Newsy - Sci/Health The Latest Videos From <![CDATA[5 Hot Months, 1 Warm Year And All The Arguments To Follow]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:42:00 -0600
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The country's attention shifted this week to crippling snowstorms in the northeast burying entire cities under several feet of snow, so let's talk about how ungodly warm it's been this year. No, really.

Despite the eastern United States being one of the colder zones on the planet this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just became the latest organization to pronounce 2014 likely the hottest on record. (Video via WGRZ)

The NOAA released a dizzying set of statistics Thursday marking October as the fifth month so far this year to set temperature records.

In fact, the agency's climate monitoring chief said in a conference call the question now is less about whether 2014 will break the heat record. "The remaining question is: How much?" Deke Arndt said. (Video via TakePart)

Again, this is one of several stats and maps NOAA put out Thursday, but it shows the average temperature since January compared to historical data. Bright red means record high temps.

Much of the record temps have been attributed to warming of the oceans, despite the complete absence of a major warming weather event like El Nino this year. (Video via NASA)

Global warming remains one of the more contentious issues world leaders face — widely accepted and documented by science as contributing to climate change, yet fiercely denounced by businesses and ignored by countries reliant on fossil fuels.

The most recent argument for global warming detractors came from a 15-year slowdown in the rise of temperatures even as greenhouse gas emissions continued to increase.

It remains to be seen if 2014 marks the beginning of the end for that argument, but it comes only a week after NASA released similar statistics showing this year's October tied for the warmest since 1880 and Japan's Meteorological Society called it the warmest October ever.

Last week, President Obama and China's Xi Jinping struck a historic deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades.

For more on future climate conferences and why they could produce meaningful results for the first time in decades, check out this Newsy story linked in the text of this story.

This video includes images from Getty Images and music from Risey / CC BY NC 3.0.

<![CDATA[Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 07:52:00 -0600
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A new study finds — you’re not getting any younger.

No, really. Researchers at NYU and UCLA found as people approach the next decade in their lives, it can weigh on them. They found data to suggest when people hit that big X-9 — right before they tick over into a new decade of life, that is — they engage in little existential crises and search for more meaning in their lives.

“Because life transitions tend to prompt changes in evaluations of the self, people are more apt to evaluate their lives as a chronological decade ends than they are at other times.”

One of the study’s authors told The Washington Post there’s something psychological to those particular birthdays.

“They seem big, they seem looming and they seem more important to us than the others. They make us step back and think about how things have been going up until then and how we want them to go moving forward.”

The study found people change things for the better or for the worse. It analyzed results from other studies, and crunched statistics from marathon registration, dating website use and suicide rates. They all spike among people about to reach their next decade. (Video via The Guardian)

This even affects purchasing habits — people tended to pay up for expensive things, including life insurance and cosmetic surgery.

The authors say "Being aware of the tendency to do so can help consumers decide if they are making such decisions for the right reasons."

As if there’s a wrong reason for a flashy new Corvette, right?

The full text of the study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This video includes images from jpstanley / CC BY NC SA 2.0, Beth Punches / CC BY ND 2.0 and Daniel Dionne / CC BY SA 2.0.

<![CDATA[Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:49:00 -0600
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Your job could be protecting your aging brain. Scientists at the University of Edinburgh found the more complicated someone's job is, the more likely they are to score well on memory and cognitive thinking tests into old age.

The researchers first looked at the childhood IQ tests of around 1,000 elderly participants. They then compared those results with cognitive testing done when the participants were 70 — years after retirement for some.

Researchers defined the complexity of a job by using definitions from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and scored jobs on level of complexity. They divided jobs into two types: jobs that require you to work with people, and those that require you to work with data.

In terms of working with people, jobs that ranked as highly complicated included lawyers or surgeons. Examples of less complicated jobs? Factory workers and painters.

Highly complicated jobs involving data included architects and civil engineers; less complicated included construction workers and telephone operators.

Researchers found the participants who had jobs that had scored high in either category also scored higher in cognitive testing — like memory tests.

So whether you're working with people or data, if your job is complicated, you're likely scoring better on cognitive tests into old age.

One thing to point out, though — researchers found many people who had higher IQs had gone into more complex fields. In fact, they found the childhood tests accounted for about 50 percent of the differences in the scores.

But the other 50 percent of the variance in scores did appear to come from the participants' time on the job — making the case that exercising the brain through work really can benefit cognitive health.

Researchers have asked study participants to return for more testing so they can discover how career choices affect the brain into more advanced ages.

This video includes images from Patrick / CC BY NC 2.0James Mutter / CC BY NC ND 2.0Seattle Municipal Archives / CC BY 2.0George Smyth / CC BY NC, Kompania Piwowarska / CC BY NC ND 2.0 and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / CC BY 2.0 and music by Podington Bear / CC BY NC 3.0.

<![CDATA[What's The Point Of Climate Conferences?]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:04:00 -0600
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The United Nations conference on climate change in Paris is more than a year away, but already there's optimism that world leaders might actually reach a substantial agreement.

To understand why that's such a big deal, it's worth looking at conferences that have come before.

Berlin, Kyoto, The Hague, New Delhi, Montreal, Copenhagen, Durban, Doha — these are just a few of the cities that have hosted a United Nations climate conference since 1995, and during that time global carbon emissions have continued to rise.

September's climate summit at the U.N. headquarters in New York featured more than 120 world leaders, making it the biggest summit yet. (Video via United Nations)

But for all that, how many substantive agreements has the U.N. produced?

Environmental Defense Fund chief scientist Michael Oppenheimer told NBC: "160 different countries 160 different economies, 160 different views."

The only agreement you might have heard of is 1997's Kyoto Protocol. 

It went into effect in 2005, and the first four-year commitment period started in 2008 — during which some 37 countries, along with the European Union, were meant to reduce emissions by around 5 percent from 1990 levels. (Video via TakePart)

In all, 192 countries signed on to the agreement, but global emissions continued to rise because of a notable absence: the United States. 

At the time of the Kyoto summit, the U.S., followed by China, was the world's biggest polluter when it came to greenhouse gas emissions, and it was reluctant to agree to a uniformly binding deal. (Video via American Lung Association)

But now, those two countries have brokered their own agreement, which aims to reduce the U.S.' emissions 24-26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. (Video via The White House)

China's side of the agreement is a little less binding: It has to peak its emissions by 2030, by which time it also has to produce 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources. (Video via DuPont)

Not only has the U.S. agreed to the China deal, it's also pushing the issue globally. At the most recent G20 summit in Brisbane, President Obama focused on climate change, despite behind-the-scenes pushback from his host, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. (Video via Sky News)

"You'll recall at the beginning I said the United States and Australia has a lot in common. Well, one of the things we have in common is we produce a lot of carbon … which means we've got to step up," President Obama said.

With that in mind, it's easy to see why Paris 2015 — where world leaders are expected to draft a new protocol on climate change — is getting so much attention.

Thousands of demonstrators turned out in the French capital to protest the perceived ineffectiveness of such meetings ahead of September's summit in New York — a reflection of the skepticism climate conferences tend to draw. (Video via Press TV)

But there is optimism and, importantly, urgency about next year's conference, as Bloomberg's Michael Liebrich explains. (Video via Bloomberg)

"The science, technology, economics, and finance all point to a deal being more likely in Paris in 2015 than in Copenhagen in 2009. It will be more significant than the largely meaningless Copenhagen Accord."

However, Liebrich doesn't expect any accord to keep the global temperature from increasing more than 2 degrees Celsius — the benchmark established in Copenhagen to define “dangerous” climate change. (Video via Cop15)

And as Vox points out, "Recent analysis by MIT researchers looked at what was realistic to expect from countries in terms of emissions pledges. … The 2015 pledges would fall short of the cuts needed to stay below 2°C of global warming."

And if previous climate conferences have shown us anything, it's that when it comes to optimism — the bar is set very, very low. 

The hype about Paris has all but overshadowed the U.N.'s next climate conference which will be taking place in Lima, Peru in less than a month — a conference which has cost the country millions of dollars to organize. It begins Dec. 1. (Video via Interior Ministry of Peru)

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

<![CDATA[Obesity Costs Almost As Much As War And Terrorism]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 09:15:00 -0600
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It's easy to get lost in the sea of statistics surrounding the obesity epidemic, but this most recent number jumps out at you — $2 trillion. 

That's the impact a study says the obesity epidemic has on the global economy, putting it just behind war and terrorism, and smoking. (Video via ABC)

Analysis from the McKinsey Global Institute cites the number of obese people in the world — some 2 billion — and argues an intervention is needed because current trends would leave close to half of the world's population obese by 2030.

In the United States the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's current numbers show close to 40 percent of adults are obese, with 17 percent of children obese as well — numbers that are projected to rise. (Video via George Washington University)

Child obesity in particular goes a long way toward hiking up healthcare costs — a study earlier this year found child obesity could increase the cost of care by close to $20,000 over a lifetime. (Video via CBS)

But obesity rates aren't rising in the U.S. alone — the developing world has also seen a spike in the number of obese people. 

Steve Wiggins of the Overseas Development Institute told The Guardian"The statistics are quite sensational: it's a tripling of the number of people who are considered overweight and obese in the developing world since 1980"

As The Atlantic reports, analysts chalk up the increase in obesity in developing countries to rising incomes, urbanization and television. 

McKinsey advises a number of specific measures, such as reducing portion sizes, but says to make a real dent in obesity rates, change has to come from all sectors of society. 

<![CDATA[Texting Is Like Adding 60 Pounds To Your Spine]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 19:19:00 -0600
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Now-a-days smartphones are basically attached to peoples' hands. 

But a new study shows using the devices so frequently really can become a pain in the neck — quite literally. 

NBC Anchor Savannah Guthrie said, "When you text it is equal to four bowling balls on your spine."


"Every time you look down at your smartphone ... the pressure's equal to 60 pounds." 

To get the findings, one researcher at Surgical Technology International explained, "We made the calculations using neck + head, which gave an average weight of [13.2 pounds]." This graph shows how much pressure is added to your spine depending on the degree your head is titled. Even with your head in a neutral position, there are still 10-12 pounds to support. But it can be a bit alarming to see that number increases to 60 pounds when your head is at a 60 degree angle — which is just about chin to chest. 

For perspective, a punching bag weighs around 60 pounds. I've personally never had a punching bag on my neck — but i'd imagine it wouldn't feel too great. 

Those large and pretty shocking numbers have lead some outlets to be a bit skeptical of the findings — more specifically the amount of blame for back and neck problems placed on cell phones. 

WYOU: "You know what else can cause those problems? Shoveling five feet of snow." 

At this point there's plenty of that — particularly for people living in buffalo.

And what about cleaning, cooking, eating, reading, sometimes even walking — you know, if it's been a particularly rough day. But on average, a person will spend way more time on their phones than any other named activity. 

According to the researchers "People spend an average of two to four hours a day with their heads tilted over reading and texting on their smart phones and devices. Cumulatively this is 700 to 1400 hours a year of excess stresses seen about the cervical spine."

If you're worried about the findings, researchers recommend cutting back on texting time or staying upright while using your devices. 

This video includes images from Garry Knight / CC BY SA 2.0, the U.S. Marine Corps and Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Trans-Fat Foods Now Linked To Poor Memory]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 12:14:00 -0600
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What you're eating might be eating you ... well, eating at your memory banks, anyway.

A new study presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions this week has shown a link between trans fat consumption and memory loss. 

To come to that conclusion, scientists showed healthy adults flashcards with words to memorize. They then tested whether the participants could remember which words they had already been shown.

The most striking results were for men between ages 20 and 45 whose diets were high in trans fats. These participants remembered 11 fewer words, or about 12 percent less, than their healthier cohorts.

NATALIE MORALES FOR NBC"That's regardless of their education or ethnicity. More studies are needed to determine if these fats have the same effect on young women."

Trans fats have traditionally been used as food preservers, extending the shelf life of many processed foods since the 1950s. They also give taste and texture to many foods we know and love.

"Spreads and margarines. Packaged Foods. Packaged soups. Fast foods. Frozen foods. Baked goods. Chips and crackers. Breakfast cereals and energy bars." (Video via YouTube / ehowhealth)

Though according to Medical News Today, trans-fat consumption has decreased about one-third since 1980. That's due to regulators pulling trans-fat products from grocery shelves and out of restaurant foods.

Research has shown that diets high in trans fat have other negative health impacts.

JEAN GUTIERREZ FOR RT: "Trans fats are strongly linked to very high risk for heart disease and cardiovascular death."

Even in the past year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stepped up the pressure to get trans fats out of food. (Video via ABC)

ANCHOR FOR ABC"A big announcement from the FDA requiring companies to phase out all trans fats from our foods, saying this could save up to 7,000 lives a year."

And the lead author of the memory study made her opinion on trans fats clear, saying, "As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people."

The recommendation for cardiovascular health is to cut out as many trans-fat foods as possible. Now doctors can add improved memory to the benefits list. 

<![CDATA[Why You Should Give A Crap About World Toilet Day]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:38:00 -0600
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All right, folks, it's time for some toilet talk. Seriously. This Wednesday marks the second annual World Toilet Day, and while the subject is easy to make fun of, it's a big issue.

