient's body. The cells appear to control the patient's blood sugar better than drugs or injections.

The downside is these cells can be destroyed by the immune system, but the new study tested a so-called "invisibility cloak" that was able to keep the immune systems in mice from attacking the transplanted cells for nearly six months.

In 2014, researchers also found a way to mass produce these cells in the lab.

Together, the two techniques could effectively cure Type 1 diabetes. One of the researchers said their approach "has the potential to provide diabetics with a new pancreas, ... which would allow them to control their blood sugar without taking drugs."

The researchers now plan to test the techniques in monkeys. The study was published Tuesday in the journal Nature.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[South Africa Bans Leopard Hunting For 2016]]> Mon, 25 Jan 2016 21:36:00 -0600
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They say a leopard can’t change its spots. But if you happen to spot a leopard in South Africa this year, you won’t be allowed to hunt it.

South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs told regional authorities not to allow any leopard hunts for the duration of 2016.

It’s not that the leopard population is down necessarily, although, the African Wildlife Foundation says they're near threatened. It’s just so difficult to track the big cats that researchers can’t provide a solid estimate on their population. 

Conservation group Panthera told The Guardian: "We just don’t know how leopards are faring in South Africa. They’re secretive, mainly nocturnal, solitary and range over huge areas."

So the government is halting the hunts so scientists can determine if hunting the animals would be harmful. But the hunting hiatus could have a negative economic impact.

South Africa gets an estimated $375 million per year from wealthy big-game hunters who come to hunt leopards, elephants, lions, rhinos and buffalo.

But mismanagement of the trophy hunting system and illegal poachers have posed a huge threat to the country's leopard population.

Animal advocates are praising the hunting ban, saying it’s crucial to preserving the leopard population. The ban will be up for review at the end of the year.

<![CDATA[US Program For Whooping Cranes Might've Caused Parenting Problems]]> Sun, 24 Jan 2016 17:34:00 -0600
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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is ending a long-running program which helped teach endangered whooping cranes to migrate using ultralight aircraft. (Video via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The program helped cranes bred in captivity learn to migrate in the wild, but problems popped up over the course of the program that limited its success — like a lack of parenting skills. (Video via Operation Migration)

Biologists think that, because of all the human intervention, the cranes aren't learning the skills needed to raise their young. Since 2001, only 10 chicks have lived long enough to grow feathers and fly. (Video via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The ultralight program has its roots in the early '90s when Bill Lishman — one of the co-founders of Operation Migration — helped guide 18 Canada geese across Lake Ontario. The 1996 movie "Fly Away Home" was based on this early attempt. (Video via Sony Pictures)

In 2001, Operation Migration started using what they learned guiding other bird species to help the whooping crane. 

The species is still considered endangered, though is making quite a comeback since just 15 birds were known to be living in the 1940s. (Video via Operation Migration

The Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed new strategies, most of which involve less human intervention, in hopes of allowing the cranes to better reproduce and raise young in the wild. 

This video includes images from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[Jonas Is NYC's Second Largest Snowstorm Since 1869]]> Sun, 24 Jan 2016 15:18:00 -0600
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Astronauts had a pretty unique view of Winter Storm Jonas from space. 

But on the ground, the storm has done some damage. (Video via The New York Times and The Washington Post)

Some parts of West Virginia saw 40 inches of snow. (Video via WSAZ)

Jonas is the first storm on record to dump 2 feet of snow on both Baltimore and New York City. (Video via WJZ-TV)

In New York City, this is the second-largest snow storm since 1869. (Video via Fox News)

Three people in New York City died shoveling snow.

At least 19 deaths have been linked to recent severe weather nationwide.

Coastal cities are now bracing for floods from snow runoff. (Video via NASA/NOAA GOES Project)

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[A Water Bottle That Turns Air Into Water? Yep]]> Sat, 23 Jan 2016 16:45:00 -0600
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This water bottle turns air into water with ... "Imagination," said SpongeBob SquarePants.

No, with science — the principle of condensation, to be precise.

Humid air enters the top of the Fontus Airo water bottle where it's chilled by a solar-powered cooler.

Water droplets form and run through a filter down into the bottle.

Fontus says it can produce about 27 ounces of water in an hour — about the size of a bottle of Gatorade.

Problem is, it'll only do that in "really good conditions."

Really good conditions: 86 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit with 80- to 90-percent humidity.

And you probably don't want to use it in the city.

It's not designed to filter airborne contaminants.

It's also yet to be launched as a crowdfunding campaign, so it may never see the light of day.

But at least we know it's possible to turn air into water. Remember this billboard from Peru's University of Engineering and Technology?

"The billboard has a unique technology that captures the air humidity and turns it into drinking water," said the narrator in a UTEC video.

Difference is, the billboard's water is filtered for contaminants.

This video includes an image from Jonathan Grado / CC BY SA 2.0.

<![CDATA[Top 3 Discoveries That Got Us Excited This Week]]> Sat, 23 Jan 2016 14:24:00 -0600
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This week yielded a lot of exciting discoveries. From being able to climb walls to discovering another planet in our solar system, these three findings all proved that scientific revelations can be just as thrilling as they are educational.

First up: a finding that's especially sweet for anyone suffering from the bitter cold this time of year. A U.K. mathematician has determined the exact steps needed to build the perfect snowman. 

USA Today reports some pretty intense math equations were involved, but James Hind was able to determine that the ultimate snowman would be 5 feet 3 inches tall, be made of three balls of snow, have a carrot nose, have both arms and legs, and be outfitted in a scarf, gloves and a hat. 

Hind tested his equation out on some well-known fictional snowmen and found Jack Frost from the 1998 film of the same name is as close to perfect as they come. (Video via Warner Bros. /"Jack Frost")

While Olaf from Disney's "Frozen" is the worst. 

"Let's go bring back summer! Man, am I out of shape!"

Next up: Scientists believe there might be a new planet beyond Neptune. (Video via NASA)

We say "believe" because the planet hasn't actually been observed yet. Instead, two scientists from the California Institute of Technology used computer simulations to determine there might be a planet in that part of outer space. 

Now, if you've been keeping track, this would end up being the ninth planet, which is why for the moment it's being called Planet Nine. 

Sorry, Pluto fans — it got demoted to a "dwarf planet" back in 2006

If this new ninth planet does turn out to be the real deal, the scientists believe it has a mass 10 times greater than that of Earth. (Video via NASA)

And finally, anyone who had childhood dreams of climbing tall buildings like Spider-Man — or maybe grown up ones as well; we won't discriminate — has had those hopes crushed this week. (Video via Columbia Pictures /"The Amazing Spider-Man")

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found geckos are the largest animals that have the ability to climb walls. 

In a press release, one of the study's authors wrote, "If a human, for example, wanted to climb up a wall the way a gecko does, we'd need impractically large sticky feet — and shoes in European size 145 or US size 114."

The average shoe size for men is a 10.5, and for women it's a size 8. And according to Guinness World Records, the person with the largest feet still wears only a size 26. 

This video includes images from Heather Sunderland / CC BY 2.0Getty Images and Susanne Nilsson / CC BY SA 2.0

<![CDATA[Zika Virus Prompts Pregnancy Advisories And More CDC Travel Warnings]]> Sat, 23 Jan 2016 13:24:00 -0600
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is adding travel advisories for more countries because of the Zika virus.

Since last May, the virus carried by mosquitoes has centralized in South America and Central America. But cases in the island nations of Cape Verde and Samoa have recently been reported.

The virus is particularly concerning for pregnant women because of a possible link between Zika and abnormal brain development in babies called microcephaly, though that link isn't definitive. (Video via CBS)

Officials in multiple Caribbean and Latin American countries are advising women to postpone pregnancy until more is known about the virus and microcephaly. In El Salvador, it's recommended women wait as long as two years before getting pregnant. (Video via NBC)

Brazil also warned women considering getting pregnant. There, almost 4,000 cases of the birth defect have been reported since October.

Aside from the virus' suspected affect on pregnancies, symptoms are usually mild, like fever, rash and joint pain.

Opinions on whether the virus could pose a serious risk to the U.S. are mixed. About a dozen cases have been reported in the U.S., but aside from a case in the Virgin Islands, they were all related to foreign travel.

While mosquitoes prefer more tropical climates, some experts say the the Gulf Coast's warm weather could put the area at risk in the future.

