Newsy - Sci/Health The Latest Videos From <![CDATA[Just One Season Of Playing Football Changes A Child's Brain]]> Mon, 24 Oct 2016 10:32:00 -0500
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You don't have to be a seasoned football player to sustain brain damage from the game.

According to a new study, scientists detected brain changes in young kids who played just one season of football.

Researchers observed 25 boys between the ages of 8 and 13 who participated in a youth football program in North Carolina.

Each child agreed to wear a special helmet that measured impacts they sustained during play.

From there, the scientists compared the data against MRIs of the players' brains taken before and after the season.

SEE MORE: Concussions Are Still A Medical Mystery

And they found tiny changes in the white matter of the boys' brains — the more shots to the head a child took, the more changes he had. And they didn't have to be concussion-inducing hits.

White matter is often referred to as the "subway" of the brain because it connects different areas of neuron-rich gray matter.

It's unclear if the changes will persist over time or if they could cause any long-term alterations to important brain functions, like memory or attention span.

But the study's authors say their findings are still concerning because the brain's white matter is still developing during childhood.

Researchers say they will continue to follow some of the players to gather more information. But in the meantime, they say the results shouldn't prevent kids from being physically active in sports.

<![CDATA[These Clouds Might Shed A Ray Of Light On The Bermuda Triangle Mystery]]> Mon, 24 Oct 2016 08:55:00 -0500
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The mystery behind the Bermuda Triangle might be solved — at least, that's what a Science Channel show claims.

The Bermuda Triangle is an area in the Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda, Florida and Puerto Rico that's famous for unexplained disappearances of ships and planes.

And according to two meteorologists who spoke to the Science Channel for an episode of "What on Earth?," the mystery of the waters could be connected to some oddly shaped clouds. 

SEE MORE: Looks Like This Winter Will Have Some Weird Weather

Dr. Randy Cerveny and Dr. Steven Miller looked at satellite photos of the Bermuda Triangle and found hexagon-shaped clouds right above the area. 

But in order to understand what the formations mean, the team had to look around the globe. They found similar cloud formations above the North Sea.

There, the hexagonal clouds bring winds up to 100 mph. Those winds have the ability to create ocean waves more than 30 feet high — easily high enough to sink a ship, according to the team.

The pair theorizes that the clouds above the Triangle might be causing "air bombs," or microbursts, that could force powerful winds downward and cause massive waves.

But there are a couple of holes in their theory. First, this weather pattern doesn't just happen in this area. These kinds of cloud formations reportedly happen in a lot of mid- to high-latitude locations, typically in colder seasons.

Also, those clouds might not actually be causing "air bombs." An NBC meteorologist says those formations don't look like microbursts.

The pair were slightly surprised with the angle the Science Channel series took. Cerveny told USA Today, "They made it appear as if I was making a big breakthrough or something. Sadly, that's not the case."

<![CDATA[Looks Like This Winter Will Have Some Weird Weather]]> Sun, 23 Oct 2016 15:24:00 -0500
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Winter is coming. OK, that joke might be a little old — but really, we're about to have a pretty chilly couple of months. 

Forecasters are predicting a La Niña event in the Pacific Ocean. Basically, that means people up north are going to want to invest in some space heaters. 

La Niña is a recurring climate pattern like El Niño — just with the opposite effect. El Niño brings warmer ocean temperatures, while La Niña comes with cooler temps. 

And from the looks of it, the U.S. will be striped with different weather patterns. Southern states can expect drier than normal conditions. northern states, on the other hand, will be colder and wetter. And middle states might get a mix of both.

SEE MORE: Our Weather Forecasting Is About To Get A Huge Upgrade

Unfortunately for the West Coast, La Niña won't help the drought situation. California has been in a drought for about six years now, and that part of the country is probably going to stay dry.

One weather expert said the Golden State would need several wet winters and abnormally high precipitation to come back from the drought.

Another forecast from the Atmospheric and Environmental Research firm sees the cold extending down a little further on the map to include cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C.

So, if you like snow, this is probably really good news. But if you don't, well, better luck next time.

<![CDATA[Paper Fully Written By iOS Autocomplete Accepted By Physics Conference]]> Sun, 23 Oct 2016 10:52:00 -0500
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Physics can be hard, but luckily, there's an app for that.

Christoph Bartneck, a professor in New Zealand, says he got an email asking him to submit a paper to the International Conference on Atomic and Nuclear Physics. A subject he knows "practically" nothing about. He did it anyway.

And he did it using iOS' autocomplete text function. 

The paper's title — which was also written entirely in autocomplete — is "Atomic Energy will have been made available to a single source." It was accepted almost immediately. 

The paper reads just like any other physics paper — which is to say it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. 

For instance, "The atoms of a better universe will have the right for the same as you are the way we shall have to be a great place for a great time to enjoy the day you are a wonderful person."

Bartneck topped the whole thing off by searching for "nuclear physics" on Wikipedia and using the first image to represent his paper. 

The final line of the paper is "power is not a great place for a good time," which sounds like pretty good advice to us.

The conference invited Bartneck, who submitted the paper under the pseudonym Iris Pear, to be a guest speaker. But it asked for a $1,099 registration fee, so Bartneck decided to sit this one out.

He told The Guardian: "My university would certainly object to me wasting money this way. ... My impression is that this is not a particularly good conference."

<![CDATA[Norway Plans To Kill Almost 70 Percent Of Its Wolf Population]]> Sat, 22 Oct 2016 15:29:00 -0500
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Norway is home to roughly 68 wild wolves, but the country says that's still too many. So it's planning on culling 47 of them.

The cull would be the largest in more than a century for Norway, and it's being justified as a way to protect sheep flocks.

SEE MORE: Humans May Have Tamed Wolves Twice Because Dogs Are Worth It

Under the plan, 24 wolves would be shot in the country's designated wolf habitat, 13 would be killed in nearby areas and 10 more would be eliminated elsewhere.

But wolves are responsible for only 8 percent of Norway's sheep deaths each year.

And if they're hoping to reduce that number, then a culling might not be the best solution.

Research suggests culling wolves might lead to more livestock predation.

And this cull might also lower wolf populations below the level the country expects.

When there's a major legal culling of one species, research suggests it might inspire more people to poach that animal. And 1 in 2 wolves in Scandinavia are already killed illegally.

Norway's parliament has said in the past that wolves and other carnivores have to be allowed to co-exist with livestock.

There are already a few appeals to stop the cull, but according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the government might not address it until the end of the year.

<![CDATA[Snow Leopards Have Farmers On The Hunt For Revenge]]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 14:39:00 -0500
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This is a snow leopard. Even though it's an endangered species, a new report says as many as 450 of them have been killed each year going all the way back to 2008.

This is not good news because it's believed as few as 4,000 snow leopards are living in the wild. They can be found in the mountains of Central Asia.

SEE MORE: Humanity's Worst Trick: Making Big Cats Disappear

Interestingly, a wildlife trade monitoring network called Traffic found the animals' pelts aren't the main reason they're poached.

Instead, more than half the killings are from herders getting revenge against the leopards for killing their livestock.

To curb this, the report suggests governments do more to compensate farmers who lose their animals and give them the means to build better enclosures for their livestock.

"They're often made of mud patched up with flimsy wood materials, so it's easy for snow leopards to break in," Rishi Sharma, the leader of World Wildlife Fund, told New Scientist.

More than 90 percent of snow leopards are killed in the countries of China, Mongolia, Pakistan, India and Tajikistan.

There's at least one country trying to protect its small snow leopard population. The Kyrgyzstan government partnered with the Snow Leopard Trust in 2015 to create a wildlife sanctuary for the big cats.

The report also found snares set for other animals kill about 18 percent of snow leopards, and 21 percent are killed for their fur.

<![CDATA[Step Away From The Screen: Doctors Release New Media Rules For Kids]]> Fri, 21 Oct 2016 10:26:00 -0500
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Kids, step away from the screens.

According to new guidelines released this week, children of all ages should limit how much time they spend in front of the TV, iPad and other digital media.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, had recommended kids over the age of 2 spend no more than two hours watching TV, but its new rules vary by age group.

For infants 18 months old or younger, doctors say no screen time is best for healthy brain development.

As the AAP put it, "Because of their immature symbolic, memory, and attentional skills, infants and toddlers cannot learn from traditional digital media as they do from interactions with caregivers."

The guidelines say children can be safely introduced to screens between ages 2 and 5.

But parents should limit them to one hour a day of "high-quality" programs, like "Sesame Street."

By the time kids reach age 6 and older, it's up to adults to limit that screen time. Still, the AAP recommends prioritizing productivity over TV and videogames.

CNN quotes one expert who says: "What's most important is that parents be their child's 'media mentor.' That means teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn."

To read more about the AAP's media guidelines for children, visit the organization's website.

<![CDATA[Here's Where Clinton And Trump Fall On Climate Change]]> Thu, 20 Oct 2016 15:52:00 -0500
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The three U.S. presidential debates covered a lot of topics. 

But climate change wasn't one of them. And that didn't sit well with a lot of people.

Americans are divided over the causes and solutions for climate change, and that division falls heavily along party lines — extending all the way to both major presidential candidates. 

SEE MORE: The Paris Climate Agreement Is Good To Go

Donald Trump has made several controversial comments about climate change in the past. While he hasn't directly laid out any climate change policies, he has partially addressed it in his energy plan.

That plan includes conserving natural habitats and resources and protecting clean air and water. But it also encourages the use of natural gas and accessing shale, oil and coal resources to bring "vast new wealth" to the U.S.

In general, Trump's plan focuses on the economy. He says he'll "rescind all job-destroying Obama executive actions." He's also proposed pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and United Nations global warming programs. 

Hillary Clinton has laid out a plan that directly addresses climate change. She says it would be completed within 10 years of taking office. That plan includes investing in clean energy initiatives, cutting methane emissions and making environmental justice a central priority.

Clinton's plans would continue the efforts already made by President Obama. She says she will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent in 2025 and plans to cut emissions 80 percent by 2050.

But Clinton has also drawn criticism from environmentalists for her support of fracking and her proposal to use natural gas reservoirs until cleaner energy solutions are in place. 

SEE MORE: Americans Are More Divided Than Ever On Climate Change

Some have speculated that the debate moderators didn't delve into the climate change issue because of the steep partisan divide.

But the reluctance to talk about it could be a major problem for the future. Scientists say if climate change isn't addressed soon, we could reach a point where any effort to combat it is too little, too late.

CO2 levels surpassed 400 parts per million in September. That's 50 times more than what scientists consider "safe." The last time Earth consistently saw levels this high was millions of years ago.

<![CDATA[Bao Bao The Giant Panda Is Moving To China This Winter]]> Thu, 20 Oct 2016 12:35:00 -0500
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One of the nation's favorite giant pandas is about to make a big move.

Bao Bao, a 3-year-old giant panda at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, will move to China this winter.

SEE MORE: The Panda Population Is Perking Up, But It Still Has A Long Way To Go

Zookeepers are already preparing Bao Bao for the move by acclimating her to the crate she'll travel in. The zoo hasn't released exactly when she'll be moved but notes it will happen in winter because it will be easier to keep Bao Bao comfortable during the cooler months.

She was born at the zoo Aug. 23, 2013. Because of the breeding agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association, all cubs born at the zoo must move to China by their fourth birthday.

Once in China, Bao Bao will be under the care of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, and she'll enter its breeding program when she turns 5 or 6 years old.

The National Zoo's exhibit will still have three other giant pandas: Mei Xiang and Tian Tian — Bao Bao's parents — and Bei Bei, her younger brother.

Because Bei Bei was also born at the zoo, he'll also be moved to China before his fourth birthday on Aug. 22, 2019.

The zoo will plan some special opportunities for the public to say goodbye to Bao Bao before her big move.

<![CDATA[Humans Could Hunt 301 Species Of Mammals Into Extinction]]> Thu, 20 Oct 2016 12:05:00 -0500
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 According to a recent report, 301 species are at risk of being hunted into extinction — mainly for human consumption.

The extensive list includes animals mostly in developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Rhinos, chimpanzees, armadillos, bears and even bats are just some of the animals at risk.

Aside from eating them, humans are also killing the animals for their medicinal value and destroying their habitats with urbanization, pollution and climate change.

SEE MORE: More Animals Are Getting Legal Protection. Now For The Bad News

Humans have hunted wild animals for centuries, but the trade has become a big problem for the environment as a whole.

The study's authors called the situation a "global crisis" that could change the ecosystems in these areas forever and cause a collapse in food security for millions of people.

And the scale of the issue is massive. The researchers found about $200 million worth of meat is butchered each year in the Brazilian Amazon alone. 

The study was the first global assessment of mammal hunting.

There's no simple solution, but experts say increasing the legal protection of wild animals, providing alternative foods and changing international policy would help save at least some of these mammals from extinction.

<![CDATA[A Florida Official Wants To Deploy Bats To Fight Zika]]> Thu, 20 Oct 2016 11:47:00 -0500
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Bats might be the newest way to combat Zika-infected mosquitoes in Miami.

At least, one city official would like them to be. 

Because bats eat mosquitoes, the Miami Beach commissioner wants the city to build bat houses to attract the mammals to the area. 

SEE MORE: Bats Can Learn To Put Up With Us Noisy Humans

Back in July, health officials confirmed mosquitoes in Florida were carrying the Zika virus

Soon after, the CDC issued travel advisories, and Miami officials sprayed insecticide in an attempt to kill the Zika-carrying mosquitoes. But it didn't work so well in part of Miami Beach.

There are some hitches to the bat proposal, though. 

The American Mosquito Control Association says on its website that bats are "opportunistic feeders," meaning they'll eat whatever they come across first — not just mosquitoes. 

SEE MORE: When It Comes To Insect Repellent, Natural Isn't Always Better

Aerially sprayed pesticides also weaken a bat's immune system and make them more susceptible to diseases.

A town in New York has used bats to combat mosquitoes since 2007

A city commission passed the proposal on to Miami-Dade County, whose officials will decide if it gets implemented. As of Oct. 19, all of the U.S.' 128 locally acquired cases of Zika are in Florida.

<![CDATA[A Ninth Planet Could Be Tilting Our Solar System]]> Thu, 20 Oct 2016 10:29:00 -0500
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Our solar system may have a ninth planet so far away, we haven't seen it yet. But we think we can see how it might have shifted our known planets.

If Planet Nine exists, it's likely located beyond Neptune and has an icy surface.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology believe its mass is roughly 10 times more than Earth's and think it could be 93 billion miles from the sun.

SEE MORE: Relax — NASA Doesn't Care About Your Zodiac Sign

Which means it'd take Planet Nine between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make one full orbit around the sun.

Despite such a lingering pace, scientists say that very orbit and Planet Nine's size could explain why our solar system is tilted out of alignment.

If you check out the orbits of the eight known planets in our system, you'll notice they all travel around the sun in the same relatively flat zone –– only that zone is about 6 degrees off the sun's equator. That's always confused scientists.

The Caltech researchers believe the answer may be a giant planet — Planet Nine — with an even stranger orbit. If it rotates 30 degrees off the other planets' tilted plane, the math for it affecting the known solar system would be pretty close to perfect.

Basically, the astronomers are saying the eight known planets used to revolve perfectly around the sun's equator. But Planet Nine is so big, its gravitational force is incredibly strong. And like fighting a tide, the other planets slowly drifted out of alignment.

The math may seem uncanny, but researchers say it adds to the growing evidence of Planet Nine's existence. Still, the giant planet is considered hypothetical until researchers can see it with their own eyes. The scientists at Caltech believe that may be just a couple years away.

<![CDATA[STD Rates In The US Are The Highest They've Ever Been]]> Thu, 20 Oct 2016 07:37:00 -0500
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The U.S. recorded the most cases of sexually transmitted diseases ever for a single year.