That's because according to the United Nations, 2.5 billion people, or 35 percent of the world's population, currently don't have access to basic sanitation such as toilets and latrines.

THE GUARDIAN: "More people around the world have access to mobile phones than to toilets. The numbers are actually quite close both are around the 4.5 billion mark but the implications are clear — we value a text, a tweet and blinking pixels more than one of our most basic sanitary needs."

According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, more than 1 billion of those people without access to basic sanitation are forced to practice open defecation, which can spread illnesses such as diarrhea or cholera through contaminated water. 600 million of them live in India.

The unsanitary practice is not only a risk to those who are forced to clean it, as Human Rights Watch shows in this video, but also to millions of children under the age of 5.

It's an issue that's led to the creation of some rather interesting sanitation campaigns by world organizations — such as this UNICEF cartoon.

UNICEF: "Let's take the poo to the loo. Let's take the poo to the loo."

Nonetheless, toilets are important for other reasons aside from health. According to the World Health Organization, poor water and sanitation costs developing countries $260 billion each year, or roughly 1.5 percent of their GDP. (Video via WaterAid)

And the World Bank's "Take it On" campaign for sanitation also points out how open defecation can hurt women's dignity or even put them at risk of being attacked while vulnerable.

India isn't the only country facing the problem of open defecation and lack of sanitation. It's a global issue, and it's even caught the attention of some celebrities.

MATT DAMON VIA WATER.ORG: "And so in protest of this global tragedy, until this issue is resolved, until everybody has access to clean water and sanitation, I will not go to the bathroom."

With the United Nations' goal of improving global sanitation and ending open defecation by 2025, it seems like Mr. Damon might be waiting awhile for that trip to the bathroom.

This video includes a logo from the United Nations

<![CDATA[Crowdfunded Moon Mission Offers To Store Your Digital Memory]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 09:06:00 -0600
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An ambitious space project hopes the idea of preserving a piece of yourself in the cosmos for millennia is enough to get you to invest.

Lunar Mission One, which dubs itself "the most inspirational Moon project since the Apollo landings," wants to raise nearly $1 million on Kickstarter over the next month with plans to drill into the moon's surface.

RICHARD HOLDAWAY, DIRECTOR OF RAL SPACE: "There's a lot of science that's been carried out on the moon, but never below the surface. ... Because it has to drill down to be able to bring out core samples, it's going to put something back in." (Video via Lunar Mission One)

That something back in, as we said, could be a piece of you. (Video via Lunar Mission One)

And we mean that both figuratively and literally. Donors who reach a certain level can send Lunar Mission One with a digital hard drive of essentially whatever they'd like preserved.

The mission also claims you can also even preserve your DNA for a billion years by sending along a strand of hair.

As far as the point of the mission, which is slated for 2024, the British researchers believe Lunar Mission One's drilling could tell us more about the origins and development of the moon and Earth along with looking for subsurface water. (Video via NASA)

This certainly isn't the only commercial lunar exploration in the works. Google's offering $30 million to the winner of its Lunar X Prize to land a robot on the moon, move it 500 meters across the surface and send HD video back to Earth.

But just think of the urban legends and the conspiracy theories that could go with this one!

Instead of Walt Disney cryogenically frozen in some super secret vault, DNA stored in the underground of the moon.

That long-awaited, second solid angle to supplement the Zapruder film could someday get loaded onto a spaceship to be buried 240,000 miles away from Earth.

Alright, that's all a bit of a stretch. And to be fair, it doesn't look like you're exactly running out of time to sign up. The highest levels of donation for Lunar Mission One currently appear to have plenty of spots still available.

This video includes images from Getty Images, Melanie Cook / CC BY NC SA 2.0 and Gator Chris / CC BY NC SA 2.0 and music from Chris Zabriskie / CC BY 4.0.

<![CDATA[Why A Russian Object Is Being Called A 'Satellite Killer']]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 18:53:00 -0600
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Outer space is having a moment. In recent weeks, we've celebrated at least one great success — with the Rosetta mission — and two setbacks, one of which resulted in the death of a Virgin Galactic pilot.

Now, there's a space mystery brewing, with some outlets using terms like "satellite killer" to describe a Russian spacecraft currently orbiting our planet. 

Russia reportedly launched a rocket back in May containing a few military satellites. Afterward, an object that was thought to be debris started making maneuvers, even seemingly making contact with other Russian spacecraft.

Fueling speculation is the fact Russia didn't initially declare the object's launch until much later. That of course doesn't mean there's a sinister objective for the satellite. Patricia Lewis, space security expert for think-tank the Chatham House, told The Washington Post, "I have no idea what it is." 

But speaking to the Financial Times, Lewis did give some guesses to what it could be, saying, "It could have a number of functions, some civilian and some military. One possibility is for some kind of grabber bar. Another would be kinetic pellets which shoot out at another satellite."

Those highly-imaginative possibilities sound a bit unsettling but aren't exactly shots in the dark. 

This is a U.S. Department of Defense sketch from 1986 of what an anti-satellite weapon would've looked like — shooting pellets.

As it turns out, Russia actually had an anti-satellite program called Satellite Fighter program. The Soviet Union launched its first "killer" satellite in the '60s, but the program eventually fell apart after the Cold War.

Again, nobody really knows what this new satellite is, but if it really is a satellite killer, it isn't the only one of its kind.

Robert Christy, a long-time satellite tracker, told The Moscow Times via phone the U.S. and China are developing similar technology. He said, "In a nutshell, you've got all three countries doing the same thing."  

In fact, just last year, Chinese satellites also had "experts guessing" after one intercepted another.  

If you're interested in tracking the Russian satellite that has revived this anti-satellite weapon conversation, log on top and search for Cosmos 2499. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Popular Cholesterol Drug Now Proven To Have Positive Effects]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 13:20:00 -0600
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A cholesterol-lowering drug that's been given to patients for more than a decade has just now been proven effective in a study presented by the American Heart Association. So what's the story here?

The drug in question is Zetia, a cholesterol absorption inhibitor. It was approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2002 but fell under controversy six years later.

That's because in 2008, Zetia's makers Merck and Schering-Plough saw their stock prices fall as they announced that in clinical trials, Zetia did not reduce fatty plaque in subjects' arteries like it was supposed to. (Video via MedPage Today)

KATIE COURIC FOR CBS: "In fact, it actually increased the amount of plaque, did it not?"

DR. STEVEN NISSEN: "Well, the differences were not statistically significant, but the trend was going in the wrong direction."

Though Zetia, generic ezetimibe, and Vytorin, a Zetia-statin combination drug, have still been prescribed to patients since that report, sales of the multibillion-dollar franchise have fallen since 2008.

In fact, with the recent positive results announced Tuesday, multiple outlets are producing headlines like "Study Lifts Cloud Over Heart Drugs Zetia, Vytorin" and "Controversial Cholesterol Drug Redeemed By Global Clinical Test."

"The drug did lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients already on aggressive therapy. This in a study that lasted almost a decade." (Video via Nightly Business Report)

Those already in "aggressive therapy" are what researchers call "high risk," which were the only patients to see significant benefits from using Zetia. They had to have a previous heart attack or unstable angina to qualify for the study.

But the benefit for those high-risk patients was notable. When Zetia was combined with a statin, cardiac events like heart attack and stroke dropped 6.4 percent, according to The New York Times.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, on average, 1 in every 4 deaths in America each year is due to cardiac events and heart disease.

<![CDATA[Scientists Find Out What's Been Killing Millions Of Starfish]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:45:00 -0600
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Scientists have identified the culprit behind a disease that's killed millions of starfish along the West Coast — an outbreak that could have a significant impact on marine ecosystems.

In a study published Monday, researchers said they could chalk up the wasting disease to a specific virus that drastically weakens the starfishes' immune systems. 

The virus can lead to some pretty gruesome symptoms, like the starfish detaching its own arms without regenerating them, and essentially dissolving the starfish into goo. (Video via PBS)

Over the past year the disease has been detected on coastlines from Southern California all the way north to Alaska, with the bulk of the reports coming from the Northwest. 

Divers in Washington state were some of the first to report the massive die-offs, including diver Laura James, who took extensive video of the dead starfish. (Video via Vimeo / Laura James)

Although the starfish killer now has an identity, the timing is still kind of a mystery. 

The researchers said they have found the virus in starfish dating back 70 years, so it's not really clear why it only just started causing such massive die-offs. (Video via One Health Institute)

A writer for National Geographic points to the booming number of sea stars, which "may have given the virus newfound impetus. ... The virus could have more easily jumped from host to host, or developed mutations that made it more transmissible or virulent."

But an Oregon ecologist told the American Association for the Advancement of Science he believes it could be the increasing acidification of the world's oceans, a phenomenon tied to warming oceans. 

Whatever it is, the effects could be far-reaching, because believe it or not, starfish are actually pretty important predators. 

DREW HARVELL VIA KCTS"We're losing a whole guild of stars that are voracious predators, all of which can control their ecosystem, and so to lose all of them at once, we don't even know what's going to happen." 

Scientists say they're not sure how to reverse the trend on a large scale, although breeding resistant starfish in captivity is one option they're looking at. 

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

<![CDATA[Second Polio Strain Possibly Eradicated, What's Next?]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:41:00 -0600
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In what researchers are calling  a "historic milestone," poliovirus type 3 might be completely eradicated — there have been no new reports of the strain in two years. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if a strain of polio has not been seen worldwide in three or more years, it can then be considered eradicated. This month brought the two-year mark. 

A quick clarification — there are three known strains of the poliovirus: types 1, 2 and 3. 

Type 2 was officially stamped out in 1999, but type 1 is still spreading rampantly throughout Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

Breitbart reports Pakistan, in particular, has reached troubling and record-breaking numbers, topping 200 people infected with the debilitating virus in 2014. Polio can lead to irreversible paralysis and even death. 

BBC: "More than the virus, they have to battle cultural taboos and Islamist militants who are opposed to the vaccination. Islamist militants think it's a Western ploy to sterilize Muslims and a cover for Western spite." 

It also didn't help ease locals' skepticism when the White House confirmed earlier this year the CIA used vaccination campaigns to hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Unfortunately, stopping the spread becomes extremely difficult without vaccination, as polio is highly contagious.

Although many people with polio have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, LiveScience explains type 1 poses the most danger, "causing illness in 1 out of every 200 people it infects. Type 3 sickens about 1 in 2,000 people it infects."

Now, with that being said — the chance of completely ending the spread of polio is still very possible. 

"We're this close." In 1988 the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was launched with the goal of creating a polio-free world. Currently 200 countries are involved in the effort. (Video via Rotary International)

And as the World Health Organization notes, since the initiative began, "polio case numbers have decreased by more than 99% (with only 416 polio cases reported in 2013)."

EDUCATION PORTAL: "This virus is spread from person-to-person via the horizontal transmission route. Such as when someone ... is around someone who sneezes or coughs out this virus, drinks water contaminated with a sick person's feces or eats food with the virus on it." 

And in the three countries where the transmission of polio has never stopped, sanitation is poor, health care systems are weak, and as mentioned earlier, there's a lack of knowledge about vaccinations, which can be critical in stopping the virus. 

However, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has a long-term plan to increase vaccinations. Set to run through 2018, the plan spotlights Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the organization says the program has shown positive results so far.

The possibility of eradicating polio in the coming years is significant, especially considering the virus is believed to have been around since prehistory. Ancient Egyptian artwork depicted what looks like people infected with polio.

This video includes images from Getty Image and Tom-B / CC0 1.0.

<![CDATA[Sierra Leone Surgeon With Ebola Dies At Neb. Hospital]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 08:59:00 -0600
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Dr. Martin Salia, the surgeon from Sierra Leone being treated in the U.S., has died. 

The Nebraska hospital that was caring for Dr. Salia tweeted the news Monday morning, saying he passed away because of advanced symptoms of the disease and he was in extremely critical condition with his lungs and kidneys failing when he arrived. 

Authorities took Dr. Salia to the Nebraska Medical Center Saturday because it has a special biocontainment unit and had already treated two other Ebola patients earlier this fall, both of whom recovered. (Video via Nebraska Medicine)

Salia lived in Maryland but had been working with Ebola patients at a hospital in Freetown in his native Sierra Leone when he tested positive for the virus on Nov. 10. (Video via The United Methodist Church)

Salia initially tested negative for the virus on Nov. 6, despite showing symptoms — something doctors say could have happened because he still didn't have enough of the virus in his system to show up on the test. 

After he was diagnosed, doctors on the ground took five days to determine whether he was well enough to fly to the U.S., by which time his symptoms had advanced considerably. 

The hospital says it used every available treatment on Salia, including the experimental drug ZMapp, as well as plasma transfusions from another Ebola patient who survived the virus. 

In a press conference Monday, health officials said Salia was in the 13th day of his illness, while the other patients they treated arrived only six and eight days in. 