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

<![CDATA[Blue Origin Is The First To Launch, Land The Same Rocket Twice]]> Sat, 23 Jan 2016 12:28:00 -0600
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Blue Origin hit another milestone for reusable rockets.

The Blue Origin New Shepard rocket completed its second launch and landing, making it the first rocket to be used twice.

Being able to reuse rockets multiple times will make space travel far more affordable — which, in theory, could mean more space travel.

Blue Origin hit this milestone before its main rival, SpaceX. But SpaceX did successfully land one of its Falcon 9 rockets last month.

And SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has different goals for the Falcon 9 rocket.

That rocket went all the way to orbit, which is twice the distance Blue Origin's rocket traveled. Plus, it needed to reach considerably faster speeds to get there.

Not to mention, the Falcon 9 is considerably larger since it's intended to be used for things like supply-runs to the International Space Station.

In a blog post, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said it plans to scale up the rocket's size. It's currently three years into development on its first orbital spacecraft.

<![CDATA[Multistate Listeria Outbreak Linked To Dole Facility In Ohio]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 13:58:00 -0600
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A Dole facility in Springfield, Ohio, has stopped production after it was linked to a multistate listeriosis outbreak. Investigators say the outbreak was from packaged salad.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 12 people, including one pregnant woman, in six different states have been hospitalized with listeriosis linked to the Dole facility. One person has died. (Video via Dole Food Company)

Listeriosis is an infection that can sometimes be life-threatening. It can cause fever, muscle aches, headaches, confusion and other symptoms. It can also sometimes cause a miscarriage.

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

<![CDATA[A New Tinder Feature Helps You Find STD Testing Centers]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 13:15:00 -0600
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Hey, Tinder users. If you're unsure about your STD history before going on that date with potential Mr. or Ms. Right, have no fear. A Tinder update can help with that.

The dating app has added a new feature to the FAQ page that provides a link to Healthvana's STD testing locator. It's also accessible under the Health Safety page on Tinder's website.

The decision to provide the testing center link is in the wake of a battle with LA-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which launched a series of billboards in New York and LA with the slogan "Tinder, Chlamydia, Grindr, Gonorrhea." Grindr is a dating app for gay men.

Tinder told Newsy in a statement: "While the CDC ... has never identified any connection that supports the idea that Tinder usage correlates with, let alone causes, an increase in STDs, we're of course in favor of organizations that provide public education resources on the topic, and we're happy to do our part in supporting these educational efforts." (Video via Tinder)

According to a November 2015 study released by the CDC, the spreading of three STDs — chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis — has increased in 2014 for the first time since 2006. The trend mainly affects young people, especially women.

There's speculation if dating apps are the culprit behind the increase — but for a massively popular app like Tinder, which has led to over 9 billion matches, it certainly doesn't hurt to promote STD awareness and testing. (Video via Tinder)

<![CDATA[The Scientific Way To Build The 'Perfect' Snowman]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 10:59:00 -0600
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Is there a way to build a perfect snowman? A British mathematician says there is. And if you live in the right part of the country, you probably have enough snow to do it. (Video via NASA)

Of course, there are several variables. Height, number of sections to use for the body, freshness of the snow and accessories. Because every posh snowman needs gear. Duh. 

According to that mathematician we mentioned, the perfect man of snow is born from a complex equation and must be 5.3 feet tall and have exactly three tiers — so a head, a midsection and the base. There are even specific measurements for each tier of snow.

"You make the head," said a character in the 1969 animated version of "Frost the Snowman." The head is the most difficult part."

As for those accessories, a carrot is the only acceptable nose — one that's specifically 1.6 inches long. Sorry, Olaf.

"Whoa! Head rush! It's so cute; it's like a little baby unicorn," Olaf said.

And since we're getting specific, the snowman must also wear three accessories: a hat, a scarf and gloves. Can't let your snowman get the chills. He must also have three buttons on his chest — all equal distance from one another.

There are also measurements for eye spacing and limbs. Oh, and only fresh snow will do. The outdoor temperature must also be at or below 32 degrees.

<![CDATA[More Babies Are Being Born With Intestines Outside Their Bodies]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 08:59:00 -0600
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More and more babies are being born with a condition that causes their intestines to be born outside of their bodies, and officials aren't sure why. 

Gastroschisis is a rare birth defect in which a newborn's intestines protrude from a hole near his or her umbilical cord. It occurs in about 5 of every 10,000 babies born. 

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found increases in the condition for every demographic over the last 18 years.

That includes the number of cases more than doubling in babies born to teenage African-American mothers, as well as a 30 percent increase in the number of cases overall between 2006 and 2012.

The condition is treatable with surgery, but infants can continue to have problems eating and digesting food. 

A report from the CDC did say it was more common in babies born to mothers with a low body mass index and poor nutrition and those who use alcohol or drugs or smoke.

However, the CDC doesn't have an answer for what's causing the most recent jump in cases. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Watch NASA's Scott Kelly Play Pingpong With A Water Droplet In Space]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 08:08:00 -0600
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This is the longest International Space Station mission in history. And it looks like they're having fun.

"Neat stuff," astronaut Scott Kelly said.

That's Scott Kelly playing pingpong. He's been on the ISS for 10 months.

He uses hydrophobic paddles. They work "kind of like a raincoat."

The ball is a water droplet in microgravity.

So what else are they doing?

"Our mission here is to understand the effects, mostly the effects on our physiology and psychology, of long-duration spaceflight, so we can eventually go onto Mars," Kelly said.

The one-year mission ends in March. (Video via NASA)

<![CDATA[35 China Restaurants Under Probe For Seasoning Food With Opium Poppies]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 07:27:00 -0600
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Thirty-five restaurants in China are under scrutiny after their dishes were found containing opium poppies.

Five restaurant owners are being prosecuted, and 25 are under criminal investigation, according to the Chinese Drug and Food Administration

Opium poppy capsules and powders have been banned in China since 2013. Depending on the investigation's findings, some of the restaurant owners could lose their licenses. (Video via CCTV)

Adding the powder to dishes is said to add flavor, just like MSG or other food additives used in Chinese cooking. (Video via Food Network)

So, what were these owners thinking? Poppy products, like powders, can cause individuals to fail drug tests and, in large amounts, get addicted. It's not clear if these owners were trying to get customers addicted. 

However, one restaurant owner used the substance in his food to get customers hooked in 2014. The owner was later arrested, according to local media.  

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Ancient Gravesite Suggests War Dates Back 10,000 Years]]> Thu, 21 Jan 2016 16:58:00 -0600
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Archaeologists from Cambridge University discovered an ancient mass grave in modern-day Kenya that they say proves human warfare is really old. 

At least 10,000 years old, to be exact. Several skeletons, found at a place called Nataruk, have injuries consistent with violence. 

According to archaeologists, several of the skeletons were found face down with injuries that looked like arrow wounds. Others had broken bones and most had severe cranial fractures. 

So why is this significant? Well, scholars have long debated when warfare became a pattern in human culture. And putting a time stamp on it is pretty hard do since all of the evidence is thousands and thousands of years old.

The researchers in this case say the 10,000-year-old gravesite indicates so-called "intergroup violence" may have been carried out in prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies.

"The chances that you will find the remains of a fight, of a war, of an attack are very, very remote, so that makes Nataruk extraordinarily special," archaeologist Marta Mirazon Lahr said

Prior to these remains being found, our best guess at when war originated came from a different gravesite discovered in modern-day Sudan. Unlike the discovery at Nataruk, the cemetery in Sudan suggests the community there was fairly settled. 

The co-author in this study said, "I've no doubt it is in our biology to be aggressive and lethal, just as it is to be deeply caring and loving. A lot of what we understand about human evolutionary biology suggests we are two sides of the same coin."

<![CDATA[A Potentially Toxic Chemical In Nail Polish Can Seep Into Your Body]]> Thu, 21 Jan 2016 12:08:00 -0600
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A study from October is getting a lot of headlines and making some people question their nail polish. (Video via KatiamNails / CC BY 3.0)

The joint study from Duke University and Environmental Working Group says a chemical used in many nail polishes known as TPHP can leak through the skin and into the wearer's bloodstream. (Video via KCAL)

TPHP is often found in plastics and flame retardants, and nail polish-makers add the chemical to boost durability and flexibilty.