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three of the most common STDs saw significant increases for the second year in a row.

In 2015, there were more than 1.5 million reported cases of chlamydia. That's a nearly 6 percent rise from the year before.

SEE MORE: A New Tinder Feature Helps You Find STD Testing Centers

Nearly 400,000 gonorrhea cases were reported last year, which adds up to an almost 13 percent increase from 2014.

And doctors saw close to 24,000 recorded cases of syphilis — a whopping 19 percent rise from the prior year.

The U.S. has an estimated 20 million new STDs each year, and half of those cases occur in people between the ages of 15 and 24 years old.

The findings are troubling considering that gonorrhea and syphilis cases were at historic lows just several years ago. The CDC says budget cuts to health programs and fewer people using condoms are to blame.

<![CDATA[The Birds That Prey On Dead Animals Are Dying Out Themselves]]> Wed, 19 Oct 2016 19:37:00 -0500
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Over half of the world's vulture species are listed as endangered or critically endangered.

It's probably not a surprise, but humans are the main culprit behind the deaths of these large birds.

A bovine painkilling drug that stuck around in cows after they died would kill vultures that ate it.

In Asia, that painkiller nearly wiped out three species of vulture in just 15 years.

Countries finally began banning the drug in 2006, but versions of the drug used on humans are still used to illegally treat animals.

In Africa, poachers kill the birds to hide kill sites. But herders trying to protect livestock also accidentally poison vultures while trying to kill predators.

Believe it or not, vultures disappearing could actually have an affect on human health.

Vultures are carrion feeders — in other words, they eat dead things. Which sounds gross, but it's actually incredibly important. 

Uneaten livestock carcasses can be a breeding ground for disease. Vultures eat the dead animal and prevent the spread of disease.

The decline of vultures in India might also be responsible for the increase in dog populations because the dogs eat the same carrion. India has the highest rate of human rabies in the world, and the main source of rabies in India is dog bites.

Vultures' digestive systems are so strong that they kill a lot of the disease in carrion that would affect humans or other animals. 

Conservation groups are trying to save this animal, but it will be challenging — vultures have a mortality rate of 90 percent in their first year of life.

<![CDATA[Turns Out Landing On Mars Is Still Pretty Tricky]]> Wed, 19 Oct 2016 19:05:00 -0500
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Landing on Mars continues to be really hard. The latest attempt to touch down on the planet ended with the probe going offline — and it might not be coming back.

The Schiaparelli lander was supposed to test a landing system on Mars, as well as make a few observations on the planet's surface.

SEE MORE: Think Mars Bases Will Have It Hard? Moon Bases Get An Even Worse Deal

It's part of the ExoMars mission, a joint venture between the European Space Agency and Russia's Roscosmos.

The landing appeared to go mostly as planned up until the last minute of Schiaparelli's descent, when the probe dropped off the grid. Several attempts to get back in touch with the craft have all failed.

The overall mission's still a win: The orbiter that carried Schiaparelli to Mars is safely circling the planet. It's now studying Mars' atmosphere, looking for any trace gases that might indicate the planet was once habitable.

And Schiaparelli transmitted plenty of information during its descent. That data will be invaluable in planning the next attempted Mars landing in 2020.

To date, there have been seven successful missions on the surface of Mars —all from NASA.

<![CDATA[This Canadian Clinic Treats Uninsured Refugees And Immigrants For Free]]> Wed, 19 Oct 2016 14:08:00 -0500
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"We want to ensure that everyone new to Canada gets the health care they need when they need it, unstintingly and without judgment of their circumstances," said Paul Caulford, co-founder and medical director of the Canadian Volunteer Clinic. The health program is a twice-a-week walk-in clinic for the uninsured. It's part of The Canadian Centre for Refugee and Immigrant Health Care in Ontario.

"When they need mental health services, when they are victims of torture, when there's PTSD, they are either turned away or they're charged because they don't participate in the federal health program," Caulford said.

Canada has universal health care, yet it's estimated that hundreds of thousands of people are uninsured due to their immigration status.

SEE MORE: Meet The Immigrant CEO Welcoming Syrian Refugees To Canada With Jobs

"You'll see a lot of chronic conditions: diabetes, hypertension, heart-disease," said Sumathy Rahunathan, the clinic's coordinator. "We're making sure that people don't need to use the emergency room. We're about 45 minutes in, and 24 people have already registered tonight."

Since it opened in 1999, the clinic has treated more than 35,000 people from 122 different countries. A vast number of patients are children and pregnant women.

"It doesn't matter how much money you make. It doesn't matter at all," Caulford said. "You're just one of the crew, and when you get sick, you get taken care of. That's a very compelling argument to care about each other."

Rahunathan added: "It's incredibly humbling to see what almost 100 percent of the patients have gone through to be here, and it puts everything into perspective. I don't have problems in comparison."

Caulford said: "They are on the run from violence and war. How hard is it to lend a helping hand? We're watching history unfold in some of the most compelling ways.

"Nobody could see the searing images of that little boy on that beach and not feel deeply compelled and moved to never see that again. This is our call to action. This is our time to not be a benchwarmer."

<![CDATA[Capuchins Put A Monkey Wrench In Our Knowledge Of Early Human Tool Use]]> Wed, 19 Oct 2016 11:59:00 -0500
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Every time scientists found flakes of chipped stone in the fossil record, it was taken as a proud sign of humanity's genius. Now some monkeys are screwing all of that up.

Humanity's early ancestors — like Homo erectus — used sharp rocks as tools, and they sharpened those rocks by chipping away at them until there was an edge. That left piles of stone flakes, so whenever scientists found those remnants at ancient sites, they assumed it was someone making tools.

SEE MORE: Research Says Complex Tools Might Not Be 'Our Thing' Anymore

But a new study finds Capuchin monkeys also bang rocks together to break them apart. Researchers think they're trying to get lichens and minerals out of the fragments to supplement their diets.

And in the process, they make stone flakes that look just like the ones that tools create. We can't really tell them apart. A monkey behavior overlaps with something we thought was unique to early humans.

The monkeys don't use the sharp-edged fragments for anything, so it's not a sign of human-like intelligence or complex tool use. But it means rock flakes aren't enough evidence to point to early humans making tools anymore, so any site where these flakes showed up might have to be re-evaluated.

The researchers who watched the monkeys say we need to look for more evidence nearby — like something the tools were later used on.

<![CDATA[Obama Is Adding National Monuments And Parks Like None Before Him]]> Tue, 18 Oct 2016 20:12:00 -0500
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Newsy's Kate Grumke: So, when we were planning "Off The Trail," obviously we couldn't pass up the opportunity to stop by the Grand Canyon. It's the 100-year anniversary of the National Parks Service, so we had to find our park just like everyone is across the country. 

Newsy's Zach Toombs: Also, you love national parks. 

Grumke: I'm obsessed with them. So, one thing that's really interesting about the Grand Canyon is that it was among the first places to be set aside under the Antiquities Act.

SEE MORE: Colorado Cannabis Companies Still Jump Through Financial Hoops

Toombs: But we're in a new era of the Antiquities Act now because the Obama administration has used this act in a way that no president has before. He has designated more monuments and more national parks than any of his predecessors. 

Grumke: Yeah, he's designated 265 million acres of land so far, and he still has a few months of being president. It seems it's kind of ramping up in the past few years. Since the Antiquities Act was signed into law, only four presidents have not used it. And they were all recent Republicans. When President Obama does this, he doesn't need anybody’s approval. The Antiquities Act works so that he can just come in and say, "This is going to be a national monument."

Toombs: His base and conservationists, they love this. But small government types, ranchers, Republicans in Congress — they do not love this. 

Grumke: Right. They do not like the federal government coming in and taking. Because even if it were to be a park, a state could probably run that park, so they don't like the federal grab of land like this. Under President Obama, this is an unprecedented time for the Antiquities Act and for national parks in general.  

Get farther #OffTheTrail with more of these stories.

<![CDATA[What Makes Leaves Change Color Every Fall?]]> Tue, 18 Oct 2016 13:28:00 -0500
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You know it's fall when the leaves start to turn. But what causes this riot of color?

Deciduous leaves have four pigments year-round: green, yellow, orange and red.

Most of the time, they're green. The color comes from chlorophyll, which the trees use to photosynthesize. 

SEE MORE: Right Before Cold And Flu Season, And Florida's Oranges Are Dying

In fall, days are shorter. With less sunlight, chlorophyll becomes less important, and the leaves make less of it. The other colors get their chance to show.

When it happens depends on how cold it gets. Trees will change their colors in cooler weather. When it gets really cold, the leaves just fall off.

<![CDATA[Here's Why You Shouldn't Store Your Tomatoes In The Fridge]]> Tue, 18 Oct 2016 12:36:00 -0500
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If you're one of those people who keeps tomatoes in the fridge, you might want to stop.

That is, unless you like them nice and tasteless.

According to a new study from the University of Florida, chilling tomatoes in the refrigerator might make them last longer, but it "greatly reduces flavor quality."

SEE MORE: Pineapples Aren't Just Fruit — They're Becoming Fashion

Why? Storing tomatoes below 54 degrees prevents their genes from making the substances that give tomatoes their trademark flavor.

And once those genes are turned off, you can't get that flavor back. At least, not all of it.

This can happen in your refrigerator at home or even in cold storage after the tomatoes have been harvested.

The study's lead author explains that the process is like taking instruments out of an orchestra.

He told The New York Times in an email: "Remove the violins and the woodwinds. You still have noise, but it's not the same."

To get these results, researchers stored tomatoes in a chilly environment for about a week and then let them recover in room temperature for a few days before conducting several taste tests.

Scientists are currently looking into developing a method to breed tomatoes that don't lose their flavor in the fridge.

But until then, experts recommend leaving them out on the counter or in a shady spot. On average, tomatoes have a shelf life of about a week at room temperature.

You can read the full study at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States' website.

<![CDATA[Bull's-Eye: The Moon Will Cross Taurus Constellation Tuesday Night]]> Tue, 18 Oct 2016 11:33:00 -0500
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A lunar occultation is happening Tuesday night.

And no, that doesn't mean something supernatural is about to happen. An occultation is when one object appears to pass in front of another. 

SEE MORE: The Moon Could Be Making Some Earthquakes Bigger

In this case, if you look up at the night sky, you'll see the moon passing in front of a star — specifically, the star Aldebaran. It's the brightest star in the Taurus constellation. 

Aldebaran is usually pretty easy to locate because of its red color. Since the fiery-hued star forms Taurus' eye, it's often described as "glaring" at the nearby Orion constellation. 

Not everyone in the U.S. will get to see Tuesday's occultation, though.

Imagine a line going from Los Angeles to just south of Minneapolis. The occultation will be visible to anyone south of that line. 

Those not lucky enough to witness this one could have some more chances, since an occultation will happen every lunar month through September 2018. 

The next one visible in North America will occur Dec. 12

<![CDATA[PepsiCo Drinks Are About To Get A Lot Less Sugary]]> Mon, 17 Oct 2016 11:00:00 -0500
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Your PepsiCo drink is eventually going to taste different. Thankfully, you have about nine years to mentally prepare yourself before that happens. 

By 2025, PepsiCo wants two-thirds of its 12-oz. beverages to have less than 100 calories from added sugars.

"Technology breakthroughs right now are resulting in better-tasting colas, almost as good as the full-sugar colas, but with fewer calories," PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooya told CNBC

The move comes after the Food and Drug Administration rolled out new requirements for listing added sugars. But since PepsiCo hasn't updated its nutrition labels yet, it's still unclear which of its drinks will be changing. 

SEE MORE: It Doesn't Look Like Surviving Cancer Always Leads To A Healthy Life

PepsiCo says it will be "reformulating" some of its carbonated soft drinks, as well as creating new low-calorie beverages.

PepsiCo is also the maker of SoBe teas and Starbucks coffee drinks. 

This announcement comes about one week after the World Health Organization urged countries to tax sugary drinks in an effort to reduce obesity and tooth decay. 

The city of Philadelphia already approved such a tax. It'll go into effect in January

PepsiCo isn't just trying to reduce added sugars in its drinks — it also plans to reduce saturated fats and salt in its foods by the same 2025 deadline. 

<![CDATA[The World's Oldest Panda In Captivity Has Died]]> Mon, 17 Oct 2016 11:00:00 -0500
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The world's oldest panda living in captivity has died. 

Jia Jia was born in the wild but rescued as a young cub and taken to a giant panda breeding center in China.

SEE MORE: D.C.'s New Baby Panda Is Named Bei Bei. We're Not Kidding.

She was given to the Ocean Park zoo in Hong Kong as a gift 17 years ago. She became an animal ambassador and was visited by more than 29 million people. 

Veterinarians at Ocean Park noticed Jia Jia's failing health about two weeks ago. The team says her condition got worse Sunday morning, and they decided to euthanize her to prevent further suffering. 

Pandas typically live to be about 20 years old, but Jia Jia was 38 years old.

Earlier in 2016, giant pandas were downgraded from endangered to vulnerable, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF estimates there are now more than 1,800 pandas living in the wild. 

SEE MORE: The Panda Population Is Perking Up, But It Still Has A Long Way To Go

The species' recovery is due in part to multiple giant panda breeding centers and reserves in China, an effort that began in the 1940s. Pandas International estimates there are about 420 pandas living in captivity around the world. 

Ocean Park will create a memorial corner for Jia Jia that will open to the public Oct. 22. The park has three other giant pandas, Ying Ying and Le Le, who are both 11 years old, and An An, who is 30 years old. 

<![CDATA[Meet The Small Town Destroyed By A Tornado And Rebuilt On Green Energy]]> Mon, 17 Oct 2016 02:29:00 -0500
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After a tornado destroyed this small town, it rebuilt on a 100-percent clean energy plan. 

"All of our pioneering ancestors were the original green people," Mayor Bob Dixson told us. "They drilled a water well when they settled here. They used the wind to pump the water out of the ground."

In 2007, Greensburg, Kansas, was forced to start again. And they started on a green energy grid. Today they produce more energy put onto that grid than they take off of it.

"May 4, 2007 — 95 percent of the community was leveled by an EF5 tornado," Dixson said. "It left us all homeless. My wife and I were in the basement, and it sucked the house right off the top of us."

When that tornado hit Greensburg, about half of the town’s 1,500 residents moved out. Those who stayed, including Mayor Bob Dixson, made a choice to try something new, despite the politics around it.

"Green to me in my generation in rural America was 1967, powder-blue bell-bottom pants, double-knit with a tie-dyed shirt, possibly on some mind-altering substances, hugging a tree," Dixson said. "That's what green was, because we played political football with the environment since then."

SEE MORE: There's A New War On Drugs At The Center Of America's Heroin Epidemic

"So, the 23 member cities of our Kansas power pool share in the energy that's produced here."

And by harnessing the wind, Greensburg produces even more energy than it consumes. The town runs a wind farm south of town, while businesses and the K-12 school operate turbines of their own. And many buildings are designed to save energy and maximize clean energy.

"We use the turbines around here to help generate electricity," said Dana Maier, general manager of BTI Greensburg. "It helps our electricity bill, probably by about half."

"You see the lights aren't even on in this room," teacher Kim McMurry told us. "That's because they don't need to be. We have plenty of light in here, just daylight."

"We have a windmill out here that we utilize," said Randy Fulton, principal of Kiowa County High School. "It's more efficient, and we try to explain how that works in class. We try to incorporate that into our classes."

Post-recession, many parts of Kansas have struggled along with the rest of rural America. But with Google and Kansas City putting money into clean energy, the sector holds the promise of new jobs in this windy swath of the country.

So, is Kansas just a better place to collect wind energy?

