Newsy - Sci/Health The Latest Videos From <![CDATA[Ringling Bros. Elephants Quit Showbiz, Join The Fight Against Cancer]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2016 13:55:00 -0500
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The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants are making their final appearance Sunday.

Feld Entertainment, the company that owns the Ringling Bros., decided to phase the elephants out after accusations the methods used to train the elephants were cruel. Some places have also enacted laws banning the bullhook, the controversial device used to train the elephants.

The company originally announced they would retire elephants by 2018, but it moved up that timetable earlier this year.

The 11 elephants still in the circus will join 29 others at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida. They are joining the largest herd of Asian elephants in the Western Hemisphere.

The 200-acre plot of land is more than just an elephant retirement center. Elephants rarely develop cancer, so researchers are studying them in hopes of finding a cure or treatment for pediatric cancer in humans.

The Ringling Bros. will live stream the elephants' last show on Sunday evening on its website and Facebook page.

This video includes clips from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Just How Ambitious Are SpaceX's Mars Plans?]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2016 10:07:00 -0500
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SpaceX wants to get to Mars within two years. That's pretty ambitious, even by spaceflight standards. Private companies haven't broken out of orbit around Earth yet.

First off, it assumes SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket gets off the drawing board in time to launch a Mars-bound mission. The expected debut has slipped a couple times already.

Money isn't as much of a challenge. In spaceflight terms, getting something to orbit around Mars is relatively cheap. India put a probe around the red planet on its first try, with four years and about $73 million. A single Falcon 9 launch costs only about $61 million.

Landing on Mars is where things get tricky. Mars' atmosphere is thinner than Earth's, which makes it less useful for slowing down. SpaceX's rocket-powered landing would help get around that.

But a Dragon capsule would still be about six times heavier than the Curiosity rover NASA landed on Mars. More weight means higher stakes.

And Curiosity didn't explode on landing — which is more than SpaceX can say sometimes.

The endgame, of course, is humans. NASA thinks it can get a human crew to Mars by the late 2030s. SpaceX has proposed doing the same by 2025.

This video includes clips from SpaceXNDTV and NASA. Music: "Easy Living" by Birocratic (

<![CDATA[The Northern US Might See A Rare Aurora Borealis]]> Sat, 30 Apr 2016 07:58:00 -0500
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If you live in the northern contiguous U.S., you might want to go outside Saturday night and look up. You could catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a minor geomagnetic storm watch.

Those most likely to see the display live in the most northern states, like Montana, Minnesota and North Dakota.

The lights are usually seen farther north in places like northern Canada and Iceland, but during high geomagnetic activity, they can be spotted much farther south.

So what causes the high geomagnetic activity? The sun's magnetic fields have two different polarities which ripple as they travel away from the star. Right now, Earth is passing from a region of space with one polarity, to a region with the opposite polarity.

In other words, it's a good time to see the northern lights.

This video includes clips from AV LAPPI / CC BY 3.0Harriniva Hotels&Safaris / CC BY 3.0 and NASA and images from NOAA.

<![CDATA[Tiny Weasel Accused Of Shutting Down Big, Expensive Science Machine]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 18:05:00 -0500
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A weasel is suspected of chewing through a wire in one of science's most impressive machines.

The Large Hadron Collider is the largest particle accelerator in the world. It's designed to study the atom's nucleus by smashing atoms together really, really fast.

The charred body of a small mammal near a broken power line suggests the animal chewed through a wire, causing the machine to go offline.

A spokesperson for the European Council for Nuclear Research told NPR it could be as late as mid-May before the machine is completely back in order.

Pretty impressive when you think about it — the little critter apparently disabled a machine made up of close to 17 miles of superconducting magnets.

This video includes an image from Peter Trimming / CC BY 2.0 and clips from CERN.

<![CDATA[A Family Of Bald Eagles Ate A Cat For Dinner On A Live Webcam]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 09:43:00 -0500
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Nature can be beautiful, but it can also be cold and brutal. 

Case in point — the time a family of bald eagles ate a cat for dinner on a live webcam stream.

The eagles live near Pittsburgh, where the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania has a 24-hour live stream of the nest. The two eaglets are just over five weeks old.

The cat-eating incident happened earlier this week while an online audience watched in disgust. The Audubon Society says on Facebook it believes the cat was dead before it was brought to the nest.

A spokesman for the group said, "To people, the cat represents a pet, but to the eagles and to other raptors, the cat is a way to sustain the eaglets and help them to grow."

So there are two lessons here — one about the harsh reality of nature, and the other is about making sure Fluffy stays indoors.

This video includes a clip from the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

<![CDATA[Teen Birth Rates In The US Hit All-Time Low]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 18:08:00 -0500
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Teen births in the U.S. have hit an all-time low, thanks in part to a drop in births among black and Hispanic teens. 

In a report published Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says births among black teens dropped 44 percent while births among Hispanic teens dropped 51 percent since 2006. That's part of a 41 percent drop in births among all teens in the U.S. during the same time period.

The CDC says community-wide initiatives — like pregnancy prevention interventions and reproductive health services — helped with the overall decline in teen births. 

While the new stats are historic, the CDC adds that teen birth rates are still too high. That could be because of unemployment rates and limited education opportunities. 

According to the CDC, teen pregnancies cost taxpayers $9.4 billion in 2010 alone and contributed significantly to high school dropout rates among girls. 

The CDC says leaning on community-specific prevention efforts from state and local health officials can help in continuing to reduce teen birth rates. 

This video includes images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[SpaceX Is Getting Serious About Going To Mars]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 07:53:00 -0500
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SpaceX says it wants to send a probe to Mars as soon as 2018. 

The company made the announcement on Twitter without many other details. NASA confirmed it's partnering with SpaceX on the project but is only providing technical support and won't be putting any money into the effort. 

The news was met with a fair bit of skepticism. For one, a 2018 launch is a pretty tight timetable. 

SpaceX says it plans to send its Dragon 2 capsule, which uses a propulsion system to slow its descent to the ground and land in a controlled way. 

The company's Falcon 9 rocket uses the same propulsion system, but it's untested on the Dragon capsule. 

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has never been shy about his company's ambitions to travel to Mars and eventually start a colony there. 

Getting humans to the red planet is likely a long way off. NASA says it won't happen until the 2030s. 

Even sending unmanned craft to Mars has been difficult. The Washington Post reports that of the 43 missions to the planet, including fly-bys, only 18 have been successful. 

This video includes clips from SpaceX and NASA and images from Twitter / @SpaceX.

<![CDATA[Got A Minute? Your Workout Might Not Need To Be Much Longer]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 07:10:00 -0500
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Short on time? Turns out you might not need an hourlong workout to get fit. How does one minute of intense exercise sound? 

A quick caveat to this — the total time commitment was 10 minutes. But researchers in Canada found 10-minute sprint-interval training sessions (with one minute total of actual sprinting) led to the same results as 50-minute workouts at a moderate pace. 

In the sprint, workout participants cycled "all-out" for 20 seconds, and then cycled at 10 percent of that pace for two minutes. They went through this process three times. 

In comparison, participants in the longer, more moderate workout cycled for 45 minutes straight at a pace that got their heart rate to 70 percent of their maximum level. 

We should note, in this experiment, you're definitely choosing between less time and more comfort. 

Some could argue 70 percent of your maximum heart rate is a little slower than a moderate exercise pace. A fitness expert told Livestrong 70 percent is right on the cusp between the slowest rate she advises people to achieve and the mid-level rate. 

With that in mind, you still may be happy to hear participants who sprinted for a short time and those who did a long, moderate workout saw the same cardiometabolic results. 

So if you've been avoiding the gym, give this sprint workout a try. Who knows, one day you could be sprinting for 50 minutes. 

This video includes clips from Livestrong and an image from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Dogs Rescued From Meat Farm Coming To US In Search Of Forever Homes]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 22:43:00 -0500
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Humane Society International has again rescued dozens of dogs from a South Korean meat farm. 

The 171 dogs and puppies were rescued from a farm in Wonju that has now closed, making it the fifth farm HSI has helped close in recent years. 

The owner of the farm contacted the group and asked for its help in getting out of the dog meat business. In all, 250 dogs and puppies were rescued from this single farm. 

Most South Koreans don't eat dog meat regularly, but it is consumed more during the annual Bok Nal festival and throughout the hot summer months because many believe it cools their blood. 

A majority of the rescued pups will head to a temporary emergency shelter in New Jersey, and the others will be transported to one of 17 partner shelters in the U.S. or to foster families in Canada. 

But once these dogs reach the U.S., many will likely need rehabilitation before going up for adoption. A shelter that took in dogs rescued from a meat farm in 2015 found that the adult dogs needed more emotional and behavioral help than the puppies. But after working with shelter volunteers, nearly all the dogs were adopted. 

<![CDATA[Yet Another Study Confirms That Spanking Is Bad For Your Kids]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 21:41:00 -0500
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When parents spank their kids, they’ll often tell them, "This hurts me more than it hurts you." But a new study shows that’s actually not true. 

A University of Texas at Austin and University of Michigan study has confirmed what child psychologists have been saying for years: Spanking is bad for kids

Researchers looked at 50 years of data from 75 different studies involving more than 160,000 children and determined that spanking children actually makes them more likely to act up again.

Those kids also tend to struggle with anti-social behavior, mental health issues and determining right from wrong later in life. Study author Elizabeth Gershoff said those effects were similar to those in children who suffered physical abuse.

The study only focused on open-hand spanking and ignored more serious forms of corporal punishment and abuse. But the effects on children from each were pretty much the same.

"We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors. Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree," Gershoff said. 

That’s especially worrying when you consider nearly half of American parents admitted to spanking their kids in 2015. According to UNICEF, that number is virtually the same worldwide

Experts say a better strategy is to put kids in time-out so both the child and the parents have a chance to calm down.

This video includes images from Lubomir Simek / CC BY 2.0erizof / CC by SA 2.0the White House and Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Sorry, Your Dog Doesn't Want To Be Hugged]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 14:14:00 -0500
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Hugging your dog might not be as comforting for your pet as it is for you.

It turns out hugging likely stresses out your dog. A behavioral psychologist examined photos pet owners posted online of themselves hugging their dogs and found about 80 percent of those dogs showed signs of stress.

Dogs don't always bear their teeth when stressed. The researcher says there are also subtle signs like the dog looking away, showing "half-moon" eyes, lowering the ears, licking its lips or yawning.

The psychologist suggests dogs don't like being hugged because running away is their first line of defense in most situations, which is pretty hard to do if you're being smothered by a pair of human arms.

The researcher who examined the photos also warned hugging your dog increases the risk it will feel threatened and bite.

So it might be a good idea to just pet your dog. Yes, just like that. Good boy!

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

<![CDATA[High-Speed Cameras Capture Exactly How Peacocks Strut Their Stuff]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 13:00:00 -0500
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There's more to a peacock's flashy tail feathers than bright colors. New research shows what happens when the birds shake their tail feathers makes them even more mesmerizing.

Researchers recorded peacocks using high-speed cameras. They found the birds capture the attention of potential mates by making their tail feathers vibrate like guitar strings.

The motion makes a peacock's blue eyespots hold still while the rest of the feather vibrates. The result is — well, just look at it. It's like a wavy wall of eyes.

The weird depth effects come from how the feathers are built. The eyespot bristles are denser than the rest of the feather, so they don't wave around as much when the peacock shakes its tail.

Eyespots are a big deal for a male peacock. The more he can make the patches stand out — through color or motion — the better his chances of finding a mate.

This video includes clips from deepaksankat / CC BY 3.0 and Roslyn Dankin / PLOS One. Music: “Prismatic” by Birocratic (

<![CDATA[City Streets Can Do More To Fight Climate Change]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 16:41:00 -0500
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"In the city of Chicago, per-capita carbon emissions are actually lower than in the suburbs of Chicago," said Karen Weigert, Senior Fellow for Global Cities at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "That comes from transportation — you can hop on the train, you can walk or you can bike."

Twenty-one percent of carbon emissions in Chicago come from transportation. In the suburbs of Chicago, it's 30 percent.

But cities can build streets that actually fight climate change and prevent floods.

"A quarter or even more of a city is paved in roads. So when you think about overall, that's a huge opportunity to work with," Weigert said.

Chicago has over 4,000 miles of paved road, for example.

"How can you make a street easier for a pedestrian or someone who's in a wheelchair or in a stroller? That is the lowest emission, healthiest way to move," Weigert said.

"When you have a lot of folks who are walking someplace — you might have an outdoor market, you might have cafes — you've got a lot of pedestrian activity. You probably have in the middle a place for cars," she said.

"Some of the new ways to think about that are what if you blended those barriers?" she said.

"You might even take out the curbs so you can walk right from the sidewalk onto the street," Weigert said.

"And then the car also gets to come through here, so you're essentially sharing some space," she said.

Shared streets in Auckland, New Zealand, slowed down cars, reduced traffic and increased local spending.

"There is an awful lot in between that that street can do. And some of those examples are they can help address urban flooding. And by urban flooding I mean, the rain comes down and it needs a place to go," Weigert said.

Flooding cost the Chicago area over $700 million between 2007 and 2011.

"Too often that might be in your basement. That might be clogging up your street. That might be someplace else," Weigert said.

"It might be overwhelming the sewage system. In a street you can innovate so that the rain falls straight through," she said.

"I think you're really looking at an opportunity to have a new space for connection, commerce, culture and cars, too," Weigert said.

This video includes clips from the Good Spark GarageStreet FilmsAuckland CouncilBlake House and Tarmac and an image from the Center for Neighborhood Technology.

<![CDATA[Scientists Discover Pluto's 'Little Sister' Makemake Has Its Own Moon]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 16:27:00 -0500
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Pluto might not be a planet anymore, but at least it has some company at the edge of our solar system.

In 2005, astronomers found a slightly smaller dwarf planet called Makemake in the Kuiper Belt in the outer reaches of the sun’s light. On Tuesday, NASA announced Makemake has a moon of its own.

The moon is nicknamed MK 2, and astronomers first discovered it a year ago using the Hubble Telescope. It's about 100 miles in diameter and resides more than 4.2 billion miles away from the sun.

Scientists believe it orbits about 13,000 miles away from Makemake, much closer than the average distance of 238,000 miles between our moon and the Earth.

Finding the satellites and determining their mass can provide scientists with clues about how the celestial bodies were first formed.

Scientists hugely overestimated Pluto’s size for decades until the discovery of its moon Charon shed new light on the dwarf planet in 1978.