The study's 26 participants showed a 700 percent increase, on average, in the metabolized form of TPHP. This spike came 10 hours after painting their nails.

Not much is known about the chemical's effects on humans, though. A study using animals did link TPHP to reproductive and developmental issues, but it's still too soon to say if that applies to people.

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[China's Air Quality Is Still Bad, But It's Getting Better]]> Wed, 20 Jan 2016 17:39:00 -0600
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It was hard for people in China to breathe easy toward the end of 2015. For the first time ever, "red alerts" were issued across northeast China due to dangerous levels of air pollution.

The alerts basically put daily life on hold. Vehicle use was restricted, school was canceled and people were encouraged to stay inside. (Video via ABC)

And yet despite an especially bad December, it turns out China's pollution problem may be getting better — relatively speaking. (Video via CCTV)

According to a new Greenpeace report, the levels of harmful air particles in areas around Beijing have dropped by 25 percent in the past two years. That's noteworthy because most of the country's coal production happens there.

In surveyed cities across the country, annual average levels of harmful particulate matter in the air dropped by more than 10 percent in 2015. 

But despite the improvement, China still has a lot of work to do before it can match the World Health Organization's air quality standards.

A Greenpeace campaigner told NBC: "None of these 366 cities meet the World Health Organization's air quality standard. That is to say, 100 percent of Chinese cities studied fail to meet the WHO's standard."

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Oceans Could Hold More Plastic Than Fish By 2050, Report Says]]> Wed, 20 Jan 2016 16:29:00 -0600
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We’ve all heard the expression there’s plenty of fish in the sea. But a new report says those fish could soon be outnumbered by plastic garbage.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation released a report saying if the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans continues to increase, there will be more pounds of plastic than there are pounds of fish in the ocean by 2050.

Currently, it’s estimated almost nine million tons of plastic wind up in the ocean per year, which the foundation says "is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. If no action is taken, this is expected to increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050."

All that trash in the water is a big problem for marine life. Studies have shown most sea turtles and nearly all marine birds on the planet have at least some traces of plastic in their stomachs.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation report says this is likely because only 5 percent of plastic is recycled, compared to 58 percent of paper. In addition to polluting the ocean, all that lost plastic drains an estimated 80 to 120 billion dollars from the economy every year.

But economic challenges can make it hard to convince companies that use large amounts of plastic. With oil hovering at an inexpensive $30 a barrel, it’s cheaper to make new plastic than to recycle and process old plastic products.

Despite the less-than-encouraging numbers, the report says it's possible to cut down on oceanic waste. It encouraged scientists to develop new types of plastics that are more easily recycled and encouraged governments to incentivize corporations to put an emphasis on sustainability.

<![CDATA[There's New Evidence Of A Distant Ninth Planet In Our Solar System]]> Wed, 20 Jan 2016 10:36:00 -0600
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Scientists may have discovered another planet in our solar system. (Video via NASA)

It's located all the way out in the Kuiper Belt. (Video via NASA)

Its discovery began with Sedna.

Sedna is a dwarf planet smaller than Pluto.

Scientists believe Sedna is in the gravitational pull of a large object, which could be this new planet — aka "Planet 9." (Video via Kurdistan Planetarium)

It has about 10 times the mass of Earth.

It's an average of 600 times farther from the sun than the Earth is and takes 20,000 years to orbit the sun once.

This video includes images from NASA.

<![CDATA[Penguins Have Their Own Awareness Day, And They Deserve It]]> Wed, 20 Jan 2016 10:25:00 -0600
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Jan. 20 is Penguin Awareness Day.

"He's not listening to us," a penguin said in a commercial for the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

"Try the one with the orange beak," another penguin said.

"I know, I tried the one with the orange beak. I tried waving my wings. Sir!" the first penguin said.

There's a lot of cuteness to celebrate.

But sadly, more than half of penguin species are vulnerable or endangered. (Video via PBS)

There are about 17 species. (Video via World Wildlife Fund)

Like the endangered yellow-eyed penguin, native to New Zealand.

And the African penguin.

Oil spills and overfishing of the African penguin's food supply are big threats to its survival. (Video via BBC)

But the Georgia Aquarium has welcomed 24 baby African penguins since 2012 as part of the Species Survival Program.

And it's hoping to raise a lot more. (Video via Georgia Aquarium)

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Scented Candles Might Create Harmful Formaldehyde In Your Home]]> Tue, 19 Jan 2016 10:31:00 -0600
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The cost of using scented candles to keep your house smelling fresh could be much higher than you think.

According to new research, citrus-scented candles might give off a lot more than just a pleasant aroma. They can react with other elements in the air to create a cancer-causing agent.

A professor at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science teamed up with the BBC Two series "Trust Me, I'm a Doctor" to measure levels of "volatile organic chemicals" making their way through six houses in the English city of York over five days.

Researchers asked each resident to write down any scented candles, air fresheners and cleaning products they used and how often, and then tested the air in each home.

The team says the chemical it found the most of was limonene, a substance used to give products that citrus smell. The homes that used the most scented candles and cleaning products also had the highest levels of that chemical.

Now, limonene itself isn't particularly dangerous, but when it's released into the air, it reacts with ozone to create formaldehyde.

And that's definitely not good, considering the National Cancer Institute has said formaldehyde is associated with several types of cancer.

But fortunately, the researchers say you can control the amount of limonene in the air by using fewer scented products and opting for fragrance-free cleaning agents.

And we should note: More than six houses are likely needed before the researchers' findings on limonene can be considered conclusive.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Stephen Hawking: The Human Race Is In Danger, And It's Our Own Fault]]> Tue, 19 Jan 2016 06:06:00 -0600
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According to Stephen Hawking, the human race is in danger of being wiped out in the next 100 years, and it's all our own fault.

According to the BBC, the physicist says he believes humanity will face dangerous scenarios of our own making during the next century, including nuclear war, global warming and genetically engineered viruses. 

And he told the Radio Times further progress in science and technology could increase that risk: "We are not going to stop making progress, or reverse it, so we must [recognize] the dangers and control them."

Of course, Hawking has voiced his concerns on this topic before. Just last year, he warned that artificial intelligence could wipe out the human race. (Video via HBO / "Last Week Tonight")

These latest comments come just days before Hawking is scheduled to give this year's BBC Reith Lectures, which will explore research into black holes.

The first part of the lecture will air on BBC Radio 4 Jan. 26, and you can catch part two Feb. 2.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[You've Got At Least 30 Species Of Bug At Home]]> Tue, 19 Jan 2016 05:05:00 -0600
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This video includes lots of bugs. We're sorry. 

There are a few dozen species of bug living in your house. That's the finding of a new, first-of-its-kind study on the six-or-more-legged creatures that share our homes.

I know, on some level, we all like to pretend we can escape the creepy crawlies of the world by heading indoors. But scientists are determined to shatter that fantasy. 

"Nobody can tell you, even approximately, how many species live in your house. Nobody can tell you, even approximately, how many species live on your body right now," ecologist Rob Dunn of the "Arthropods of Our Homes" project said during a TED talk

So members of a project called "Arthropods of Our Homes" have spent the last few years searching houses room by room and collecting every bug they can find. 

"The most exciting thing, to me, is just that we are all living with a ton of bugs in our homes, so that's fun. I know that people don't love to hear that," study author Michelle Trautwein told Untamed Science

Yeah, people don't love to hear that, but let's try to get through this. What bugs did they find, and how widespread are they? 

In any given house, you can obviously expect to find house flies. It's also a safe bet that you'll find dust mites, as well as some species of ant, some species of beetle and spiders, like the common cobweb spider. 

The researchers also found you're pretty much guaranteed to have gnats or midges. You're also going to have book lice. 

And you'll have some combination of moths, mosquitoes, ladybugs, wasps, bees, crickets, cockroaches, earwigs, termites, silverfish, ticks, millipedes and roly-polies, to name a few. 

In fact, according to the study, you can expect to find at least 30 different species of bug per house, and the average is around 100. 

It may console you to know the houses sampled for this first study were all in North Carolina, but if you live elsewhere, don't kid yourself. You've still got bugs. (Video via WRAL)

This video includes images from the U.S. Department of AgricultureGilles San Martin / CC BY SA 2.0Matt BertoneAndy Murray / CC BY SA 2.0sandidmikadagoElinaElenablickpixeldepaulusJames St. John / CC BY 2.0francok35, HansJohn Tann / CC BY 2.0Marvin Thiel / CC0 1.0 and byrev.