"The upflow on the elevation from Oklahoma into south-central Kansas is some of the best consistent, year-round wind in the United States," Dixson told us. "My dad and granddad always said, 'Leave it better than you found it.' It didn't matter if you were cleaning up your room or you were talking the environment. You just leave it better than you found it." 

Get farther #OffTheTrail with more of these stories.

<![CDATA[Right Before Cold And Flu Season, And Florida's Oranges Are Dying]]> Sun, 16 Oct 2016 15:23:00 -0500
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Cold and flu season is approaching, so it's time to stock up on vitamin C — but you might be in trouble if your main source is orange juice.

Florida is having one of the worst orange harvesting seasons in the state's history thanks to hurricanes and bad weather.

SEE MORE: Florida Voters Will Get A Little More Time To Register After All

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts the sunshine state will only produce 70 million boxes of oranges this year. And that's a pretty significant drop from last year's reported 81.6 million.

Florida's orange industry hit an all-time peak in 1998, but since then, numbers haven't been so great. And part of that is because of Huanglongbing.

Huanglongbing is a citrus disease that orange trees catch from Asian citrus psyllids. When the bug bites the plant, bacteria overtakes and kills them. 

SEE MORE: This Tiny Bug Can Make People Allergic To Red Meat

The disease was first detected in Florida in 2005. Since then, orange production has mostly gone down.

And this year, hurricanes have reportedly spread the pathogen across the state. So rather than hiking up prices to make up for a revenue deficiency, orange producers are having to get creative.

Brands like Tropicana and Minute Maid are reportedly making cartons smaller and mixing orange juice with other fruits and water.

<![CDATA[China Has Big Plans For Space Exploration, And The US Is Nervous]]> Sun, 16 Oct 2016 14:55:00 -0500
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On Monday, two astronauts will be launched on China's longest space mission.

They'll spend 33 days on the country's new space lab conducting experiments in physics, medicine and biology.

Thirty-three days probably doesn't seem like much — one Russian cosmonaut spent 438 days up there — but it's actually part of some major plans that China has for its space program.

SEE MORE: Why The US And Russia Can Share A Space Station — But China Can't

First on the list: China wants to boldly go where no probe has gone before — the dark side of the moon.

It's true that we've seen the dark side before in pictures, and we've orbited around to that side, but no country has ever sent a probe there. 

The dark side of the moon is the side that faces away from Earth. We never see it because the moon is tidally locked to our planet. 

But exploration is just the first step. China's lunar missions designer told the BBC the long-term goal is to eventually settle on the moon.

China's other plans include an orbiting telescope that can cover 300 times more area in space than the U.S.' Hubble Space Telescope, a planned mission to Mars and an ever-growing array of navigational satellites to rival the U.S.' GPS system.

And the country's growing space ambitions has the U.S. worried. So worried that in 2011 Congress passed a law banning NASA from cooperating with China due to security concerns.

SEE MORE: New Mining Law Might Violate UN's Outer Space Treaty

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission warns there's too much overlap in China between civilian and military applications of space technology.

And while China is part of the U.N. Outer Space Treaty of 1967 — a treaty that forbids weapons of mass destruction in space — the commission warns China could use satellite systems to assist in war and surveillance.

Dean Cheng of The Heritage Foundation told The Planetary Society he thinks the real reason the U.S. is so worried about China's space program lies in the fact that only America has ever landed people on the moon.

<![CDATA[Is The Election Stressing You Out? Here's How To Survive Until Nov. 8]]> Sat, 15 Oct 2016 13:53:00 -0500
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This election year has been stressful. 

So stressful, in fact, the American Psychological Association has released tips to curb the anxiety.

The organization did its annual "Stress in America" survey and found a little over 50 percent of American men and women are significantly stressed out by the 2016 presidential race.

And pretty much everyone is feeling it, though some more than others. Hispanic Americans were more likely to say the election is stressful than Asian Americans. And millennials and baby boomers said they were more stressed than Gen Xers.

The first tip APA recommends: Stay away from the media. Go figure.

Apparently the point-counterpoint angle that news sources have taken causes unease among the voting population. So, the best way to deal with it is to consume "just enough to stay informed" — like maybe a few Newsy videos?

Second, don't talk about the election if it creates tension.

Discussing it with family and friends is fine, as long as it doesn't escalate to a fight.

Next, the APA recommends distractions like volunteering or joining a club. Channeling anxiety into other activities can ease stress.

And finally, vote. Individual citizens have power in a democracy, and the best way to feel like you have control is to exercise that right.

Ultimately, the APA reminds us that life will go on no matter what happens. So go take a walk, get a drink with friends or play with a puppy. It's all you can do until Election Day, anyway.

<![CDATA[This Climate Amendment May Have Helped Out Earth In A Big Way]]> Sat, 15 Oct 2016 13:33:00 -0500
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Over 170 countries signed another major climate change agreement Saturday.

Technically it's an amendment to a previous agreement known as the Montreal Protocol, which is credited for helping heal the ozone layer. It may not have gotten the fanfare the Paris climate agreement got, but it's still a big deal.

SEE MORE: The Paris Climate Agreement Is Good To Go

And when we say major, we mean major. The agreement hopes to cut emissions of one of the most powerful warming agents: hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.

HFCs are in a range of products — from hairspray to refrigerators. They're thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and their use is expected to grow in the coming years.

This deal will help change that. Unlike the Paris agreement, the one signed Saturday is legally binding. The amount of HFCs the agreement plans to lower is equal to about 70 billion tons of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere.

There are three start dates for the reduction of HFCs under the agreement: Developed countries like the U.S. will begin in 2019, 100 developing countries agreed to take action in 2024 and a few other countries pushed for a 2028 start date.

But the deal doesn't quite go to the lengths that some environmental groups had hoped: a reduction of global warming by half a degree by the end of the century.

Half a degree is huge in terms of climate change. It's the difference between something like coral reefs adapting or dying off.

"We are witnessing here in Kigali the power and the control and the dominance of the chemical industry," Paula Tejon Carbajal of Greenpeace told the BBC.

Still, the program director from the Natural Resource Defense Council says despite the criticism, the agreement is equivalent to stopping current fossil-fuel emissions for over two years.

<![CDATA[The Search For Life On Mars Is Heating Up And Getting Crowded]]> Sat, 15 Oct 2016 10:08:00 -0500
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The latest mission to the red planet is doing what most of them have been doing these days: hunting for signs of life.

SEE MORE: Mars Was Nicer When It Rained Asteroids

ExoMars 2016 is a joint mission between the European and Russian space agencies. It comes in two parts.

First, the orbiter will investigate trace gases that might have come from biological activity. Then, its tiny lander will test a rocket-powered braking system for a full-size science rover that will launch in 2020. That rover — you guessed it — will search for signs of life.

But we've been combing Mars for biological clues since the Viking program in the '70s, and we haven't found any yet. So why are we still at it?

We know conditions on Mars were more hospitable earlier in its history. Liquid water was even on the surface. And knowing if there was life there — or if there's life there now — could be critical in helping us plan for eventual human visits.

And what's special about 2020? It's not just a nice round number. Every 26 months, Earth and Mars are closer than usual, which makes trips between the two faster and cheaper.

NASA is launching its own Mars rover in 2020, and India and China are planning to send their own rovers by then, too. Never mind signs of life — the ExoMars rover might end up hunting for parking space.

<![CDATA[The Great Barrier Reef Isn't Dead (Not Yet, At Least)]]> Fri, 14 Oct 2016 11:15:00 -0500
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You might have heard the Great Barrier Reef is dead — it's not. At least, not according to scientists.

Rowan Jacobsen wrote an obituary for the 25-million-year-old reef early this week. 

The problem: People believed it. Not only did that article make its rounds, but a ton of click-bait spinoffs also claiming the reef died took over social media, too.

SEE MORE: Ad Agency Creates Fake Instagram Star To Make A Point About Addiction

We know the world's largest coral reef isn't in tip-top shape, but we don't need to plan a funeral for it just yet.

That's not to say there isn't room for worry. Reports show that over the past three decades, almost half the reef's coral has vanished. That decline has to do with a variety of things, and most of them can be traced back to humans.

Warming ocean temperatures due to climate change have seriously increased rates of coral bleaching. This year, the reef has experienced the worst coral bleaching in recorded history.

SEE MORE: Climate Change Could Drive 1 In 6 Species To Extinction By 2100

Coastal developments and pollution have also had harmful effects.

But there is some hope. Scientists say tighter controls on pollution could help the corals survive. 

For now, Rowan's obituary is unnecessary. But the Great Barrier Reef's future could be short if changes aren't made soon. 

<![CDATA[Think Mars Bases Will Have It Hard? Moon Bases Get An Even Worse Deal]]> Fri, 14 Oct 2016 10:57:00 -0500
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There are lots of grand plans to build colonies on Mars these days, but you might be wondering, "Why skip the moon?" Mars is farther and more expensive to reach, and it would be incredibly hard to bring people back to Earth. But all that said, it turns out living on Mars might actually be safer than living on the moon.

Earth has a strong magnetic field, which stops the worst of the radiation from space and from the sun. That field protects the atmosphere, and that atmosphere stops most meteors from ever hitting the surface. Our space habitats will need to protect us the same way.

SEE MORE: President Obama Sets His Sights On Mars

Mars' magnetic field is very weak, which means radiation is going to be more intense on the surface than it is on Earth.

And that weak protection means Mars has lost most of its atmosphere — and most of its buffer against impacts. Every year, hundreds of meteorites hit hard enough to leave craters.

But it's still better than the moon. It has no magnetic field to speak of, and no useful atmosphere at all. This means radiation is as bad as it is in deep space, more or less.

And while the moon has less surface area to hit with meteors than Mars, a new study finds big impacts are more frequent than we thought — which makes protection from them even more important. 

SEE MORE: If You Want To Live On Mars, Be Prepared To Build Your Own Society

One way to solve these problems is to bring our safety measures with us. NASA is collecting habitat proposals from commercial partners that would protect Mars colonists from radiation and impacts.

The European Space Agency might just dig in to protect its habitats. It proposes burying any future moon bases in 3-D printed shields of lunar dirt.

<![CDATA[These Conjoined Twins Were Finally Separated Thanks To A Rare Surgery]]> Fri, 14 Oct 2016 09:39:00 -0500
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"Well, we did it." That's what the doctor told Nicole and Christian McDonald on Friday after he successfully completed a dangerous 16-hour surgery to separate their conjoined twin boys.

SEE MORE: Twins Pretend To Sleep After Hearing Mom On The Baby Monitor

"You make the craziest faces, man," Christian told one of the boys.

Jadon and Anias McDonald were born joined at the head a little over a year ago. Separating them was going to be a challenge.

The boys shared a blood vessel and brain tissue. If anything went wrong during the procedure, one or both of them could have died or suffered major brain damage.

Nicole McDonald confirmed Friday on Facebook that the separation was a success.

But she says the twins, one of whom was still in surgery early that morning, are "definitely not out of the woods by any means."

She added in the post: "We are standing on the brink of a vast unknown. The next few months will be critical in terms of recovery and we will not know for sure how Anias and Jadon are recovering for many weeks."

CNN reports the twins' surgery was the 59th of its kind in the world since 1952. Nicole says the boys will be intubated for at least a week and that doctors will "go from there."

<![CDATA[Why Is The Night Sky Black? Dust, Gas And The Color Red]]> Thu, 13 Oct 2016 19:13:00 -0500
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A starry sky at night is a beautiful sight. But what's with all the negative space?

The theory goes like this: We're surrounded by billions and billions of galaxies. Since those galaxies are all emitting light, we should be seeing more than enough starlight to fill up the entire night sky.

SEE MORE: Hubble Telescope: 25 Years Of Revealing The Universe

Scientists previously thought that the finite and constantly expanding universe kept galaxies too far apart to really cover every point in the sky. But a new discovery from the Hubble Space Telescope complicates things.

Researchers examined Hubble's images of deep space. And now they think there might be at least 10 times as many galaxies in the observable universe as we thought. 

By converting Hubble's deep space pictures into 3-D images, the researchers were able to measure how galaxies were distributed throughout different points in the universe's history. Their work estimates there are about 1 or 2 trillion galaxies in the observable universe — over 90 percent of which have never been studied.

This newfound abundance of galaxies would be more than enough to erase the black space in the night sky. But the empty space is still there, and researchers think they know why.

Redshifting is one explanation: As the universe pulls stars farther and farther away from us, the starlight is distorted into red wavelengths. Those wavelengths eventually fade from the visible spectrum.

Plus, space is far from empty. There's also a lot of interstellar dust and gas floating around that can soak up the light from distant stars and prevent it from reaching Earth.

SEE MORE: The Impatient Person's Guide To The End Of The Universe

So when you look up at the night sky, know that the empty spaces aren't really empty — there's just a lot of interference between you and the far reaches of the universe.

<![CDATA[To Make Prostheses Better, They Have To Talk Back]]> Thu, 13 Oct 2016 12:59:00 -0500
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Today, our most advanced prostheses can do pretty much everything we use our hands or feet for. But to make them as good as or better than a natural limb, they've got to feel natural themselves.

Controlling an artificial arm just by thinking is an important step, and we're getting good at it. But getting feedback from it — feeling where it is and what it's touching — is more difficult. 

SEE MORE: Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Researchers are just figuring out how to use brain implants to transmit the sense of touch in paralyzed patients. They found the same tech can give prosthetic limbs their own senses. Their tester reported sensations of warmth and pressure on the prosthetic fingers that felt "natural," even when he was blindfolded.

The other missing piece is fine positioning and motor control. Prostheses on the market right now have more than a dozen grip positions, but they aren't as adjustable or complex as natural limbs yet.

Artificial limbs won't be as responsive as our natural ones until we solve these challenges. Once we do, though, there's nothing stopping them from being stronger and faster than stock.

<![CDATA[This Kind Of Uterus Transplant Hasn't Been Done In The US — Until Now]]> Thu, 13 Oct 2016 11:06:00 -0500
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For the first time in the U.S., surgeons have performed living-donor uterus transplants — and it's a bigger deal than you might think.

A team of doctors at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas are currently performing trial uterine transplants on 10 women with various infertility issues. Four of the transplants were completed last month.

Three of those attempts failed — the wombs had to be removed because of poor blood circulation. The fourth transplant is showing some promise, though.

Worldwide, there have only been 16 other uterus transplant attempts. Of those, only a fraction actually worked.

SEE MORE: A Fetus' Heartbeat Starts Days Earlier Than We Thought

The Baylor trial was modeled after a trial in Sweden. A team there spent more than a decade researching uterus transplants. In 2014, a 36-year-old patient became the first woman in the world to give birth via a donated uterus. 

The only other uterus transplant performed in the U.S. happened in February. A 26-year-old mother of three adopted children received a womb from a deceased donor in Cleveland, but it had to be removed because of a yeast infection.

So what makes uterine transplants so tricky? Well, they're not exactly designed to be permanent.

The team at Baylor says since the transplant is not lifesaving like a kidney or heart donation, once a women has one or two successful pregnancies, they'll have to get a hysterectomy. 

Still, the team hopes the success of this transplant will help women around the world. They said if the trial works, they'll open the option "to every woman who is willing to undergo a transplant to have a child."

<![CDATA[Climate Change Could Drive 1 In 6 Species To Extinction By 2100]]> Thu, 13 Oct 2016 09:34:00 -0500
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Two-thirds of polar bears could vanish by 2050, thanks to melting sea ice. But the effects of a warming climate aren't limited to the Arctic Circle. About 1 in 6 species could go extinct by the end of the century — including some you might not expect.

Warming oceans spell trouble for lobsters. Climate scientists forecast the waters off the coast of Maine could be 5 degrees warmer by 2100 — too warm for the local lobsters to survive.