"The discovery of this moon has given us an opportunity to study Makemake in far greater detail than we ever would have been able to without the companion," researcher Alex Parker said. 

Scientists say they’ll need to do more research to learn more about MK 2’s orbit and composition.

This video includes clips and images from NASA.

<![CDATA[Think Mind Control Is Science Fiction? Think Again]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 15:33:00 -0500
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Researchers are getting better at harnessing brain signals. These days, you can strap on a headset and control a drone with nothing but your thoughts.

"We have a computer program that you look at. We tell you, 'Think forward. Think about pushing a chair forward.' So we learn to navigate the drone based on your brain patterns for specific things you're thinking about," said University of Florida's Juan Gilbert.

And as mind-reading gets easier, there are more and more things that can be mind-controlled.

Hooking into the brain can restore old motor function. Doctors bypassed Ian Burkhart's damaged spinal cord and gave him control over his arm again. DARPA knows how to access the nervous system and restore a sense of touch to people with prosthetic limbs.

People can even control other people. Researchers at the University of Washington wired up two participants so one person could move another's arm just by thinking.

The scientists say that last one might eventually lead to transferring knowledge from brain to brain, "Matrix"-style.

This video includes clips from Coöperatie SURF / CC BY 3.0University of FloridaPBSThe Ohio State University Wexner Medical CenterDARPAUniversity of Washington and Warner Bros.

<![CDATA[This Commonly Prescribed Drug Could Help Treat Autism]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 14:07:00 -0500
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Researchers at the University of Missouri are studying how a commonly prescribed beta blocker could be used to treat individuals with autism.

"There was a study done in the 1980s that suggested a social and language benefit with this blood pressure drug, propranolol," Dr. David Beversdorf said.

Propranolol has been used to treat high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases since the 1960s. Dr. David Beversdorf and his colleagues wanted to explore other possible uses for the drug.

In their study, individuals with autism who took the drug instead of a placebo showed higher scores in social skills, such as eye contact, nonverbal communication and staying on topic.

"We were initially looking at it because of its use for test anxiety. That's exactly the drug people take for public speaking anxiety, performance anxiety. ...  And then we started to look at it in autism because they have flexibility issues with social interaction," Beversdorf said.

Propranolol is currently FDA-approved to treat a lot of things. Autism is not one of them.

An Autism Treatment Network spokesperson said the organization welcomes the research but also warned it's still too early to start prescribing the drug to people with autism.

Researchers plan to begin a federally funded clinical trial this fall. Beversdorf says the trial could take up to four years to complete.

This video includes images from Getty Images and Garzfoth.

Correction: A previous version of this video said the upcoming trial will involve early-intervention therapies, which are actually part of a separate private trial.

<![CDATA[Babies Who've Got Rhythm Might Have An Easier Time Learning Languages]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 12:42:00 -0500
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Music –– and more specifically, rhythmic ability –– may help babies learn languages. 

A new study from the University of Washington had a group of babies listen to children's music. During the music, parents moved the babies to the beats of a song.

A different group of babies didn't listen to music. Instead, they played with toys that still got them moving –– just not to a rhythm.

It may be hard to relate to now that you're grown up, but as a baby, you're flooded with new sights, sounds, textures, etc. You learn largely by recognizing patterns.

In the second part of the study, all the babies heard both music and speech sounds that followed a pattern, but sometimes the patterns were disrupted. 

When they were, the babies who had undergone music training showed greater brain activity in areas known to control pattern detection. 

For language learning itself, scientists still don't agree on if learning to speak at an earlier age goes hand in hand with higher intelligence.  

But the University of Washington study argues music training improves pattern recognition and learning in general. 

There's long been a trend of schools across the country cutting music classes when faced with budget cuts — something the researchers are saying their study shows is a mistake.

This video includes clips from the University of Washington and images from EaglebrookSchool / CC BY 2.0OC Always / CC BY 2.0GreenFlames09 / CC BY 2.0Daniel Guimarães / CC BY 2.0 and pedrobonatto / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[The CDC Says Ads Are Encouraging Teens To Smoke E-Cigarettes]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 12:22:00 -0500
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Electronic cigarette use among teens has risen dramatically in the past four years, and one study says e-cigarette ads could be to blame. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports teens who frequently see the ads are three times more likely to have used e-cigarettes. More than 18 million youths were exposed to such ads in 2014. 

A separate CDC report says last year 16 percent of high school students said they'd used e-cigarettes within the previous 30 days — a huge jump from 1.5 percent in 2011. It's almost double the number of estimated cigarette users. Middle-school users were at about 5 percent. 

Legally, you have to be 18 or 19 years old to purchase e-cigarettes, but yet another study found it was easy for younger teens to buy them online with no age verification. 

Overall smoking rates have stayed largely the same over the past four years. While e-cigarette and hookah use have risen, cigarette smoking has fallen among teens. 

This drop in cigarette use may stem from the CDC's Tips From Former Smokers campaign, which began in 2012. The effort led to an increase in quit attempts. 

Health officials are worried the progress will be reversed because of e-cigarette ads and because teens lack knowledge of what e-cigarettes actually contain. Nicotine and other chemicals are very much active in the products, so addiction is still possible. 

This video includes clips from BluNJOY and Retro Active, and images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Want To See What A Shark Sees? This Camera Can Show You]]> Tue, 26 Apr 2016 08:10:00 -0500
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Scientists are trying to look through the eyes of a shark so they can understand why some can glow. 

There are two species of catsharks that use biofluorescence — the chain catshark and the swell shark. But no one can say for certain why these sharks sometimes give off a green light

So researchers with the American Museum of Natural History developed a camera that essentially mimics the way a shark eye sees. 

Catsharks live deep underwater, where there is mostly only blue light. Researchers found that the sharks can only see in the blue and green spectrums. 

Under the natural, low light, the sharks blend in with their surroundings. But through the lens of the shark-eye camera, they glowed a bright green, making them really stand out in their environment. 

Which leads scientists to believe catsharks' glow may help potential mates find each other. 

However, right now that's just a guess, and experts say they need to know more before they can determine exactly why catsharks and other fish glow. 

<![CDATA[A Massive Coral Reef Discovered Near The Amazon Is Already In Danger]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 13:30:00 -0500
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A gigantic stretch of coral reef has just been discovered at the mouth of the Amazon River by an international team of scientists.

The 600-mile-long area of reef went unnoticed until now since coral usually survives best in clear waters. The Amazon's water, on the other hand, is some of the dirtiest in the world. 

The location is even more surprising, since areas where fresh and salt water meet are usually where there are gaps in coral reefs. 

This newly discovered stretch could change what scientists know about how reefs form. 

But already the researchers say the reef and its wildlife are in danger. One said in a press release ocean acidification and warming are major threats. 

And the Brazilian government already sold a significant part of the area for oil exploration and drilling. 

As of now, this reef is pretty abundant with life –– with 60 different species of sponges and over 70 species of fish and crustaceans. 

Time will tell if oil exploration is scaled back because of the find. Cases of the practice contaminating the Amazon River have been found in the past.

Brazil's state-run oil company has been plagued with scandal, but the country's economy also largely depends on the oil industry. 

This video includes clips from CCTVMoura Et Al. / Science AdvancesThe EconomistDiscovery and National Geographic, and images from Getty Images, NASA, the University of Georgia and Lance Willis. 

<![CDATA[Video Game Technology Could Help Athletes Avoid Knee Injuries]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 11:59:00 -0500
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"It's kind of crazy. I was actually doing my sports medicine training, and I had recently bought an Xbox video game system. I was playing around with it and doing a game where you had to move around. The character was controlled by your movements. I immediately thought, 'Wait, could we use this for medical research?' … It's been about three or four years now, and we're finally to a point where we have software that we're able to go out to high schools and to gyms and actually test high school male and female athletes and look at the way they jump and land," Dr. Aaron Gray said. 

This is Dr. Aaron Gray, a sports medicine doctor at the University of Missouri. 

He's trying to revolutionize the way athletes detect their risk for devastating knee injuries … all by using Microsoft Kinect's motion-sensor technology

"It's portable, it's lightweight and it doesn't take any markers. So that way, you can put people through, and you can test them very rapidly. … We're trying to bring expensive lab-based tests to the masses. We want to make things that have been proven in the lab through previous medical research and make those accessible to any athlete anywhere in the country or anywhere in the world," Gray said. 

Right now, Gray's research focuses on female high school athletes, especially those playing soccer and basketball. 

Female athletes are four to six times more likely to tear their ACLs compared to male athletes in the same sport. A number of factors — from knees caving in to favoring one knee over the other to even hormones — can put female athletes at a higher risk. 

"Some studies have shown that people who tear their ACL, they're at much higher chance of arthritis, even like 10 to 15 years later. … So what we don't want to see is women who are 25 or 30 years old who are starting to have arthritis, and that's all because they've torn their ACL," Gray said. 

ACL injuries can be devastating and sometimes career-altering. Athletes usually aren't sport-ready until at least six months after surgery. And with the estimated cost of surgery plus rehab reaching $25,000 in some cases, you can see a torn ACL requires a lot of time and money. 

And current technology flagging these risk factors is expensive — roughly $125,000 to $150,000. 

A brand-new Microsoft Kinect can be purchased for just $100. 

"I have a 2-year-old daughter, so I'm hoping in 10 years that I can test her and be able to show her a prevention program that will prevent her from tearing her ACL," Gray said. 

This video includes images from K.M. Klemencic / CC BY 2.0Jessica Lock and Sergey Demushkin, and Getty Images.

<![CDATA[This Plant Summons An Ant Army By Bleeding Nectar When Wounded]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 10:09:00 -0500
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Plants aren't always the innocent, harmless eye-candy we might think they are — the Venus flytrap is proof of that.

And researchers from the Free University of Berlin just added another sinister plant to the list: the bittersweet nightshade plant.

When the plant is wounded by herbivores or insects gnawing on its leaves, it effectively bleeds a sweet nectar that attracts ants. Those lured ants send encroaching leaf-eaters scurrying by biting and attacking them.

And because the "sweet blood" isn't linked to any other structures or functions of the nightshade, the researchers can confidently conclude attracting an ant army isn't some sort of beneficial side-effect — it's probably the whole reason the plant bleeds nectar.

To be clear, scientists have long observed other plants that basically create bug armies by luring them in with nectar or giving them shelter. But plant wounds that attract an ant army? That's new.

This video includes clips from LearjetMinako / CC BY 3.0Elisha John / CC BY 3.0kinetrack / CC BY 3.0ZERGE / CC BY 3.0 and Apneediver / CC BY 3.0.

<![CDATA[Laundry Pods Are Convenient, But They're Still Dangerous For Kids]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 08:28:00 -0500
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"As soon as they pop that container, it squirts into the back of their throat, and the game is over," Dr. Gary Smith said.

While it's true laundry pods are far more convenient than traditional detergent — you just drop one into your washing machine and go on about your day — that convenience is a trade-off.

"We live in a world that has been designed by adults for the convenience of adults," Smith said. "It's not until we start to see the serious consequences or unfortunately even deaths of children before we react."

See, laundry packets and pods have a problem: In the eyes of a child, they kind of look like they might be tasty. It's also more heavily concentrated than traditional detergent.

"Every 45 minutes in this country, a child is exposed and a call is made to a poison control center because of an exposure to a laundry detergent packet," Smith said. "We've even had two deaths in the last two years. ... That never occurred in the two decades that I've seen children prior to that due to traditional laundry detergent."

Makers of laundry pods have tried to make them safer; in September 2015, the companies voluntarily agreed on a set of safety standards.

• The pods now have a stronger film with an additive that makes them taste repulsive.

• The containers they come in are no longer see-through and require more skill to open.

• The product features warning labels and safety information about the dangers of ingesting the pods.

The researchers say they're keeping a close eye on how the new regulations affect the number of exposures.

"If those numbers don't go down, that voluntary standard either needs to be strengthened or these products simply need to be taken off the market," Smith said.

Smith recommends parents opt for traditional laundry detergent — the study found it to be far safer than laundry pods. If you do choose to use laundry pods, he recommends keeping them out of children's sight.

<![CDATA[It's Surprisingly Easy To Brew Something Like RNA In A Puddle]]> Mon, 25 Apr 2016 04:00:00 -0500
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One of the biggest mysteries in science is how you could get life in a place where it doesn't already exist. Scientists have found some clues, though. 

The latest is that Georgia Tech chemist Nicholas Hud was able to create something that looks a lot like RNA — a relative of DNA — using ingredients that would have been common on Earth when it was 4 billion years younger. 

The study used two common chemicals left alone in what amounts to a mud puddle. The chemicals synced up and started forming that twisting ladder shape we think of when we picture DNA. 

Scientists say this looks like a decent candidate for how simple organisms may have gotten started on Earth, and it wasn't even all that hard. 

Earlier studies have shown you can get some of the building blocks of life in the right situation, like extreme heat or lightning strikes. Some have even been found on asteroids. 

The Georgia Tech study shows you don't even need that much excitement. Swirling puddles could potentially have done the job. 

This video includes clips from NASA, the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

<![CDATA[Two-Thirds Of Children Living In Conflict Areas Aren't Vaccinated]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 15:03:00 -0500
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Nearly two-thirds of the world's unvaccinated children are living in conflict areas, according to new data from UNICEF. 

South Sudan, Somalia and Syria are among the areas with the highest concentrations of children living without basic vaccines. Syrian immunization levels have dropped from 80 to 43 percent since the war there started five years ago. 

The chief of immunization for UNICEF, Robin Nandy, says children can't get basic vaccines in those areas because sometimes clinics are deliberately targeted.

Afghanistan closed 19 clinics in 2015 because of threats. It and Pakistan are the only two countries currently affected by polio.

The World Health Organization reports that over half of Syria's public hospitals are only partially operational or have closed because of the increase in attacks on clinics. 

Most recently, UNICEF has announced a new campaign in Syria to vaccinate children and has rolled out a worldwide polio immunization program

This video includes images from Getty Images and clips from UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders

<![CDATA[Kenya Says Its Plan To Burn 105 Tons Of Ivory Will Protect Elephants]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 14:30:00 -0500
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Kenyan wildlife officials plan to burn 105 tons of ivory at the end of April in a move they say will protect elephants.  

The ivory burning will be the largest ever by any country.

But critics have argued that destroying the tusks is a waste. Why not sell the stockpile that animals already died for and fund conservation with the proceeds instead? 

