Newsy - Sci/Health The Latest Videos From Newsy.com http://www.newsy.com/ <![CDATA[Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:31:00 -0500
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If you're into watching action movies, you might want to start watching your waistline too. 

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests people are more likely to do a whole lot of snacking when they're watching those action movies. (Video via Lionsgate / "The Expendables 3")

Although we've known television and other forms of media can distract us from watching and limiting how much we eat, the researchers said they wanted to determine whether the type of content would have more or less of an effect on a person's eating habits. 

The study involved a group of 94 undergrad students. Students were divided up into "groups of up to 20 people," and each group was assigned to watch 20 minutes of one of three programs.

One program was talk show "Charlie Rose" — this was clearly the nonaction programming. And the other two programs were action movie "The Island," but one showing didn't include audio from the film. (Videos via PBS / "Charlie Rose", DreamWorks SKG / "The Island")

And here's where things get delicious. Researchers provided the participants with an unlimited amount of M&Ms, cookies, carrots and grapes to munch on while watching the shows.

Lo and behold, those who watched "The Island" snacked on 98 percent more grams of food than those who watched "Charlie Rose." And even without audio, participants still consumed 36 percent more grams of food watching "The Island" than those watching "Charlie Rose." That's 65 percent and 46 percent more calories, respectively.

So what should we take from this? The study's researchers say we should always be cautious and conscious when we eat food during media consumption — cautious of our body's signs, like "increased anxiety, agitation, and stimulation level," and conscious of how much food we're eating. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide some tips for maintaining a healthy weight. Getting active, monitoring your weight and maintaining a balanced diet can help keep you on track.

This video includes images from Westpark / CC BY NC ND 2.0, ChristiJohnstone / CC BY NC ND 2.0, Ebarrera / CC BY NC SA 2.0, and Nikita Kashner / CC BY NC ND 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Did Neanderthals Play Tic-Tac-Toe?]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 07:16:00 -0500
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When we think of Neanderthals, we often picture long-haired, shaggy-looking prehistoric people with the intelligence of a buffalo.

But new artwork found in a Gibraltar cave suggests otherwise, and it looks very much like a game we're all familiar with. New Scientist reports no one can say for sure if the artwork was just "Idle doodle ... Stone Age tic-tac-toe, or the first evidence of Neanderthal art."

Regardless of what it is, it's making the Internet chatter because it would mean Neanderthals, our ancient ancestors, possibly weren't as primitive as we all thought

"Scientists say it could be the most compelling evidence yet for Neanderthal art." (Video via BBC)

BBC explains that's because art is abstract thought, which "was long considered to be the exclusive preserve of our own species. ... [and] the geometric pattern identified in Gibraltar ... was uncovered beneath undisturbed sediments that have also yielded Neanderthal tools."

So, artwork AND tools? Score one for the Neanderthals, zero for all those scientists who ever doubted them. 

And like all fine art, even if it is the upwards of 39,000 years old, it already has its critics. 

"It just looks like a bunch of lines, I don't know if I'd call it artwork."

​"Well, they're Neanderthals for gosh sakes!" (Video via WEAR)

 Nobody can catch a break these days. Scientific American says scientists have been excavating the cave since the late 1980s. The discovery was published in the journal PNAS

And if this is evidence that Neanderthals were smarter than we all thought, it wouldn't be the first. Other studies have sought to prove they were actually just as smart as modern humans, but that would be a whole other story.

This video includes an image from Getty Images / Amy Sussman.

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<![CDATA[Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:30:00 -0500
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If only kale tasted like Oreos, right? Well, new research says you might be able to train your brain to eventually crave the healthy foods you don't like. 

According to a study published in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, a solution might be conditioning and an increased consumption of low-calorie, high-fiber foods. You could eventually be searching for more spinach and fewer sweets. (Video via Allrecipes)

Researchers looked at the brain activity of overweight individuals, some of whom underwent a diet program that included behavioral intervention. After six months, the researchers say those in the diet program responded more positively when shown photos of low caloric foods than those not in the program.

As the study's author explains in a news release"We don't start out in life loving French fries and hating, for example, whole wheat pasta. ... This conditioning happens over time in response to eating – repeatedly! - what is out there in the toxic food environment."

This idea of training your brain has been explored before. One other recent study suggests even portion control plays a large part in changing eating habits.

One medical expert equates junk food to drugs. She tells CBS the simple carbohydrates in processed foods trigger the same pleasure center in the brain as cocaine and heroine, causing you to come back for more.

The authors also say this conditioning would be more beneficial than, say, gastric bypass surgery, which causes people to eat less food in general rather than learn to love healthy food. (Video via Mayo Clinic)

So, the good news is, it seems you may be able to kick unhealthy cravings to the curb. But scientists warn this study is small — just 13 participants. They also don't know if the same effects would be observed in the long-term.

​​This video includes images from Getty Images / Sean Gallup​, Mauro Cateb / CC BY SA 3.0 and Media Cookery / CC BY NC ND 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Melting Ice Shelves Drive Rapid Antarctic Sea Level Rise]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 12:13:00 -0500
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A study more than 20 years in the making reports a rapid rise in Antarctic sea levels. The cause? Melting ice shelves. 

That's an especially big deal for a continent covered in ice, and the scientists say the fact the glacial melt produces fresh water is significant. (Video via Discovery)

The study was published in the journal Nature and reports, "​On the basis of the model simulations, we conclude that this sea-level rise is almost entirely related to steric adjustment," or chemical changes, "rather than changes in local ocean mass."

Basically, because fresh water is less dense than salt water, when it pours into the ocean surrounding Antarctica, it produces a dramatic rise in the sea levels around the continent. The melting freshwater ice shelves are raising sea levels.

The study also discounted other possible explanations for the rising sea levels like wind pushing water against the ice shelves, as lead scientist Dr. Craig Rye told the BBC

"We can estimate the amount of water that wind is pushing on to the continental shelf, and show with some certainty that it is very unlikely that this wind forcing is causing the sea level rise."

As Deutsche Welle reports, another unrelated study on Antarctic ice published in mid-August forecasted Antarctic ice melt will soon become a big threat. A researcher told the outlet, "Ice loss in the Antarctic could become the biggest contributor much earlier than expected, raising global sea level further by up to [about 15 inches] by the end of this century."

And just a few months before that researchers found a separate cause of the increasing melt — wind currents pushing warm water underneath the ice.

ABC AUSTRALIA: "Warm water melts ice much faster than warm air, and the research reveals subsurface warming at twice the rate previously thought."

It didn't take long for at least one outlet to see the consequences, as Bloomberg highlighted the risk the rising water poses to megacities such as New York and Shanghai. 

The lead scientist on this latest study also told the BBC the next target for research is why, throughout all of this, sea ice around the Antarctic appears to be increasing. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 20:02:00 -0500
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You know, sometimes coffee just isn't enough to get through particularly sleepy days. And a 20 minute nap might just make you feel more tired. 

So why not just combine the two together for a coffee nap? 

​​WNYW: "It sounds confusing but there's actual science behind this. Reserchers now say having a cup of coffee then sleeping for 20 minutes is an effective way to nap and feel refreshed." 

Yup, it's believed having coffee and then napping is better than just coffee or a nap alone. Vox just published an exhaustive examination of the practice.

According to the outlet, ​"if you caffeinate immediately before napping and sleep for 20 minutes or less, you can exploit a quirk in the way both sleep and caffeine affect your brain to maximize alertness."

KTLA: "And that's because it takes about 20 minutes for caffeine to work in your brain. So the nap ends just as the caffeine​ begins."  

This study out of Japan backs the coffee nap idea. Ten participants were involved and the findings showed those who took a coffee nap did better on memory tests than those who solely took a nap. 

And other studies, like this one, also back the findings, writing, "​Caffeine and nap significantly reduced driving impairments, subjective sleepiness, and electroencephalographic (EEG) activity indicating drowsiness."

Now, there are a couple important tricks to the who coffee nap experience. 

First, you have to drink you cup of Joe quickly because you don't want the effects to kick in before you even get to lay your head down. 

Second, quick nap — emphasis on quick. Anything longer will allow your brain to fall into a deeper sleep which in turn makes waking up a little more difficult. 

And you definitely want to be awake when the caffeine kicks in. So, now you know a quick tip that will hopefully make those Monday afternoons a little easier to get through. 

This video includes images from Getty Images, Global Reations / CC BY 2.0 and Juanedc / CC BY 2.0.

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<![CDATA[New Drug Could Reduce Cardiovascular Deaths]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 15:58:00 -0500
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Researchers have created a new drug believed to reduce cardiovascular deaths. 

​This new drug, LCZ696, was created by Novartis and was announced earlier this month. It's believed to reduce cardiovascular deaths by 20% when compared to other similar drugs. 

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women worldwide and an estimated 26 million people live with the illness. 

Novartis is applying for approval with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and hopes to complete the process by the end of the year. 

This success comes at a good time for Novartis as many drug companies are struggling to come up with new products. The Wall Street Journal did an article earlier this month on how Navartis's competitor Glaxo has experienced weak sales and disappointing drug launches. 

Industry analysts say Novartis could earn between $2 billion and $6 billion from this new drug. 

Head of Novartis's pharmaceuticals division told Businessweek, "This is going to become one of our key brands. It's clearly a multi-billion dollar opportunity."

As with most cardiovascular drugs, there can be side effects. LCZ696 can cause coughing and low blood pressure. 

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Space Shuttle Discovery's Legacy, 30 Years Later]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 11:22:00 -0500
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The space shuttle Discovery is one of NASA's most seasoned shuttles. It's flown to space more than any other orbiter. It was the first to retrieve a satellite and bring it back to Earth. And it helped launch a telescope that's seen deeper into space than ever before.

Saturday marks 30 years since Discovery's first launch. 

ABC: "We have SRB ignition, and we have liftoff. Liftoff of mission 41-D, the first flight of the Orbiter Discovery, and the shuttle has cleared the tower."

Discovery, the third space shuttle to join NASA's fleet, first launched on Aug. 30, 1984. Its mission: to deploy three communication satellites and test an experimental solar array wing.

But its first voyage didn't come without a few speed bumps along the way. Three previous launch attempts had been canceled just before liftoff due to last-minute problems. (Video via CBS)

Despite those setbacks, Discovery soon became the new hero of the space shuttle program. 

The shuttle went on to complete 39 missions between 1984 and 2011 — more than any of NASA's other four shuttles.

It launched the Hubble Space Telescope into obit in 1990 and took a trip to the International Space Station in 2005.

And it boasted some pretty impressive passengers over the years too. Discovery carried the first senator, Utah's Jake Garn; the first Latina, Dr. Ellen Ochoa; and the oldest astronaut, John Glenn. 

But arguably the most important thing Discovery did during its lifetime was act as what Gizmodo calls the "comeback champion for NASA."

The Challenger disaster in 1986 and the Columbia disaster in 2003 shocked the world and put a temporary halt to space missions. (Video via BBC)

Discovery was the shuttle that got NASA back into space after both of those tragedies.

In 1988, two years after the Challenger disaster, Discovery made its way into space as the nation's first "Return to Flight" mission since the tragedy.

And its STS-114 mission in 2005 was the first space shuttle mission following the Columbia disaster. (Video via CNN)

Discovery's very last flight was a little less challenging than its previous missions. But it was still pretty notable. 

In August 2012, the shuttle flew a victory lap of sorts around Washington, D.C., on top of a Boeing 747 on its way to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Annex. (Video via NASA)

And now, after an impressive 27-year career, Discovery resides in the Smithsonian's hanger in Chantilly, Virginia.

And if you ever feel like checking up on the old shuttle, you can take a peek into the space hanger's live webcam 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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<![CDATA[We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 08:30:00 -0500
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Look, we're really sorry to be the ones to have to tell you this, but you've got mites living in your face — Demodex mites to be precise. 

According to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE, "100% of people over 18 years of age appear to host at least one Demodex species." (Video via YouTube / TheDemodexsolutions)

Yeah, so there's that. Researchers at the University of North Carolina used a laboratory spatula to scrape the noses and cheeks of volunteers. They then placed the scrapings in mineral oil and inspected it for mites using a microscope. 

And here's where things get interesting, if they weren't already. When they looked at their samples under a microscope, researchers found mites present in 14 percent of adults.

Instead of stopping there, however, the group went on to test for Demodex DNA. Because "these mites may occur in patches around the body," researchers wanted to test for traces of the mites in case they simply weren't testing in a currently inhabited region. (Video via YouTube / Yong Ming Por)

And we kind of wish they wouldn't have, because Demodex DNA was found in 100 percent of the adult samples.

Not much is known about the little critters — Metro notes scientists don't even know how they spread, but the theory is mom's transfer the mites "to their children during breast feeding." Of course, that wouldn't explain how children who aren't breastfed get the Demodex mites. 

So again, we don't really know much about these little guys, or gals, or whatever they are. 

But Business Insider put together a list of some things we do know about them. Here are a few of our, uh, favorites:
- "They can't poop, so they just fill with feces until they explode all over your face."
- "They feast on your face cells and oils."
- "The bacteria they spew out when they explode could be the cause of rosacea."

If there's any consolation in this whole thing, a writer for NPR points out the study is kind of humanizing in the end. "In a way, that 100 percent number is strangely comforting. Not only do I have face mites, but so does Benedict Cumberbatch. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And Beyonce."

O.K. Beyonce, I'll have my mites call your mites so we can all get together for lunch. (Video via YouTube / Neartownvet)

This video includes images from Getty Images, Chris Luzio / CC BY NC SA 2.0, and Isaac S. Ego / CC BY NC ND 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Co-Authors Of Ebola Study Die Of Ebola]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 19:02:00 -0500
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In a tragic example of the risks health care workers take when dealing with Ebola, five co-authors of a study on the deadly virus have died after contracting the disease.

They include three nurses, one lab technician and one physician. They were part of an international team of more than 50 people who worked on the study, published Thursday in the journal Science.

The researchers tracked how the disease spread through Sierra Leone. They also sequenced and analyzed the genomes of the Ebola virus to track how it has mutated over the course of this outbreak.

In an article published alongside the study, Science reported the death of the health care workers and also noted more than 240 other health care workers have been infected and 120 have died so far.

But, these researchers did not die in vain. The Los Angeles Times writes the findings will help scientists learn more about the virus in order to develop more effective drugs and vaccines.

The Washington Post calls their study's findings "extraordinary" and said: "The study demonstrates just how effective an international research effort can be in the middle of a global health crisis."

Among the authors who never got to see their work published was Sierra Leone's top Ebola doctor, Sheik Umar Khan.

Al Jazeera reports the country's health minister called him a "national hero" and praised the sacrifices he made to help others. 

The World Heath Organization warns that Ebola is only spreading more. Forty percent of the total number of cases have occurred in the last 21 days and could eventually infect 20,000 people across West Africa.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 18:15:00 -0500
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The lethal Ebola outbreak is getting worse in West Africa; so far, the virus has caused over 1,550 deaths across five countries. But one of the most promising experimental treatments for combating the epidemic just got a boost.

In a paper published in Nature Friday, researchers testing the experimental drug ZMapp reported it successfully cured a group of monkeys infected with the Ebola virus.

​The scientists injected 18 macaque monkeys in the test group with an Ebola strain similar to the one at the heart of the current outbreak, then treated the monkeys with ZMapp at various stages of infection. The treatment saved all 18 monkeys, even when it was administered as late as five days past infection. By contrast, none of the three Ebola-infected monkeys in the control group survived. (Video via The Age)

Study author Gary Kobinger, who conducted the research with scientists from the San Diego firm behind ZMapp, told reporters the results exceeded expectations, noting the treatment even managed to reverse symptoms of a very advanced Ebola infection.

You might remember ZMapp as the treatment that's credited with saving two American health workers infected with the disease — Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol were discharged from the hospital last week after being infected with the virus. (Video via NBC)

ZMapp is now being administered to a British health care worker infected with the virus, under the WHO's "compassionate care" exemption for experimental procedures. (Video via The Guardian)

But for all its successes, ZMapp hasn't been 100 percent effective against this Ebola strain. A Spanish priest and a Liberian doctor both succumbed to the virus despite being treated with ZMapp.

And then there's the production issue. According to the company which makes the drug, current ZMapp supplies are exhausted, and producing a fresh batch will likely take months.

The drug still needs to go through human trials before it can be approved for widespread use. Those tests are expected to begin in early 2015.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:00:00 -0500
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If you're a parent, you already know your role in your child's life is important. But a new study suggests your reaction to your child's nonsensical babbling impacts his or her language development.

Here's how the research was conducted – 12 mothers and their 8-month-old babies were observed during free play over the course of six months. The free-play sessions took place twice a month and were each 30 minutes long. (Video via American Speech-Language-Hearing Association)

​According to HealthDay, when mothers paid attention to the child's babbling, his or her language skills developed more quickly than those of infants who didn't receive that kind of attention.

But just like language itself, these findings are more complex than that. 

One of the authors for the study told The University of Iowa"It's not that we found responsiveness matters, it's how a mother responds that matters." 

So what exactly does that mean, and what's the best way to respond? 

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association provides some helpful tips:

--Imitate the child's sounds.

--Mimic his or her facial expressions and laughter.

--Talk through your everyday actions.

In short, engage with the child and be responsive to his or her actions and sounds.

Let's not forget, the first three years of an infant's life are very important for brain development, as the brain triples in weight and "establishes about 1,000 trillion nerve connections," according to BabyCenter. 

This study was published in the July/August edition of the journal Infancy.

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<![CDATA[Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 12:54:00 -0500
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Researchers at Northwestern University believe stimulating the brain with electrical pulses might someday improve the memory skills of those who have had brain injuries, a stroke or even Alzheimer's.

A team of researchers found that stimulating a region of the brain with an electrical current improved memory and learning function in study participants. Researcher Joel Voss explained how it works:

"They get what's called high-frequency repetitive transcranial​ magnetic stimulation. It's this magnetic stimulator over the part of their brain that we want to stimulate, and it fires rapid pulses of electromagnetic stimulation that induces electrical activity in those superficial parts of their brain." 

For the study, the scientists recruited 16 young adults. Each participant received brain stimulation for 20 minutes a day for five days. At the end of the study, it was found the participants' memory and learning ability had improved.   

Researchers believe this technology could eventually take the place of some memory medication and might even have better results. 

JOEL VOSS: "One of the advantages of this kind of way of going about this is that we will be able to target the exact region people are having problems with as opposed to showering the brain with a bunch of chemicals."

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a somewhat new procedure and was only approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2008. 

Before now, it was only used as a way to treat severe depression. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is usually tried when other treatments have failed. 

MS is currently pretty pricey. According to HealthDay, each session generally costs around $300.

​And Johns Hopkins Medicine warns the method is not appropriate for all patients and requires a doctor's recommendation. 

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<![CDATA[3 Things To Know About The Ebola Outbreak's Progression]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 10:53:00 -0500
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The United Nations health agency said this week the worst Ebola outbreak in recorded history is still spreading quickly and could infect tens of thousands of people before it's brought under control.

Here are three things you need to know about the progression of the deadly outbreak this week.

First, the World Health Organization says the actual number of Ebola cases in West Africa could be much higher than previously thought. (Video via Euronews)

According to statistics released by WHO Thursday, more than 3,000 both suspected and confirmed cases have been reported in four West African countries, and over 1,500 people have died from the virus.

But the agency says the number of cases in "areas of intense transmission" could be two to four times larger than that. (Video via BBC)

Al Jazeera reports this large discrepancy in numbers could be the result of families hiding infected loved ones and the existence of so-called "shadow zones" medical workers can't access.

Second, the Ebola outbreak is quickly spreading to other areas. Senegal is the latest country to report its first confirmed case.

The country's minister of health told reporters Friday an unidentified man from Guinea, which shares a border with Senegal, was confirmed to have the virus.

Senegal's capital is a major transportation hub for the region, and the arrival of Ebola in the area has some worried the virus will spread even farther. (Video via CCTV)

The BBC notes Senegal had previously closed its border with Guinea and blocked flights and ships from countries affected by Ebola to prevent something like this from happening.

And third, in an effort to prevent the deadly virus from spreading, college students from West Africa who are studying in the U.S. might be subject to extra health checks.

Although health and university officials say the threat of Ebola spreading at an American college is relatively small, some school are refusing to take any chances and will conduct screenings for the virus. (Video via University of Illinois)

According to The Washington Post, a number of schools, including the University of Illinois; the University at Buffalo; Mercer University in Macon, Georgia; Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and the University of Akron in Ohio will be taking these extra precautions.

For up-to-date information about the Ebola outbreak, including the number of infections and deaths, you can visit the World Health Organization's website.

This video includes images from Getty Images and Google Maps.