SEE MORE: There's Still A LOT Of Unexplored Earth Out There

Warm, acidic waters also threaten corals. These reef ecosystems help feed millions of people on land and help drive billion-dollar economies, and within 100 years, some experts warn they could be collapsing.

Rising sea levels could swamp a critical habitat for many of the world's remaining tigers. Within a century, the ocean could outpace tigers' ability to adapt.

Farther inland, long droughts are making life difficult for Bactrian camels. With fewer oases in the Gobi Desert, there's even less water and higher risk of attacks by predators. Some experts think the animals might only have 50 years left.

Certain subspecies of chimpanzee in Cameroon could lose almost all of their habitat by 2080 if climate change affects temperatures or rainfall too much.

And if temperatures in the U.S. climb by just a few degrees through 2100, it could get too warm for pikas and their thick fur. They can only go so far up the mountain slopes before they run out of room to retreat.

SEE MORE: 50,000 Years Ago, Humans Ate A 500-Pound Bird Into Extinction

<![CDATA[The DEA Is Backtracking Its Kratom Ban, And It's A Pretty Big Deal]]> Thu, 13 Oct 2016 09:09:00 -0500
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The Drug Enforcement Administration is backtracking on its decision to outlaw kratom apparently in part because the public doesn't want the ban.

Kratom is a plant that can help opioid addicts wean themselves off drugs. The DEA announced in August it would move the drug to the Schedule I list.

SEE MORE: There's A New War On Drugs At The Center Of America's Heroin Epidemic

Schedule 1 drugs have a high potential for abuse and no proven medical use. The list includes marijuana, heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

But due to a lot of criticism, especially on Twitter and other social media, the DEA is considering reversing its decision, which is pretty surprising move.

One drug-policy researcher was quoted in the The Washington Post saying, "The DEA is not one to second-guess itself, no matter what the facts are."

SEE MORE: Prescription Drugs Are Linked To West Virginia's Heroin Epidemic

But it wasn't just the internet that had a problem. When the DEA announced the ban, more than 50 U.S. representatives wrote a letter criticizing the decision. One researcher called it a "disservice to science."

So now, the agency will let the Food and Drug Administration weigh in.

A public comment period will also be open until Dec. 1. After that, the DEA could still decide to move the drug to Schedule I, enforce a temporary ban or could leave kratom unregulated like it was before.

<![CDATA[TripAdvisor Will Stop Selling Tickets For Wild Animal Attractions]]> Thu, 13 Oct 2016 07:37:00 -0500
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TripAdvisor will stop selling tickets to hundreds of animal-centric attractions.

The travel website announced the decision Wednesday as part of an effort to protect wild, captive and endangered creatures from the dangers of tourism.

When all is said and done, customers won't be able to book elephant rides, swimming-with-dolphin excursions and other similar activities.

SEE MORE: More Animals Are Getting Legal Protection. Now For The Bad News

TripAdvisor says it will keep attractions on its site in the review section even if they're no longer bookable. Those posts will be marked with a "PAW" icon, which will link users to an educational portal. 

According to National Geographic, attractions like these can cause "psychological and physical trauma" in the animals and even shorten their lives.

That's why animal activists have been pressuring TripAdvisor to stop promoting wildlife tourist attractions, which account for between 20 and 40 percent of all tourism worldwide. 

TripAdvisor will continue to sell tickets for zoos, horseback-riding facilities, aquariums and other places that allow supervised interaction for educational purposes.

The company hopes to have the booking policy changes fully in place by early 2017.

<![CDATA[A Lot Of America's Nobel Prize Winners Weren't Born In This Country]]> Wed, 12 Oct 2016 15:09:00 -0500
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Six American scientists were awarded Nobel Prizes this year. None of them were born in this country.

Five of the six winning scientists were originally born in the U.K. — that's three physicistsone chemist and one economist. The other U.S. economist who won is originally from Finland. 

SEE MORE: Colombia's President Wins The Nobel Peace Prize, Despite A Failed Deal

And they're in good company: Over one quarter of the American scientists who've been awarded a Nobel Prize were born in other countries.

Immigrants make up nearly 20 percent of America's science and engineering workforce, and about 63 percent of them are naturalized citizens, according to the National Science Foundation.

The intersection of science and citizenship is an often-overlooked part of the immigration debate that's roiled this election season. Hillary Clinton has pledged to give out green cards to immigrants who complete a master's or Ph.D. in a STEM field. Donald Trump says he wants businesses to hire American scientists and engineers first.

<![CDATA[A Fetus' Heartbeat Starts Days Earlier Than We Thought]]> Tue, 11 Oct 2016 18:05:00 -0500
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The first organ to form inside a human fetus is the heart. And new research says that heart might start beating earlier than we previously thought it did.

SEE MORE: For Your Heart's Sake, Maybe Stay Away From The Gym When You're Angry

A team of U.K. scientists just published a paper pinpointing at what stage of development a heartbeat begins.

The study examined embryos in lab mice, looking at the formation of the tube-like structure that eventually develops into the heart.

But the researchers recorded coordinated pulses of calcium during that structure's development — they say those pulses actually produce the first heartbeats.

The study records the first heartbeat at 7.5 days after conception for lab mice — the Daily Mail says that's about 16 days for humans. It was previously thought that the human heart started beating about three to four weeks after conception.

Understanding how the heart forms during pregnancy could give scientists a better understanding of how heart defects form. It could also lead to better methods of repairing cardiac damage.

SEE MORE: Researchers Dropped A Bunch Of Dummies On Their Heads For Science

Lead researcher Paul Riley told the Daily Mail, "We are one step closer to being able to prevent heart conditions from arising during pregnancy. We also hope that this new research will help us to learn how the beating of new heart muscle cells might be triggered in replaced muscle after a heart attack."

The research was published in the open source journal eLife, and it was funded in party by the British Heart Foundation.

<![CDATA[Some Americans Get Pretty Angsty When People Are Wasteful]]> Tue, 11 Oct 2016 17:40:00 -0500
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Don't leave the lights on when you go — not if you want to keep your earth-loving friends happy.

A Pew study found some Americans get upset when they see other people waste natural resources. 

SEE MORE: Our Oceans Are Littered With Trash — Here's How We Could Fix It

As for people who view themselves as environmentally conscious, not surprisingly, they're way more bothered than the average American when others waste resources.

Here are some of the wasteful behaviors that irritate Americans the most: leaving lights and electronics on, throwing away things that could be recycled and putting trash in recycling bins.

<![CDATA[President Obama Sets His Sights On Mars]]> Tue, 11 Oct 2016 13:25:00 -0500
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President Barack Obama has just a couple months left in his presidency, but he's still setting some long-term goals.

In an editorial published by CNN, the president committed to sending people to Mars by the 2030s.

Obama knows this endeavor will require both government and business efforts, noting private companies are already working "to build new habitats that can sustain and transport astronauts on long-duration missions in deep space."

SEE MORE: NASA Expands Inflatable Habitat In Space For First Time

The Mars One mission wants to launch its first crew in 2026, and SpaceX's Elon Musk plans to start testing its Mars rocket designed for people as early as 2020.

NASA says it's also on track to send humans to the red planet in the 2030s. The next step in its process starts in 2018 with a series of missions near the moon to test the technology we'll need to live on Mars.

But before all that gets underway, this week the president is hosting the White House Frontiers Conference to bring together top scientists and researchers to focus on science and technology innovations for Earth and beyond.

<![CDATA[For Your Heart's Sake, Maybe Stay Away From The Gym When You're Angry]]> Tue, 11 Oct 2016 11:01:00 -0500
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Next time you need to blow off some steam, maybe skip the boxing and stick to yoga. 

new study found exercising while angry triples your risk of a heart attack within an hour. 

SEE MORE: The Strange, Dangerous Truth About Dietary And Workout Supplements

On their own, just being angry or exercising in a neutral state doubles your risk of a heart attack. 

Out of all the heart attack cases studied, 14 percent of the victims had been angry during the hour before, and 14 percent had been exercising within that time frame. 

So it makes sense that when you combine anger and exercise, the risk of a heart attack is compounded. 

Besides affecting physical risk factors, like blood pressure, the researchers hinted that exercising while angry could cause you to push yourself too hard during a workout. 

The study was one of the broadest yet on the subject, with thousands of participants around the world. 

Previous studies had found similar results, but often just looked at people from one country –– often a Western one. The latest study looked at 12, 461 cases of acute myocardial infarctions from 52 countries. 

However, the average age of participants was 58, so if you're a young gun, you're probably not in as much danger of your heart stopping. 

But even with a little extra risk, the researchers aren't saying not to exercise when you're calm. Regular physical activity has way more pros than cons. 

But if you're already at risk of a heart attack, a spokesman for the American Heart Association suggests talking with friends to reduce your anger instead of taking your frustrations out on some weights. 

<![CDATA[Scientists Found A New Dwarf Planet In Our Solar System]]> Tue, 11 Oct 2016 07:55:00 -0500
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There's a new dwarf planet to welcome to the solar system. 

A team of scientists in Michigan found the distant planet while working on mapping distant galaxies. 

The dwarf planet, known as 2014 UZ224, is 330 miles wide and about 8.5 billion miles from the sun. That means its orbit takes 1,100 years to complete.

This discovery joins a growing list of dwarf planets on the outer edges of our solar system. 

SEE MORE: Just Like Pluto, Ceres Is A Bit Busier Than We Thought

Pluto is one of the original dwarf planets. It's about 1,500 miles wide and takes 248 years to orbit the sun. 

Oblong dwarf planet Haumea has one of the fastest rotations in our solar system, turning on its axis every four hours. It takes 285 years to orbit the sun.

Makemake is smaller than Pluto and a bit farther from the sun, making its orbit equivalent to 310 years. 

Even farther away is Eris, and it's actually outside the Kuiper Belt. Eris' orbit takes 557 years.

SEE MORE: A Lot Of Our Space Knowledge Comes From A Bunch Of Antiques

We can thank Eris for Pluto's demotion from a planet to a dwarf planet. When first discovered, scientists thought Eris was larger than Pluto, and that's what prompted the International Astronomical Union to update its definition of a planet. It's that new definition that booted Pluto to the dwarf planet category. 

It takes scientists two to three years to make the discovery of a new dwarf planet official. So hopefully we'll have a better name for 2014 UZ224 sometime soon. 

<![CDATA[More Than 400 Potential Mumps Cases Have Been Reported In Arkansas]]> Tue, 11 Oct 2016 07:44:00 -0500
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Arkansas seems to have an outbreak of mumps on its hands.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, more than 400 possible cases have been reported and are under investigation.

SEE MORE: A Reindeer Might Have Caused Siberia's Sudden Anthrax Outbreak

 The cases currently affect 13 workplaces and three school districts in northwest Arkansas.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that while mumps isn't common in the U.S., outbreaks still occur.

The number of cases varies from year to year. In 2015 there were 2,612 reported mumps cases, and in 2012 there were 229.

The contagious disease is caused by a virus, and it typically begins with classic cold symptoms, like a fever and headaches. It's known for making salivary glands swell, causing a puffy jaw or cheeks.

In some extreme cases, the virus can lead to swelling of the brain, ovaries or testicles. It can be transmitted through saliva, or mucus from the mouth, nose or throat. So those affected can spread it by sharing items with others or coughing, sneezing or talking.

The good news is that most people recover from the disease in just a few weeks. Two doses of the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, are roughly 88 percent effective in preventing it.

According to the CDC, mumps cases in the U.S. have decreased by more than 99 percent since the pre-vaccine era.

Students who haven't been vaccinated but were exposed to the virus are required to stay home for nearly a month or until the outbreak is over, whichever is longer.

<![CDATA[Climate Change Could Put New York City Underwater More Often]]> Mon, 10 Oct 2016 14:05:00 -0500
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Hurricane Sandy caused record water levels when it came ashore in the northeastern U.S. But researchers working with new climate projections say we might see flooding this bad more often.

Scientists combined historical data and models for future sea levels and storms. Together, the numbers suggest the New York coast could experience Sandy-level flooding as much as 17 times more frequently in the next century.

SEE MORE: A Legend Of A Flood Spurring Chinese Civilization May Be A Little True

The severity of a flood largely depends on two factors: the level of the sea when a storm hits and the storm surge that pushes water up and inland.

NASA measures sea levels based on changes from 1993, when it started keeping track. When Sandy hit New York, sea levels had risen 2.72 inches since then. That trend is expected to continue as more sea ice melts.

Going on this data alone, the new models suggest floods like Sandy's could become more than four times more frequent. By the end of the century, they might occur every 100 years or so instead of two or three times a millenium.

It's harder to be certain of the effects of a storm surge. Wind speeds, the size of the storm and the tides can all change how much water gets pushed around. But factoring in the surge makes things a lot more dire.

The models show in the worst case scenario — where New York is taking direct hits from storms — heavy floods could be as much as 17 times more frequent.

And stronger storms are more likely. While climate change might not cause more frequent storms, climate scientists expect it will make the ones that do happen more severe.

<![CDATA[Haiti Could See A Resurgence Of Cholera After Hurricane Matthew]]> Mon, 10 Oct 2016 13:25:00 -0500
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Doctors in Haiti are warning the death toll from Hurricane Matthew could continue to rise due to a cholera outbreak. 

It's a disease caused by the ingestion of bacteria-contaminated food or water. If not treated quickly, cholera can result in death. 

SEE MORE: Just How Expensive Is The Damage From Hurricane Matthew?

The World Health Organization estimates as many as 4 million people become infected with cholera every year, and about 143,000 of those patients die from it.

Haiti has been battling a cholera outbreak since an earthquake struck the country in 2010. It was the first outbreak in Haiti in at least a century and has resulted in at least 9,000 deaths

In August, the United Nations admitted it played a role in the outbreak after UN peacekeepers who were previously stationed in Nepal brought cholera into Haiti in 2010. 

The BBC reports at least 13 people have contracted cholera and died following flooding from Hurricane Matthew. 

<![CDATA[Nestlé Recalls Drumsticks Due To Possible Listeria Contamination]]> Mon, 10 Oct 2016 10:32:00 -0500
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You might want to check the packaging before eating a Drumstick out of your freezer. 

Nestlé issued a voluntary recall for some of the ice cream cones because of possible listeria contamination. 

Some production equipment tested positive for the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. None of the cones tested positive for the bacteria, and no illnesses have been reported so far. 

The recall affects Drumstick Club 16-count packs with best before dates between June 2, 2017 and June 15, 2017. It also affects Drumstick vanilla 24-count packs with best before dates between June 16, 2017 and June 19, 2017. 

Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems. 

In the last two months, there have been at least six other food recalls because of listeria concerns. 

The more recent listeria recalls have been prompted by processed foods. But in 2011, a listeriosis outbreak linked to whole cantaloupe from a Colorado farm killed 33 people and hospitalized more than 140. The brothers in charge of the farm were sentenced to five years of probation, six months of in-home detention and 100 hours of community service for their role in the outbreak. 

The CDC estimates listeriosis kills about 260 people in the U.S. each year. 

<![CDATA[Scientists Might Know Why The San Andreas Fault Has Been So Calm]]> Mon, 10 Oct 2016 07:40:00 -0500
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The San Andreas Fault in California is long overdue for a major earthquake — like, more than 100 years overdue. But scientists just made a discovery that might tell us why the fault has been so quiet. 

It's called the Salton Trough Fault, and it lies along the northeastern edge of the Salton Sea in Southern California. The fault line is underwater, so scientists didn't find it until recently. 

Scientist believe the Salton Trough could be absorbing strain from San Andreas. That might explain why a major earthquake hasn't occurred along the San Andreas in more than 300 years

SEE MORE: Don't Freak Out About California's Swarm Of Earthquakes Just Yet

And Southern California has been waiting for the "big one." A series of small earthquakes earlier this year caused worry among residents and scientists.