For one, there's been an international ban on the ivory trade since 1989, so Kenya would have to resort to selling its stockpile through corrupt markets

The stockpile's worth an estimated $30 million, but Kenya might actually have a different goal in mind.

Kenya's economy relies heavily on tourism. In turn, live elephants are one of the most vital parts of the industry that gave the country more than $2 billion in 2014. 

The massive burning to come could generate a lot of attention for the issue and convince people not to buy products made from ivory. 

Currently, China represents the biggest market for ivory, where large-scale campaigns to educate citizens have been going on for years. 

A 2007 survey found that 70 percent of Chinese people didn't know elephants had to be killed to make the products. This type of PSA from Kenya could raise more awareness. 

It still may not be enough though. A study published last year found a majority of people who buy ivory products say they'd support banning the sale. Yet, they still find a way to rationalize their own purchases. 

This video includes clips from BBCU.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceNational GeographicWorld Wildlife FundNTV KenyaAl Jazeera and KBC and images from Kenya Wildlife Service

<![CDATA[Solar Impulse 2 Completes 3-Day Flight Across Pacific Without Fuel]]> Sun, 24 Apr 2016 10:28:00 -0500
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A solar-powered plane completed its three-day flight across the Pacific Ocean without fuel Saturday. 

The Solar Impulse 2 took off from Hawaii on Thursday and touched down in San Francisco just before midnight. 

The flight was a demonstration for the solar-powered plane, which is said to weigh as little as an SUV.  

Roughly 17,000 solar cells on the plane's wings fuel the propellers, and batteries are able to store energy to keep the plane flying at night.  

However, the company says the plane cruises at speeds between only 30 and 60 mph. 

The plane's two Swiss pilots started a trip around the world in March 2015. The leg over the Pacific Ocean was considered one of the riskiest parts of the journey. 

The Solar Impulse 2 is scheduled to complete its 27,000 mile journey by late summer when it returns to the Middle East. 

This video includes clips from Solar Impulse and images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[NASA's Asteroid-Orbiting Probe Might Get One Final Mission]]> Sat, 23 Apr 2016 14:20:00 -0500
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NASA's asteroid-hopping probe may not be done yet. Even though its mission is supposed to be over this summer, a team of scientists have asked NASA for an extension.

Dawn launched back in 2007 and spent 14 months orbiting the asteroid Vesta before moving on to its final destination, the dwarf planet Ceres. It's the first craft to orbit two targets in the cosmos.

Vesta and Ceres are considered protoplanets, which are basically baby planets from the early solar system that never formed into the real thing.

Scientists are figuring out why Vesta became a dry rock but Ceres evolved to have water-bearing minerals. They hope further study can give them better insight into the early evolution of the solar system.

Researchers aren't saying what Dawn's next destination might be. The craft only has a little propellant left for its ion drive, which means there aren't too many places it could visit.

But NASA could always end Dawn's mission. If that happens, the satellite will be put into a harmless orbit, abandoned in space forever.

This video includes clips and images from NASA.

<![CDATA[United Nations Sets Record As 175 Countries Sign Paris Agreement]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 22:18:00 -0500
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"His excellency, the secretary of state of the United States of America." 

Just in time for Earth Day –– 

175 countries have signed the Paris Agreement on climate change

And apparently the event was a family affair. 

"These young people are our future. Our covenant is with them," Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary-general, said Friday

197 kids were at the event to represent the full 197 countries that agreed to the landmark climate deal. 

The agreement aims to limit global warming to below 3.6 degrees by 2100. 

To become law, the agreement needs to be ratified by 55 countries. 

Those countries have to be collectively responsible for at least 55 percent of emissions

And it looks like it can't happen soon enough. 

Data shows 2015 was the hottest year on record. 

2016 already looks set to top last year. 

This video includes images from Getty Images and clips from NASAUnited Nations and the U.S. Department of State

<![CDATA[These Robots Want Earth (And Space) To Be A Cleaner, Greener Place]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 15:58:00 -0500
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You might have heard of Liam, Apple's new robot that breaks down iPhones so their parts can be recycled.

You should know, though, Liam's just one of many recycling robots trying to make the Earth a greener place.

This is the Next Generation ZenRobotics Recycler (ZRR for short). It's a fully automated waste-sorter that uses sensors and AI to pick out stuff from the trash that can be reused.

ZRR works very quickly, identifying up to 2,000 recyclables per arm every hour.

DARPA's also been working on a robot that could one day help recycle in space. It's called the Phoenix program.

DARPA's robot would salvage parts from old satellites and use those parts to create new space systems.

ERO robot is another concept that could help us recycle one day, but instead of recycling trash, it would use high-pressure water jets to eat concrete.

After it devours an old concrete building, the frames would be clean and ready for new construction. The old concrete could be reused, too.

This last robot is another disassembler, kind of like Liam. But researchers at the University of New South Wales wanted their project to be able to pick apart more than just phones.

These industrial-sized robots can learn how to break down a lot of types of electronics — like an old LCD TV.

This video includes clips from AppleZenRoboticsDARPA and University of New South Wales and images from Umeå Institute of Design.

<![CDATA[We're Killing Coral Reefs Faster Than Ever]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 14:17:00 -0500
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Reefs are disappearing.

Staghorn coral are one of the dominant building blocks of coral reefs all over the world, but now they're in trouble.

A collection of new studies show staghorn coral are in major decline because they can't handle the warmer, more acidic ocean waters that result from human pollution.

The most visible effect is bleaching. When water conditions get too stressful, corals lose the algae that give them their color. If it keeps up for too long, the corals die.

Recent surveys suggest 93 percent of corals in Australia's Great Barrier Reef are bleaching to some degree.

Researchers warn staghorn reefs near the mouth of the Amazon River are also at risk. Nearby oil drilling presents a "major environmental challenge."

But recovery is still possible. Scientists say tighter controls on runoff and dredging would give corals a better chance in today's warmer waters.

This video includes clips from the Australian Institute of Marine Science / CC BY 3.0NOAAlister wang / CC BY 3.0 and Moura et al., and images from P. Muir / Science AdvancesCarden C. Wallace / Science Advances and the XL Catlin Seaview Survey. Music is from MADS / CC BY 3.0.

<![CDATA[Would You Wear The Same Jacket For 30 Years For The Environment?]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 11:48:00 -0500
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"The way we're consuming things has got to change," fashion designer Tom Cridland said.

The clothing industry takes a major toll on the environment.

From the nearly 13 million tons of textiles Americans discarded in 2013.

To the more than 710 gallons of water needed to make just one T-shirt.

And with the world's cotton supply dwindling, polyester is becoming the go-to fabric. Polyester and nylon are made from petroleum, which means that process further increases the world's carbon footprint. 

"Actually, what we're getting people to do is to consider how they're consuming fashion," Cridland said. 

Designer Tom Cridland's brand is a part of a growing trend: sustainable fashion.

"In terms of cost per wear what we're offering is cheaper than going to H&M or Zara," Cridland said.

His brand recently launched the 30-year jacket — a project aimed at getting customers to hang on to their clothes for decades rather than throwing them out after a few months. 

"People who don't care about sustainable fashion, about others, will care that their item of clothing lasts 30 years," Cridland said.

This video includes clips from BullFrog Films / 'The True Cost,' NPRlululemon athleticaH&M and Nike and images from Tom Cridland and music from MADS / CC BY 3.0.

<![CDATA[Suicide Rates In America Are Up. By A Lot.]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 10:32:00 -0500
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The number of suicides in the U.S. has been steadily rising since 1999, especially among women. 

Between 1999 and 2014, the overall suicide rate climbed 24 percent, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's a rate of 13 per 100,000 people. 

While rates for males remained higher, suicide among females rose 45 percent.

And among young girls between the ages of 10-14, the rate rose 200 percent to 1.5 per 100,000 people, though the number of suicides within that group still remained comparatively low. 

Women ages 45-64 had the second-largest increase: 63 percent to 9.8 per 100,000 people. 

The CDC report doesn't go into what could be behind the change, but it's worth noting the greatest increases happened between 2006 and 2014 — during and after a major economic recession in the U.S.

Counselors with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are available 24/7 to help those in crisis. The number is 1-800-273-TALK.

<![CDATA[Obamacare Premium Costs Could Increase In 2017]]> Fri, 22 Apr 2016 06:48:00 -0500
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The president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans has predicted there will be significant increases in Obamacare premiums and other related costs in 2017.

Marilyn Tavenner said in an interview with Morning Consult this week, "I’ve been asked, what are the premiums going to look like? I don’t know, because it also varies by state, market, even within markets. But I think the overall trend is going to be higher than we saw previous years."

Tavenner, who oversaw the roll-out of and now works for the national trade association, said she believes this impending hike in health insurance rates is the result of market shifts, prescription drug price increases and rising health care costs.

And if her prediction is right, Obamacare premiums could see a pretty big jump.

The good news is, if last year is any indication, the final premiums will probably be lower than the initial bids.

At the end of 2015, many states saw premium increase requests in the double digits. Data released in December predicted monthly premiums for the popular silver-level plans would spike to an average of 11 percent.

But when all was said and done, the average rate increase for 2016 ended up being 8 percent.

This video includes an image from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[NASA's ISS Feed Accidentally Vindicates Alien Conspiracy Theorists]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 22:16:00 -0500
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This is NASA's live-stream of the International Space Station. If you watch carefully, you can spot the moment the vast government conspiracy hiding the existence of aliens from us shatters into pieces.

This weird little shred of prismatic light doesn't vanish with the other reflections; instead, it seems to dance above the horizon for a few moments — until the NASA feed mysteriously cuts offAll we're left with is a blue screen and a lot of questions.

So what was that unusual shape? We're not saying it was aliens, because it probably wasn't aliens. But quite a few other people think this might be the real McCoy.

The attention has prompted NASA to tell the public it didn't manually shut off the live-stream. A NASA rep told ValueWalk "the station regularly passes out of range of the Tracking and Relay Data Satellites." Of course, that's just what NASA would say, isn't it.

We're inclined to believe NASA though; its live-streams are prone to both sudden blue screens and weird-looking lens flares. We have to assume the majority of these aren't aliens.

This is only the latest UFO to show up on the ISS live-stream, though past sightings have borne a strong resemblance to lens flares as well.

<![CDATA[Thinking Your Kid Is Overweight Might Make Your Kid Overweight]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 19:46:00 -0500
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A new study says that when it comes to childhood obesity, perception is everything.

In the study, children of parents who believed their children were overweight gained more weight over time than children whose parents perceived them as "about the right weight."

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at more than 3,000 Australian children and their parents, following the children as they aged from about 4 to 13-years-old.

And whether the parents guessed correctly that their kids were overweight according to their BMI or not, the findings were consistent. When parents didn't think their children were overweight, those children gained less weight.

Researchers pointed out that their findings are similar to previous studies on the stigma that comes with being labeled overweight. More research is needed to fully explain the recent findings, but it's possible that stigma could lead to coping mechanisms like overeating. 

This video includes images from the Italian voice / CC BY 2.0 and Dani Lurie / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[No Worthless Battery After 200,000 Charges? Sign Me Up]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 15:19:00 -0500
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Your laptop's battery has been screaming to be replaced for months now, but that replacement isn't cheap. Which is why this new nanowire battery out of the University of California, Irvine, is so exciting.

Batteries like the one in your phone are lithium-based, and over time, they hold less and less of a charge. That's why your once new 10-hour laptop battery may now only last two hours.

Researchers were working on creating batteries with gold-coated nanowires, which are extremely thin and fragile but still highly conductive. But the problem with wires is they eventually break.

The study's leader tried coating the nanowires in a thin plexiglass-like gel and started cycling them. A battery goes through one cycle each time it's drained and then fully recharged. It turns out the gel made the wires more flexible and helped them not break, even after hundreds of thousands of charges.

Normally, the batteries found in personal electronics — or even in cars — will noticeably lose capacity after 5,000 to 7,000 cycles.

This new battery, on the other hand, made it to 200,000 cycles. That's like 30 to 40 times more life without any signs of losing charge.

This video includes images from Shamblesguru Smith / CC BY 3.0University of California, Irvine and Samsung.

<![CDATA[Can't Sleep In A New Place? Your Brain May Be Waiting For Danger]]> Thu, 21 Apr 2016 11:12:00 -0500
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Sleeping on the road can be difficult, especially on the first night in a new place. This is something plenty of travelers have experienced, and scientists may have finally learned why.

Researchers at Brown University decided to look into this so-called "first-night effect" in a new study in Current Biology.

It turns out the reason for that first sleepless night is that when you should be in your deepest sleep, your brain's left hemisphere keeps watch instead, ready to wake you up if anything scary happens.

The researchers played random beeping sounds in volunteers' ears while they slept in an unfamiliar place. The volunteers were more likely to wake up when they heard the noise in their right ear (which is connected to the left brain hemisphere) than in their left ear.

It's the first time this half on/half off sleep pattern has been seen in humans, and it only seems to last for the first night. The researchers claim the brain is playing night watchman.

Travel experts have loads of recommendations on how to sleep better in a new place, like bringing your own pillow. As for the researchers at Brown, they said they'll use a magnet to turn the left brain off and see if that works.

This video includes a clip from Four Seasons Hotels and images from Ben Alderfer / CC BY 3.0 and Michael Cohea / Brown University.

<![CDATA[Listen To Astronauts Talk Earth, From Space]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 17:37:00 -0500
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There's something about looking at Earth from space. There's no other place like it, as far as we know, and for most of us, the view from the ground is all we ever experience.

"Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you've ever heard of, every human being there ever was, lived out their lives," Carl Sagan said.

Only a handful of people have ever left the planet. In the decades since manned spaceflight started, fewer than 600 people have ever seen Earth from that rare perspective.

Astronaut Frank Borman: "Oh my God! Look at that picture over there. Here's the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty."

Astronaut William Anders: "Hey, don't take that; it's not scheduled."

Borman: "You got a color film, Jim?"

Anders: "Hand me that roll of color, quick, will you?"

Astronaut James Lovell: "Oh man, that's great."

But the experience can change people's entire outlook on life, civilization and the environment. Talk to an astronaut, and they'll probably tell you about something called the Overview Effect.

"The thing I remember most is the view of planet Earth from a great distance. Tiny, very shiny, blue and white. Bright, beautiful, serene and fragile," Michael Collins said.

"I'd seen aurora from the surface of the Earth. But to be amongst them? To actually directly be part of the interaction between the sun and the atmosphere and the magnetic field, all right there visually, like a prism or a rainbow or something — that was a real reality check," Chris Hadfield said.