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<![CDATA[Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:28:00 -0500
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We now have an idea of what biblical kings' taste in wine was like, thanks to a recent archeological dig. 

An international research team found a huge wine cellar under an ancient Canaanite palace. They found 40 large jugs that still have traces of wine in them.

This is the largest and oldest personal wine cellar in the Middle East. If all those jars were full, the cellar would have been able to hold 3,000 bottles of wine.

The team found herbs, berries, and honey in the wine traces. Researchers called the beverage a "relatively sophisticated drink."

The palace has been excavated since the 80s, but the cellar was just recently found. 

It is located in modern day Israel and spans 200 acres. When the palace was in tact, a Canaanite community occupied the area and it likely housed some sort of leader. 

Archeologist Andrew Koh told The Smithsonian, ​"This was the patriarch's personal wine cellar. The wine was not meant to be given away as part of a system of providing for the community. It was for his own enjoyment and the support of his authority."

Pennsylvania Museum article notes elaborate wine vessels were a symbol of status and power during this time.

Although we don't really think of Israel as a wine country anymore... 

The Huffington Post reports the Canaanite wine was sought after throughout the Mediterranean and in Egypt during ancient times. 

And it turns out we might be able to sample the ancient wine someday. Researchers are currently trying to replicate some of the recipes to see what they taste like. 

This video includes images from Getty Images, Plos ONE, and Wikimedia Commons.

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<![CDATA[How A 'Rule Of Thumb' Could Slow Down Drinking]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 16:23:00 -0500
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​​Many of us have been there: We're drinking a glass of wine, and then somehow one glass turns into a few glasses ...

But could controlling the amount of wine in each of those glasses keep people from going from slightly tipsy to texting all their exes? (Video via YouTube / barexchange)

Researchers at Iowa State University and Cornell University set out to discover just that. They asked staff and college students to pour glasses of red and white wine.

They discovered the people who followed a "rule of thumb," like half a glass per pour, dispensed less wine than those who poured without a particular amount in mind. Overall, about 70 percent of participants used a half-glass guideline, and that group tended to pour about 20 percent less wine.

The researchers also considered the participants' body mass index, or BMI.

Interestingly, BMI seemed to affect the men but not the women. HealthDay reports men with a high BMI — meaning they're considered overweight — poured 31 percent more wine. And even those with BMIs that fell in the middle of the average range poured 26 percent more wine.

In a press release, the researchers said they were correct in assuming the men would pour more wine than the women. But they discovered there was one exception.

"What we found is that the rule of thumb effect is so strong that men using a rule of thumb at all levels of BMI actually poured less than women who were not using a rule of thumb."

Medical Daily reports the study concluded social norms might be coming into play here, saying women tend to compare how much they're drinking to other women around them.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a standard glass of wine is 5 ounces. And the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines moderate drinking as "up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men."

A study conducted by the same researchers last year looked into the impact of glass size and shape on how much alcohol people pour.

A writer for CBS says participants poured 12 percent more alcohol into a wide glass than a narrow one. More alcohol was also poured when the person was holding onto the glass.

This newest study is published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

This video contains images from Getty Images and Ryan Opaz / CC BY NC SA 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Scientists Have Figured Out Why Rocks Move In Death Valley]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 09:58:00 -0500
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Death Valley in California is known for a couple things: its extreme heat and its weird moving rocks. 

The latter has been a mystery since the 1940s, but scientists think they've finally figured it out. 

The Los Angeles Times breaks down the scientific paper and explains how scientists think it happens: 

First, rain comes down and wets the dried terrain. Then, with the chilly temps overnight, that water freezes. This magical combination, combined with the wind, makes the boulders move along the landscape like magic. 

The theory has been around for a while — NASA covered it in 2010 when 17 grads and undergrads from the Lunar and Planetary Science Academy took a trip to Death Valley.

"It's thought that collars of ice can form around the lower parts of the stones. ... When more water moves in, the collar helps the rock partially float, so even a heavy rock might slide when the wind blows."

And of course the media couldn't pass up a story solving the mystery, even if they didn't know it existed in the first place.

KTRK: "The mystery of the moving rocks in Death Valley has been solved. I didn't know there was a moving-rock mystery, but there is."

KCAL"After six decades of snooping around in one of the lowest and hottest and one most desolate areas of all of California, scientists say they've finally figured out the mystery of the slithering rocks."

XETV"It does seem simple, doesn't it?"

While it does sound simple, researchers had to work hard to find the answer. National Geographic explains there was also some luck involved because sometimes the rocks don't move for years:

"Scientists have long known that whatever it is that causes the stones to move, it doesn't happen very often. ...That's why it's a fantastic coincidence that the researchers not only recorded evidence of rocks shifting by way of their GPS tags, but also witnessed the phenomenon in person this past winter."

Previous theories throughout the years have involved aliens (of course) and super high winds strong enough to push those heavy boulders that can weigh hundreds of pounds.

This latest research was published in the journal PLOS One

This video includes photos from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[CDC Director On Ebola Outbreak: 'It's Worse Than I Feared']]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 07:59:00 -0500
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Strong words from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Tom Frieden. 

TOM FRIEDEN TO CNN: "No one has ever seen an outbreak of Ebola like this, with this kind of explosive spread in urban areas. Every day this outbreak goes on, it increases the risk for another export to another country."

Frieden told CNN of the outbreak: "It's even worse than I'd feared." He spoke to the outlet in Liberia's capital — just one of the areas affected by the largest Ebola outbreak on record.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 2,600 people have been infected with the deadly virus across Liberia, Nigeria, Guinea and Sierra Leone since the outbreak began in December. Of those infected, nearly 1,500 have lost their lives.

And even more ominous — it seems those who are trying hardest to help stop the spread of Ebola are starting to succumb to the disease as well.

WHO reported in its latest update Thursday more than 120 health care workers are among the dead and more than twice that number have been infected.

Health experts say there are many reasons for these numbers, including a shortage of protective equipment — like gloves and face masks — and improper use of the equipment they do have. (Video via Euronews)

And USA Today notes the "compassionate instincts" of those who rush to aid the visibly ill without taking proper safety precautions first also put health care workers at an increased risk of infection.

Before his interview with CNN, Frieden admitted the Ebola virus has the "upper hand," but he seemed optimistic that the outbreak can eventually be contained.

He said in a meeting Monday, "Ebola doesn't spread by mysterious means, we know how it spreads. So we have the means to stop it from spreading, but it requires tremendous attention to every detail."

Frieden's comments came just a day before the Ministry of Health for the Democratic Republic of Congo notified WHO of another possible Ebola outbreak. Health officials are currently investigating that claim.

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<![CDATA[Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 07:48:00 -0500
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Taking fish out of water — it's an expression that describes something that literally shouldn't work. But for some scientists, it apparently has.

This is the Senegal  bichir... and it's walking. Researchers took the fish from a young age and forced them to live on land for 8 months, in conditions that were humid enough that they could survive. (Video via Nature)

The study found the fish — which were previously known to move on land only incidentally — could adapt to walking on land. 

Basically, what the study wanted to look at was how tetrapods — four-legged creatures — first pulled themselves out of the water and made that "Little Mermaid" switch from aquatic animals to terrestrial ones. (Video via PBS)

THE LITTLE MERMAID: "Look at you, there's something different!"
"She's got legs, you idiot!"

There are well-documented cases of fish — like the mudskipper — walking on land and even climbing trees. (Video via National Geographic)

But unlike the mudskipper the Bichir has lungs, and crucially, as the study found, their movement on land is much closer to that of the earliest tetrapods. (Video via Youtube / Joel Diaz)

Now that's due to a number of factors, including the positioning of their fins on their body, but one of the really interesting things the study charted was how the fishes' bodies adapted to life on land.

Scientists looked at the clavicle and a couple other bones that link the bichir's head to its body. They found the clavicle and one of the other bones changed significantly in the land-walking fish, adapting to accommodate its new motions. 

Those findings show the fish's anatomical plasticity — its ability to change and adapt its body, a trait that would've been crucial for the first fish to walk on land. 

The study has also raised some more profound philosophical questions, like "If a fish could walk, would it still be a fish?" 

Well the scientists who conducted the study don't really have an answer for that particular question ... yet. 

This video contains an image from Me and the Sysop / CC BY ND 2.0

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<![CDATA[Experiment Tests Whether Universe Is Actually A Hologram]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 22:17:00 -0500
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Ok — ready to have your mind blown?

A new experiment is testing whether our apparently three-dimensional universe is actually a 2-D hologram, some kind of Matrix-like projection we all perceive as real. 

"Whoa..."

Researchers at U.S. Department of Energy's Fermilab are carrying out the experiment using a new device called The Holographic Interferometer, or "The Holometer" for short.

The machine uses lasers to try to measure a thing called quantum jitter — telltale movements spacetime might be making on a very, very, VERY small scale. (Video via YouTube / 'The Holometer')

The researchers use the analogy of how a TV screen looks more pixilated as you move closer to it.

The picture looks pretty sharp from a distance, but the more we zoom the blurrier it gets until we start seeing tiny pixilated blocks. Now, multiply that by ten trillion trillion times the size of an atom and that's what they're tracking. You know, no big deal.

The Verge says if the Holometer finds this "holographic noise," it would support one view in physics "that space is continually vibrating, sort of like a wave — a 2D wave, to be exact." And "that information about our universe is stored on tiny two dimensional particles​."

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: "In this view, our world is a three-dimensional projection of information that's written on a two-dimensional surface, an illusion much like a hologram."

Don't ask us to explain the specifics, but from a mathematical point of view a 3-D universe and a 2-D hologram are pretty much the same thing. And if the universe really is some kind of hologram, it would clear up a lot of confusion about some of the mysteries of physics. (Video via NASA

One of Fermilab's directors said“We want to find out whether space-time is a quantum system just like matter is. If we see something, it will completely change ideas about space we’ve used for thousands of years.”

The Holometer experiment is expected to gather data over the next year.

This video contains images from the U.S. Department of Energy.

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<![CDATA[Bad Memories Turn Good In Weird Mouse Brain Study]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 17:22:00 -0500
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Think about the last time you were on a roller coaster. You probably remember the time, the place, who you were with — and might also feel either excited or terrified, depending on whether you love or hate roller coasters.

That's because our memories don't exist in isolation. Our brains attach a lot of context to any given memory — including any strong emotions that go along with it.

Now, neuroscientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been able to actually change those emotions in lab mice, thanks to a technique that lets researchers turn individual neurons on or off using blue light.

Basically, they were able to make the mice change their minds about a positive or negative memory. 

Let's go back to the roller coaster again: if you had a good time, you're probably more inclined to want to go back to that theme park. If the ride scared the heck out of you, you would probably rather stay away. That's what the researchers were able to overcome in the mice. 

You can read the details on MIT's website, but the team found by making a mouse relive a bad memory while something good was going on, the bad memory lost its sting. The process worked in the other way, too.

This isn't a technique we can run out and start performing on humans. The mice had to have their brains genetically altered and had fiber optics cable implanted inside their skulls. (Video via YouTube / eekolife)

But the new study helps shed light on how memory works, and maybe points the way toward new treatments for disorders like PTSD way down the line. 

This video includes images from Getty Images and National Institutes of Health.

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<![CDATA[Do Couples Who Smoke Weed Together Stay Together?]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:51:00 -0500
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In a hot-tempered marriage? 

Well, apparently one thing you can do to cool the jets down is light one up. 

According to a new study, couples who smoke marijuana together are less likely to be aggressive toward each other. 

WNYW: "Researchers at the University at Buffalo looked at couples over the first nine years of marriage. They found husbands and wives who both smoked marijuana at least two to three times a month reported the least amount of spousal abuse." 

Considering factors like alcohol use, the researchers surveyed 634 couples. They didn't elaborate on exactly why pot usage might lower the risk of intimate partner violence but did note, "It is possible, for example, that — similar to a drinking partnership — couples who use marijuana together may share similar values and social circles, and it is this similarity that is responsible for reducing the likelihood of conflict." 

However, the findings are contradicted by past studies, one showing marijuana actually has adverse effects on mood — causing "hostility and relationship problems."

And other reports claim use by teens can lead to anxiety and higher stress levels during adulthood. 

But as this unrelated Harvard study pointed out in 2010, more is known about the psychiatric risks of pot use than the benefits. 

Now, as marijuana laws around the U.S. are relaxing, there's more room for in-depth research on the potential benefits. 

And that chance for increased knowledge is a move supported by the federal government. Earlier this year, the Drug Enforcement Administration approved an increase in marijuana growth for government research.  

According to The Washington Post, the new finding on violence in marriage "is a solid contribution to the marijuana literature, and we'll need a lot more like it as the country seems to move toward overall legalization." 

This was one of the first studies to measure the connection between smoking pot and domestic violence. However, the study's authors did say more research needs to be done and they would like to try to duplicate the findings. 

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<![CDATA[Panda Might Have Faked Pregnancy To Get Special Treatment]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 12:44:00 -0500
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When you're pregnant, you need to eat more because of that whole "growing-a-child-inside-of-me" thing. But fakin' it for food? Turns out a panda in China might have done just that.

Ai Hin, the panda on the right, seemed to be pregnant for about two months. She wasn't eating and moving around as much and even had a rise in hormone levels. (Video via YouTube / yumikaji さんのチャンネル)

And then experts from the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Center, which is where the panda lives, say the pregnancy symptoms just disappeared, and her hormone levels went back to normal.

The Independent reports it's believed Ai Hin was trying to get the special treatment given to pregnant pandas, like getting more food and being placed in air-conditioned rooms instead of being out in the heat.

Chinese news outlet Xinhua even said the center had planned to broadcast the birth, but that was quickly canceled after experts realized the panda was having a "phantom pregnancy."

It turns out this isn't really rare for pandas.

The BBC has reported it's difficult to determine whether a panda is actually pregnant because "an ultrasound scan is not guaranteed to help as a panda [fetus] is tiny, difficult to detect and develops late."

Suzanne Hall, a researcher at the San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research, says when pandas go through phantom pregnancies, they experience many of the physical symptoms they'd have if they were really pregnant. Hall suggests female pandas that experience pseudopregnancies are trying to "prime" their bodies for the real deal. Because pandas only mate once every two or three years, Hall concludes, "If you miss a year, it's a big loss to your lifetime reproductive output." (Video via YouTube / San Diego Zoo)

Another possible explanation, according to Hall: Some of these pandas might have miscarried, although some that experience pseudopregnancy have never even mated.

The topic of panda reproduction is of interest to researchers for conservation purposes — there aren't many pandas left in the world. The Smithsonian National Zoological Park says 300 are currently in captivity in breeding centers and zoos. About 1,600 live outside of captivity.

Xinhua reported only 24 percent of those female pandas living in zoos and breeding centers actually give birth. 

And LiveScience says phantom pregnancies have also been observed among bears and other carnivorous animals. Even human women have been known to experience them.

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<![CDATA[Experiences Make Us Happy, Even Just Waiting For Them]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 12:11:00 -0500
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Wait for it ... wait for it ... no, seriously, wait for it.

A new study focused on waiting and found out what really makes us happy. Here's how: It found people waiting to purchase experiences, like a trip or concert tickets, were more excited than those waiting to buy a material item, like a TV.

It's one of the more fun studies we've heard of — it's even called "Waiting for Merlot."

Get it? Like Godot? ... We thought it was funny.

The study came to two conclusions: first, that people get happy just anticipating what they're going to get; and second, people who were waiting to buy experiences got happier thinking about them than people waiting to buy material things. The big takeaway:

"Experiential purchases (money spent on doing) tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money spent on having)."

To figure all this out, researchers asked college students about purchases they planned to make, and also worked through trackyourhappiness.org

They also looked at newspaper articles about people waiting in line for things to see how those people were behaving.

This is, dare we say, in line with what other research has shown us about happiness. 

Some studies have shown that some of the poorest countries in the world have the happiest people. 

And there's a cap on the happiness money can bring. 

A 2010 poll of Americans showed the happiness level plateaus at a $75,000-a-year salary. Make more than that, and you have more stuff, but no more day-to-day happiness.

And if you want a little tip on putting a smile on your face: Lots of research has shown that giving makes people happy.

So wait in line, buy those concert tickets and give one to a friend? Enjoy the joy. 

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<![CDATA[Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Painkiller Overdose Deaths?]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 17:56:00 -0500
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Deaths from prescription drug overdoses have spiked dramatically since the 1990s. Now new research suggests legal medical marijuana might contribute to a decrease in those deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than half of the drug overdose deaths in 2011 involved pharmaceutical drugs.

But according to a study published in the journal JAMA, as much as 25 percent fewer people die from prescription drug overdoses in states that allow medical marijuana than in the states that don't.

The findings suggest those with chronic pain in states with legal pot could be turning to marijuana instead of prescription drugs, which require a higher dosage that might be more dangerous. (Video via CNN)

And as the Los Angeles Times notes, past research has already indicated patients who take prescription drugs together with medical marijuana can experience greater pain-killing effects.

But the researchers warn the study's results don't necessarily prove that people choose marijuana over prescription drugs in states that have legalized it.

And experts don't agree on the interpretation of the results, either. One medical expert tells Newsweek not many doctors are prescribing medical marijuana to begin with, even in states where it is legal. He says the results could have also been affected by regulations in states cracking down on prescription drug abuse.

The study comes just days after the Drug Enforcement Administration announced new restrictions on the prescribing of hydrocodone. 

Federal officials believe these new regulations will help fight addiction to hydrocodone, which is one of the most prescribed and most abused prescription drugs in the U.S.

The federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, the most restrictive class. And its supposed benefits in treating pain due to health issues such as cancer are also still a matter of debate.

The study was conducted between 1999 and 2010, when medical marijuana was legalized in 13 states. Currently, that total comes up to 23, with more states expected to follow.

This video contains images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[40,000-Year-Old Mammoth Skeleton Found On Texas Farm]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:21:00 -0500
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​An almost completely intact mammoth skeleton is being excavated after it was found buried on a Texas farm in May.

Wayne McEwen told the Dallas Morning News his son and grandson made the discovery while digging in a gravel pit on his property. They first unearthed one of the mammoth’s tusks, and then they just kept finding more and more bones.

WAYNE MCEWEN: "I believe it will be nearly 100 percent because there are two or three legs missing or leg bones. But I believe that when we get the bones that's there up, those other bones will be there."

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas was notified of the unearthing and sent specialists out to help with the digging.

And Monday the museum announced on Twitter the skeleton had been donated to the museum by the McEwen family.

The museum already has a mammoth skeleton on display in its T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall, which also showcases dinosaur skeletons.

KTVT spoke with Tom Vance, a Navarro College professor who says the animal found is a Columbian mammoth. The mammoth's skeleton is estimated to be about 40,000 years old.

According to the BBC, Columbian mammoths had incredible tusks that could grow to be 4.9 meters long, or a little more than 16 feet. The media outlet says these animals were probably less hairy than wooly mammoths and instead likely had some of their skin exposed.

Columbian mammoths were known to live in the southern half of North America.

Which might explain why Texas has its own museum dedicated to the animal, called the Waco Mammoth Site. It's built on the location where at least 22 Columbian mammoth skeletons were uncovered.

The long process of removing the mammoth bones from the gravel pit on the McEwen farm to a Perot Museum storage facility should begin sometime this week.

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<![CDATA[Have You Ever Been 'Sleep Drunk?' 1 in 7 Has]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 09:04:00 -0500
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Have you ever woken up disoriented, trying to figure out where you are and why you're using your cat as a pillow? 

No, we don't mean after a night of tequila shots, just an everyday awakening. Well, you may have been sleep drunk. It's a thing. 

Being sleep drunk means you have problems waking up after sleeping, and are often confused. Time called it "a serious and surprisingly common problem."

Serious because researchers say it can result in violent behavior. Researchers interviewed more than 19,000 people 18 and older and found 15 percent had experienced sleep drunkeness within the last year. 

The study, published in the journal Neurology sought to find out whether being sleep drunk, or having "confusional arousals," as it's also called, is due to "mental disorders and psychotropic medications." 

The study found 84 percent of confusional arousals, or sleep drunk episodes, were associated with either mental disorders or drugs. It also found too much or not enough sleep, bipolar and panic disorders played a role as well. 

And while it sounds like a fairly serious condition, New York Magazine noted some of the researchers got some laughs after hearing people's stories from being sleep drunk. 

"​One man picked up his alarm clock and mistook it for his phone, holding a two-minute conversation on it."

And since this is a rather quirky story, you better believe outlets picked up on it, too. For real, though, how can you not cover a story on being sleep drunk? Media gold. 

WBBM: "When you wake up and feel out of sorts ... you may be sleep drunk."

WJBK"I'm disoriented every morning."

"You might still be sleep drunk, Jay."