"Any time there is significant seismic activity in the vicinity of the San Andreas Fault, we seismologists get nervous," one specialist told The Los Angeles Times.

The "big one" is a hypothetical earthquake with a magnitude predicted to be greater than 7. Southern Californians have anticipated such a quake for a long time.

To put that in perspective, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti was a magnitude 7. The Haitian government's official death toll for that quake was more than 300,000 people. And the earthquake leveled the areas it struck. 

But scientists say the Salton Trough still needs to be researched. When that series of small earthquakes hit San Andreas earlier this year, one seismologist noted the lack of records on the Salton Trough makes it difficult to see if the two faults affect each other at all. 

<![CDATA[Germany — Yes, Germany — Wants To Ban Production Of Gas-Powered Cars]]> Sun, 09 Oct 2016 15:06:00 -0500
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A country that made its mark on the world by developing quality cars for both the common man and the high-end spender now wants to transform that legacy.

The German government has voted to ban the production of all internal combustion engines by 2030.

Der Spiegel reports Germany's top governing body — the Bundesrat — voted to allow only zero-emission vehicles on roads in 14 years.

SEE MORE: The Range Of Electric Vehicles Isn't As Big A Problem As You'd Think

Which would be a huge step in meeting Paris Agreement cuts for carbon emissions — if the resolution were actually enforceable.

Since Germany is a part of the European Union, anything decided on the national level doesn't have much clout. But if history is any indicator, some outlets predict the EU might follow suit.

Germany's also not the only country trying to ban the engines. Norway proposed cutting out gas-guzzling engine production earlier this year.

<![CDATA[Are E-Cigarettes Healthier? Depends On Who's Funding The Research]]> Sun, 09 Oct 2016 12:09:00 -0500
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Is vaping less dangerous than smoking? The research may not be so clear cut.  

Take a recent study, which tested both e-cigarette vapor and cigarette smoke on lung cells and found e-cigarettes to be much less harmful. 

In fact, e-cigarettes only damaged the cells when vapor levels were unrealistically high. The study argues that a normal amount of e-cigarette use isn't toxic. 

Even though the study was peer-reviewed, some are saying people should take the findings with a grain of salt given who funded the research: A tobacco company that's recently started selling e-cigarettes. 

For tobacco brands, it makes sense to get into the e-cigarette industry. Current cigarette smokers — and those who've recently quit — have been more likely to try e-cigarettes. 

SEE MORE: Smoking Can Cause Damage To Your DNA, Even Years After You Quit

The product's been promoted as a way to help cigarette smokers kick their habit, but much of the research on e-cigarettes' safety has been paid for by members of the industry. 

Besides obvious conflicts of interest, many of the studies have focused on individual medical problems, which are then used to argue the safety of e-cigarettes as a whole. 

For example, e-cigs might not damage lung cells, but other research has found the vapor damages DNA, leading to cancer.

While e-cigarettes may reduce some health risks compared to regular cigs, such as lung damage, vaping my actually introduce new health problems. 

And compared to regular cigarette smokers, e-cig users have been shown to be at a greater risk for infections and mental illness. 

Now is a crucial time for public opinion, though. Americans have been pretty split 50-50 on whether e-cigarettes are safer or more dangerous than regular cigarettes. 

<![CDATA[Researchers Dropped A Bunch Of Dummies On Their Heads For Science]]> Fri, 07 Oct 2016 14:13:00 -0500
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Scientists are innovators, and a team at Stanford just proved it — by dropping some dummies on their heads. 

This is a Hövding. And turns out, it actually works five times better than a traditional hard biking helmet.

SEE MORE: Soccer's Popularity Increased — And So Did The Rate Of Injury For Kids

The lead researcher said while foam bike helmets do protect against brain injury and skull fractures, they don't help with preventing concussions.

The airbag starts as a pouch that wraps around a biker's neck. When the bag senses motion uncommon for riding a bike — like a person falling or being hit by a large object — it automatically inflates to protect the rider's head and neck.

The helmet has actually been around for a while. It started out as a master's project for two university students in Sweden.

Biking is really popular there, so the country's helmet laws are pretty strict. The students wanted to develop a helmet that adults would actually want to wear — because we all know how fashionable the regular foam helmets are. 

The Hövding has gone through extensive testing since its creation, and the company says it has saved lives.

<![CDATA[We Still Don't Know What Capturing CO2 From Power Plants Will Do]]> Fri, 07 Oct 2016 11:52:00 -0500
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More and more carbon dioxide capture systems are starting up at coal-burning power plants. The world's largest is going online later this year in Texas. They can reduce as much as 90 percent of a plant's CO2 emissions — but what do we do with all of it?

One of the safest options is to pump the CO2 back into the ground. The research suggests that if you're careful about where you inject it, it will stay locked up for a thousand years without problems. Some CO2 is even pumped into oil wells to increase their output. 

SEE MORE: Some Trees Might Slow Climate Change Better Than Others

With that said, scientists aren't sure what the real long-term effects of pumping CO2 into deep rock will be, or what will happen if we start dumping huge, climate-saving amounts of carbon into these wells. 

It's like what happened to the oceans — we didn't realize how quickly CO2 from the air was making them acidic until we looked at years of data from all over the globe. That's also why pumping captured CO2 directly into the oceans isn't a good idea, even if it would stay out of the atmosphere for centuries.

A third option is to make the CO2 react with something else. Combine it with certain minerals and you get inert rocks. But that process can take a lot of energy — sometimes more than the power plant is generating in the first place.

<![CDATA[This Tiny Bug Can Make People Allergic To Red Meat]]> Fri, 07 Oct 2016 10:57:00 -0500
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One bite from a Lone Star tick and you could all of a sudden develop a severe allergy to red meat. 

While it's name might suggest only Texans need to be on the lookout for the tiny bugs, the tick is actually widespread throughout the United States.  

SEE MORE: The 'Superbug' Doctors Are Freaking Out About Is Now In The US

Similar ticks have also been seen in Europe, Central America, Asia and Australia. One Australian doctor told The Guardian she diagnoses as many as two patients every week with the allergy. 

 A Lone Star tick's bite can lead to a sensitivity to a sugar called alpha-gal, which is in red meat, like beef and pork.

That's because alpha-gal isn't normally found in humans. But one mammal it is found in? Deer. Some scientists believe the Lone Star ticks might be biting deer and subsequently picking up alpha-gal. The sugar is transferred to the bloodstream of any human the bug bites next, and in some instances the body's immune system starts to attack it.

SEE MORE: Cat-Scratch Disease Is Putting More Infected People In The Hospital

People who are allergic to red meat usually don't see any reaction until hours after eating it. 

But that delayed reaction doesn't mean the allergy symptoms are less severe: Patients can experience hives, nausea, headaches and even anaphylaxis. 

And it can make diagnosing a person with a red meat allergy more difficult. 

It's currently unknown how many people have developed this red meat allergy in the U.S. But a doctor told NBC earlier this year, as many as 5 percent of people living in areas where the Lone Star tick is common could develop it.

Interestingly, The Guardian says some types of red meat like prosciutto and bacon can be eaten without a person having an allergic reaction. The Department of Agriculture and the American Institute for Cancer Research both consider pork red meat.

<![CDATA[The Paris Climate Agreement Is Good To Go]]> Thu, 06 Oct 2016 21:15:00 -0500
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"Today, the world meets the moment. And if we follow through on the commitments that this Paris agreement embodies, history may well judge it as a turning point for our planet," President Barack Obama said in a press conference Wednesday.

The United Nations announced Wednesday that the Paris climate agreement will go into effect Nov. 4.

For this to happen, the agreement required at least 55 countries, representing 55 percent of global emissions, to ratify it. Canada, nine other countries and the European Union were able to bring the agreement above that threshold.

SEE MORE: India's In — Now, The Paris Climate Agreement Is Almost A Done Deal

Currently, 74 parties have ratified the agreement, representing 58.82 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

The agreement was ratified less than one year after it was signed, which means it will begin in time for the next climate conference in November.

Some people, including Secretary of State John Kerry, heralded the speedy ratification as mounting international momentum. But critics worry the agreement's seemingly weak terms made it easy to approve.

Countries that approved the agreement are required to submit increasingly strict climate pledges every five years, but they are not required to meet them. They also have to provide information about domestic progress and keep track themselves.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reminded participants, "Now, we must move from words to deeds and put Paris into action. We need all hands on deck."

<![CDATA[Company Troubles Have Caused This Medical Giant To Rebrand]]> Thu, 06 Oct 2016 19:10:00 -0500
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Silicon Valley medical giant Theranos announced it will close all of its clinical labs and wellness centers, laying off more than 40 percent of the company.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, once called the world's youngest self-made woman billionaire, published an open letter late Wednesday night explaining the closures.

Holmes said, "After many months spent assessing our strengths and addressing our weaknesses, we have moved to structure our company around the model best aligned with our core values and mission."

That means a complete turnaround from the previous lifeblood of Holmes' company — providing cheap, less painful and more convenient blood tests.

SEE MORE: Theranos Corrects 2 Years' Worth Of Flawed Blood Test Results

So why the drastic change?

The company, once valued at $9 billion, faced federal investigationsfailed partnerships and harsh sanctions this past year because of questions surrounding its products.

Theranos will now turn its attention to the Theranos miniLab platform, a new blood-testing device that still hasn't been approved by regulators.

The switch would make it easier for Holmes to keep running the company, even if she is banned from owning or operating labs for the next two years.

<![CDATA[Halloween Candy, By The (Calorie-Filled) Numbers]]> Thu, 06 Oct 2016 15:27:00 -0500
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Candy is one of the best parts of Halloween — for the kids who trick or treat and for the parents who sneak pieces when their kids aren't looking.

Americans will spend an estimated $2.5 billion on Halloween candy this year — but some of that candy is healthier than others.

SEE MORE: These Haunted Destinations Will Scare The Pants Off Of You

We looked at the calories in some of the most popular candy brands. The worst offenders turned out to be be Snickers and Twix bars, which each have 250 calories.

Coming in just behind them with 240 calories each, are Milky Way and 3 Musketeers bars as well as milk chocolate M&Ms.

There are a whole lot of variations of M&Ms — but if you're looking for the least calorie-filled, you might want to grab the pretzel ones. One bag is 150 calories.

Next up with 220 calories each are Hershey's and Almond Joy bars.

And a package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups has only 210 calories.

But if you think you'll be able to ward off some of those calories by just eating the miniature versions, think again. A single serving equals five of those mini individually-wrapped peanut butter cups, which amounts to 220 total calories.

Next, Kit Kat bars are also giving you a bit of a break at 210 calories per package.

As it turns out one of the "healthiest" candies on the market are Tootsie Pops.

One lollipop has only 60 calories.

So, unless you wanna turn into a giant turkey by Thanksgiving, maybe don't eat all that candy in one sitting.

<![CDATA[Southwestern US Is Headed For A Megadrought. Yeah, That's A Thing]]> Thu, 06 Oct 2016 12:08:00 -0500
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You know that drought California has been in for six years? Well, it could be just a taste of what's to come.

new study found the Southwestern U.S. has up to a 99 percent chance of experiencing a megadrought by the end of the century.

SEE MORE: Donald Trump Doesn't Think There's A Natural Drought in California

To put that in perspective, southwestern states likely will see conditions similar to the 1930s Dust Bowl — but for an even longer period of time. And it's largely because of greenhouse gas emissions.

Of course, that doesn't really come as a surprise. We know greenhouse gas emissions aren't great for the ozone, and levels haven't exactly been falling.

And researchers say even if the U.S. saw an unexpected and substantial increase in precipitation, it wouldn't make much of a difference for current predictions.

SEE MORE: It's Not Just You — August Really Was Hotter Than Ever

The team says the chance of a megadrought could be cut in half if emissions are dramatically decreased — but the scale of cuts needed likely won't happen.

The cuts would need to be even more dramatic than those settled on in the Paris Agreement last year.

The Guardian quoted one expert saying, "It’s not too late to do this, but the train is leaving the station as we speak."

<![CDATA[EpiPen Maker May Have Cheated Government Out Of Millions Of Dollars]]> Thu, 06 Oct 2016 09:51:00 -0500
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Mylan's found itself in another EpiPen scandal; only this time, the company may have overcharged the U.S. government.

On Wednesday, two members of Congress accused Mylan of misclassifying its emergency allergy medication as a generic drug so it could pay less in rebates to Medicaid. 

SEE MORE: Lawmaker Says Mylan's Lobbying Opened The Door For EpiPen Scrutiny

Instead of paying a 23 percent rebate for a brand-name drug, Mylan has been paying a 13 percent rebate. That amounts to millions of dollars less to the government and taxpayers who need the drug.

At the same time, Mylan raised the price of a single pen to roughly $300 this year. 

Mylan may have a harder time arguing EpiPens fall under the generic drug category, since during the height of its previous price scandal, the company said it would start selling a generic version of EpiPens for half-price. 

<![CDATA[Our Weather Forecasting Is About To Get A Huge Upgrade]]> Thu, 06 Oct 2016 09:15:00 -0500
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Most weather forecasting data in the U.S. comes from just four satellites — some of which are 10 years old now. Lucky for us, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a major upgrade ready.

It's preparing to launch GOES-R, the first in a new generation of critical weather satellites.

SEE MORE: NASA's SMAP Satellite Will Measure Wet Dirt From Space

Right now, NOAA runs the fleet of four: Two polar-orbiting satellites close to the planet and two earlier GOES models in geosynchronous orbit that spend all their time staring at the Western Hemisphere. Together, they provide more than 95 percent of the data that goes into day-to-day forecasting for the U.S.

GOES-R will take readings every 30 seconds compared to once every 30 minutes for the current satellites. It carries new tools, like a lightning mapper, that will make it easier to track storms and tornadoes.

Satellites also provide a bigger picture of severe weather than ground-based radar can. A better vantage point means better early warnings — when every minute counts.

The GOES-R launch date has slipped twice since 2014. It's currently sitting in a hangar near the Kennedy Space Center, where it's scheduled to lift off Nov. 4.

<![CDATA[Opioid Production In The US Is About To Go Way Down]]> Thu, 06 Oct 2016 08:09:00 -0500
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The Drug Enforcement Administration ordered a cut on the production of opioid medications for 2017.

Pain medications like oxycodone will be reduced by at least a fourth, and some drugs — like hydrocodone — will be cut even more.

SEE MORE: The FDA Wants To Create An App That Could Save Opioid Users' Lives

The move comes after the DEA's ban on kratom went into effect. Kratom is a plant that people addicted to opioids have used to wean themselves off hardcore drugs. It's been moved to the Schedule I list with other drugs, like heroin, LSD, MDMA and marijuana.

There are a couple reasons for the decreases. The DEA oversees all drug production in the U.S., and says recently, there just hasn't been as much demand for the prescription painkillers.

The DEA is also trying to preserve the current supply. From 2013 to 2016, the DEA reportedly ordered an increase in production so there was a buffer in case of a shortage.

Another reason: the spike in drug-related deaths over the last couple years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more people died from overdoses in 2014 than any other year on record. A majority of those deaths were from opioids.

SEE MORE: Implantable Medicine Could Be The Future Of Fighting Opioid Addiction

But the U.S. government isn't alone in it's quest to curb drug addiction. Last month, the Canadian government announced it would prescribe pharmaceutical grade heroin to help patients addicted to the drug who haven't responded to other treatments.

Despite the public health crisis, many aren't sold on the DEA's decision. One expert told The Guardian this legislation might have helped 10 to 15 years ago but that the rate of opioid consumption is so high now, the move is "too little, too late."