<![CDATA[Flowers Can Bloom In Outer Space, Too]]> Mon, 18 Jan 2016 20:06:00 -0600
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Some people do it as a hobby, others do it in the name of science. We're talking about gardening, folks. (Video via NASA)

If you just saw a picture of this orange zinnia you might not believe it was grown in outer space. But thanks to some very special TLC from a couple of astronauts, this mission was accomplished.

NASA created the Veggie Plant Growth System on the International Space Station in 2014. The goal was to enable crew members to grow and eat their own fresh vegetables.

Last August, three astronauts did just that by sampling their own home-grown red romaine lettuce. Next up on the growing schedule: A batch of zinnia flowers. 

But the flowering plant proved to be a bit harder to manage due to a longer growth duration and sensitivity to humidity. Luckily, main caregiver Scott Kelly kept his sense of humor throughout the nearly two-month-long process.

NASA credits Kelly's "heroic holiday gardening efforts" as the reason two zinnias bloomed. Next up on the planting rotation? Maybe tomatoes.

<![CDATA[5 Planets Will Be Visible From Earth At The Same Time]]> Mon, 18 Jan 2016 12:10:00 -0600
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Get the telescopes ready: Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter are all about to be visible at the same time. 

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, the five bright planets will be visible from Earth, and the showing will last about a month. 

Four of the five have already been visible in the early morning sky, but Mercury will join the group shortly, completing the five visible planet grouping. (Video via NASA)

EarthSky reports people living in the mid-to-northern latitudes can see Mercury best about an hour and half before dawn. In the Southern Hemisphere, it's about two hours before sunrise. Either way, Feb. 7 is expected to be the best day for viewing our solar system's closest planet to the sun. (Video via NASA)

It's the first time the planets have shown up all at the same time in 10 years, but The Conversation reports you won't have to wait another decade to see it happen again. The next five-planet showing will happen in August. 

This video includes images from NASA.

<![CDATA[Cancer Treatment Is Helping People With Multiple Sclerosis Walk Again]]> Mon, 18 Jan 2016 07:34:00 -0600
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Patients with multiple sclerosis are regaining independence with the help of a common cancer treatment. 

"I was crossing a road. I didn't fall, but I just melted," Steven Storey told BBC.

"Within nine months, Steven's condition had deteriorated to the point where he needed 24-hour acute care," the BBC anchor said. 

"You could have stabbed me in my leg and I wouldn't have felt it," Storey said.

Storey received a bone marrow transplant using his own stem cells. Now, he can swim and ride a bike — all within one year of treatment. His next goal is to walk.

The treatment is called hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (or HSCT). First there's chemotherapy, which weakens the immune system. Then, the patient's stem cells that are too young to have "flaws that trigger MS" are harvested from the patient's blood and used to rebuild that immune system. 

Storey received the treatment as part of a clinical trial at a hospital in the U.K.  Another patient given the treatment, 25-year-old Holly Drewry, went from having to use a wheelchair to being able to walk.  

A consultant on the trial compared it to "rebooting" the immune system. MS affects about 2.3 million people worldwide. Researchers describe this latest treatment as a "major achievement."

<![CDATA[ICYMI: Bei Bei Debut Attracted Hundreds To Smithsonian's National Zoo]]> Sun, 17 Jan 2016 15:07:00 -0600
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Saturday was the first time the public got to see 5-month-old Bei Bei.

And hundreds of people showed up. (Video via WPVI)

Bei Bei debuted to the press in December.

"Probably by the time the public gets to see him, he will really be walking and maybe even starting to climb up on, you know, the mountains," a biologists at the zoo said.

But he still seems pretty sleepy.

The "giant" panda weighs about 25 pounds.

<![CDATA[SpaceX Still Can't Land A Rocket On Its Floating Landing Pad]]> Sun, 17 Jan 2016 14:40:00 -0600
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Looks like SpaceX wasn't able to keep the momentum going in its quest for reusable rockets. 

The company launched a satellite into orbit Sunday, which will allow government agencies to track changes in the world's oceans. But its attempt to land a Falcon 9 rocket intact on a floating barge after launch wasn't as successful. (Video via NASA)

"It was a slightly harder landing than we expected, and it looks like one of the landing legs may have broken. ... Unfortunately, we are not standing upright on a drone ship at the moment," a SpaceX spokesperson said.

The attempt comes less than a month after the company managed to land one of its rockets safely back at the launch pad. The goal is to save money by launching rockets multiple times instead of dropping them in the ocean. 

But in a lot of ways, landing on a barge is trickier than landing at the launch pad. SpaceX tried it twice last year, and both attempts ended in fiery explosions

If SpaceX ever does stick the landing, it will be a big step toward reusability. Some missions take more fuel, meaning the rocket can't make it back to the launch pad, and a barge in the ocean is the only chance for recovery. 

This video includes images from SpaceX

<![CDATA[Colorado Town Is First In The US To Switch To Renewable Natural Gas]]> Sat, 16 Jan 2016 16:51:00 -0600
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The city of Grand Junction, Colorado, is turning its raw human waste into a type of renewable natural gas called biomethane. It's the first city in the United States to do this — not surprising.

The gas is produced as organic matter and breaks down into raw biogas. It's then refined and can be used in any system compatible with natural gas.

The city plans to use the gas to run about 40 vehicles in its fleet. 

The thing about human waste is it's always going to be available, which makes converting it into a usable form a pretty smart move. And the gas produced is better for the environment.

Renewable natural gas that's burned as fuel becomes 21 times less potent than if the methane had been released directly into the air.

A utility engineer for Grand Junction told The Guardian that the city "may be reducing greenhouse gases by as much as 60% to 80%."

And biomethane doesn't just come from human waste. It can also be captured from landfills and livestock waste: two of the top producers of methane in the United States.

As for the cost, a manager at the treatment plant told NPR the savings could be in the "hundreds of thousands of dollars." And the city expects the project to pay for itself in about seven to nine years.

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies found that energy produced by wastewater treatment plants could meet up to 12 percent of the national electricity needs alone. So maybe Grand Junction is just ahead of the curve. (Video via Doug Von Gausig)

This video includes images from Getty Images, Robert Basic / CC BY SA 2.0KOMUnews / CC BY 2.0 and Adam Moss / CC BY SA 2.0.

<![CDATA[What You Watch At The Gym Can Mean More Than You Think]]> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 17:32:00 -0600
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Working out while watching TV — it's my way of keeping up with my cardio and the Kardashians simultaneously.

But what does what you watch while working out say about you, and how does it affect your workout? It turns out your choice of channel can either hinder that uphill climb or up your game.

An ABC News article revealed if you watch cooking shows at the gym, you might have a food obsession resulting from severe self-restriction. Cooking shows allow a viewer to fantasize about food and experience the pleasures of it without eating it. But don't judge too hard just yet.

That very same article also explains the length of episodes may have more to do with your appreciation for the brevity of, let's say, "Barefoot Contessa." A snappy half-hour with Ina can make that 30 minutes of cardio seem quicker.

Another study published in the international journal Frontiers in Autonomic Neuroscience revealed that watching someone else exercise can be a good thing because of something called muscle sympathetic nerve activity. That means watching someone else work out causes your heart rate, breathing and sweat release to increase. So, tuning into the big game can increase your chances of a better workout.

Reality TV World claims 20 percent of people who work out while watching TV tune into reality television. FitWatch promotes watching more exercise focused-shows to inspire yourself.

So even though a Harvard study linked watching TV to weight-gain, it doesn't have to. Netflix has a diagram that shows how much you can burn on the treadmill while binge-watching shows like "Orange Is the New Black."

But before you steal your ex's Netflix password to sweat to "Scandal," Women's Health said watching TV on the treadmill could cause neck strain, promote bad form and encourage you to get into the same routine.

Or you can just watch "Pretty Little Liars," anyway. I say do whatever it takes to distract yourself from discomfort if you're trying to get that "A" in shape.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Chipotle Stores Will Close For A Few Hours For A Companywide Pep Talk]]> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 09:31:00 -0600
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Chipotle is planning to close all of its stores for a few hours next month for a companywide meeting to discuss its response to issues with E. coli and food safety.