WCCO"Sleep drunk."

"Sleep drunk, that's what it is."

New York Magazine says people who are used to this sleep drunkeness and have it happen at least once a week, may have a different underlying health issue like an undiagnosed sleeping disorder. 

This video contains photos from Getty Images. 

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<![CDATA[Doctors Push For Later Start Times As School Year Kicks Off]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 12:02:00 -0500
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Another school year is starting up across the country, and that apparently means another conversation about start-times. 

In a statement Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics said it's advocating start-times for middle and high schools be pushed back to 8:30 or later, writing, "Doing so will align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents, whose sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty."

The report indicated the ideal amount of sleep for adolescents is between 8.5 and 9.5 hours a night, and that 59 percent of 6th through 8th graders and 87 percent of high school students in the U.S. don't get enough. That prompted this reaction from outlets:

HLN: "Teens apparently need more time to sleep, you know they say it— and they say they shouldn't have to start school until 8:30 or later, well guess what— doctors are saying the same thing!"

FOX NEWS: "Some good news for teenagers, doctors want you to sleep in!"

CNBC: "My kids are starting at like 7, 7:30 — it's ridiculous — Therefore high schools and middle schools should start no earlier than 8:30. That's because the group says the adolescents need more sleep. Yep, I agree with that, for sure."

But it's not really new news: this is an issue that has been discussed for years now, but it always seems to come up around the start of every new school year. 

As far back as the mid-1990s, the University of Minnesota conducted a study on a local high school that pushed its start time back by an hour, and found a number of a benefits, including increased attendance, less depression among students and fewer behavioral issues. 

Around this same time last year, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told Susan Page on the Diane Rehm Show: "I think there's a lot of research, and again kind of common sense, that a lot of teens, you know, struggle to get up at 6 a.m. to get on the bus ... So often we design school systems that work for adults, not for kids." 

Duncan stressed later in that interview, though, that the decision should be up to individual school systems, but not many have jumped aboard, with only 15 percent of high schools starting at 8:30 or later, and a majority starting before 8 — according to the AAP.

The AAP is one of the biggest groups to get behind the issue, although it's not immediately clear what effects the group's statement will have in the long run.

This video contains an image from Alberto Vaccaro / CC BY 2.0

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<![CDATA[Atlantic Ocean Might Be To Blame For Global Warming 'Pause']]> Sun, 24 Aug 2014 20:33:00 -0500
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The so-called "global warming pause" that's caused global temperatures to stall for the past fifteen years has been a thorn in the side of climate scientists for years.

Global warming skeptics say the pause pokes a hole in the concept of man-made climate change: after all, since carbon emissions have been steadily climbing, why haven't global temperatures risen to match?

Climate scientists have proposed many answers to that question, from El Niño to volcanic eruptions, and none of them have really stuck. But a new paper published in Science this week claims to have found the missing heat: turns out, it's been hiding in the Atlantic Ocean.

Study authors Xianyao Chen and Ka-Kit Tung say global warming's recent hiatus is tied to the circulation of warm and cool water in the Atlantic. Essentially, warmer, saltier water gradually sinks below colder fresh water as it travels north, trapping heat beneath the waves. (Video via NASA)

The researchers tested their theory using measurements from the network of Argo floats currently studying the ocean's temperature and salinity at depths of up to 2,000 meters. Those measurements show a sharp rise in the amount of energy stored between 300-1,500 meters over the past decade — right as the "pause" started. (Video via BBC)

The scientists also observed an increase in the Atlantic's salt content during the same period, which seems to go up and down on a 30-year cycle. The paper suggests the ocean's salinity has something to do with the increase in stored heat — since saltier water sinks faster, more heat gets trapped beneath the cool water.

The study could represent an important shift in how we view the global warming hiatus. A writer for The Economist points out most people had been looking to the Pacific Ocean for answers up until now.

"Because the Pacific has previously been thought of as the world's main heat sink, fluctuations affecting it are considered among the most important influences upon the climate. ... But if Dr Chen and Dr Tung are right, then the fluctuations in the Atlantic may be more important."

But scientists aren't ready to relinquish the Pacific's role in slowing global warming. One researcher told The Guardian"The hiatus really is a patchwork problem of lots of different things. ... This does suggest a role for the Atlantic but there's a lot more to it than that. ... It doesn't dispel the key role for the Pacific in the hiatus."

If the researcher's projections are right, we've got about ten years left before the cycle flips and the Atlantic starts releasing its heat. But the authors caution it's hard to predict what happens next with the climate, since there are so many variables involved.

This video contains images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Farmers' Almanac Predicts Another Harsh Winter]]> Sun, 24 Aug 2014 17:25:00 -0500
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Get ready for another cold, harsh winter America.

That's according to The Farmers' Almanac, a guide that has been around almost 200 years and was one of the few to correctly predict last year's extreme winter. 

The almanac makes predictions based on long-range weather trends, sunspots and planetary positions. 

On its website, the almanac also lists "unusual abundance of acorns, squirrels gathering nuts early, and spiders spinning larger than normal webs" and as signs a rough winter is on its way. 

The guide even swears by some kind of bizarre methods, like the rhyme about cattle and horses: "Tails pointing west, weather's at its best. Tails pointing east, weather is least." ​Apparently the tails were pointing east. 

The almanac predicts three-quarters of the U.S. will be very cold and wet, while the areas that could use some storms, like California, won't bet getting them. 

The state has been battling a severe drought and now it looks like there is no end it sight. Just this week, hundereds went without running water in their homes and had to rely on water bottles for drinking.  

The almanac was a bit off regarding precipitation in the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast last winter. Still, creators of the almanac say it has about an 80 percent accuracy rate. 

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<![CDATA[Nail Polish Could Detect Date Rape Drugs]]> Sun, 24 Aug 2014 13:20:00 -0500
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Soon your nail polish could tell you if your drink contains date rape drugs. 

The innovative polish would work by changing color when it comes in contact with any date rape drug. So, the woman just has to discretely dip her finger in her drink to test it for safety. 

The polish is called Undercover Colors and, although it's yet to be developed, it already has almost 4 thousand likes on Facebook. The page describes the product as the "first fashion company working to prevent sexual assault."

Undercover Colors was created by four male undergraduates at North Carolina State University who said, "Our goal is to invent technologies that empower women to protect themselves from this heinous and quietly pervasive crime."

While fashionable, this nail polish brings light to the issue of sexual assault. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly 1 in 5 women experience rape at some time in their lives. 

It also reports more than a third of those rapes happen when women are college aged.

And unfortunately, date rape drugs are often used to aid in those rapes. Womenshealth.gov defines date rape drugs as drugs that are slipped into a drink without the victim's knowledge. These drugs are odorless and tasteless and can cause weakness and loss of consciousness.  

Undercover Colors' creators said, "​Through this nail polish and similar technologies, we hope to make potential perpetrators afraid to spike a woman’s drink because there’s now a risk that they can get caught."

The product is still being developed and the creators are currently asking for donations to complete their work. 

The creators are not yet saying when they hope to release the product, but told Newsy they are still early in the development process. 

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<![CDATA[Icelandic Volcano Alert Level Raised, Starts Erupting]]> Sat, 23 Aug 2014 18:16:00 -0500
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Hot springs, glaciers, Sigur Rós, ice, volcanoes ... Iceland is known for all of this. Unfortunately, it's those last two that may soon become a problem for the Nordic country. 

The Icelandic Met Office upgraded the threat level of its largest volcano — Bárðarbunga, from orange to red on Saturday after something called a sub-glacial eruption was detected. (Video via VTM Nieuws)

According to the Iceland Review, we can't see an eruption taking place when its sub-glacial since it's all underneath the ice. 

But, according to the Met Office, visible signs could start appearing. They estimate that within a day lava may start to reach the surface. Or, it won't reach the surface at all. (Video via YouTube / potzdonner)

The most recent update from an Icelandic geologist who has been regularly following the volcano notes the volcanic activity "could die down, even temporarily, or it could get stronger." There it is again, that same uncertainty. 

A British volcanologist attempted to clear things up with The Conversation on Monday by listing three scenarios, depending on where the eruption occurs and how much magma comes out. 

If only a small amount of magma is released underneath thick ice, flooding may occur in the surrouding area. If there's a lot of magma coming out under thick ice, then a smoke plume will form, but it won't be too problematic for air travel. If the magma comes out somewhere else that's not underneath ice, then we get explosions. 

And, before you start having flashbacks to the eruption of that one, unpronounceable volcano in 2010, there's no reason to start freaking out just yet. 

A science writer at Volcanocafé notes that, given the possible scenarios, this is more likely to be the kind of eruption you'd see in Hawaii as opposed to the ashy eruption from 2010. 

That eruption, according to the BBC, caused the largest closure of European airspace since World War II. 

A science writer told National Geographic that some of Iceland's worst eruptions happened in 1104 and 1783, with the latter putting out more than 100 million tons of sulfur dioxide that ended up covering much of Europe.

In comparison, a little smoke from this volcano doesn't sound nearly as bad. The sub-glacial eruption is currently being monitored on multiple fronts, including a livestream and a github website giving live updates on seismic activity.

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<![CDATA[Breakfast Might Not Be The Day's Most Important Meal]]> Sat, 23 Aug 2014 13:43:00 -0500
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Ah, breakfast. The most important meal of the day .... or wait — is it? Two new studies say, not so much. 

A study out of the University of Bath found those who did not eat a meal before 11 a.m had no real metabolic differences from those who did. 

The study looked at the blood glucose, cholesterol and metabolic rate of both breakfast and non-breakfast eaters. 

And a study done by the University of Alabama agrees eating breakfast is not going to help you shed any pounds. It found there is no correlation between the meal and weight loss. 

The New York Times quotes researcher Emily Dhurandhar saying, “breakfast may be just another meal.”

But it's important to note this study only looked at people's weight, not their overall health. 

A study done by Harvard last year says eating breakfast is key to a healthy body. It found that those who skipped breakfast had a higher risk of heart disease.  

Researchers said this was likely because extra time fasting puts strain on the heart. 

So basically, do eat breakfast. But do it for your heart, not your waistline. 

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<![CDATA[SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff]]> Sat, 23 Aug 2014 08:44:00 -0500
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Private spaceflight company SpaceX lost a rocket in Texas this week, when an unmanned version of the company’s Falcon 9 vehicle exploded shortly after liftoff on Friday.

KWTX was on the ground nearby.

“The company says discovering problems is exactly why it's important to have test flights. No one was hurt, thank goodness. SpaceX says an internal system set off the explosion when something was wrong.” (Video via WRC-TV)

In a statement released after the mishap, SpaceX did say it had been pushing closer to the limits of the Falcon 9’s capabilities with this test than with previous launches.

But the abortive test does appear to be the exception for SpaceX, not the rule. Earlier this month the company sent the AisaSat 8 satellite to orbit from Cape Canaveral aboard a Falcon 9, with no problems. (Video via SpaceX)

CBS points out “the test failure Friday was the first catastrophic mishap in the test program's history.”

NBC called it “arguably the program's highest-profile failure by far.”

It is rocket science, after all. The vehicles remain, by Elon Musk’s technical assessment on Twitter, “tricky.” SpaceX now plans to analyze everything it can about the mishap before it resumes testing.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Will Tightened Painkiller Regulations Reduce Drug Abuse?]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:02:00 -0500
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The Drug Enforcement Administration has announced tighter restrictions on prescription painkillers in an effort to curb drug abuse in the U.S.

​According to a notice published in the Federal Register, the regulation will classify hydrocodone-combination products, such as Vicodin, as a Schedule II drug instead of a less-restrictive Schedule III drug. Pure hydrocodone has already been listed as a Schedule II drug since the 1970s.

Hydrocodone is one of the most prescribed and most abused painkillers in the U.S. The move is part of the government's effort to reduce what it calls a growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 15,000 deaths in 2008 were due to prescription painkiller overdoses, compared to just 4,000 in 1999.

The Food and Drug Administration first recommended the restrictions in January 2013. The new rules will put tighter regulations on doctors as well as manufacturers and pharmacies.

Under Schedule II regulations, doctors can only prescribe a supply of the drug limited to 90 days with no refills. And one medical professional tells The Wall Street Journal pharmacies will now have to keep those drugs secured and will only accept written prescriptions.

Now, the government believes these regulations will help fight hydrocodone addiction, although it has not specified how the regulations will contribute to a decrease in drug abuse in general. 

Other experts think it might make it more difficult for those who rely on these medications for chronic pain to keep their prescriptions filled.

According to USA Today, the FDA has resisted implementing similar regulations in the past for this exact reason. But it finally changed its stance amid the growing number of reports of widespread abuse.

But one addiction specialist tells The New York Times the change might even cause a hike in the use of other illegal drugs such as heroin.

Others question whether these regulations are comprehensive enough.

FOX BUSINESS"It's people going in the medicine cabinet, it's illegal drugs, prescription drugs getting on the illegal market. The government needs to do more. ... Oxycodone is already in Schedule II, that causes more deaths."

The new regulations will take effect in October.

This video contains images from Hiii Fiii / CC BY ND 2.0 and Rhoda Baer / National Institutes of Health.

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<![CDATA[Did Russia Really Find Plankton On The ISS? NASA Not So Sure]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 20:03:00 -0500
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Russia's space agency claims to have found sea plankton on the outside of the International Space Station. Wait, what?

A report in ITAR-TASS quotes Russia's ISS mission chief saying, "We have found traces of sea plankton and microscopic particles on the illuminator surface. This should be studied further." The report claims this finding is part of a long-term study, which proves some life can exist in space.

The discovery apparently occurred after Russia's two cosmonauts currently onboard the ISS started cleaning off the station's illuminators — that's space language for "windows." The astronauts reportedly discovered the plankton after examining the residue on the illuminators. (Video via NASA)

State-run TV network RT confirmed the news — also referring to the find as part of a study. Since the plankton isn't native to the ISS resupply launch sites in Kazakhstan, the prevailing theory appears to be that this plankton was blown into orbit from the surface of the ocean by rising air currents.

If that sounds pretty far-fetched to you, then don't worry. NASA's a little skeptical of the news, too.

A NASA spokesman told Space.com the agency hadn't been informed of the discovery, and noted the Russian astronauts weren't looking for plankton while cleaning the windows. "What they're actually looking for is residues that can build up on the visually sensitive elements, like windows. ... That's what they were taking samples for. I don't know where all the sea plankton talk is coming from."

The idea isn't totally unreasonable, though — in 2007, a hardy microscopic creature known as the tardigrade became the first living organism to survive exposure to space — they've also weathered extreme temperatures, pressures, radiation, and possibly every mass extinction event in history. And in 2013, NASA scientists raised the alarm that contaminated parts on the Curiosity rover might have accidentally carried Earth bacteria to Mars.

Russian cosmonauts might only have six years left to find any more plankton up there at the ISS. The head of Russia's space agency told reporters in May Russia only plans to commit to funding the ISS until 2020.

This video contains an image from NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

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<![CDATA[Study Suggests Children With Autism Have Extra Synapses]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:14:00 -0500
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Children with autism ​might have extra snypases, or cellular connections, in their brains. That's according to researchers from Columbia University Medical Center. 

Brain synapses are the connections between nerve cells that allow information to travel from one neuron to another. There are trillions of these synapses in the human brain.

The researchers studied the brains of 26 children with autism who had died of other causes between the ages of 2 and 20, as well as 22 brains from children without the disorder.

According to The New York Times: "In typical brain development, there is an explosion of synapses very early and then a pruning process begins. That process is necessary to ensure that different areas of the brain can develop specific functions and are not overloaded with stimuli."

The researchers reportedly found, in the brains of younger children, there was very little difference in the number of synapses between the two groups. But when it came to the adolescents, those with autism had significantly more than those without.

According to a Columbia press release, researchers have studied a drug that sped up that pruning process to normal levels in mice with autism-like behaviors. While the drug can't be used in humans, a professor not involved in the study said:​ "The fact that we can see changes in behavior suggests that autism may still be treatable after a child is diagnosed, if we can find a better drug."

The study was published Thursday in the journal Neuron.

This video features images from Mike Seyfang / CC BY 2.0 and Mouagip / CC BY SA 3.0​

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<![CDATA[American Ebola Patients Released: What Cured Them?]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:00:00 -0500
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The two American humanitarian workers who were treated for Ebola in an Atlanta hospital have now been released. One of the patients, Dr. Kent Brantly, along with hospital staff, made statements upon the release. 

BRANTLY VIA CNN"I am thrilled to be alive, to be well, and to be reunited with my family." 

DR. BRUCE RIBNER VIA WXIA: "We are hopeful that what we learned here will assist our colleagues in Africa in caring for these critically ill patients."

Both patients received doses of the experimental drug ZMapp. ZMapp contains man-made antibodies believed to fight Ebola. Right now it's unclear whether the drug played a significant role in the patients' recovery.

ZMapp was also given to three doctors in Liberia, who are now showing signs of improvement. But again in this case, it remains unclear whether they recovered because of the drug or because of early detection. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers cannot legally say the drug works until they complete a scientific trial. They need to be able to compare the results of a group that received the drug and a group that did not. And no trials have been done yet on humans. 

But if it might help, why aren't more people getting the drug? Ebola has already killed more than 1,000 people in Africa. 

The developer of the drug, Mapp Biopharmaceutical, says because ZMapp is so new and still in the experimental phases, not much of it is available. 

The released patients will be receiving follow-up care from the hospital. 

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<![CDATA[Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 12:34:00 -0500
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Researchers have known, as people get older, they have more difficulty falling and staying asleep. And now we might know why.

A new study from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the University of Toronto says the loss of brain cells that act as a so-called "sleep switch" may be one of the reasons why many seniors have trouble catching some zzz's.

To come to this conclusion, researchers analyzed data from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, which includes nearly 1,000 people who joined the project at age 65 and will be studied until their death.

They found elderly people and Alzheimer's patients show a significant decline in a specific group of neurons called the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus, which is responsible for regulating sleep patterns in the brain.

The study's senior author told WBUR's Common Health, "This is the first time that anyone has ever been able to show in humans that there is a distinct group of nerve cells in the brain that's critical for allowing you to sleep."

The researchers noted by the time people hit their 70s, they're sleeping, on average, an hour and a half less than they used to when they were in their 20s.

And that lack of sleep can lead to a number of other health problems, as HealthDay points out, including thinking and memory issues, increased blood pressure and a tendency to develop Type 2 diabetes.

Disrupted sleep can even lead to issues that may end in institutionalization for Alzheimer's patients, like nighttime wandering.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, wandering and incontinence are the top two causes of institutionalization in Alzheimer's patients.

But one of the study's authors told The Huffington Post they hope this new finding could help scientists develop a drug that would help smooth disruptive sleep patterns by pinpointing the specific group of neurons without negatively affecting other functions like other sleep medications do.

The researchers say it's unclear when a drug like this would be available for use. The study was published in the journal Brain Aug. 20.

This video contains images from Getty Images, Leonardo Allocca / CC BY NC ND 2.0​ and Steve Wilde / CC BY NC ND 2.0​.

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<![CDATA[Neanderthals Probably Died Out Earlier Than We Thought]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 10:14:00 -0500
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​A big question plaguing paleoanthropologists — that is, people who study ancient humans — is just when did Neanderthals disappear?

Most thought our early human ancestors went extinct about 30,000 years ago.

But — and we’ll get into this a little more later — dating really old bones can get tricky.

And in what The New York Times called "the most definitive answer yet," a new study suggests Neanderthals actually disappeared from Europe 10,000 years earlier than previously thought.

The simplest way we can explain it is that researchers used radiocarbon dating but removed contaminants they think were making samples seem older than they actually were. (Video via Natural History Museum London)

It all comes from University of Oxford researchers who published their findings in the journal Nature.

The study is actually chock-full of interesting Neanderthal-related findings. A glance at the headlines provides a sampling of what various editors thought was most interesting.

Including the extinction date we just discussed and the fact the study suggests Neanderthals and modern humans coexisted and interbred for thousands of years.

And New Scientist focuses on the revelation that humans played a role in Neanderthal extinction, characterizing us as "an invasive species."

Another theory the study might have turned on its head: that Neanderthals disappeared all at once. Instead, researchers think their evidence suggests it happened "at different times in different regions."

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<![CDATA[Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 08:31:00 -0500
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Our biological relatives might have answers in the search for a cure for Ebola, which has claimed the lives of more than 1,300 and infected nearly double that number.

According to a new study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, 16 rhesus macaque monkeys survived a Marburg virus infection — a disease "closely related" to Ebola — thanks to a new experimental treatment.

​While we've seen several experimental drugs, NBC reports this one is unique because of its efficacy. It's "the first time such a drug has been shown to work so many days after infection." Some of the macaques didn't receive the drug until three days afterward.

