Newsy - Sci/Health The Latest Videos From <![CDATA[Bloomberg Promises To Help Pay For The US' Paris Climate Commitment]]> Sun, 22 Apr 2018 13:56:00 -0500
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Michael Bloomberg says he'll pay $4.5 million to help fulfill the U.S.' commitment to the Paris climate agreement. 

The agreement was struck while President Barack Obama was in office, and 195 countries committed to reducing their carbon emissions.

But President Donald Trump announced last year that the U.S. would be withdrawing from the agreement, citing an unfair burden on the U.S.

Bloomberg has been a vocal advocate for the Paris accord. He helps lead a group of state and local institutions from all over the country in an effort to make sure the U.S. meets its emissions goals, even if it's not formally part of the accord.

<![CDATA[CDC Expands E. Coli Warning To All Romaine Lettuce]]> Sat, 21 Apr 2018 12:58:00 -0500
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says its warning of a possible multistate E. coli outbreak covers all types of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona, growing region. 

The warning now includes whole heads of romaine lettuce, hearts of romaine, and chopped and prepackaged salad mixes.

The expanded warning comes after people at a correctional facility in Alaska became ill after eating romaine.

The CDC says 53 people in 16 states have become ill. Of that number, 31 were hospitalized, and five patients developed kidney failure.

Arizona produces nearly 29 percent of the lettuce grown in the U.S., according to the Agriculture Marketing Resource Center.

The CDC is still investigating the outbreak.

<![CDATA[Legal Weed Growers Use Ridiculous Amounts Of Electricity]]> Fri, 20 Apr 2018 16:12:00 -0500
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In the commercial marijuana industry, cities like Denver see most of their crops grown indoors. But creating good growing conditions in a warehouse requires climate-control tech, powerful lamps and a whole lot of energy.

Today, lights in Denver's grow-houses use more power than all the lights on the city's public streets. Nationwide, the marijuana industry is roughly as power-hungry as the data center business.

"The lights we're using for flowering are about 1,100 watts each — 1,100 watts represents all the lights you would ever have on in your house in one light bulb, and I'm running 400 of those lights in a facility like this," said Tim Cullen, CEO of Colorado Harvest Company. "... The electric bill in this place is about $12,000-$13,000 a month."

Cullen's business squeezes efficiency out of its crops with drip irrigation and composting, but its experiments with lighting could cut down on one of the biggest power drains.

"There are different ways to do this, all of them trying to mimic the sun," Cullen said. "We use high-pressure sodium bulbs right now, but there are plasma bulbs, there are induction bulbs, there are LED bulbs. ... If we can get production to match what we're doing right now, then we will convert the facility over to those."

In the meantime, some places are experimenting with renewable power. About an hour to the north of Denver's greenhouses, the city of Boulder, Colorado, requires growers to offset their energy consumption with carbon credits — or 100 percent renewable energy, which is about as close as you can get to using sunlight without taking the grow outside.

That's the endgame. Cullen — and Denver's own government — think open cultivation is only a matter of time.

SEE MORE: The Government Considers Marijuana Illegal And Taxes It Anyway

"It's happening," Cullen said. "A couple hours south of here is a town called Pueblo that ... said, 'We'd like to tweak these rules and make it a lot more friendly for marijuana cultivation. We don't care if you grow outside.' … The largest legal marijuana grows in the world right now are going on in Pueblo."

Cullen says the scale of those grows affects the entire regional market for marijuana, in part because open fields don't have to plug into anything. As marijuana's energy footprint gets bigger and margins get slimmer, it's hard to compete with free sunlight.

<![CDATA[NASA Finally Gets New Administrator Following Contentious Confirmation]]> Fri, 20 Apr 2018 15:44:00 -0500
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After 15 months without a permanent administrator, senators narrowly approved Rep. Jim Bridenstine as the new head of NASA. His rocky confirmation, past experience and scientific beliefs set him apart from his predecessors and could preview a shift in how NASA operates.

When President Donald Trump announced Bridenstine as his nominee to take over NASA, Democrats were concerned it could politicize a traditionally nonpartisan job. Most administrators have been approved nearly unanimously, but Bridenstine only got through by a single vote.

Critics also said Bridenstine is not qualified to run NASA. Past administrators mostly came from science-based backgrounds. Bridenstine is a former U.S. Navy pilot but doesn't have much experience on the science side. He's also the first-ever elected official to serve in the role. 

SEE MORE: This Is President Trump's Official Pick For NASA Administrator

And scientists say Bridenstine's views could stifle NASA research on climate change. NASA spends lots of time and money to track the effects of our warming planet. But Bridenstine has never agreed with the scientific consensus that humans are the primary drivers of global warming. 

Experts say this tumultuous confirmation process could make it difficult for the agency to run efficiently going forward. One political scientist noted that Bridenstine has an "uphill climb" to prove he's fit for the job. 

<![CDATA[The US Military Has A Satellite Problem]]> Fri, 20 Apr 2018 12:39:00 -0500
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The U.S. has the most dominant military in the world, but recently, experts have been warning that it has a weakness: its reliance on satellites.

Satellites are involved in nearly every military operation: communication, intelligence, radar, drone piloting and even coordinating troop movements with GPS.

But Russia and China have been developing the means to attack satellites. Aside from simply shooting them down with missiles, those countries can also use lasers or electronic jammers to block satellites' ability to communicate. Hackers can also try to attack satellites' software.

SEE MORE: President Trump Wants To Create A 'Space Force' To Fight Space Wars

There are even reports that both countries have tested small, more maneuverable satellites that can directly intercept other objects in space.

And satellites are inherently hard to protect. One national security professor told Politico that a satellite is basically a sitting duck: It's easy to track and can't be hidden.

There are some efforts to make the satellite fleet harder to destroy, like launching lots of backups, but ultimately, the military is relying on deterrence to keep its satellites safe.

That said, if the U.S. did get into an open conflict with Russia or China, analysts fully expect satellite attacks to be one of the opening moves. It's the easiest way for either country to try to shrink America's military advantage.

With that in mind, the military has already begun training troops on how to function if key space-based systems get knocked offline.

<![CDATA[An FDA Panel Recommended Approving This Marijuana-Derived Drug]]> Fri, 20 Apr 2018 09:09:00 -0500
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration could soon approve what would be the country's first prescription medicine derived from marijuana.

On Thursday, an FDA advisory panel unanimously recommended approving the drug called Epidiolex. A U.K. pharmaceutical company created it to treat rare and severe forms of epilepsy.

During clinical trials, patients given Epidiolex to help treat Dravet syndrome or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome saw the frequency of their seizures "significantly reduced," GW Pharmaceuticals said in a statement.

The medicine's active ingredient is cannabidiol — a chemical found in cannabis. Unlike medical marijuana, which contains a compound that can produce a high, cannabidiol isn't psychoactive.

The FDA will reportedly decide by the end of June if it'll approve Epidiolex.

<![CDATA[No Injuries, Fatalities After Explosion At Texas Valero Refinery]]> Thu, 19 Apr 2018 19:00:00 -0500
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Authorities in Texas City, Texas, say all employees are accounted for after an explosion at a Valero refinery there.

The city said there was no need for anyone to shelter in place, and there were no injuries or fatalities. It's not clear what caused the explosion. 

That refinery produces gasoline, kerosene, oil, and several other petroleum products. It employs about 480 people.

Texas City is also the site of a massive explosion that killed at least 576 people in 1947. That happened when a cargo ship was being loaded with ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which is super flammable. A fire broke out on the ship and when it spread, it exploded.

<![CDATA[Plastic: America's Indispensable Cultural Icon]]> Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:26:00 -0500
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Plastic isn't usually considered the most exciting thing. But some people might argue the material is a cultural icon.

In 2012, experts from the Smithsonian Institution said we were living in the "Age of Plastic." From water bottles to grocery bags, plastic seems ideal because it's cheap, durable and disposable. Outside of consumer goods, plastic is also used in medical supplies.

But for all the good the material may have done, plastic has also become the modern symbol of wastefulnessEight million metric tons of it ends up in oceans each year. Those cutesy vintage plastic goods from the 20th century are now collecting dust in museums, and many people are cutting disposable plastics out of their lives.

SEE MORE: Ocean Plastic Could Triple By 2025

Earth Day's 2018 campaign is focused on ending plastic pollution by "changing human attitude and behavior about plastics." Efforts like this are important, as past research shows that cultural participation can help make environmental policies more effective.

Outside of policy, we can see the rise of this anti-plastic pollution culture through the growing popularity of tote bags and reusable water bottles. The rise may be more for fashion than environmentalism, but fashion is pretty lucrative. According to 2016 research, the reusable water bottle market is expected to rise to a valuation of more than $10 billion by 2024.

<![CDATA['Social Camouflage' Might Lead To Underdiagnosing Autism In Women]]> Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:26:38 -0500
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About 1 in every 68 children in the U.S. are born with autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That amounts to about 1 in 42 boys and a staggering 1 in 189 girls — a gender ratio of about five boys for every girl diagnosed with the disorder.

Newsy's Devan Kaney asked psychologist Dr. Ruth Aspy how gender bias might play a role.

<![CDATA['Miracle' Drug Reverses Overdoses, But Does It Fuel Addiction Cycle?]]> Thu, 19 Apr 2018 07:35:00 -0500
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Naloxone is called an opioid receptor antagonist. What does that mean? Well, it binds to opioid receptors in the brain and blocks incoming drugs, or it can also dislodge opioids that got to a receptor before naloxone was administered.

Quite simply, naloxone restores the brain and normal breathing. Opioids suppress bodily functions, including breathing. Somebody suffering an overdose can pass out as respiration grows slow and shallow. Naloxone reverses that in just two to five minutes

So those videos you see of people being rapidly revived — that's naloxone working.

Naloxone wears off after 30-90 minutes, so patients need to be monitored afterward. If they are heavy users or took an especially potent opioid, another dose might be necessary — sometimes more than one.

SEE MORE: New Research Suggests Legal Marijuana Could Curb The Opioid Epidemic

Naloxone can be injected with a syringe, administered with an auto-injection device sold under the brand name Evzio or given by nasal spray, which is sold under the brand Narcan.

The cost of naloxone is spiking. A vial of generic naloxone used by medical professionals that cost about $4 in 2009 is now about $16. A two-dose auto-injector package that was introduced at $690 in 2014 has climbed to more than $4,500

There are other concerns. One is that naloxone is no match for more potent opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil. And that has drug companies and researchers working on alternatives. One, which is similar to naloxone, would last four times longer.

Another concern: Does naloxone make the opioid crisis worse? That's unclear. Some first responders say it increases opioid use because it reduces the fear of dying. Dayton, Ohio, police have revived one overdose patient 20 times. Middletown, Ohio, is considering limiting Narcan resuscitations to two per person because of the number of repeat offenders.

Maine's Gov. Paul LePage vetoed legislation in 2016 that would have made naloxone available without a prescription. He wrote: "Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose." A version of the bill passed a year later anyway.

Detractors might see naloxone as a crutch. Advocates call it a life-saver. One thing is certain: It saves lives in the short-run. The ultimate effect remains to be seen. 

<![CDATA[A Record Heat Wave Killed Huge Parts Of The Great Barrier Reef]]> Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:11:00 -0500
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It's no secret the Great Barrier Reef has been dying for some time nowNew research shows just how quickly that rising ocean temperatures can destroy large swaths of coral.

In 2016, an eight-month marine heat wave kept surface temperatures in the Coral Sea about 1 degree Celsius warmer than usual. Researchers now say that slight increase caused nearly 30 percent of coral in the Great Barrier Reef to start dying.

SEE MORE: The Worst Coral Bleaching Event Ever May Be Over: Now For The Bad News

The most catastrophic die-offs occurred where temperatures rose the highest. In those spots, coral died immediately from heat stress. Bleaching events, which are linked to warming, killed even more coral, albeit more slowly. Of the 60 percent of coral colonies that experienced heavy bleaching, only 1 percent survived after eight months.

These colonies might be able to regrow, but researchers said the chances of a full recovery are "poor." They noted that many of the survivors of this heat wave are still slowly dying because they're now more susceptible to disease and that even the fastest growing species of coral would take at least a decade to pop back up.

<![CDATA[EPA Removes Site Flooded By Harvey From Priority Cleanup List]]> Mon, 16 Apr 2018 21:40:00 -0500
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The Environmental Protection Agency has decided to remove a toxic waste site that was flooded by Hurricane Harvey from its priority cleanup list.

The San Jacinto Waste Pits are contaminated with carcinogenic waste and are located next to homes, schools and the San Jacinto River. When Harvey hit, contamination was found up and down the river, and EPA chief Scott Pruitt ordered a full cleanup of the site six months ago. 

Last week a judge ordered two companies responsible for the waste in the pits to come up with a plan to clean it up. They're expected to take more than two years to make that happen.

Pruitt also removed a superfund site in Nevada from the list and added three other sites.

<![CDATA[NASA's New Exoplanet Telescope Could Help Us Find Another Earth]]> Mon, 16 Apr 2018 16:27:00 -0500
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Earth is the only place we know of that can support life, so scientists are fascinated with the possibility of discovering other planets like it beyond our solar system. The new Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite could give us the best chance yet at finding them.

TESS operates like the Kepler Observatory and other planet-hunters: It watches for stars that dim when a planet passes in front of them. But TESS is going to pay special attention to nearby stars that burn bright and hot like our own sun, where small, rocky Earth-like bodies called exoplanets might be orbiting.

This makes its mission much more focused than Kepler, which looked for all types of exoplanets around mostly distant stars. Kepler might have stumbled on a fair number of rocky planets during its two missions, but astronomers expect TESS will find more than a thousand — and fill a huge gap on our list.

SEE MORE: Astronomers Discovered An Exoplanet Stuck Between 3 Suns

Closer, brighter host stars will also make it easier to eventually collect details about those planets — like what they're made of and what their atmospheres are like. TESS will flag promising targets so other powerful telescopes, like the upcoming James Webb, can take closer looks.