<![CDATA[Pineapples Aren't Just Fruit — They're Becoming Fashion]]> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 17:08:00 -0500
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Biodegradable leather sounds like a contradiction. But pineapples are changing that. 

Fashion designer Carmen Hijosa transforms unused leaves from pineapple farms into a vegan leather. And that means farmers in places like the Philippines can use all of a pineapple. 

It took her seven years to develop the process.

Here's a breakdown of the process. First, the fiber is extracted in the Philippines and a fabric is created. Next, it's shipped to Spain to undergo chemical processing. Then, companies can purchase the material for their products. 

Some brands have already jumped on the idea and implemented it into their accessories. Products currently using traditional leather — from furniture to accessories — could be covered with pineapple in the future. 

<![CDATA[Have We Reached The Limit Of Human Life Expectancy?]]> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 15:41:00 -0500
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How old will you be when you die? Sorry to be so grim, but you probably won't outlive Jeanne Calment, who died at 122 back in 1997. 

Fourscore and 42 is likely out of the question, and a new study says exceeding that age limit is, too. 

SEE MORE: Oldest Living Female Veteran, Alyce Dixon, Dies At 108 Years Old

Albert Einstein College of Medicine professor Jan Vijg and colleagues examined at least two international databases on longevity and found the age of the oldest person to die every year had plateaued. Vijg says the ceiling is at 115 years. 

Part of his reasoning is that if there weren't a ceiling, we'd see more Calments — but we haven't. 

What about technology and better nutrition? Vijg says it's unlikely those developments will increase our average lifespan. Many others say that's where he's wrong. 

There's nothing to account for what future medicine will do for us, and maximum age hasn't plateaued in every country. One of those countries is Japan, which has the world's highest life expectancy. 

Ultimately, researchers will have to continue documenting when we drop off to see if this study holds up. Fortunately for us, we won't have to wait around to find out. 

<![CDATA[Climate Change Is Destroying This Virginia Island]]> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 12:00:00 -0500
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Climate change is destroying this Virginia island. Tangier Island is rapidly disappearing under rising seas. In a few decades, it could be completely underwater. 

"It can be depressing when you see places that used to be a thriving community," Mayor Ooker Eskridge told us. "It's all gone now." 

When we hear about islands going under rising sea levels, we often hear about the South Pacific, about the Maldive Islands. What we don't hear about so often is this island, even though it's just a few miles off the mainland U.S. 

In the past 150 years, Tangier has wasted away to just one-third of its previous size. And the 500 or so people who live here know time is running out. 

"I've seen 75 feet from last October to now be washed away from Uppards," Carol Pruitt Moore said. "We can't handle it any longer."

"When this green beacon was put here in the '60s, you could step off that onto land," lifelong resident Denny Crockett said. 

How long before Tangier Island is not habitable? 

"We've got maybe about 50 years at the mid-range," David Schulte with the Army Corps of Engineers told us. "And if the high-level sea level rise scenario is what happens, at most, 25 years. So, they don't have a lot of time." 

David Schulte has studied Tangier for 15 years. His proposal to lift the island through engineering might be the only way to save it. But that requires funding from a Congress that doesn't even acknowledge the root of the problem.

"We're the only first-world country where this is even a debate," Schulte said. "Everyone else is on board with climate change as a real thing that's occurring." 

"It can be very discouraging," Eskridge said. "The bay that's provided a living for everyone all these years is actually threatening the community now." 

Tangier Island is a historical treasure. John Smith was the first European to see it. Later in the 1600s, it was founded by a few families: the Parkses, Pruitts and Crocketts among them, each of which still lives on the island. 

"This is eroding very quickly, too," Crockett said.

"How much closer is it now than it was maybe 10 years ago, 20 years ago?"

"Maybe 50 feet."

Tangier is only a sliver of what it once was. Maps collected by the Army Corps of Engineers show the rapid loss of land. As the north half, known as Uppards, wasted away completely, new canals, creeks and swamps crisscrossed the island, and the west side was steadily swallowed by the ocean.

Get farther #OffTheTrail with more of these stories.

<![CDATA[Americans Are More Divided Than Ever On Climate Change]]> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 08:36:00 -0500
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Americans are more divided than ever when it comes to the causes and solutions to climate change.

And according to a new survey, their views are largely shaped by their chosen political party, not by their scientific knowledge.

Of the more than 1,500 people the Pew Research Center surveyed, 36 percent said they are deeply concerned about climate change.

SEE MORE: Earth's Carbon Dioxide Levels May Have Passed The Point Of No Return

Democrats accounted for a little more than 70 percent of that group, while only about 25 percent of Republicans thought the same.

The differences get more striking from there. Close to 80 percent of liberal Democrats said they believe climate change is primarily caused by human activity.

But almost 85 percent of conservative Republicans thought otherwise, even though the vast majority of scientists agree that humans are to blame.

Scientists say climate change has increased global temperatures 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880 and that carbon dioxide levels in the air are the highest they've been in hundreds of thousands of years.

<![CDATA[Ben Stiller Says Controversial Cancer Testing Saved His Life]]> Tue, 04 Oct 2016 16:21:00 -0500
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Actor Ben Stiller is typically making people laugh. But on Tuesday, he stepped out of that role to talk about something serious: prostate cancer.

"I was scared; I didn't know —  you know the one thing that it does is it stops everything in your life when you get a diagnosis of cancer," Stiller told Howard Stern.

SEE MORE: It Doesn't Look Like Surviving Cancer Always Leads To A Healthy Life

The 50-year-old actor was diagnosed and treated for the disease in 2014. 

The experience has inspired Stiller to take on the role of advocate for the Prostate-Specific Antigen — or PSA — test. Elevated levels of PSA in a man's blood can indicate the presence of prostate cancer. 

Stiller credits PSA testing with saving his life. He wrote in an essay published on Medium, " ... I was fortunate. Fortunate because my cancer was detected early enough to treat. And also because my internist gave me a test he didn't have to."

Some guidelines suggest men younger than 50 don't need to be screened for PSA. Others don't recommend men get the test at all.

That's because some studies argue the test has little benefit and leads to "overdiagnosis" and potentially unnecessarily aggressive treatment. 

The actor argues men 40 and older should at least have a discussion about PSA testing with their doctors. 

Stiller underwent surgery shortly after his diagnosis. Within a few months of his diagnosis, he was cancer free. 

<![CDATA[Your Doctor's Political Views Could Affect Medical Advice]]> Tue, 04 Oct 2016 13:27:00 -0500
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Who is your doctor voting for? A physician's political opinion could affect their medical advice. 

Researchers from Yale University presented hypothetical cases to doctors around the country with different political affiliations.

When the fake medical issues weren't political –– like obesity, depression or alcohol abuse –– Republican and Democratic doctors had similar levels of concern and gave similar medical advice. 

SEE MORE: Physicists Win Nobel Prize For Exotic Matter Research. So What's That?

But their advice differed for hot-button political topics. Democratic physicians were significantly more concerned when a patient kept firearms at home with children around. 

And Republican physicians were more alarmed when patients used marijuana or had had an abortion. 

The researchers said doctors need to think hard about how their own political views could skew their professional advice. 

They also encouraged patients to be aware which way their doctors lean. One researcher said it's like considering a doctor's gender: Patients should choose a physician who makes them feel comfortable.

<![CDATA[There's Another Major Health Crisis In Flint, Michigan]]> Tue, 04 Oct 2016 11:45:00 -0500
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Flint, Michigan, is dealing with yet another crisis.

Health officials say the city is fighting an outbreak of a highly contagious stomach illness.

It's called shigellosis, and it's not pleasant. People infected with the bacteria can have diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps.

And officials say it's spreading like wildfire in Flint because residents are refusing to wash their hands.

Flint residents are still wary of the city's water a year after experts found elevated levels of lead in the supply.

SEE MORE: Latest Reason Congress Can't Fund The Government: Flint's Water Crisis

And that's convinced many to forgo some basic hygiene practices, even though the federal government has declared the water safe when filtered.

The county health director told CNN: "People aren't bathing because they're scared. Some people have mentioned that they're not going to expose their children to the water again."

And as a result, Genessee County, where Flint is, has seen at least 53 cases of shigellosis since October 2015. The city normally only gets about 20 cases per year.

In response to the outbreak, health department officials have issued multiple advisories and are warning residents to diligently wash their hands.

<![CDATA[Physicists Win Nobel Prize For Exotic Matter Research. So What's That?]]> Tue, 04 Oct 2016 08:59:00 -0500
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Three professors from American universities won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics.

David J. Thouless from the University of Washington was awarded half of the prize, and F. Duncan M. Haldane from Princeton University and J. Michael Kosterlitz from Brown University split the other half.

The British-born trio's research, done in the 1970s and '80s, discovered the secrets of exotic matter.

Nobel Prizes are often awarded years later because The Royal Swedish Academy wants to ensure research withstands the test of time.

SEE MORE: They Even Have Laws In Space — And We Don't Mean Physics

In grade school physics, most of us learn matter is a solid, liquid or gas. But these scientists discovered that extremely high and low temperatures can cause matter to change into a more exotic state.

Thanks to their work, more scientists have researched topological concepts, studying properties that change step by step.

The Academy hopes that materials found through this area of research can be used in future generations of quantum computers, which are often used in advanced medical science like gene mapping.

<![CDATA[Montreal's Controversial Pit Bull Ban Is Officially In Effect]]> Mon, 03 Oct 2016 12:59:00 -0500
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Montreal has officially banned residents from adopting or buying pit bulls.

And animal lovers and activists are furious.

The new bylaw was approved by the city council last week and went into effect across all 19 of the city's boroughs on Monday. 

Under the legislation, anyone who already owns a pit bull must register it by the end of the year.

And owners have to follow some very strict rules, including keeping a muzzle on the dogs outside at all times.

Even worse, any Montreal shelter dog considered to be a pit bull or pit bull-like is facing euthanasia now that the ban is in effect.

SEE MORE: The Trouble With Banning Pit Bulls

Montreal's mayor said after the vote that the law is meant to give citizens a sense of safety and security. 

Plans for the ban were drawn up this summer after a woman was mauled to death by a dog in June.

But critics argue that dog bans don't really work.

As one animal rights advocate told the BBC, banning an entire breed over a few aggressive dogs doesn't address the bigger issue.

She said, "It's like taking a sledgehammer to a pea."

According to, 41 countries around the world have some kind of breed-specific legislation on the books. But the results of those bans aren't conclusive.

<![CDATA[More Animals Are Getting Legal Protection. Now For The Bad News]]> Sun, 02 Oct 2016 15:19:00 -0500
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Over the past several weeks, officials worldwide have signed new protections for dozens of animal species. That sounds like good news, and it is. But it also indicates a bigger, and badder, trend.

In late September, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added dozens of new animals to the endangered list, which gives federal protection to threatened species.

The addition included several types of bees, the only venomous snake in the state of Michigan and 49 different animal species in Hawaii. 

That same week, more than 100 countries agreed on a worldwide ban on the trade of pangolins, which are facing the threat of extinction due to the fact that they're the most trafficked mammal in the world.

Shortly before that, an unrelated study found most of the world's largest animals — think rhinos, gorillas and tigers — could go extinct in the next 80 years, largely thanks to ecosystem destruction.

SEE MORE: The International Community Can't Agree On How To Save Elephants

The reason these animals need protection isn't because their names were drawn out of a hat; it's because the world is seeing the most severe biodiversity crisis in a very, very long time

So many animal populations have decreased at such a rate that the only way to prevent more damage is to increase protection efforts across the globe. 

Of course, animal extinction is a natural occurrence. The Center for Biological Diversity says it's normal to lose one to five species per year. 

But right now, the center estimates species are disappearing between 1,000 and 10,000 times that rate, which means dozens of species are disappearing every single day.

That rate is so staggering that experts say Earth is experiencing a sixth mass extinction. Officials are working hard to curb it, but that's so far proved difficult. Unlike the previous five extinctions, this one has been caused almost entirely by humans. 

<![CDATA[Robin Williams' Wife: He 'Was Losing His Mind, And He Was Aware Of It']]> Sun, 02 Oct 2016 13:26:00 -0500
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Susan Schneider Williams, widow of Robin Williams, is speaking out about her experience with Lewy body dementia — the disease that led to her husband's suicide.

"Looking back, I see that weekend, that time frame, as really the beginning of what became just a firestorm of symptoms that started raining down on Robin," Schneider Williams said during a podcast interview with Dr. Ted Burns.

In an open letter, Schneider Williams wrote of the years leading up to her husband's death and what she calls "the terrorist" inside his head.

Lewy body dementia is a degenerative disease that can cause hallucinations, memory loss and anxiety, among other symptoms. It's closely related to Parkinson's disease, which Williams was diagnosed with in May 2014. 

SEE MORE: Mark Zuckerberg And Priscilla Chan Want To Cure Every Single Disease

Schneider Williams describes a complete personality change in Williams. She said her husband became more paranoid and anxious than he'd ever been in the years they'd known each other.

She wrote, "Robin was losing his mind, and he was aware of it."

But the letter isn't just the story of Williams' diagnosis; it also serves as an impassioned plea to those fighting LBD.

Schneider Williams wrote, "This is a personal story, sadly tragic and heartbreaking, but by sharing this information with you, I know that you can help make a difference in the lives of others."

Read the full letter in the American Academy of Neurology journal.

<![CDATA[The US Is Down To Just One Major Nuclear Fusion Lab]]> Sat, 01 Oct 2016 15:05:00 -0500
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We know nuclear fusion works. It's what keeps the sun going. But trying to do the same thing on Earth is tricky and expensive.

The U.S. Department of Energy funds three major fusion labs in the U.S.: One at Princeton University, one at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and one in San Diego.

SEE MORE: Watchdog: Nuclear Security Needs To Account For Cyberattacks

All three of these reactors use magnets to put hydrogen plasma under extreme heat and pressure. If we can get them hot enough, the hydrogen atoms will start to fuse with one another — and will release huge amounts of energy we can capture.

But no lab in the world has ever gotten them hot enough — and trying it just got harder because two of those three Department of Energy projects just went offline.

At Princeton, one of the magnets that steers the plasma has broken down. Researchers think it might have started to melt. Now the reactor could be down for repairs for as long as a year.

The reactor at MIT just ran out of funding, but that was expected. Congress planned to shut it down at the end of the 2016 fiscal year.

Now there's just one reactor left. It's at General Atomics in San Diego. Scientists aren't sure yet if it will be enough to keep their research on schedule.

For now, they're waiting — for repairs at Princeton and for new construction. The U.S. is part of an international effort to build one of the largest fusion reactors ever in southern France, which is expected to start up in 2025.

<![CDATA[Our Clothes Are Made Of Plastic, And It's Polluting The Ocean]]> Sat, 01 Oct 2016 12:59:00 -0500
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Several countries have banned plastic microbeads in beauty products because they're bad for the environment. But what about plastic fibers in clothes?

Well, researchers found plastic microfibers in the stomachs of creatures that live thousands of feet below the ocean's surface.

The team studied the effects of plastic pollution on a global scale and found basically no environment on Earth is unaffected.

The scientists reportedly used a remotely operated vehicle to collect samples of sediment and animals.

Of course, plastic in the ocean isn't really new; sea creatures get caught in soda can rings all the time. But it's alarming the fibers are that deep in the water.

Luckily, the fibers don't appear to stay in the animals' digestive systems. But that doesn't mean the crabs and other creatures should eat them.

Plastics have accumulated in the stomachs of other creatures on land and underwater. And this finding proves there's a decent chance that deep-water environments could be headed for the same fate.

<![CDATA[The CDC Says This Polio-Like Disease Is Rare But On The Rise]]> Fri, 30 Sep 2016 17:52:00 -0500
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Cases of a rare polio-like illness have shot up in recent months. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is taking notice. 