The doctors also said the health workers who cared for Salia will be self-monitoring over 21 days, and they adjusted their equipment to compensate for the fact that Salia's advanced symptoms made him more contagious. (Video via MSNBC)

Salia is only the second person to die from Ebola in the United States — the other being Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas in October. (Video via KJRH)

Some of Salia's blood samples will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and his body will be cremated. He is survived by his wife and two daughters. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[ESA Releases Images Of Philae's Kilometer-High 'Bounce']]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 06:16:00 -0600
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If landing highly specialized scientific equipment on a comet wasn't already nerve-wracking enough, the European Space Agency had to wait to see if the Philae mission would succeed as the spacecraft bounced a kilometer up off the comet during landing.

Late Sunday, ESA posted this blog entry showing what the agency believes is Philae's landing spot on Comet 67P/C-G. The dust cloud had already been observed, but you can now see what scientists believe is Philae itself and its shadow.

Philae has since gone dark because scientists believe it landed in a shady area of the comet blocking its solar panels, and the spacecraft ran out of battery Friday evening.

The world has been fascinated by ESA's successful attempt to land a manmade device on a possibly billions-of-years-old space body. But while the space agency received data from Philae, it still didn't know where it landed. (Video via European Space Agency)

In fact, ESA released these images taken by the Rosetta mothership Friday with the note Philae had landed at "a still unconfirmed location likely outside of these images."

The BBC notes the 200-plus pound spacecraft bounced approximately a kilometer up off of 67P/C-G and landed hundreds of meters from that first dust cloud.

Philae did manage to drill into the comet and transfer some data back to Earth. BBC reports just before the spacecraft went to sleep, it was ordered to raise itself a few centimeters and rotate in hopes of putting itself in the best position to someday catch more sun and recharge.

This video includes an image from the European Space Agency / CC BY SA 2.0.

<![CDATA[Spread The Love, Tons Of Bacteria With A 10-Second Kiss]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 01:31:00 -0600
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Here's something you'll never be able to forget: next time you lean in for a kiss, keep in mind you're transferring and receiving millions of bacteria. How romantic!

A group of scientists from the Netherlands asked 21 couples at an Amsterdam zoo to participate in the study. The couples had their mouths swabbed before and after sharing a kiss, and researchers examined the swabs for bacteria. (Video via YouTube / Bart Weber)

According to the study, published in the journal Microbiome, an "intimate kiss" lasting 10 seconds transfers an average of about 80 million bacteria. The researchers had one member of the couple consume a probiotic yogurt drink to measure the transfer, so they could identify the specific bacteria found in the yogurt. (Video via YouTube / Tatia Pllieva)

And other than that stomach-turning statistic, the researchers also discovered the couples shared similar bacterial colonies.

In other words, two individuals in a couple have more similar bacteria than two strangers. Which makes sense, given they're swapping 80 million bacteria on the regular. 

Now, before you go making your significant other swig a capful of mouthwash before every kiss, it's important you consider the benefits of all that bacteria. 

Time quotes one of the scientists in the investigation who says, "There are a number of studies that show if the diversity in bacteria increases—more different types of species—this is a good thing," because it helps build up your immune system response.

And in the grand scheme of things, 80 million bacteria really isn't all that much. According to the National Institutes of Health, microorganisms outnumber human cells by 10 to 1 — that puts the numbers in the trillions, folks. (Video via YouTube / TinyScience)

And so we implore you, go forth and do your part to add to those trillions.

This video includes images from Marco / CC BY 2.0 and Thomas Hawk / CC BY NC 2.0.

<![CDATA[Campaigns Challenge Myth That Women Don't Get Heart Disease]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 19:32:00 -0600
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Heart disease is the number one killer of women, causing more deaths than all forms of cancer combined. But for decades, it's gone under-diagnosed because of the belief that heart disease affects mostly older men. Thankfully, that misconception is slowly changing.

I spoke with cardiologist and American Heart Association spokesperson Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum about how this shift took place.

STEINBAUM VIA SKYPE: “When I go out and say heart disease is your number one killer more than all cancers combined, I remember 10 years ago, I remember five years ago everyone saying ‘Really? Are you sure?’ Isn’t it breast cancer? ‘And I see now they’re saying, yeah, we’ve heard of that.’”

Women’s health advocates point out most research on diagnosing and treating heart problems has relied on male subjects. But symptoms often look different for women. Even heart attacks can sometimes be so subtle in women that they aren't properly diagnosed.

STEINBAUM VIA SKYPE: “Women are different. We need to investigate and figure out what’s going on with women’s bodies. We can’t just extrapolate the data like we have been doing for many, many years.”

In 2004, the AHA began the Go Red for Women campaign after finding women and doctors were not paying enough attention to heart health.

STEINBAUM VIA SKYPE:“We just didn’t think of women back then of having heart disease.”

The campaign encourages women to learn more about heart disease and take steps to protect their heart health, using testimonies of women who've experienced heart problems.

“I have a hole in my heart.”

“I was sitting in my tub and I started to get dizzy. Everything started to go black.

“I started having some drooping of my lip and my face was numb.”

It's also relied on celebrities like Star Jones, Jennie Garth and Betty White to help get the word out.

GARTH VIA AHA GO RED FOR WOMEN: “There’s nothing like a group of women that rally together in support of one another. Together we truly can prevent heart disease.”

In 2011, Elizabeth Banks appeared in the AHA’s short film “Just a Little Heart Attack,” acting out real-life stories of women who were tempted to ignore early warning symptoms because they were too busy.

“Mom, I think you’re having a heart attack.”

“Honey, do I look like the type of person who has a heart attack?”

That short film used comedy as a method of generating awareness, but a new organization is taking a different approach.

I AM THE LADY KILLER: “I quietly kill one woman every minute. I don’t care about your hair color. I don’t care about the color of your skin.”

A creepy set of ads called "I Am The Lady Killer" uses shock to spread the word. The ads were put out by the Women's Heart Alliance, co-founded by Barbra Streisand, following a disappointing survey that showed most women still underestimate their risk of heart disease.

Since Go Red for Women took up the cause 10 years ago, more than 900,000 women have committed to improving their heart health and more than 200,000 healthcare workers have received information specific to women and heart disease.

Steinbaum says she hopes the awareness campaigns continue to encourage women to make heart health a priority.

STEINBAUM VIA SKYPE: “I think all women need to empower themselves to get checked, to know what their risk factors are, to push their doctors, to become aware of their own bodies and know if they’re not feeling well.”

<![CDATA['s Second Enrollment Going Much Smoother]]> Sat, 15 Nov 2014 17:03:00 -0600
Watch Video and online state insurance marketplaces are now enrolling in select states across the country, and it appears things are going a bit better this year. 

Early Saturday, the first day of second round enrollment, there were reports the site would not let people log in to their new account. But the issue appears to have been resolved within a couple of hours. And it's a small hiccup compared to last year.

2013's online enrollment was riddled with technical issues and criticisms that the process was too confusing. But the president expressed confidence in this year's second round process in his weekly address.

OBAMA VIA THE WHITE HOUSE: "We've spent the last year improving and upgrading to make it faster and easier to use." 

Some states even offer local help through the enrollment process. 

But this year does come with its own challenges. For one, the enrollment period spans three months — half the time given last year. 

Then, the government is tasked with not only attracting new customers, but with working to maintain those who signed up last year. 

The Obama administration has reached out especially to historically uninsured demographics, including young adults and minorities.

The administration has also encouraged Americans who already have plans to look at some of the options that are new to this year and see if they can find a better deal.

The same incentives as last year still apply: fees for not being insured along with tax credits for those who sign up

The Washington Post reports, in the first eight hours of enrollment Saturday, about 23,000 people had completed applications. That's a bit more than the embarrassing first day figure from last year's enrollment, when only six people were successfully signed up.

<![CDATA[Why Don't Men Ask Directions? Evolution.]]> Sat, 15 Nov 2014 13:31:00 -0600
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Ladies, we might finally have an answer as to why men refuse to stop and ask for directions. It may pose a threat to their evolutionary manhood. 

A new study from the University of Utah suggests men might have evolved better navigational skills in order to find more women to have children with.  

To come to this conclusion, researchers tested and interviewed members of the Twe and Tjimba tribes, which live in a mountainous, desert area of Namibia. The tribes have dry season camps in the mountains where they forage for food. 

These tribes were chosen for the study because it's common for men to have children with women besides their wives. The researchers say they likely wouldn't have gotten as accurate of results from a monogamous community. 

Researchers tested both men and women tribe members and found men did much better on spacial and navigational tasks than women. They also found men who tested higher for spacial relations had traveled farther than other men and also had more children with more women in their lifetime. 

And researchers say the differences in spatial skills between the men and women in the study have been observed in other cultures as well — leading to the conclusion the skills were evolved. 

Researcher Elizabeth Cashdan said, "Some of the links have been demonstrated, but this study looks at the whole chain and that's what is novel about it."

Researchers say this principal is true with other mammals as well, including voles and mice. 

<![CDATA[Philae's Power Loss Puts It Down ... But Not Out]]> Fri, 14 Nov 2014 21:43:00 -0600
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After making probably the greatest landing since the movie “Flight,” spacecraft Philae is dealing with a whole new challenge — one that could keep scientists from examining possibly billions-of-years-old material from Comet 67P/C-G.

Philae ran out of battery life Friday evening, as European Space Agency scientists predicted. The spacecraft was in the process of transmitting data from a dig back to the ESA.

In a statement that reads like a pseudo-eulogy, the head of operations for Philae said, This machine performed magnificently under tough conditions, and we can be fully proud of the incredible scientific success Philae has delivered.”

Scientists knew there could be trouble after Philae bounced, then landed in a shady area of the comet. As of Friday morning, ESA scientists still weren’t exactly sure where the spacecraft was.

Philae does have solar panels so it can regain power, but it needs sunlight for that — and its current positioning apparently isn’t ideal. (Video via ESA/Rosetta/MPS)

But before going dark, the lander did manage to send back some data — Philae’s operation head told The Guardian the agency’s accomplished about 80 percent of the observations they were hoping to get out of the mission.

And we’ll definitely give kudos to the Rosetta team and Philae for snagging some dope pictures of the comet, so far.

But it’s not over just yet! ESA scientists say their next chance to communicate with Philae is Saturday morning.

<![CDATA[Warmer Temperatures Could Lead To More Lightning Strikes]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 17:29:00 -0600
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We're used to hearing about how climate change will impact the weather: more storms, more hurricanes. But you might not have thought about another threat that goes hand in hand with severe weather: more lightning. (Video via National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, say one of the effects of higher global temperatures could be a huge increase in lightning strikes. 

Publishing in the journal Science, the study's authors say every degree Celsius of warming could translate to a 12 percent increase in lightning strikes — around 50 percent more by the end of the century.

Lightning is notoriously tricky for climate scientists to predict, but lead researcher David Romps says he's come up with a much better model.

He tested that model against lightning strike records taken in 2011, saying, "We were blown away by how incredibly well that worked to predict lightning strikes."

He then turned his model toward climate change predictions stretching out to the year 2100, and found there will be three lightning strikes then for every two that occur now.

The study does have some limitations. For one thing, the relationship between all of the variables Romps studied isn't concrete yet and might not stay the same as temperatures increase. (Video via NASA)

A NASA researcher told LiveScience, "The question is whether something that works in the current climate is also applicable to a climate change."

Lightning strikes kill around 30 people per year in the U.S., but like most other effects of climate change, pose a much greater risk to developing countries. They're also one of the leading causes of wildfires.

This video includes images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

<![CDATA[Not Just India: Coerced Sterilizations A Global Issue]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 16:26:00 -0600
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The recent death of 13 Indian women at a “sterilization camp” this week and the subsequent arrest of the doctor allegedly responsible has put sterilization programs — in India and elsewhere — under the international spotlight.

As the world’s second largest country with more than 1.2 billion people, India’s government relies heavily on sterilization for population control. (Video via United Nations)

In 2011, a United Nations population report found 37 percent of India’s women used sterilization as a contraceptive, one of the highest percentages in the world.

And it’s the rural, poor families that account for most of the procedures. As Bloomberg noted last year, monetary incentives of up to 1,400 rupees, or $22, and improved welfare benefits are used to lure desperate women to unsanitary sterilization camps. (Video via YouTube / Trickle Up)

The procedure, which involves snipping and tying off a woman’s fallopian tube, can lead to illness or death due to how quickly they are performed and how unsanitary the tools are. (Video via CNN)

And yet some women simply have no choice.

SHALU YADAV VIA BBC: “It's the poverty more than their personal wish that takes them to these camps.”

Although India abolished sterilization quotas for doctors in 1996, Human Rights Watch says health workers are still pressured on the state level to meet certain targets. They’re threatened with pay cuts or humiliation if they fail to meet them.

While India is one of the leading nations in sterilizations, it’s far from being the only place where they occur on a large scale.

A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found women living in Latin American countries face pressure to undergo sterilization if found to be HIV-positive. And a report from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting revealed a similar trend in South Africa, where HIV-positive women are sometimes tricked into getting sterilized.

As BBC reported in 2012, some countries such as the reclusive Uzbekistan allegedly don’t even bother with monetary incentives, instead sterilizing women without their knowledge after they give birth.

Even the U.S. has a history with sterilizations — in 1976, the government admitted its Indian Health Service agency sterilized more than 3,400 Native American women without their permission.

More recently, an Arizona Republican lawmaker was forced to resign after suggesting poor women should be sterilized.