And that's why the drug could be useful: Many are unaware of an Ebola infection until it's too late. 

While it's true the drug was used for a "cousin" of Ebola — Marburg virus — the company behind the treatment is also working on a drug for Ebola. It's one that's "been fast-tracked by the Food and Drug Administration," according to NBC.

The New York Times explains both drugs use a technique called RNA interference. When a virus enters the body, it begins to take over the body's cells, forcing them to make copies of the virus. The RNA interference technique stops the virus's ability to make copies of itself. (Video via World Health Organization)

Despite promising results, one doctor quoted by The Washington Post cautioned, "It would be a mistake for people in those countries to think that these drugs are going to be available in large enough quantities to alter the course of this outbreak."

He told the outlet "adherence to traditional public health measures" is the best way to get the outbreak under control. 

Another drug being used in the treatment of Ebola has proven effective. ABC reports Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol — two Americans who contracted Ebola — will be released from the hospital after being treated with ZMapp.

This video includes images from Kees de Vos / CC BY NC SA 2.0 and European Commission DG ECHO​ / CC BY ND 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 08:09:00 -0500
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If you live in a big city and somehow weren't a little creeped out by spiders before, you definitely will be now.

According to a new study out of Australia, spiders get bigger and multiply faster when they live in the city. Cue the giant spider nightmares.

Researchers from the University of Sydney found that golden orb weaver spiders like this one living near heavily urbanized areas in Sydney tend to be larger, better fed and have more offspring than their country-dwelling counterparts. (Video via YouTube / MyBackyardBirding)

To come to this terrifying conclusion, the study's authors collected 222 female golden orb weavers from different places around Sydney and measured each area's urbanization based on qualities like leaf-litter cover, grass coverage and amount of hard surfaces, such as concrete.

The researchers then measured the spiders' body size, fat reserves and ovary weight to determine their reproductive capacity. And, sure enough, the more urban the area, the bigger, fatter and more potentially fertile the spiders were. Lovely.

One of the study's authors told The Atlantic's CityLab they believe two factors present in most cities are responsible for this so-called superspider trend. 

First, the hot microclimates sustained by a paved-over city makes for an ideal environment for spiders to grow and thrive.

And second, thanks to the massive amount of artificial light in cities, they attract an abnormal amount of insects to the area. Translation: the spiders are never without a plentiful food source.

Now, this may seem like bad news all around for city dwellers. But as gross as spiders are, they're actually good to have around.

They eat insects we consider to be annoying pests, like flies and mosquitos, and keep their populations down. And they're also an important food source for other creatures, including frogs and toads. Ah, the circle of life.

While the research in Sydney was confined to just one species of spider, the study's authors say other types of spiders are probably reaping the benefits of city living too. You can check out the entire study in the journal PLOS One.

This video contains images from Getty Images.​

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<![CDATA[Thousands Of Species Found In Lake Under Antarctic Ice]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 20:44:00 -0500
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A half-mile of ice isn't enough to suffocate life. A team of scientists who drilled into one of Antarctica's subglacial lakes last year says the lake is pretty well-packed with living things.

The U.S.-based team used a sterile hot water drill to reach and collect samples from Lake Whillans, one of Antarctica's roughly 400 lakes, which are kept liquid by pressure, friction and the planet's heat.

Shortly afterward, they announced they'd found life in the lake water, and after a year and a half of study, they've confirmed nearly 4,000 species, many of them completely new.

Life existing at all in a lake that hasn't gotten any sunlight in more than 100,000 years is definitely impressive. As you can probably guess, energy is scarce beneath the ice.

But the single-celled organisms that live there have a creative trick: they eat the rock to survive, having found ways to use minerals like iron and ammonium for energy, similar to how microbes on the bottom of the deepest oceans get by.

Science writers are calling this a first: "the first sample ever retrieved directly from a subglacial lake", "the first organisms ever retrieved from a subglacial Antarctic lake." But that depends on who you ask.

A Russian team collected samples from Lake Vostok shortly before the U.S. team got to Lake Whillans. They published findings of life under the ice a year ago, but many scientists said their drilling technique risked contamination.

Now it's definitive: life can survive under Antarctica's ice sheets, far away from sunlight. And that has some big implications.

Saturn's moon Enceladus and Jupiter's moon Europa are both potential candidates for alien life. The findings in Antarctica are more evidence that life could thrive under the moons' ice crusts.

The team hopes to return to Lake Whillans this winter to take more samples and see if they can find more species, including, perhaps, some small animals.

This video contains images from NASA.

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<![CDATA[Reasons Why Teen Birth Rates Are At An All-Time Low]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 20:38:00 -0500
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A new government report shows teen birth rates have fallen drastically in the past two decades and have even hit a record low.

The report, published Wednesday on the CDC website, shows teen birth rates took a 57 percent nosedive between 1991 and 2013. At the end of that period, American teens were less than one-third as likely to give birth as they had been in 1957. The decline was seen across all 50 states and all races and ethnic groups.

In fact, outside of a brief spike on the graph between 1986 and 1991, the report says teen birth rates have been steadily declining for nearly a half-century. So why such a big drop? Well, there are a number of theories.

Let's start with money. This 2011 Pew Research Center study shows a strong correlation between the birth rates for women of all ages and the overall ebb and flow of U.S. economy.

Pew also says "less sex, more contraception and more information" has helped sustain the downward trend.

Interestingly enough, a Brookings Institute study says reality shows like MTV's "16 and Pregnant" and "Teen Mom" have played a huge role in bringing teen pregnancy to the public eye.

"We attribute 5.7 percent reduction in teen child bearing to the introduction of '16 and Pregnant' in June 2009. So, to be clear, that's a third of the decline in the overall teen child bearing we've seen for this period."

There are also a number of public health initiatives playing a role.

Colorado, for example, has seen a 40 percent drop in teen births over the past few years, which The Washington Post reports is being credited to a program that provides long-term contraception, like IUDs or implants, to young women.

As for the study itself, one expert on preventing teen pregnancy celebrated what he said were "eye-opening" stats with HealthDay. "These historic declines in teen pregnancy and births truly represent one of the nation's great success stories over the past two decades."

This video contains images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[ALS Ice Bucket Challenge And Sports Are Deeply Connected]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:29:00 -0500
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The Ice Bucket Challenge is everywhere on social media right now and it's all in an effort to raise awareness about ALS. But, cold water isn't the only thing shocking about former NFL linebacker Tim Shaw's recent Ice Bucket Challenge video. 

Shaw posted a video of himself doing the challenge on the Tennessee Titans website Tuesday. In that video, Shaw made a surprising revelation — announcing he too is battling ALS. 

Shaw, who's 30, last played in the NFL in 2012 as a linebacker with the Titans. The Penn State alum also played for the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears throughout his career. 

ABC points out Shaw isn't the only former NFL battling the disease. The outlet says former players Steve Gleason, O.J. Brigance and Kevin Turner are among others in the same situation. 

As The ALS Association describes it, "Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord." Those with the disease slowly lose speech ability and use of their muscles. Ultimately, they become paralyzed. 

But, the links between ALS and athletes is deeply rooted. 

ALS is also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," named after one of Major League Baseball's greatest players who was diagnosed with it in 1939. 

ALS THERAPY DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE, LOU GEHRIG: "I might've been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for. Thank you."

Gehrig died two years later. 

And the whole "Ice Bucket Challenge" social media sensation started this year thanks to a pair of athletes. (Video via The Boston Globe

It started with many people on social media donating to their favorite charity or face the icy water. But, The Golf Channel reports it's golfer Chris Kennedy who first started connecting it to ALS with this video. Kennedy's cousin suffers from the disease.

That's when the trend first got goin' and ESPN reports former Boston College player Pete Frates really brought it to mainstream social media. Frates, 29, was diagnosed with the disease two years ago. (Video via A Life Story Foundation

"Last month, one of Pete's friends introduced him to the Ice Bucket Challenge. ... Pete couldn't do it himself, but he could ask others to do it. 

And the rest is social media history. Pete eventually did do the challenge at his home team's Boston Red Sox's Fenway Park.

​According to The ALS Association, the Ice Bucket Challenge has helped raise $31.5 million in donations since July 29th with the numbers growing higher everyday. The Association received $1.9 million in donations over the same time period last year.

In the video, Shaw challenged the Tennessee Titans organization, Penn State football coach James Franklin and his Clarenceville, Michigan community.

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<![CDATA[Common Antibiotic Could Lead To Heart-Related Death]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:42:00 -0500
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A common antibiotic used by millions worldwide could be linked to hundreds of deaths from heart problems every year.

Clarithromycin, which is used to treat things like pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus infections, was linked by Danish researchers to dozens more deaths per year than penicillin.

Their new study, published in the British Medical Journal, studied hundreds of cases where a patient died from heart problems while taking one of the two drugs, and found clarithromycin had a 76 percent higher risk than penicillin.

​Though the risk from either drug was small, the researchers said in a statement, "Clarithromycin is one of the more commonly used antibiotics in many countries and millions of people are prescribed this drug each year."

The researchers aren't urging doctors to stop prescribing the drug, though, citing the low risk and the need for more research. (Video via WLNE

In an email to Medscape, one of the researchers said, "This finding should probably have limited, if any, effect on prescribing practice in individual patients (with the possible exception of patients who have strong risk factors)."

Instead, they're more worried about the industry-wide reliance on the drug. The Telegraph reports doctors in the U.K. prescribed the drug 2.2 million times last year.

As for the U.S., a writer for KCNC says American doctors are much less likely to prescribe the drug, saying, "In fact, clarithromycin isn’t even on the top ten list of prescribed antibiotics in America—we simply have better and more effective ones with fewer side effects."

But there are other related medications out there that have been linked to heart problems.

The FDA announced last March that azithromycin, which is similar, may lead to irregular heart rhythm that could potentially be fatal.

The Danish researchers urged more studies using different techniques to back up their findings.

This video contains an image from Esther Simpson / CC BY NC SA 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 12:53:00 -0500
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Could the number of guests at your wedding directly correlate with your marital happiness as the years go by?

A new report from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia suggests it does. 

Over a five-year period, the study followed 418 people who got married — the overwhelming majority in formal wedding ceremonies. Forty-seven percent of those who had at least 150 guests at their weddings reported marital happiness in the top 40 percent of the sample. 

writer for the New York Post came up with a point that might lend some credibility to the larger-weddings-equals-happier-marriage thing.

"It may be that having all those people at your wedding is a sign you have a large, extended network of family and friends who'll support you in your marriage — people you can turn to in times of tensions with your spouse."

Now before all you brides and grooms freak out and decide you need to add a bunch of people to your guest lists, a writer for Refinery29 pointed out some potential flaws in the findings. 

First, the happiness factor was entirely based on what the couples told the researchers. And second, the couples have only been married for five years at the most because that's how long participants were followed. It's also important to note researchers only studied people between the ages of 18 and 40 and only couples who married someone of the opposite sex.

The Washington Post came to this conclusion after taking a look at the study: "Don't drive yourself deeply into debt with a gigantic wedding just because of a couple of bar charts."

We decided to take a look at factors others believe contribute to long, successful marriages. 

A doctor of psychology says relationships take communication, honesty and compromise to work. 

And in a post written for a site dedicated to marriage, a couples mediator advises people to pick their battles with their spouses and says it's all right to disagree, but it doesn't have to turn into a full-blown argument.

To read more about the study, head over to the National Marriage Project's website

This video contains images from Pierre Fridel / CC BY NC SA 2.0 and Adam Woodrow / CC BY 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 12:11:00 -0500
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Poachers killed as many as 100,000 African elephants in the space of three years, according to a new study.  

The study found unsustainable amounts of elephants were killed between 2009 and 2012, peaking in 2011 at 8 percent, which translates to 40,000 elephants killed that year alone. 

The escalation of poaching, which National Geographic reports has reduced the elephant population in Africa by 64 percent in the last decade, comes with new methods and equipment used by poachers. 

CBC: "They were telling me on the ground in Tanzania that people were coming in in helicopters. It is economically viable for them; this is not a fly-by-night operation, so to speak."

That study also found the increase in the illegal killing rate correlated with the increase in the price of ivory. So where is the demand coming from?

​​NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: "By every measure, China is the world's villain when it comes to the illegal ivory trade. ... The reasons are obvious: It has a long history of ivory consumption; it has a booming economy."

As The Washington Post reports, prices of ivory have soared in the last five years, starting when the Chinese government authorized a "one-off sale" of ivory, despite signing on to a ban on the international trade of ivory in 1989.

To help stop China's ivory imports, activists have employed one of the country's most famous exports, Yao Ming. 

The towering basketball player traveled to Africa and met elephants in a documentary called "The End Of The Wild," which was put together by WildAid. 

WildAid is one of a handful of organizations aiming to combat poaching by addressing the consumption of poached goods, such as ivory in China. It's employed Chinese stars Jackie Chan and Vincent Zhao as well as Ming.

WILDAID: "You don't have to play ball to be a great shot blocker. Never buy illegal wildlife products, and we can save our endangered animals. 'When the buying stops, the killing can too.'"

But the buying doesn't look like it's stopping anytime soon, as the study reports preliminary findings showed unsustainable killing of elephants continued in 2013. 

This video contains images from Getty Images and Ross Huggett / CC BY 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Why Shanghai Subway Passengers Ran Away From Man Who Fainted]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 10:09:00 -0500
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If a stranger fainted right in front of you, your first move might be to try to help them. 

But passengers on board a subway car in Shanghai earlier this month had a very different reaction. And it was all caught on camera.

Check out this surveillance footage released Wednesday by CCTV. You can see a man suddenly slump over in his seat. And as he rolls to the floor, his fellow passengers bolt for the train's door.

According to a tweet from People's Daily, China, the subway car was empty within 10 seconds, and the unconscious passenger was left alone on the ground.

If you watch the rest of that bizarre footage, you can see the man who fainted regain consciousness, looking confused as a new wave of passengers boards the train and subway employees arrive to investigate the incident.

After the video's release, several major news outlets criticized the passengers' skittish reaction to the incident, with some critics even blaming the city of Shanghai as a whole for being too unfriendly.

But a blogger told the South China Morning Post that response could have something to do with the increasing number of alleged terrorist attacks in Yunnan and Xinjiang provinces in recent weeks.

"People have been strained and [are a bundle of] nerves nowadays. ... In the closed space of a subway train, a stranger's abrupt collapse ... can trigger every frightened person to flee from the scene."

One of the most terrifying attacks happened at a train station in Yunnan province back in March. Men dressed in black and armed with knives burst into the station and began stabbing people at random. (Video via Arirang)

But the subway panic in Shanghai, according to some observers, is just the most recent example of public reluctance in China to help others.  

strikingly similar situation on a subway in Guangzhou back in June sparked panic when a passenger fainted and caused others to rush out of the train. Six passengers were hurt in the chaos.

And the 2011 case of a 2-year-old girl in Guangdong province who was hit by two vehicles and ignored by at least 18 people before someone helped her stirred a massive debate over common decency. (Video via TVS)

To combat this type of behavior, the city of Shenzhen implemented China's first Good Samaritan law last year, which aimed to protect people from being subject to liability while trying to help others.

China has experienced several high-profile cases in which those trying to assist others in need were sued after their efforts didn't succeed.

As for this most recent incident, the identity of the man who fainted is still unclear, and his condition is currently unknown.

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<![CDATA[Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 16:55:00 -0500
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Here's yet another reason to hang those nonsensical, poorly-drawn pictures your kid creates onto your fridge: they might show just how smart your child really is.

A study published Monday by King's College London found a link between 4-year-olds' doodle drawings and those same kids' intelligence levels a decade later.

The study looked at more than 15,000 children. Parents asked each 4-year-old to draw a picture of another kid. Then the researchers graded the pictures on a scale of 0 to 12, giving points if the drawings had correct features like eyes, nose, mouth and so on. The kids were given intelligence tests both at age 4 and age 14. The researchers were surprised to find that, not only were drawing scores linked to intelligence at age 4, the effect was still there 10 years later.

But there's no need to run out and sign your kid up for drawing classes just yet. The researchers say the correlation is "moderate." Lead author Dr. Rosalind Arden spoke with Sky News

"There will be many children who can barely put pen to paper who turn out to do brilliant things in later life."

And as anchors at KUSI said:

"If your kid isn't a very good doodler, don't worry." ...

"So, there's only a plus to this, there's no negative to this?" 

"There's no real negative to this."

LiveScience points out the 'draw-a-child' test was first developed in the 1920s for similar reasons. But the researchers say it's the strong link between the drawings at age 4 and age 14 that's surprising. 

Dr. Arden says because the sample size was so large researchers are very confident in their findings. 

This video contains images from joamm_tall / CC BY-SA 2.0​ and King's College London.

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<![CDATA[American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 12:25:00 -0500
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The reported improvement of an American Ebola patient being treated at Atlanta's Emory hospital made national news Tuesday.

​​The patient is Nancy Writebol, whose husband, David, announced she was getting better after he was cleared from quarantine and allowed to see her. (Video via CBS)

Writebol — along with Dr. Kent Brantly, the other American infected — is being treated with the experimental drug ZMapp, and they're not the only ones who seem to be recovering after taking the drug. Three African doctors also appear to be getting better.

BBC: "'Remarkable signs of improvement' are the words of the Liberian information minister. ... They started taking this experimental drug, ZMapp, last Thursday evening."

Tack onto that the news that 17 patients were recovered after disappearing during looting of an Ebola clinic in the Liberian capital of Monrovia and you might be forgiven for thinking the signs are encouraging. (Video via Euronews)

But the death toll from the outbreak continues to climb, with the World Health Organization announcing Tuesday more than 1,200 people have already died from the virus in West Africa. 

And the company that manufactures ZMapp announced supplies of the drug, which had been provided at no cost, have been exhausted. 

Then there was this news out of Berlin Tuesday. 

​​The Wall Street Journal reports police in the German capital cordoned off a job center ​​after a woman reportedly showed signs of having an infectious disease. 

Authorities didn't say what the disease might be, but that didn't stop German outlets from picking up the story, with one even calling it an "Ebola alarm."

Europe has already seen one person die from Ebola: Spanish priest Miguel Pajares, who contracted the virus in Liberia and was also treated with ZMapp. 

This video contains an image from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Awesome New Camouflage Sheet Was Inspired By Octopus Skin]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 09:52:00 -0500
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Octopuses and squids are known for their ability to blend in with their surroundings at the drop of a hat to hide from dangerous predators.

And now, scientists inspired by their impressive camouflage techniques are working on a device that could make us humans just as adept at staying hidden. (Video via YouTube / et/ufo disclosure)

Researchers at the University of Houston and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign designed this heat-sensitive sheet that quickly changes color when it detects light.

So far, it only changes from black to white and back again, which doesn't even come close to the multitude of colors an octopus's skin is capable of shifting to. (Video via National Geographic)

But it seems to be a solid step toward developing a sea creature-inspired camouflage material for human use.

One of the lead scientists on the project told the BBC their current device is more about proof of principle. "It's nothing close to being ready to deploy. ... It's really a beginning point, to focus on the engineering science around how you might create systems that have this type of function."

The science behind this new device is complex, but to put it simply, the magic is all in its layers. 

There's a light-detecting sheet at the bottom with a silver layer on top of that that gives the device its shiny white base. And on top of that is a sheet of diodes that heats dye located in the top layer. That dye appears to be black at low temperatures and clear at high temps. And the whole thing is mounted on a flexible base.

Someday, the researchers say they hope their method can be used to design military vehicles that can automatically camouflage themselves.

And other research in recent years has focused on providing a similar benefit for the military.

Back in 2011, BAE Systems announced the creation of ADAPTIV, a form of camouflage that can be used to trick heat-sensing technology.

According to its designers, ADAPTIV can make a CV90 light tank completely invisible to thermal sensors or even make it look like something else entirely, like a cow. Yes, a cow. (Video via YouTube / defenseupdate)

The creators of this newest device say they have a lot more work to do on the device. But one of the lead researchers told National Geographic he doubts they'll ever make something that truly acts like an octopus's skin.

"As an engineer looking at movies of squid, octopuses, and cuttlefish, you just [realize] that you're not going to get close to that level of sophistication. We tried to abstract the same principles and do the best we can with what we've got."

The research on the new color-changing device was presented this week in the journal PNAS.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Tiny Satellites, Like The One Tossed From ISS, On The Rise]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 18:46:00 -0500
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Most of us probably have a mental picture of what it's like to put a satellite into orbit: a dedicated rocket launch, stage separation, the slow unfurling of the solar panels. (Video via NASA)

How far we've come. Monday, a Russian cosmonaut on board the International Space Station put a satellite into orbit with about the same amount of effort you'd use to toss your keys onto a table.

