Newsy - Sci/Health The Latest Videos From <![CDATA[If We Ever Do Find Alien Life, Here's How It Might Happen]]> Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:33:00 -0500
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We still can't say for certain whether extraterrestrial life is out there. But if there is, don't expect a big flashy announcement. Instead, it's something we'll get more confident about as time goes on.

We see signals in space that could be of alien origin all the time. Researchers in Russia detected one 15 months ago, but it hasn't been repeated since. No one else picked it up then, either. So the scientific community is skeptical.

But that's how scientists operate. If a signal ever was detected that really did come from aliens, we probably wouldn't know for sure at first. Instead, scientists would study it for years and years, ruling out the other possibilities.

They're right to be cautious because of how significant the discovery of aliens would be. Look at how carefully scientists built a consensus on climate change — and they still haven't convinced everyone. Aliens would be even bigger news.

NASA, for example, is taking a slow and steady approach. Instead of looking for direct proof of life, it focuses the search on the supporting evidence and builds a case on that.

On Mars, NASA looks for organic molecules like the ones that make up life here on Earth. It hunts for exoplanets that could have liquid water.

Some researchers, meanwhile, focused their telescopes in case that signal from May 2015 repeats itself. One of the most important clues that a signal might be an intentional transmission is if it shows up more than once.

<![CDATA[Paws Off! Some People Are Apparently Using Their Pets' Antibiotics]]> Tue, 30 Aug 2016 12:51:00 -0500
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Apparently, some people are getting prescription medications from a pretty unusual source.

Their pets. Yes, according to a recent study, a small number of people are using their furry friends' meds.

Scientists stumbled across this odd information while conducting a survey about the prevalence of unprescribed antibiotic use.

Of the 400 people who responded, 5 percent admitted to using off-prescription antibiotics in the past year, and more than 25 percent said they planned to take them at some point in the future.

But things got weird when the participants revealed where they were getting these drugs.

Most of them came from pretty predictable sources: friends and family, leftover prescriptions and even from other countries.

But 4 percent of respondents reported getting antibiotics from their pets. And it wasn't even an option on the survey; they had to write it in.

One of the study's authors told CNN she empathizes with people who use their pets' medicines because the cost of the medication is just too much or they can't see a doctor.

But she doesn't recommend it. She told the outlet, "We metabolize things differently than animals do, and these drugs are formulated for animals."

And taking any antibiotic without a prescription could be a threat to the people around you, too.

Previous research has shown that those who use nonprescription antibiotics can become resistant to the drugs and susceptible to infections that were once treatable.

So the key takeaway here: Paws off your pets' antibiotics.

<![CDATA[Dogs Understand Language A LOT More Than We Give Them Credit For]]> Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:08:00 -0500
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You might have heard that dogs don't really care what you say to them as long as you sound excited. But they deserve more credit than that. 

Dogs know the difference between real words and neutral or nonsense words, and you need to say the right things while praising them if you really want them to feel rewarded. 

That's one finding from scientists in Hungary who are taking a peek inside the minds of our furry friends. 

Over the past few years, scientists around the world have started studying brain scans of dogs, watching which parts of the brain light up when the dog sees certain images or hears certain sounds. 

The research is all due to the fact that, with enough treats, you can train a dog to do just about anything — including wear medical headgear while lying perfectly still in a loud, cramped machine. 

The studies so far have shown how in tune with us dogs really are. For instance, one study found dogs' brains have a special way to process human faces, just like humans do. 

They understand language a lot like we do, too. In the new study, the dogs processed words and intonation in different parts of the brain and combined the two to get meaning. That's pretty much how humans do it. 

It makes sense, though, given that dogs have been hanging out with humans for tens of thousands of years. Along the way, they've learned all about keeping their humans happy. 

<![CDATA[SpaceX's Dream Of Reusable Rockets Is Becoming A Reality]]> Tue, 30 Aug 2016 11:04:00 -0500
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It's a new frontier for space –– commercially, at least. 