"When the sun comes up, it comes up so fast and furious. And the colors change. It's miraculous. You have this sun beating down on you, greater than any sunrise you've ever experienced on Earth," said Tracy Caldwell Dyson.

"You notice how the atmosphere looks, how fragile it looks. It makes you more of an environmentalist after spending so much time looking down at our planet," Scott Kelly said.

"When you pull back to this big picture perspective, a lot of the differences we have, a lot of the problems we have kind of blur into insignificance. It fills you with this refusal to accept the status quo on our planet," Ron Garan said.

This video includes clips from the Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan ArchiveNASAVeritasiumcareergirls and ABC and images from NASA.

<![CDATA[Elk Make Creepy Shrieks By Whistling Through Their Noses]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 17:00:00 -0500
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This is a wapiti, otherwise known as an elk. And this is the sound of its call.

Not only is it a little chilling — researchers compared it to the sound of the ringwraiths from "Lord of the Rings" — but scientists hadn't yet determined why they sound like this.

See, bigger animals tend to have deeper voices, and the elk shouldn't be an exception. It has a large voice box built for making deep sounds, not squeaky ones.

Researchers from the University of Sussex decided to put the puzzle to rest by recording elk calls and studying their vocal patterns. Turns out elk actually do produce low sounds, they just make high sounds at the same time.

When the team examined the animals' throat structures, they discovered elk can make two sounds at once. They use their vocal cords for deep sound, and they make high-pitched whistles with their noses.

So why do elk make two distinct calls? The researchers have a theory: The low-frequency sound communicates the animal's size to nearby elk, and the high-frequency noise is meant to be heard over long distances — a way for the animal to say, "Hey, I'm here!"

This video includes clips from New Line CinemaAlex Burke / CC BY 3.0 and NCVS, National Center for Voice and Speech, Denver.

<![CDATA[San Francisco Is Going Solar — One New Building At A Time]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 16:27:00 -0500
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San Francisco just became the first major U.S. metro to require new buildings to install solar panels.

The new ordinance will help the city reach its goal of eventually becoming 100 percent powered by clean energy.

An op-ed in the San Francisco Examiner said that based on projects in the pipeline, the law would result in 50,000 solar panels, which could prevent some 26.3 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. 

This new San Francisco legislation one-ups California's law that says buildings with 10 floors or less must make 15 percent of their roofs "solar ready," or unshaded by the sun.

The city's law will likely be a bigger deal for new residential projects than for commercial ones because even with incentives, residential solar system installs in the area cost more than $17,000 on average.

Although, as Engadget points out, there aren't many new buildings in the Bay Area going up with fewer than 10 floors. The law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

This video includes clips from San Francisco Travel AssociationSan Francisco Public Utilities CommissionSkytech Solar and Expedia.

<![CDATA[Science Proves What Dieters Already Knew: Cheat Days Are Good For You]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 16:04:00 -0500
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Dieting is hard. 

But cheating is easy.

A new study says planned hedonic deviations, or cheat days, can help dieters stay on track.

The study says cheat days help, (1) regain self-regulatory resources, (2) maintain motivation and (3) provide a more positive experience overall.

All of those things help with "long-term adherence," which in turn helps with "final goal attainment."

It also helps you avoid counter-regulatory eating, or the "what-the-hell" effect.

The what-the-hell effect: After breaking one small dietary rule, you give up on the diet as a whole and think, "I've already failed once today; might as well give up on the week."

This study tested dieting, but the authors say the logic applies to a variety of tasks.

So remember: It's OK to cheat as long as it's part of the plan.

This video includes clips from Universal Pictures and Tri-Star Pictures and images from Getty Images. Music via Frenic / CC BY 3.0.

<![CDATA[Life Expectancy For White Women In The US Suffers A Rare Drop]]> Wed, 20 Apr 2016 06:51:00 -0500
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It's a small and rare decline in life expectancy for women, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's extremely significant. 

The life expectancy of white, non-Hispanic women in the U.S. dipped from 81.2 years to 81.1 years from 2013 to 2014, according to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. 

While it's a fraction of a year, the CDC says it shows a bigger problem for a wealthy nation. 

A CDC demographer told The Washington Post the decline can, in part, be attributed to drug overdoses, smoking, alcohol, disease and suicide. 

"Increases in ... suicide, chronic liver disease and unintentional poisonings were so large that they had a negative effect on life expectancy." 

The report showed bad news for white females, but relatively good news for other demographics. 

Hispanics and blacks both saw gains in life expectancy. The numbers for white males stayed the same. 

This video includes images from Ernst Moeksis / CC BY 2.0 and m01229 / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[Boaty McNopeface: UK's Minister Of Science Is Not A Fan]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 19:42:00 -0500
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The U.K.'s Boaty McBoatface might be dead in the water. That's the name the internet came up with after an environmental group decided to ask the public what to name a multimillion-dollar research ship.

In a BBC interview, the U.K.'s minister of science suggested the name was not "suitable" for the roughly $300 million polar research vessel.

"What's not suitable about Boaty McBoatface?," an interviewer asked.

"The gravity of the subjects that this boat will be exploring ... it's going to be doing science on some of the most important issues facing humanity," Jo Johnson, member of Parliament for Orpington, said.

The MP even tweeted last month, encouraging people to participate in the naming contest, but he probably couldn't have imagined the massive public support for Boaty McBoatface.

When the contest closed earlier this week, RRS Boaty McBoatface came in at No. 1 with over 100,000 votes. And you have James Hand to thank for that. The creator of the entry is a former BBC radio host, and he told the outlet it was mostly just a very British thing to do.

"You have to submit a reason, and I actually put it's a brilliant name, which I stand by. I don't know really," Hand told BBC.

The Natural Environment Research Council — which is funding the ocean research — has the final say. But we all know what the people chose.

This video includes images from Getty Images and clips from Natural Environment Research Council.

<![CDATA[Shark Gills Might Be Why You Can Walk]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 16:03:00 -0500
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A German scientist once theorized animals' limbs — arms, legs and wings — had evolved from shark gills.

A century and a half later, there's evidence he could be right. Researchers from the University of Cambridge have re-examined the theory by studying fish embryos, specifically the gills of a skate, which are related to sharks.

They found "striking similarities" between how skates' gill structures are formed and the way human limbs are formed, and it all centers around a gene named after a certain video game character.

The so-called Sonic hedgehog gene, which gets its name because it makes fruit fly embryos spiky like hedgehogs, is present in both humans and skates and functions as a growth mechanism in both.

One of the researchers explains, "In a hand, for instance, [the gene] tells the limb which side will be the thumb and which side will be the pinky finger." When the researchers turned off the gene in skates, it affected the growth of the fish's gills.

This doesn't prove gills evolved into arms and legs, but it's a start. That said, we do know gill structures in early lifeforms evolved into other body parts, too, like the larynx in humans.

That lead to the fun anatomical fact that in many animals (including humans), the nerve connecting the brain to the larynx wraps all the way around the heart first because that's how it was arranged in our fishy ancestors.

And in giraffes — y'know, the ones with the long necks — that nerve is about 15 feet longer than it needs to be. Evolution, amirite?

This video includes clips from Nature and Relaxing Videos / CC BY 3.0 and ADV Films / "Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie."

<![CDATA[Here's More Evidence That Common Drugs May Cause Cognition Issues]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 15:39:00 -0500
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Taking pills to tame your allergy symptoms or to get some sleep may not be as harmless as you once thought.

Building on past research, a new study suggests anticholinergic drugs are linked to cognitive impairment and an increased risk of dementia.

Anticholinergic drugs include both over-the-counter and prescription medications. We're talking about drugs like Benadryl, Dimetapp and Unisom — chances are you have at least one of these types of drugs in your medicine cabinet.

A link between these types of drugs and cognitive impairment isn't a totally new discovery, but for the first time, researchers used brain imaging techniques to determine the physical changes associated with these drugs.

More than 400 participants, with an average age of 73, were given memory and cognitive tests, PET scans and MRI scans.

Participants who were taking anticholinergic drugs didn't do as well on memory tests and had lower levels of brain activity than those who weren't.

researcher told CNN, "Given all the research evidence, physicians might want to consider alternatives to anticholinergic medications, if available, when working with older patients."

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[NASA Caught A Glimpse Of Where Those Gravity Waves Came From]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 15:21:00 -0500
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Remember the gravitational wave discovery? Scientists heard the sound of two black holes colliding, and now they think they know where it came from.

They weren't sure where the waves originated when they made the announcement in February, but NASA's Fermi gamma-ray telescope measured a burst of unusual activity less than a second after sensors on Earth detected the gravity waves. The signals came from the same area of the sky.

But the burst came in from an odd angle, which made it hard to get an exact location. It was like Fermi saw something out of the corner of its eye.

That's one reason researchers at NASA are only 99.8 percent sure the gravity waves detected on the ground and the gamma burst detected in orbit came from the same event.

The other reason? Researchers didn't think two black holes smashing together would cause a burst of gamma radiation — or any radiation at all. Light doesn't even escape from them.

Some scientists theorize two black holes would have sucked up any gas or dust that could have generated those flashes long before they collided.

Still, NASA researchers say they have a better idea of what to look for now in case Fermi sees another burst.

But there's not much to do except keep an eye out. Orbiting pairs of black holes are rare.

This video includes clips from LIGO Lab Caltech : MIT / CC BY 3.0, the National Science FoundationNASA and Massachusetts Institute of Technology and images from NASA. The music is "Does not compute" by Birocratic (

<![CDATA[How Mouse Embryos Showed Scientists Reproduction Is Possible In Space]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2016 10:10:00 -0500
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Chinese scientists have grown mouse embryos in space for the first time, showing that critical steps in reproduction are possible in outer space. 

The experiment was launched earlier this month on a Chinese research satellite, the SJ-10. The spacecraft carried 20 experiments, including 600 mouse embryos under a high-resolution camera. 

Scientists were able to see that the embryos moved from the two-cell stage to blastocyst stage around 72 hours after launch, which is on par with how they develop on Earth. 

The lead researcher on the experiment said this means colonizing other planets may be possible one day. 

When the SJ-10 returns to Earth, scientists will continue researching how the embryos developed in space compared to the ones developed on the ground.

This video includes clips from NASA and an image from Zach Welty / CC by SA 2.0.

<![CDATA[Food Allergies Could Soon Be Turned Off By Tiny Bits Of Plastic]]> Mon, 18 Apr 2016 16:32:00 -0500
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Scientists are getting better at sneaking tiny pieces of metal or plastic past our immune systems and using them to treat serious health problems. 

In a new study, researchers at Northwestern University may have found a way to use these nanoparticles to cure any allergy you can think of. 

Good! Maybe we can finally stop hating ragweed. 

The scientists were able to take mice that were allergic to eggs — so much so they would have an asthma attack when exposed to egg protein — and stop the harmful reaction after one treatment. 

There are two reasons it worked: The first is that the nanoparticles were specially made to fly under the radar of the immune system. The second is that they actually had the egg proteins hidden inside. 

By smuggling the allergen into the body without setting off the alarm, the mice's immune systems learned that egg protein isn't so bad after all. The same trick could potentially end any allergy. 

The researchers are already testing it on mice that are allergic to peanuts. In humans, that's one of the deadliest food allergies. 

What's more, the nanoparticles are already on their way to human trials after they were shown to also treat multiple sclerosis, which is also an immune disorder. 

This video includes clips from Northwestern University and images from Ken Bosma / CC BY 2.0CILAS / CC BY 3.0, the U.S. Food and Drug AdministrationPezibear / CC0 and Pixalli / CC0.

<![CDATA[Don't Forget Your Sunblock: Study Finds SPF 30 Lowers Risk Of Melanoma]]> Mon, 18 Apr 2016 14:38:00 -0500
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When going to the beach, wearing sunblock is definitely a necessity. 

Even more so now that researchers at Ohio State University discovered wearing SPF 30 sunscreen can reduce a person's risk of developing melanoma

Most sunscreens are classified as cosmetic products, so regulators don't require much testing beyond determining the sunscreen is safe to use. 

"When sunscreens are manufactured, they're tested essentially for their ability to prevent burning," researcher Christin Burd said. 

So lead researcher Christin Burd tested several brands of SPF 30 sunblock on mice that were genetically engineered to have skin similar to humans. The mice were then exposed to UVB light.

"The goal wasn't necessarily to test brands head-to-head as much as it was to look at the components," Burd said. 

Her team found that all the brands tested delayed the development melanoma, which is one of the most deadly forms of skin cancer. 

The American Cancer Society predicts more than 76,000 Americans will be diagnosed with melanoma just in 2016 alone. 

"We need to really tackle this incidence rate, and the way to do that is prevention," Burd said. 

Now, these findings could be a bit skewed because the UVB light used in this study equals the amount of sunlight a person would be exposed to during an entire week in the sun, so Burd wants to next test a much lower UVB dose on the mice. 

This video contains clips from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Cholesterol-Reducing Drugs Could Help Fight Prostate Cancer]]> Mon, 18 Apr 2016 06:42:00 -0500
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Drugs created to fight high cholesterol could also help against prostate cancer. 

A study out of the University of Missouri found a certain cholesterol-lowering molecule (RO 48-8071) helped reduce prostate cancer cell growth — essentially causing the cancerous cells to die off. 

One of the lead researchers said, "Often, cancer patients are treated with toxic chemotherapies. ... We focused on reducing the production of cholesterol in cancer cells, which could kill cancer cells and reduce the need for toxic chemotherapy."

The researchers say the study, which has been accepted for publication in the journal OncoTargets and Therapy, could provide a new therapeutic approach to fighting prostate cancer. 

According to the American Cancer Society, there are more than 180,000 new cases of prostate cancer in the U.S. each year. Prostate cancer causes roughly 26,000 deaths per year. 

This video includes clips from Manipal Hospitals and Institute for Cancer Genetics and Informatics, and images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Pennsylvania Legalizes Medical Marijuana, Hopes To Curb Opioid Abuse]]> Sun, 17 Apr 2016 19:03:00 -0500
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On Sunday, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana. Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill into law after it breezed through the House and Senate last week.

Pennsylvanians will only be able to access the medicine if a doctor determines they suffer from a list of 17 conditions. Those conditions include cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, intractable seizures and severe chronic pain.

Some lawmakers hope marijuana will become a popular alternative to opioid painkillers to treat chronic pain. Opioid abuse is a big problem in the Keystone State. Pennsylvania had the ninth-highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in the U.S. in 2014.