The job is so specific that TESS will have scoured the entire sky for candidate planets in just two years. What comes after that is harder to say, but we can hope it will keep up its work. Our exoplanet telescopes tend to be durable: Kepler has served for nearly three times its planned lifetime, even after parts of it have broken down.

<![CDATA[NASA's New Satellite Will Search For Undiscovered Exoplanets]]> Sun, 15 Apr 2018 14:15:00 -0500
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Earth might have thousands of neighbors just waiting to be found. So far they've been elusive, but on Monday NASA is deploying its next tool in the hunt for exoplanets.

That tool comes in the form of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS for short. TESS will monitor more than 200,000 stars looking for tiny dips in brightness caused by orbiting planets.

The satellite is continuing the mission of the Kepler spacecraft, which found more than 2,000 new exoplanets. But Kepler's finds were usually around distant stars, making them harder to study. 

TESS' mission will focus on closer, brighter stars, which means scientists will be able to learn a lot more about the composition of any exoplanets it detects.

The mission will last two years. The satellite will observe the Southern hemisphere in the first year and the Northern in the second. In that time, it's expected to find more than 1,500 exoplanet candidates.

<![CDATA[More Than 200 Million Eggs Recalled After Salmonella Outbreak]]> Sun, 15 Apr 2018 11:05:00 -0500
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More than 200 million eggs are being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination.

Rose Acre Farms issued the voluntary recall in nine states for multiple brands including Country Daybreak, Food Lion, Sunshine Farms and Great Value.

The eggs were sold to restaurants and retail stores.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a statement the eggs are connected to at least 22 cases of salmonella infection. The FDA suggests people who bought these brands should throw the eggs away or return them to stores.

The states possibly affected are Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

<![CDATA[Lead Found In Tap Water In Some Chicago Homes]]> Sat, 14 Apr 2018 14:23:00 -0500
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Chicagoans might want to test their water — the Chicago Tribune reports lead was found in almost 2,000 homes across the city.

The city began passing out free test kits in 2016. In a recent report, the Tribune said it analyzed the results. The outlet said of the 2,797 homes tested, more than 800 had concentrations of lead above the maximum level the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows in bottled water.

Consuming lead can cause brain damage or learning and developmental disabilities in kids. In adults, the metal can cause weakness, memory loss, kidney damage and brain damage.

The lead found in the water in Chicago is mainly due to service lines — the piping connecting street mains to homes. The city's plumbing code required, for nearly a century, that those lines be lead pipes.

Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been working to replace the city's public water system. But, the city says replacing those service lines is up to individual homeowners. 

<![CDATA[15 Years Ago, Scientists Finished Mapping The Human Genome]]> Fri, 13 Apr 2018 16:33:00 -0500
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15 years ago, scientists completed the Human Genome Project — a decade-plus, nearly $3 billion initiative that gave humans the first detailed look at how our bodies create specific organs, tissues and cells.

Researchers broke down human chromosomes into manageable chunks and unraveled the yarn-like DNA segments to map the exact order of the base pairs inside. Once they understood what went where, they were able to rebuild entire human genes from their basic building blocks. 

SEE MORE: How Much Should You Trust Your DNA Test?

Researchers had discovered the unique step-by-step instructions that make us who we are. Scientists have used the same technique to decode the genetic sequences of animals like mice and fruit flies. The tech has also helped doctors discover more than 1,800 genes that cause diseases like cancer or Alzheimer's.

In the 15 years since, genetic sequencing technology has become so widely available that we now have at-home test kits for as little as $99. These consumer-marketed tests are seemingly reliable. The FDA even authorized 23andMe's test for breast cancer gene mutations in March.

<![CDATA[Are You A Democrat Or A Republican? A Look At Your Brain Might Tell Us]]> Fri, 13 Apr 2018 06:00:00 -0500
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It turns out size does matter. The bigger the brain's amygdala, the more conservative you're likely to be. 

On the flip side, if your anterior cingulate cortex is a whopper, you're likely to lean far to the left. Research, including an often-cited study in 2011, has made that link between brain structure and political orientation.

Think Carlton Banks and Will Smith from "Fresh Prince," they could hardly agree on most anything ever. Their brains were probably different we now know. Carlton's big amygdala vs. Will's big anterior cingulate cortex. There's buttoned-up conservatism on one hand, and then more strident liberalism on the other. 

When you look at the science, our brain is the great sieve through which reality is strained. The amygdala controls how we react to disgusting images, foul odors, differences that challenge the norm.

The bigger the amygdala, the more intense the reaction to perceived threats. It's a survival instinct and could prewire some people against progressivism. Researchers have found a few things: First, people with a large amygdala are less likely to join a protest challenging the norm.

SEE MORE: The Composition Of Our Political Parties Has Never Been Starker

Psychologists have found that conservatives are more anxious than liberals — that's a big amygdala doing its thing — which may be why they typically desire stability and structure. And if you remove the amygdala in rats, they show no fear. Not even with cats. 

Now, how about the person with a large anterior cingulate cortex? They're pretty much just the opposite, naturally more tolerant. More comfortable with differences that challenge the standard or what they're comfortable with. Less fear. Their brains don't mind the turbulence. 

But there's a chicken-and-egg question to all of this. Are some people born with a large amygdala and predestined to become conservatives, or does their amygdala get bigger as they become more conservative? 

Same question with the cortex. Probably both, says an NYU psych professor. He thinks "our inborn brain structure guides us to political preferences, but that our political environment also alters our brain structure."

So whether your amygdala looks like a pea or a pineapple, remember that everyone's is different and in many ways, we come by our politics naturally.

<![CDATA[Soda Taxes Might Sway People To Cut Back On Sugary Drinks]]> Thu, 12 Apr 2018 16:24:00 -0500
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In the past decade, some cities have started taxing sugary drinks to raise money for local governments and to promote healthier lifestyles. A new study shows these taxes can help change people's diets — at least in the short term.

Researchers in Philadelphia surveyed residents about their sugary-drink consumption before and after a 1-cent-per-ounce tax went into effect in 2017. They found that people, on a daily basis, were 40 percent less likely to drink soda and 60 percent less likely to consume energy drinks.

The tax also prompted Philadelphians to drink cheaper, healthier beverages. Fifty-eight percent said they were more likely to drink bottled water every day after the price increase.

SEE MORE: Soda Is No Longer America's Most Popular Beverage

But the study only focused on consumption in the first two months after the tax was implemented, so it might be too early to tell if the changes will last. One lawmaker already introduced a bill to kill the tax.

Soda taxes aren't always popular with store owners or taxpayers. They're usually intended to fill government budget gaps quickly, but they don't always work. In Cook County, which includes Chicago, officials passed a soda tax to raise $1.8 billion. But it was repealed after just two months when people realized it wouldn't generate as much revenue as they thought.

<![CDATA[Dopamine Is The Addictive Little Secret Of Social Media]]> Wed, 11 Apr 2018 06:00:00 -0500
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We are all addicts, all hooked on a natural chemical produced in our brains. We get a fix, experts say, when someone likes our Instagram picture or the retweet notification pops up.

It all goes back to something called dopamine, which is found in lizard brains and in every animal up to homo sapiens, although humans do have higher levels because we eat more meat and fish.

This "drug" dispenser is pre-built into our bodies. What one clinical psychologist called the Kim Kardashian of brain chemicals. It's the reward and pleasure drug.

Dopamine is linked to love, lust and sex. It's involved with motivation, attention, movement and addiction. It plays a role in just about everything that happens in your life and brain. Too much dopamine can result in addiction to whatever behavior triggered the increase.

SEE MORE: How Facebook Makes A Lot Of Money Off Your Data

Here's how it works. Technically, dopamine is a neurotransmitter. It's a messenger, carrying information from one neuron to another. 

That could be: "Oh my God, I just saw chocolate cake," or, "I love this cake, and more would be even better."

Physiologically, dopamine could be a toxin or elixir. For instance:

— Secretions in the prefrontal cortex improve your working memory. But it's delicate. Too much or too little can damage memory. 

— It allows you to focus and pay attention. Too little can trigger ADHD, even Parkinson's disease.

— Drugs like cocaine and amphetamines allow extra dopamine to remain in your brain longer than normal, resulting in heightened feelings of pleasure and a need for more of the drug.

— It not only rewards us but makes us anticipate future pleasure, like the first frosty bite of that second piece of cake.

Big tech is well aware of how this works — it's the pleasure-pain-repeat cycle. The author of "The Hacking of the American Mind," who's a medical professor, writes that technology is "not a drug, but it might as well be. It works the same way. ... It has the same results."

He points out that tech can cause stress in the brain, which can in turn lead to addiction. Here's how that works: The stress shuts down the prefrontal cortex, the "executive" part of the brain, which normally limits dopamine and our sense of pleasure or reward. When the brain gets used to a higher level of dopamine, it wants us to keep seeking out that addictive substance or habit for more.

This is called the dopamine loop. Post something on Facebook, and chances are friends begin to "like" or "comment" almost immediately. Send a text — getting a quick response can be a short burst of ecstasy.

Dopamine starts at "seeking" behavior in each example. Then you get rewarded, which makes you seek more — to do it again. And again. It's hard to stop. Chances are you have checked your email — or at least thought about it — in the past few minutes. Or Twitter. Or both.

That's not technology knocking. It's your brain. It'd like some dopamine — now. 

<![CDATA[Study: Making OxyContin Less Addictive Linked To Heroin Epidemic]]> Tue, 10 Apr 2018 18:56:00 -0500
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new study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research found an apparent connection between making certain opioids less addictive and the heroin epidemic.  

The findings showed in 2010, when Purdue Pharma reconfigured OxyContin in an attempt to make it less susceptible to abuse, heroin overdose deaths began to rise. Researchers suspect the reformulation of the drug may have led users to find a cheaper alternative and said "each prevented opioid death was replaced with a heroin death." 

Study authors concluded that developing abuse-deterrent drugs won't help end the opioid crisis, although the concept has been proposed by federal agencies and commissions to combat the epidemic.   

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN

<![CDATA[Dream Jobs: Shellie Pick, Panda Keeper At The National Zoo]]> Tue, 10 Apr 2018 18:06:00 -0500
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Shellie Pick volunteered or worked for free for almost two years before landing her position at the Smithsonian National Zoo. 

She shows Newsy's Chance Seales around her dream job. 

<![CDATA[SpaceX May Not Be To Blame For Lost Spy Satellite After All]]> Mon, 09 Apr 2018 21:56:00 -0500
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Back in January, SpaceX attempted to launch a super secret U.S. spy satellite. Unfortunately for the company, the satellite was lost.

But it turns out that may not have been SpaceX's fault. A report released Sunday by the Wall Street Journal says aerospace company Northrop Grumman may be to blame.

See, the satellite was lost after it didn't separate from the rocket's upper stage. That failure was reportedly due to a payload adapter that Northrop Grumman modified specifically for that satellite.

The satellite did eventually separate, but by then the rocket had re-entered the atmosphere, and ultimately both it and the satellite likely burned up.

<![CDATA[A Tabloid's Claim That Buzz Aldrin Saw Aliens In Space Is Way Off]]> Mon, 09 Apr 2018 17:04:00 -0500
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Recently, a British tabloid published an "exclusive" viral story that claimed NASA astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin, passed lie detector tests when asked about alien encounters. Unsurprisingly, those claims about him actually seeing aliens are likely false.

The article says four NASA astronauts gave researchers vocal statements about potential alien encounters, and then those statements went through "complex computer analyses" to test their authenticity. But there's no published research on the team's methodology or how the analyses detect lies. Those researchers haven't shared that information with the public.

What's more, it's likely the analyzed statements were not recorded for the study but instead were collected from old interviews. Aldrin's press team released a statement after the story went viral, saying, "This is bogus and we don’t know where it came from." Two of the other astronauts who "participated" in the study have been dead for years.

SEE MORE: If Aliens Exist, How Would They Find Earth?

And Aldrin has made several TV appearances in recent years to deny he'd seen alien life in space. In 2014, Aldrin wrote in a Reddit AMA that he'd technically seen unidentified objects during the Apollo 11 mission but quickly clarified they were likely not aliens.

<![CDATA[Naloxone Saves Lives, But Does It Also Enable Opioid Addiction?]]> Mon, 09 Apr 2018 11:49:00 -0500
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Naloxone, better known by the brand name Narcan, is a quick fix for opioid overdoses. But some say it can lead to a revolving door of addiction. 

Deaths from opioid drug overdoses doubled in the U.S. from 21,000 in 2010 to more than 42,000 in 2016. And according to the U.S. surgeon general, 115 Americans die from opioid overdoses every day — that's one person every 12.5 minutes.

"One thing that I absolutely want to do is get naloxone in the hands of more people and help folks understand that it can save lives," U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said. 

Last week, the U.S. surgeon general put out an advisory to encourage more Americans to carry naloxone because of its immediate, life-saving effects. Walgreens announced last year it would carry Narcan nasal spray in all of its 8,000 pharmacies nationwide. In most areas, emergency health workers and police already carry the drug.  

But some first responders say it enables drug addiction. In Dayton, Ohio, police have revived one overdose patient 20 times. Due to repeat offenders in Middletown, Ohio, the city is considering limiting Narcan resuscitations to two per person. In emergency situations, the city, like other municipalities in the U.S., takes the brunt of costs for the product.

Last year, the senior adviser to Maine's governor said, "The governor believes that unlimited free doses of naloxone produces a sense of normalcy and security around heroin use." 

Gov. Paul LePage wrote, "Naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose ... only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction."

Naloxone is not a cure-all for opioid addiction. It brings people back to life after an overdose. And while naloxone is credited with saving lives, health professionals say the key to stopping the cycle is treatment and rehabilitation.

"We want to connect people to treatment; we don't want to keep just resuscitating them."  Surgeon General Adams said. "We want to have bridges to treatments." 

<![CDATA[Are There Giant Tornadoes On The Sun's Surface?]]> Fri, 06 Apr 2018 16:49:00 -0500
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Multiple telescopes have been pointed at the sun around the clock for years, so it's surprising it's taken so long to answer a question like, "Does the sun have giant plasma tornadoes several times larger than Earth?"