But for all of these sterilization pushes, a writer for Bloomberg View points out there are safer methods.

Specifically referring to India, the author points to states with both high education and low population growth and says its family planning awareness, not sterilization,leads to lower fertility rates.

Analysts at the Human Rights Watch offer a similar conclusion, asking the Indian government to offer family planning alternatives which don’t involve sterilization.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Preemies Might Be Harmed By Plastic Used To Treat Them]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 16:20:00 -0600
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Hospitalized premature babies might be harmed by the very equipment used to treat them, according to a new study by Johns Hopkins University. 

The study found infants were being exposed to a chemical most commonly referred to as DEHP. 

DEHP is used to increase the flexibility of some plastic devices, and researchers found it in hospitals' tubing, catheters, and fluid and blood product bags. Researchers said the infants' greatest exposure came from the tubes placed in the babies' airways for breathing support. 

The study noted previous research finding DEHP might interfere with normal hormone function and could also increase inflammation and cause problems with the liver, lungs, brain and eyes.  

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also notes the chemical might affect the development of testicles in newborn boys.

The study found the babies' daily DEHP intake was about 4,000 to 160,000 times higher than recommended to prevent side effects. 

Senior researcher Eric Mallow says"It's remarkable that the care of sick and developmentally vulnerable preterm infants depends on an environment composed almost entirely of plastic."

Researchers noted DEHP is unregulated when it comes to medical devices, but is limited in children's toys and products. They recommend replacing all DEHP-containing equipment with products that do not contain the chemical.  

Europe has already begun working to eliminate the chemical from medical products. DEHP is one of six chemicals being phased out by the European Commission.  

In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did recommend that non-DEHP medical products be used hospitals. 

This video includes images from Evelyn / CC BY NC ND 2.0 and Martin LaBar / CC BY NC 2.0.

<![CDATA[Supplements Might Not Prevent Memory Loss After All]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 13:52:00 -0600
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New research could debunk supplements once believed to fight memory loss.

Vitamin B12 and folic acid are commonly used to protect memory and thinking skills. A followup study by Wageningen University in the Netherlands focused on the amino acid homocysteine — the target these supplements hope to balance. (Video via Wageningen University)

High levels of this organic compound have been found in patients who suffer from memory problems. A researcher from the study explains the reasoning.

"Since homocysteine levels can be lowered with folic acid and vitamin B12 supplements, the hope has been that taking these vitamins could also reduce the risk of memory loss and Alzheimer's disease."

So researchers tested around 3,000 adults with an average age of 74. One group took B12 and folic acid supplements every day for two years. Another group took a placebo for the same amount of time. Researchers conducted memory and thinking tests at the start and end of the study. Unfortunately, at the end there was no convincing evidence that memory loss had been stopped or corrected in the experimental group.  

Coincidentally, the B12 and folic acid did work as advertised and actually lowered the amount of homocysteine in the patients.

Doug Brown, the director of research and development at Alzheimer's Society, agrees with the new findings and notes as we get older we are less able to absorb B vitamins, which could also explain why they are ineffective. Going forward he suggests:

“More trials are needed to determine if there is a benefit of these vitamins for people already with dementia, or for people without high levels of homocysteine, as no one in this trail [sic] had dementia or was known to develop it.”

A doctor on CBS says we need to scrap vitamins altogether.

ANCHOR: "Are there any supplements that help with memory?"

DR. AGUS: "The simple answer is no. Over and over again we've tried to take these quick fixes. ... Either you use it for lose it. You need to find ways that work for your brain."

Researchers published the current study in the journal Neurology. Besides vitamin supplements, several studies say exercising, getting plenty of sleep and not smoking are other methods used to slow or stop memory loss.

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

<![CDATA[Software Helps U.S. Army Spot Soldiers At Risk Of Suicide]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 13:27:00 -0600
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The U.S. Army is employing a new type of defense: software that can predict suicide risk among soldiers.

That's because half of the soldier suicides that occurred within one year of a major U.S. Army study belonged to the category the Army considered at highest risk of suicide. Approximately 5 percent of those in service fall in this highest-risk category. (Video via U.S. Army)

A computer model compared hundreds of risk factors for the five-year study called The Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers, or Army STARRS.

Researchers identified dozens of risk factors. Unsurprisingly, they found some of the most important factors included past suicidal behavior and diagnosed psychological problems. 

WMAR"Researchers found male soldiers were at a higher risk, as well as soldiers who enlisted at a later age."

Male U.S. soldiers have much higher rates than female soldiers, accounting for about 97 percent of military suicides, according to a 2013 analysis of state suicide rates.

And scientists hypothesize an older enlistment age indicates a person had less conviction in knowing what he or she wanted to do in life.

STARRS also found possessing a registered firearm, having a criminal record and loss of hearing that could indicate undiagnosed brain injuries all indicated a soldier was at higher risk of suicide.

Suicide rates among soldiers have been rising since 2004, surpassing civilian rates. On average, an estimated 22 military veterans took their lives every day in the U.S. in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (Video via YouTube / Plethrons)

"Fall of 2008. Early fall. Our unit was deploying. I was on the rear detachment, and the night before deployment, one of the soldiers in my squad killed himself." "It was devastating." (Video via U.S. Army

With the new software, the U.S. Army will try to create new suicide intervention and prevention methods for soldiers with a high risk of suicide. 

The hope is also to continue developing useful computer models for suicide risk. Until then, the Army reinforces methods like the mnemonic ACE.

"Ask your buddy. Care for your buddy. Escort your buddy. ACE. Keeping the Army strong." (Video via U.S. Army)

This video contains music from Chris Zabriskie / CC BY 4.0.

<![CDATA[Gene Mutation Might Protect From Heart Disease, Cholesterol]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 12:22:00 -0600
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A genetic mutation could be protecting people from heart disease, according to a study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine

Most genes come in pairs, and researchers found that people with a mutation that causes a single copy of the gene NPC1L1 to switch off are better protected from high levels of bad cholesterol and heart disease.

One of the study's lead authors said in a press release"This analysis demonstrates that human genetics can guide us in terms of thinking about appropriate genes to target for clinical therapy."

The study comes at a time when doctors and researchers are grappling with the role of genetics in medicine.

In a survey also published this week, 929 readers of the New England Journal of Medicine were asked if they would perform genetic testing on a fictional patient who asked for the testing due to concern about his cancer risk.

Forty percent of respondents would not perform any genetic testing. Of the 60 percent who would, 47 percent would limit the testing to cancer genes only. 

Many of the respondents raised concerns about managing the results of such a test, whether positive or negative. 

But the genetic mutation found in the study would more likely be used to develop treatments for patients, rather than to assess risk.

Another author called genetic mutations like the one found in NPC1L1 "a treasure trove for human biology," adding, "They can teach us about the underlying causes of disease and point to important drug targets."

Researchers said the mutation was rare, occurring in just one out of every 650 participants in the study.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA['Unprecedented' Ebola Drug Trials Set For West Africa]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 10:00:00 -0600
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Doctors Without Borders isn't sitting around waiting for a confirmed Ebola cure. While pharmaceutical companies continue to look for the drug that'll stop the epidemic, the nonprofit medical organization has decided to make the unprecedented move of conducting drug trials in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. (Video via BBC)

Doctors Without Borders' announcement Thursday appeared to show the urgency of the epidemic by the nature of its plan. One of the three test sites hasn't even been chosen yet.

Three different research facilities will handle each test site. Two organizations — the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research and the University of Oxford — will test experimental antiviral medications. The Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine will test treatments using the blood of people who survived an Ebola virus infection.

But even in announcing such a large endeavor, the doctor who coordinated all these partnerships encouraged caution.

"We need to keep in mind that there is no guarantee that these therapies will be the miracle cure. But we need to do all we can to try the products available today to increase the chances of finding an effective treatment against Ebola."

The World Health Organization says nearly 14,100 people have contracted the Ebola virus in this year's outbreak, all but five of those cases confirmed in West African countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. So far, 5,160 patients have died. (Video via World Health Organization)

Doctors Without Borders hopes to start the trials next month with initial results possibly as early as February. Time commented the organization set up the trials with "exceptional speed."

The drug receiving the most publicity to this point, ZMapp, was used on two U.S. patients who contracted Ebola, but their recovery wasn't conclusively credited to the drug. And ZMapp's maker Mapp Biopharmaceutical announced the drug's supply was exhausted in August.

Doctors Without Borders encouraged the makers of all experimental Ebola drugs to keep prices affordable and scale up production right now even without knowing whether the drugs work so if they're successful, they can be distributed immediately.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Virgin Galactic Pilot 'Unaware' Co-Pilot Unlocked Brakes]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 03:58:00 -0600
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New details have emerged about the Virgin Galactic Spaceship that broke apart mid-air over the Mohave Desert last month.

Federal investigators say Peter Siebold, the pilot who survived the fatal accident, was unaware his co-pilot prematurely unlocked the braking system — or "feathering" system — even though flight protocol requires the co-pilot to announce that step.

An official for the National Transportation Safety Board also says, "[Siebold] stated that he was extracted from the vehicle as a result of the break-up sequence and unbuckled from his seat at some point before the parachute deployed automatically."

As NBC points out, this seems to make Siebold's survival even more remarkable, seeing as the spacecraft was about 9 miles high and had been zipping through the sky at around 760 mph before the plane broke apart. (Video via Virgin Galactic)

NBC: "The spaceplane actually broke up around the pilots thrusting them at the speed of sound into an atmosphere with almost no oxygen. ... The pilots had no oxygen of their own outside the aircraft."

Despite the setbacks, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson says he still plans to continue his goal of making space tourism a reality. (Video via KABC)

RICHARD BRANSON"We're going to learn from what went wrong, discover how we can improve safety and performance and then move forwards together."

As far as the investigation goes, officials say they've finished collecting materials at the crash site itself. The full investigation into the accident could take up to a year or more to complete.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[NASA To Test New Craft For Carrying Humans Into Deep Space]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 17:13:00 -0600
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Now that humanity has put a robot on a comet, you might be wondering when we'll get around to sending some human beings out there in the solar system.

Well, NASA is planning to take a big step in that direction in early December. That's when the Orion spacecraft, seen here beginning its trip to the launchpad, is scheduled to be sent into space for the first time.

"The four-and-a-half-hour flight, called Exploration Flight Test-1, will send Orion 3,600 miles from Earth on a two-orbit flight to confirm its critical systems are ready for the challenges of eventually sending astronauts on deep space missions to an asteroid and Mars."

Orion is the first new human-ready spacecraft NASA has built since the shuttle, and although it's still years away from carrying anyone into space, NASA is hyping this first test launch.

A seven-minute video released last month explains the testing mission and touts the craft's new features.

"This is the largest heat shield of its kind ever made!"

The most obvious new feature is the Launch Abort System, that big pointy thing at the top.

In the event a mission has to be aborted — or even if a rocket explodes — Orion detaches and is carried out of harm's way by the Launch Abort System, allowing the crew capsule to parachute back down safely.

But there won't be a crew on board this time around. In fact the first manned mission isn't scheduled until 2021 at the earliest. 

SpaceX's Dragon capsule is expected to carry humans into low-Earth orbit years before Orion. So why the hype?

Orion isn't going to low-Earth orbit. December's test flight will take the capsule 15 times farther out from Earth than the orbit of the International Space Station. And when that first manned mission finally does happen, it'll likely be the first time humans have ventured that far from our planet since the final trip to the moon in 1972.

This video includes an image from the European Space Agency.

<![CDATA[Philae Makes Successful Comet Landing, Despite Malfunctions]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:59:00 -0600
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Philae has landed on its target comet — the first time a human probe has made such a rendezvous — but it was a close one.

The whole expedition hinged on unproven landing technology, which would have to secure the probe to the highly irregular surface of Comet 67P/C-G.

And the news got worse before it got better — a thruster that would have kept Philae from rebounding when it landed malfunctioned.

At the European Space Agency mission control in Germany, 10 years of waiting came down to hoping the dishwasher-sized probe wouldn't bounce.

EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY"We definitely confirmed that the lander is on the surface, and I leave it to Stefan. I think it's up to him to judge how it's going on the lander."

"We are there and Philae is talking to us. First things he told us is that the harpoons have been fired and rewound. The landing gear has been moved inside, so we are sitting on the surface. Philae is talking to us. More data to come."

Later updates on Rosetta's Twitter feed showed Philae's anchor harpoons did not fire as originally thought — but the probe is said to be otherwise intact and functioning. The team at ESA is said to be "looking at refire options."

Assuming it stays put, the lander is expected to send back its first images from the comet surface within two hours of touchdown.

And the science won't be far behind — Philae was set to start its first seven-hour block of science experiments an hour or so after it landed. It will analyze the chemical makeup and emissions of the comet and send back more high-resolution images.

Rosetta will stay in orbit around 67P/C-G for the next year and a half, analyzing the gases and particles in the comet's tail as it approaches and swings around the sun. (Video via European Space Agency)

You can follow along on ESA's blog and on Twitter, where it's running profiles for both Philae and Rosetta in orbit.