SpaceX has its first customer to reuse one of its rockets: Luxembourg-based satellite operator SES. 

SES is slated to send one of its telecommunications satellites into orbit this fall, using a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX that helped take cargo to the International Space Station earlier this year. 

SEE MORE: SpaceX And Boeing Are Officially Setting Up Shop On The ISS

Traditionally, rockets have been considered one-and-done sunk costs. But SpaceX has had reusable rockets on its mind since 2008

Last December, SpaceX landed its first rocket on land. This April, it accomplished the same feat at sea. That second rocket will be the craft SES uses in the historic relaunch. 

By developing a full fleet of reusable rockets, SpaceX estimates it will eventually cut launch costs by 30 percent

Savings like that could help SES gain the upper hand in emerging markets like Africa and Southeast Asia, which require bigger, more expensive satellites. 

The satellite SES aims to put into orbit this fall will be the company's first dedicated to Latin America

<![CDATA[Animal Activists Condemn University For Killing Dogs Used In Research]]> Tue, 30 Aug 2016 10:57:00 -0500
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An organization that seeks to end animal testing is calling out a group of university researchers for euthanizing six young Beagles after a study ended.

According to the study published in the journal Veterinary Ophthalmology, researchers at the University of Missouri sedated the beagles, wounded the dogs' corneas and then tested an experimental acid to see if it sped up the healing process of corneal ulcers.

The Beagle Freedom Project told the Riverfront Times the dogs shouldn't have been euthanized because the group would have found homes for them.

SEE MORE: Authorities Rescue 276 Dogs From A Home In New Jersey

The organization was in the process of suing the university on claims that it violated the state's open records law when it discovered the study.

Beagle Freedom Project was seeking records on the 179 animals that researchers used at the university. The school apparently responded by saying it would cost the animal rights group over $82,000 to produce those records.

The study concluded the acid didn't speed up the healing process. Beagle Freedom Project said the study was unnecessary since researchers themselves reportedly acknowledged the sample size was too small to "detect a clinically significant difference in healing rates."

A university statement provided to the Riverfront Times reads in part: "Without animal research, we would not be able to answer some of the most important medical questions. ... Veterinarians have provided vital information to physicians and veterinarians treating corneal injuries — which ultimately benefit other dogs, animals and humans, including many of our U.S. veterans who have sustained corneal injuries while defending our country."

<![CDATA[Twitter Says There's Something Fishy About Andrew Cuomo's Shark Photo]]> Mon, 29 Aug 2016 21:03:00 -0500
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo faced quite a bit of Twitter backlash after posing with the more than 150-pound thresher shark he caught off the coast of Long Island.

His brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, posted a photo of the fishing group on Instagram. 

SEE MORE: Culling Wild Animals Is Still A Controversial Subject

Twitter users were upset with the Cuomo brothers, saying the two fished a threatened species and should be ashamed of their actions.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, all three species of thresher sharks are considered vulnerable because of their declining populations, but they're not listed under the Endangered Species Act. 

To be listed as endangered species, the sharks would have to face a modification of their habitat, overuse due to commercial or educational reasons, an outbreak of disease or other factors affecting their survival.

The state of New York permits fishing for the common thresher shark — if the shark is at least 54 inches long. But catching the bigeye thresher is forbidden.

After reviewing the sharks' status several months ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration determined threshers were not at risk of extinction.

But that didn't seem to curb public opinion. In response to the controversy, a representative for Governor Cuomo told the New York Post, "This is an edible game fish that is indigenous to New York waters, and catching them is allowable under both state and federal regulations.”

In 2013, Governor Cuomo was heralded for his decision to ban the possession and sale of shark fins — a popular delicacy in New York's Chinatown.

<![CDATA[EpiPen Maker Hopes A Generic Version Will End The Pricing Controversy]]> Mon, 29 Aug 2016 10:05:00 -0500
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The maker of the EpiPen is hoping to end the surrounding controversy by offering a generic version of the life-saving drug. 

Pharmaceutical company Mylan announced Monday it will launch an alternative to the EpiPen at half the price. 