The sun's surface is anything but tranquil: Plasma is always shooting out in different shapes thanks to incredibly powerful magnetic fields. And for decades, scientists have noticed some of those plumes looked a lot like tornadoes.

SEE MORE: Our Sun Just Unleashed Its Strongest Solar Flare In A Decade

But it's only been a few years since we've seen video evidence, and yes, solar tornadoes really do look a lot like Earth-bound ones — only big enough to swallow the planet and swirling around 100 times faster.

But some European scientists now say we've been tricked by an optical illusion. After carefully measuring the plumes, they say solar tornadoes aren't actually rotating — it just looks that way from our side-on perspective. They're still enormous and still incredibly powerful, but they aren't tornadoes.

For what it's worth, NASA has been cautious about using the term "tornado" for a while now, noting in 2014 that some scientists thought the spin might be an illusion.

<![CDATA[Overdose-Reversing Naloxone Is Getting Too Expensive For Some Cities]]> Fri, 06 Apr 2018 16:02:00 -0500
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As the opioid crisis continues, Americans are seeing the price of overdose-reversal drugs climb higher and higher.

Naloxone sales increased from about $21 million in 2011 to $274 million by 2016. Part of that increase was thanks to state and local governments passing rules to make the antidote more widely available.

SEE MORE: US Surgeon General Wants More People To Carry An Anti-Overdose Drug

But the market is mostly controlled by the three major drug manufacturers that have approval from the Food and Drug Administration to make naloxone, and some increased their prices in response to the new regulations. For instance, a two-dose Evzio package that was $690 in 2014 now goes for about $4,500.

That's made it harder for local governments that want to give more of their first responders the antidotes. In 2010, the Washington, D.C., fire department could get naloxone for $6 a syringe. By 2017, the same drug cost five times as much.

In the hardest-hit cities, like Philadelphia, the budget isn't big enough to keep a steady supply. In 2016, the city had a budget that allowed them to buy 5,000 naloxone kits for the year. But when they ran out, they needed a private organization to step in and donate another 1,500 kits to keep first responders stocked with naloxone.

Additional reporting by Newsy affiliate CNN.

<![CDATA[15 Attorneys General Are Suing The EPA Over Methane Emissions Rules]]> Thu, 05 Apr 2018 20:42:00 -0500
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Attorneys general from 14 states and Washington, D.C., as well as the city of Chicago are suing Scott Pruitt's Environmental Protection Agency over how it enforces, or doesn't enforce, methane emissions standards.

The states say the EPA under President Trump is ignoring its duty to control methane emissions. During the Obama administration, the EPA had asked oil and gas companies about their oil and gas sources as a way of figuring out how methane should be regulated. After the new administration came to town, 11 states asked the EPA to withdraw that request, which it did. The states now suing the EPA say by not assessing methane pollution and figuring out how to regulate it, it's failing to live up to what the Clean Air Act requires of it. 

Late last year, 14 states and Washington, D.C., sued the agency, claiming it failed to enforce standards on smog. The EPA faced a record number of open records lawsuits in 2017, according to Politico

SEE MORE: Some Automakers Aren't Backing The New EPA Emission Standards

This latest suit comes just days after Pruitt announced the EPA would loosen Obama-era fuel efficiency regulations.

It was filed the same day as another lawsuit, claiming the EPA tried to hide evidence of questionable behavior at a Superfund site in Oklahoma.

<![CDATA[US Surgeon General Wants More People To Carry An Anti-Overdose Drug]]> Thu, 05 Apr 2018 13:20:00 -0500
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In the first U.S. surgeon general advisory in over a decade, Dr. Jerome Adams is calling for more Americans to carry an opioid overdose-reversal drug.

The advisory urges people who are at risk for an opioid overdose and their loved ones to keep naloxone handy and know how to use it. Adams points out the number of opioid overdose deaths has doubled in recent years and says making the drug available and using it effectively are key to ending the epidemic.

Naloxone, commonly known under its brand name, Narcan, can quickly revive an opioid overdose patient who has slowed or stopped breathing. It's used by first responders, doctors and hospitals and in recent years, has been distributed in communities and school districts.

Last year, Walgreens said it would carry a form of Narcan in all of its U.S. locations. The opioid antidote is also available without a prescription at other pharmacies in some states across the nation.

Additional reporting by Newsy affiliate CNN.

<![CDATA[Those Pictures Of The Tesla In Space Might Have Been Illegal]]> Wed, 04 Apr 2018 16:06:00 -0500
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If you watched SpaceX's last satellite launch, you might have seen the livestream from orbit shut down midflight. But it wasn't technical difficulty so much as bureaucracy. It turns out SpaceX didn't have the necessary license to broadcast video from orbit.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration rule says anything larger than a handheld camera that broadcasts from space needs a special permit. It's said to be a matter of national security.

But SpaceX has been sending up cameras on its rockets for years and has never sought a permit. That includes the Starman shots from the Falcon Heavy demo flight, which livestreamed a Tesla in space with Earth in the background.

NOAA didn't go out of its way to enforce the rule, either. It says it was never officially informed that SpaceX had started sticking cameras on its rockets — despite millions of people seeing the footage. In fact, SpaceX asked NOAA about the rules ahead of this last launch — and NOAA started enforcing them so suddenly that even some parts of the agency thought it might have been a mistake

SEE MORE: SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Launch Was Impressive Despite Years Of Delays

An NOAA statement clears it up, at least: The agency says it will hold SpaceX and other launch companies to those rules going forward. Congress is also considering streamlining the rules on commercial cameras in orbit so mix-ups like this don't happen as often.

It's not clear if future permits will let SpaceX broadcast whole launches, but some missions will be fair game. NASA cameras on the International Space Station captured Wednesday's resupply docking, and that footage is public domain.

<![CDATA[If Tariffs On China Are Implemented, Some Drug Costs Could Go Up]]> Wed, 04 Apr 2018 15:01:43 -0500
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The Trump administration's proposed tariffs on Chinese imports could also drive up costs in the U.S. prescription drug industry. 

China is a "major provider" of U.S.-consumed drug ingredients, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If implemented, the 25 percent tariffs could apply to certain ingredients used to manufacture common drugs, like insulin, antidepressants and epinephrine. 

Some pharmaceutical groups have expressed concern about the move's potential impact on the prescription drug market. In a statement, the Association for Accessible Medicines said the tariffs could raise manufacturing costs and "thus higher prescription drug prices for patients in the U.S."

Earlier this year, the White House released policy proposals aimed at making medicine more affordable for Americans, a goal the FDA is also taking steps to achieve.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN. 

<![CDATA[Some Automakers Aren't Backing The New EPA Emission Standards]]> Wed, 04 Apr 2018 12:40:00 -0500
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When Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced plans to walk back regulations on emission standards, some declared a win for the auto industry. But it's unclear if top industry players actually feel this way. 

Pruitt said Obama-era regulations pressured automakers to create expensive cars nobody wanted. He also noted that with falling gasoline prices, people are buying fewer hybrids and more SUVs — and that regulations should help U.S. companies like Chrysler and GM meet that demand. 

But some U.S. companies, like Ford, said they didn't want the rollback and would support clean car standards "consistent with the Paris Climate Accord."

SEE MORE: Another Automaker Is In The Hot Seat Over Alleged Emissions Cheating

The rollback could also hurt business for Honda, Hyundai and Toyota, which invested in hybrids and electric vehicles after other countries adopted strategies similar to the U.S.' current strict rules. A Honda executive noted that even if the company takes an economic hit in the U.S., it couldn't stop producing fuel-efficient cars demanded by those other markets. 

The rollback could even hurt Tesla, which makes money selling its unused emissions credits to other car companies. Lowering standards would make them worth less.

<![CDATA[To Save Endangered Animals, We're Learning To See Them In The Dark]]> Tue, 03 Apr 2018 12:28:00 -0500
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We've seen the damage poaching can do. Illegally killing animals for their pelts or their ivory can wipe out whole species. Sudan the northern white rhino died recently as one of the last of his kind because poaching had devastated the rest of the population.

Scientists are helping fight this trend by learning to see in the dark. They're using heat-sensitive infrared cameras to track endangered species and the poachers who threaten them, even in the dead of night.

Researchers send drone cameras over wide areas and into hard-to-reach wilderness. They use software that was originally built for the delicate work of infrared astronomy to scan the footage for warm spots, which are either wild mammals or the humans hunting them.

They've taught their algorithm to automatically recognize animals. It can even spot animals that are hiding among cold plants. Now they're trying to get it to account for bad weather or hot backgrounds.

SEE MORE: The World's Last Male Northern White Rhino Dies

But it's already promising. For example, one species of African rabbit is so critically endangered that it's only been seen in the wild about 1,000 times. When researchers flew their animal detector over the rabbit's habitat, they made five new sightings.

Now they plan to use their drones to count orangutans and spider monkeys and, in what is sure to be a test of the software's abilities, river dolphins in the waterways of Brazil.

<![CDATA[New Research Suggests Legal Marijuana Could Curb The Opioid Epidemic]]> Tue, 03 Apr 2018 07:54:00 -0500
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New research suggests medical marijuana could help alleviate the opioid epidemic.

In two studies published Monday, researchers discovered states with some type of legal marijuana saw a decrease in opioid prescriptions.

Researchers say this indicates patients might be using marijuana to manage their pain instead of opioids.

As the authors of one study summed it up, "These findings further strengthen arguments in favor of considering medical applications of cannabis as one tool in the policy arsenal that can be used to diminish the harm of prescription opioids."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in more than 42,000 deaths in 2016.

<![CDATA[Chinese Space Station Re-enters Atmosphere Over Pacific Ocean]]> Mon, 02 Apr 2018 06:25:00 -0500
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China's space lab is officially no more. 

The U.S. military confirmed the space station re-entered Earth's atmosphere at exactly 8:16 p.m. Eastern time Sunday. Whatever debris didn't burn up upon re-entry landed in the Pacific Ocean. 

Tiangong-1 was the first space lab China put into orbit. But as Newsy previously reported, the station stopped responding to commands in 2016. So while scientists could estimate, they didn't know exactly when or where it would re-enter Earth's atmosphere. 

The spacecraft, which weighed more than 9 tons, is not the largest object launched by mankind to re-enter the atmosphere. 

That record is held by the Russian Mir space station, which officials successfully guided to its end over the Pacific Ocean back in 2001. It weighed roughly 140 tons. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN

<![CDATA[SpaceX Gets Federal Approval To Launch Satellite Internet Service]]> Fri, 30 Mar 2018 17:18:00 -0500
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Elon Musk's plan to launch a global satellite-based internet service took a major step forward Thursday.

The Federal Communications Commission approved SpaceX's plan to launch over 4,400 satellites into low-Earth orbit within the next nine years.

Those satellites will, at least in theory, bring high-speed internet to areas that lack broadband access. 

They also might have the additional benefit of funding SpaceX's ambitious plan to send people to Mars; a Wall Street Journal report last year shows the company expects to make roughly $30 billion from the service by 2025.

<![CDATA[Do People Change? A Look At Whether Personality Is Fixed Or Fixable]]> Fri, 30 Mar 2018 14:36:00 -0500
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Yes, we can change our personality slightly, but a large part of it is simply genetic. Newsy's Chance Seales talked to experts and dug into the research. 

<![CDATA[Psychedelics Show Promise In Treating Depression And Anxiety]]> Fri, 30 Mar 2018 14:35:00 -0500
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Drugs like mushrooms, LSD and ecstasy have long been associated with stoners and dropouts. But a new round of research shows they could be more beneficial than we once thought. Newsy's Chance Seales takes a look. 

SEE MORE: It's Not In Your Head — Psychedelics Are Making A Scientific Comeback

<![CDATA[Guinea Worm May Be The 2nd Human Disease To Be Completely Wiped Out]]> Fri, 30 Mar 2018 13:59:00 -0500
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Smallpox is the only human disease that's been completely wiped out, thanks to public health efforts that continue to this day. Guinea worm, a parasite that comes from drinking contaminated water, could soon be the second.

Just a few decades ago, guinea worms used to infect millions of people. But now, that number is down to a few dozen. The worm causes painful sores and can lead to complications if it dies inside someone. There's no cure. The only treatment is to pull the worm out slowly to avoid breaking it, which can take days or weeks because the worm can be 3 feet long.

But we could be close to getting rid of it. The Carter Center, a nonprofit founded by former President Jimmy Carter, recently announced that South Sudan, the country responsible for half of all guinea worm cases a few years ago, has now gone 15 months without a case.

SEE MORE: Measles Deaths Fell Below 100,000 For The First Time In 2016

That's a big milestone because 15 months is longer than the entire life cycle of the worm. Now, only Ethiopia and Chad have recently had active cases.

Dr. Donald Hopkins, who also worked to wipe out smallpox, helped kick-start the push against guinea worm for a big reason. For all the suffering it inflicts, the solution is simple: Give people clean drinking water — it's already a worldwide priority.

And if guinea worm is next in line for eradication, polio isn't far behind. There were only 118 cases in 2017.

<![CDATA[What Will Happen When The International Space Station Crashes]]> Fri, 30 Mar 2018 12:00:00 -0500
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You can think about the demise of China's first space station as a dress rehearsal for an even bigger show. At some point, the International Space Station is going to come out of orbit, too.

But unlike China with Tiangong-1, NASA should be able to decide where and when the ISS comes down. In an ideal scenario, Houston will still be in control of all the station's systems. The plan is to dock unmanned vehicles and use their engines to slow the station until it falls into the atmosphere.

There won't be any controlling the station once it starts disintegrating from re-entry, but if that first step goes right, mission planners can forecast a specific landing zone instead of the huge area of uncertainty Tiangong got. NASA hasn't committed to a spot yet, but it will be somewhere over open ocean so debris doesn't threaten anyone.

And there will be lots of debris — the most ever returned to Earth at once, in fact. It could be one of the most spectacular fireballs we ever get a chance to see.

SEE MORE: Why It's Hard To Know Where Or When China's Space Station Will Crash

That's because the ISS is the largest thing humans have ever built in space. It's as wide as a football field and weighs close to a million pounds. NASA expects a whole lot of it will survive the plunge and end up at the bottom of the ocean.