A spokesperson for the chain told The Oregonian the meeting is expected to take place Feb. 8 and will involve all employees. (Video via Chipotle Mexican Grill)

He said in an email to the outlet, "We want to thank our teams for all their hard work, to discuss some of the changes we are making to enhance food safety, to talk about the restaurants role in all of that and to answer some questions from employees."

The news comes after Chipotle executives announced Wednesday they plan to start a marketing campaign next month to win back customers.

Of course, several foodborne-disease outbreaks plagued the chain starting in October of last year that sickened more than 50 people across the country. (Video via WPRI)

Last week, the company said it was subpoenaed by federal authorities as part of a criminal investigation into a different outbreak in California last fall. Several lawsuits have also been filed nationwide by customers who were ill after eating at the restaurants. (Video via Chipotle Mexican Grill)

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[French Clinical Trial Leaves 1 Comatose, 5 Others Hospitalized]]> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 06:56:00 -0600
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One person is in a coma and five others have been hospitalized after participating in a clinical trial for a new drug in northwest France.

The country's Ministry of Health said in a statement Friday that the six participants had been taking part in the trial of an oral medication at a privately-licensed laboratory in Rennes.

Many media outlets have speculated the drug is a "cannabis-based painkiller," but officials didn't address that claim.

The lab reportedly informed health officials about the incident overnight. The trial has since been halted, and an investigation is now underway.

<![CDATA[A New Company — And Another Astronaut — Will Be Heading To The ISS]]> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 17:36:00 -0600
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Space is getting crowded. NASA will begin working with yet another private space company to keep the International Space Station stocked through 2024.

The agency awarded a new cargo contract to Sierra Nevada Corp. Thursday. It also will continue working with SpaceX and Orbital ATK, which have both flown several resupply missions. (Video via NASA)

In addition to another company, the ISS will also eventually see another crew member. The extra flight capacity under the new contracts will eventually allow the station to maintain a seven-person crew. Right now, it only holds six. (Video via NASA)

Newcomer Sierra Nevada has taken a different approach from its competitors: Its vehicle was designed from the get-go as a space plane that lands like a glider. 

It's another approach to reusability, the cost-cutting holy grail which SpaceX has been chasing with its rocket-landing attempts.

Each contract is for at least six cargo flights and has the flexibility and funding to add more. (Video via NASA)

<![CDATA[West Africa Is Ebola-Free, But The Virus Could Easily Return]]> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 17:19:00 -0600
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The World Health Organization announced the Ebola outbreak has ended in the three West African countries that were most affected by the virus: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Those nations have been declared Ebola free since no one has tested positive for the virus in the last 42 days, or two incubation cycles. But health officials aren't celebrating just yet. (Video via BBC)

In a statement, WHO said, “more flare-ups are expected" and "strong surveillance and response systems will be critical in the months to come.”

The Ebola outbreak highlighted just how little we actually know about the disease and how difficult it can be to fully eradicate. For instance, scientists recently learned the virus can be sexually transmitted for up to a year after the carrier is cured. It can also lay dormant in an infection even after it's treated and make the victim sick again.

The epidemic, which researchers think started in December 2013, is responsible for more than 28,000 cases of Ebola and claimed the lives of more than 11,000 people. (Video via The New York Times)

Health officials say they're working with the national governments of affected areas to try to minimize flare-ups and contain any infections that occur.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[If Prostheses Were Shoes, They'd Have Been Updated Already]]> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 15:30:00 -0600
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What if I told you prostheses are technology, too? Not only that, but the companies trying to make these devices better are attending events like CES.

In the case of lower limb prostheses, there's a problem that needs to be addressed.

"Ask the right question: What's the problem in prosthetics? Well, it's the socket," said LIM Innovations CEO and co-founder Andrew Pedtke, M.D.

That's the part of a prosthesis that merges a person's residual limb and their prosthetic limb. Older sockets don't allow room for adjustment in that area. (Video via BulowOPS / CC BY 3.0)

Imagine trying to run, dance or even just relax while wearing an archaic wooden shoe. Doesn't sound comfortable, right? Now, imagine relying on outdated technology every day to do something as simple as walking to your car. (Video via Oxlaey / CC BY 3.0)

At CES, we talked to LIM Innovations, a company out of San Francisco that's been selling — let's call them — dynamic prostheses for about a year. They call it the "Infinite Socket."

"When I wake up and go to the gym, I can tighten it down all the way, as opposed to when I'm sitting at my desk all day for — you know — nine hours, on a hard chair, I can loosen it up," said Ranjit Steiner, an amputee who works for LIM Innovations.

Research shows that prosthetic rejection and abandonment can be well over 50 percent, and a lot of times, it's due to the wearer being uncomfortable. 

The difference in this newer design is its adjustability, which actually combats more than just the comfort issue. The adaptability could even save people money.

"A traditional socket like this is billed to insurance for approximately $10,000," Pedtke said.

But that's just one socket. And it's not uncommon for an amputee to end up needing multiple sockets before being fitted with a definitive socket.

It's worth noting that, depending on a number of factors, a whole new prosthetic leg (which includes the socket) could cost $15,000 to $50,000.

 "And the total cost that Medicare is seeing for socket technology alone in a yearly basis is about $375 million," Pedtke said.

That's a lot of money and a lot of potentially uncomfortable people who are just trying to enjoy life.

"A traditional socket is like dancing in high-heeled shoes and then having to walk all the way home at the end of the night — like, you're going to get blisters; it's going to suck," Steiner said.

Currently, LIM Innovations can fit its Infinite Socket for any above-the-knee and through-the-knee amputees. The story transcript has a link to the company's site for more information on its prostheses.

This video includes images by Sgt Ian Forsyth RLC/MOD and Cpl Richard Cave RLC.

<![CDATA[This Supernova Is 570 Billion Times Brighter Than The Sun]]> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 13:07:00 -0600
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Supernovas are already the brightest lights in the sky, but then there's ASASSN-15lh — the brightest ever. (Video via NASA)

It's 570 billion times brighter than our sun, and 20 times brighter than our entire galaxy combined — although it's way too far to see with the naked eye. (Video via NASA)

ASASSN-15lh is one of a new class of supernova. They're called "hypernovas," and scientists still aren't sure what makes them so bright. 

ASASSN-15lh was found by the All Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae

This video includes images from Wayne RosingNASA and Krzysztof Ulaczyk / CC BY SA 2.0

<![CDATA[Woman Sues EOS For 'Flaking And Bleeding' Lips]]> Wed, 13 Jan 2016 22:05:00 -0600
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There's dry lips and then there's "severely cracking on the edges" dry lips. That's what one woman says happened to her when she used this product.

Rachel Cronin is suing the cosmetic brand EOS, which stands for Evolution of Smooth, after its lip balm caused "flaking and bleeding" around her lips. She says the product caused her severe pain, which ultimately led her to seek medical treatment.

EOS isn't pleased with that accusation. The company posted on its Facebook page, saying in part, "Our products are safe to use, are made with the highest-quality ingredients and they all meet or exceed all safety and quality standards set out by our industry."

It turns out some other users have had mixed experiences with the egg-shaped lip balms in the past. Users posted both negative reviews and support for the brand on social media. 

In the lawsuit, Cronin is seeking damages and is demanding corrective advertising. (Video via EOS)

<![CDATA[Here's What Vice President Biden's Cancer 'Moonshot' Will Try To Do]]> Wed, 13 Jan 2016 18:02:00 -0600
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During President Obama’s final State of the Union address, he announced a "moonshot" initiative to cure cancer once and for all. The man behind the mission? Vice President Joe Biden. (Video via the White House

The "moonshot" term is a reference to when former President John F. Kennedy told a joint session of Congress he felt the U.S. should lead the world in space exploration. Now, Obama is saying the same about efforts to fight cancer. (Video via John F. Kennedy Presidential Library)

Just after the speech, Biden wrote a blog post for Medium outlining his plan to make "a decade worth of advances in five years."

He offered a two-pronged approach to the problem. First, he pledged to contribute more funds toward research. Biden has already proved to be effective in getting more funding for public health initiatives. 

He was instrumental in getting an extra $264 million for the National Cancer Institute’s 2016 budget as part of a $2 billion increase to the National Institutes of Health overall.