A study from the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center found that "states with medical marijuana laws had a 24.8 percent lower average annual opioid overdose death rate compared to states without such laws."

Former U.S. Marine Mike Whiter helped push for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. After serving in Iraq, he was diagnosed with PTSD. 

To fight that, doctors prescribed dozens of drugs that Whiter says nearly ruined his life. He credited marijuana with helping him recover. 

 "I was in such a bad place and I'm not there anymore. And I want to help other veterans get to where I am now," he told WPMT. 

With Pennsylvania's newest law, medical marijuana is now legal in 24 states and Washington, D.C. But VA doctors still can't officially recommend cannabis to patients since pot is illegal at the federal level.

Patients who do get access to marijuana in Pennsylvania won't be able to smoke it. Instead, they'll have to use a pill, oil, ointment or vaporizer. Lawmakers said it could take up to two years before the state's marijuana system is up and running.

This video includes images from Getty Images and clips from WPXI and WPMT.

<![CDATA[Strong Earthquake Kills Dozens In Ecuador]]> Sat, 16 Apr 2016 22:44:00 -0500
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Ecuador's vice president told media outlets at least 28 people were killed after an earthquake shook the country's northwest coast Saturday.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the earthquake had a magnitude of 7.8.

And a tsunami warning was also issued in Ecuador.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the coast of Ecuador could see hazardous waves, and less hazardous waves could hit the coasts of Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama and Peru.

<![CDATA[The Solar Plane Flying Around The World Is Preparing For Takeoff Again]]> Sat, 16 Apr 2016 19:04:00 -0500
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After a few repairs and nine months, the solar plane flying around the world is ready for takeoff again.

"We deeply believe that we can achieve impossible and incredible things with renewable energies, like flying around the world with no fuel," a Solar Impulse pilot said.

After one of the pilots set a record for the longest nonstop solo flight, Solar Impulse had a bit of a setback. Last summer, some of the plane's batteries — used for night flight — overheated, forcing it to land in Hawaii.

Now that repairs are complete, the next leg of the journey will be flying over the Pacific Ocean, then across North America, the Atlantic and a couple more continents — eventually ending up where the plane started in Abu Dhabi.

The team says the journey is meant to showcase the potential of renewable energy and inspire sustainability efforts around the world.

Solar Impulse announced the plane will take off as soon as the weather allows.

This video includes images from Getty Images and clips from Solar Impulse.

<![CDATA[Napster's Sean Parker Is Now Trying To Disrupt How We Treat Cancer]]> Sat, 16 Apr 2016 15:46:00 -0500
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Sean Parker co-founded Napster at age 19 and became Facebook's first president at age 24.

Today, the 36-year-old seems to be disrupting every paradigm he can find.

Parker still has his hands in digital media; he's on Spotify's board, and his new Screening Room service aims to change Hollywood by streaming theatrical films into living rooms on premier night.

But his most ambitious project to date could be his attempt to disrupt another area of tech — cancer research.

The Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy is a $250 million initiative to fight cancer by combining the powers of 300 scientists in 40 university labs.

And cancer isn't the only disease Parker wants to fight.

He's invested $24 million in Stanford University for allergy research, given $4.5 million to University of California San Francisco to fight malaria and put $1 million toward marijuana legalization in California — we can presume that's at least partly due to its reported medicinal benefits.

As for the cancer project, Parker has described its scientific model as a "virtual sandbox" where researchers can collaborate to fight cancer and other diseases.

Parker told CNBC: "The scientists, actually, they're the easiest part of this equation ... They want to share data. So this is kind of a grand experiment in how do we remove all the obstacles, the barriers that would prevent them from sharing data?"

The promising treatment of immunotherapy seems to help immune systems fight off cancer without surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.

Parker told The New York Times: "This is my primary philanthropic project, probably for the rest of my life."

This video includes clips from FORA.tvYahooSpotifyWarner Bros.Cancer Research Institute and CNBC and images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Bill Nye Is A Real Science Guy; Read His Resume, Sarah Palin]]> Sat, 16 Apr 2016 12:34:00 -0500
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Sarah Palin is apparently not the biggest fan of Bill Nye — yes, the science guy. She tore into Nye for his stance on climate change during an event in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

According to The Hill, Palin was at a premiere for an anti-climate-change film called "Climate Hustle" when she said: "Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am. He's a kids' show actor. He's not a scientist."

Except Nye doesn't just play a science guy on TV. He has a degree in mechanical engineering and has worked as an engineer at Boeing, designed sundials for Mars rovers, taught at Cornell University and is an executive at the Planetary Society.

Nye, an outspoken proponent of climate change theory, appears in an interview in the film where he suggests investigating people and companies who get famous for doubting climate science.

A day before the premiere, Nye posted a video on Facebook criticizing Palin and the film's producer Marc Morano.

"People like Miss Palin, people like Mr. Morano ... these people have children, they have grandchildren, and so they're, right now, not doing anything about the quality of life for their progeny," Nye wrote on Facebook.

At the movie's premiere, Palin said, "If this is bogus, you know, what else are they trying to tell us and control us around?" She also suggested the science has become so political that people might begin to distrust scientists on other issues.

The film itself makes a lot of claims about climate change, including the idea that rising carbon dioxide emissions might be a good thing, though many peer-reviewed studies seem to suggest otherwise.

This video includes clips from Bill NyeC-SPANThe Planetary SocietyCDR Communications / "Climate Hustle" and CFACT and images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Get Some Earplugs; The Cicadas Are Coming]]> Sat, 16 Apr 2016 08:28:00 -0500
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It's that time again. Soon they will be upon us. Cicadas — 17-year cicadas, to be exact.

Parts of the U.S. can expect to see, and hear, these insects sometime next month when they rise from the ground to mate.

And that's all that they're here to do. They've spent the rest of their life underground — all 17 years of it. The adults, the ones that make all the noise, only live above ground for about six weeks. In some places, there could be as many as 1.5 million cicadas per acre.

Males use that sound to look for females so they can mate in that brief time. They can reach over 90 decibels in some instances. That's about the same as a lawn mower.

So if you live in Ohio, West Virginia and other neighboring states, now might be the time to invest in some ear plugs.

When it's all said and done, the females will lay eggs in a tree. After the eggs hatch, the newborn cicadas — called nymphs — will bury themselves in the ground and chill for another 17 years.

This video includes clips from Brandon Baker / CC BY 3.0The BBC and Rich4098 / CC BY 3.0 and images from Natalia Wilson / CC BY SA 2.0Nick Harris / CC BY ND 2.0Gramody / CC BY SA 2.0 and Meredith Harris / CC BY ND 2.0.

<![CDATA[Death Toll Rises After Japan Earthquakes As Aftershocks Continue]]> Sat, 16 Apr 2016 08:16:00 -0500
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Multiple earthquakes have killed dozens and injured thousands more on Japan's Kyushu Island.

The quakes started late Thursday night local time, when a magnitude-6.2 earthquake struck the island, killing at at least nine people.

Another more powerful earthquake hit Saturday morning local time. The U.S. Geological survey put that quake at a 7.0 magnitude.

Saturday's quake also prompted a landslide and several aftershocks — the strongest of which measured at a 5.7 magnitude — again almost with the same epicenter.

So why is the same spot being hit repeatedly? Japan is in a region known as the Ring of Fire where tectonic plates make it susceptible to earthquakes.

Since the quakes, thousands have been evacuated and thousands more left without power.

The country has held emergency meetings since the first quake. On Saturday local time, the prime minister announced an intensive rescue effort as many are believed to be trapped under collapsed buildings.

A U.S. Department of State spokesman said the U.S. was willing to help. Japan's defense minister has reportedly told the country's Department of Defense to consider the offer.

This video includes clips from ANN NewsU.S. Department of StateKyodo NewsJIJI Press and FNN and images from Getty Images and Prime Minister of Japan

<![CDATA[Zookeeper Dies After Being Injured By A Tiger]]> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 22:27:00 -0500
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Florida zookeeper died after being injured by a tiger.

"She cared greatly for tigers. I kind of referred to her as a tiger whisperer. ... They spoke to each other in a language only they could understand," a zoo spokesperson said at a press conference.

Newsy's partners at WPTV say details of what happened behind the scenes while the trainer was interacting with the tiger are still under investigation.

The Palm Beach Zoo said the male Malay tiger was tranquilized shortly after, and zoo guests were never in any danger because the animal never escaped. But there was some frenzy in response to lockdown procedures after the incident.

"We were on a train ride in the zoo and the guy got radioed and said there was a tiger loose, and he was obviously worried. ... Next thing we know, we're getting rushed into the gift shop," a zoo visitor told WPTV.

A zoo spokesperson said the proper safety checks had taken place before the incident and that this was the first time a human died because of an incident with an animal at the zoo.

This video includes a clip from Palm Beach Zoo.

<![CDATA[This Ultrathin Display Is Basically A Temporary Medical Tattoo]]> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 15:25:00 -0500
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Checking your blood pressure or monitoring your heart rate could one day be as simple as applying a temporary tattoo.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have created a protective material for electronic skin displays that's less than 2 micrometers thick. That's the equivalent of two human red blood cells, stacked.

Electronic skin (e-skin) displays are exactly what they sound like: super-thin displays — likely with embedded medical sensors — placed right on the skin.

But there's a very delicate balance to strike when it comes to the thickness of so-called e-skin: Too thin, and moisture in the air can ruin the LED display; too thick, and you've suddenly got what amounts to a smartphone screen protector taped to your body.

Researchers were able to find that balance by mixing ceramics and polymers to create a material that bends and flexes along with a person's skin but still keeps out oxygen and water.

And now that they've got that figured out, researchers are looking at other (arguably cooler) ways to use the technology.

One of the researchers posed the question: "What would the world be like if we had displays that could adhere to our bodies and even show our emotions or level of stress or unease? ... They might enhance the way we interact with those around us or add a whole new dimension to how we communicate."

This video includes images from Lenore Edman / CC BY 2.0 and Jyri Engestrom / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[Water Bears Aren't As Cute As The Internet Thinks]]> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 14:42:00 -0500
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Tardigrades, better known as "cute" and "cuddly" water bears, can survive a lot of torture. The tiny organisms' huggability factor is debatable, but the animals' toughness isn't.

Most recently, scientists in Japan thawed out three Antarctic tardigrades after more than 30 years of frozen slumber. And what did the water bears do? Well, one died, but the other two laid some eggs and kept on living.

Just like in extreme heat, drought, pressure and radiation tests before, the water bears slowly started to go about their usual business. And that's why these "cute" little guys are actually terrifying.

They live all over the world, usually in damp moss or dirt, but there are also fresh and saltwater varieties. Tardigrades are also microscopic, somewhat transparent and can walk around slowly on eight legs.

Water bears aren't supposed to live very long — usually about a year at most, but in that time, a tardigrade can lay 30 to 40 eggs.

They also occasionally eat some of those eggs to improve their own health. Other water bear food sources include amoebas, nematodes and other tardigrades. Yes, some are cannibals.

Still think they're cute? OK, let's go back to the part where they can prolong their lives.

Scientists have radically altered tardigrades' environments in studies, and much like cockroaches, the organisms adapt to survive.

The New York Times writes, "Confronted with drying, rapid temperature changes, changes in water salinity or other problems, tardigrades can curtail their metabolism to 0.01 percent of normal." The result is a deep sleep, almost death-like state, similar to the 30-year freezing test.

One time, the European Space Agency sent about 3,000 water bears into space, and guess what? A lot of them survived. No water, no air and cosmic radiation — no problem.

Whether you think the water bear is cute or a terrifying freak of nature, the little guys do deserve a little praise. You see, scientists aren't just abusing them for fun. Tardigrades make good experimental candidates — like fruit flies but hardier.

And maybe water bears could lead to leaps and bounds in cryonics, a type of cold preservation that could allow humans to fall into a frozen sleep and wake up many years later, none the worse.

But discoveries like that are probably still a ways off. So, it's fair to assume the internet's beloved water bears will continue be tormented, all in the name of science.

This video includes clips from Micropia / CC BY 3.0Matt Inman / CC BY 3.0Hypsibiusの脱皮 / CC BY 3.0BioBus / CC BY 3.0tamatoh / CC BY 3.0ESA and 20th Century Fox / 'Futurama' and images by Schokraie E. et al. / CC BY 2.5NASA and Frank Fox / CC BY SA 3.0 DE and music from "Man cheeney" by Birocratic (

<![CDATA[A Potato Chip May Have Saved This Woman's Life]]> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 10:03:00 -0500
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Eating potato chips might have saved a Washington state woman's life.

Kristine Moore says she takes Ruffles potato chips to work every day. She told KIRO that in February that she discovered a cancerous tumor on her tonsil after a potato chip poked it.

"The potato chip was a blessing in disguise. I probably wouldn't have found out for another year," Moore said. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Tonsil cancer is often diagnosed late in the disease, when cancer has spread to nearby areas, such as the tongue and the lymph nodes."

Her prognosis is good because the disease was caught early. She expects to begin treatment sometime in the next few weeks.

This video includes images from Frito-Lay.

<![CDATA[Using Some Heartburn Drugs May Increase Your Risk Of Kidney Problems]]> Fri, 15 Apr 2016 06:37:00 -0500
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Taking a very common group of medications used to treat heartburn, ulcers and acid reflux could dramatically increase your risk of kidney disease and kidney failure, this according to new research out Thursday.

These drugs are called proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, and you might even have one or two in your medicine cabinet right now.

They're sold under the names Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid, to name a few. And this new study claims those who take them are more likely than people on other heartburn medications to develop chronic kidney disease or kidney failure over a five-year period.

To come to this conclusion, researchers analyzed data from the Department of Veterans Affairs national databases.

They identified over 170,000 new users of PPIs and compared them to over 20,000 new users of histamine H2 receptor blockers, another class of drugs used to suppress stomach acid.

And after five years of follow-up, the researchers found the PPI users had a 28 percent increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease and a 96 percent increased risk of developing kidney failure, compared to those taking the alternative drugs.

Now, prolonged use of PPIs has been linked to several serious health problems in the past, including nutrient deficiencies, bone-density loss, slight increase in heart attack risk and even dementia. 

But neither past studies or this most recent research definitively prove that PPIs are the culprits behind these issues. One of the researchers told HealthDay, "I cannot say for certain that this is cause-and-effect."

Still, to be safe, doctors warn people should only use PPIs when they're medically necessary and for the shortest amount of time possible.

As the study notes, about 15 million Americans were prescribed PPIs in 2013, though the number is likely higher because many are available over the counter.