During a spacewalk, Oleg Artemyev deployed a Peruvian nanosatellite called Chasqui I by just picking it up and throwing it off the ISS. The satellite is meant to transmit pictures of Earth to Peru's National University of Engineering.

Satellites have been launched from the ISS before, most notably the bizarre SuitSat, a retired space suit outfitted with sensors that was thrown overboard in early 2006.

But Chasqui I and other small spacecraft are part of a big change in the satellite world: the theory that less is more.

Headlines talking up tiny satellites have been around for a couple years now, praising them for "doing the job of older satellites cheaper" and having price tags "in the reach not just of small firms, but also of start-ups and researchers.

A Forbes writer even went with the bold lede, "In the future, everyone on Earth will have ubiquitous access to outer space."

Many small satellites, like the standard 4-inch-square CubeSat, are light weight and rely on off-the-shelf components, pushing the price to get them into space down into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's like one or two potato salads. (Video via European Space Agency)

Hundreds of small satellites are set to be launched in the next few years, though the vast majority won't be delivered by hand from the ISS.

This video contains an image from NASA.

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<![CDATA[Bone Marrow Drug Regrows Hair In Some Alopecia Patients]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 15:06:00 -0500
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​New hope for those with the autoimmune disease alopecia, as researchers have found a bone marrow drug to regrow hair in some patients.

​Researchers from Columbia University performed an experiment using an FDA-approved drug known as ruxolitinib, which is normally used to treat a bone marrow disorder. They found it to be successful in the majority of patients. (Video via YouTube / Jakafi

KTVD: "After experiments with mice were successful, the drug was then tested on three patients with moderate to severe forms of the disease. And all three experienced total hair regrowth within four or five months."

The disease, alopecia, is an autoimmune disorder affecting about 1 percent of the population. It occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys hair follicles — causing hair to fall out. (Video via YouTube / SBS2Australia)

YOUTUBE / BELGRAVIA CENTRE: "The body's germ-fighting cells attack the hair follicles as if they were a bacteria or a virus."

The drug reportedly works on the disease by blocking enzymes that in turn suppress immune system activity. (Video via YouTube / Dinesh Bhutada)

And although the disease isn't life-threatening, the study's lead author says it could change the lives of those affected by alopecia. 

"We've only begun testing the drug in patients, but if the drug continues to be successful and safe, it will have a dramatic positive impact on the lives of people with the disease."

But others are urging researchers, and those affected by alopecia, to pump the brakes before jumping to any conclusions.

Speaking to The New York Times, a dermatologist with the University of Pennsylvania said the way the drug was administered was "very toxic" with the possibility of causing side effects such as liver and blood problems. He added, "Patients are going to rush in demanding this treatment, and I would not give it."

The bone marrow drug isn't the only one researchers are looking at to regrow hair, though. As we reported in June:  

"Yale researchers were able to successfully regrow a 25-year-old patient's hair after eight months of treatment with the arthritis drug tofacitinib citrate."

The bone marrow drug was taken in tablet form twice daily. Unfortunately, researchers say it will not be effective for other forms of hair loss, such as male pattern baldness, as that form is caused by hormones. (Video via TXCN)

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<![CDATA[Mental, Neurological Disabilities Up 21% Among Kids]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 14:18:00 -0500
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​​Researchers published a study Monday showing a decade's worth of changes when it comes to the number of children with disabilities, and the numbers are generally mixed.

CNN reports the study found disabilities in children rose 16 percent from 2001 to 2011, but not all disabilities saw an increase. Physical disabilities in children — including asthma and vision problems — had fallen 12 percent, while mental and neurological disabilities such as epilepsy and ADHD increased 21 percent.

According to USA Today, there was also a difference among children who live in households with different incomes. Higher-income homes saw the largest percentage increase in the number of reported disabilities. But children living in households in poverty still had a much higher number of disabilities compared to the top income bracket.

The scientists behind the study say parents in higher-income households are more comfortable and more likely to get help from their doctor, which might be behind the increase among that group.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics Monday morning and says the prevalence of disabilities in children over the past 50 years has increased significantly. 

There have been multiple studies published in the past backing up that claim. This CDC data from 2008 shows over an 11-year period, developmental disabilities increased in children by nearly 20 percent.

ABC also cited recent CDC data which showed the rate of autism in kids, which actually wasn't included in the most recent study, jumped to 1 in 68 — a 62 percent increase since 2006.

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<![CDATA[Man Who Raised $100,000 For ALS Research Drowns]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 09:32:00 -0500
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A tragic story coming out of the revelry surrounding the success of the ice bucket challenge. A man who'd helped raise more than $100,000 for ALS research died over the weekend. Across local outlets, friends and family are all saying the same thing.

WHDH: "Corey was all about family, friends and giving back." 

"Corey threw himself behind a lot of causes, way more so than anyone of our generation, and just put his heart and soul behind these things."

NECN"Just kind of the way Corey's always lived his life — it was about other people."

WFXT"He was very committed to giving. He put 100 percent effort behind it for several different causes."

In what the Nantucket Police Department says was a drowning accident, 27-year-old Corey Griffin jumped off the roof of a local business and into a harbor around 2 a.m. Saturday.

His family told The Boston Globe he'd been in Nantucket to raise even more money for ALS research. His father said Saturday: "He was the happiest guy in the world. He called me last night and told me he was in paradise."

That happiness had come, at least in part, from Griffin's success — he'd already raised more than $100,000. 

Griffin was a friend of Pete Frates, the former Boston College baseball player with ALS who is credited with inspiring the ice bucket challenge. So far it's raised more than $11 million. (Video via ESPN)

Griffin also attended Boston College, where he played hockey. Frates wrote on his Facebook page"Team FrateTrain lost a good friend today. ... He worked his butt off these last few weeks for ALS. We texted everyday, planning and scheming ways to raise funds and plan events."

Griffin was a Massachusetts native but had been living in New York City, where he worked for a finance company. He's survived by his parents, brother and sister. He had also worked for years to raise money for Boston Children's Hospital.

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<![CDATA[Ebola Isolation Clinic Looted, Up To 20 Patients Flee]]> Sun, 17 Aug 2014 15:56:00 -0500
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Of all the places to loot, an Ebola isolation clinic probably isn't the best place. 

Armed protestors stormed an ebola clinic in Liberia's capital Saturday stealing blood-stained bedding and forcing as many as 20 infected patients to flee into the city's tightly packed West Point township. 

 

According to the United Nation's Integrated Regional Information Networks, or IRIN, the West Point "shantytown" has about 70,000 residents and suffers from debilitating sanitary conditions. The population has access to only four public toilets, meaning street defecation is commonplace.  

There are now fears that with West Point's dense neighborhoods, poor sanitary conditions, and the Ebola patients now on the loose it could make fighting Liberia's already serious Ebola outbreak even more complex. 

A senior Liberia police official told BBC "This is one of the stupidest things I have ever seen in my life" and that the looting of blood-stained mattresses and bedding could spread the virus to all of West Point.

Sky News reports West Point residents were already upset that Ebola patients were being brought from other parts of the capital to the isolation clinic in their township. The protestors were reportedly shouting that Ebola was a scam created by the Liberian president for money. 

According to Front Page Africa, the assistant health minister said Thursday there are plans to quarantine West Point, but first food and supplies must be brought into the township. 

While West Point wouldn't be the first place to be quarantined by the Liberian government, it might be the largest if the health ministry does decide to quarantine the area. 

The West Point clinic looting came the same day the Kenyan government announced a travel ban on West African countries afflicted with the deadly Ebola virus. (Video via Kenya360TV)

Kenya Airways, which is owned by the Kenyan government, announced that flights going to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone will be suspended starting Tuesday at midnight. 

None-the-less, the World Health Organization, or WHO, reiterated that the spread of Ebola through air travel is very low and has advised against travel bans. 

According to the WHO, more than 400 people have died in Liberia from Ebola and more than 1,100 in total between Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. 

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<![CDATA[A PhD In Chocolate? Cambridge Makes It A Reality]]> Sun, 17 Aug 2014 15:42:00 -0500
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Getting ready to head off to college this fall and still not sure yet what you want to do when you grow up? Well, how about getting a PhD in chocolate?

You probably think we're joking, but it's the real deal. The BBC reports it's all possible at the University of Cambridge through its Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology.

SKY NEWS: "They're actually advertising for a PhD student to research this so you can basically spend your whole time researching the meltability of chocolate. Wouldn't that be an amazing job?" 

When you first hear about the program, you might imagine something similar to a real-life "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," but it's not necessarily the case. It turns out there's plenty of science behind it. 

While Cambridge calls the program "mainly experimental," The Independent reports it also says you need to be good at math and have studied sciences including physics, chemistry or engineering for at least four years.

As Metro comically writes: "Sadly, a long history of polishing off family-size Galaxy bars in front of Gossip Girl won’t count as credentials."

Enough about the requirements. What will the student actually do if they're selected?

On the ad, posted to its website, Cambridge says an applicant should find ways that chocolate can stay solid in warmer climates and keep its quality at the same time. The internship is fully paid for and would last three-and-a-half years.

No surprise, there are plenty of other odd majors out there — some of which The Telegraph has compiled into a list of majors you might not have heard of.

The list includes a degree in making the perfect wine, a degree in brewing, a degree in the science of surfing and one in so-called "ethical hacking."

If you're interested in applying to the internship, you don't have a lot of time. The application deadline is August 29. The selected applicant, who has to be from the EU, would most likely start studying in January.

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<![CDATA[Are Experimental Drugs The Answer To Containing Ebola?]]> Sat, 16 Aug 2014 15:27:00 -0500
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The Ebola outbreak continues to grow across west Africa, and, according to estimates, the disease has now infected more than 2,000 people.

As the problem worsens, several experimental drugs have surfaced in an effort to help slow the virus' progress. 

"In Nigeria there at least a dozen confirmed cases of Ebola. Supplies of an experimental drug called ZMapp have already been depleted. Officials are now hoping for a new drug."  

"The outbreak has sparked a debate over the ethics of giving untested drugs to the affected patients." 

But in countries with limited healthcare supplies, even in some of the best hospitals, are experimental drugs really what's going to help stop the rapid spread of Ebola? 

Likely not. Bloomberg's Editorial Team suggests what's really needed are things like masks, gloves, gowns and boots. "This gear enables doctors and nurses to care for Ebola patients without risking their own lives by coming in contact with the virus in patients’ vomit, blood and feces. The equipment is in such short supply in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone that, for lack of it, medical workers have fallen ill."

The Wall Street Journal points to a chilling example in a rural Liberian hospital where there was a glove shortage. One doctor used plastic grocery bags to cover his hands while delivery a baby. But "his staff didn't bother even with those when a woman in her 30s stopped by complaining of a headache. Five nurses, a lab technician—then a local woman who was helping out—cared for her with their bare hands. Within weeks, all of them died. The woman with a headache, they learned too late, had Ebola."

And after its chief doctor died from Ebola, Liberia's main hospital sits nearly abandoned. After panic set in, most patients were taken home and hospital staff left their posts.

REPORTER: "In other parts of Liberia there are similar stories."

NURSE: "We want to make sure that we have all protective gears available and protective materials that we need to protect ourselves." 

In some of the more well-supplied areas, this is what healthcare workers must wear to protect themselves — head-to-toe body suits. 

DR. SANJAY GUPTA: "We're talking about a pathogen that is not particularly contagious, doesn't spread easily from person to person. But it is highly infectious, meaning only a small amount can make somebody sick, even a droplet of something."

The World Health Organization claims the outbreak is being widely underestimated. Writing in a statement,  "WHO is coordinating a massive scaling up of the international response, marshalling support from individual countries, disease control agencies, agencies within the United Nations system, and others."

​And President Obama has made a similar promise to help the affected countries contain the outbreak — talking by phone with presidents in Liberia and Sierra Leone. (Video Via The White House

Friday, medical news site DOTmed reported 22 of the world's top medical companies are sending resources to west Africa. That includes 2.3 million gloves, 65,000 masks, 92,000 gowns and antibiotics.

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<![CDATA[Could Kilobots Be The Technology Of The Future?]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 13:07:00 -0500
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Harvard says it has created the first robot flash mob. 

These individual little robots called Kilobots are only an inch wide and can form shapes as a group by just blinking at one another. 

The bots operate completely on their own once an instruction is given.

Four Kilobots work as markers, and the other bots receive the 2-D image they're supposed to form. Any mistakes that might occur, like a robot traffic jam, can be corrected without human intervention. 

This might not seem like much now, but scientists believe these bots could eventually work together to help with environmental cleanup and disaster response.

Boston Globe reporter even theorized this research could lead to the Kilobots "building a base on another planet before humans arrive" or "crawling into rubble after an earthquake to search for survivors."

A National Geographic article says the scientists behind the Kilobots were inspired by ants working together to form a common goal. 

And when you think about it, the Kilobots do kind of look like freaky Space Age bugs.

Surprisingly, Kilobots are actually pretty cheap. Each little bot only costs about $20.

This video contains photos by Mike Rubenstein and Science/AAAS.

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<![CDATA[Shocker: Alcohol Makes You Care Less]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 13:04:00 -0500
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Ever find some embarrassing emails or texts the morning after drinking? Well, you might not be able to blame them on that extra cocktail anymore.

In a study from the University of Missouri, researchers looked at how alcohol affects someone's awareness of their mistakes. It found alcohol doesn't necessarily cause those mistakes, but people care much less about making them.

The researchers gave three groups of people either a soft drink, a placebo or an alcoholic beverage. Those individuals were then given a series of computer tests designed to purposely cause mistakes. The researchers say everyone was aware of those mistakes, even those who drank alcohol.

The study was published back in 2012 but just recently made headlines when an outlet in Australia picked up the story.

That outlet is News Limited. It quotes the study's lead researcher, who believes alcohol silences the body's "alarm signal."

 

"It is very common for people to respond more slowly following an error, as a way of trying to regain self-control. ... The alcohol group of participants didn't do this."

So as some media outlets put it: "Drunk words really ARE sober thoughts" and "Alcohol is just a truth serum."

But if you're wondering how to prevent those drunk dials in the future, we know of a few apps that might help you out.

There's the Drunk Mode app that prevents you from contacting any number of people from your contact list for a specified amount of time.

​And then there's the BAC Calculator that estimates your blood alcohol content, showing you how intoxicated you really are — if you can even remember to use it.

The study was published in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

This video contains an image from Alpha du centaure / CC BY SA 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Mother And Son Find Woolly Mammoth Tusks 22 Years Apart]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 11:10:00 -0500
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Like mother, like son — an Alaska man uncovered a woolly mammoth tusk 22 years after his mother found one in the very same location.

According to the Alaska Dispatch, 25-year-old Andrew Harrelson was fishing with his fiancee and his two children near his home village of White Mountain Sunday when he spotted the massive 12-foot-long fossil covered by a stump in the water.

HARRELSON VIA KTUU"It looked super dark, almost greenish, greenish black, and I knew it wasn't a stick because there was no limbs, no branches coming off.  So, I told myself, 'That's a tusk.'"

And if that discovery itself wasn't cool enough, Harrelson spotted the tusk in the same part of the Fish River just 10 feet from where his mother found a 79-pound tusk back in 1992.

After his own discovery, Harrleson and a relative pried the tusk out of the water later in the day.

They then weighed it on a bathroom scale — according to their unofficial measurements, the fossil was about 162 pounds.

And it turns out, Harrelson's big find could be worth some big money. Woolly mammoth tusks can sell for thousands of dollars, as you can see from this listing on Fossil Realm.

The reason behind that mammoth price tag? Woolly mammoth tusks are collected for their pure, high-grade ivory, much like elephant tusks.

And because most woolly mammoths died off about 12,000 years ago, their tusks are all the more valuable and rare. 

Early humans used tusks for tools and making art, but today, they're often used in knife handles and jewelry like the pieces sold by this store.

Harrelson says prospective buyers have been making him offers for his newfound tusk. His father says he's sure his son will use any money he gets toward a down payment on a house.

This video contains images from Quinn Dombrowski / CC BY SA 2.0 and Rob Pongsajapan / CC BY 2.0.

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<![CDATA[The Untold Dangers Of Ramen Noodles]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 10:48:00 -0500
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In those moments of late-night cravings, Ramen Noodles seem to be your lifeblood — the key to survival, exactly what you need to keep going.

"Consistent quality and the finest of ingredients."

But according to a new study — they're killing you. OK, not necessarily, or not outright, but the research shows instant noodle products like Ramen can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome for women. 

And metabolic syndrome can mean increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The study found women who ate instant noodle products more than twice a week were the ones in trouble

The team behind the study explain one possible reason why women are more at risk here: The chemical BPA is used for packaging these noodles into Styrofoam containers. BPA has been reported to interfere with hormones such as estrogen. 

The study focused on people in South Korea because the population consumes an especially high amount of instant noodles, and the nation has also seen rising heart disease. 

And of course, instant noodles don't exactly have a reputation for being healthy in the first place. They've been called out in the past for high fat and salt content.

The doctor behind the study says he hopes this will lay down a foundation: "Many people are consuming instant noodles without knowing possible health risks."

So, for those of you making Ramen food porn on the Internet or just hitting "start" on your microwaves at 3 a.m., take heed. Though — that may be hard — because you might be drunk.

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<![CDATA[Human Activity Blamed For Increase In Melting Glaciers]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 23:15:00 -0500
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Climate scientists have argued human activity is responsible for a significant portion of glacier melting but haven't been able to pinpoint just how much of an affect we've had until now.

A panel of researchers put together by the United Nations found human-made greenhouse gas emissions account for about two-thirds of glacier melting specifically between 1991 and 2010. In the 140 years prior to 1991, they said humans only contributed about a quarter of the total amount. (Video via Submarine Deluxe / 'Chasing Ice')

This marks the first time scientists have been able to attach a specific number to how drastic an effect the human carbon footprint is having on ice melting — especially recently.

The lead researcher​ is quoted in USA Today saying, "In our data we find unambiguous evidence of anthropogenic (human-caused) contribution to glacier mass loss. ... In the 19th and first half of 20th century we observed that glacier mass loss attributable to human activity is hardly noticeable, but since then has steadily increased."

The researchers used data from the Randolph Glacier Inventory — which is a global database created a couple years back, in large part, to help climatologists track sea levels.

According to LiveScience, the researchers studied around 200,000 different glaciers in the catalog using various climate models. 

They were able isolate both human-made and natural influences on the environment and found a substantial and growing influence from manmade emissions especially in the past 25 years. (Video via National Geographic)

Pennsylvania State University glaciologist Richard Alley didn't participate in the study but told NBC the findings presented concrete evidence that humans are causing the glaciers to melt. "At some level, this is the pound on the table 'no there are no holes in this (argument).’ We've done the work. We've done the work. We've done the work."

So why does it even matter that glaciers are melting so fast?

Well, the obvious affect is rising sea levels which has recently caused many island nations who are the first ones to feel the affects of rising waters to seek help from the United Nations. (Video via YouTube / eddywyc​)

And, it could do a number to water supplies and possibly lead to droughts. National Geographic points out when ice melts and becomes water, it evaporates faster because "glacial ice keeps the water locked away in a form in which it doesn’t easily evaporate." Plus, the cycle doesn't appear to replenish once the ice is gone.

The study's author also told NBC roughly 70 percent of glaciers could be gone by the turn of the century if nothing is done to reduce manmade green-house gas emissions. But, if significant measures were taken it's still possible to curb the trend. 

This video contains images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA['Salmon Cannon' Could Save Fish By Firing Them Into Air]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 14:01:00 -0500
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Saving the environment is rarely as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. 

But it might be as easy as shooting fish out of one. This is the Hydrovision 2014. Salmon swim into it, and it gently and quickly sucks them through a tube, spitting them out on the other side of a dam and into the water. It's pretty awesome technology — the fish go through at up to 22 mph, they're misted during the trip, and in just a few seconds they land in the water on the other side. The machine can transport dozens of fish per minute.

But why do we need a salmon sucker? 

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC"Most adult salmon spend their lives at sea, but when it comes time to lay eggs, they head home to the river they were born in."

You can imagine if a fish is traveling thousands of miles, it might encounter a dam or two. 

Fish ladders have been used to help get fish over obstacles. But they've been criticized.

Groups like Idaho Rivers United say the ladders are too difficult and fish die during the passage.

A paper by a Queens College professor of biology declared them ineffective last year.

Salmon are also sometimes transported — expensively, we'd guess — by truck or helicopter.

So could what the team at Whooshh Innovations affectionately calls the "salmon cannon" be the solution to saving the fish? The system's been tested at three sites in Washington state. In September the Department of Energy will run another test. 