Secondly, the vice president said he'd use targeted incentives to try and facilitate coordination among anti-cancer efforts in the private sector. (Video via the White House

Biden says he wants researchers to share data freely so more doctors can work collaboratively toward a solution.

Next week, Biden will travel to Switzerland for the World Economic Forum where he'll speak with international oncology experts in an effort to accelerate research.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Obama Keeps Calling For Better STEM Students, So How's America Doing?]]> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 23:15:00 -0600
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"... Offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one ..." President Obama said in his final State of the Union address. 

President Obama pushing for stronger STEM students during his State of the Union address isn't new. 

"... reform that raises student achievement; inspires students to excel in math and science ..." said President Obama during his 2010 State of the Union address. 

"... problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering and math ..." said President Obama during his 2014 State of the Union address. 

It's popped up in some shape or form in all of the president's State of the Union addresses. But how are American students doing compared to their peers in STEM learning?

According to the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, better but still not great. 

PISA is one of the largest international exams. Math and science PISA scores for American 15-year-olds put them in the middle of the pack compared to other countries. The U.K., Canada and South Korea, among others, all tested higher. 

And views of American STEM education are pretty low. According to a Pew survey, only 29 percent rated American's STEM education as above average or best in the world.

Actual scientists were even more critical. The American Association for the Advancement of Science found just 16 percent of its members said the same. 

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

<![CDATA[Obamacare's Almost Six Years Old. Has It Been Working?]]> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 21:13:00 -0600
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The Affordable Care Act was signed into law almost six years ago, and the White House seems pretty content with how it’s been going. 

So just how well is the ACA — or, Obamacare — really doing? If you’re only looking at it terms of how many Americans have health insurance, not bad.

After the law came into effect, nearly 23 million people gained health insurance — although about 6 million lost their insurance in same period. The net positive was 17 million more people with insurance.

Since 2016’s enrollment period began in November, more than 8.5 million people signed up for or renewed their coverage through the federal insurance marketplaces.

The total number of uninsured Americans is decreasing, too. For the first time since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been keeping records, the amount of uninsured Americans has fallen below 10 percent.

But the number of insured Americans isn’t the only number going up — some costs are too. 

The cost of premiums for the ACA’s most popular “silver” plan is expected to rise by double digits. That’s not a trend unique to government health care, though — individual premiums have been on the rise for years.

And the penalty for not having insurance is jumping to $695 or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is higher. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Contract Disputes Send Junior Doctors On Strike In England]]> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 19:35:00 -0600
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Tuesday was a really bad day to be a patient in England. Tens of thousands of junior doctors in the country went on a 24-hour strike and thousands of planned surgeries and doctors visits were postponed.

Junior doctors range from professionals straight out of medical school to anyone with up to a decade of work under their belt. And they make up a huge portion of the National Health Service in England. (Video via Medicine for the NHS)

The universal health care system provided through the NHS has been labeled one of the best systems in the world. But reports that patients were more likely to die if admitted to hospitals on weekends left the government scrambling to improve weekend care.

The government's solution was to revamp doctor's contracts, tampering with their working hours and pay rates in an effort to bolster seven-day services without increasing spending. But now junior doctors, and the union that represents them, say this plan could cause more harm than good.

"I remember the quality of care patients got from me when I'd been up 72 hours. Patients deserve good doctors. They don't deserve tired, stressed, overworked doctors," a former junior doctor told The Guardian.

The British Medical Association, or BMA, has been in talks with the government since 2014 over the proposed changes. The union says the new plan would prevent junior doctors from achieving promotions and put them at risk for being overworked. (Video via BBC)

The change would offer an 11 percent pay raise, but the premium offered to doctors working on weekends and late hours on weeknights would disappear. The new contracts would also award bonuses based on completed training stages rather than tenure.

Government officials and representatives from the BMA are gearing up for more expected negotiations later this week. If an agreement is not reached, junior doctors have threatened a 48-hour strike starting on Jan. 26, with an all-out strike planned for Feb. 10. (Video via The Telegraph)

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[We're Entering A New Era In How We Treat Depression]]> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 16:27:00 -0600
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Over the past few years, scientists have been chasing a major breakthrough in depression treatment: drugs that are safe, aren't addictive and, above all, work quickly.

And it looks like they're almost there. A flood of new, fast-acting antidepressants are going through testing right now.

The latest news comes from Johns Hopkins University where researchers say a drug that's already known to be safe in humans appears to treat depressive symptoms in mice in as little as half an hour.

These fast, new depression drugs, which don't really have names yet, would change the way we treat depression. Right now, treatments take weeks or even months to start working, and around 35 percent of patients don't get results from the first drug they try.

"I always say to my patients that I 'have very good hopes that we are going to be able to cure you, you just need to hold on until the treatments work,'" psychiatrist Colleen Loo told ABC Australia.

But the drug Ketamine provided a breakthrough. It turns out the club drug is also a fast-acting antidepressant, which gave researchers hope that safer alternatives could be found that do the same thing. (Video via the National Institutes of Health)

Some clinics even use Ketamine itself to treat depression, at least in patients who've had little success with other drugs. But it's not the ideal solution because the drug is kind of dangerous. (Video via KNXV)

"Unfortunately, it doesn't last. ... And right now it is a drug of potential abuse. It's like PCP. People hallucinate with too much of it," psychiatry professor Sidney Zisook told KPBS

The goal, then, has been to find drugs that mimic the way Ketamine tackles depression but with fewer side effects. With several drugs now on the fast track to FDA approval, that search may soon yield success. (Video via U.S. Food and Drug Administration)

This video includes images from the U.S. Food and Drug AdministrationUnderstanding Animal Research / CC BY 2.0 and Psychonaught / CC0.

<![CDATA[Study Finds Hookah Delivers 25 Times More Tar Than A Cigarette]]> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 10:13:00 -0600
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A word of caution to hookah lovers: One smoking session delivers 25 times more tar than a cigarette. 

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh did a mathematical analysis combining 17 past studies. 

Compared to one cigarette, a hookah session lends 125 times the smoke, 2.5 times the nicotine and 10 times as much carbon monoxide. 

The researchers noted it's hard to say which is really worse, since people smoke the two in different ways. 

Hookah is more likely to be shared than a cigarette, and a frequent smoker may go through 20 cigarettes a day but only a couple of hookah sessions. 

Last year, though, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported for the first time more teenagers smoked hookah than cigarettes. 

The only smoking product used more than hookah by teens was electronic cigarettes. 

The researchers said they hope their study dispels the idea that hookah is a safe alternative. 

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Everyone's Pointing Fingers Over The Water Crisis In Flint, Michigan]]> Mon, 11 Jan 2016 17:47:00 -0600
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Boil orders and bottled water have become the norm for residents in Flint, Michigan, and now residents and federal investigators are trying to determine who's really to blame. (Video via WXYZ)

The city switched water sources in April 2014 in hopes of saving money. And with more than 40 percent of residents living below the poverty line, saving money seemed like a good idea. Until people developed rashes and started losing clumps of hair. (Video via CNN)

Despite growing concern, city officials insisted the water was safe. But actually, it wasn't. Researchers found elevated levels of lead in the water and in people's blood. 

According to a task force appointed by the state's governor, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality dropped the ball and potentially exposed thousands to harmful toxins. The initial report says the department's response to health concerns was "often one of aggressive dismissal" and "completely unacceptable." (Video via WXYZ)

It didn't take long for the director of that department to resign. But the buck might not stop there. A city council member told The New York Times Flint's former state-appointed emergency manager is responsible since he approved the switch to the problematic water source.

And still others blame Gov. Rick Snyder for appointing that leader in the first place and for being slow to respond to the problem.

Snyder recently stepped in, issued a state of emergency and pledged to address the water issues in Flint. 

In a statement released Dec. 29, he said: "I know many Flint citizens are angry and want more than an apology. That's why I'm taking the actions today to ensure a culture of openness and trust." But for some, it all comes too late.

"Lead is something that needs to be prevented, never ever reaching the body of a child because when it does it is irreversible, and there's no treatment," Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha told Newsy's partners at WXYZ.