While the cost of two generic injectors of the emergency allergy drug will still be pricey at $300, Mylan has been facing severe criticism for the $600 price tag for a pair of EpiPens. 

SEE MORE: Mylan's EpiPen Discount Won't Help Everyone

That same number of EpiPens cost roughly $100 in 2008, but Mylan has had a virtual monopoly on the market. 

The company is assuring the public the generic version will be the same as the EpiPen in terms of how the drug is made and how the device is used. 

And Mylan is going to keep offering a $300 discount on EpiPens for families that qualify based on income. However, outside experts have said few families will benefit from that discount program. 

Some argue Mylan's nonbranded version isn't just a move to stop controversy, but to beat competitors to the punch. 

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries has been working on a generic substitute for EpiPens, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration won't allow that drug on the market until at least 2017

<![CDATA[Crew Members Return To Earth After Yearlong Mock Mars Mission]]> Sun, 28 Aug 2016 21:14:00 -0500
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Six people returned to Earth after a year on Mars ... kind of. 

The six crew members of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation program, or HI-SEAS, spent the past year living in total isolation on the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii. 

SEE MORE: Deep-Space Exploration Requires Habitats, And NASA's On It

The crew members lived inside a 1,200-square-foot dome and donned simulated space suits anytime they left the dome for outside research. Their communication with the mission support team was designed with a 20-minute delay to simulate the delay that would come with actually being on Mars. 

The primary goal of the year-long mission was to study the behavioral effects of being disconnected from Earth. 

The HI-SEAS crew's architect said, "The UH research going on up here is just super vital when it comes to picking crews, figuring out how people are going to actually work on different kinds of missions."

This is the fourth and longest HI-SEAS mission. The next two missions are scheduled for 2017 and 2018, and each one will be eight months long.  

<![CDATA[Zika Is Making Major Inroads Into Asia Via Singapore]]> Sun, 28 Aug 2016 16:36:00 -0500
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The Zika virus has gotten a foothold in Singapore, according to authorities in the country.

Health authorities said Sunday they've identified 41 locally transmitted cases of the virus. And so far, these cases in Singapore might be the biggest inroads the virus has made in Asia.

SEE MORE: A Travel Advisory Won't Stop Zika From Spreading

Authorities confirmed the first locally transmitted case on August 25. The first case of Zika brought into the country was identified back in May.

Cases of local transmissions have also been confirmed in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. 

The World Health Organization says the virus has also been detected — though not necessarily locally transmitted — in other parts of Southeast Asia. 

Most of those infected are foreign construction workers, none of whom recently traveled to areas affected by the virus, so authorities say all those infected must have contracted it from within the country. 

Zika isn't a new virus. It is transmitted by a type of mosquito called the Aedes aegypti, and cases of human infection have been reported since the 1950s.

The most recent outbreak began in Brazil last year, and since then the virus has been linked to microcephaly in infants. And 53 countries have reported first-time outbreaks.

SEE MORE: The FDA Is Now Recommending Zika Screening For All US Blood Donations

Since Singapore has a tropical climate, it's very vulnerable to diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and already has trouble with dengue fever — a disease transmitted by the same type of mosquito as Zika.

In a statement, the country's health ministry said it can't rule out the possibility of "further community transmission."

<![CDATA[NASA's Juno Just Got Its Closest Look Yet At Jupiter]]> Sun, 28 Aug 2016 06:55:00 -0500
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NASA's solar-powered probe just got an up-close look at Jupiter.

On Saturday, Juno made its closest pass yet at 2,600 miles above Jupiter's clouds. It sent back a detailed photo. More high-resolution photos are expected to be released in the coming weeks. 

SEE MORE: Deep-Space Exploration Requires Habitats, And NASA's On It

Juno made its way into Jupiter's orbit July 4, nearly five years after it launched. It sent back the first in-orbit photo of the gas planet July 10.

According to a post from NASA, Saturday was the first time all of Juno's instruments were up and running — and apparently things went as expected.