<![CDATA[Low HPV Vaccination Rates Liked To High Cancer Rates]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:05:00 -0600
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States with low rates of HPV vaccinations have high cervical cancer rates, according to a study presented this week at the American Association for Cancer Research. 

In this study, researchers from the University of North Carolina analyzed data from across the country. 

HPV vaccines are given to a patient three times over six months and are said to protect against the most common types of HPV. 

Some types of HPV can cause certain cancers, including cervical cancer — creating this possible link between the lack of vaccinations and diagnosis of the disease.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine for preteen girls and boys so it can get in their systems before they become sexually active. 

To increase vaccination rates, the researchers say adolescents should visit their doctors on a consistent basis and doctors should recommend the vaccine for cancer prevention.

Researcher Jennifer L. Moss said, "We hope that the findings of our study impress upon clinicians ... that cancer prevention means recommending HPV vaccination to adolescent patients at every visit."

Researchers also found poor, black and Hispanic teens were less likely to be vaccinated. 

The vaccine usually cost around $500 —which could be a cause of the disparity. 

The researchers say there's a need for more programs to help low-income or uninsured kids get the vaccine.

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Mouse Mind Control Could Open Door To Future Treatment]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 12:20:00 -0600
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Scientists have found a way to indirectly control a mouse using their minds, but it's for science! And it's not as creepy as it sounds. 

First off, they weren't making the mouse perform tasks or actions by thinking it or anything like that — instead what they did was have test subjects activate an implant in the mouse to release certain proteins. (Video via eHow)

The amount of proteins the implant released depended on the brain signals of the test subjects through the use of an EEG sensor, which measures brainwaves. Researchers used Bluetooth technology to transmit the data from the EEG sensor to the implant in the mouse. (Video via Engadget)

The notion was actually inspired in part by a toy called MindFlex, which purports to change the power of a fan that elevates a ball according to the brainpower and concentration of the user. (Video via Marbles The Brain Store)

Although it's not as elaborate as it might seem from the headlines, the study opens the door to a number of possible applications, particularly in the field of medicine. 

Specifically, the study says the technology's ability to wirelessly alter the way a gene's information is used "may provide new treatment opportunities in future gene- and cell-based therapies."

In this study, the researchers used Bluetooth, but it's actually building on other studies that used different technology to transmit brain signals. 

Earlier this year, scientists used the Internet to transmit brain signals from India to France, where they were used to stimulate parts of the brain and communicate the words "hola" and "ciao." (Video via Channel 4)

The mouse is essentially a temporary vessel for the research, but as The Guardian reports, "Scientists hope it is a first step towards the development of a system that will monitor brainwaves for signs of illnesses and automatically release medicines into the body to treat them."

The researchers said in the future, patients might have to learn how to induce certain mental states to trigger the desired effect. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Rosetta Mission Scientists Anxiously Await Comet Landing]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 08:49:00 -0600
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For the first time in history, a human spacecraft is about to attempt a soft landing on a comet.

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission has released its Philae lander above Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, after a 10-year trip out. (Video via CNN)

Philae left Rosetta at around 3:35 a.m. EST. It’s now in an unpowered descent toward the comet surface. Confirmation of landing is expected around 11 a.m. (Video via NBC)

Until then though, the scientists must sit through what one characterized as “seven hours of terror.” Much of Philae’s descent and landing is unproven: based on theory and assumption. (Video via ESA)

During the design and launch of the mission, scientists didn’t have much to go on. They told NPR they expected the comet would be “some more-or-less-roundish potato shape.”

Instead they got a bulbous, irregular rock the size of Mount Fuji, with 500-foot cliffs and boulders scattered around the landing zone. They’ll hope Philae can miss all those — and then land using technology designed 20 years ago.

“Each of its three legs is fitted with a screw, to drive into the ground. And it has two harpoons. They’ll be fired down, to help keep a grip.” (Video via BBC)

To make things more stressful, reports indicate a thruster on the top of Philae that would have helped push it down onto the comet surface after landing is malfunctioning.

But you don’t spend ten years driving out to a comet just to turn around because one bit of tech fails.

The European Space Agency is pressing on. It’s livestreaming mission control on its website and updating Twitter with progress reports from Philae. Even XKCD is updating live.

Assuming it does land, Philae’s first images from the surface should arrive about two hours after touchdown.  

<![CDATA[Study Sheds Light On Why Your Cat Hates That Tutu]]> Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:31:00 -0600
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Cats are wild. Not wild as in crazy or as in a lot of fun to be around — wild as in not completely domesticated.

According to a new study, cats are only semi-domesticated, which isn't completely surprising considering the fact they only started living with humans some 9,000 years ago ... and also considering everything we know about cats. (Video via BBC)

Cats' independent spirit, their hunting prowess, and the way they so often ignore us completely all make it more surprising the researchers in the study were able to find genetic evidence of any domestication. (Video via BalRutilant / CC BY NC SA 2.0)

The study out of Washington University in St. Louis sequenced the genome of a cat named Cinnamon and found the cat's genes differed from its wild cousins in ways that are known to reflect reward-seeking behavior typically seen in domesticated animals. 

The most visible effect of humans on cats seems to have come through differentiation of breeds.

The lead author of the study said most modern breeds are the result of humans trying to select their favorite combination of fur patterns and colors. (Video via Petco)

Many researchers have pointed to the African wildcat, which can be found in most parts of the continent, as the source of modern domestic cats. (Video via Purina

As for why we ever decided to try to domesticate cats in the first place? 

The Los Angeles Times reports researchers theorize the domestication is tied to agriculture — and farmers who wanted the cats to get rid of rodent pests that would eat their harvests. 

So next time you get the impulse to dress your kitty in a tutu ... just remember it comes from a long line of cold-blooded killers. 

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Medicare Could Cover Some Lung Cancer Screenings]]> Tue, 11 Nov 2014 11:15:00 -0600
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Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in the U.S., and although many private insurers pay for screenings, Medicare doesn't. But that could change.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced the proposal Monday and the hope is, if approved, it will help detect early stages of lung cancer in older patients. The scans can cost anywhere from $100 to $400. 

According to the memo, eligible candidates should be 55-74 years old and in fairly good health, either still smoke or quit smoking within the past 15 years and have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history. Basically, someone who smoked a pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years has a 30 pack-year smoking history.

According to the American Cancer Society, 224,000 new cases of lung cancer appear every year, with nearly 160,000 people dying from the disease — making it the deadliest cancer. 

The New York Times reports this move follows a government medical panel's suggestion to cover annual screenings. Last year that panel estimated the screenings could save 20,000 lives a year. 

Despite the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force ruling in favor of the screenings last year, there was doubt as recently as May that Medicare would comply. 

Interestingly though, Medicare might be a little behind in the game.

With the 2010 Affordable Care Act, private insurers had to start covering any procedures the USPSTF strongly recommends, and as of last year, that includes lung screenings for smokers. 

Though smokers were among the hardest-hit groups when Obamacare enrollments rolled out. The plan charged smokers much higher rates than nonsmokers. (Video via Fox News

A final decision on whether Medicare will cover the screenings will come in February. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Free Sterilizations In India Kill 8 Women]]> Tue, 11 Nov 2014 08:42:00 -0600
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Eight women have died and even more are hospitalized in India after female sterilization went wrong. 

Reports from the area say around 30 women are hospitalized, though those numbers could rise. At least 80 women received sterilization surgery at a government clinic but later felt ill. (Video via CNN

AL JAZEERA: "Allegations are surfacing that all 80 of these surgeries took place in a five-hour period and ... these surgeries were rushed in order to meet a government target number."

Bloomberg reports a doctor performing the operations used infected tools on patients and also exceeded the limit of 30 sterilizations per day. 

The incidents took place at a government-run camp in the city of Bilaspur, located in Chhattisgarh — India's 10th-largest state. 

Sterilization is nothing new in the country. The operations became widespread in the '50s with the government offering incentives to get them in an effort to curb the rapidly growing population. The women, in this case, were reportedly offered 1,400 rupees, or roughly $23.

As you can probably guess based on the monetary incentives, many of those sterilized are poor women.  

BBC"It's the poverty more than their personal wish that takes them to these camps." 

According to the BBC, 4.6 million women are sterilized in India every year — making up 37 percent of the women sterilized worldwide. 

But these massive sterilization clinics have long been accused of being overpopulated, unsafe and all-around shady. In 2012, an Indian woman spoke with RT about her bad sterilization experience. 

"I gained consciousness around 12 or 1 in the night. I was made to lie down on a bench. I was bleeding heavily on that day. I came home without being given any medicine."

India currently has the world's second-largest population with 1.2 billion people. At its current pace, the country is expected to take over China as the world's most populous country by 2050. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[What Does Google Want With Moffett Federal Airfield?]]> Tue, 11 Nov 2014 01:52:00 -0600
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Google-owned Planetary Ventures, LLC signed a $1.16 billion lease for Moffett Federal Airfield where the behemoth, eight-acre Hangar One resides. Planetary Ventures says it will work to restore the historic structure and offload about "$6.3 million annually in maintenance and operation costs."

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden explained the cost-saving move: "As NASA expands its presence in space, we are making strides to reduce our footprint here on Earth."

Sure, sure, saving millions of dollars is great, but the real question is what the heck Google wants with an airfield.

According to the press release, Planetary Ventures will use the space for "research, development, assembly and testing in the areas of space exploration, aviation, rover/robotics and other emerging technologies." Huh, sounds a bit like NASA. 

And when news of the proposed deal began cropping up in February, Silicon Valley Business Journal quoted one community activist who said the deal amounted to some level of charity, because "recovering that hangar is probably a money-losing deal."

But while it's safe to say there's a bit of charity involved, the outlet noted location likely played a role in Google's bid to lease the airfield, as Hangar One is a mere three-mile drive from Google's Headquarters. 

And Fortune reports Google had a deal in the works to build an office complex "on 42 acres at Moffett Field." Now it's got access to a whole lot more. 

A bit strategic, a bit charitable — now that sounds like Google.

You know, the company behind self-driving, (hopefully) safer cars; glucose-monitoring contact lenses; and balloons that provide Internet access in remote locations. (Video via Google)

NASA will maintain ownership of the facility. As part of its planned improvements for the airfield, Google says it will create an educational facility for the public to "explore the site's legacy and the role of technology in the history of Silicon Valley."

This video includes images from NASA Ames Research Center and Scott Ashkenaz / CC BY NC ND 2.0, and music from Kevin MacLeod / CC BY 3.0.

<![CDATA[Rosetta Mission Prepares For Daring Comet Landing]]> Mon, 10 Nov 2014 18:29:00 -0600
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A mission that's sent a spacecraft more than 4 billion miles over 10 years is reaching its grand finale this week. We're now in the final hours before the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission will attempt to send a lander down to a comet.

You've probably heard of the Rosetta mission by now because, as space missions go, it's gotten a lot of publicity this year.

Rosetta woke up from a two-and-a-half-year hibernation in January, something the team wasn't 100 percent sure would actually happen. Video of the cheering, clapping, hugging scientists was shown around the web, including here.

Since then, we've seen the complex maneuvers Rosetta has gone through to get into orbit around the comet, been bombarded with first-of-their-kind images of the comet's surface plus the occasional robot selfie, and there was even that bizarre sci-fi short film starring Aiden Gillen — Littlefinger from "Game of Thrones."

"A staggeringly ambitious plan."

"Are you talking about the Rosetta mission?"

But now it's time for the main event: actually landing a robot on the surface of a comet, an historic first for space exploration.

Starting in the early morning hours Wednesday, a refrigerator-sized robot named Philae will detach from Rosetta and drift down toward the comet's surface. The 14-mile trip will take around seven hours, during which the team can do nothing to correct Philae's course.

That means they have to line up a shot at a comet moving 83,000 miles per hour — and spinning — seven hours in advance. That's some space sharpshooting.

NASA compared the stunt to Curiosity landing on Mars in 2012, the fast-paced, rocket-powered ordeal that was dubbed "Seven Minutes of Terror."

NASA: "Space missions fall into one of three categories: difficult, more difficult and ridiculously difficult. ... You thought 'Seven Minutes of Terror' was bad? This will be seven hours of terror."

Even if Philae doesn't survive the trip, though, Rosetta can continue to study the comet. The payoff will be a detailed look at one of the oldest objects in our solar system and possibly a hint about where our planet's water came from.

You'll be able to follow mission updates and a live webcast of the landing at ESA's website.

This video includes images from Getty Images and the European Space Agency.

<![CDATA[How Fruit Flies From Space Could Help Us Reach Mars]]> Mon, 10 Nov 2014 10:05:00 -0600
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The International Space Station Expedition 41 crew is back on Earth, and they've brought some aliens with them ... 

LAUREN PRZYBYL, KDFW: "The crew of one astronaut, a German flight engineer and a Russian cosmonaut were not alone in the capsule — they brought back space-born fruit flies! It's all part of an experiment."

But before the science fiction plotlines start going, they're regular fruit flies; they just happen to be born in space. They were all frozen when they died, too, so they're not about to escape and breed with Earth-born fruit flies to create some kind of hybrid mutant fruit fly. The experiment was pretty cool, though. 