By the way — how did Whooshh even get the idea? The group actually invented this system to transport fruit so it wouldn't get bruised. 

The company's president told The Verge"We put a tilapia in the fruit tube. It went flying, and we were like, ‘Huh, check that out.'"

Fruit, fish. Tomato ... tilapia. 

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<![CDATA[Playground Equipment Can Cause Burns Even On Mild Days]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 13:48:00 -0500
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Parents, listen up! ABC tested the temperature of playground equipment across the U.S. with an infrared thermometer at the hottest time of day, and their findings were unbelievable.

ABC"This baby swing in Houston, 138 degrees. This swing in Phoenix, 150. The black top at the same playground, a whopping 185 degrees."

They also tested plastic slides, which are usually popular features on any playground, and the temps ranged from 158 to 189 degrees. 

This is scary, but it suddenly makes sense of the burning butts we remember getting as kids on the playground.

To put the temperatures into perspective, the standard temperature for a hot tub is 104 degrees. 

These high temperatures can cause severe burns, and it could only take a matter of seconds.

These are cases of children making headlines for getting burned by playground equipment. Some of them have been serious.

CBS did a a small investigation back in 2010 and talked to a parent whose 18-month-old got second-degree burns from a slide in Des Moines, Iowa.

​"Little Madison suffered burns that blistered on her hands, stomach and knees."

"She was screaming on the way to the emergency room."

So if children have been getting burned by playground equipment for years now, why is it still happening today?

It might be because it's often unexpected. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, it doesn't have to be scorching hot outside for playground equipment to reach dangerous temperatures.

"Even in mild weather, as long as the equipment or surfacing is in direct sunlight for an extended period of time, there is a risk of sustaining a thermal burn injury."

Madison from Des Moines was burned by a 160-degree slide on an 80-degree day. 

So how can you defeat the heat and still have fun at the playground? (Video via YouTube / Ashley Jessen)

The Burn Foundation gives us some direction. Make sure to:

--Use playground equipment that's shaded 

--Check the equipment's temperature before having fun

--Look out for warnings on playground signs 

--Wear shoes at all times

It's also important to know that the younger a child is, the more at risk he or she is because their skin is thinner and more fragile.

This video contains images from Kate Davidson / CC BY 2.0 and Andrew Hyde / CC BY 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Fossils Reveal Ancient Flying Reptile With 'Butterfly Head']]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 13:14:00 -0500
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New research has shed light on a remarkable species of extinct flying reptile with an extraordinary piece of headgear. 

The species is called Caiuajara dobruskii and was discovered in southern Brazil near the border with Paraguay.

LiveScience reports the fossils were originally found by a father-son duo in the 1970s, but "The find was forgotten for decades, and then rediscovered just two years ago."

The new species was a pterosaur — an extinct group of flying reptiles which also contains the famous pterodactyl that lived alongside dinosaurs. (Video via National Geographic)

Although it's Caiuajara's elaborate crest that has made headlines, it belongs to a family with similar distinctive features. 

"The bizarre looking Tapejara" Caiuajara belonged to the family Tapejaridae, many of which had distinctive crests, some of which rival Caiuajara's for colorfulness and size. (Video via BBC)

Just take pterosaurs like Thalassodromeus, with its large sail-like crest, or Nyctosaurus, which had a more mast-like crest. But what purpose did they serve?

The American Museum of Natural History explains the crests, which developed in later species, may have served to help pterosaurs recognize their own species, cool their bodies, steer during flight or even attract potential mates. 

But scientists say the crux of the study is the number of fossils found in one place. 

A paleontologist told National Geographic the find was "unprecedented" and "The discovery offers the 'best evidence ever uncovered' that the extinct dinosaur-era animals ... may have lived in colonies."

And the reconstruction of the crest is pretty remarkable too, considering the scientists who wrote the paper did the reconstruction using only a handful of bones, as this image from the study shows. 

Scientists say the find is also significant because it contained individuals from different stages of their life, which allowed them to chart the animal and its crest's development. 

This video contains images from Mark Witton / CC BY 3.0, Maurilio Oliveira / Museu Nacional - UFRJ and Dinoguy2 / CC BY 3.0.

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<![CDATA[FDA-Approved Sleeping Pill Not Compared To Other Drugs]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 12:25:00 -0500
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For people who have a hard time falling or staying asleep, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the approval of a new sleep aid that works differently from other drugs on the market. 

CBS"Typically sleeping drugs are a knock-out punch to the brain. ... Think of a house where you get a surge and the electricity goes off. ... So this drug is actually like a switch that turns off just the lights." 

That switch being orexin — a neurotransmitter that regulates wakefulness. 

The medication is called Belsomra. Now that it's been approved by the FDA, it's undergoing review by the Drug Enforcement Administration. 

The maker of the drug, Merck, creates products for brands such as Claritin, Coppertone and Dr. Scholl's. 

Before the FDA approved Belsomra, three separate studies with more than 500 participants were conducted. According to the FDA, those who took the drug fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer than participants who took a placebo. 

But in a statement, the FDA did point out a few things to consider, like safety. Because Belsomra was not compared to other drugs, it's not known whether it's safer than other sleep medications. 

But, as with similar medications, there can be side effects like headaches, impaired wakefulness and performing tasks while not fully awake. (Video via National Geographic)

There's been no official announcement of a release date, but according to Merck, Belsomra could become available as early as this year. 

This video contains images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Poor Sleep Could Increase Suicide Risk In Older Adults]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 12:18:00 -0500
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Older adults who have trouble sleeping might be at a higher risk of suicide — even when they don't show any other symptoms of depression.

In a new study published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry, people aged 65 and older who reported having sleeping difficulties were more 1.4 times more likely to commit suicide over the next ten years than those who reported sleeping soundly. 

The Huffington Post notes that number was lowered to 1.2 when the researchers controlled for depression, but it's still a pretty significant figure.

The study's researchers say they included difficulty falling or staying asleep, waking up early in the morning, experiencing daytime drowsiness and not feeling fully rested in the morning as poor sleep.

 The study's lead author said in a press release,

"This is important because sleep disturbances are highly treatable, yet arguably less stigmatizing than many other suicide risk factors."

To come to this conclusion, researchers studied more than 14,000 people aged 65 and older over the course of 10 years. During that time period, 20 died by suicide.

The research team compared the quality of sleep of those 20 people with the sleep patterns of 400 people similar to them in age, gender and location.

They found those participants who later committed suicide, on average, rated their sleep quality as poorer at the start of the study than that of the comparison group.

Several media outlets note these findings could provide doctors who treat patients with depression with another warning sign of suicide.

But the medical director of the Florida Sleep Institute told HealthDay he's skeptical about how well the study accounted for depression symptoms because they're so similar to those associated with poor sleep.

"We have to ask what's the cart and what's the horse because it's not common to be really sleep-deprived and then be wide-eyed and bushy-tailed and positive about things."

The research was published just days after news broke of famed comedian and actor Robin Williams' death, which authorities believe was a suicide.

The study's lead author told The Washington Post in a phone interview, 

"It just shows that no one is immune to the risks of depression."

Researchers say they are now investigating why the link between poor sleep and suicide might exist.

This video includes images from Getty Images, Leonardo Allocca / CC by NC ND 2.0.

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<![CDATA[The Great Salt Debate: Experts Disagree On Ideal Intake]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 12:01:00 -0500
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The common belief among health experts is too much salt is bad for your health. But a new report from Canada is shaking up those guidelines, saying that might not necessarily be the case. 

Current sodium daily intake guidelines from U.S. government agencies and other health organizations fall between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams — well under the 3,400-milligram average consumed by Americans every day.

But according to new research, those guidelines might be too low. Researchers working on an ongoing study to observe global nutritional and lifestyle changes say out of the 100,000 people studied, those who consumed fewer than 3,000 milligrams of sodium had a 27 percent increased risk of death or cardiovascular disease.

The researchers say only those with hypertension, the elderly and people who consume more than 5,000 milligrams of sodium per day should worry about reducing their salt intake. (Video via CNN)

Otherwise the researchers warn you should not only avoid too much salt but also too little salt — suggesting the optimum range for sodium intake is between 3,000 and 6,000 milligrams per day. But hear us out before you go grabbing that bag of salty potato chips.

Some experts say the research is flawed and potentially dangerous to worldwide health efforts.

And the American Heart Association also rejects the study's claims, saying most of the scientific evidence today suggests lowering salt intake is key to lowering blood pressure and improving cardiovascular health.

And another study published in the same journal also supports current guidelines and estimates high sodium intake has contributed to about 1 in 10 deaths in 2010.

So why is there so much debate within the scientific community about ideal salt intake levels?

One health expert tells NBC salt might not be the problem. After all, Japan is one of the highest salt consumers yet has one of the longest average life spans in the world.

The recommended limits on salt consumption have been raised before, suggesting salt is not as bad as previously thought.

Sodium does play an essential part in healthy cell function. But although health professionals can't agree on the acceptable levels of sodium intake, it's widely accepted that excessive levels contribute to high blood pressure, which can lead to cardiovascular problems.

And now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is preparing to release guidelines of its own in an effort to pressure the food industry in the U.S. to reduce excessive salt levels in food.

Perhaps many of us don't even know how much salt we're really consuming. The New York Daily News points out some foods with surprising levels of salt, such as 300 milligrams in two slices of whole wheat bread and more than 1,000 in a ham and cheese sandwich.

Health experts suggest cooking your own food to monitor the salt content and avoiding processed or fast food.

This video contains an image from Dubravko Soric / CC BY 2.0, Robbin Gheesling / CC BY NC ND 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Why The Amazon's Biggest Fish Is Quickly Going Extinct]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 08:30:00 -0500
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A massive species of fish that used to dominate the Amazon river is quickly dying out in several areas.

A recent study of fishing communities in the state of Amazonas, Brazil found the giant arapaima (air-ah-pie-ma) is already extinct in some parts of the Amazon basin. (Video via Animal Planet)

The BBC notes, of the 41 communities researchers studied, arapaima populations were extinct in eight of them.

And the giant fish, which typically weighs in at more than 400 pounds, is rapidly disappearing in other parts of the Amazon. (Via via Tennessee Aquarium)

So what's the reason behind the arapaima's rapid extinction? Scientists have a simple answer: overfishing.

LiveScience quotes a researcher involved in the study, who says the arapaima is just too easy to catch. 

"Arapaima spawn on the edges of floodplain forests and come to the surface to breathe every 5 to 15 minutes, when they are easily located and harpooned by fishers using homemade canoes."

And with populations growing and the fishing industry finally reaching Amazon villages, the research says these massive fish don't stand a chance.

See, there were two competing theories the researchers explored: The first is essentially the idea that overfishing can't cause extinction because fishermen have to move on when supply starts dwindling. The second theory is basically the opposite: That fishing can drive a population to extinction. 

One of the study's authors said in a statement, "Bioeconomic thinking has predicted that scarcity would drive up fishing costs, which would increase price and help save depleted species. If that prediction were true, extinctions induced by fishing would not exist, but that is not what has happened."

The arapaima isn't the only aquatic creature in the Amazon to recently fall victim to local fishermen.

Brazil's Fishing and Aquaculture Ministry announced in June it is in the process of outlawing the fishing of a certain breed of catfish to protect the Pink Amazon River Dolphin, whose flesh is often used as bait for the catfish. (Video via National Geographic, BBC)

But there was also some good news that came out of the arapaima study. In communities where arapaima fishing is regulated, the species is actually doing pretty well, giving scientists hope that the species could be spared.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Ebola Protein Discovery Could Clear Path For Treatment]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 21:13:00 -0500
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As the medical community scrambles to find ways to combat the deadly Ebola virus, researchers found new clues to just how the deadly virus messes with the immune system — clues that could lead to future treatments.

When an infection enters the body, proteins called interferons send an alert to the body's antiviral immune system that something bad is happening. That message carrier, labeled "STAT1," gets a kind of super highway or "emergency access lane" to deliver the alert to the immune system's nucleus as quickly as possible, so the body can start battling the virus. Now, here's where the researchers say Ebola is different. The deadly virus comes equipped with a protein called VP24 which zeros in on STAT1 and blocks it from rolling down that super highway, thus keeping the immune system in the dark, so it can't put its defense system in action.

Lead author and Washington University professor Dr. Gaya Amarasinghe said in a university statement"What we see in this particular case is that interferons do not function in the normal way." And he says VP24 is the culprit. "What we found was that it very specifically blocks this one protein that's important for the host signaling."

Study co-author and professor at Mount Sinai University Dr. Christopher Basler told The Huffington Post he plans to keep testing forms of the VP24 protein to see what happens to the virus.

 "If we can use the information in this study to develop drugs that would block the function of this viral protein, we can make the body's natural defense more effective and beat the infection that way."

The new findings come as the World Health Organization continues to look for ways to contain West Africa's deadly outbreak. Just Tuesday, it approved the use of experimental drugs in region.

MAPP Biopharmaceutical sent the entire remaining supply of its ZMapp serum to the beleagured region. And the Canadian government donated up to 1,000 doses of its own unlicensed drug to WHO on Tuesday. (Video via NBC)

WHO's decision to allow drugs that haven't gone through clinical trials raised some serious ethical questions. One noteworthy headline from Bloomberg: "Who Gets It?"

According to Bloomberg, as of Wednesday, WHO still hasn't decided how it will administer them.

The new research on Ebola's VP24 protein will appear in the Aug. 13 issue of the scientific journal Cell Host & Microbe.

This video contains images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[For Heart Attack Survivors, It's Risky To Exercise Too Much]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 13:04:00 -0500
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If there's anything the average person knows is supposed to prevent or treat heart disease, it's regular exercise.

For anyone worried about their ticker, the answer has usually involved some form of "Get out there and get moving!" — even for those who've already had a heart attack.

Johns Hopkins tells survivors"​Exercise can be a frightening proposition in the aftermath of a heart attack. ... But recent research indicates that a reasonable amount of regular exercise is the best way to strengthen the heart after a heart attack."

But, like most things, moderation is key, and a new study says some heart attack survivors take it way too far.

KOVR: "Researchers say survivors who ran more than 30 miles or walked more than 46 miles per week are overusing their heart and increasing their risk of death."

The research, conducted at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, found that, yes, exercise does reduce a heart attack survivor's risk of another episode to a point, but the benefit disappears for people who take it to extremes.

The 30-mile-per-week mark shouldn't be too surprising, though. We've heard it before as the threshold where the benefits of running start to disappear, even for people who haven't had heart attacks.

Earlier this summer, The Wall Street Journal, citing new research, dubbed breaking the 30-mile limit "the exercise equivalent of a cheeseburger" in terms of its effect on the heart.

CBS: "Those people have also a higher risk of having heart problems. So the people who are at the two extremes — nothing at all or too much — had heart problems."

But that's not something most of us will have to worry about. Very few people are marathon or ultramarathon runners — or even regular runners.

In fact, one of the key figures on the subject of over-exercise, cardiologist and former endurance athlete James O'Keefe, says as many as half of Americans might be getting too little exercise, compared to the estimated 5 percent getting too much.

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<![CDATA[Rare Dust Storm Sweeps Through Wash. State]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 12:30:00 -0500
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A combination of weather conditions had parts of the Evergreen State looking more like the Sahara on Tuesday. 

This massive dust storm  — also known as a haboob, as many outlets eagerly pointed out — rolled through eastern Washington on the back of heavy winds caused by a storm. (Video via KIRO)

KHQ-TV: "It changed day to near night in minutes yesterday. ... It caused several crashes yesterday afternoon and into the evening, temporarily shut down I-90 west of Ritzville."

As Spokane newspaper The Spokesman-Review reports, the storm that caused the haboob was strong enough to knock over trees, down power lines and cause three separate brush fires.

This summer's dry conditions in the state have already produced what is reportedly the worst wildfire Washington has ever seen — the Carlton Complex Fire, which was also started by lightning strikes. (Video via KCPQ)

But it was the dust storm that grabbed national attention, with Fox News picking up the story as well as MSNBC.

Although outlets reported storms like this are rare, they're not unheard of in the region.

KREM: "The National Weather Service says we see major dust storms like this once about every two years."

In fact, less than a year ago, Washington saw another big dust storm in the same part of the state.

Still, haboobs tend to stick to much more arid environments like deserts, and in the U.S. they're most common in the Southwest, near the Sonoran Desert. 

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<![CDATA[U.S. Coast Guard Rescues Turtle Tangled In Fishing Line]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 12:03:00 -0500
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We often hear about the U.S. Coast Guard being dispatched to rescue stranded boaters, but Saturday crew members were sent out into the water for a very different reason. 

The Coast Guard recently released this video of three of its members helping to untangle an 800-pound turtle from a fishing line off the coast of New Jersey. As you can see, they were eventually successful, and the turtle swam off into the ocean.

The U.S. Coast Guard was notified after someone spotted the turtle earlier that morning. 

After receiving GPS coordinates of the turtle's exact location, the Coast Guard teamed up with employees of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, a nonprofit organization that helps rescue sea turtles and marine mammals in trouble along the New Jersey coast.

One of the petty officers involved in the rescue explained what he and the other members of the crew found when they arrived at the turtle's location. 

"The turtle was all tangled up. He had a blind from a buoy holding the fishing troll wrapped around one of his flippers." 

It's believed the tangled-up turtle was a leatherback turtle like the one shown in this picture. 

The Coast Guard said it was about 5.5 feet long and weighed about 800 pounds.

There's a good chance that turtle is still growing though, since National Geographic says leatherback turtles can grow to be "seven feet ... long and exceeding 2,000 pounds."

And they've tangled with fishing buoys before. The U.S. Navy rescued three turtles in January. 

According to National Geographic, leatherback turtles like the one rescued Saturday can be found in all major bodies of water except the Arctic and Antarctic oceans.

This video contains images from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region / Claudia Lombard / CC BY 2.0.

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<![CDATA[Freak Flash Flooding Wreaks Havoc On East Coast]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 10:30:00 -0500
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Heavy rain and flash floods wreaked havoc Wednesday morning on the East Coast, where some places saw a month's worth of rain in just a few hours.

NBC"The water came down 5 inches in Islip, New York, came down in one hour. Yesterday in Maryland, we ended up with about 10.5 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. That's enough rain for two month's worth."

As you can see from this radar map a meteorologist for The Weather Channel posted to Twitter, the nasty storm system stretches from Washington, D.C., to New York.

And according to The Weather Channel, the New York area and southern Connecticut were among the hardest hit, with reports of more than 10 inches of rainfall in some towns. It definitely sounds like a lot.

But this video taken by WNBC's SkyCam above the Southern State Parkway in Long Island says it all — you can see more than a dozen abandoned cars swallowed by water as the rain continues to fall.

The National Weather Service dubbed the torrential downpours a "dangerous and life-threatening" situation, and the media outlets in the area seem to agree.

No injuries have been reported, but emergency responders in boats were dispatched to several areas to rescue drivers trapped on flooded roads. (Video via MSNBC)

The massive flooding also caused power outages throughout the storm's path, and there were several reports of downed trees and road closures to boot. (Video via WBFF)

ABC"When the water started coming in and it started flooding my bed and everything else, I knew we were in trouble."

Even sinkholes are becoming a serious problem thanks to the heavy rain — a woman was hospitalized after her car fell into a massive sinkhole that opened up in a Pennsylvania parking lot. (Video via WPXI)

Some relief might not be too far off — forecasters predict the rain should move out of the region by midday Wednesday. But another round of storms is possible in the evening.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Scientists Reluctant To Stop 'Red Tide' Algae Bloom]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 16:02:00 -0500
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​Beachgoers could soon be seeing red off the Florida coast. A microscopic algae is growing out of control in the Gulf Coast. Although it can be toxic to marine life, some scientists are unsure if stopping it is the best option. 

"Scientists say a huge bloom of red tide is coming to Florida's west coast and this could be the biggest bloom the state has seen in more than 10 years. They say it has already killed thousands of fish out in the gulf and moving southwest." (Video via WTVT)

​​Karenia brevis, or K. brevis for short, is the blood-red algae to blame. On Monday, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the bloom was a whopping 90 miles long, 60 miles wide — and growing. It sits just 20 miles off the coast of western Florida. Researchers monitoring the bloom say it was around 80 miles wide a few weeks ago.

This event is often called the "Florida Red Tide" and occurs when the K. brevis algae begins to multiply rapidly. The algae releases toxins into the ocean which are harmful to marine life.  

The commission reports its hotline has already received reports of thousands of dead reef fish. While it's not deadly to humans, the toxins could become an airborne threat and move on shore where they can irritate those living with asthma or emphysema. Despite its current size, several media outlets pointed out it's the not the biggest bloom ever recorded, but it is the largest since 2005.