"Early post-flyby telemetry indicates that everything worked as planned and Juno is firing on all cylinders," Juno project manager Rick Nybakken said in a statement.

Juno's mission includes figuring out how Jupiter came to exist, how it has changed and mapping the planet's magnetic field.

We should be getting plenty more close views of Jupiter. Before its mission ends in February 2018, Juno is expected to make 35 more close flybys.

<![CDATA[What Makes Fentanyl So Dangerous?]]> Sat, 27 Aug 2016 16:39:00 -0500
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There's been a sharp upswing in fatal overdoses from the painkiller fentanyl in recent years, which the Drug Enforcement Administration says is thanks at least in part to how powerful it is.

A dose of the drug is about 100 times more potent than the same amount of morphine.

SEE MORE: Heroin Might Be The Most Addictive Drug, And It's A Growing Problem

Certain synthetic versions can be 10,000 times stronger. They're marketed as elephant tranquilizer — and now they're finding their way into recreational drugs in the Midwest.

Both fentanyl and morphine act on the same receptors in the brain as a sedative, to suppress pain and to slow down breathing. Like morphine, fentanyl is used to treat severe pain, sometimes during recovery from surgery. So what makes fentanyl so much worse?

It was designed in 1960 explicitly to act faster and be stronger than morphine.

This is thanks to its chemical structure. While morphine is hydrophilic, meaning it dissolves in water, fentanyl is lipophilic, meaning it dissolves in lipids and fats.

The blood-brain barrier naturally keeps out most hydrophilic molecules, but it lets in many lipophilic ones.

Fentanyl is more than 130 times more likely to enter the brain than morphine — so a similar dose can have a much more significant impact.

<![CDATA[A Note To Exotic-Pet Owners: Don't Let Your Pets Loose In The Wild]]> Sat, 27 Aug 2016 16:28:00 -0500
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In another round of things we didn't think we had to say out loud, a note to exotic-pet owners: Don't let your pets loose in the wild.

A herd of hippos formerly owned by the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar has been on the loose since his death in 1993.

SEE MORE: Culling Wild Animals Is Still A Controversial Subject

And over the past two decades, those hippos have multiplied and become an invasive species in northern Colombia.

Escobar, who has an entire Netflix series based off his life, was known for his exotic pets. Aside from hippos, the kingpin reportedly kept giraffes, elephants and ostriches at his compound.

But hippos aren't native to this part of Colombia. In fact, they're not native to South America at all.

And if the herd isn't controlled soon, authorities fear the animals could pose a threat to people and native ecosystems.

If we move north on the globe, the problem of invasive animals doesn't get any better. Florida has had problems with several species invading the state — and no, we're not talking about pythons.

Capybaras, which basically look like overgrown guinea pigs, have found their way from South America to northern Florida. They're legal to own as pets, but it appears people are setting them free.

And those massive rodents eat a lot of plants, which isn't great for vegetation in the area they've inhabited. Granted, the animals  aren't considered an invasive species yet, but they're well on their way.

And if oversized guinea pigs aren't bad enough, Florida is also battling parasite-carrying giant African snails.

So, from the Asian carp to zebra mussels and the European starling, it appears we're already dealing with a lot of animals that shouldn't be around. Maybe keep the hippos penned up next time.

<![CDATA[Soft Robots Could Make Human Interactions With Robots Safer]]> Fri, 26 Aug 2016 21:49:00 -0500
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Soft things are cute. Soft things are also fun to touch. And that's part of the reason why you should care about this soft octopus robot.

According to a study in the journal Nature, soft robots could even make human interactions with robots safer than with more conventional "rigid" robots.

SEE MORE: The Next Step In Crime Fighting: Robot Security Guards

The autonomous robot is "the first self-contained robot made exclusively of soft, flexible parts."

It's powered by gas. Harvard University explains it this way: "A reaction inside the bot transforms a small amount of liquid fuel (hydrogen peroxide) into a large amount of gas, which flows into the octobot’s arms and inflates them like a balloon."