Members of the 41st expedition to the ISS took the flies with them in a number of cassette-sized cartridges when they boarded the station in September. The flies lived, reproduced and died on the station during the expedition, and some were frozen for their return trip. As for why? (Video via NASA)

NASA: "They will orbit earth alongside astronauts, helping us explore the effects of long-term spaceflight on human beings. ... The fruit fly lab will allow us to look into a variety of questions, such as the effect of spaceflight on aging, cardiovascular fitness, sleep, stress and much more."

Knowing more about the effects of long-term spaceflight will be crucial in future missions to Mars, which is usually more than 100 million miles from Earth. NASA wants to get there by 2030. 

For perspective, it has taken all of the Mars landers so far more than 250 days to bridge that distance one way, so add in the return journey and it would take at least 500 days — a cool year and a third. (Video via NASA)

Cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov set the current record for time in space back in 1995 after spending 437 days on Russian space station Mir and didn't suffer any major health effects. (Video via Russian Federal Space Agency)

Nevertheless, the health risks are well-documented. Humans aren't meant to be in space, especially not the microgravity of space. 

Astronauts have to stick to rigorous exercise routines because they don't have to expend the same energy we do to counteract gravity. But even with that exercise, a NASA study from earlier this year found that "even when crew members did aerobic exercise five hours a week and resistance exercise three to six days per week, muscle volume and peak power both still decrease significantly."

TRACE DOMINGUEZ, DISCOVERY CHANNEL"And it's not just muscles and bones. ... Astronauts' immune systems get a little freaky too. Some immune cells overdo it, while others underdo it, causing increased allergies and allowing viruses that would remain dormant on Earth to get an asymptomatic foothold."

So the better we understand those effects through the fruit flies, the better we understand how to counteract them. The fruit fly lab will remain on the ISS during the 42nd expedition. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Laundry Detergent Pods Harmful To Kids, Poison Control Warns]]> Mon, 10 Nov 2014 08:52:00 -0600
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They might make for a quick and easy way to do laundry, but a new study says 'laundry pods' can also pose a health risk to kids.

VIA ABC"Laundry detergent pods — accidental poisonings sent more than 700 children to the hospital during the first two years they were on the market. One baby died."

VIA CBS"The squishy packets can be mistaken for candy or food, and experts say they should be stored away from children."

The study was conducted by the American Association of Poison Control Centers, or AAPCC, and published in Pediatrics. It reports that the pods can be more dangerous than normal detergent. 

It says reports of kids swallowing traditional detergent usually resulted in mild stomach upset or no symptoms at all. However, the pods also caused vomiting, wheezing, gasping, sleepiness, breathing problems, and corneal abrasions. 

Now, we should mention the study focused on laundry pods and made no mention of dishwashing detergent pods. Still, the dangers of these detergent pods have been known about for a while. KTVB spoke with one pediatrician in 2012 about what makes them so harmful. 

DR. MARK URBAN VIA KTVB: "The main packet is usually polyvinyl alcohol which is rapidly dissolvable ... the issue with that is the polyvinyl alcohol is water soluble and, if you eat it, it can be absorbed by the body."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted a warning in 2012, when the pods first started coming out, about 'health hazards' associated with them, citing multiple case reports of children falling ill. 

VIA KNXV"Proctor and Gamble started repackaging the pods in a double latch lid, but the company never recalled the old, pull-apart packages."

"She was able to even pull this open very easily. All they need is their two little teeth up front, bite down on this, and boom."

The AAPCC says nearly 9,000 cases of laundry packet exposures were reported to poision control centers in 2014 for children 5 and younger. That number is down from more than 10,000 last year. In 2012, it was more than 6,000.

While the packages do have warnings about keeping them out of the reach of children, experts say not all parents read the labeling and mistakes can happen.

 If your child is exposed to the laundry pods, AAPCC says you should call your local poison control center.

This video includes images from Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0 and Ricky Romero / CC BY NC 2.0

<![CDATA[18K Calif. Nurses Plan Strike Over Ebola Safety Protection]]> Sun, 09 Nov 2014 08:39:00 -0600
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Two Dallas area nurses contracted Ebola after treating the first American patient from the virus, Thomas Eric Duncan. Investigations revealed that a lack of training and equipment to deal to protect them from the virus may have been why those two nurses contracted the disease. 

Now, 18,000 nurses in northern California are planning a strike because of just that. 

VIA KNTV"The union says Kaiser is not doing enough to protect nurses and other workers against the Ebola virus. Kaiser denies that claim and says all of its facilities will remain open during the nurses strike."

The strike is expected to affect more than 55 Kaiser hospitals and clinics. Kaiser Permanente and the nurses' union have been in contract talks since July, but organizers of this strike say they're focusing on safety standards. 

VIA KXTV: "It's about patient safety and quality of care. ... The past three years Kaiser has been making $12 million a day, but yet they've cut health care workers."

Kaiser Oakland nurse Katy Roemer echoed those claims, telling the Hayward Daily Review"The big issue for us is we are not seeing the resources we need on a daily basis to provide safe care ... I want to be very, very clear. From the nurses' perspective, we are going out on strike about patient safety issues."

In a statement, Kaiser Permanente said all personal protective equipment their workers use "meet or exceed guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." 

Organizers announced the strike last week, but it's now getting more and more attention as the date approaches. Still, these strikes by Kaiser Permnanente nurses in the northern California area have happened before — even without the threat of Ebola. 

In January 2012, an estimated 21,000 nurses were expected to strike against Kaiser. That walkout, according to the Nation Union of Healthcare Workers, was the fourth time workers had picketed since 2010. 

KXTV talked with one nurse who said he will be crossing the picket lines, along with other nurses, on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

The hospitals and clinics affected by the strike are expected to remain open, though elective procedures and some appointments may be rescheduled. Organizers are planning similar actions in Chicago, St. Louis, Washington D.C. and elsewhere. 

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Can A 3-D Food Printer Promote Healthy Eating?]]> Sat, 08 Nov 2014 19:36:00 -0600
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Hate to cook, but love having a nice meal at home? Well check this out.

This is a 3-D food printer that can make you lunch, dinner or even just a snack. You just load up the capsules with your favorite ingredients and it prints your food — with some preparation required depending on the dish. 

The printer is called "Foodini" and its creators note it is much smaller than traditional 3-D printers. They also say it doesn't make your typical overly-processed instant meal either. 

LYNETTE KUSCMA VIA NATURAL MACHINES: "It's really about using fresh food and making food with nice fresh ingredients."

The company introduced the concept back in March with a Kickstarter campaign that ultimately fell short of their $100,000 goal.

Undeterred, Natural Machines kept working on the concept, and unveiled a functional printer during this week's Web Summit in Dublin.

CNBC ANCHOR: "It's edible, it's good, and I'm impressed that this machine can make food."

Of the many potential uses for 3-D printers, printing food has been a popular goal for the technology.

Just recently The Army approved research funding for using 3-D printers to provide nutritional and convenient meals to troops. 

And back in September 2013, a writer for The New York Times sat down to an entire three-course meal of 3-D-printed food, courtesy of Cornell University. 

But the Foodini does have its critics, including one WCBS food expert who says it can't replace the feeling of actually cooking a meal. 

WCBS"They knead the dough, they have to smell the tomatoes, you know. It’s all part, it’s all passion with food. If something’s doing that for you, where’s the fun?”

Natural Foods says they hope to have Foodini in mass production next year. The cost for the machines will be about $1,300. It is currently working with manufacturers to come up with pre-packaged healthy food capsules for the machine.

<![CDATA[How Robots Could Help Contain Ebola]]> Sat, 08 Nov 2014 14:47:00 -0600
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Healthcare and sanitation workers in West Africa put themselves at risk every day to fight Ebola, but wouldn't it be great if robots could lessen at least some of that risk?

That question was asked Friday by three top robotics universities along with U.S. government officials at brainstorming meetings all over the country.

Ebola is spread by contact with the blood or bodily fluids of someone who is sick or has died from the disease. So, robots are obviously an attractive option. 

In fact, there are already sanitation robots in place in some West African hospitals that use UV light to destroy the virus. But this national brainstorm is hoping to take robot use a step farther. 

One of the universities involved, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute or WPI says some of its existing robots can be repurposed to help caseworkers remove contaminated clothing and clean up contaminated areas. 

The universities have considered using telepresence for doctors to treat their patients without actually having to be in the room with them. Some robots are even able to translate what the doctors are saying into the patient's language. 

KEN GOLDBERG VIA CNET: "The great thing about putting a robot in there is that you can then keep people out of harms way."

For a while there has been talk about robots being used to bury the dead, but this raises some concerns. 

The BBC pointed out we don't know how local communities would feel about robots transporting and burying their dead or if it would even be accepted at all. 

WPI says it hopes to have some of its robots working in West Africa within three months. 

<![CDATA[How Your Age And Where You Live Impact Your Happiness]]> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 10:46:00 -0600
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What is the key to happiness? According to a new study published in The Lancet, it probably has something to do with where and how long you live.

The researchers found happiness generally follows a U-shaped curve, peaking in the late teens and 20s, dipping down to its lowest between 45 and 54, then gradually creeping up again throughout your twilight years.

Researchers say as you age you acquire "emotional wisdom" — basically you learn the best way to live your life and stay away from things that make you unhappy.

Using information from a 2013 Gallup World Poll, the researchers found happiness patterns vary greatly by country. Respondents from high-income, English-speaking countries generally stuck to that U-curve.

However, those from eastern Europe and Latin America showed a gradual reduction in happiness with age, and those in sub-Saharan Africa showed little change in happiness as they grew older.

Why is that? Well, researchers aren't exactly sure. One spoke with The Atlantic and offered a common-sense theory:

"In places with poor healthcare, no social safety net, or cultural disdain for the old, by contrast, the negatives of aging may outweigh the perks of 'emotional wisdom.'"

You can read the full study in the latest edition of The Lancet.

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

<![CDATA[Detailed Planet Formation Image Lets ALMA Telescope Show Off]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 20:55:00 -0600
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One of the most powerful telescopes in the world is showing off. Scientists at the ALMA telescope in Chile released a new image that has astronomers raving. 

What you're looking at isn't an artist's impression, it's an actual image taken of what appears to be planets forming in the disk around a baby star.

Planets form from the dust cloud that's left over after a star forms. The dust slowly begins to clump together into bigger and bigger chunks, eventually forming planets. It's a lot like how Saturn's rings keep churning out new moons. (Video via NASA)

At least that's the prevailing theory. Turns out it's kind of hard to put theories of planetary formation to the test, because you need clear images of good examples.

Which brings us back to ALMA's contribution. It's by far the best look scientists have gotten at a system right in the middle of forming planets. (Video via ESO)

Scientists and science writers on Twitter called the image "astonishing" and an astrophysicist told the BBC it was "phenomenal."

The image is impressively detailed, especially considering the star is 450 light years away and surrounded by a dust cloud. In fact, why don't we let the researchers at ALMA tell us how impressive it is?

NRAO: "The first time I saw this image, I thought it was actually probably a simulation. It was just way too good."

ESO: "The resulting image exceeds all expectations, and is sharper than images routinely obtained by the NASA-ESA Hubble Space Telescope."

The press release accompanying the photo makes that "better than Hubble" point several times. Looks like they're really trying to drive home how powerful ALMA is.

The telescope is made up of 66 huge antennas that can be scattered up to 16 kilometers apart to create a fine image.

The planet formation image was taken with the antennas 15 kilometers apart, almost at their full range, so it's kind of a demonstration of ALMA's capabilities.

But there are also lessons to be learned from the photo itself. Peer-reviewed studies haven't appeared yet, but the ALMA team says they've already learned something: stars that young aren't supposed to be forming planets at all. 

The telescope could actually produce even sharper images, at least at different wavelengths, so it'll be interesting to see how ALMA flexes its muscles next.

This video includes images from ESO and ALMA.

<![CDATA[Your Gym Might Have Toxic Air]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 19:38:00 -0600
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Go to the gym to stay healthy? Well, watch out, the air might be poisoning you. 

Researchers in Portugal and Holland found the air in the gyms they studied was really polluted. 

To find this, they put air-quality monitoring equipment in gyms throughout Lisbon. They covered weight rooms and aerobic areas, as well as smaller studio spaces. 

The machines measured air quality during the busy late afternoon and evening hours and also gathered information when the gym wasn't as busy so researchers could compare the readings. 

Researchers found at all times, the air measurements showed unhealthy levels of carbon dioxide, formaldehyde and dust. 

And the levels were highest during the evening classes when large groups were working out in a confined room. 

The study points to poor ventilation and cleaning as possible reasons why this might be the case. 

Researchers said the high levels of dust and formaldehyde can be harmful as they can contribute to asthma and other respiratory issues.  

And, carbon dioxide can cause fatigue, which is particularly undesirable for those who are trying to exercise. 

Researchers say gym goers are likely breathing in a whole lot of this polluted air as exercise makes you breathe heavily, meaning "The pollutants go deeper into the lungs compared to resting situations."

And the United States Environmental Protection Agency warns indoor air pollution exposure typically increases as we head into the colder months because we spend more time indoors — or in this case at the gym instead of working out outside. 