This video includes clips from CBSPrevacid and Nexium, and an image from Jamiesrabbits / CC by 2.0.

<![CDATA[A Chimp Escaped From A Zoo And Evaded Authorities For 2 Hours]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 18:31:00 -0500
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A chimpanzee named Chacha escaped from a Japanese zoo Thursday and did a cha-cha slide right into a residential area.

Chacha the chimp led zoo workers, police officers and firefighters on a wild chimp chase that lasted about two hours – pretty impressive.

Chacha was finally shot with a tranquilizer dart while walking on overhead power lines, eventually falling to the street below.

Tokyo Broadcasting System Television reports the chimp might have escaped by tearing through netting around his exhibition space.

Chacha appears to be OK, but CBS reports he'll be undergoing X-rays once the sedative wears off.

This video includes an image from Kitty Terwolbeck / CC BY 2.0 and clips from All-Nippon News NetworkTokyo Broadcasting System Television and NHK.

<![CDATA[The Benefits Of Plants Go Well Beyond Photosynthesis]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 18:13:00 -0500
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Plants are nice. They replenish the planet's oxygen, which is useful.

But a growing body of research suggests having plants nearby could be good for public health, home prices and even your self-esteem at work.

For starters, plants scrub the air clean. According to one study, air filtration from forests prevented nearly $7 billion in U.S. health care costs in 2010.

A study of more than 100,000 women in the U.S. found those who lived in the greenest surroundings had mortality rates as much as 12 percent lower than those in less-green areas.

Another found green spaces were associated with decreased likelihood of preterm births.

They can make neighborhoods more desirable. In one study in Philadelphia, planting trees correlated with a 2 percent increase in sale prices of nearby homes. Greening up vacant lots was associated with a reduction in gun violence.

Just 10 more trees per block in Toronto correlated with a significant improvement in quality of life over less-green areas.

As one of the researchers on that study told The New Yorker: "To get an equivalent increase with money, you'd have to give each household in that neighborhood ten thousand dollars—or make people seven years younger."

It sounds almost too good to be true, and most of the studies can't pin down if plants alone make the difference. But you can try to get some of the benefits without giving your whole neighborhood a makeover.

Research suggests even a lowly potted plant on your desk can help lower blood pressure and boost productivity and job satisfaction compared to a greenery-free environment.

This video includes clips from the U.S. Forest Service and the City of Toronto and images from Lucius Kwok / CC BY SA 3.0 and Michael W Murphy / CC BY 2.0. Music by Frenic / CC BY 3.0.

<![CDATA[Canada's Right-To-Die Bill Blocks 'Suicide Tourists']]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 17:55:00 -0500
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Canadian lawmakers are considering a new assisted suicide bill that would legalize euthanasia and shut the door on so-called "suicide tourism."

The legislation, presented Thursday, would give residents and Canadians who are "suffering intolerably" and who face a "foreseeable" death the right to die.

Patients would have to undergo assessments by two doctors and observe a 15-day "reflection period" before ending their lives.

It's a plan that’s backed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "This government is focused very much on respecting Canadians' rights on defending their choices, allowing them choices, while at the same time protecting the most vulnerable in society," he said.

Those protections mainly refer to minors and people with mental illnesses — this bill won't give either group the right to die.

Also excluded? Anyone who's not eligible for Canada's national health care. According to the BBC, the Canadian justice minister avoided addressing exactly why outsiders are left out in this legislation when asked.

Assisted suicide is only permitted in a handful of states in the U.S. right now. Perhaps Canada foresees an influx of Americans heading north to die where it could soon be legal.

According to one study, that's what a lot of foreigners did after Switzerland passed its assisted suicide legislation. Researchers found that the number of "suicide tourists" who traveled to Switzerland to take their own lives doubled in four years.

In legalizing some sort of assisted suicide, Canada would join several other countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland.

This video includes clips from CBC and an image from shankar s. / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[The Sun Isn't Yellow Or Orange; It's White]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 15:16:00 -0500
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Think the sun is yellow? Most people do. But, no. It's actually white. Don't believe me? 

Direct sunlight is almost pure white and makes white things look white, not yellow. 

The sun seems white when it's high in the sky — say, around noon.

And here's the clincher: The sun doesn't look yellow from space.

It's Earth's atmosphere that gives the sun its yellow or orange color. We usually only see the sun when it's low in the sky and the light is passing through the most atmosphere.

There are yellow stars out there, though. There are also red and blue ones.

This video includes images and clips from NASA.

<![CDATA[Scientists Created Stuttering Mice To Help People Who Stutter]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 12:02:00 -0500
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That's the sound of a mouse stuttering, and it could be the key to developing treatments for stuttering in humans.

"When we were presented to my parents for the daily viewing, she'd pinch me so that I'd cry and be handed back to her immediately," said Colin Firth in "The King's Speech."

Although many still believe stuttering is caused by environmental factors — timidity, anxiety, childhood development — scientists now know biological factors are most often the cause. In fact, scientists have been able to find a specific gene mutation in some people who stutter.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis grew mice with that same gene mutation; one of the researchers describes what they found: "We found abnormalities — not only abnormalities in their vocalizations — but abnormalities relatively akin to human stuttering." In other words, the mice were doing the rodent equivalent of human stuttering.

Knowing the exact gene mutation responsible for a disorder potentially means being able to target that mutation for treatment.

But human genetics is incredibly complex, and the gene in which the mutation exists is involved in a whole lot more than just whether or not someone stutters.

Researchers don't quite know how the gene is linked to speech, but they do know the gene is involved in cellular digestion. "It's kind of crazy that this gene that's involved in digesting the garbage in your cells is somehow linked to something so specific as stuttering," said Timothy E. Holy, Ph.D.

And the study's senior author says that makes finding a treatment more difficult. "The apparatus for the cellular housekeeping is as old as the hills. ... How you have a mutation in those general pathways where the only known effect on people is causing them to stutter is really quite a mystery," Holy said.

This video includes clips from The Weinstein CompanyTEDx TalksEthan O'Brien / CC BY 3.0 and Alex Raines / CC BY 3.0.

<![CDATA[Watch These Firefighters Rescue A Cat Trapped Inside A Car's Fender]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 11:52:00 -0500
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A California man didn't realize a cat was trapped in the front fender of his car. 

He'd been traveling from Mexico back to his home in Oceanside and didn't hear the feline meowing until he was home. 

Oceanside is about a 54-mile drive from the Mexico border, according to KNSD, but the man doesn't know when the cat became trapped during the trip.

The Oceanside Fire Department was called in to rescue the cat who looked a little dirty but no worse for wear. 

The feline has since been taken to the local animal shelter. 

This video includes clips from the Oceanside Fire Department and images from Facebook

<![CDATA[CDC Says The Zika Virus Does Cause Birth Defects]]> Thu, 14 Apr 2016 10:44:00 -0500
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A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the Zika virus does cause birth defects like microcephaly, but not in every case. 

Researchers have been trying to determine the link between Zika and microcephaly since the mosquito-carried virus began to spread quickly early last year, especially in Central and South America. Microcephaly is a birth defect that causes a baby's head to be abnormally small.

CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in a press release, "There is no longer any doubt that Zika causes microcephaly." 

The CDC noted "no single piece of evidence provides conclusive proof," but said multiple studies backed up the CDC research. 

There were other theories about what was causing the rise in microcephaly cases. One report suggested pesticide-contaminated water could be to blame.

And some Brazilians believed that vaccines were causing Zika

Currently, there's no cure for the Zika virus or microcephaly. 

But researchers who worked on an Ebola vaccine say human trials for a Zika vaccine could begin as early as this summer. 

This video includes clips from BBCNTN24United Nations and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and images from Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Meet Inky: Octopus, 'Curious Boy' And Aquarium Escapee]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 18:33:00 -0500
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This is Inky the octopus. Though we’re thinking his new nickname should be Houdini. 

Under the darkness of night, Inky broke out of his tank at New Zealand’s National Aquarium. He slid down a 6-inch-wide drain pipe and escaped to the Pacific Ocean, leaving a trail of suction cup marks in his wake.

"On this particular day, maintenance would’ve been carried out, and the lid had been left just slightly ajar, just slightly," aquarium manager Rob Yarrall told Radio New Zealand.

Well, that’s all the space Inky needed to escape. Which is incredibly impressive considering he’s about the size of a football.

But experts say octopuses are known for being master escape artists. An aquarist told ABC News, "The only hard part on an octopus is its beak, and as long as the opening is large enough for that beak to fit through, the octopus can get its whole body through that opening."

As for why Inky would want to leave the comfort of his tank for the great-unknown?

The aquarium manager told The Guardian: "I don’t think he was unhappy with us, or lonely, as octopus are solitary creatures. But he is such a curious boy. He would want to know what’s happening on the outside. That’s just his personality."

Now, the attention is turned to Inky’s tank mate. Staff say they’re going to keep an extra close eye on him from now on.

<![CDATA[How To Get Better At Quantum Computing: Make A Game Of It]]> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 15:13:00 -0500
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Quantum physics is hard. Building a quantum computer — the long-sought next step in computing that uses handfuls of atoms — is its own special brand of hard.

Scientists are experimenting with putting single atoms into a tiny lattice, but it requires a laser-precise touch and a quick hand. Shuffle the atoms too quickly or too slowly and it won't work, and the mathematical models scientists use aren't great at solving the problem.

So physics researchers in Denmark made a game out of it. In "Bring Home Water," players have to strike the fast/slow balance themselves.

A researcher said: "The faster the atom is moved, the easier it is to spill the water. The players thus have to find the fastest way to 'bring home' the atom without losing it."

The researchers found players come up with faster, easier ways to complete the experiments than the mathematical models scientists start with.

Turning to the crowd can give scientists an extra resource beyond raw computer processing power: human intuition.

This is the first time scientists have gamified quantum physics, but other researchers have used human judgment to solve complex protein-folding problems.

Even players in the sci-fi game universe of "EVE Online" have chipped in. They classify images of human cells, contribute to the Human Protein Atlas and get in-game rewards for their work.

As the quantum computer researchers write, "When we understand deeper how humans turn a hugely complicated problem into something manageable — and then solve it — we can build smarter algorithms to solve these problems."

This video includes clips from ScienceAtHomeNature and CCP Games and images from Geoffrey Joe / CC BY 3.0 and ScienceAtHome and music from "Square One" by Birocratic (

<![CDATA[Scientists Help A Paralyzed Man Play 'Guitar Hero']]> Wed, 13 Apr 2016 13:29:00 -0500
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A man with quadriplegia — paralysis of the arms and legs — has been able to regain movement in his fingers, hands and wrists thanks to a first-of-its-kind medical breakthrough.

Ian Burkhart suffered a spinal cord injury in a diving accident in 2010, paralyzing him from the shoulders down. Researchers have been working with him for a few years now.

Doctors implanted an electrical device into Burkhart's motor cortex — the part of the brain responsible for voluntary movement — and connected it to muscle stimulators around his arms.

"Without the use of the system and the technology, Ian is not able to grasp objects. But once we connect the system and turn it on, Ian is actually able to open and close his hand. He is also able to pick up objects such as a bottle," said Chad Bouton, VP of Advanced Engineering and Technology at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research.

Signals from Burkhart's brain aren't able to reach his muscles on their own, but this procedure effectively bypasses the spinal cord injury to help those signals get through.

Past medical advances helped humans control robotic limbs by imagining their movement, but it hasn't been possible for humans to use imagined movement to control their own anatomical limbs.

Burkhart said in 2014: "Picking up a cup of water and drinking it, or brushing your teeth or feeding yourself — you know, those things. If you can do those on your own, it makes a big difference in your life."

The implant and bypass have worked well enough that Burkhart is now able to play what looks like "Guitar Hero." But researchers say they have further improvements in mind.

"Maybe in a few years from now, we can have a wireless system that allows patients like Ian to be able to move his hand, and his arms and his functions — his arm, and legs and overall functions — much better without having cables to connect," said Ohio State University neurological surgeon Dr. Ali Rezai.

This video includes a clip from Johns Hopkins University.

<![CDATA[Autism Doesn't Discriminate, But Its Diagnosis Might]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 23:00:00 -0500
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"Autism doesn’t discriminate. ... It's not selective on who it picks," Camille Proctor said.

Black and Latino children are less likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder than white children, even though research suggests they have the same risk of developing ASD as white children.

Because of this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this likely delays services for nonwhite children with ASD.

"Oftentimes, in communities of color, behaviors are attributed to the need for discipline, and that’s not always the case," Proctor said. 

Proctor experienced that firsthand when she took her then 2-year-old son who has ASD to one of his least favorite department stores.

"He was trying to get out of his stroller, and he was just like stiff, and he was falling out. And I remember this lady looking at me who worked for that department store and she said, 'Oh, he just needs his butt beat,'" Proctor said.

"It kind of made me mad. After I processed it, and I got all calm, and I’m like you know, there isn't enough information out there in our community for people to really, really understand what autism is," Proctor said.

Proctor founded The Color of Autism to help African-American families and families in underserved communities. She hopes education on ASD can address misunderstandings that could be keeping kids with ASD from getting an accurate diagnosis.

"You need to have a diagnosis in order to get the services that you need," Proctor said.

"Families that have children with special needs, period, they go through a great deal of isolation. … But if we really embrace that village concept, we could have some stronger families in the community overall," Proctor said.

This video includes an image from Becky Wetherington / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[Want To Visit A Distant Star? Hitch A Ride On A Space Laser]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 16:59:00 -0500
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What do you get when you cross lasers, tiny space probes and billions of dollars? Hopefully a ton of information about Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to our own.

Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking have announced a new project called Breakthrough Starshot. They want to send light-propelled spacecraft flying through space at 100 million miles per hour, reaching Alpha Centauri in around 20 years. 

Astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell says it'd take a whole lot longer with current technology: "The Voyagers that are heading out toward the stars — they're going to take 20,000 years to get there. That's not acceptable. ... We're talking about putting something 1,000 times faster than any human artifact has ever gone."

The so-called nanocraft will make their way to space in a rocket. Once there, they'll unfurl their lightsails and rely on high-power lasers on Earth to begin to push them toward Alpha Centauri.

Before Milner and Hawking can make this happen, they've got to test it — that's what Breakthrough Startshot's for. It's meant to prove the plan could really work so other organizations will take the next step.

If it's proven to work, scientists could eventually send thousands of data-gathering probes, called StarChips, to collect loads of information — including photos — from our neighboring star. 