The octopus was also the inspiration for another soft robot introduced this year. That wiggly robot was modeled after the flexible, color-changing skin of the animals.

And the flexible technology of both of these bots could mean big advances in health care. The soft, untethered technology of the most recent octobot could come in handy during surgeries.  

<![CDATA[Culling Wild Animals Is Still A Controversial Subject]]> Fri, 26 Aug 2016 16:04:00 -0500
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Wildlife officials in Washington state plan to cull some 10 percent of its gray wolf population after a pack started preying on local livestock.

This is a controversial decision. The wolves are already endangered in Washington — there are only about 90 in the state — but in this case, officials have a dilemma: killing a few wolves is the only way to preserve public support for conserving the rest of them.

SEE MORE: A Majority Of The World's Largest Animals Could Be Extinct By 2100

They say if livestock owners don't see anything done to address the problem, "their willingness to do any kind of collaborative, positive work with the agency and to use nonlethal tools evaporates."

Wildlife culls are a hot debate between experts, conservationists and activists, and there isn't one right answer.

There's research that suggests when states cull wolves, populations decline even more than expected — thanks to increased poaching.

In other cases, culls can rebalance populations. When mountain lions started preying on an endangered sheep species in New Mexico, agencies culled the cats, and the sheep recovered.

And sometimes, authorities have little choice. They culled more than 20 grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park last year for conflicting with humans or livestock. If they kill humans — as they did in 2011 and 2015 — the public expects park officials to take action. 

<![CDATA[The FDA Is Now Recommending Zika Screening For All US Blood Donations]]> Fri, 26 Aug 2016 13:17:00 -0500
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The Food and Drug Administration now recommends that all blood donations in the U.S. be screened for the Zika virus.

The FDA previously advised screening only in areas with active Zika transmission, like parts of Florida and throughout Puerto Rico.

But the agency's acting chief scientist said in a statement Friday, "As new scientific and epidemiological information regarding Zika virus has become available, it's clear that additional precautionary measures are necessary."

SEE MORE: A Travel Advisory Won't Stop Zika From Spreading

Blood centers already test for other bloodborne viruses, such as HIV and hepatitis.

The FDA urged centers in 11 states to start following the new recommendations as soon as possible and no later than four weeks after the announcement.

These states are in close proximity to places where Zika is actively spreading or where there's been a significant number of cases contracted through travel or sexual contact.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2,500 cases of Zika have been reported in U.S. states and D.C., and more than 9,000 have been reported in U.S. territories.

FDA officials say blood collection sites in Puerto Rico and parts of Florida are already testing for Zika. Several blood centers have started screening for the virus voluntarily, including several in Texas.

<![CDATA[Baltimore Has An Illicit-Drug Problem ... In Its Streams]]> Fri, 26 Aug 2016 11:05:00 -0500
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Baltimore's streams might have illicit drugs running through the waters — we're talking stuff like amphetamines.

Researchers sampled six stream sites, both rural and urban, over three weeks in Baltimore. The team wanted to know how illicit and pharmaceutical drugs affect underwater ecosystems.

SEE MORE: DOJ Finds Baltimore Police Dept. Has History Of Violating Civil Rights

One of the researchers notes those drugs enter the environment through "human consumption and excretion, manufacturing processes, or improper disposal."

High levels of amphetamines and other compounds were found in the streams. And it turns out hardcore drugs are just as bad for fish as they are for humans.

The drugs actually suppressed the levels of biofilm in specific areas of the streams. Less biofilm — what we know as algae and fungi — means less food for animals higher up on the food chain.

To find a more concrete correlation, the team created an artificial ecosystem in a lab. They exposed plants, rocks and other elements to the same levels of amphetamines found in the urban streams.

And in a span of only three weeks, the artificial stream showed signs of change. Like with the natural stream, biofilm didn't grow at the normal rate, and bugs showed up sooner.