Doctors in the area say the percentage of kids with elevated lead levels has nearly doubled since April 2014. These children may experience stunted growth, behavioral issues and decreased IQs. (Video via NBC)

The U.S. Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency have stepped in to conduct their own investigations into what went wrong. No word on when those probes will wrap up.

This video includes images from Getty Images and music by Little Glass Men / CC BY 4.0 

<![CDATA[Key Ingredient To New Year's Health Goals: Friends]]> Mon, 11 Jan 2016 17:26:00 -0600
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It's normal to feel sluggish after the holidays, and with the New Year's resolutions swirling, 'tis the season to kick health goals into high gear. But before you grab that green juice or latest herbal supplement, consider calling your BFF instead.

According to a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers are finally starting to unravel the different ways strong friendships can affect your physical health. 

Researchers looked at health data from more than 14,000 Americans ranging from adolescence to old age. They found people who had fewer social connections tended to score worse on some of the most common health measures like BMI, blood pressure and waist circumference. 

Exactly why friendship is so beneficial to physical health is still unclear, but the findings revealed that the health impacts last our whole lives. 

For example, a poor social network among adolescents raised the risk of inflammation to roughly the same degree as lack of physical activity. 

And social isolation in old age appears to be worse for your blood pressure than having diabetes. 

In other words, it goes without saying that BFFs are important for mental health, but focusing on friendships as a health resolution for the new year should probably be among your top priorities. 

<![CDATA[The Secret To Staying Young May Be Having More Children]]> Mon, 11 Jan 2016 08:21:00 -0600
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Forget the fountain of youth. The secret for women who want to fight aging might actually be having more children.

In this case, "aging" isn't limited to appearance. A study from Simon Fraser University in Canada made the find while looking at the health and longevity of women's cells as a whole. 

In a 13-year study, researchers found a correlation between women giving birth to more surviving children and longer telomeres. 

Telomeres are the ends, or caps, of DNA strands. 

Like the end of a shoelace, if you lose it, the whole strand frays. As DNA strands replicate, more of the telomere is lost. (Video via Smithsonian)

But as the telomere vanishes, our chromosomes fray, and cells can no longer replicate to replace old or damaged ones. This is how we age. 

The finding actually goes against the prevailing "life history theory," which argues childbirth strips biological resources and speeds up aging. 

Because the study is correlational, we can't say for sure if having fewer children leads to shorter telomeres, or if having shorter telomeres results in women have fewer children.  

The researchers say one outside explanation for the findings could be that having more children led to more help from the community in child rearing, which freed up energy in the body to maintain cells. 

You can read the study in full in the journal PLOS One

This video includes images from Getty Images and NIH Image Gallery / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[Mountain Lion Had Teeth, Whiskers Growing Out Of The Back Of Its Head]]> Sun, 10 Jan 2016 12:05:00 -0600
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Hunters are baffled after finding a mountain lion in Idaho with a second set of teeth and small whiskers growing out of the left side of its forehead. 

The cougar reportedly attacked a dog near the Idaho-Utah border. A hunting party legally tracked and killed the mountain lion on Dec. 30, and Idaho Fish and Game released a picture a few days later. The dog was severely injured but survived. 

"They tracked it down for a while in the afternoon, and they brought it down to let us know they'd gotten it. ... I did see that weird feature on its head and handled it, and it was pretty strange," the owner of the dog that was attacked told KSTU

Idaho Fish and Game officials said they "cannot definitively explain why this abnormality developed" but speculate the teeth could have been from a conjoined twin that died in the womb, or it could be a teratoma tumor — a rare condition in which teeth, hair or even fingers emerge.  

<![CDATA[Why The UK Wants You To Cut Back On The Booze (All Of It)]]> Fri, 08 Jan 2016 11:37:00 -0600
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You might want to cut back on drinking — at least that's what medical officials in the U.K are saying. The country's chief medical officer just issued new guidelines for alcohol consumption.

Those guidelines suggest consuming no more than a drink a day. The new recommendations are based on research that says any amount of alcohol consumption can increase cancer risk.

According to Cancer Research U.K., it doesn't matter if you drink a lot at once or just a little over time; no amount of alcohol is completely "safe." In fact, 4 percent of cancer cases are related to alcohol use each year in the U.K.

Alcohol consumption has been linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon and breasts. 

But, according to the new guidelines, the risk is less for people who drink within government guidelines.

And if you were holding onto that whole thing about drinking small amounts can help lower risk for heart disease — sorry — but the new guidelines say that's no longer the case for men. Women over 55 however? Go grab a small glass of wine.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[California Declares State Of Emergency Over Serious Gas Leak]]> Fri, 08 Jan 2016 08:57:00 -0600
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A methane gas leak near Los Angeles has officially been declared a state of emergency. And some experts say it could cost the Southern California Gas Company more than $1 billion.

The leak started in October, and tens of thousands of kilograms of methane are pumping out every hour. (Video via Environmental Defense Fund)

Technically methane is not poisonous, but if you breathe it in, it can displace oxygen and cause suffocation. The gas is also highly explosive. (Video via Morgan and Morgan)

The gas company has spent about $50 million to fix the leak. It's also facing at least 25 lawsuits. (Video via KCAL)

Most of those suits involve lowered property value and displacement. Dozens of nearby residents have had to move or complained about having minor health issues. (Video via Los Angeles Times)

With a state of emergency declared at the state level, there will be some help with funding and resources. It's hard to say how much the state will allocate. (Video via KTLA)

Some officials say the leak could take as long as two more months to seal. (Video via KABC)

This video includes an image from EARTHWORKS / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[The FBI Is Now Keeping Track Of Animal Abusers]]> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 21:09:00 -0600
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The federal government is cracking down on animal abusers. Starting this year, the FBI will begin tracking animal-abuse crimes the same way it tracks violent crimes like rape and homicide.

The change is all about data collection. Previously, local law enforcement lumped animal cruelty acts in with a category labeled "other." Now the bureau is collecting specific data on four types of animal abuse: simple or gross neglect, intentional abuse and torture, organized abuse and animal sexual abuse.

In time, information such as age, criminal history and location of convicted abusers will be made available for animal advocates and law enforcement.

Advocates have been pushing for this change for years, saying animal cruelty is just a stepping stone to human cruelty. And statistics back that up. According to a study by the Chicago Police Department, 65 percent of people arrested for animal crimes had been arrested for battery against another person.

A county prosecutor who handles cruelty cases told the Baltimore Sun, "In animal abuse, you have total power over the animal. If you're willing to exert that in a cruel, malicious and vicious way, then you're likely to do that to people too."

But it's important to note offenders who engage in acts of animal cruelty still face very different punishments from those who harm people. Neglecting an animal is considered a felony in just 13 states.

Implementing the new reporting system will take time. A deputy with the National Sheriffs' Association told Newsy's partners at KSHB, "It'll take several years for this data to really become useful. As the FBI improves on the reporting and as more law enforcement become involved in the reporting, it will, over the course of the next three, four, five years, that data will become very important."

Agencies will begin evaluating reported trends in 2017.

<![CDATA[An Iceman's Upset Stomach Can Teach Us About The Earliest Europeans]]> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 15:09:00 -0600
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Otzi the iceman, a 5,300-year-old man found preserved in an Italian glacier, has helped scientists learn about ancient Europeans for more than 20 years.

But using techniques that sound like aha moments on "CSI" — except they're real — researchers are still finding clever ways to discover Otzi's secrets. 

The latest findings, published in the journal Science, come from examining the iceman's stomach.

That's not a new idea. Researchers already know what Otzi's last meals were, and they've been able to trace his movements before his death based on what he was digesting.

But researchers from the European Academy went further, tracking down the DNA of a bacteria in Otzi's stomach called Helicobacter pylori. About half of all modern humans have it. (Video via Sycuro et al. / CC BY 2.5)

"We know from previous studies that this bacteria is probably present since the onset of mankind," said researcher Albert Zink

"It reflects a geographic pattern similar to these humans, so if you sample an African, then you find an African strain. If you sample an Asian, then you find an Asian strain," researcher Frank Maixner said

Europeans have a mixed strain of the bacteria, but the iceman's more closely resembled the Asian version. Assuming Otzi wasn't one of the world's earliest globetrotters, that information will help scientists piece together the migration of humans into Europe.

Otzi may also have had an upset stomach when he died, but that's not what killed him. Earlier research found an arrow to the back and a sharp blow to the head, showing he likely died in a fight.