In fact, Florida's red tide is not an unusual event and is well-documented by researchers. That said, a Wildlife Conservation commissioner told WFTS the tide reminds him of a destructive bloom in 2005 that reached Florida's shores.

"In 2005 we also had a hypoxic event near the same area, and it killed a lot of reefs and reef fish. So we're kind of nervous seeing that again."

These algae blooms are also naturally occurring. The Orlando Sentinel reports this puts scientists in a tough position — they have little control over the algae, and some don't think it should be disturbed. Hayley Rutger, a spokeswoman with Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, explains:

"Because they are naturally occurring, if you try to alter them you could affect other marine life in ways you hadn't bargained for. Trying to affect the bloom in some way is a lot more complicated than you'd want it to be."

NBC reports last Thursday, researchers predicted the algae bloom could reach Florida shores within the next two weeks.

This video includes images from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

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<![CDATA['Ice Bucket Challenge' Gives Major Boost To ALS Donations]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 14:41:00 -0500
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If you've been on social media this past week, you might've seen videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on their heads. 

By now the trend has swept up the likes of Matt LauerMartha Stewart and "The Fault In Our Stars" star Ansel Elgort

FOX NEWS: "It's the Ice Bucket Challenge — we showed you Elisabeth yesterday. It's to raise awareness for ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, and also to raise money!"

ALS is a disease that causes neural deterioration and leads to impaired motor functions, paralysis and ultimately death.

The ALS Association reports more than 5,000 people are diagnosed with the disease in the U.S. each year and as many as 30,000 Americans are living with the disease at any given time. 

That answers the question of why people are taking the challenge, but why the challenge consists of dumping ice water over your head is a little unclear. 

The challenge originated with Peter Frates, a former collegiate baseball player from Massachusetts who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 at age 27. (Video via YouTube / Will McAuliffe)

FRATES VIA A LIFE STORY FOUNDATION: "I was one of the worst offenders, not knowing enough about ALS. ... I didn't really know what it did; I didn't know the ramifications."

In an interview with "Today," Frates' father, John Frates, said the family started the challenge a few weeks ago, saying, "When the ice hits you, even the toughest guy becomes a puddle."

A lot of times when a cause goes viral over social media, like Kony 2012 or the #bringbackourgirls campaign, pundits start to question whether they actually do any good. But the Ice Bucket Challenge seems to be making a real difference.

As USA Today reports, since July 29 the challenge has helped to raise $2.3 million for the national ALS Association, compared to just $25,000 during the same period last year. 

The trend doesn't seem to be showing signs of slowing down, either, with Justin Timberlake joining the increasingly long list of celebrities to get soaked — and challenges have been issued to both former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama, with the latter's representatives saying the president would make a monetary donation instead.

This video contains images from Frank Gaillard / CC BY SA 3.0 and Getty Images. 

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<![CDATA[Son Of U.S. Ebola Patient Gives Update On Mom's Condition]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 12:31:00 -0500
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It's been just a week since Nancy Writebol, one of the two Americans who contracted Ebola while performing missionary work in Africa, was brought back to the U.S. for treatment. Tuesday, her son, Jeremy Writebol, sat down with NBC's Matt Lauer.

​​"She's been doing well. We've just seen her get physically better, her eyes brighten up, her countenance goes up, smiling, even joking a little bit."

But this wasn't what he and his family were thinking when they saw Nancy being wheeled out of the ambulance on a stretcher last week after finally arriving at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Jeremy couldn't help but compare his mother's condition to that of Kent Brantly, the first Ebola patient to be treated in the U.S. Brantly was able to walk from the ambulance through the hospital doors. Jeremy told NBC he was devastated.

​"To see her wheeled out of the ambulance ... I was on the floor sobbing. It was an emotionally wrenching moment for all of us, I think."

Before arriving in the States, doctors gave Nancy two doses of an experimental drug called ZMapp, which had never been tested on humans before it was administered to her and Brantly. CNN reports four monkeys infected with the Ebola virus were given the drug 24 hours after infection and all survived. 

​​Although Nancy didn't seem to show as great of an improvement as Brantly did, she was well enough to be flown to the hospital in Atlanta, which has an area specially designed to contain the virus, according to The New York Times

Since then, Nancy's family and the president of SIM USA, the aid group she was working with in Liberia when she contracted the virus, have been keeping the public updated on her condition, which seems to be getting progressively better. 

Jeremy says he's able to see his mother twice a day at the hospital, but one family member who isn't allowed yet is Nancy's husband, David. According to WRAL, he returned from Liberia Sunday and is being kept in quarantine in North Carolina for at least three weeks as a precautionary measure. 

Jeremy says his father can't wait to see his mother again once his quarantine is over. To watch Jeremy's full interview, head over to NBC's website

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<![CDATA[FDA Approves Take-Home Colon Cancer Test]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 12:31:00 -0500
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In a move that might help stem the number of deaths by colon cancer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new at-home test it calls both accurate and noninvasive.

The test, called Cologuard, is made by the company Exact Sciences and boasts a 92 percent accuracy rate.

"Colon cancer is actually thought to be the most preventable but least prevented cancer."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., and the earlier it's found, the better.

That's why health officials recommend a colonoscopy at least once every 10 years for every American over 50.

The problem, according to doctors, is that patients shy away from getting colonoscopies. That's why the new test could be a game-changer.

In the press release, the FDA said as many as 60 percent of colon cancer deaths could be avoided if people were getting properly screened. So the hope is that people who won't get colonoscopies might at least use take-home tests.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it's even considering paying for the test for people over 50 who use its service nationwide.

Still, Cologuard isn't perfect: It has a fairly high chance of coming up positive when nothing's actually wrong. But the next step after getting a positive result is to get a colonoscopy, which is what officials want people to do anyway.

This video contains an image from the U.S. Navy.

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<![CDATA[Why Are There Twigs, Wheat In Your Coffee?]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 10:38:00 -0500
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How do you like your coffee? Cream, sugar — soybeans, twigs? A new report says some coffee suppliers are intentionally using fillers in ground coffee to compensate for supply shortages and increasing costs.

According to researchers in Brazil, coffee shortages mean fillers such as wood, husks, wheat and even dirt might be lurking in your cup of joe.

One researcher tells Yahoo most people can't even tell the difference once those fillers are roasted and ground up with the coffee beans. Sounds pretty unsettling, right?

The fillers aren't necessarily harmful, although they might become a problem for people with allergies. But with changing weather affecting crops in Brazil and global demand for coffee increasing, these fillers might not be going away anytime soon.

Severe droughts and torrential rains in recent years have affected crops in Brazil, the world's largest coffee bean grower. Paired with a significant increase in demand, coffee prices have gone up by as much as 75 percent around the world.

 But the good news is, there's a test that might be able to detect any impurities in coffee.

The team from a Brazilian university has developed a process for finding adulterated coffee grounds using liquid chromatography, a technique that can detect impurities with 95 percent accuracy.

Common tests currently used aren't nearly so accurate as they rely on taste, smell or microscopes to identify any unwanted ingredients. (Video via Coffee Analysts)

Coffee isn't the only thing in your kitchen with fillers, either. Researchers have identified olive oil, milk and honey as some of the most adulterated foods in the food industry.

Even tea has been known to contain fillers like grass or fern leaves.

If you're concerned about the mystery additives in your coffee, we think sticking with whole beans you grind yourself at home might be your best bet. The researchers plan to present their new technique at an American Chemical Society meeting Tuesday afternoon.

This video contains images from Julius Schorzman / CC BY SA 2.0, American Chemical Society, and Haneburger.

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<![CDATA[Spaniard Dies From Ebola, Despite Experimental Treatment]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 07:52:00 -0500
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The Spanish priest who had contracted Ebola and was being given an experimental treatment died Tuesday morning at a hospital in Madrid.

The priest — 75-year-old Miguel Pajares — had been working at a hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, when he tested positive for the disease. (Video via RTVE)

As this video from the Spanish Ministry of Defense shows, Pajares arrived in Madrid on Thursday, in a special containment unit, before being taken to the hospital. 

Apart from being the first European infected during the recent outbreak, Pajares' case made headlines because of the experimental drug he was given — ZMapp — the same the two infected American care-givers received.

The fact that Pajares was treated with ZMapp stoked the fires of the ongoing ethical debate over who should receive the untested drug. 

As Bloomberg points out, part of that debate stems from the limited supply of ZMapp, with the World Health Organization convening a panel of ethicists to decide "whether drugs that haven’t been widely tested for safety should be used in an outbreak where about 40 percent of infected people survive with just supportive care." Then, Tuesday:

BBC: "Today the World Health Organization has ruled that that drug and others are ethical to use even though they haven't been tested on humans so their efficacy and side effects are unknown." 

Soon after that news, Al Jazeera reported the drug will be sent to Liberia, with the U.S. approving a request from the Liberian government for doses of Zmapp.

But Pajares' death, in particular his condition leading up to it, raises some concerns about the drug. 

Spanish newspaper El Mundo wrote that Pajares condition seemed to have stabilized after receiving the drug, and similar reports circulated in the hours leading up to his death.

MSNBC: "Spanish priest from West Africa, they took him to Spain, still very critical but he seems to be getting better, and these two Americans seem to be getting better..."

There is no known cure for Ebola, and the WHO reports the outbreak in West Africa has claimed more than 1,000 lives.

This video contains images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Doctors Believe Ebola 'Patient Zero' Might Have Been Toddler]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 17:36:00 -0500
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Doctors think the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa might have been triggered by a two-year-old in a village in Guinea.

Their findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, show the toddler was suffering from a fever and vomiting before the child's death in December 2013. The patient's 3-year-old sister, mother and grandmother died with the same symptoms not long after.

The child who doctors believe to be Patient Zero lived in the village of ​Guéckédou in Guenia. It is believed the virus might have started to spread after two of the people who traveled to the grandmother's funeral became infected and took the virus back to their home village. 

It continued to snowball from there through health care workers and family members. 

It is not clear how the toddler originally contracted the disease. The World Health Organization says Ebola is transferred from animals to humans through fluids or tissue.

Rural areas in West Africa typically lack the health care resources to properly handle this sort of outbreak, which has helped spread the virus. 

Cultural traditions could also be partly to blame. Time spoke to a regional expert who used Liberia as an example: "Liberia is full of cultural practices that propagate the spread of the disease, the biggest being the veneration of the dead, including washing and kissing the corpse.”

The New York Times writes that people in those areas blame health care workers for the spread of the disease. So, many don't immediately go in for treatment. In one instance, a local gang of youths stopped workers from entering a village to treat the sick.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention insists the outbreak is not a threat to the U.S., and it can eventually be contained and controlled in West Africa. But it could take several months. 

This is the largest outbreak of Ebola in recorded history with more than 1,700 people infected.

This video contains images from the European Commission DG ECHO.

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<![CDATA[Light, Regular Exercise May Reduce Cancer Risk By 10 Percent]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 13:46:00 -0500
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A recent study out of France found even a small amount of regular exercise, like walking, can help postmenopausal women cut their risk for breast cancer. 

WPTV: "The study followed postmenopausal women who walked at least four hours a week over the past four years. Their risk of breast cancer was 10 percent less than when we exercise less." 

Specifically, more than 59,000 postmenopausal women in France were observed for an average of eight and a half years. 

Now, it's definitely not a secret that exercise is good for your health, and it's long been known to be beneficial when it comes to fighting breast cancer. 

The National Cancer Institute even names exercise as a "protective" activity. 

Which is why Alison Estabrook, the chief of the division of breast surgery at two New York City hospitals, told HealthDay​ she's too not surprised by the findings.

 

"As a breast cancer surgeon, one of my roles is to discuss prevention strategies for women. ... Exercise is certainly one prevention strategy I discuss for many reasons, and this study emphasizes the importance of physical activity."​​

But in the press release on the study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the lead researcher explained what exactly sets apart these findings from the rest. 

"Physical activity is thought to decrease a woman's risk for breast cancer after menopause. However, it was not clear how rapidly this association is observed after regular physical activity is begun or for how long it lasts after regular exercise stops."

 

Although part of the answer might be consistency. 

WOWT: "The key is keeping up with that exercise. The women who walked earlier in life but stopped later had no decreased risk for that disease."

It's important to keep in mind factors like weight and fat index were not considered in the study. 

This video contains images from Getty Images. 

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<![CDATA[Sen. Chuck Schumer Warns Fitness Trackers Threaten Privacy]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 10:50:00 -0500
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More and more people are using fitness tracking apps and bracelets to make sure they're getting enough exercise, but one lawmaker is calling the technology a threat to privacy.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer warns that fitness trackers can sell their users' data without informing them first.

Waving a Fitbit bracelet and standing in front of some joggers, Schumer said Sunday:

"These bracelets could also represent a true privacy nightmare."

Now, it's obvious fitness trackers collect user data. That's pretty much what they're for.

Wireless devices like the Fitbit Flex can track steps taken, distance traveled, calories burned and can even monitor sleep habits, allowing users to see hard data on their activity levels.

But in a statement, Schumer said, "There are currently no federal protections to prevent those developers from then selling that data to a third party without the wearer's consent."

Fitbit responded to the senator's comments by saying it's not part of the problem: "Fitbit does not sell user data. Our privacy policy prevents us from doing this."

Still, Schumer's point is that Fitbit could sell that data if it wanted to. We know other activity-monitoring apps do sell sensitive information about their users.

Earlier this year, the FTC released a report studying 12 mobile and fitness apps that sold data like location, activity level, names and email addresses and even searches for medical symptoms.

And it's not just fitness apps. The agency also recently settled a complaint against GoldenShores Technologies for secretly selling user data. The company's Brightest Flashlight app tracks location data for some reason.

Schumer is asking the FTC to require all mobile apps to give users the ability to opt out of having their data shared, kind of like his efforts last year to set up SmartStorePrivacy.org, a website letting users opt out of having their cell phones tracked in stores and airports.

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<![CDATA[Experimental Ebola Vaccine Due In 2015: Why The Wait?]]> Sun, 10 Aug 2014 18:49:00 -0500
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The World Health Organization announced on Saturday a British drug company is fast-tracking an experimental Ebola vaccine. It's set to go through clinical testing as early as next month and be ready for use in early 2015.

British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline is working with the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to create a preventative vaccine to try and thwart the worst Ebola outbreak in history. (Video via Arirang)

CBS reports the experimental vaccine has worked on monkeys and is set for to be tried out on humans this fall. One health official said, if tests are successful, "by January we should be able to scale up in its production."

Currently, there is no known cure for the deadly virus, and it's killed nearly 1,000 people during this latest outbreak in West Africa.

WHO declared the epidemic a public health emergency last Friday. As the death toll continues to mount, health officials are searching for ways to contain the massive outbreak. (Video via ABC)

The chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt Medical Center told The Wall Street Journal Ebola's spread has a lot to do with population density.

VANDERBILT MEDICAL CENTER'S DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER: "Previous outbreaks of Ebola occurred in remote villages. ... But it's now gotten into larger urban areas and it's much more difficult to contain."

Still, 2015 seems like a long time to wait for a vaccine to be used in an outbreak that has already killed so many. So what's the hang-up?  

One bioethics professor tells CBC the scientists first need to know if there'll be any potential side effects.

"You need to know, for instance, whether a couple of months or maybe a half of year or a year down the track there are suddenly serious side effects. ... If you think about giving something to large number of people you have to be really sure about what it will do eventually."

WHO's announcement comes a week after an two American workers in Liberia showed significant improvement when given a dose of a so-called "secret serum" developed by MAPP Pharmaceutical.

CNN speculated those two cases fell under the FDA's "compassionate use" regulation which allows drugs to by-pass normal clinical trials.

The results prompted Nigeria to ask for some of the experimental serum, but the United States denied the request. A CDC spokesperson said "there are virtually no doses available."

This video contains images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Typhoon Halong Hits Japan Causing Floods And Evacuations]]> Sun, 10 Aug 2014 08:29:00 -0500
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The third super typhoon of 2014 hit Japan on Saturday, causing massive flooding and at least one death. 

Typhoon Halong, which has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, made landfall in southern Japan and triggered landslides in Kōchi Prefecture.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency — as of Sunday evening, all of Japan was under an advisory because of the storm, with a warning issued for the greater part of Honshu, including the capital, Tokyo.

"We are about to be done with it, just a little more rainfall. In fact Tokyo, you'll be seeing the heaviest of the rain as this begins to scoot off to the north and east."   

As The Washington Post reports, Halong was actually fairly mild before intensifying, "from a weak typhoon with winds of 75 mph to a massive super typhoon with winds of 150 mph within a period of 24 hours."

The amount of rain being dropped on parts of Japan has been described by multiple outlets as unprecedented, but the storm itself is not— it's actually the second super typhoon to hit Japan this summer. 

A month ago, Typhoon Neoguri reached super typhoon status a few days before making landfall in southern Japan where it caused 3 deaths, despite being downgraded to a tropical storm before reaching Kyushu.

For a quick refresher, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a typhoon becomes a super typhoon when it reaches "maximum sustained 1-minute surface winds" of 65 meters per second, or around 150 mph. 

But some analysts say it's the rain that can cause the bulk of the damage. 

"The rain is very hard to protect against when these flashes and landslides hit there's very little these communities can do to build to withstand that so it's really a case of evacuating those who are most vulnerable."

Hundreds of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate towns in central Japan where the heaviest rain is set to fall.

This video contains images from NASA.

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<![CDATA[International Response To Ebola: Travel Bans, Funding]]> Sat, 09 Aug 2014 18:32:00 -0500
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Deaths from West Africa's Ebola outbreak, the deadliest outbreak in history, continue to rise as more people become infected everyday — so what are countries able to do about it? 

Well, starting in West Africa — they're closing borders. According to Guinéenews, ​the afflicted nation announced Saturday its closing its borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia in an attempt to stymie the influx of infected people in and out of the country.

Al Jazeera quotes the country's health minister as saying: "We have provisionally closed the frontier between Guinea and Sierra Leone because of all the news that we have received from there recently."

The news the health minister is referring to is probably the recent statement from the World Health Organization labeling this Ebola outbreak an "extraordinary event" and calling for international aid.

"The possible consequences of further international spread are particularly serious in view of the virulence of the virus, the intensive community and health facility transmission patterns, and the weak health systems in the currently affected and most at-risk countries."

Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leon have all declared states of emergencies following the Ebola outbreak, putting limitations on civil liberties and closing public institutions like schools.  

Airlines have started suspending flights to the ailing West African countries as well. CNN reports that British Airways and Emirates have stopped flights completely while others such as ASKY and Arik Air have started restricting flights.

And while travel restrictions don't really help the struggling nations, money might. World Bank president Jim Yong Kim appeared on CNN to explain the organization's $200 million pledge to the region.

"But the other thing we're trying to do is, we want to point out that this can happen to any country. What countries need is a functioning public health infrastructure."

On Friday, the European Union announced that it was expanding its aid to West Africa by $10.7 million, bringing its total aid to almost $16 million. It is also planning to deploy further medical aid to bolster the three countries' weak public health infrastructure.

So we have money, states of emergencies and travel restrictions. But what about that experimental serum used to treat the two Americans infected with Ebola? 

"I think we gotta' let the science guide us, and you know I don't think all the information is in on whether this drug is helpful." (Video via C-SPAN)

That was President Obama at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit responding to a question on whether or not he planned to send the experimental ZMapp drug used on two American patients to West Africa. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ZMapp is still in an experimental stage and only produced in a limited supply, so it's not quite ready to be used except under special circumstances. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did release a statement saying a vaccine was being developed with the assistance of the Department of Defense, but it's unlikely that we'll see anything out of that for at least another year. 

While international governments and organizations figure out what to do about this deadly Ebola outbreak, individuals are feeling the impact of the devastating virus as well. 

One of those individuals is Saah Kanda, who moved from Liberia to Charlotte, North Carolina 15 years ago. Between May and July, he has lost seven family members to Ebola in his home country. (Video Via WCNC). 

In an interview with WCCB, Kanda blamed a lack of information for the deaths. "People have to be careful. You've got to be preventive, take sanitation as a priority. But people were not. They were in denial."

And Kanda isn't alone. The Washington Post covered local efforts by West Africans in the U.S. to raise awareness of the virus and donate medical supplies. Liberian officials had urged them to help educate those in the country, saying, "Please call your people in the villages, tell your people, even if they don't believe government officials. Ebola is real."

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Remains Of Ancient Horses, Lions, Found In Wyo. Cave]]> Sat, 09 Aug 2014 15:51:00 -0500
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Lions and tiger and bears — oh my. 

Well in this case it's more like lions, horses, cheetahs and bison. But don't be afraid — researchers believe these particular animals haven't roamed the Earth for about 100,000 years. 