Now, researchers say this doesn't mean you should stop going to the gym. Just try to choose one that looks clean and talk to your gym's management if you have concerns or the air doesn't smell reasonably fresh. 

This video contains images from Your Mildura / CC BY 2.0midiman / cc by 2.0Jeanette Goodrich / CC BY NC 2.0, NAID / CC BY 2.0 and Richard Giles / CC BY SA 2.0.

<![CDATA[Facebook Wants You To Help Fight Ebola With Your Phone]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 13:16:00 -0600
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Any regular user of Facebook has probably came across Ebola headlines in their news feeds. Now news about how Facebook itself is fighting the disease. 

On Thursday the company announced three initiatives: a "donate" feature appearing in users' feeds, targeted public health information and communication services in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

That donate feature will allow users to donate to the International Medical Corps, American Red Cross or Save the Children. They can then share the fact that they donated.

The public health information is provided with the help of children's rights organization UNICEF and will appear in news feeds of those who are near Ebola-afflicted areas.

The third initiative is in partnership with 41 international NGOs and will provide voice and data access for health care workers so they can better keep track of Ebola's spread.

While the donation feature will be avaiable to any Facebook user, the other two initiatives look to be primarily focused on Africa — something Re/code says is significant given roughly half the continent's 200 million Internet users go to Facebook. 

Facebook has allowed users to donate directly through their news feed before.

In November 2013, the social media company helped users donate to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to aid those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

But a writer at The Verge notes, the extra effort put into this initiative is an unusual abundance of activism for Facebook — it "sets an important precedent for Facebook as a public body exercising a social conscience." (Video via Facebook)

The latest report from the World Health Organization says more than 4,800 people have died during this Ebola outbreak with more than 13,000 cases overall. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Engine Failure Likely Led To Antares Rocket Explosion]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 09:22:00 -0600
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Investigators believe they know what caused the massive failure and explosion of the Antares rocket just seconds after it lifted off a Virginia launch pad. (Video via NASA)

The CEO of Orbital Sciences spoke with investors in a conference call Wednesday and focused on the main engines launching the resupply mission.

DAVID THOMPSON, ORBITAL SCIENCES CEO: "Current evidence strongly suggests that one of the two AJ26 main engines that powered Antares first stage failed about 15 seconds after ignition."

Orbital Sciences now believes a turbopump that pushes fuel into the engine's combustion chamber failed, meaning the rocket didn't have enough momentum to continue climbing high or fast enough.

When that happened and it became clear Antares would not make it into orbit, Orbital Sciences has said officials engaged the system to destroy the rest of the rocket to avoid more damage or a crash on populated areas. (Video via YouTube / Matthew Travis)

Calling the engine "unreliable," CEO David Thompson said Orbital Sciences plans to continue with its nearly $2 billion contract with NASA to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. The AJ26 engine will no longer be used for launch.

A Wells Fargo analyst who participated in the conference call asked Thompson if it was fair to say the flaw that caused the explosion couldn't have been detected during testing but was instead a fundamental issue of the engine's reliability in an actual launch. Thompson responded, "I would say that's a good assessment." (Video via NASA)

Orbital Sciences, NASA and Aerojet conducted this test of an AJ26 engine in 2010 back when the Antares project was known as Taurus II. The rocket engines are repurposed from Soviet moon missions back in the '70s. (Video via Aerojet Rocketdyne)

The New York Times notes Orbital Sciences is already attempting to get supplies to the International Space Station by contracting with other companies with available rockets.

The Times wrote the first flight of a revised Antares program won't happen until 2016.

This video includes images from NASA / Terry Zaperach and NASA / Joel Kowsky.

<![CDATA['Huge' Ancient Mammal Sheds Light On Evolutionary History]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 09:13:00 -0600
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One of the largest mammals to ever live amongst the dinosaurs has been discovered ... and it's actually not that big. 

This is Vintana sertichi, a mammal that lived some 66 million years ago and weighed in at some 20 pounds, making it the second-biggest mammal known to have lived alongside dinosaurs. (Video via WCBS)

DAVID KRAUSE, STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY: "Most mammals that lived during the age of dinosaurs were small, shrew-size, mouse-size. But this animal, Vintana, was huge. It was, say, twice the size of a modern groundhog. That is enormous during that interval of time."

Researchers discovered the mammal's skull in Madagascar, which means it would've lived on the supercontinent of Gondwana, which later broke up into South America and Africa. 

That makes it a Gondwanatherian, which makes this discovery even more significant. The Gondwanatherians are an extinct group of mammals shrouded in mystery because scientists have only discovered fragments of their fossil record. 

Which might help explain lead researcher David Krause's excitement at the discovery...
CHRISTINE INSINGA, NEWS 12 LONG ISLAND: "Do you remember your reaction at that moment?"

KRAUSE: "Yes, I remember being very excited and what I said probably can't be repeated."

Although Vintana isn't related to any existing mammal species, as one researcher wrote in Nature, its discovery could tell us a lot about how our actual ancestors evolved as their continent broke up, writing, "It may indeed prove to be that Pangaea's fragmentation contributed to mammalian diversification during the Mesozoic."

Diversification that left Vintana with a diverse set of features so odd a University of Chicago paleontologist told National Geographic"The very exotic combination of its skull features are so beyond our previous imagination."

Krause says Vintana's singular features could be due in part to the fact that it evolved on Madagascar, which has been an island for millions of years. 

This video includes music from Broke For Free / CC BY NC 3.0.

<![CDATA[Disease-Spreading 'Kissing Bug' Showing Up In U.S.]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 18:30:00 -0600
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If you're one of the people freaked out by Ebola, here's another thing to potentially freak out about. "Kissing bugs" may be spreading a rare disease in the U.S. 

Trypanosoma cruzi, or "kissing bugs" as they're better known, crawl on people's faces at night and suck their blood.

And there's more. The bugs are spreading a disease called Chagas, which can lead to heart problems and intestinal complications.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  says Chagas occurs primarily in rural areas of Latin America and in recent years has been showing its face in the U.S. 

While much of the outbreak in Latin America has to do with the kissing bugs, the CDC believes most U.S. cases occur from a patient visiting an affected country or from mother-to-baby, blood transfusions and organ transplants. 

However, researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston found 36 percent of the 17 Texas blood donors who tested positive for Chagas appeared to have contracted it from the kissing bugs. The team also found several bugs in the area carrying the disease, although no direct correlation has been made. 

Chagas researcher Nolan Garcia said"Physicians should consider Chagas when patients have swelling and enlargement of the heart not caused by high blood pressure, diabetes or other causes, even if they do not have a history of travel."

The World Health Organization says Chagas presents in two phases. In the acute phase, a large amount of parasites circulate in the blood. Some people show no symptoms at all, while others may have fever, headache and chest pains along with other symptoms. 

In the chronic phase, the parasites are mainly in the heart and digestive muscle. Around 30% of patients suffer from a heart disorder and 10% suffer from a digestive disorder. 

When discovered early, Chagas can be treated with medication. As with most illnesses, doctors say the earlier you catch it the better. 

<![CDATA[Working Irregular Shifts Can Slow Down Your Brain]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 08:20:00 -0600
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Working irregular shifts is the reality of life for some — but doing so over too long a period of time could have lasting effects on some basic brain functions. 

People who do shift work over a number of years tend to have impaired cognition — or less brain power, according to a new study. (Video via WHO-TV)

The study looked at more than 3,000 people over a period of 10 years and tracked the differences between those who worked irregular shifts and those who didn't.

The longer those doing shift work continued to do shift work, the bigger the effect on their cognitive ability. 

The study didn't say why shift work could have such a substantial impact on the brain, but it did cite previous research on how irregular sleep patterns can negatively affect health. (Video via CNN)

Those effects are so well-documented, they've even got their own name: shift work sleep disorder

DR. PAUL KNOEPFLMACHER, HEALTHINATION: "This is a real condition, and the symptoms include the following: excessive sleepiness, insomnia or trouble falling or staying asleep, difficulty concentrating, headaches or lack of energy." 

Still, if you're just working weird shifts for the holiday season or over the summer, you're probably not in danger of damaging your brain. 

DR. ALLEN MANEVITZ VIA YOUTUBE / ROBERTGLATTER"While we understand that shift work can have an impact on your health, we've also learned that it takes years, and even decades to impact on certain permanent changes."

The researchers said the main takeaway from the study is society as a whole should be more conscious of the effects of irregular shifts on the brain, and the dangers they pose. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images and music from Wake / CC BY 3.0

<![CDATA[Google Glass's Blind Spot Is Obvious, But Still Bad Press]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 20:18:00 -0600
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Apparently wearing Google Glass can interfere with your vision. Who'd have thought?

A new study published in JAMA shows the device can create an obstruction in the upper-right portion of the user's field of vision.

The New York Times picked up the story first, opening with, "Is that an email in your eyes, or are you about to get hit by a truck?" and explaining that the lead researcher thought up the idea after he had a close call while driving and wearing Glass. 

The study didn't look at Glass as a distraction. The researchers didn't test the effects of focusing on an email instead of the sidewalk ahead of you, or whether prolonged use can affect the eyes. They didn't even turn the devices on while performing the tests.

Nope, all they examined was the effect of trying to see while a mini computer juts out from your right temple. One that's not, you know, see-through.

Seems like kind of a "no duh" study, but it still made the rounds. 

WDIV: "I just think somehow I'd either fall down, walk into a wall. There'd just be too much going on right there."

WTVT: "I keep having flashbacks of that Steve Martin movie 'The Jerk,' remember, with that little hook on the eye that causes all the mess?"

And that's bad news for Google. For whatever reason, negative stories about Glass get a lot of press. 

Early this year, some San Francisco Glass wearers gave widely-reported accounts of how they were attacked for wearing the devices. (Video via KPIX)

And another study this month made big news when it claimed using the wearable could actually be addictive. 

This all could be because tech types just enjoy trashing Glass. Videos of people acting awkward with the device go viral, and Mashable coined the term "Glasshole" almost a year and a half ago.

Maybe that's why the company responded so quickly to the latest study — and with a healthy dose of snark.

In an email, a spokesperson touted Google's efforts to ensure Glass is safe, and said of the research, "Put on your favorite shades, glasses, baseball hat, or hoodie, and you'll quickly see that this study tells us what we already know; wearing something on your face or head may affect your peripheral vision."

For all its ubiquity in the tech world for the past few years, Glass has only been available to the public for about six months. Maybe the hate will wear off eventually. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[It's Science: Spice Girls Have World's Catchiest Song]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 14:11:00 -0600
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Are you a person who walks around with a catchy song playing on repeat in your head? Or maybe you're an all-star at "Name That Tune"?

Scientists say they've pinpointed the top 20 most memorable — and recognizable — earworms of the past 70 years that just might be chiming in your mind. Ready for the winner? 

It's "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls, a song released in the overwhelming tide of '90s pop music only to crest at the top of the wave.

Even though it turned 18 this year, "Wannabe" is still hailed as the "the best-selling single by a female group in the world," according to Female First.

And the reason it topped this list is actually pretty scientific. Researchers at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England, had 12,000 participants play four different timed games to recognize songs.

Over 1,000 clips were in the database, highlighting "the top selling 40 tracks of each decade since the 1940s," according to CNET

From the start of the chorus, it took players an average of 2.29 seconds to identify "Wannabe," beating out the No. 2 song by 19/100 of a second. Lesser-known entries were recognized within 1/100 of a second of one another. 

You might be wondering if there was special treatment here. After all, this study was done in the United Kingdom, home of the Spice Girls. 

But in second place is "Mambo No. 5" by Lou Bega, who is actually German. He's followed in third, fourth and fifth place by two American entries and the Swedish pop group ABBA. (Video via RCA Records, Stockholm Records, Volcano Entertainment and Interscope Records)

But this isn't just a study about memorable music. The results have some implications for both the health and business sectors.

The designer of the study, computational musicologist Dr. Ashley Burgoyne, told BBC, "If we have a better understanding of how the musical memory works, we are hopeful that we can move into research on people with dementia."

This same "musical memory" can help music producers. Business Insider points out the similarities between this study and recent "'hit potential' computer software" that predicts the next Billboard chart-toppers.

Business Insider also put in a request for a study that shows how to get catchy tunes out of your head.

If that's what you're after, we suggest you avoid Lady Gaga. The songstress has ditties so catchy that she's the only artist to make the study's list twice.

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

<![CDATA[Drug Companies To Blame For Ebola Outbreak? WHO Says So]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 10:15:00 -0600
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Who exactly is responsible for the Ebola outbreak? Well, the World Health Organization is laying at least part of the blame in the hands of big pharmaceutical companies. 

Addressing the Regional Committee for Africa Monday, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan blamed greedy drug companies for not developing vaccines for a virus that mainly affected poor African nations.

Chan said, "The R&D incentive is virtually non-existent. A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay." 

According to the agency's numbers, around 13,500 people have contracted the Ebola virus, with nearly 5,000 people dying as a result of it. The majority of those deaths have occurred in the West African countries Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. (Video via Al Jazeera) 

There's still no vaccine proven to cure Ebola, even though the disease was discovered about 40 years ago. 