The CDC recorded 32 cases of acute flaccid myelitis across 17 states in the first half of this year. The illness has been most often observed in children. It can cause limb weakness, loss of muscle tone and in extreme cases, respiratory failure.

SEE MORE: Mark Zuckerberg And Priscilla Chan Want To Cure Every Single Disease

Of the follow-up cases the CDC has observed, 85 percent of those afflicted with AFM show improved symptoms. But only three patients ever fully recovered from the disease. The median age of affected patients is 7 years old.

For comparison, the CDC only recorded 21 cases of AFM through all of last year. Two cases of AFM were recorded in July 2015; in July 2016, that number jumped to 12.

A CDC official told The Washington Post, "We have sent out several health alerts to states to let them know we are seeing an increase in reporting and to encourage them to communicate with doctors to report these cases in a timely fashion."

Of course, this year still pales in comparison to the last six months of 2014, which saw 120 confirmed AFM cases. That's when the CDC first started paying attention to the disease.

The exact cause of AFM is still unknown, but researchers noted the 2014 surge in cases coincided with a national enterovirus outbreak.

Since not much is known about the condition, the CDC doesn't have a specific treatment to recommend. But it does recommend children practice basic hygiene and stay up to date on their vaccines in order to avoid diseases associated with AFM.

<![CDATA[Don't Freak Out About California's Swarm Of Earthquakes Just Yet]]> Fri, 30 Sep 2016 14:10:00 -0500
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A swarm of small earthquakes along the notorious San Andreas fault has increased Southern California's risk for a major one.

No one really felt the more than 200 tiny quakes that rumbled under the Salton Sea earlier this week. 

Still, the California Office of Emergency Services issued an earthquake advisory for several counties, including San Diego, Los Angeles and San Bernardino. The warning extends through Oct. 4.

SEE MORE: The Moon Could Be Making Some Earthquakes Bigger

According to the Los Angeles Times, the tremors occurred in a seismic zone south of where the San Andreas fault ends.

And scientists are afraid quakes in that area could one day trigger a huge earthquake. But experts say not to panic quite yet. 

This week's small quakes only upped the likelihood of a major quake occurring in the coming days by up to 1 percent.

SEE MORE: Earthquakes Like The One In Oklahoma Could Be Humans' Fault

And experts say swarms like these come and go all the time without causing any large rumbles.

The U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement, "Swarm-like activity in this region has occurred in the past, so this week’s activity, in and of itself, is not necessarily cause for alarm."

As one seismologist told The Desert Sun, "Most likely, nothing more will happen."

<![CDATA[A Gentle Ending To Rosetta's 12-Year Mission]]> Fri, 30 Sep 2016 11:04:00 -0500
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Rosetta has ended its mission around comet 67P with a gentle thump.

Mission engineers at the European Space Agency sent the probe to a careful crash-landing on the comet's surface. In the control room on Friday, its communications signal flatlined.

SEE MORE: Chinese Officials Aren't Sure Where Their Falling Spacecraft Will Land

ESA project scientist Matt Taylor told NPR, "There's mixed emotions here. You know, people have invested their lives and their mentality, I think, as well — their psychology — on this mission."

All through the mission, ESA staff gave Rosetta personality on Twitter you don't often see from hardware. Even the most jaded of space rovers was sad to see a fellow explorer go.

But the end to Rosetta's mission operations doesn't mean an end to science from comet 67P. Researchers will be analyzing the data Rosetta and its lander Philae collected for years.

<![CDATA[When Life Gives You Air Pollution, Make ... Jewelry?]]> Fri, 30 Sep 2016 09:09:00 -0500
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You've probably heard of jewelry made from diamonds and pearls, or maybe even human ashes. But now, you can purchase a ring made from China's smog.

Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde and his team have unveiled what they say is the world's largest outdoor smog tower. It's in Beijing, China. The nearly 23-foot-tall building creates rings and cuff links from pollution.

SEE MORE: Are China's Leaders Taking Smog Seriously?

The tower sucks in dirty air, captures smog particles and compresses those particles into smog-free cubes that can be made into jewelry.

The project started in the Netherlands last year. It was crowdfunded on Kickstarter and raised over $126,000.

The tower also holds on to the pollutants and blows out air that Roosegaarde says is about 75 percent cleaner than the air around it. It can clean 30,000 cubic meters of air in an hour, which Roosegaarde has said is about "a small neighborhood a day."

So why is this thing in China? The country emits the most carbon of any country in the world. The country's air pollution is responsible for an estimated 1.6 million deaths per year.

Despite those levels of air pollution, the Smog Free Project won't stay in Beijing forever. It's set to visit other cities in China and then go on a global tour.

<![CDATA[Earth Doesn't Exactly Have The Best View For Studying The Milky Way]]> Thu, 29 Sep 2016 16:08:00 -0500
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The Milky Way is our home galaxy, so you'd think we'd know it better than any other. But because we're looking at it from the inside, there are some basic facts — facts we know about other galaxies — that we're still figuring out.

Take size. Researchers tracked the motion of stars around the edges of Andromeda, the next spiral galaxy over, and showed it's more than 220,000 light-years across. 

SEE MORE: Gorgeous New Milky Way Image Maps Our Galaxy's Dust

And the Milky Way? Until recently, we thought it was about 100,000 light-years across. But new studies show we may have been off by as much as 50 percent

From the outside looking in, we're able to estimate Andromeda has 1 trillion stars.

Trying to count the Milky Way's stars from the inside means lots of them wash each other out. Our estimates are anywhere from 100 billion to 400 billion stars.

With our clear pictures of Andromeda, we can count the number and types of arms in its spirals.

But scientists have yet to agree on exactly how many arms the Milky Way has, or how they're arranged. Clouds of galactic dust get in the way of figuring it out. 

<![CDATA[Turns Out Meerkats Are Super Violent. Who Knew?]]> Thu, 29 Sep 2016 14:00:00 -0500
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Meerkats are actually kind of savage — the furry desert animals are apparently more likely to murder each other than humans are.

A study was looking for the root of human violence. So, it examined death patterns of more than 1,000 mammal species.

The team found lethal violence habits in 40 percent of species studied. And meerkats in particular are more likely to be murdered by one of their own kind than any other species.

SEE MORE: We're Seeing Less Violence, So Why Is America More Afraid?

Scientists say the root of this behavior can be evolutionary — and it might help explain why humans are inclined to commit violent acts against each other.

Lethal violence is a part of adaptation in many species. As an example, some meerkats kill the young of others to establish dominance. 

Not only that, lethal violence can be motivated by a competition for resources, social hierarchy and fights for a mate. 

And that's where humans come in. The team says we're not inherently violent like meerkats, but social pressures, competition and learned behaviors do come into play.

It is important to note the study wasn't conclusive in determining the root of human violence; the theories developed were based on patterns using hundreds of data sets.

Following the meerkat on the species-on-species murder scale are red-tailed monkeys. And another shocker: Chinchillas are more likely to kill each other than brown bears are.

<![CDATA[Earth's Carbon Dioxide Levels May Have Passed The Point Of No Return]]> Thu, 29 Sep 2016 10:02:00 -0500
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The Earth has reached a global warming milestone it may never recover from.

Climate scientists say carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere surpassed 400 parts per million this month.

That's 50 parts per million more than what most experts consider "safe."

And there's little hope that we will ever get our planet's levels back to that number again.

The last time Earth consistently saw CO2 levels like these was millions of years ago, so humans have likely never experienced something like this before.

And that means scientists aren't entirely sure what's going to happen next.

But we do know CO2 emissions have been one of the main sources of climate change since the Industrial Revolution, and it has caused the Earth's temperature to rise 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since then.

That's already led to record-breaking global temperatures, extreme weather and other effects.

Experts say we might see small dips in atmospheric CO2 levels in the near future, but it won't be enough to make a difference.

Still, scientists are urging people to take this news as a wake-up call to get serious about reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change.

<![CDATA[Kratom Could Be Moved To Illegal Drug List As Soon As Friday]]> Thu, 29 Sep 2016 09:21:00 -0500
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Kratom, the drug opioid addicts use to to wean themselves off hardcore narcotics, could become illegal Friday.

The Drug Enforcement Administration plans to move kratom to its Schedule I drug list — making it illegal to possess and sell. Online dealers are reportedly scrambling to sell their stocks, and users are rushing to buy it before the designation is official.

SEE MORE: The FDA Wants To Create An App That Could Save Opioid Users' Lives

Drugs in the Schedule I category have no accepted medical use and are considered to be extremely addictive with a high frequency of abuse. Heroin, LSD and ecstasy are all on the list.

Kratom originated in Southeast Asia, where it's brewed into drinks or chewed. People tout it as a way to treat depression, anxiety and addiction.

Over the past few years, as the opioid epidemic took over the U.S., kratom began appearing.

The decision to move kratom to the Schedule I list was announced months ago, but according to Forbes, Friday isn't necessarily when the move will take effect. It's just the earliest the DEA can issue an order for it.

SEE MORE: Canada Tries Out Heroin Prescriptions

The new designation hasn't been met with much enthusiasm.

This week, more than 50 U.S. representatives penned a letter to the DEA denouncing its "hasty" decision, and one researcher from the University of Mississippi said the designation is "a disservice to science."

The ban has also inspired marches at the White House and petitions with more than 130,000 signatures. 

Despite the protests and opposition from scientists, the DEA has not shown signs of reversing its decision. 

<![CDATA[If You Want To Live On Mars, Be Prepared To Build Your Own Society]]> Wed, 28 Sep 2016 16:00:00 -0500
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We've now heard Elon Musk's plan for setting up a permanent colony on Mars. At more than 60 million miles from Earth, such a settlement is going to have to be its own functioning society. So how will it handle things like property rights, government and the economy?

The rules will probably change once people start living on Mars, but for now, we have a starting point: the United Nations' Outer Space Treaty.  

No Mars colonist will own the ground they stand on, regardless of who launches the first colony ships. Articles I and II of the treaty say celestial objects — including Mars — are "the province of all mankind" and aren't subject to public or private ownership.

SEE MORE: They Even Have Laws In Space — And We Don't Mean Physics

The Outer Space Treaty also says nations are responsible for the spacecraft they launch. Since NASA is a U.S. government agency and SpaceX is a U.S. company, the habitats they build would be subject to U.S. law.

How the colony would be governed is less clear. If NASA sends the first colonists, they'll probably be considered a mission crew taking orders from Houston, at least at first.

Musk, on the other hand, hopes a SpaceX colony would have more independence. 

"I think most likely the form of government on Mars would be direct democracy," Musk said at a June conference.

How the economy would work is also still up in the air. Again, if NASA is in charge of the first settlers, they'll most likely be a crew sharing a set number of resources.

Musk talks about a much more free-market system. 

"Iron foundries to pizza joints to you name it. ... Mars would have a labor shortage for a long time," Musk said when he announced plans for SpaceX's colony rocket. "Jobs would not be in short supply."

But it's not clear whether there will even be money, and if so what kind. There's at least one group here on Earth trying to start up a bitcoin-style cryptocurrency.

In either case, while there will be plenty for scientists to do on Mars, the main jobs for a colony would be mining resources and growing food.

There are also Mars-specific problems Earth societies haven't dealt with before. One think tank is working on a bill of space rights, which lists, among other things, the right to oxygen. We might also add a right to radiation shielding to that list.

There may only be a few years to iron out these rules. While NASA doesn't expect to start manned missions to Mars until the 2030s, SpaceX's more ambitious timeline calls for the first colony to launch as early as 2022.

<![CDATA[Measles Has Officially Been Eliminated In The Americas]]> Wed, 28 Sep 2016 10:46:00 -0500
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Measles has officially been eliminated in all of the Americas.

World health officials say this is the first time an entire region has been declared measles-free. But it has been eliminated in several individual countries, like the U.S.

It's a pretty big deal. As the Pan American Health Organization said in a statement, "This is a historic day for our region and indeed the world."

But we still have a lot of work to do before we can put measles completely behind us.

Note that officials used the word "eliminated" and not "eradicated."

We've only managed to eradicate, or completely put an end to, one disease: smallpox.

SEE MORE: The CDC Is Low On Funds To Fight Zika: 'Basically, We're Out Of Money'

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines eradication as the "permanent reduction to zero of the worldwide incidence of infection caused by a specific agent as a result of deliberate efforts."

The CDC says measles was officially eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. But visitors bring the highly contagious disease back into the country all the time.

This year, 54 people from 16 states have been reported to have measles.

And when people don't get themselves or their children vaccinated, the number of cases goes up — like in 2014, when a whopping 667 cases were reported in the U.S.

Measles remains a leading cause of death for young children in developing countries. The disease killed about 115,000 people in 2014.

<![CDATA[Latest Reason Congress Can't Fund The Government: Flint's Water Crisis]]> Tue, 27 Sep 2016 18:24:00 -0500
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Congress has just a handful of days left to avoid a government shutdown, but that didn't stop the Senate from sinking yet another attempt to keep the lights on.

This time, Senate Democrats blocked a stopgap funding measure, demanding federal funds to address the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, be tacked onto that bill.

SEE MORE: Congress Might Be Able To Override An Obama Veto For The First Time

The Senate already tucked $220 million for Flint into a $9 billion water infrastructure bill, but that's been held up in the House. And Democrats don't trust Republicans to keep the $220 million in whatever version of the bill the House ends up passing.

Previous spending measures have fallen victim to partisan hangups over funding to combat the Zika virus and lack of funding for Planned Parenthood, among other things.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. The Republican Congressional leadership started off the fiscal year by promising to return "regular order" to the appropriations process — that is, passing distinct, separate spending bills for each section of government.

Instead, Congress is going to have to cram all of its funding into one massive compromise bill — and even that's a long ways off. The resolution rejected Tuesday would only maintain current funding levels until Dec. 9.

<![CDATA[Elon Musk Presents Transportation Plans For Colonizing Mars]]> Tue, 27 Sep 2016 15:24:00 -0500
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Elon Musk just announced plans for vehicles that could take us to Mars.

The Interplanetary Transport System is a set of giant rockets designed to haul astronauts to Mars in relative comfort. Each stage of the rocket will land like SpaceX's Falcon boosters: right on its engines.

SEE MORE: Elon Musk's Plan To Colonize Mars Starts With This Rocket Engine

SpaceX will need a ship like this if it's serious about getting lots of people to the red planet. Its Dragon capsules can make the trip, but Musk says they're about as roomy as an SUV. Not exactly comfortable for a jaunt to the next planet over.

The company is planning a test mission with one of those Dragon capsules in 2018. Musk says flight testing for the Interplanetary Transport System could start as soon as 2020.

<![CDATA[9 Out Of 10 People On Earth Are Breathing Polluted Air]]> Tue, 27 Sep 2016 10:52:00 -0500
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Ninety-two percent of people on Earth are breathing polluted air.  

The World Health Organization released its most complete analysis yet of outdoor air quality. According to the agency, 3 million people die every year in connection to unhealthy air.

These pollutants are microscopic but are known to lead to lung cancer, strokes and heart disease. 

The WHO's interactive map shows that the most polluted areas of the world are concentrated in low- and middle-income countries. 

SEE MORE: Air Pollution Is Letting Teeny, Tiny, Toxic Particles Into Your Brain

Location is partly to blame for some of the high pollution levels. Some factors, like dust storms, are out of humans' control. 

But the WHO also said inefficient energy use and transportation contribute to the poor air quality.

These factors are part of the reason China, despite being a wealthier country, has the sixth-highest death rate in connection to air pollution. 

The U.S. seems to have relatively good air. It's better than most of Europe, though that is mostly due to Europe's farming practices and dependence on diesel fuel. 

The WHO says the world needs to take action, and fast, through sustainable transport, waste management and renewable energy.