The remains of these ancient animals were discovered in Wyoming's Natural Trap Cave. (Video via YouTube / Australian Centre for Ancient DNA)

Located in Bighorn Canyon National Park the Natural Trap Cave is 80-feet deep and 15-feet wide at the entry. "Over 30,000 specimens have been collected from the cave over the years, mostly from extinct animals."

Among those — the North American Lion, one of the largest cats ever to exist. It's believed to be about 20 percent bigger then the modern day African Lion. Many other animals, including the remains of smaller ones like birds and lizards, were also found but have yet to be properly examined. (Video via History Channel

"What's unusual about this cave is a very high concentration of very strange carnivores, most people wouldn't even know about."  

The News Ledge notes, since the caves discovery in the 70s, officials have blocked off its entrance to keep people and animals from falling through — which is exactly what's believed to have happened to the animals paleontologist have discovered. 

"Over the millennium thousands of animals have fallen to their deaths. ... Preserved below the surface are bones dating all the way back to the Ice Age."  

As fossils are discovered researchers from Des Moines University bring the bones back to be examined. But there's something very special about the preservation of these fossils. 

As Viral Global News reports, the cave's cool and moist atmosphere aided in preserving the bone — many of which were found buried safely under about 30 feet of sediment. The "temperatures proved ideal for ensuring the DNA remained intact over such an extensive period." 

One researcher told CNN, "Some of the bones we're finding there have collagen in them. That is where you could get the ancient DNA. ... There is so much to dig. We have two more years for funding that we can be out there, so we are going to try to dig up as much as we can." 

The study of the Natural Trap Cave is the first in more than 30 years. Researchers say a big goal is to find out more about the DNA structure of the now extent animals, along with other information like their diet.  

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<![CDATA[Ringing In Your Ears? Try Drinking Coffee: Study]]> Sat, 09 Aug 2014 15:11:00 -0500
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We're pretty bombarded with stories about the miraculous effects of drinking coffee, from promoting long-term memory to preventing certain cancers. But now a study says coffee may help cure a condition it was once thought to cause.

The study, published in The American Journal of Medicine found that regularly consuming caffeine gives you a lower risk of developing Tinnitus. 

Tinnitus is a condition where a person perceives a high-pitched ringing or whining. We've all experienced ringing in our ears, but for some 50 million people in the U.S., the ringing almost never goes away. (Video Via The Tinnitus Clinic)

The American Tinnitus Association says there's been an ongoing debate among people with the condition over whether drinking coffee makes their tinnitus better or worse. 

Some people with the condition say it improves when they cut back on their coffee consumption, others say it gets worse.

The new study looked at data from a decades-long health survey following some 65,000 women, and found those who reported a higher caffeine intake were at lower risk for developing the condition.

The effect was strongest in women who drank three or four cups of coffee a day, but keep in mind, that much caffeine really isn't recommended.

The Mayo Clinic says drinking 4 or more cups of coffee a day causes insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, upset stomach, fast heartbeat, and muscle tremors.

And a study earlier this year found drinking 4 or more cups is also linked to shorter life expectancy.

More studies are planned to help better understand the correlation between caffeine and tinnitus. Right now, researchers don't know why coffee seems to reduce the risk, or whether increasing coffee consumption could actually help treat the disorder.

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<![CDATA['Zombie Star' Discovery A Universal Ruler (Of Sorts)]]> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 19:17:00 -0500
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NASA says there are zombies in outer space! Ok, maybe not human zombies, but they did find what they're calling a "zombie star." 

NASA says for the first time ever, they have discovered a supernova that brought a white dwarf star back to life. 

White dwarf stars are old, dying stars that still have some light. Stars like the one in our solar system fuse hydrogen in its core into helium. White dwarf stars have already burned up all of their hydrogen. 

Supernovas are large massive explosions that would usually finish off a white dwarf star. But, in this rare case it rejuvenated it.

The white dwarf star was sucking energy from another nearby star when it became unstable and exploded into a supernova. The explosion resurrected the white dwarf and it is now fully functioning. 

That's when scientists say a second, smaller supernova occurred. So, all of this kind of sounds like a random and totally common celestial event, but some scientists say this case is special. 

This has given scientists a lot of new information about Type Ia supernovas, supernovas that are caused when one star gives energy to another, such as the case with the "zombie star." Scientist previously had never seen the explosion process. 

Scientists study supernovas to measure how the universe is expanding. The Los Angeles Times reports a supernova created by a star this small, can really help them calculate distances. 

And that's not it: because of this discovery, scientist have been able to identify 30 similar supernovas that could also leave behind other "zombie stars." 

This video contains images from NASA

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<![CDATA[Meet The Tick Causing Allergies To Red Meat]]> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 14:01:00 -0500
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​​When you think tick bites, you probably think Lyme disease. We're guessing you haven't heard of developing an allergy to meat as a possible complication.

Named after the state of Texas, the Lone Star tick's bite might have caused the thousands of sudden aversions to red meat that have been reported along the East Coast as far back as 2011.

The tick made headlines in 2012 when doctors speculated there might be a link between the tick and the allergies but weren't completely sure.

And now the number of cases are increasing as the ticks spread into the Midwest and southern parts of the U.S.

OK — looks like your chances of getting a Lone Star chomp have increased. Doctors say once you're bitten, you can develop the allergy almost immediately.

​And once you're allergic, say bye-bye to burgers. Many describe getting hives, a swollen throat or tongue or a burning sensation just a few hours after eating red meat. (Video via Companion Animal Parasite Council)

And why does this happen? Maybe because the tick's saliva contains a sugar also found in red meat. As NBC explains, that sugar is usually harmless when digested, but when delivered through the bloodstream, it triggers the body's immune system response.

In 2011, researchers from the University of Virginia first identified a possible link between tick bites and allergies to meat. They said 90 percent of those who reported a sudden meat allergy had a history of tick bites.

Researchers still don't know whether the allergy is permanent. But for being named after a state that loves steak, the Lone Star tick sure is ironic.

This video contains images from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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<![CDATA[Tainted Tattoo Ink Might Cause Infection]]> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 10:26:00 -0500
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If you're thinking about getting a tattoo, you might want to keep an eye out for tainted ink. Some tattoo ink bottles sold online might be contaminated, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Last month, White and Blue Lion Inc. recalled inks and needles in home tattoo kits after discovering bacterial contamination in some unopened ink bottles. The kits, which were sold through Amazon, are also used by tattoo parlors. (Video via Vice)

At least one infection linked to the recalled products has been reported. But despite the recall, the FDA believes some consumers might still be purchasing or using the contaminated kits obtained from other distributors. To see photos of what the products in question look like, head over to the FDA's website.

Minor skin infections caused by tattoos are not rare — sometimes only resulting in redness or swelling. But the FDA warns severe infections can lead to sepsis, which requires hospitalization.

"Tattooing poses a risk of infection to anyone, but the risk is particularly high for those with pre-existing heart or circulatory disease, diabetes or compromised immune systems."

And proper sterilization does not always guarantee safety, as one New York tattoo parlor realized two years ago. A similar outbreak stemming from contaminated water in tattoo ink resulted in 19 reported infections.

The dangers of tattooing are not unique to permanent tattoos. The FDA also warns temporary tattoos, such as those using henna, can cause skin reactions such as blisters, loss of skin pigmentation and even permanent scarring.

Tattoos weren't always as common as they are today, and the number of infectious outbreaks have increased as more people have gotten tattoos in recent years.

According to CNN, despite the negative attitude toward visible tattoos in many workplaces, one poll found 40 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo in their household — compared to just 21 percent 15 years ago.

The FDA urges anyone to seek medical care if they experience signs of infection from a tattoo and to dispose of any ink bottles that have no brand name or are missing the manufacturer or distributor. 

This video contains images from Deanna Wardin / CC BY NC ND 2.0 and catty01 / CC BY NC ND 3.0.

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<![CDATA[Another Gene Mutation Linked To Higher Breast Cancer Risk]]> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 14:06:00 -0500
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We know family history is a major indicator of breast cancer risk and that early detection is crucial to survival. Now, researchers have singled out a specific gene mutation that is linked to a high risk.

And that discovery could lead to earlier diagnoses​ and even save lives, as the study published in The New England Journal of Medicine pointed out. It found women with mutations in one of their genes have about a 1 in 3 chance of developing breast cancer by 70. 

The study analyzed 154 families with a history of breast cancer and found that women who carried rare mutations in their PALB2 gene had a 35 percent chance of developing the disease.

PALB2 is a gene that is crucial to proper cell growth and division in the body. 

Leader of the study Marc Tischkowitz says: "Now that we have identified this gene, we are in a position to provide genetic counselling and advice. If a woman is found to carry this mutation, we would recommend additional surveillance, such as MRI breast screening."

The study's authors recommend that women with this mutation talk to their doctors about the possibility of having a mastectomy to reduce their risk. The article notes the surgery cuts back on the risk by 90 percent. 

Actress Angelina Jolie underwent a preventative double mastectomy in 2013 because she carried a different mutated gene that gave her a high risk of developing breast cancer. 

Jolie's mutation was of the BRCA1 gene, another gene that helps controls cell growth and division.

And a Miss America contestant also made headlines for deciding to undergo a double mastectomy last year because of her family history with breast cancer. 

Around 1 in every 1,000 women has a PALB2 gene mutation. 

This video includes images from Getty Images and the National Cancer Institute.

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<![CDATA[Coolest Math Teacher Ever Sets World Pull-Up Record]]> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 11:26:00 -0500
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We're guessing your middle school math teacher probably couldn't do this ...

That is Kyle Gurkovich. Back in June, the 28-year-old New Jersey resident broke the world record for most pull-ups in 24 hours, performing a muscle-achingly incredible 4,182. That's more than 2.9 per minute — for an entire day!

While obviously an amazing achievement, it's one with a very personal meaning for Gurkovich.

According to The Star-Ledger, one of the students at his school died of cancer aged just 14. A childhood friend of Gurkovich's died in 2007, also of cancer, so he says he knew how his students felt and wanted to do something to help.

So he came up with the pull-ups idea, which, as you can imagine, was no easy feat.

The previous record-holder, David Goggins, took three attempts to set the record, twice pulling out with injuries. And he's a Navy SEAL! (Video via Vimeo / Experience Your Potential)

And Military Times reports Washington-based sailor Mike McCastle​ had to pull out of a recent attempt after just more than 3,200 pull-ups. 

And if those guys struggle, you know it's hard, which we think makes Gurkovich maybe the coolest, toughest math teacher in the country.

Thursday Gurkovich appeared on "Fox & Friends" where not only did Guinness recognize his record as official — "You are officially amazing" — but the CEO of Retro Fitness also presented him with a check for $5,000.

That money, along with $3,060 Gurkovich raised during his record attempt, will go to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where both his friend and the student were treated.

Gurkovich told The Star-Ledger he'll try to break his own record in November. We ache all over just thinking about it ...

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<![CDATA[Low Vitamin D Levels Might Be Linked To Dementia]]> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 10:08:00 -0500
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Experts say someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer's disease every 67 seconds. And now, a recent study suggests the disease and other forms of dementia might be linked to a vitamin D deficiency.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, followed more than 1,600 seniors over six years, after which more than 170 developed dementia and more than 100 developed Alzheimer's.

And the researchers say the risk of developing dementia increased by more than 50 percent in those with low levels of vitamin D. The risk in those with a severe vitamin D deficiency increased by 125 percent.

Now, that might lead you to assume vitamin D deficiency causes dementia. But the authors warn that might not be the case, and the answer might not be as simple as taking vitamin D supplements.

The researchers say future studies should look at whether vitamin D sources, including sunlight, supplements and food, can lead to a lower risk for dementia.

According to the BBC, this is not the first study suggesting this link, but the researchers note it is the largest with stronger results than they were expecting.

Researchers are really trying to tackle the question of what causes dementia, and if you're a regular consumer of health news, you're probably remembering more than a few recent headlines.

An earlier study says incorporating a combination of exercise, healthy eating and brain-stimulating activities might contribute to a lower risk of memory loss. (Video via NBC)

And another study suggests a link between depression and dementia. 

Alzheimer's is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S., with more than 5 million individuals currently living with the disease. (Video via Alzheimer's Association)

The researchers say they still don't know why dementia and vitamin D deficiency might be linked, adding there could be a third contributing factor they haven't looked into. In any case, getting enough vitamin D — which you can get from eggs, milk and fatty fish — can't be a bad thing. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Obama Resists Fast-Tracking Ebola Drug, But New Test Cleared]]> Wed, 06 Aug 2014 23:04:00 -0500
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The same day that President Obama told reporters at a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit that the he wasn't ready to share any experimental Ebola treatments with West Africa, the FDA has approved a diagnostic test for the devastating virus. 

"I think we gotta let the science guide us, and you know I don't think all the information is in on whether this drug is helpful." (Video via C-SPAN)

The drug Obama is talking about is called ZMapp and it was used to treat two Americans infected with Ebola before they were brought back to the States from West Africa.

According to WebMD, ZMapp takes a long time to produce partly because of the the weeks it takes to grow its ingredients. That, combined with it's lack of FDA approval, means it's not quite ready for mass production. 

But even with Obama's announcement, it appears the FDA at least fast-tracked a diagnostic test for the virus.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a previously unapproved Ebola test has been authorized by the FDA under a "special emergency-use provision" — although an actual vaccine is still a ways off with officials saying one won't be available until 2015.

The diagnostic test is meant to detect the Zaire strain of Ebola, the same one that has infected more than 1,700 and killed as many as 932 people in Sierra Leon, Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria. 

​​A statement provided to health care workers by the FDA says it was authorized because, "At this time, no FDA-approved/cleared tests that identify the existence of the Ebola Zaire virus ... in clinical specimens are available."

A new test is definitely a good start, but are there any treatments besides ZMapp on the horizon?

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released a statement saying that the National Institutes of Health is working on developing one and it's "aiming to launch phase 1 clinical trials ... in the fall."

The statement also said that two other companies, Tekmira and Biocryst Pharmaceuticals, are being funded by the Department of Defense to develop therapeutic treatments while a third, Newlink, is working on a vaccine. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.

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<![CDATA[Smoking So Addictive Even 10% Of Cancer Survivors Can't Quit]]> Wed, 06 Aug 2014 19:27:00 -0500
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Cancer survivors smoking? Sounds pretty crazy right?

A news study shows 1 in 10 cancer survivors still smoke.

​The CDC reports smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., and more than 16 million Americans suffer from a disease caused by smoking. 

So how could someone who already went through the horrors of cancer increase their risk of getting it again by smoking? Chances are, they are really, really addicted. 

Nicotine changes the levels of chemicals in the brain causing that relaxed feeling many smokers enjoy. But, the more they smoke, the more the brain gets used to the nicotine. That makes you need more to get the same affect.

Then, if you try to stop smoking, your brain has a hard time adjusting and you can experience withdrawals and cravings so powerful it may be difficult to quit — even if you've already been through cancer treatments.

A report from the Surgeon General says, "Nicotine is just as addictive as heroin and cocaine."

And the American Heart Association lists irritability, anxiety, depressed mood, and weight gain as side affects of nicotine withdrawal. 

An article by the American Cancer Society recommended that "doctors take a more assertive role in asking cancer patients whether they smoke, and referring smokers to quitting programs."

Health organizations usually suggest patients gather support, stay away from things that trigger their smoking habit and develop coping strategies when trying to quit smoking. 

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<![CDATA[Aspirin Use Could Significantly Reduce Cancer Deaths: Study]]> Wed, 06 Aug 2014 14:05:00 -0500
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People often take aspirin to reduce their risk of heart attack. But a new study from the U.K. says it could also dramatically cut down the number of cancer cases and cancer deaths.

The research found daily aspirin use among 50- to 65-year-olds in the U.K. over the course of 10 years could reduce deaths from stomach cancer by 35 percent, colorectal cancer by 40 percent and esophageal cancer by 50 percent.

"This 2,000-year-old drug has benefits today that we need to be paying attention to."

But, as Newser's headline shows, it's not all good news. There's also the risk of stomach and brain bleeding if you take too much aspirin, and in some cases this can be deadly.

The study, published in the Annals of Oncology, even points out the biggest risks tied to aspirin use are internal bleeding and even strokes. But the scientists say the benefits outweigh the risks.

"In terms of things you can do to prevent cancer, it's clear that the most important thing to do is to avoid smoking ... After that, this is probably the second most important that anyone can do to prevent cancer." (Via BBC)

A Forbes writer calls the findings "encouraging."

And The Guardian calls it the "biggest study yet." The study suggests about 130,000 lives in Britain could be saved if more people took aspirin. Still, one of the study's scientists says: "[It] should not be seen as a reason for not improving your lifestyle."

Scientists say they'll still need to do more research to figure out what the ideal dosage is and the number of years people should take it daily.

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<![CDATA[Rosetta Probe Reaches Comet To Study Origins Of Life]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 23:02:00 -0500
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Ten years, four billion miles, and several complicated maneuvers later, the Rosetta probe is readying itself to enter orbit around Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (that's Chury, for short) and make history. 

After much planning during the 1990s, the European Space Agency, or ESA, launched Rosetta in 2004 from French Guiana to the tune of 1.3 billion euros with the expressed purpose of eventually meeting the 2-mile-wide Chury in deep space. (Via DLR / CC BY 3.0)

​In order to do that, the probe had to undergo a winding series of maneuvers to reach the comet including using Earth as a space slingshot not once, but three times, and going into a deep space hibernation for two and a half years. (Via DLR)

It woke up from that hibernation in January of this year and has been steadily approaching Chury ever since. (Via Space.com)

Now that it's finally within orbitting distance of Chury, Rosetta will match its speed, perform several triangular orbits as it approaches, and deploy a fridge-sized lander called "Philae" in November once it gets close enough. (Via European Space Agency)

So beyond the fact that both orbiting and landing on a comet will be historical firsts for mankind, what's the point of Rosetta's mission? Simple, to learn more about where we came from.

"The biggest question that we're trying to get an answer to is where did life on earth come from. It's like, did it start, how did life get going, was it the building blocks of life that were brought to us from comets." (Via BBC)

​​Discover Magazine notes that seeing as how comets have been around since before planets themselves even existed, "They consist of material that’s believed to be relatively pristine. ... Scientists hope to gain valuable insights into the origin and evolution of the solar system, including our own planet."

The odd shape of the comet, which some have compared to a rubber duck, may pose a problem for landing, though. The Guardian spoke to a member of the research team who seemed a little concerned.

“The scientists are saying, 'Which bit do we want to land on?,' and the engineers are saying, 'Blimey, how will its shape affect the gravitational field?' At the end of the day we just want a safe landing. We’ve been waiting a long time for this.”​

But, as a writer over at The Planetary Society notes, ESA plans to select five candidate landing sites by the end of the month and a final site by mid-September. So they still have plenty of time to figure out how they want to touch down. 

ESA will be live streaming Rosetta's final approach starting Wednesday morning.

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<![CDATA[Amid Stem Cell Research Scandal, Co-Author Commits Suicide]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 20:11:00 -0500
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The co-author of an infamous and controversial stem cell paper that was eventually retracted has died of an apparent suicide. (Via Getty Images)

Yoshiki Sasai, heralded as "the brainmaker" by the journal Nature in 2012, was found dead Tuesday in his research building. (Via NHK)

Sasai co-authored a stem cell paper released in January that claimed stem cells could be created using a new revolutionary method called STAP, or stimulus-triggered acquisition and pluripotency. (Via LiveScience)

The widely reported technique was too good to be true, and the paper was retracted in July after attempts to replicate the study failed and other researchers found signs of plagiarism and misconduct. 

While Sasai was found not to have committed misconduct himself, the lead author and his ​protégé, Harujo Obokata, was eventaully found guilty of fabricating parts of the study. (Via YouTube / Jijineta dōga)

He issued an apology in early July saying he was "deeply ashamed" the research had to be retracted and that he didn't catch the errors. 

As to whether the retractions and surrounding media attention played any role in his death, a spokesman for his lab told The Washington Post

"It’s certainly possible, but I don’t know what else was going on his life, so it’s very hard to speculate. … He had the stress from the retractions and there was also the prospect that he would face disciplinary action due to the finding of research misconduct."

According to NHK, a Japanese broadcasting corporation, three letters were found inside a bag at the scene. One was addressed to a Center for Developmental Biology official, another to a lab member and the third to Obokata.

Sasai's loss was mourned by scientists around the world with a stem cell scientist in Boston telling The Boston Globe his death is a "huge loss" and that he was a "gifted scientist destined to continue to make momentous contributions".

And a Canadian doctor in Toronto told Nature that Sasai "was a rigorous and innovative scientist and his loss will be deeply felt."

Obokata is currently attempting to replicate the stem cell STAP findings while under video surveillance at the RIKEN lab.

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