This video includes a clip from NASA.

<![CDATA[When Rocks Aren't Rocks Because They're Actually A Pile Of Crabs]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 12:17:00 -0500
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A group of researchers were studying biodiversity off the coast of Panama when they came across an unfamiliar, murky cloud.

"When we dove down in the submarine, we noticed the water became murkier as we got closer to the bottom. ... We just saw this cloud but had no idea what was causing it," said Jesús Pineda, lead author of the study.

They thought they were looking at sedimentary rocks at first — that is, until the "rocks" started moving.

The researchers had discovered a giant cast of red crabs walking along the seafloor.

It came as a surprise for the group, because the red crab species had never been seen so far south: "To find a species at the extreme of their range and to be so abundant is very unusual," Pineda said.

The researchers say the discovery shows just how unpredictable and mysterious seamounts — undersea mountains — can be.

Seamounts cover more than 11 million square miles of Earth's surface.

We've studied less than 1 percent of that area.

<![CDATA[This Is What's Going On In The Brain During An LSD Hallucination]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 09:30:00 -0500
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Scientists have gotten an early glimpse at how LSD hallucinations really work. 

Researchers at Imperial College London took brain scans of 20 volunteers who took the drug, and as one of the researchers put it, they were "seeing with their eyes shut." 

Literally, the participants' eyes were closed during the testing. 

But the specific area in the back of the brain normally responsible for vision was still lighting up. And when the volunteers were hallucinating from the LSD, many other areas of the brain were adding to the visual processing. 

Under normal, sober circumstances, several functions like vision, speech and movement are rooted in separate networks of the brain. 

Yet the researchers found LSD made the brain work more as a whole. They said this structural change leads to losing one's sense of self –– which, in turn, has in cases been linked to sensing religious or spiritual experiences. 

The researchers said in a lot of ways, being on LSD is like making the brain go back to the way it was when you were an infant. The brain becomes rigidly organized with time, but an infant's mind is more emotional and imaginative. 

This video includes images from Manel Torralba / CC BY 2.0latorre-chainmen / CC BY SA 2.0 and Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[Don't Get Enough Sleep? A Cold May Be In Your Near Future]]> Tue, 12 Apr 2016 07:33:00 -0500
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Hitting the snooze button could really just be preventive medicine. 

new survey asked over 22,000 Americans about their weekday sleeping habits and recent health. 

Participants who slept five hours or less were 28 percent more likely to have had a cold in the last month than those who slept seven to eight hours. 

And short sleepers were 82 percent more likely to report having had an illness like influenza, pneumonia or ear infections in the last month. 

Because the participants weren't told how long to sleep, we can't be totally sure if more sleep fights the risk of illness, or if having an underlying illness leads to less sleep. 

In fact, participants who got six hours of sleep a night didn't report worse health than those who got seven to eight hours. And those who got nine hours of sleep didn't report better health. 

We still might be able to lean toward sleep affecting your health, though, based on how this study falls in line with a previous one. 

In 2015, a different set of researchers actually gave participants nose drops that could cause a cold. Those who slept six hours a night or less were four times more likely to get sick, compared to those who slept seven or more. 

This video includes images from zeevveez / CC BY 2.0 and Chris Costes/ CC BY 2.0

<![CDATA[For Life Expectancy, Where You Live May Matter As Much As Your Income]]> Mon, 11 Apr 2016 14:52:00 -0500
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The rich stand a better chance of outliving the poor. This has long been known. But further research has now found the gap between life expectancy and income can even out, depending on where you live. 

A new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found poor citizens in certain, more affluent cities like New York and San Francisco live almost as long as the wealthier citizens. But in other cities, like Detroit, the life expectancy of lower-income individuals is more bleak. 

The researchers noted men among the top 1 percent of earners live almost 15 years longer, on average, than men in the bottom 1 percent. For women, the difference is 10 years. 

The fact that these life-expectancy differences have tightened in some cities is interesting, since nationally, they only seem to be getting wider. 

Looking at the broader picture, since 2001, people among the richest 5 percent are living roughly three years longer. Yet, the poorest 5 percent have seen virtually no change. 

A challenge now is figuring out why certain cities have less of an income-health gap. 

For the moment, there seems to be too many possible causes to count. Anything from tougher anti-smoking laws, less violent crime and even peer pressure to live a healthy lifestyle could contribute. 

Besides the obvious goal of helping everyone live longer, a better understanding of the income-health gap could lead to legislative changes. 

Some are questioning if the amount poor Americans pay to Social Security and Medicare is fair, compared with the amount of time they're expected to benefit from the services. 

This video includes images from Getty Images and clips from NBC and CBS

<![CDATA[LA's Dog Cafe Hopes To Revolutionize Adoption (And Serve Coffee)]]> Sun, 10 Apr 2016 18:03:00 -0500
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After a slew of cat cafes opened around the world, the U.S. has its first dog cafe. 

Thanks to a fundraising campaignThe Dog Cafe opened its doors in Los Angeles. The concept is what you would expect — for $10 an hour, you can grab a cup of coffee and spend time playing with adoptable dogs. 

It's more about the dogs and less about the coffee. The cafe's mission is to "revolutionize dog adoption by reinventing the way people connect with rescues."

But dog lovers on the hunt for a new pooch, or just looking for some snuggles, need to plan ahead. On Sunday, reservations at The Dog Cafe were booked for the next nine days. 

So, will the animal cafe trend continue to grow? It seems so — especially with Tokyo's brand new hedgehog cafe.

This video includes clips from Stringr. 

<![CDATA[Can Inequality Be Traced To Ritualistic Killings?]]> Sun, 10 Apr 2016 13:24:00 -0500
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New research says human sacrifices were strongly linked to the growth of civilizations, at least unequal ones.

The study, published in the journal Nature this month, traced family trees and found connections among a number of groups in the Pacific. Some groups had fairly equal class systems, while others split citizens into regimented groups economically and socially. 

Historically, human sacrifice could be used to signal the start of wars, to end diseases, when leaders died and more.

Almost half of the 93 cultures studied showed signs of human sacrifice. But only 25 percent of the societies that had fairly equal class systems practiced it, compared to two-thirds of highly stratified societies.

What's more, those sacrificed were largely members of the lower classes. 

Some have said the study states the obvious, but others argue it's unclear whether the findings can be extended to history outside the Pacific. 

Most major religions ban human sacrifice, so it's difficult to say how much the ancient practice led to any social and economic systems seen today. 

However, the researchers in this latest study argue human sacrifice played a key part in small societies transitioning into larger ones. And once societies became stratified, human sacrifice helped them stay unequal. 

This video includes clips from the History ChannelNational GeographicRT and images from Getty Images and Lawrence OP / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[NASA's Racing Against Time To Fix $600 Million Spacecraft]]> Sun, 10 Apr 2016 08:40:00 -0500
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NASA is scrambling to save a $600 million spacecraft that's gone into "emergency mode." 

Experiencing what one researcher called a "spacecraft emergency," the Kepler space telescope is now rapidly burning through fuel, and NASA is running out of time to save it.

Engineers first discovered the telescope was in emergency mode Thursday and believe it actually entered that stage at least a day before. 

One of the biggest obstacles engineers now face is Kepler is 75 million miles from Earth. Even at the speed of light, signals take 13 minutes to go between Kepler and NASA's home base.

It's unclear what's exactly wrong with the spacecraft, but it might not be an easy fix. NASA scientists will have to find a way to repair Kepler with whatever the spacecraft already has on it.

Engineers fixed a different major problem in 2013 by using pressure from sunlight to keep Kepler steady. 

NASA's poured a huge amount of money into the Kepler project. The spacecraft launched in 2009 and was only supposed to take four years. But severe breakdowns and hard-to-read data have plagued the mission.

The space telescope's mission is to search for planets that could potentially hold life. By the beginning of 2016, Kepler had found 1,000 of those planets. 

This video includes clips and images from NASA and images from NASA Ames/JPL-Caltech/T Pyle.

<![CDATA[Top 3 Weird (Yet Adorable) Animal Stories Of The Week]]> Sat, 09 Apr 2016 14:42:00 -0500
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Lions and tigers and bears — oh my! Yes, we are talking animal stories — weird yet somewhat adorable animal stories, to be exact. But instead of sticking to exactly what Dorothy Gale said in "The Wizard of Oz," we're going with our own version: cats and alpacas and bears — oh my!

We'll start with a cat that's mastered the art of riding the subway.

The feline, which lives in Tokyo and doesn't appear to have an owner, has been using the rail system since at least 2013, according to a local news outlet.

writer for The Dodo praised the cat's "excellent subway etiquette," writing, "He never manspreads — instead, he keeps himself curled up in a neat, compact ball, so that other passengers have plenty of room."

Next, if your parents won't let you get a pet dog, an alpaca is apparently the next best thing.

Chewy is a 2-year-old alpaca who lives with Matt and his family in Australia.

The alpaca even has his own Instagram account and is often shown hanging out in his family's backyard and chewing on various items.

BuzzFeed reached out to Chewy's owner, who said an alpaca requires less maintenance than a dog because he doesn't "have to feed him regularly or give him as much attention."

But there is apparently one downside to having an alpaca as a pet. Matt told the Gold Coast Bulletin that Chewy sometimes spits at people.

And finally, we've got a bear cub who was rescued by firefighters putting out a wildfire in central Florida.

Thankfully, the little bear was given a clean bill of health, even though it had a few minor burns from the blaze.

The firefighters even named the cub Smokey Junior, presumably after Smokey Bear.

This video includes clips from NBC and WFTV and images from Twitter and Instagram.

<![CDATA[The North Pole Is Moving Toward The UK; Is Climate Change To Blame?]]> Sat, 09 Apr 2016 09:00:00 -0500
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Global warming might be affecting more than just the climate. A new study from NASA found it might also be changing the way the Earth moves on its axis.

Unlike a desktop globe, Earth isn't a perfect sphere and actually wobbles while it rotates, which means the poles aren't always in the same place. In fact for most of the 20th century, the north pole was drifting slowly toward Canada.

But around the year 2000, scientists noticed it started moving toward the United Kingdom.

To figure out why there was a sudden shift, the scientists studied data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment satellites, which monitor monthly changes in the Earth's mass.

Scientists say the moving pole is from a couple of things, most notably a shift in where mass is distributed on Earth, like changes in ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. Greenland alone loses an average of almost 300 billion tons of ice a year.

Scientists say the shift isn't anything to worry about. The study doesn't say whether these climate changes are man-made but that they seem to be affecting more than just the climate.

This video includes images from NASA and clips from NASA

<![CDATA[SpaceX Just Landed A Rocket On A Tiny Barge In The Middle Of The Ocean]]> Fri, 08 Apr 2016 19:09:00 -0500
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SpaceX has gotten pretty good at launching its Falcon 9 rocket into space, but it's never quite managed to bring it back down for a safe landing on the water. Until now.

That cheering is the sound of progress. SpaceX has successfully landed a Falcon 9 on the ground before, but landing in the middle of the ocean on a tiny floating barge is a much trickier achievement.

If SpaceX can consistently replicate this success, it will be much easier to reuse a rocket for multiple missions. An ocean landing costs much less in terms of fuel and offers much more flexibility than guiding a rocket back to a specific landing site on the ground.

The water landing wasn't even SpaceX's main mission; the rocket's main goal was to launch the Dragon cargo vessel carrying supplies and experiments for the International Space Station into low-Earth orbit. That, too, went off without a hitch.

"In order for us to really open up access to space, we've got to achieve full and rapid reusability," SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said in a press conference.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has made reusable space rockets a major focus of the company. He told reporters the company plans to reuse this Falcon 9 rocket in another mission in a few months.

<![CDATA[Blink And You'll Miss This Spider's Bite]]> Thu, 07 Apr 2016 15:48:00 -0500
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Spiders aren't just fast runners or gifted jumpers.  Researchers with the Smithsonian Institution say some hunt prey with a lightning-fast bite, too.

Trap-jaw spiders live in New Zealand and South America. They're little brown ground spiders with an unusual hunting style.

They hold their jaws open while they stalk prey, then snap them shut like a mousetrap. It's fast — blink-and-you'll-miss-it-several-times fast. Scientists have never seen spiders take fast bites like this before.

Researchers recorded the chomping spiders with cameras running at 3,000 frames per second, and they still barely captured the bite. This video is slowed down 150 times.

They describe it as "super-spider power," and that's not an exaggeration.

The speed and power of these bites exceeded what the spiders' muscles should be capable of, meaning they store energy somewhere like a coiled spring.

That happens elsewhere in nature. Mantis shrimp store power in their appendages for lightning-quick strikes. Trap-jaw ants spring-load their mandibles to attack prey or catapult themselves away from predators.

This video includes clips from cobwwweb / CC BY 3.0H. WoodColumbia PicturesThe Slow Mo GuysBBC and PLOS Media / CC BY 3.0 and images from H. Wood.

<![CDATA[Eating Peanuts May Actually Prevent Peanut Allergies, Study Says]]> Thu, 07 Apr 2016 10:10:00 -0500
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The cure for peanut allergies may actually be eating a lot of them at a young age. 

King's College London just released a second study on the topic. The college's original, five-year project found infants who were at a high risk of becoming allergic, but ate peanuts frequently during early childhood, were ultimately protected from peanut allergies. 

In the latest study, children from that same group were then asked to stop eating peanuts for an entire year. But in this case, avoiding peanuts did not bring on the allergy. 

However, the study didn't identify the minimum amount of peanuts children have to eat at an early age to be protected. 

But seeing as the number of American children who reported having peanut allergies has more than tripled since 1997, the researchers could be on a very promising track. 

This video includes clips from King's College London and NBC, and images from Aleksandar Cocek / CC BY SA 2.0Daniella Segura / CC BY 2.0 and NIAID / CC BY 2.0.

<![CDATA[Meet NASA Pioneer Katherine Johnson Before Her Movie Comes Out]]> Thu, 07 Apr 2016 07:06:00 -0500
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A familiar face has signed on to the film "Hidden Figures," which tells the story of the black women who helped NASA win the space race.

Pharrell Williams will produce and score music for the film. We know who Williams is, but can you name this woman? She's a NASA mathematician who helped take the American space program to new heights.

During her time at NASA, Katherine Johnson helped send the first Americans into space and to the moon, calculating most of the coordinates by hand.

"We told them how fast they would be going, and the moon would be there by the time you got there," Johnson told Makers.

Johnson's calculations were so accurate, legendary astronaut John Glenn requested that she double check NASA's new computers before he took off.