This video includes images from Thilo Parg / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY SA 3.0, ©EURAC / Marion Lafogler, Ed Uthman / CC BY 2.0 and ©South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology / Foto Ochsenreiter.

<![CDATA[Cancer Death Rates Are Declining, But We Still Have A Long Way To Go]]> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 15:02:00 -0600
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Cancer death rates dropped 23 percent since 1991.

The American Cancer Society says that means 1.7 million cancer deaths have been averted through 2012. (Video via American Cancer Society)

The decrease in cancer fatalities has been a little more dramatic for men than women.

Death from female breast cancer has declined 36 percent since 1989.

And death from prostate cancer has dropped 50 percent since its peak. (Video via American Cancer Society)

Lung cancer death rates have declined, too — 38 percent for males (between 1990 and 2012) and 13 percent for females (between 2002 and 2012). (Video via Truth)

The American Cancer Society says better cancer prevention, earlier detection and decreased tobacco use are the reasons for fewer deaths. (Video via American Cancer Society)

In 2016, the American Cancer Society expects nearly 1.7 million new cancer cases and 600,000 cancer-related deaths. (Video via American Cancer Society)

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

<![CDATA[China Isn't Going To Pass The US In Science Any Time Soon]]> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 14:30:00 -0600
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China is positioned to overtake the U.S. as the world's science leader — but it has to solve a few problems first. 

A decade ago, China's then-president Hu Jintao laid out a plan to turn the country into a scientific heavyweight by 2020. The plan called for huge investments in science and technology. (Video via CCTV)

Since then, we've seen China spend a higher and higher percentage of its GDP on research and development while the U.S. has kept its levels fairly steady. Which means we've been hearing a lot of this: 

"We are still the leader, but not by a lot. And I can't help but point to China in particular. In another four or five years, they will be spending more in absolute dollars than we are," Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, told PBS

If you look at most predictions the next decade, China's rise to the global leader in science comes across as a near certainty.

For instance, China now publishes more scientific papers in top journals than any country aside from the U.S. It's also outspending all of the European Union on research and is closing in on the U.S., with science budgets going up by double-digit percentages every year. (Video via CCTV)

And while the U.S. is still miles ahead of China in annual science funding, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development predicts the two will switch places soon.

Over and over, the U.S.'s dominance in science is said to be on its last legs. 

But those numbers don't tell the whole story, which is that China still has a long way to go.

For one thing, Chinese research has a bad reputation. Stories on China's staggering level of fraud, like plagiarism and skirting the peer review process, go back years. 

For instance, Scientific American sent a Chinese-speaking reporter undercover in 2014, and that reporter was offered the chance to buy authorship on a paper that would run in a prestigious journal.

These aren't just accusations from outsiders, either. In 2010, two Chinese researchers wrote a letter in the journal Science listing the ways fraud and cronyism were "slowing down China's potential pace of innovation." (Video via BBC)

Critics say China's system actually incentivizes fraud. Chinese scientists are rewarded based almost solely on publication count, so doing anything possible to up that count can make or break careers. 

The Chinese government is trying to combat this image. Chinese news outlets have started running stories shaming scientists who commit fraud. Chinese teachers have also been emphasizing the importance of ethics to their students. (Video via Beijing TVBeijing University of Technology)

The government has also announced penalties for scientists who commit fraud, and the country's major research institute says it will start demanding its money back if it finds out it's been funding unethical labs.  (Video via CCTV)

And even if it does stamp out its fraud problem, China's research output still isn't as influential as it seems. 

China ranks 29th on the U.N.'s Global Innovation Index. And while China puts out 10 percent more papers than Germany, which is No. 3 in scientific output, it has to spend three times as much money to do it. 

But even if China's science dominance is a little overhyped for now, that doesn't mean the U.S. can rest easy if it wants to stay on top. 

If China gains a reputation as a place where young scientists can start their career, that could hurt the U.S.' competitive edge. 

"China is saying, 'Come on back. The water's fine in China. We'll give you a laboratory, we'll give you whatever you want,'" physicist Michio Kaku told C-SPAN

"It's the country that's in the lead that is going to have lots of the most immediate consequences. ... It also is the country that's going to have the greatest economic benefit," Francis Collins told PBS.

U.S. lawmakers seem to be getting the hint. The 2016 budget includes a $2 billion budget increase for the National Institutes of Health and more funding for a number of other scientific agencies. (Video via C-SPAN)

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[The Feds Are Fed Up With Your Sugar Intake]]> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 12:39:00 -0600
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New year, new you, right? Well, if you're struggling to turn your bulge into brawn, the government is weighing in with diet tips.

The Obama administration released new dietary guidelines — something done every five years — and they want you to lay off the sugar, sugar. 

The feds are fed up with how much of the sweet stuff is going down our gullets, which for the average American is about 22 teaspoons a day. The new guidelines say Americans should consume no more than 10 teaspoons daily. 

And after reports suggested that red meat may cause cancer, the new guidelines do not reflect the sentiment that red meat is risky business. 

Rather, the government suggests eating a variety of protein foods, including lean meats, eggs, beans, soy, nuts and seeds.

And, no shocker here — the guidelines recommend eating more fruits and veggies, slashing the soda, and selecting low- or no-fat dairy options. 

Now, go shake it out with your new cold-pressed juice in hand. You know you want to be as healthy as this stock-footage model.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Put Away Your Smartphone; Your Kids' Health Might Depend On It]]> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 09:29:00 -0600
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We know children require a lot of attention, but what happens if you don't pay attention to how much attention you're really giving them?

A new study out of the University of California, Irvine says devoting more attention to your smartphones than your children could mean they'll have improper brain development and emotional disorders later in life.

The study, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, looked at two groups of rats: one group in normal, caged conditions and the other in more chaotic conditions. While maternal care for both groups was similar, the chaotic conditions had mothers displaying unpredictable behavior. (Video via Understanding Animal Research)

The distracted mother's rodent pups showed little interest in sweet foods or playing with others — two signs of the pups' inability to experience pleasure.

The researchers suggest in human children neglect might lead to risky behavior, including drugs and alcohol, and can lead to depression later in life.

The mother rats, of course, weren't busy on their cellphones, but the researchers say the study shows, "It is not how much maternal care that influences adolescent behavior but the avoidance of fragmented and unpredictable care that is crucial."

The researchers say it all boils down to the brain's dopamine receptors. The more undivided attention and reliable patterns, the happier your kids will be.

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

<![CDATA[Obesity Could Lead To 670,000 More UK Cancer Cases In Next 20 Years]]> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 07:35:00 -0600
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A new report suggests 670,000 new cancer cases could occur in the U.K. in the next two decades because of obesity. 

There are 10 different types of cancers related to obesity. The report, from Cancer Research U.K. and U.K. Health Forum, also predicts millions of new cases from other obesity-related diseases. (Video via BBC)

Because the U.K. has centralized medicine, the potential costs for the government would be hefty. 

The National Health Service could spend an additional $3.6 billion in obesity-related costs by 2035. That's the same year three in four adults in the U.K. are expected to be overweight or obese. (Video via Al Jazeera)

The report suggests taxing sugary foods and drinks and banning TV ads promoting high-fat foods from airing before 9 p.m. will help curb the increase. Health officials have already banned those ads during children's programming. (Video via Sky News)

This video includes an image from CGP Grey / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[FDA Bans 3 Chemicals Found In Pizza Boxes, Other Food Packaging]]> Wed, 06 Jan 2016 11:48:00 -0600
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Don't worry, nothing is terribly wrong with your pizza. Unless it was delivered in that classic cardboard box. 

The Food and Drug Administration is banning three chemicals that are often found in food packaging like pizza boxes and microwave popcorn bags. The ban will go into effect early this year. 

So what's wrong with these chemicals? They're carcinogenic and can cause birth defects. 

There have been a few groups trying to get these chemicals out of packaging for a while. In fact, a total of nine different groups filed petitions to ban the chemicals. (Video via Environmental Working Group)

There will be plenty of alternatives for packaging, though, because the FDA just approved more than 20 other chemicals. But critics say not to get excited, because it's a possibility these, too, have carcinogens in them. 

This video includes images from Ben Dalton / CC BY SA 2.0 and Don Nunn / CC BY SA 2.0.