But it won't happen for a few more years, at least. Congress has funded ISS operations through 2024, and there's a good chance a commercial contractor could buy the station after that date. It doesn't necessarily have to come down until its parts start to wear out in 2028.

<![CDATA[Skip The Self-help — Research Says Your Personality Is Mostly Genetic]]> Wed, 28 Mar 2018 06:00:00 -0500
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What's in a personality? The possibilities really are endless.

Our unique array of traits stretches longer than the numerals of pi. Right? Sorry to burst your bubble, but you are way simpler than you think. 

There are just five core personality traits according to most research, and we all just have varying degrees of each. 

It's called the "Five-Factor Model," or OCEAN:

O: Openness to experience

C: Conscientiousness

E: Extroversion

A: Agreeableness 

N: Neuroticism

SEE MORE: Neuroforensics Is Turning Our Brains Into Legal Evidence

More about the "Big Five" in a moment. Let's briefly look at the history of how we got here:

Ancient Greece. Scholars like Hippocrates and Plato debated ideas like hot versus cold temperament, being artistic versus being sensible.

Jump ahead to 19th century: a debate about a possible link between the physical brain and personality. That was settled when an explosion blew a steel rod through construction worker Phineas Gage's head and his personality completely changed. 

Sigmund Freud and Karl Jung later highlighted the subconscious. Then, in the 1940's, Raymond Cattell came up with 16 "fundamental factors" of personality, which Lewis Goldberg later cut to five. 

That brings us to now. Renowned personality researchers Paul Costa and Robert McCrae validated the concept, and OCEAN was born. It is remarkably good at predicting relationship success, plus social, academic and professional circumstances.

Here's what the traits actually mean, plus some "fun facts" that come from Psychology Today:

Openness: Highly open people are amenable to unconventional ideas, even when they challenge existing views. People with low levels of openness are more suspicious of those ideas. Fun fact: Studies show that people high in openness are more likely to endorse liberalism.

Conscientiousness: The highly conscientious exhibit goal-oriented behavior, the lowly conscientious less motivation and less concern about tidiness and punctuality. Factoid: Studies show that marrying someone high in conscientiousness increases your chance of workplace success.

Extroversion: We all know these people. Outgoing, socially confident behavior. People with low levels of extroversion — introverts — are quieter and often feel shy around other people. They will often try to avoid demanding social gatherings, and they prefer smaller groups. Research shows men with the strong hand grips are likely to rank high in extroversion. That's not true for women.

Agreeableness: These people are friendly and cooperative and are often considered likable by their peers. People with low agreeableness are less concerned with pleasing others and making friends. You could probably guess — agreeable people have happier marriages.

Neuroticism: Highly neurotic people are prone to worry and emotional ups and downs. Those with low neuroticism are able to remain calm in stressful situations, viewing problems in proportion to their true importance. Neuroticism does have an upside, though: Studies find neurotic people are less likely to post things on Facebook that could be seen as controversial. They just post pictures instead. 

The five factors are believed to originate in your very DNA — about 40-60 percent of traits are heritable.

We can stretch ourselves and adapt to environments, of course. But Sour Sam is probably never going to be Sunny Sally. And Moderate Martha is never going to change the loosey-goosey world view of Liberal Linda.

<![CDATA[FDA Sued For Delaying Review Of Nicotine Products Appealing To Kids]]> Tue, 27 Mar 2018 16:44:00 -0500
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Public health groups have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for letting nicotine products that appeal to kids stay on the market without regulation. 

In 2016, the FDA was granted authority to regulate products like flavored cigars and e-cigarettes. Last year, the agency issued a timeline revision delaying the deadline for companies to submit their products for review. In the meantime, those products remained on the shelves.

The American Heart Association, the American Lung Association and others argue in the suit that children are being exposed to addictive and dangerous chemicals before necessary evaluations are complete.

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics shows 7 in 10 kids and teens who used tobacco reported having used flavored products. 

Last year, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced a plan to overhaul tobacco regulations, and he took a step earlier this month to reduce the level of nicotine in cigarettes to combat addiction.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.  

<![CDATA[Why It's Hard To Know Where Or When China's Space Station Will Crash]]> Tue, 27 Mar 2018 16:22:00 -0500
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Chinese space station Tiangong-1 is falling out of orbit, and even with just days to go, we still don't know exactly where or when it will happen.

Officials originally planned to de-orbit the satellite over the south Pacific Ocean, so any debris would fall in the water. But China lost contact with the station in 2016, meaning it lost any chance at guiding the station in. Now it's in an uncontrolled re-entry — at the mercy of gravity and Earth's atmosphere.

The air around Earth causes trouble for any satellite in a low orbit. The very upper reaches of the atmosphere are thin, but there are still enough air molecules to slow down spacecraft. Everything, from weather satellites to the International Space Station, has to regularly boost its altitude so it doesn't enter the atmosphere.

Since controllers can't get Tiangong to fire its engines, it's doomed — the air will slow it down more and more until it falls to Earth.

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

And if it's rolling or tumbling, the changing drag on the spacecraft will make it even harder to tell where it will land. All officials know for sure is it will fall somewhere in a band between 42.8 degrees north and south latitude — and they won't know exactly when to expect it until a few hours before it happens.

The good news is the station isn't large enough to be a significant threat. It's only about the size of a bus, and sky-watchers think most or all of it will burn up before any debris reaches the ground.

<![CDATA[Cover Your Head: China's First Space Lab Is About To Fall To Earth]]> Sun, 25 Mar 2018 13:55:00 -0500
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There are more than 500,000 pieces of debris in orbit above us. And sometimes that junk falls back to Earth.

For over a year, scientists have been trying to figure out when Chinese space lab Tiangong-1 is going to plummet back to its home planet. Now they think they know: They say it will likely re-enter our atmosphere around April 1.

Tiangong-1 was the first space lab China put into orbit. Scientists there hoped it would be a testament to man's future in space. But in 2016, the station stopped responding to commands. After that it was just a matter of time before it came crashing down.

But there's not much reason to worry. Tiangong-1 will almost completely burn up in our atmosphere, and what doesn't will most likely land in the ocean or on some desolate part of the planet.

<![CDATA[Almost Everywhere Researchers Look, Biodiversity Is In Decline]]> Sat, 24 Mar 2018 14:29:00 -0500
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A new international report warns the Earth and its inhabitants aren't in great shape.

The report examined four regions of the planet, and nearly everywhere researchers looked, non-human life was in decline.

And that's likely bad news for humans, too. In the Americas, for example, nature contributes an estimated $24 trillion per year in economic value in one form or another. But 65 percent of those contributions are in decline due to human-induced climate change. 

In Africa, lakes are likely to become less productive, and huge swaths of land are already estimated to be degraded because of pollution, erosion and exploitation of natural resources. Loss of coral reefs could harm tourism and food security in the region.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the report warns there could be no exploitable fish stocks by 2048 if fishing practices don't change. And in Europe and Central Asia, 42 percent of land-based species have been in decline over the last decade.

But the report's not all bad. The researchers cite multiple situations where human intervention has helped stabilize biodiversity and say there's a path forward for every region.

<![CDATA[The New Federal Budget Has A Bunch Of New Money For Science Research]]> Sat, 24 Mar 2018 11:24:00 -0500
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Scientific research is one of the big winners in the $1.3 trillion spending package President Donald Trump just signed.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science estimates that federally-funded research and development will increase 12.8 percent to almost $177 billion — the largest such increase since the economic stimulus bill in 2009.

The budget bill includes an extra $1.1 billion for NASA, preserving the agency's Earth science programs. And the National Institutes of Health is getting around $3 billion more than it had in 2017. That includes a $500 million boost for opioids abuse research and $414 million for Alzheimer's research.

SEE MORE: Why Trump Threatened To Veto A Massive Spending Bill

This is a far cry from the steep science budget cuts the Trump administration previously called for. But lawmakers agreed to hike domestic spending and ignore Trump's proposed cuts in exchange for a boost to military spending.

<![CDATA[CDC: Flu Activity Is Down, But The B Strain Virus Is Making Rounds]]> Fri, 23 Mar 2018 16:06:00 -0500
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Flu activity overall is dwindling across the United States, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns there's a different strain of the virus still circulating. 

Influenza B cases dominated the CDC's latest report, a strain the agency says can be more severe for children. Earlier in the flu season, influenza A H3N2 was more predominant, according to a CDC spokeswoman. While it's not unusual to see a second wave of the virus, experts won't know how severe it'll be until more data becomes available.  

In addition, five more flu-related pediatric deaths were reported, bringing the total number for the season to 133.  

The flu remains widespread in 17 states, which is why the CDC recommends a flu shot for people in those areas. It also cautions that it's possible to get sick with different strains of the virus in the same season.  

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.  

<![CDATA[Many Say '13 Reasons Why' Is Dangerous; Netflix Wants To Change That]]> Fri, 23 Mar 2018 13:36:00 -0500
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When it first came out in 2017, Netflix original "13 Reasons Why" ushered in a national conversation about the portrayals of suicide in the media. Much of that conversation was in opposition to the show's handling of sensitive topics.

It's still unclear the exact impacts — negative or positive — the show has on teens, but Netflix is hoping to address that.

Netflix announced Tuesday the show's sophomore season will play a message from its cast — one that warns viewers about its heavy subject matter — at the beginning of every episode.

And the streaming company's efforts go beyond the pre-episode message. In a Netflix-commissioned study by Northwestern University, many surveyed viewers said they wanted "13 Reasons Why" to offer more resources on the topics discussed on the show.

In response, Netflix created — a companion website full of resources about suicide prevention, mental health, bullying, substance abuse and sexual assault.

SEE MORE: Logic's VMA Spotlight On Suicide Hotlines Prompted More Calls

These efforts may ease some critics' worries, but for others, the issue with '13 Reasons Why' wasn't just the lack of warnings or resources. It was the show itself and its effect on vulnerable audiences.

In a briefing about the series, the International Association for Suicide Prevention said '13 Reasons Why' had "elements of glorifying and romanticizing suicide," but no positive solutions or means of intervention.

One particularly graphic scene was the main character's suicide. Although director Kyle Patrick Alvarez said he didn't want to romanticize it, research shows that detailed portrayals of suicide dramatically increase the risk of it, down to the same method portrayed on screen.

SEE MORE: Did '13 Reasons Why' Really Have An Effect On Teen Suicide?

Some parents have blamed the series for their teenage daughters' suicides, and some mental health professionals have seen a "significant uptick" in teen hospitalizations. But other viewers have said the show helped them open up about their own issues in life.

Experts from the National Association of School Psychologists stress that thoughtful conversations between kids, teens and adults is vital. For parents and school staff concerned about the effects of the show, the association says school psychologists and mental health professionals can help.

If you need to talk to someone about suicide prevention, contact these organizations:

— The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

— or text "HOME" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

<![CDATA[CrossFit, SoulCycle, FlyWheel: Fitness Brands Or Ready-Made Identity?]]> Fri, 23 Mar 2018 06:00:00 -0500
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A lot of people who sweat together feel they belong together, bound by connections deeper than spinning or Pilates.

A recent Atlantic story compares an evening fitness class to a religious service: "You know who will be leading the evening; you can anticipate the general contours of its energy. You know you will recognize familiar faces among the participating crowd."

This pitter-patter is sacred, somewhat spiritual — deep. But if I can just interrupt that divine flow for a moment, it's also the product of identity-driven marketing.

No matter the business — Frisbee or FlyWheel — it works this way

— Identify the specific audience or customer base you're going for

— Then engage with a targeted advertising and social media campaign

— Throw in a branded product or service to get free advertising in selfies

SEE MORE: Food Instagram Influencer Talks About The Business Side Of Social

You're on a roll. If successful, word not only spreads, but customers increasingly identify with the business and, since they have something in common, begin to identify with each other. 

Of course, certain personalities are predisposed to certain workouts and communities to begin with. The identity marketing strategy is especially successful at boutique gyms.

SoulCycle, for instance, has been credited with starting the boutique trend, laid out its half-social, half-spiritual strategy when it was considering going public: First, riders are led through an "inspirational, meditative fitness experience" in candle-lit rooms. "The experience is tribal. It is primal. And it is fun."

Second, fellow riders "feed off the group's shared energy." Riders show up early and socialize afterward. Third, the company maintains contact with riders across social media platforms.

And fourth, SoulCycle riders are identifiable in SoulCycle apparel.

This all seems to be working like a charm. Cycling, spinning, yoga, barre studios — they've opened in cities across the country, reports Vox, and now make up 35 percent of the U.S. exercise market, according to an industry group. The fitness biz overall generated $25.8 billion in 2015, that's up from $20.3 billion in 2010.

Much of that growth came from boutique facilities, which have continued to grow and grow despite stagnation in the overall market. Millennials are driving the growth. Many are abandoning $30-a-month gyms for trendy studios where a single session can run $30 — surrounded, of course, by their peers doing the same.

Identity-bolstering gyms are thriving. And the benefit to members is two-fold: community and cachet.

<![CDATA[Fentanyl Traffickers Could Face More Time Under New Bill]]> Thu, 22 Mar 2018 15:55:00 -0500
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GOP Senate leaders have introduced a bill that would scale up mandatory minimum sentencing for fentanyl trafficking.  

Calling fentanyl a "weapon of mass destruction," U.S. Sens. Tom Cotton and Lindsey Graham said the current sentencing guidelines for the drug are "inadequate." Federal mandatory minimums for fentanyl apply when 40 or more grams are trafficked — an amount that could be lethal for thousands of people. The legislation would lower that threshold for mandatory sentencing. It would also support the U.S. Postal Service in stopping shipments of the synthetic opioid. 

The move comes after President Donald Trump announced his intent to implement stricter punishments, including the death penalty, for major drug dealers, something Graham said he intends to explore for fentanyl traffickers.  

This week, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are introducing dozens of opioid-related bills, ranging from improving access to treatment programs to implementing opioid alternatives for pain management. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.  

<![CDATA[During Earth Hour, Consider Turning Off Idle Electronics]]> Thu, 22 Mar 2018 15:00:00 -0500
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If you're turning off your lights for Earth Hour on Saturday, consider also unplugging or powering down household appliances. Many of them consume energy, even when they're not in use.