Johnson began making her mark on space travel in the 1950s, when both women and blacks were marginalized in American society — and at NASA. Johnson started working at NASA when it was still segregated. But her sharp skills earned her the nickname "the human computer" and helped her break through the barriers she and her colleagues faced. 

"I just happened to be working with guys, and when they had briefings, I asked permission to go. They said, 'The girls don't usually go.' I said, 'Is there a law?' And they said, 'No.' So then my boss said, 'Let her go,'" Johnson remembered. 

The woman who graduated from college at 18 is now a 97-year-old living legend, revered among her NASA successors.  

"I feel like her story gives me permission to be a badass," Heather Graham said.

Johnson will be played by Taraji P. Henson in "Hidden Figures." Her colleagues Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson will also be portrayed in the film, which blasts into theaters in January 2017.

This video includes clips from NASAWHROColumbia Records / Pharrell Williams and Heather Graham.

<![CDATA[Science Says You Can Stop Buying Skim Milk Now]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2016 21:05:00 -0500
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Your regular skinny vanilla latte might not be keeping you as skinny as you’d hope.

In two separate studies, researchers tracked dairy consumption over a period of time. And their results may mean you can scrap everything you've been told about choosing that skim milk instead of whole. 

The U.S. government releases updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans every five years or so. In the most recent batch, we were told to choose fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.

Well, a study published in the journal Circulation found people who ate more full-fat dairy were 46 percent less likely to develop diabetes over a 15-year period than those who opted for low-fat dairy. 

second study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found women who consumed the most high-fat dairy products were less likely to become overweight over time. 

In general, high-fat foods make you feel fuller faster, causing you to eat less. That could be a factor here. 

As one of the researchers said, "There is no prospective human evidence that people who eat low-fat dairy do better than people who eat whole-fat dairy."

But as all new studies seemingly go, researchers are recommending more studies.

This video includes images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Do-It-Yourself Health Care Apps Are About As Safe As They Sound]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2016 16:59:00 -0500
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Health knowledge is a good thing, and smartphone apps make spreading information easier than ever. But some health apps promise to do things that are better left to professionals and tried-and-true hardware.

Consider Instant Blood Pressure, an app that cruised to prominence on claims it could measure your blood pressure using your phone's camera and microphone. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University showed it was only 20 percent accurate.

Or SkinVision, a melanoma-screening app that other researchers said could only spot dangerous skin melanomas one time out of 10.

Or any of the others that make unproven mental health claims, like treating depression with a hypnosis app — for free, no less.

As the Johns Hopkins researchers said of their analysis of Instant Blood Pressure, there's a "need for scientific validation and regulation of these apps before they reach consumers." But the medical community still doesn't know what form that regulation should take.

In the same vein, all that wellness info your Fitbit gathers doesn't always mean much to your doctor.

"My mom said: 'Well, I can't wait to get an Apple watch. I'm going to send all of my data, all of my step data and all of my blood data to my doctor. It's going to be fantastic,'" said WebMD's Ben Greenberg.

Like most apps, most mainstream wearables aren't regulated like medical devices, and doctors say it's hard to put the data to medical use anyway.

Self-tracking isn't as dangerous as potentially bad medical advice, but the point remains: Ask your doctor which gadgets and smartphone tools will actually be helpful — and what medical guidance you should leave to the pros.

This video includes clips from SkinVisionFitbitCleveland ClinicApple and Jawbone and images from the National Institutes of Health.

<![CDATA[Earth Survived 2 Close Calls With Supernovas]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2016 16:52:00 -0500
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Earth has survived several close calls with supernovas.

New research in Nature shows strong evidence that Earth was bombarded by debris from supernova explosions at least twice in the past 10 million years.

Both explosions were too far away to do much damage, but they might've had unknown effects.

The first one happened around the time the ancestors of humans and chimps went their separate ways. The second one, around the time the human side started making stone tools.

Those early human ancestors would've seen a new star appear in the sky as bright as a full moon.

The evidence for the encounters came in the form of radioactive iron dust. Supernovas create a cloud of it, and some landed on Earth.

It's not clear what effects zipping through a cloud of radioactive dust would have had on the planet, but the timing of the supernovas roughly lines up to a period of cooler climate.

This video includes clips from Stephanie Dloniak / CC BY ND 3.0 and Michael Schulreich and images from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory / Greg StewartDidier Descouens / CC BY SA 4.0 and Ian Norman / CC BY SA 2.0 and images and clips from NASA.

<![CDATA[Blame Your GPS For Your Crappy Sense Of Direction]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2016 15:39:00 -0500
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"Continue on this route. Then, at your destination, you will arrive. Yes, feel the force now, do you?" asked the voice of Yoda in a VoiceSkins demo.

If you're using GPS navigation, it could be dulling your sense of direction, and not even the wisdom of Yoda can protect you.

Citing multiple navigational studies, a correspondent for Nature says navigation is a use-it-or-lose-it skill.

Put simply: When our eyes and ears are trained on our smartphones, they're not aware of the outside world, and we start to lose our ability to navigate.

On the other hand, when we do train our navigational skills, the human brain physically responds. In one study, the memory-retaining portion of the brain — the hippocampus — literally grew in size after taxi drivers committed routes to memory.

So what's the takeaway? It's really quite simple: A spatial cognition psychologist at Tufts University suggests you pay attention to your environment.

GPS is handy, but there are cognitive downsides to relying solely on technology-based navigation.

"Maybe it's a shortcut, Dwight. It said go to the right," said Steve Carell.

"It can't mean that. There's a lake there!" shouted Rainn Wilson.

"I think it knows where it is going," Carell responded.

"This is the lake!" Wilson shouted.

"The machine knows. Stop yelling at me!" Carell responded.

"No, there's no road here!" Wilson cried.

This video includes clips from VoiceSkinsSpeck and NBC.

<![CDATA[This 'Alien Fish' Came From The Ocean, Not Outer Space]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2016 12:30:00 -0500
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This is no fish tale — this "alien fish" is the real thing

This odd-looking, pink-and-white creature was captured about a mile off the coast of Los Cabos, Mexico, recently, and no one could quite figure out what is was. Fish? Shark? Something from another world? 

"What was it? Where did it come from? Who are the all-powerful creatures it brought from outer space? And what do they want on Earth?" a trailer for "It Came From Outer Space" said. 

Pisces Sportfishing Fleet posted the images to Facebook, and users took their own guesses. 

The fisherman, a high school senior from Chicago on a fishing trip with his dad, told the Chicago Tribune, "I asked our guide what it was, and he said he had never seen anything like it in 25 years of doing this." 

But a later update from the same group gave a possible explanation — the "alien fish" is actually an albino swell shark. 

In the picture, the captured fish's stomach is completely swollen, which, as its name suggests, is a common practice for this creature to ward off predators. 

The rare shark was eventually released into the ocean to continue its long, strange life. 

This video includes clips from YouTube / ProfessorRamey and "It Came From Outer Space" / Universal Pictures, and images from Facebook / Pisces Sportfishing Fleet and City.and.Color / CC BY 2.0

<![CDATA[Like To Work Out? You Probably Got It From Your Momma]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2016 12:11:00 -0500
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 If you love working out, maybe you should thank your mom.

One study found mice were more likely to run if their mothers ran while pregnant — the first study to show this connection. 

The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology study said that even though fat loss was found in both exercising mice whose mothers did and didn't run while pregnant, those whose mothers did run lost more fat. 

 Researchers said this finding could make an impact in the fight against obesity and inactivity.

The World Health Organization says over 600 million people worldwide were obese in 2014. 

Exercise isn't the only thing that matters when it comes to good health. Another study showed when a pregnant mouse consumed high-fat foods while producing milk, its offspring was more likely to be obese. 

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

<![CDATA[Like Our Waistlines, The Global Diabetes Problem Is Getting Bigger]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2016 12:05:00 -0500
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The number of adults with diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate.

The World Health Organization just announced 422 million adults were living with either Type 1 or 2 diabetes in 2014. Only 108 million had it in 1980.

Accounting for population increases, this means the global prevalence of the disease has nearly doubled over just 34 years.

Health officials are attributing this rise to thicker waistlines. WHO found one in three adults were overweight in 2014, and one in 10 were considered obese.

Two years ago, the WHO ranked diabetes as the eighth leading cause of death in the world. The new report says on top of the 1.5 million people who died from diabetes in 2012, high blood-sugar levels are linked to 2.2 million deaths that year.

This news comes just as a study published in JAMA points out the cost of insulin, which is a common diabetes treatment, has increased by almost 200 percent from 2002 to 2013. It also found patients are needing more insulin for each treatment.

But adults living in low-income countries in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific account for half of the world's diabetes cases, and they don't have the same access to medicine as other parts of the world.

WHO did stress it believes many deaths related to diabetes, especially those before the age of 70, can be prevented through better detection of the disease and healthier lifestyles.

This video includes clips from American Diabetes Association and images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[Massive 15-Foot, Cattle-Eating Alligator Killed In Florida]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2016 09:32:00 -0500
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This cattle-eating alligator was way too big for this small Florida town. About 15 feet too big, to be exact.

The massive gator was caught and killed at a farm in Okeechobee, Florida — a town of 5,500 people.

Professional hunter Lee Lightsey told the BBC: "Although this animal is huge, I was not that surprised it existed. ... But what really drew our attention to this animal was the fact that it seems to have been feasting on the cattle on my farm."

Lightsey said when he and his hunting guide saw the alligator surface from the cattle pond, they shot it. They needed a tractor to move the nearly 800-pound gator from the pond.

Lightsey said he noticed mutilated animal body parts in the water.

And, as Newsy's partners at WPTV report, this could be a Florida record.

 "The state record for the longest alligator is 14 feet, 3 1/2 inches, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation committee. I don't know. Maybe that could be the biggest one ever found," WPTV's Mike Trim said.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the alligator is real but has yet to confirm the official size.

<![CDATA[Half Of The World's Heritage Sites Are Being Threatened By Industry]]> Wed, 06 Apr 2016 09:11:00 -0500
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According to the World Wildlife Fund, nearly half of World Heritage sites are being threatened by industrial activity.

The United Nations awards the World Heritage site designation to locales that demonstrate "outstanding universal value." They include places like Ecuador's Galapagos Islands and California's redwood forests. 

There are 229 sites throughout the world, and a report from the WWF found 114 of those are under threat from various types of industrial development. 

Illegal logging is hurting Madagascar's rainforests, and Belize's Barrier Reef Reserve System is being damaged from multiple factors, such as coastal construction and pollution from agricultural runoff. 

The WWF report says more than 11 million people worldwide depend on a World Heritage site for food, water, shelter or medicine. 

The group is calling on governments to block projects that threaten these sites and urging businesses not to fund them. Instead, it wants the focus to be on projects that encourage sustainable development. 

This video includes clips from UNESCO TV / TBSNational Geographic and World Wildlife Fund

<![CDATA[Insulin Is Getting Really Expensive]]> Tue, 05 Apr 2016 20:14:00 -0500
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new study suggests we need to rethink diabetes treatment because of the rising cost of insulin.

The increasing costs have been noted in recent years, with some blaming a lack of "healthy" competition.

"The interesting thing about the insulin market is there's really only three companies in the insulin market. So it's a very small number of companies. There's no generics, and the prices just seem to go up for these drugs in tandem," a Bloomberg reporter said.

The study, published in JAMA, looked at insulin prices from 2002 to 2013. Since 2002, the cost of insulin increased by almost 200 percent — an increase made even more significant by findings that showed the amount of insulin being used per patient also increased.

Medical Xpress suggests the increase in doses could be due to increases in obesity in that time period, and new national recommendations stressing lower sugar intake.

Researchers predicted "the mean price of insulin is unlikely to decline as a result of generic competition because of the stringent regulations and substantial costs of bringing biosimilar insulins to market."

This video includes images from Jill Brown / CC BY 2.0Victor / CC BY 2.0 and Sprogz / CC BY 2.0 and clips from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Diabetes Association.


<![CDATA[Mars Was Nicer When It Rained Asteroids]]> Tue, 05 Apr 2016 15:15:00 -0500
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Mars was nicer back when giant rocks were slamming into it on a regular basis.

Ancient asteroid and comet impacts once gave the planet a more habitable environment, according to a new study from University of Colorado.

Computer models show impacts could have produced enough heat and raised the atmospheric pressure enough to jump-start Mars' water cycle — and where there's heat and water, there are sometimes microbes.

This study isn't suggesting there are microbes on Mars; it's just pointing out life would have been more easily supported.

These impacts took place almost 4 billion years ago, back when there was a lot more junk flying around the inner solar system.

Both Mars and Earth took a lot of hits from big space-rocks. But the computer models show in Mars' case, the heat from the impacts only lasted a few million years. Without oceans or a thick atmosphere like Earth's, the red planet literally ran out of steam.

But Elon Musk's ominous-sounding plan to terraform Mars makes more sense now.

Elon Musk: "There's the fast way, and the slow way."

Stephen Colbert: "OK, give me the fast way."

Musk: "The fast way is drop thermonuclear weapons over the poles."

Colbert: "You're a supervillain."

The bombs could melt frozen greenhouse gases and give Mars a thicker atmosphere, which means more heat and a better chance at eventually supporting life. NASA's not too keen on thermonuclear intervention, though.

But it could be more interested in investigating hits from old comets. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is scheduled to meet with the University of Colorado researchers to discuss potential landing sites and science tasks for the Mars 2020 research rover.

This video includes clips from NASA and CBS and and images from NASA. Music: "swing low" by Birocratic (

<![CDATA[Vitamin D Has 'Stunning' Effects On Heart Failure Patients]]> Tue, 05 Apr 2016 14:06:00 -0500
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You may have heard that vitamin D is good for bones and teeth, but new research suggests it can also help heal damaged hearts.

Early findings from a study out of England's University of Leeds show that vitamin D-3 pills significantly improved heart function in patients with congestive heart failure, increasing the amount of blood the heart pumps with each beat by 8 percentage points.

The researchers behind the study called the results "stunning" and unlike any treatment breakthrough of the past 15 years.

For some patients, the vitamin could even replace implantable cardioverter defibrillators as a primary treatment of heart failure. Unlike ICDs, vitamin D is cheap, causes no side effects and doesn't require surgery.

The study is still ongoing, but the early results are promising for the roughly 23 million people around the world affected by heart failure.

For a natural boost, the human skin produces vitamin D during sun exposure. The "sunshine vitamin" can also be found in oily fish and eggs.