<![CDATA[Venice Locals Are Dressing Like Pirates To Protest Cruise Ships]]> Tue, 27 Sep 2016 10:13:00 -0500
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Protesters in Venice, Italy, are dressing like pirates and confronting cruise ships passing through the city's famous lagoon.

And it's all part of an effort to save it from environmental damage.

At least 1,000 demonstrators of all ages and political parties gathered at the lagoon Monday armed with flags, flares and pirate gear.

The protest was peaceful, and attendees said it was more like a party.

But the message was serious: "No grandi navi," or "no big ships."

SEE MORE: This Cruise Ship Is So Large, It Could House An Entire Town

"They are destroying this city that is unique in this world," a protester told The Telegraph.

Venice has become a very popular destination for cruise ships. About 600 of them pass through the city every year.

But environmentalists say the ships are destroying Venice's fragile foundations.

The United Nations even threatened to place the city on UNESCO's list of endangered heritage sites if Italy doesn't ban cruise ships in Venice by 2017.

Venice tried to ban the biggest boats and limit the number of smaller ships allowed to enter the canal each day. But that legislation was overturned in 2015.

Locals have been protesting the cruise ships for years now. During peak season, approximately 30,000 cruise ship passengers visit Venice every day.

<![CDATA[This Scaly Animal Is The Most Trafficked Mammal In The World]]> Mon, 26 Sep 2016 14:55:00 -0500
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Meet the pangolin. It's a scale-covered mammal found in Asia and Africa that eats ants and termites. 

It's also the most trafficked mammal in the world. 

SEE MORE: Add Eastern Gorillas To The List Of Critically Endangered Species

Female pangolins only reproduce once a year — but as many as 100,000 pangolins are being poached annually. 

Pangolins are considered extremely valuable because of their meat and scales. Some believe the scales, which are made of keratin, can even cure cancer. 

As a result of poaching, all eight pangolin species are being threatened, ranging from vulnerable to critically endangered

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is meeting in South Africa this week. One item on its agenda? Considering a ban on commercial international trade of all pangolin species. 

<![CDATA[Relax — NASA Doesn't Care About Your Zodiac Sign]]> Mon, 26 Sep 2016 12:14:00 -0500
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The zodiac has been around for thousands of years and has always contained 12 signs — until recently. NASA pointed out there's actually a 13th constellation within it. 

Cue a bunch of people having a crisis on Twitter about their astrological signs possibly changing. 

SEE MORE: With Evidence This Close, NASA Has To Warn It Hasn't Found Aliens

But NASA doesn't care whether you're a Leo or a Sagittarius. It just wants the zodiac to be factually accurate. 

In a recent Tumblr post, NASA reported the ancient Babylonians originally started out with 13 constellations that the sun appeared to pass through. 

But in order to make their zodiac fit within their 12-month calendar, one of the constellations had to be left out. So Ophiuchus got the ax. 

NASA also pointed out that the Babylonian's zodiac doesn't exactly work as intended anymore, since the Earth's axis has shifted slightly in the last 3,000 years. 

So astrology might not be that scientific, but NASA's not trying to change it. Just know that if you're a die-hard Scorpio, you could've just as easily been an Ophiuchus. Doesn't that roll off the tongue?

<![CDATA[Elon Musk's Plan To Colonize Mars Starts With This Rocket Engine]]> Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:53:00 -0500
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Elon Musk has been busy thinking of ways to colonize Mars, and now he's got an engine that could get him there. 

The CEO of SpaceX and Tesla tweeted the first photos of the "Raptor interplanetary transport engine" shooting fire from its jets. Musk says this rocket engine will be the way to get to the red planet.

SEE MORE: How Will Mars Crews Cope With Watching Earth Fade Into The Distance?

Of course the Raptor itself isn't new — it's been in development for years. But this is the first time the public has seen photos of it in action. 

Musk founded SpaceX in 2002. The company's area of expertise: advanced rocket science. And the billionaire entrepreneur reportedly wants to take that expertise and send millions of people into space.

SEE MORE: Congress Could Make A Manned Mission To Mars Mandatory

To Musk, Mars is a plan B planet that will save humanity. He's even said he wants to die on Mars — "just not on impact."

Musk will reportedly detail his plan to use Mars as a backup planet at the 67th International Astronautical Congress on Tuesday.

<![CDATA[With Evidence This Close, NASA Has To Warn It Hasn't Found Aliens]]> Mon, 26 Sep 2016 07:48:00 -0500
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NASA is really trying to warn people that it's not going to announce an alien discovery at its press conference Monday. 

But the discovery the space agency is likely to announce will probably only fuel speculation of extraterrestrial life. 

NASA is expected to release new evidence of an ocean under the surface of Europa, one of Jupiter's moons. 

SEE MORE: NASA Wants To Go To An Asteroid And Bring Part Of It Back

Now, this ocean by itself isn't revolutionary –– we first started to believe it existed there in 1979

The question has since turned to whether life could be found inside the water. In May, a NASA study reported this ocean on Europa may have a very similar chemical makeup to Earth's oceans. 

The study found Europa produces 10 times more oxygen than hydrogen –– a similar proportion to what's seen on Earth, and a key indicator for the potential for life. 

Europa is just one of the roughly 66 moons that have been discovered orbiting around Jupiter. It is one of Jupiter's four biggest moons, though, along with Ganymede, Callisto and Io. 

Some have even speculated an ocean on Europa could support multi-cellular life. If that doesn't sound exciting, remember for all the talk of possible life on Mars, NASA's only really searching for tiny, single-celled bacteria there. 

NASA has hammered home it won't be announcing aliens, but it did say it's found "surprising activity" on Europa. Space fans will have to wait until Monday afternoon to learn exactly what that means. 

NASA's press conference begins at 2 p.m. Eastern Time Monday. Images from the Hubble Space Telescope will be presented.

<![CDATA[The Future Of Space Travel Is Strong With Gary Johnson]]> Sun, 25 Sep 2016 21:05:00 -0500
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"We do have to inhabit other planets. The future of the human race is space exploration," Gary Johnson said on ABC's "This Week."

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson was asked to respond to a comment he made five years ago about the sun eventually engulfing Earth.

SEE MORE: Deep-Space Exploration Requires Habitats, And NASA's On It

The heart of the question was about climate change, and Johnson said we need to take care of the environment. But he notes the really long-term future of Earth is a little grim.

Space exploration and living on another planet are typically more popular topics in the tech world. Mars One wants to establish a permanent human settlement on the red planet, and SpaceX's Elon Musk is set to announce his competing Mars colonization plan this week. 

But Johnson is not the first presidential candidate to dream of space travel. 

"We will have the first permanent base on the moon, and it will be American," Newt Gingrich said during his 2012 presidential campaign. 

<![CDATA[India's In — Now, The Paris Climate Agreement Is Almost A Done Deal]]> Sun, 25 Sep 2016 18:43:00 -0500
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India will ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change in early October. 

The agreement needs to be ratified by at least 55 countries. Those countries have to account for at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. So far, 60 countries have approved it, but they represent only 48 percent of emissions. India will increase that to almost 52 percent.

The magic percentage of 55 is around the corner. Fourteen more countries, accounting for about 12 percent of global emissions, have promised to ratify the agreement before the end of the year.

SEE MORE: India Joining Paris Climate Agreement Could Stop It From Falling Apart

Ideally, that will happen before the next UN conference on climate change in November. President Barack Obama has pushed other world leaders, including Modi, to speed up their approvals.

If the plan goes into effect this year, it would prevent the next president from legally backing out within the next four years.

India is the third-largest carbon emitter, behind the U.S. and China. But initially, India was viewed as a hostile participant because officials wanted to prioritize getting the nation's citizens out of poverty and expanding electricity coverage over cutting emissions. 

But the country was able to strike a deal by pledging to increase its use of renewable energy rather than cap or cut its emissions, allowing the world's fastest-growing large economy to continue its upward trajectory. India's emissions will continue to grow, but at a much slower rate than other emerging economies.

<![CDATA[Here's Why Antibiotic Resistance Has Become A Problem]]> Sat, 24 Sep 2016 15:24:00 -0500
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Bacteria is a part of life. Some of it's good, and some of it's bad. But drug-resistant bacteria have become a universal health threat, so the United Nations is seeking a fix.

The U.N. hosted a rare meeting to address the public health problem — only the fourth such meeting since it was founded.

A U.N. official said bacteria outsmarting modern medicine is "outpacing the world’s capacity for antibiotic discovery."

 But more than one cause is to blame.

One of the main problems is the use of powerful antibiotics, especially in hospitals. Doctors prescribe the drugs when weaker antibiotics fail, and that's not always a good thing. Overusing those kinds of drugs can help bacteria develop a resistance.

Another issue is the amount of antibiotics in what people eat. Antibiotics are added to the food of cattle, chickens and other animals to prevent illness and increase the animals' weight, but the drugs can lead to humans contracting antibiotic-resistant diseases.

So, if drug-resistant bacteria is this much of a threat, what can we do to stop it?

For starters, we could increase research funding. Antibiotic development is incredibly expensive, and most drug-makers don't invest in it. So while older antibiotics become resistant, there aren't many new antibiotics to take their place.

Nature could also provide an answer. A recently discovered species of ant in the Amazon Rainforest uses bacteria to fight off unwanted fungi from their nests. Chemicals in that bacteria have shown promising antibiotic effects.

But research and development only address part of the problem. Ultimately, overuse of antibiotics in both the medical and food industries needs to be handled.

World leaders from 193 countries signed a U.N. declaration to help combat the growing health problem in the coming years, but the details of that agreement have yet to be released.

<![CDATA[The International Community Can't Agree On How To Save Elephants]]> Sat, 24 Sep 2016 15:14:00 -0500
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Most countries can agree we need to save endangered animals. But exactly how we do that is causing some rifts.

And at an annual convention for trade in endangered species, eyes are on elephants and rhinos.

Conservationists blame the declining elephant and rhino populations on poachers who make money off of ivory and horns.

Several African nations say the ivory trade should be flat-out banned, but Namibia and Zimbabwe argue legalizing the trade would help weaken the ivory black market and deter poachers.

A once-off ivory sale to China in 2008 backfired, which made some wary of a legal trade plan.

That plan, which was supposed to reduce ivory demand, ended up causing ivory prices to rise, and the legality of where the ivory came from was criticized.

And a lot of the world's ivory has been sent to China, though the country has said it would ban ivory sales entirely. As of now, there's a loose goal of making the ban official within two years.

And because so many people love ivory, reducing demand is a big barrier. Even educating the sizable chunk of buyers who don't know that the practice kills elephants might not be enough.

<![CDATA[Top 3 Groups Trying To Convince Us That Aliens Exist]]> Sat, 24 Sep 2016 14:00:00 -0500
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There's been a lot of space news recently, and with any space news, there's always talk of aliens. But this week may have had a bit more talk than usual as three groups seemed to really want to prove aliens exist. 

First is China. It installed a massive telescope earlier this year but announced it will be powering the thing up Sunday

But this isn't any old telescope used for locating those hard-to-find constellations. China specifically built it to detect radio emissions in space, which would prove that intelligent life is out there somewhere. 

The next group is the European Space Agency. It's planning to build what it calls a European Sample Curation Facility — which is a super fancy way of saying alien life-form containment center.

The ESA and Russia's space agency have teamed up to search for any sign of life on Mars over the next 10 years.  

While researchers believe it'll be awhile before any samples of life could be brought back to Earth from the red planet, they want to be prepared with some place to store it. 

And while NASA made it clear it didn't find aliens on Jupiter's moon Europa, some eagle-eyed alien hunters believe they've found a snake in a NASA photo of Mars

<![CDATA[Why The US And Russia Can Share A Space Station — But China Can't]]> Sat, 24 Sep 2016 11:45:00 -0500
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China's astronauts aren't allowed aboard the International Space Station, even though it's one of just three countries that runs its own manned space program.

This is because parts of a 2011 law prohibit NASA from using any of its funds for cooperative projects with China.

SEE MORE: FOR SALE: Gently Used Space Station

When he wrote the law, then U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf of Virginia cited concerns over national security and industrial espionage — and also pointed to China's human rights abuses.

Wolf retired at the end of his term in 2015, but that ban and that mentality stuck. Various government reports since the law went into effect have claimed China's space activity is a threat to U.S. political and military security.

It can seem a bit hypocritical, considering the U.S. was running joint space missions with Russia in the middle of the Cold War. That cooperation has continued: The two nations led the effort to build and run the International Space Station.

And scientists who work with China have criticized the ban as unethical.

The president and the next NASA administrator would have to work with Congress to repeal the law. There's no definite timeline, but current NASA head Charles Bolden seems optimistic.

In the meantime, China is pushing ahead with its own space program. It's worked with space agencies in Russia and Europe on research for eventual Mars missions, and it just launched a second space station of its own.

<![CDATA[Terns In Alaska Show The Effects Of Climate Change At Work]]> Fri, 23 Sep 2016 18:50:00 -0500
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One of the earliest climate change warning signs is the shifting of animals' habitat ranges. We've already begun to see those shifts.

The most recent example is the Caspian tern. The seabirds were recently observed in northern Alaska — 1,000 miles farther north than the species had ever been spotted before.

Caspian terns are normally found in Washington state.

SEE MORE: It Only Took Us 20 Years To Destroy 10 Percent Of Earth's Wilderness

No one can say for sure if this means the terns will stay in Alaska. But a Stanford University biologist told the Guardian this 1,000-mile shift "attests to how much the globe has warmed."

The Adélie penguin is another bird whose geographic range is changing.

Scientists worry that as the climate changes, the continent will become more wet. That would force the penguins to migrate farther to find suitable nesting grounds.

A recent study found that by the end of the century, as much as 60 percent of the present population of Adélie penguins could be in decline.

SEE MORE: An Alaskan Community Has Voted To Move Because Of Climate Change

And it's not just animals that are affected. A UCLA study found that whole ecosystems in California are at risk.

The study, published earlier this year, showed that non-native plants were moving to higher elevations faster than native ones. In other words, native species have a harder time adjusting to climate change.

One UCLA professor said that could mean the current ecosystems are "unraveling." 

<![CDATA[How Will Mars Crews Cope With Watching Earth Fade Into The Distance?]]> Fri, 23 Sep 2016 16:32:00 -0500
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What would it be like to watch Earth fade into the distance? If we're ever going to send humans to Mars and beyond, they're going to have to deal with seeing the Earth get smaller and smaller until it's just another light in the sky, and psychologists aren't sure how people are going to handle it. 

It's been dubbed the "Earth-out-of-view phenomenon." In the history of space travel, no one has ever been far enough from home to experience it. The moon is as far as anyone's ever gone, and from there, Earth still looks like Earth, with all its clouds, oceans and continents spinning around. 

SEE MORE: Congress Could Make A Manned Mission To Mars Mandatory

The fear is that watching Earth fade away will worsen the psychological challenges of deep spaceflight, like feeling disconnected, confined and vulnerable. Astronauts on board the International Space Station sometimes feel all of those things, and they actually have it pretty good compared to a deep space mission: They can make real-time calls with friends and family, they can receive gifts in supply shipments and, if things get bad, they know they can bail out. 

They also get a great view of Earth, and that's turned out to be pretty important. Astronauts talk about gazing out the window at their home planet in almost religious terms. It looks beautiful and fragile, and it tends to make people feel more love for their home planet. Humans on a Mars mission would spend hundreds of days without that view. So what do we do about it? 

SEE MORE: Apollo Astronauts' Health Issues Reveal A Hurdle To Deep-Space Travel

The researcher who coined the term "Earth-out-of-view phenomenon" has said it might be as simple as giving the Mars crews a telescope they can point home any time they want. But a big part of it might just be luck, since it's hard to know how someone will react to space ahead of time.