The phenomenon is known as idle or standby power. Household devices and even appliances like washers are becoming more digital. But there's a cost. Researchers say these things use trace amounts of energy to keep their electronic displays and controls running.

The average U.S. household has about 65 devices, appliances or other electronics, and if they're all running, they use a lot of energy. Approximately a quarter of all U.S. household electricity consumption goes to devices in standby mode. That's the equivalent of $19 billion a year in utility bills.

SEE MORE: Earth Hour Doesn't Help The Earth Very Much

But experts say there are simple fixes, like recognizing which appliances or devices use standby energy and unplugging rarely used ones. Studies have shown the worst offenders tend to be cable boxes, along with laptops and their chargers.

Experts also say if you're using a bunch of devices together that all need separate plugs, like a TV and speakers, put them on the same power strip so the devices can be turned off with a single switch. And when it's time to replace larger household appliances, look for low-standby products.

<![CDATA[The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Has Even More Garbage Than We Thought]]> Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:41:00 -0500
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The world's biggest patch of ocean junk is bigger than anyone thought. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which floats somewhere between California and Hawaii, is now estimated to have around 87,000 tons of plastic — four times more than the next highest estimate. And it's growing faster and faster.

The Great Pacific patch is the most famous of the world's garbage patches, but there are many more. They form when strong currents surround an area of the ocean and collect all the plastic that floats by.

But it's hard to estimate how much junk a patch really has, so scientists sent out hundreds of trawling expeditions, which skimmed the top of the ocean for plastic. They also collected aerial images from research planes to help make their estimates.

SEE MORE: Ocean Plastic Could Triple By 2025

They learned a bit more about the Great Pacific patch, too. Microplastics, like small beads and crumbled pieces of bigger objects, have gotten a lot of blame for the debris problem. But the survey found larger objects account for the vast majority of the plastic weight — more than anyone realized.

The biggest contributor is fishing nets, which make up 46 percent of the total plastic weight in the patch. Beyond being a huge part of the garbage problem, these lost and discarded nets also entangle and kill untold numbers of ocean animals.

The research comes from an organization called The Ocean Cleanup, which intends to start skimming huge amounts of debris from the patch this summer. The group estimates it can clean up 50 percent of the patch's plastic in five years. 

<![CDATA[A Longtime AIDS Researcher Will Be The Next CDC Director]]> Thu, 22 Mar 2018 07:30:00 -0500
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A longtime AIDS researcher has been tapped to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that Dr. Robert Redfield will become the CDC's new director.

The position was left vacant in January after Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald resigned amid reports she purchased stock in a tobacco company while leading the agency.

Redfield is an infectious disease specialist with a focus on HIV and AIDS. He's also a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The CDC director position doesn't require Senate confirmation, so Redfield is expected to be sworn into his new position within a week.

<![CDATA[A Satellite Is Falling From Space, And No One Knows Where It Will Land]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2018 19:50:00 -0500
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There's a Chinese space lab in orbit up there in the cosmos that's about to fall back to Earth, and there's no telling where it will land. 

The Tiangong-1 was decommissioned in 2016. It was initially expected to fall back to the planet at the end of last year. Now the European Space Agency says it'll make its fiery return some time between March 30 and April 6.

But the thing is speeding around the world pretty fast, and that makes it tricky to tell where it will end up.

SEE MORE: NASA's Twins Study Confirms A Long Time In Space Can Change Your Genes

There's one very important disclaimer, though: The odds of debris from Tiangong-1 hitting you are about a million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot, according to The Aerospace Corporation.

Still, the fact that there are odds at all of space lab debris hitting you as it falls from the sky is ... not ideal. 

<![CDATA[Fossil Fuel Companies Are Going On The Record About Climate Change]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2018 16:10:00 -0500
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The cities of San Francisco and Oakland have sued fossil fuel producers for misleading the public about the effects of their greenhouse gas emissions. The case has broken new ground: This is one of the first times energy companies have gone on record about climate change. 

Judge William Alsup had lawyers from both sides brief him on the history and science of climate change to get the facts before making any precedent-setting decisions. Legal experts watching the case say companies like Exxon and Chevron have never gone into this much detail about the climate impacts of their activities.

Independent research traces a lot of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere back to fossil fuel producers. And these companies generally agree that climate change does threaten the environment. Exxon even invested in climate research that spelled this out back in the '80s.

SEE MORE: New York City Is Suing Major Oil Companies Over Climate Change

But watchdog groups claim most fossil fuel producers still don't do enough to prevent the damage they cause. The Union of Concerned Scientists says that instead, Exxon and others are inaccurate or inconsistent about the risks or even spread outright disinformation.

At the hearing, attorneys for fuel companies stressed that scientists haven't always been certain about how emissions affect the climate. They also pointed to reports that tie greenhouses gases to growth of the global economy and population rather than to the activities of specific firms.

So oil producers aren't changing their rhetoric on climate change much. But depending on how the case goes, they might still have to address its effects. If the judge sides with cities, BP, Exxon and others would have to pay for seawalls and other infrastructure to protect public property in coastal cities.

<![CDATA[A Robotic Fish Could Change How Humans Study Marine Life]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2018 13:01:00 -0500
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This robotic fish is actually a research tool that can help marine scientists get closer than ever to their subjects.

The presence of scientists and their equipment can send fish fleeing from their habitats. But this robofish is remote-controlled. So researchers can be almost 70 feet away, while onboard cameras show users what the bot sees in real time.

SEE MORE: Great Lakes Fish Are Being Exposed To Lots Of Antidepressants

The robot is so fish-like, it didn't disturb other animals in preliminary tests. It uses a motorized tail to swim and change direction, a water pump system to control buoyancy and sensors so it doesn't hit coral.

The robot's engineers say it's nimble enough to study vulnerable parts of the ocean — like coral reefs — without doing more damage. The team also wants to see if they can coordinate multiple robots to gather data at the same time.

<![CDATA[Ocean Plastic Could Triple By 2025]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:33:00 -0500
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Plastic in the ocean is predicted to triple by 2025 if present-day practices don't change.

A recent report from the U.K. Government Office for Science says about 70 percent of all litter in the ocean is plastic. The study says plastic doesn't decompose but instead breaks down into smaller pieces and ends up on beaches or in animals' digestive tracts.

And plastic isn't the only problem. The report lists chemical pollution, rising temperatures and rising sea levels as some of the biggest challenges for marine environments.

Researchers behind the report say a major part of fighting the threats is to increase awareness about the issue. And they say more work needs to be done to learn about the ocean and the affects of climate change.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN

<![CDATA[It's Not In Your Head — Psychedelics Are Making A Scientific Comeback]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2018 06:00:00 -0500
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No, you're not hallucinating. Psychedelics are back.

Not the 1960's hippy-dippy, mind-expanding, anything-goes Age of Aquarius psychedelics.

This time it's all scientific. New medical research points to promising treatment for psychiatric disorders, including depression — a disease the World Health Organization declared the leading cause of ill health worldwide.

More than 300 million people live with it, an increase of more than 18 percent in 10 years. In a way, psychedelics are going back to the future, before the '60s ever sullied the name.

SEE MORE: Trump Wants The Terminally Ill To Have Access To Experimental Drugs

There are three names to know if you want to understand psychedelics:

— Albert Hofmann, a Swiss pharmaceutical chemist who created LSD in 1938. 

— Dr. Humphry Osmond, an English psychiatrist who coined the term "psychedelic," which actually means "mind-manifesting," in 1957.

— Then, Dr. Timothy Leary, who started the Harvard Psilocybin Project in 1960 to study the effects of psilocybin, the active ingredient found in magic mushrooms. He was fired for giving students psychedelics in 1962, but he did go on to become an evangelist for the drugs.

Between 1953 and the early 1970's, the federal government, with taxpayer money, spent $4 million to pay for 116 studies of LSD and psilocybin involving more than 1,700 subjects.

The psychedelics were tested on people living with psychiatric disorders ranging from alcoholism to schizophrenia. The results were mostly positive and promising. They called for more research

But that came to a screeching halt. Psychedelics, especially LSD, developed a certain reputation as a counterculture drug. And President Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, which prohibited the use for most any purpose — including research of these drugs. Much of what had been learned faded from psychiatry. 

Now the FDA is clearing the way for new research under close supervision. There are trials for LSD, psilocybin, MDMA (aka ecstasy) and ayahuasca, a South American brew containing a hallucinogen known as DMT. 

Preliminary results are encouraging. Once again, the drugs appear to help with eating disorders, OCD and major depression, even in cases that didn't respond to traditional meds like Prozac.

How do psychedelics work? That's always a question. Well, think of your brain as a switchboard where the wires have been plugged in forever, and they never got a refresh. This changes that. Some of them might not even be working at this point. Psychedelics disconnect the wires, and give the switchboard — the brain — a break. Then the wires are reconnected, but in a different order that refreshes everything and gets it flowing.

The Verge reports that after a treatment, brain scans show there's more connectivity and integration in the brain, "suggesting that maybe psychedelics work by breaking down the old pattern and kickstarting the brain into a new one."

Brains might be getting a jumpstart in clinical trials, but national drug laws would need a hard reset before everyday patients could pursue this new-wave, old-school treatment. 

<![CDATA[The World's Last Male Northern White Rhino Dies]]> Tue, 20 Mar 2018 05:59:00 -0500
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The world's last male northern white rhino has died. 

The Kenyan conservancy taking care of the 45-year-old rhino, named Sudan, said he'd been sick recently and was being treated for "age-related complications" and "extensive skin wounds."

Doctors decided to euthanize Sudan Monday after his condition worsened. 

Sudan previously lived at a zoo in the Czech Republic before he was moved to Kenya in 2009 in an attempt to promote breeding within the species. 

Armed guards stationed around Sudan and his fellow rhinos protected them from poachers.

The northern white rhino is a subspecies of the white rhino. Now that Sudan is gone, all that is left of the subspecies are two females — his daughter and granddaughter. Scientists are hoping to use techniques like IVF treatments to save the rhinos from extinction.

<![CDATA[Trump Wants The Terminally Ill To Have Access To Experimental Drugs]]> Mon, 19 Mar 2018 17:47:00 -0500
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During an opioid policy speech Monday, President Donald Trump supported legislation that would allow terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs.  

The "Right to Try" legislation makes it easier to pursue treatment options that don't have full Food and Drug Administration approval. Speaking in New Hampshire, Trump told supporters, "We are going to get it approved."

It's not the first time the president has backed the concept. He urged the House to pass current "Right to Try" legislation during his State of the Union address. Last week, the bill failed to make it through the House but could be brought up for a vote again soon. A Senate version of the measure passed last year. 

"Right to Try" advocates say bypassing FDA regulation improves access for patients, while opponents argue removing the agency from the process eliminates patient protections.  

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN

<![CDATA[Spring Arrives Earlier Every Year, And It's Altering Whole Ecosystems]]> Mon, 19 Mar 2018 15:50:00 -0500
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Spring-like weather has been starting sooner these past few decades. Sunshine and warm afternoons might be a nice change after a long winter, but if the warmup arrives too soon, it can throw off whole ecosystems.

Plants and animals depend on the cyclical rhythm of seasons for survival. When it's bright and warm, they know it's time to reproduce, pollinate or wake up from hibernation. But researchers have watched climate change gradually push the start of spring weather earlier and earlier. By 2100, it could arrive about three weeks earlier than usual.

The early warming causes a host of problems for life on Earth. If plants flower or grow too early, for example, a late frost can damage or kill them.

Warming can prompt animals to start living in places they couldn't survive in before, which also makes it easier for invasive species like mosquitoes to spread. Sometimes, it even wakes up hibernating bears while researchers are trying to get into their caves to count them.

An early arrival of warmer temperatures causes trouble for humans, too. Pollen season is starting earlier and lasting longer. Food crops are at risk of blooming too early and getting frost damage, just like their wild cousins. And if the year's snow melts early, it creates dry conditions that contribute to larger wildfires.

What's more, these ecosystems are so connected that if a frost kills early-blooming plants, animals that pollinate and depend on them for food suddenly don't have what they need to thrive. If spring crops freeze, the country's farm economy can suffer.

SEE MORE: Scientists Finally Know How One Common Pesticide Is Harming Our Bees

There's no single fix for the problem. But there are ways we might make things easier for plants and animals in an ever-warming climate.

In California, conservationists rent land from farmers to give threatened birds a safe resting place while they migrate. Some scientists are thinking a step further and debating if it would be worthwhile to help animals migrate to new ranges they wouldn't go to naturally.

Researchers are experimenting with genetic modifications that make crops more resistant to freezing. And some scientists are planning for a worst-case scenario where climate change claims Earth's bees: They're building bee-like drones that can collect pollen from one flower and move it to the next.

<![CDATA[Trump's Opioid Plan Includes Death Penalty For Some Drug Dealers]]> Mon, 19 Mar 2018 06:14:00 -0500
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The Trump administration's plan to combat the opioid epidemic includes a call for the death penalty for some drug dealers. 

President Donald Trump is unveiling that plan Monday while he's in New Hampshire, which has one of the highest rates of opioid-related overdose deaths in the country. 

As Newsy previously reported, current law allows capital punishment in only a handful of drug-related cases: when someone is murdered or a law enforcement officer dies. The White House's plan wouldn't change that law, but officials didn't provide any specifics on when the death penalty could be used under it. 

Beyond the death penalty, Trump's proposal also includes slashing opioid prescriptions by one-third over the next three years and calling on Congress to pass legislation that would strengthen sentencing laws for drug traffickers. 

According to the most recent federal data, more than 64,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2016. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN

<![CDATA[Untapped: Life Without Safe Water In Martin County, Kentucky]]> Sun, 18 Mar 2018 23:00:00 -0500
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What would you do if you didn't have clean water for cooking, brushing your teeth or even washing your hands? Some residents of Martin County, Kentucky, say they've been living in this nightmare for almost two decades. Newsy delves into the problem, including how the county got into this mess and why it hasn't been able to get out of it.  