Though drug companies have stepped up efforts recently after the virus started to rapidly spread and reached patients in Spain and the U.S. (Video via ABC

The Guardian writes big pharma companies finally took notice of Ebola once it hit the U.S. or affected U.S. health workers abroad. In fact, according to the outlet, the U.S. military's biodefense researchers only began developing ZMapp, an experimental Ebola drug, "amid fears that the virus could be turned into a biological weapon."

And big money always been a factor a factor in vaccine development. One U.S. government doctor said back in July: "I don't see why anybody except the U.S. government would get involved in developing these kinds of countermeasures. There is no market in it." 

Johnson & Johnson, along with several other pharmaceutical companies, are currently working on Ebola-fighting drugs. Johnson & Johnson says it will begin testing an Ebola vaccine in January with a possible 250,000 doses to be made available in May. 

<![CDATA[Sleep Apnea Could Be Robbing You Of Everyday Memories]]> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 13:10:00 -0600
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Medical professionals have long noted how important it is to get a good night's sleep, and now another study, suggests if that sleep is disturbed by sleep apnea, your memory could be negatively affected. 

A study out of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City and published in The Journal of Neuroscience says for the first time scientists have discovered a connection between sleep apnea and a negative impact on your memory of everyday events.

As HealthDay explains, "Tests on 18 people with severe sleep apnea showed that this ability -- called spatial memory -- was impaired when sleep apnea disrupted rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, even when other stages of sleep weren't affected." 

Spatial memory is essentially your memory of everyday things like where you parked your car or where items are in a dark room. 

Sleep apnea can sometimes cause a disruption in REM sleep, which in turn can result in that spatial memory loss. 

REM sleep is the deepest form of sleep and is believed to play a major role in memory consolidation. Failing to achieve REM sleep at night can result in waking up feeling tired, even if you've slept for a long time. 

The study notes that spatial memory is particularly affected by Alzheimer's disease, which is often why people with the disease are found wandering around. (Video via TED

Lead researcher Dr. Andrew Varga says, "Our findings suggest memory loss might be an additional symptom for clinicians to screen for in their patients with sleep apnea." 

HealthDay points out, while the study establishes a connection between sleep apnea and spatial memory loss, it "did not prove a direct cause-and-effect link between the two."

This video contains images from Getty Images, ccho / CC BY NC ND 2.0, and CARBONNYC / CC BY 2.0 

<![CDATA[Scientists Use Penguin Look-Alike Rover To Study Penguins]]> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 10:24:00 -0600
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It appears a group of scientists are subscribing to the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" strategy when it comes to studying penguins. 

Scientists in France have created a robot penguin — equipped with wheels, a camera, and a fake look-alike — to help them get up close and personal with the feathery creatures. 

The study, published in Nature Methods, focused on how to reduce the stress to penguins while researching them. The study notes, "Approaching wild animals to collect data on their phenotypic traits induces stress, escape behavior and, potentially, breeding failure and therefore jeopardizes the quality of the collected data."

When approached by humans, the penguins' heart rates shot way up — an average of 35 beats more a minute. They hoped the rover would change that.

Researchers tried a few different versions of the rover, including a fiberglass one that didn't work and scared the penguins. When the scientists finally got the latest model made, they got pretty impressive results — heart rates only increased about 24 beats per minute.

Study leader Yvon Le Maho of the University of Strasbourg noticed the penguins reportedly didn't flee from the device and even sang songs to it, though the penguin bot isn't equipped with sound and couldn't sing back.

Maho and his team studied penguins in the same area of Antarctica where "March of the Penguins" was filmed. Maho and his 40 years of researching penguins contributed to that movie.

Other researchers have tried out these faux-penguin cams before, though. In 2013, Discovery and BBC teamed up for a special called "Penguins: Waddle All the Way" where a camera-wielding robot penguin infiltrates various groups of penguins. 

The researchers say they plan on using the device more in the future and will read signals from radio tags on the birds. 

<![CDATA[Pilot Unlocked SpaceShipTwo System Early, But Cause Unknown]]> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 06:52:00 -0600
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Investigators now know what happened only seconds before Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket broke apart. During a Sunday night press conference, the National Transportation Safety Board pointed to the early deployment of a system designed to stabilize and slow the rocket down — or "feathers." (Video via National Transportation Safety Board)

ACTING CHAIRMAN CHRISTOPHER A. HART, NTSB: "The feathers moved into the deployed position and two seconds later, we saw disintegration."

The NTSB's chairman was quick to add, however, that was "a statement of fact and not a statement of cause. We are a long way from finding cause."

Despite an early focus on new, allegedly unstable fuel and a rumored engine explosion, the NTSB doesn't appear to be focusing on either of those as possible causes. They noted one of SpaceShipTwo's pilots switched the feathers to "unlocked" earlier than they were supposed to, but a two-step system to actually deploy the feathers never happened and the devices shouldn't have engaged.

NTSB Chair Chris Hart also said there was no breach or burn-through of SpaceShipTwo's fuel tanks or engine, which matches up with how the rocket went down. (Video via National Transportation Safety Board)

ACTING CHAIRMAN CHRISTOPHER A. HART, NTSB: "The wreckage is located in a large area oriented northeast to southwest about five miles from end to end. And when the wreckage is dispersed like that, that indicates the likelihood of inflight breakup."

Had some kind of engine malfunction been behind the crash, the wreckage would most likely have been focused in one area and not spread across five miles.

While officials haven't ruled out any cause yet, The Wall Street Journal notes a structural issue would be a serious setback for Virgin Galactic and result in the company having to "redesign large portions of the rocket ship."

The crash of SpaceShipTwo, which took the life of one of the pilots and injured the other, and the explosion of Orbital Science’s Antares rocket have many questioning the viability of commercial space travel. 

Even Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson was frank when one BBC reporter asked if the crash would have any immediate impact on the future of space travel. (Video via Virgin Galactic)

SIR RICHARD BRANSON VIA BBC: “It’s a horrible day for Virgin Galactic, for commercial space travel, it’s a massive setback.”

The NTSB says the investigation will take about 12 months to complete, but the board will offer Virgin Galactic pertinent recommendations along the way to ensure an incident like this doesn’t happen again.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Climate Report Sets Deadline For Zero Carbon Emissions]]> Sun, 02 Nov 2014 13:34:00 -0600
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If the timetable for exactly when countries need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions has always seemed a little vague to you, well, we just got a deadline: 2100. 

That's according to a new report by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international organization of scientists dedicated to studying climate change. (Video via Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)

Using data from previous reports, the 116-page "Synthesis Report" warns global greenhouse emissions need to drop to zero by 2100 to avoid irreversible damage to our planet's atmosphere. 

While some of that damage will be to the environment, the report also warns of food and water shortages, increased displacement of people, increased poverty, and coastal flooding.

If we go the next 86 years without effectively cutting emissions, the report warns a 2 degree celsius rise in global temperature will be unavoidable. 

That 2 degree number was decided back at a 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference as the maximum rise in global temps before climate change starts having disastrous effects.

It was hopeful that countries would be able to agree avoiding that rise in temperature by cutting their emissions, but negotiations never resulted in anything stronger than a non-legally binding agreement saying, yes, emissions should probably be lowered. (Video via The Guardian)

But even with the warnings of irreversible climate change or its disastrous effects, the report says as long as world leaders act now, the prospects of the Earth's future won't be so gloomy. 

A Wesleyan University professor who participated in the drafting the report told The Washington Post "It's not too late, but the longer you wait, the more expensive it gets."

BBC science editor says nations' attitudes seem to have changed since 2009's less-than-stellar Copenhagen summit and that next year's summit in Paris might actually be more productive. 

And last week IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri offered some optimism, saying “May I humbly suggest that policymakers avoid being overcome by the seeming hopelessness of addressing climate change. It is not hopeless. This is not to say it will be easy.”

While the IPCC suggests 2100 as the target for reaching zero emissions, it's up to the nations themselves to implement the policies required to reach that deadline. The next meeting on climate change is due to take place in Lima, Peru this December. 

This video includes images from Getty Images, music from Chris Zabriskie / CC BY 3.0 and icons from Google / CC BY SA.

<![CDATA[Chinese Probe Returns After Disastrous Week For Space Travel]]> Sat, 01 Nov 2014 18:51:00 -0500
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It has been a pretty rough week for U.S. space travel. 

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo broke apart during a test flight leading to the death of one pilot and serious injuries for another. The cause of that crash is still being investigated.

And just days before, the Antares resupply rocket was intentionally exploded seconds after takeoff after a critical problem was discovered.

But there's been at least one success story in space to emerge this week, and it comes from China.

An unmanned Chinese probe returned safely to Earth Saturday night after an eight-day flight. The mission was designed to test out technology for use in a future project aiming to collect lunar samples and bring them to Earth.

The probe did a flyby of the moon, snapping some pretty cool photos in the process, and then returned from home. This marked the first time in nearly forty years that a spacecraft returned to earth after traveling around the moon. 

An engineer for the mission told state-run news agency Xinhua that the most challenging aspect of the mission was slowing the craft during re-entry. 

The probe was designed to essentially "bounce" off Earth's atmosphere — much like a rock skips on water — to reduce its speed. Hitting the atmosphere at the wrong angle would have resulted in mission failure. 

This is part of a larger push into space exploration that China started in 2007. The Telegraph writes "Saturday’s landing is the latest advance for a space program that China’s leaders see as an important way of commanding international respect."

China hopes to complete a mission that would bring lunar rocks and dirt to Earth by 2017 and hopes to put people on the moon sometime in the 2020s.

<![CDATA[NASA Spots Ghostlike Orphan Stars]]> Sat, 01 Nov 2014 16:29:00 -0500
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Halloween may be over, but that doesn't mean you won't still see a ghost or 200 billion wandering around. 

We're talking about stars, people. This image was captured by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The blue clusters are described as the "faint, ghostly glow of stars ejected from ancient galaxies that were gravitationally ripped apart several billion years ago." 

According to NASA it happened within a collection of about 500 galaxies nicknamed “Pandora’s Cluster.” 

Astronomers believe 6 of those galaxies, some as big as our own Milky Way, were gravitationally pulled apart over a span of 6 billion years. 

​Following the destruction of the galaxies, the recently-spotted stars were orphaned. They now float around the area where their parent galaxies once were. 

Okay, this is starting to sound like a twisted horror movie.

But the spooky images are good news for NASA, which calls the sightings "important steps forward in understanding the evolution of galaxy clusters. ... It is also amazingly beautiful in that we found the telltale glow by utilizing Hubble’s unique capabilities.”

The Hubble Telescope is the only device capable of capturing such faint light from four billion light years away. 

A team at NASA believes it took about 200 billion of the outcast stars just to generate about 10 percent of the light detected. 

This video includes images from ToyahAnette B and Jackie / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[Developers To Use Obese Crash Test Dummies]]> Sat, 01 Nov 2014 15:24:00 -0500
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America's obesity epidemic has led to an unexpected side effect — a company is producing obese crash test dummies to correctly predict crash outcomes.

Crash dummies developer Humanetics has announced it is packing on the pounds on some of its models because humans are getting larger. 

Humanetics says it made this decision after studies showed obese drivers were more likely to die in car crashes. It says automakers need to test their cars with larger dummies to ensure vehicles are safe enough to drive. 

The traditional dummies weigh around 167 pounds and have a body mass index or BMI of about 30. The obese dummies weight around 273 and have a body mass index of around 35. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines anyone with a BMI over 30 obese. So, the larger crash dummies are more than just a little overweight. 

While most would probably agree it's good thing the industry is making safety adjustments, the fact it even has to is concerning. 

The long list of health risks associated with obesity include heart disease, cancer and metabolic syndrome — all of which can be fatal. 

The obesity rate has nearly doubled worldwide since the 80s and currently more than a third of adults are obese in the U.S. 

WebMD cites an obesity expert who referred to being overweight as "the new normal" nationwide

Humanetics says it is also working on developing dummies that mimic the body structure of the elderly to make sure cars are also safe for older adults. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes, Killing A Pilot]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:30:00 -0500
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A test flight of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo spaceplane ended in catastrophe Friday after some sort of anomaly caused the craft to break apart in midair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Smile. It's only a study. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I would suggest around 250?"

"I would say about 350?"

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

"I reckon that one first."

"Red wine, doughnut."

"The lager next."

"Probably that the lowest."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And more of this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BBC: "The Staten Island frogs."

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

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

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

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

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

The research team began by manipulating stem cells:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This video includes images from Google and Getty Images.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHIP REID FOR CBS"This is mud."

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

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

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

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

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

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hickox initially displayed a slight fever and was tested for the virus — but her fever subsided and the test came back negative. Regardless, she will have to stay in an isolation unit for a full 21 days. talked to the 33-year-old's mother, who said Hickox is being treated as though she has Ebola, confined to an isolation tent outside the hospital without a TV, shower or books. Also, her waste is being bagged as a precaution. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that moment had everyone talking.

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

FOX BUSINESS: "There was no fear.”

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

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

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

And most Americans shouldn’t be concerned either.

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

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

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

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

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

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This video contains an image from Getty Images.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Is that like a scientific term there?"

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

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

As for the hump...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The treatment was published in the medical journal Cell Transplantation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This video contains images from Getty Images.