SEE MORE: Martin County Residents Stonewalled At Meeting About Unsafe Water

<![CDATA[Male Birth Control Pills Could Soon Be A Reality]]> Sun, 18 Mar 2018 14:04:00 -0500
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Male birth control pills could soon be a reality.

Researchers say they're testing a daily male contraceptive pill that works and has relatively minor side effects.

It's called dimethandrolone undecanoate. Early trials showed the men who took it had decreased levels of the hormones needed to produce sperm. And the side effects? Mild weight gain and slight decreases in good cholesterol.

Researchers said more studies still need to be done to see if the pill is effective in the long run.

Some other previous male birth control studies were cut short after men experienced side effects like depression.

<![CDATA[Scientists Discovered A New Type Of Aurora, And They Named It Steve]]> Sat, 17 Mar 2018 13:15:00 -0500
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There's a new type of aurora in town, and its name is STEVE. No, we're not kidding. 

STEVE — the purple aurora here — was identified with the help of a number of citizen scientists and a NASA-funded project called Aurorasaurus. They gave it the name "Steve" as a placeholder.

The aurora appears farther south and travels along different magnetic field lines than the typical aurora borealis. That's exciting news for scientists because it might help them understand a relatively understudied part of our atmosphere.

For those wondering about the name, it stands for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. Yeah ... we'd stick with STEVE, too.

<![CDATA[Trump, Military Experts Don't See Eye To Eye On Space Corps Proposal]]> Fri, 16 Mar 2018 16:30:00 -0500
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President Donald Trump recently proposed a new military branch that would deal with space-related operations, but defense experts say that's not feasible.

Trump and some U.S. representatives are pushing for a branch to strengthen the country's military presence in space. They say China and Russia are better equipped to conduct those operations and that the U.S. will lag behind unless it puts more resources in space defense.

In the past, the government has weighed proposals for a Space Corps as part of the U.S. Air Force, which has overseen the military's space operations since the 1950s. But top Air Force officials say Congress doesn't give them the funding they would need for such a project. 

SEE MORE: President Trump Wants To Create A 'Space Force' To Fight Space Wars

The U.S.' highest ranking military official also spoke out against the idea of a Space Corps. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said there'd be too many bureaucratic and cost-related challenges to make it a functional branch.

But pressure to create a military space branch is unlikely to let up. The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said he expects a Space Corps to exist in three to five years. Air Force officials haven't said whether that's possible.

<![CDATA[FEMA Scrubs Mentions Of Climate Change From Its Strategic Plan]]> Fri, 16 Mar 2018 12:38:00 -0500
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The Federal Emergency Management Agency has scrubbed all mention of climate change from its latest strategic plan.

FEMA, which coordinates government response to natural disasters like floods, wildfires and hurricanes, released the plan on Thursday. Unlike the previous Obama-era version, this document doesn't mention climate change, global warming or related terms. 

Outlets point to one passage that reads, "Disaster costs are expected to continue to increase due to rising natural hazard risk" but doesn't say what contributes to that increased risk. 

This isn't the only time a Trump-era federal agency has made a move like this. Last year, the White House dropped most mentions of climate change from its website, as did the Environmental Protection Agency.

<![CDATA[Rubio Wants An Extra Hour Of Daylight For The US, Or At Least For Fla.]]> Thu, 15 Mar 2018 18:33:00 -0500
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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is taking Florida's Sunshine Protection Act to the U.S. Senate.

It's a bill Florida lawmakers just passed to keep daylight saving time year-round. But even if signed by Gov. Rick Scott, it would still need congressional approval because the time change is federally mandated

That's why Rubio is proposing either making daylight saving time permanent across the country, or giving Florida permission to do so there. He said the time change is better for farmers, reduces traffic accidents and leads to healthier lifestyles.

Recent studies have shown the negative health effects of losing an hour of sleep. In 2016, Swedish researchers found the overall rate for stroke is 8 percent higher on the Monday and Tuesday after springing forward; the risks are higher for cancer victims and people ages 65 and older. Experts say while daylight saving time is a small change, disrupted sleep patterns are associated with an increased risk of stroke and other health-related issues

Currently, Hawaii and most of Arizona are exempt from the federal rule, staying on standard time all year.  

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN

<![CDATA[When's The Best Time For NASA To Open Its Last Lunar Samples?]]> Thu, 15 Mar 2018 12:07:00 -0500
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It's been nearly 50 years since humans last walked on the moon, but we could still learn new science from the lunar samples we brought back — if we decide to open them.

Apollo crews retrieved nine crates of lunar dirt and rock from six different sites on the moon. NASA keeps the one-of-a-kind collection in a special building at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where it's handled with care: only six of those crates have ever been opened. 

Studying the samples has already taught us a lot because rocks on the moon sit in a vacuum where there's no wind or rain to wear them down. This makes them great windows into the formation and history of the moon and much of the solar system.

The debate now is if scientists should open any of the other three, or leave them as pristine as possible until our scientific tools and methods are more advanced.

On the one hand, we only have so many uncontaminated samples left, and once they're used up, they're gone until we can go back to the moon for more.

But on the other hand, we are planning to go back. NASA, other national space programs and even some commercial ventures are considering a return to the moon. And the more we know about the raw materials there ahead of time, the more we might be able to use them.

SEE MORE: Manned Moon Missions Ended After Apollo 17 — That Was 45 Years Ago

Some experts think moon dust would be pretty capable concrete, for example, like radiation shielding for surface bases. We could sift oxygen out of lunar soil or mine it for exotic fuel for future fusion reactors.

Some researchers plan to make the case for opening at least one crate soon, while there are still Apollo-era scientists and engineers active in their fields. Their insight and experience might be harder to replace than any moon rock.

<![CDATA[These Cartoon Characters Are Helping Kids Cope With Cancer]]> Wed, 14 Mar 2018 17:12:00 -0500
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Cancer can be scary, especially for kids. It's estimated over 15,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S. Characters from the Imaginary Friend Society help kids deal with the emotional and medical strain of the disease.

"I hear that you may be feeling angry, too, and it's OK to feel that way," says one of the bear-like characters on video. 

These characters were brought life by the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and the ad agency RPA. They say the goal is to bring back a sense of normalcy for kids. The idea was inspired by several child cancer survivors who say imaginary friends helped them through their recovery. 

"They are experiencing pain, and a lot of parents tell us their kids feel a tremendous amount of anxiety. I think the kids and their parents feel afraid," says Kathy Riley, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation's national director of family support. In the organization's study, 70 percent of people surveyed mention a lack of cancer tools and resources for parents and children. Eighty-five percent of viewers report feeling less anxious and scared.

SEE MORE: A Change Of Diet Could Slow The Spread Of A Deadly Breast Cancer

"I think the videos bring kids into this world where you have these fuzzy, fun, creative friends who are talking about all these things you are going through in a very fun and entertaining way," Riley says. "It reduces the isolation for the kids, and it makes them feel normal."

Others say the videos can open difficult conversations. While the topics are serious — ranging from cancer 101, chemotherapy, losing hair, feeling sad and getting an MRI scan — characters don't lose a sense of humor.

The MRI video was animated by Roof Studio. Executive producer and co-founder of Roof Crystal Campbell says it's about finding that balance. 

"It doesn't feel like you're being talked down to," she said. "It's not super serious in a sense of being scary. You can have those, even those eye-twitching — it's the details that make it funny ... in the telling of it, but it doesn't take away from the seriousness of it." 

All 20 videos were created by various graphic houses and sound designers from around the world. 

SEE MORE: A California Lawsuit Wants Coffee Shops To Warn About Cancer

The videos are free to watch online on Imaginary Friend Society's website. They're also on TV and available on mobile devices in children's hospitals around the country, and they're currently being translated into various languages. And the group's work with this concept is far from over.

Jason Sperling from RPA describes the next step as a Snapchat-type filter or as augmented reality, where he says at its core, it's about communicating to children. He says Roof is developing "this rabbit character, and we actually started developing a tool where doctors and nurses could actually talk to patients as that character, so if they if they wanted to answer some difficult questions or connect with kids in a more meaningful way, that maybe using that motion-capture tool, they can do it."

"I think what the films do in a really magnificent way is that it's a tool for parents to use, and so it's something we can actually tangibly do for our kids that gives us back a little bit of the power and control that we've lost over our lives," Riley said. And she understands what some parents are going through: Her son had a brain tumor when he was a kid. He's a survivor.  

"The journey isn't all sad," she says. "It's sadness mixed with joy, and the strength of the kids is overwhelming. It's impressive."

<![CDATA[To Run A Mars Mission, NASA's Insight Lander Will Need Pi]]> Wed, 14 Mar 2018 14:00:00 -0500
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Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. And this deceptively simple bit of math is a critical tool for keeping our space probes running.

NASA's upcoming Mars lander Insight will need pi along every step of its journey. Mission planners use it to calculate everything from the fuel left in Insight's tanks, to the orbits of Earth and Mars, to the path Insight will take to get from one to the other.

Once it arrives, Insight will measure "Marsquakes." Its instruments are so precise it can detect seismic waves as they circle the planet. Its calculations — which include pi — will show exactly where and when these quakes happen.

SEE MORE: How Pi Helps Astronomers Locate Habitable Planets

And to talk to Earth, Insight will have to go through the circular radio dishes of the Deep Space Network. Thanks to pi, NASA knows the area of the signal versus the area of the receiver — so it can line them up and ensure messages from Mars get through loud and clear.

<![CDATA[Hawking Brought Profound Science To The Masses Like Few Others]]> Wed, 14 Mar 2018 13:55:00 -0500
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Stephen Hawking had an inspiring life story and an impressive scientific career. But he was such a beloved figure because he introduced the public to some of the biggest questions in science.

Hawking published more than a dozen popular science books over nearly 30 years. He also explained the nature of the universe in documentaries and cracked jokes in sitcoms.

Of course, there were science popularizers before Hawking: Researchers like Jane Goodall and Richard Dawkins changed the way we think about ourselves. Conservationists like Rachel Carson and Jacques Cousteau changed the way we think about our world. Even physicists like Richard Feynman helped introduce laymen to some of the stranger workings of the universe.

SEE MORE: What Stephen Hawking Doesn't Know, And What He Knows All Too Well

But Hawking's work addressed some of the most captivating questions, like the origin of the cosmos and the nature of time. And only a handful of scientists, like Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould, were as prolific as Hawking at teaching the public about difficult topics.

Now, there's no shortage of science popularizers. Physicists like Sean Carroll and Lisa Randall help unravel weird concepts like entropy and extra dimensions. And media fixtures like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku still keep the public informed about those big questions about the universe.

But we can credit Hawking with inspiring many of the current generation of scientists not just to do their research, but also to share it with the rest of us.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

<![CDATA[Stephen Hawking Dies At 76]]> Wed, 14 Mar 2018 00:25:00 -0500
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Stephen Hawking has died. He was 76.

Hawking's children announced the news early Wednesday morning local time.

Hawking was one of the most brilliant physicists of his time. During his career, he conducted groundbreaking research into general relativity and black holes.

Hawking also made headlines for some controversial statements about time travel being possible and artificial intelligence wiping out the human race.

He held the academic post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge from 1979 to 2009. The prestigious title has a distinguished history: Sir Isaac Newton had that gig from 1669-1702.

In 2009, then-President Barack Obama honored Hawking with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Hawking was also a best-selling author. One of his most well-known works, "A Brief History of Time," helped him become one of the most recognizable scientists in popular culture.

Doctors diagnosed Hawking with a motor neuron disease called ALS when he was 21.

The average life expectancy for people with ALS is three to five years after diagnosis. Hawking lived for more than 50 years with the disease.

Hawking's life was the basis of the 2014 film "The Theory of Everything." Actor Eddie Redmayne, who played Hawking, won an Oscar for best actor.

Hawking is survived by his three children and three grandchildren.

<![CDATA[This Roomba-Like Robot Could Change How Farmers Care For Crops]]> Tue, 13 Mar 2018 16:19:00 -0500
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The more farmers know about their land, the more efficient they can be about growing and harvesting crops. Collecting that information can be a long and strenuous process, but a new Roomba-like robot might streamline it.

TerraSentia is an autonomous farmhand that rolls through rows of crops to check on their health. It carries special sensors and cameras to show farmers how plants are doing in real time.

SEE MORE: Seed-Bombing Drones Could Be A Speedy Solution For Reforestation

It also comes with artificial intelligence software so farmers can "teach" their robot specific tasks, like health monitoring. The team behind TerraSentia is working on an algorithm it says will identify common diseases that can hurt crops.

Researchers are also developing an app that lets users control the robot with a computer and virtual-reality goggles. They'll be able to see everything the machine can, as well as other helpful information the bot knows, like which plants will give the best seeds for the next generation of crops.

And these helpful robots might be in fields sooner than you think. The research team will field-test 20 of the bots with major seed companies this spring. They might be available to commercial farmers in about three years and could cost around $5,000.

<![CDATA[When The Arctic Warms, Extreme US Weather Is More Frequent]]> Tue, 13 Mar 2018 11:08:00 -0500
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It's looking more and more like what happens in the Arctic Circle doesn't stay there. A new study is some of the best evidence yet. It says changes in the coldest regions of the world go hand in hand with more frequent extreme weather elsewhere.

Researchers combined 66 years of weather logs from U.S. cities with Arctic temperature records. They show a clear correlation: When the Arctic warms up, heavy snow and bitter cold in the eastern U.S. is as much as four times more likely.

The team can't offer conclusive proof of cause and effect — only that both things happen at the same time. But that's consistent with other evidence that suggests unusual Arctic activity contributes to the storms that bury us in snow.

This winter, some places inside the Arctic Circle in Greenland spent record time above freezing. Scientists know this warmer Arctic air destabilizes the jet stream — and when Arctic air is free to wander south, it leads to cold snaps in the U.S. or causes intense winter storms.

SEE MORE: Climate Change Is Causing A Lot Of Cold And Snow — For Now

And as temperatures in the Arctic climb, so does the risk of releasing greenhouse gases from the frozen ground. Climate change — and the severe weather it strengthens — could get even worse.

<![CDATA[Elon Musk Says Mars Rocket Will Launch Into Space Next Year]]> Mon, 12 Mar 2018 07:24:00 -0500
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Elon Musk's mission to Mars is ramping up. 

The founder and CEO of SpaceX announced the company is planning to send its Mars rocket on "short flights" into space in the first half of 2019. 

Last year, Musk said that rocket — known as the Big Falcon Rocket or BFR — would land on the red planet as early as 2022 and that it would be ready to send humans to Mars two years later. 

Musk has ambitions for his rocket that are a little closer to home, too. He predicted his Mars spacecraft will also be capable of flying people around the world in less than one hour

We probably should take Musk's 2019 "short flight" estimate with a grain of salt, though, as he's known for underestimating his timelines. 

For example, SpaceX finally launched its Falcon Heavy rocket last month — about five years after Musk said it was originally supposed to happen. 

<![CDATA[The CDC Isn't Sure Why Dentists Are Dying From A Specific Lung Disease]]> Sun, 11 Mar 2018 12:20:00 -0500
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating an unusual cluster of deaths related to a lung disease in dentists.

The disease is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. It can be treated but not cured. And for some reason, one Virginia treatment center found dentists and dental technicians sought treatment for the disease at a rate 23 times higher than the rest of the population.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis causes scarring in the lung tissue. That scarring gets worse as time goes on, and eventually the lungs can't take in enough oxygen.

Dentists and dental technicians are exposed to a lot of infectious agents, toxic substances and human bioproducts. But the CDC isn't really sure what's causing them to get the disease. 

<![CDATA[Martin County Residents Facing Water Rate Hike]]> Sat, 10 Mar 2018 14:37:06 -0600
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In order to fix the county's massive debt, officials are suggesting a water rate hike for Martin County. Resident's could see their water go up at least 50%. Right now, Martin County is in control of their own finances but could see a third party come in if progress is not made. 

<![CDATA[Martin County, Kentucky, Looks To Tackle Massive Debt]]> Sat, 10 Mar 2018 13:32:00 -0600
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Martin County officials met with the Kentucky Service Commission to discuss issues surrounding the county's water quality and failing water infrastructure. Officials say until the county pulls itself out of massive debt, not much can be done.

<![CDATA[How Dental Health Workers Are Filling Gaps In Tribal Dental Disparity]]> Fri, 09 Mar 2018 16:11:00 -0600
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Poor oral health disproportionately affects minorities and low-income populations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Alaska Natives generally have the poorest oral health of any racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. But in tribal lands, there is an attempt to fill those gaps.

American Indians and Alaska Natives, more than any other group, are twice as likely than the general U.S. population to have untreated tooth decay. American Indian and Alaska Native preschool children have the highest level of cavities; more than four times higher than white non-Hispanic children.

"Approximately 75 percent of Native American children start kindergarten with untreated dental decay, and there are options for that. There are some solutions for that, and there strategies that will impact an improvement in that percentage," said Jane Grover, director of the Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention at the American Dental Association.

SEE MORE: Debriefing 'Revolt': Why Native American Tribes Need Capital

One of those solutions is Community Dental Health Coordinators, trained experts who link the community with dental specialists. Most are tribal members who are trained to educate and promote good oral health.

Community Dental Health Coordinator Sonia Vandever said: "Compared to last year there's a big difference. Some of the kids teeth have gotten their fillings done; some of them have gotten better oral hygiene. The teachers remember to say, ‘Brush your teeth, do your circles.’ It really helps them, and the parents like that as well."

Education and access to dentists are factors in the lack of care. Indian Country Media reports "on the Colville Indian Reservation ... one dentist serves a population of 6,000." Other tribes have hired dental health aide therapists, who help alleviate some of the community's needs.

SEE MORE: Doctor's Dilemma: Confronting Racist Patients

"When my younger patients come in or any patient, I speak to them in Yup'ik," said dental health aide therapist Trisha Patton, "and that to me goes a long way, especially for someone like me who grew up in the village, being from the village. I feel like I have that opportunity to say: ‘I'm just like you. And I could be that advocate.'"

For children, baby teeth serve as guides for facial growth and speech development. They're also necessary for proper nutrition. For new moms, gum disease can affect a baby's development. Left untreated, tooth decay in adults can increase the risk of cancer and other studies have linked poor oral health with heart disease and strokes.

"Unfortunately, yes, we still struggle with this statistic," Grover said, "but we are making and seeing some key changes in communities where oral health is promoted and where we are working to provide dentists in these areas. And there are more dentists graduating now than ever before."

Dental health problems are not limited to American Indians and Alaska Natives. In 2016, some 74 million Americans didn't have dental coverage.

<![CDATA[The American Burger Of The Future Might Be Made With Mushrooms]]> Thu, 08 Mar 2018 17:22:00 -0600
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When it comes to classic American meals, the all-beef burger has been a cornerstone for decades. But as consumer tastes change and people look for healthier burgers, cooks are responding by giving beef a fungi face lift.

American burger eaters don't like vegetable-based patties because they usually don't have the taste or texture of the real thing. Fast-food companies like McDonald's have tried to add veggie and health-conscious burger options — like the McVeggie — but they never did well enough with consumers to stay on menus.

But public perception of veggie-infused burgers has changed in the past few years thanks to mushrooms. Those are a longstanding culinary companion to beef: The two have similar textures, and mushrooms have enough umami to give beef extra flavor.

SEE MORE: This Burger Is Eco-Friendly — But With The Taste You Know

Some consumers also seem to enjoy the taste of hybrid burgers as much as the real thing. In one study, researchers gave adults eight different samples with different levels of meat and mushrooms, as well as pure beef. Most respondents said their favorite sample was equal parts mushroom and beef.

Fast-food companies are willing to put these mushroom hybrid burgers on their menus. Sonic Drive-In's blended burger did so well in test markets, the chain rolled it out to other locations.

The blend might also please environmentalists. Americans eat about 10 billion burgers each year. But researchers say if we replace 30 percent of the beef with mushrooms, it would have the same effect on greenhouse gases as taking 2.3 million cars off the road.

<![CDATA[Fake News On Twitter Spreads Farther And Faster Than Truth]]> Thu, 08 Mar 2018 16:27:00 -0600
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Facebook has gotten most of the blame for the spread of fake news, but now it's Twitter's turn. A new study shows Twitter users are way more likely to hit the retweet button on stories that are outright false.

Researchers at MIT got access to Twitter's full history going back to 2006. The team analyzed about 126,000 examples of viral stories that were either verifiably true or false and found the false stories outperformed the real ones in every possible way.

False stories were 70 percent more likely to be retweeted and spread at least six times as fast. Tens of thousands of people routinely saw them, while true stories rarely broke 1,000.

SEE MORE: Facebook Is Getting Rid Of Its 'Fake News' Flags

The study also found you couldn't blame the spread of false information on bot networks or on a few troublemakers with large followings. Instead, fake news was more likely to go truly viral, spreading organically among real Twitter users.

I'm sure you've heard some of the old sayings about lies traveling faster than the truth, but now you know by how much.

One other finding: Fake political news was easily Twitter's worst offender, spreading farther and faster than even other kinds of fake news, let alone the truth. They also found fake news is becoming more prevalent and spikes around U.S. presidential elections.

<![CDATA[Congressman Dana Rohrabacher Is Very Worried About Surprise Asteroids]]> Wed, 07 Mar 2018 16:57:00 -0600
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At NASA's recent budget hearing, during talk of moon missions and telescope funding, U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California brought up the risks of asteroid impacts.

"There's a big threat to these kids. There's a big threat to the people of the world. ... And that is at any time, there could be an asteroid or a near-Earth object that could come and wipe out half the world if not the entire planet," Rohrabacher said. "That is not something that's likely to happen. But it could happen. And if it does happen, it'll mean your entire generation is wiped out."

Planet-killers almost never strike Earth, but there is always some risk. For every nine space rocks we know about, there's one we don't. The good news is asteroid detection technology is getting better.

NASA's aptly named Planetary Defense Coordination Office watches for nearby asteroids with a whole network of ground- and space-based telescopes. It's tracked down most of the near-Earth asteroids larger than 1 kilometer, and it also knows where most of the smaller ones are.

SEE MORE: Asteroid Day Reminds Us We Haven't Found All The Nearby Space Rocks

"We've increased the budget to do more observations," said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot. "We've also funded a mission called DART, which is going to be a mission that goes out and determines whether we can deflect an asteroid or not."

The European Space Agency is designing a joint mission to measure how well NASA's deflection test works. And the United Nations supports a global effort to track potential threats and help governments plan a response in case a large asteroid does hit Earth.

<![CDATA[VA Report Says Failures Put Patients At Risk At D.C. Hospital]]> Wed, 07 Mar 2018 12:25:00 -0600
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The Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general says "a series of systemic and programmatic failures" at a major veterans hospital put patients at risk.

In a report released Wednesday, the inspector general detailed staffing issues, communication breakdowns and unnecessary spending at the VA hospital in Washington, D.C.

The investigation uncovered that officials spent at least $92 million on overpriced medical supplies, left patient health records sitting in unsecured boxes and would even anesthetize patients before realizing their surgery would need to be rescheduled because the equipment wasn't available.

The report calls out VA officials, saying at least three program offices knew about "serious, persistent deficiencies" at the hospital. But VA Secretary David Shulkin said he doesn't remember senior leaders notifying him about the problems while he was the undersecretary of health.

The inspector general didn't find any patient harm but said that was mostly because health care providers thought quickly on their feet.

The VA said it's accepted all 40 recommendations in the report. Those suggestions focus on how to improve hospital conditions in D.C. and at other VA facilities.

<![CDATA[CDC Reports ER Visits For Opioid Overdoses Just Jumped 30 Percent]]> Tue, 06 Mar 2018 20:08:00 -0600
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Emergency room visits for opioid overdoses jumped about 30 percent in the U.S. in just over a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A report out Tuesday says the jump took place between July 2016 and September 2017.

And that 30 percent figure is just an average; the Midwest saw an increase of closer to 70 percent.

The report didn't offer an explanation as to why that region was so heavily affected. But a report by NPR suggested the availability of highly potent drugs like fentanyl may have had an impact on the number of overdoses there.

Rising opioid overdose deaths have been linked to a falling U.S. life expectancy — it dropped in 2015 and again in 2016.

<![CDATA[Neuroforensics Is Turning Our Brains Into Legal Evidence]]> Tue, 06 Mar 2018 17:23:00 -0600
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A person's mental state is already an important part of a legal defense. Now, scientists are meeting to discuss the implications of going even deeper for evidence: to the structure and workings of the brain itself.

In recent years, neuroscience — the study of the physical chemistry and activity of the brain — has advanced by leaps and bounds and worked its way further into the courtroom.

More and more often, judges and juries are asked to consider brain scans as they deliberate or come to verdicts. For example, could past head trauma contribute to violent behavior? If brain activity shows obvious pain, is that enough to collect damages or disability?

"There is an area of the brain ... called the amygdala, that has something to do with aggression," said Stanford University professor Robert Sapolsky. "You get a brain tumor there, and in a number of cases, you get someone who is uncontrollably violent. This has also been used successfully in a court of law."

"This tiny little sliver of the universe of cases in which judges discuss neuroscience is increasing," said Nita Farahany, professor of law and philosophy at Duke University. "Judges are talking about it in more opinions. And they're talking about it in much greater detail and depth."

SEE MORE: The Challenge And Promise Of Linking Our Brains To Computers

But for all its recent progress, researchers warn "neuroforensics" is still sometimes crude — and still just one tool in the legal process.

"Information decoded from the brain is not necessarily any more reliable than just taking testimony from a person," said Jack Gallant, cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley.

Scientists say the field will need more study and testing if it's used as evidence more often. One goal is to start working toward standards for introducing neurological evidence in court.

<![CDATA[Study: Kids' Opioid-related Hospitalizations Have Skyrocketed]]> Mon, 05 Mar 2018 20:53:00 -0600
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A new study published in the journal Pediatrics found the number of children hospitalized in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for ingesting opioids has almost doubled since 2004.

It looked at patients ages 1 to 17 admitted with opioid-related diagnoses between 2004 and 2015.

Researchers say many of the children likely overdosed on painkillers prescribed to their parents or family members.

In children under 6, the study's youngest group, methadone accounted for 20 percent of opioid ingestions. 

<![CDATA[The Mental Health Toll Of Being Undocumented]]> Mon, 05 Mar 2018 13:04:00 -0600
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Egle Malinauskaite is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipient from Lithuania. Malinauskaite's parents brought Malinauskaite here illegally at the age of 6 to get away from Lithuania's then-economic instability. 

"That's why I'm here today, opening up about being undocumented and being someone who people don't assume is undocumented," Malinauskaite said.   

SEE MORE: Why This DACA Recipient Refuses To Be Called A 'Dreamer'

"I know that as a white undocumented person, I am not immediately the target of law enforcement or ICE, but knowing that people in my community are, and knowing that every time that I organize or fight back against this system, I'm putting myself more in a position to be targeted, it is scary," Malinauskaite said. 

Malinauskaite has been extremely vocal about the mental health cost immigrants pay for living in fear of deportation.   

"I was talking to people all over Illinois and every time I was in front of a group of people, I was sharing my story of being undocumented. What's to say that someone in the audience or someone in the general area could be an ICE agent, be friend with an ICE agent, and just like tip them off," Malinauskaite said.

"When I'm organizing or I'm at a protest and I'm surrounded by my comrades and by the people I know will be there for me, I feel safer. But, when I'm just living my life and kind of navigating the world and I'm alone, that's when the paranoia creeps in," Malinauskaite added.

Malinauskaite said the paranoia got out of hand last summer when news about ICE raids and deportations surged.

"I would be driving on the highway for example, and I'd be listening to the radio and I felt like the radio was singing to me and when I looked down the billboards and just like all around me, I thought I was getting messages that my life was in danger, that I was a danger to myself, maybe to other people and it terrified me, because I felt like I was being spoken to by some kind of force," Malinauskaite said. 

"And eventually, I was in a position to call an ambulance on myself because ... I mean, I had completely lost touch with reality. And I end up in this private hospital out in the suburbs and I'm in a nightgown. The security had to throw me down into a bed and pin me down and put a spit bag over my head and I had to be sedated. I was like singing Disney tunes and just yelling at the top of my lungs," Malinauskaite said.

"I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder and then PTSD and I was given medication. And I think I was happy that I could put a name to what I was experiencing. Since then, I've just been trying to be as honest with my experiences with people as possible because I know that mental health is so stigmatized," Malinauskaite said. 

While harsh immigration policies are not the only factors behind the distress that Malinauskaite and many undocumented immigrants live with, they can make things worse. 

"Many immigrants fled their country of origin due to traumatic events, experienced trauma on their journey here and then are resettled in communities with high rate of community violence and other sorts of traumatic experiences," said Rebecca Ford-Paz, the attending clinical child psychologist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. "So, to layer on socio-political rhetoric is just yet another level of trauma for them," she added.

"People need to know that policies are affecting people, that when we talk about travel ban, when we talk about building a wall and when we talk about deporting segments of our population, we're talking about our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and our family," Ford-Paz said.

SEE MORE: Who Would Trump's Wall Allegedly Prevent From Crossing The Border?

A recent Rice University study found that nearly a quarter of undocumented Mexican immigrants residing near the California–Mexico border are at risk of mental disorders, particularly depression, panic and anxiety. These numbers are considerably higher than those of the general U.S. population.  

The author of the study told the Pacific Standard that so-called Dreamers are especially vulnerable because of what she called "self-identity conflict." She said: "They understand that, regardless of having an education and mastering the language, and almost being like their U.S.-born counterparts, they are not. So they continue to be not second-class citizens, but third-class citizens. At some point, there's no hope for them." 

"We need to make sure that people know that it's not out of the ordinary to be experiencing distress in this climate. They don't have to continue to feel like they need to shoulder that burden on their own," Ford-Paz said. "And then simple things, letting people know that you are aware that this can be a stressful time and that you are safe person that they can talk to and being there to listened, labeling their emotions, validating their emotions and being careful not to dismiss their experience because their fear are real," she added. 

Malinauskaite said: "Within our own circle, we talk about mental health, we talk a lot about self-care and making sure that we do take time for ourselves and breath a bit. In most interviews with undocumented people, or like when we see us portrayed in the media, the conversation is always on the fact of 'are they human or deserving of rights?' I don't think that it ever even gets to the point of mental health." 

"This is why it's important to talk about this issue because it just further shows people that I'm not my citizenship status. I'm a complete, fully formed human with different experiences and different facets of myself and that includes mental health," Malinauskaite added. 

<![CDATA[Researchers Say There Might Actually Be 5 Types Of Diabetes]]> Sun, 04 Mar 2018 13:26:00 -0600
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Diabetes is normally split into two categories: Type 1 and Type 2. But a group of scientists from Sweden and Finland say diabetes is actually five separate diseases.

Each of the five proposed categories is genetically distinct. Their characteristics vary by the patient's age, weight, resistance to insulin, the amount of insulin they produce and whether their diabetes is caused by an autoimmune disorder.

The five new proposed classifications are: 

— Severe Autoimmune Diabetes, which is similar to Type 1 diabetes in that the body blocks insulin production.

— Severe Insulin-Deficient Diabetes, wherein a patient lacks insulin even though the disease isn't actually blocking its production.

— Severe Insulin-Resistant Diabetes, which is when the body doesn't respond normally to insulin. This category is usually associated with a higher body mass index.

— Mild Obesity-Related Diabetes, wherein the body hasn't formed an insulin resistance, but the patient is usually obese.

— Mild Age-Related Diabetes, which is basically the same as Obesity-Related Diabetes but found in patients significantly older than the other four types.

The new distinct categories could allow doctors to better treat patients who are more at risk for certain complications and lead to more tailored treatments for the disease.

<![CDATA[RAND Report On Guns Finds Policy Research Is Sorely Lacking]]> Fri, 02 Mar 2018 15:34:00 -0600
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The RAND Corporation, a policy think tank, has a new report out on what science has to say about gun control in America. But the report's conclusions are unsatisfying — basically: more research needed.

The report looked at policies like background checks, waiting periods and assault weapons bans, and tried to find research showing what effect those policies might have on things like violent crime, suicide deaths and mass shootings.

The results are pretty abysmal. The kinds of careful studies that are needed to test the policies' effects don't exist in most cases.

SEE MORE: Some Physicians Want Gun Violence Labeled A Public Health Issue

It's no mystery. Gun violence researchers point to the Dickey Amendment, Congress' long-standing rule preventing federal money from promoting gun control. The rule didn't ban research on guns outright, but it made funding so scarce that researchers shied away from the issue.

There's an ongoing push to get the amendment repealed. The report says allowing federal funding would help gun policies be based on solid research.

<![CDATA[A Lost 'Supercolony' Of Penguins Was Discovered In The Antarctic]]> Fri, 02 Mar 2018 14:29:00 -0600
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For years, scientists thought Adélie penguins — one of the most common species in the Antarctic Peninsula — faced a population decline. But with the help of some poop, researchers have found a huge new colony. 

In 2014, NASA researchers noticed an unusual amount of penguin droppings on the Danger Islands — a remote area that was not considered an important penguin habitat. The team wasn't sure how many penguins were there, so they set out to count them.

SEE MORE: King Penguins Might Need To Move Or Face Starvation

When the team got to the islands, they found thousands of penguins nesting at the landing site. And when they sent up a drone to take pictures, they were surprised to find more than 1.5 million penguins living there. 

Now, researchers think parts of the islands should be considered for protected areas. They say as climate change gets worse and melts parts of the Antarctic, the Danger Islands could become a critical penguin breeding ground. 

<![CDATA[NASA's James Webb Space Telescope Launch Might Be Delayed — Again]]> Fri, 02 Mar 2018 07:10:00 -0600
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Houston, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has a problem.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office found Webb's launch date will likely be delayed again, and that delay could put the project at risk of going over its $8 billion budget set by Congress. 

The telescope is supposed to be the successor to Hubble. But ongoing technical issues have pushed Webb's launch date back by several months.

NASA now plans to launch Webb in the spring of 2019. But GAO thinks that launch window is "likely unachievable" due to the amount of work still needed.

The telescope's managing board will reportedly meet soon and figure out if the spring 2019 deadline is still feasible.

<![CDATA[President Trump Wants To Crack Down On Drug Dealers And Drugmakers]]> Thu, 01 Mar 2018 17:20:00 -0600
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President Donald Trump made a surprise appearance at the White House opioid summit Thursday, announcing his administration will roll out an opioid policy "over the next three weeks." During his brief remarks, the president focused on the need for stricter criminal penalties for drug dealers and federal lawsuits against opioid manufacturers — something he said he's in talks with Attorney General Jeff Sessions about.  

The panel focused on three key components: treatment and recovery, law enforcement, and education and prevention. Audience members who have been directly affected by the epidemic got a chance to ask top Trump administration officials questions about how they're addressing our nation's drug issue.  

In an announcement earlier this week about a new opioid task force, the Department of Justice said it will file a statement of interest backing states and local entities in hundreds of lawsuits against drugmakers.  

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

<![CDATA[Cutting-Edge Weather Satellite Launches To Improve US Forecasting]]> Thu, 01 Mar 2018 16:22:00 -0600
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The better our weather-watching tools, the better we can predict what tomorrow's weather will be like. The latest satellite from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is going to take the West Coast up to the cutting edge of space-based forecasting.

GOES-S is the second of four planned satellites to upgrade NOAA's eyes in space with faster, more capable cameras. It will replace the oldest of the twin satellites that watch all the weather in the western hemisphere, from the Atlantic coast of Africa all the way to New Zealand.

Western wildfire monitoring will get a huge boost, especially in Alaska, where current satellites don't have much resolution. Meteorologists will also have a better picture of Pacific hurricanes and fog on the West Coast. And new lightning detectors will show in near-real time where and how storms gain their strength, which will lead to quicker flood and tornado warnings.

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

GOES-S launched under clear skies, which is a good sign for any weather satellite. Once it makes it into orbit, mission managers will deploy and test its instruments over the course of several months. 

It will start its official work in late 2018 — but as with GOES-16, we can expect to see fine visuals of the West Coast a few months before then as its cameras get warmed up.

<![CDATA[What Rhode Island Can Teach The US About Fighting The Opioid Crisis]]> Thu, 01 Mar 2018 16:06:00 -0600
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At the Trump administration's opioid summit, a White House team laid out several initiatives to boost funding for police fighting the epidemic. The administration has praised states like Rhode Island for success in addressing opioid deaths and wants others to follow that example.

Before and throughout the summit, the administration pushed for increased spending on drug enforcement. In the fiscal budget, the team said the border wall project and new tools to detect harmful drugs were "critical to impeding and denying the flow of illicit drugs into our country."

But some health researchers aren't convinced those policing efforts will help fight the crisis. When The New York Times asked public health experts how they'd spend the money, none pushed for a border wall, and just 3 percent said they'd give money to local police departments.

Instead, nearly half of those experts said funding should go to treatment efforts, especially for prisoners. While half of all inmates qualify for substance use disorder, most aren't treated for what put them in prison.

SEE MORE: New Budget Deal Includes Billions In Funding To Fight Opioid Crisis

The success of Rhode Island's program, a state Trump's own surgeon general praised, comes from a mix of enforcement and treatment. In 2016, the state started a one-of-a-kind program where inmates were screened for opioid use disorder and given medication for addiction treatment.

Researchers say the program is linked to a 61 percent decrease in post-incarceration opioid deaths. That translated to a 12 percent drop in overdose deaths for the entire state's population.

<![CDATA[Trees: The Original Social Network]]> Wed, 21 Feb 2018 17:25:55 -0600
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SEE MORE: How Do You Stop Deforestation? Pay People Not To Cut Down Trees

<![CDATA[The CDC Says A Salmonella Outbreak Might Be Linked To Kratom]]> Tue, 20 Feb 2018 20:17:00 -0600
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says products made from the kratom plant may have caused an outbreak of 28 salmonella infections in 20 states.

The kratom plant's leaves can be made into a tea, chewed, smoked or ingested in pill form. People often consume kratom not only for its stimulant effects, but also as a substitute for heroin or other drugs to treat opioid addiction.

Earlier this month the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration warned the public about using what it classifies as an herbal supplement, saying "there is no evidence to indicate that kratom is safe or effective for any medical use." In 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration tried but failed to classify the plant as a Schedule I Controlled Substance.

In the meantime, the CDC says because the source of salmonella contamination has not been identified, kratom should not be consumed in any form.

<![CDATA[Choosing A Low-Fat Vs. A Low-Carb Diet Doesn't Seem To Matter]]> Tue, 20 Feb 2018 16:08:00 -0600
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The battle between low-fat and low-carb diets seems to be at a standstill. A string of studies have found that the average person fares about as well on one diet as they do on the other.

new study from Stanford had about 500 people commit to either a low-fat or low-carb diet for a year. At the end, both groups had lost about the same amount of weight, on average. That's similar to what other studies have found, but there's an interesting wrinkle. 

In diet studies, the average often doesn't tell the whole story. The group might have moderate weight loss, but the individuals in the group could see anything from extreme weight loss to weight gain. Researchers aren't sure why people react so differently, just that low-carb vs. low-fat doesn't explain it. 

So the new study tested a popular theory: that the difference comes down to a person's insulin response. Researchers gave everyone a glucose drink on an empty stomach and measured how their bodies reacted. For good measure, they also gave everyone a DNA test. 

The frustrating news is that neither explains why people's diet results are so varied. Insulin response and DNA don't seem to make a difference. 

The good news is that the Stanford team has plenty more data to analyze. They plan to look at whether a person's microbiome or gene expression finally solves the mystery. 

<![CDATA[Declining Vaccination Rates Part Of Big Measles Spikes Across Europe]]> Tue, 20 Feb 2018 11:51:00 -0600
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Europe hit a record-low number of measles cases in 2016; the World Health Organization recorded just over 5,200 cases of the disease. But a year later, measles cases have spiked to over 21,000 across the Continent.

Almost a third of the 53 countries in the European region saw large outbreaks of over 100 cases of measles in 2017. The largest outbreaks affected over 5,000 people each in Romania and Italy, and just under 5,000 in Ukraine. The disease ultimately killed 35 people in Europe last year.

SEE MORE: Measles Deaths Fell Below 100,000 For The First Time In 2016

WHO ascribes some of the larger measles outbreaks to an overall decline in vaccination rates. That's likely due in part to fears about the since-discredited link between vaccines and autism. Disruptions in vaccine supplies and low vaccination rates in marginalized communities also contributed to the outbreaks.

Europe was on track to becoming measles-free. Thirty-three countries have "eliminated" the disease by boasting high enough immunization rates to prevent it from spreading through the population for at least three years.

But even countries that declare victory over measles can still have immunization gaps and outbreaks. The U.S. eliminated measles in 2000 but saw 118 cases of the disease in 2017.

<![CDATA[A New Sheep-Human Hybrid Embryo Could Help Boost Organ Supplies]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 16:35:00 -0600
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Growing organs is something we associate with mad scientists — but it could soon become a part of modern medicine. In the latest advance, researchers have created the first embryo that's made of both sheep and human DNA.

Researchers used genetic editing tools to put human stem cells inside a sheep embryo. They found the embryos grew even though about one in every 10,000 cells in the embryo were human.

The experiment is striking because it shows how other animals could become organ incubators. Stem cells are unique because they can grow into just about any kind of cell. This procedure shows they might be used to grow human body parts — even if they're in a different species' embryo.

SEE MORE: Part-Pig, Part-Human Embryos Could Give Us Replacement Human Organs

But some scientists are concerned the method isn't ethical or practical. For this to work, researchers say at least 1 percent of an embryo's cells need to be human. But having that many human cells in an animal leaves a slim chance it could develop unnaturally human qualities, like altered intelligence.

But if scientists do figure out how to do this safely, it could save a lot of lives. On an average day, about 20 people waiting for an organ transplant die, while someone is added to a national transplant list every 10 minutes.