Amphetamines are used to treat conditions like attention deficit disorder and obesity. But other stimulants similar to those are also found in ecstasy, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Baltimore isn't the only place with contaminated water concerns. Just last month, reports surfaced that a Colorado town's water supply was contaminated with THC — a chemical found in marijuana. Those reports, however, turned out to be false.

<![CDATA[President Obama Announces Creation Of Largest Marine Conservation Area]]> Fri, 26 Aug 2016 09:24:00 -0500
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President Barack Obama is creating the largest marine conservation area on Earth off the coast of Hawaii.

The commander in chief announced an expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument on Thursday.

The national monument was originally just under 140,000 square miles. Now, it will cover more than 582,000 square miles of sea and land. 

SEE MORE: Swimming With Dolphins In The Wild Could Soon Be Banned In Hawaii

Several former presidents have made efforts to protect the archipelago. Theodore Roosevelt placed the area under control of the U.S. Navy in 1903. And in 2006, George W. Bush established the area as a national monument.

But in recent months, the reserve has been a topic of debate.

Not only is the area home to an estimated 7,000 species — a quarter of which are found exclusively in this area of the Pacific — it also has historical and sacred value to Hawaiians.

But climate change, commercial overfishing and other external factors have caused the area's health to decline.

Now drilling, commercial fishing and deep-sea mining will be banned in the area. Recreational fishing and scientific research will reportedly still be allowed.

<![CDATA[A Lot Of Our Space Knowledge Comes From A Bunch Of Antiques]]> Thu, 25 Aug 2016 15:53:00 -0500
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A lot of NASA's active fleet is getting kind of old. These space probes take years to design and launch, and the trips to their destinations can be even longer.

They don't have to have cutting-edge technology to do good science, which is lucky because some of the newest information we have about the universe comes from spacecraft old enough to have a midlife crisis.

New Horizons launched in 2006 and didn't reach Pluto for its flyby until July of 2015, almost a decade later. It gets all of its science images from a 1-megapixel camera.

Cassini launched in 1997. It's still running in orbit around Saturn. It sends signals almost 900 million miles home using antennas about a fifth as powerful as a cellphone tower.

The Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1990, and even after a couple upgrades it has way less computing power than your cellphone. We're only just now preparing to get its successor off the ground. 

And we're still getting totally new data back from the 8-track tapes aboard Voyager 1. It launched in 1977; now, it's collecting data from interstellar space — 39 years later.

<![CDATA[Mylan's EpiPen Discount Won't Help Everyone]]> Thu, 25 Aug 2016 14:02:00 -0500
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After facing a ton of backlash this week, drugmaker Mylan has agreed to offer discounts to patients who use its EpiPens.

"As a mother, I can assure you, the last thing that we would ever want is no one to have their EpiPen due to price. Our response has been to take that immediate action of making sure everyone has an EpiPen," Mylan CEO Heather Bresch told CNBC.

The company announced in a statement Thursday it will offer a savings card that will cover up to $300 of the EpiPen 2-Pak for "patients who are facing the burden of higher out-of-pocket costs."

The list price of that drug can set patients back as much as $600, up from about $60 in 2007.

Mylan says its savings card will cut that price in half for commercially insured patients who are currently paying the full list price.

But some experts say the cards won't solve the bigger problem at hand.

A professor at Harvard Medical School told The Washington Post, "These don't actually do anything about the price itself, because the high price is still being paid by the insurer, which then ends up being reflected in increasing premiums. This is not a public health solution."

Plus, many people won't be able to get the EpiPen discount. The savings cards can't be used by anyone who doesn't have insurance.

And the same goes for people who use government health care programs. Discounts from companies are considered "kickbacks" that leave the federal government with the rest of the bill.

As U.S Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland said Thursday, "Mylan should not offer after-the-fact discounts only for a select few — it should reverse its massive price increases across the board immediately."

It's unclear how the EpiPen savings cards will be given to customers or if there's a time limit on how long they can be used.

<![CDATA[What We'll Never Know About The Study In Which Black Deaths Mattered]]> Thu, 25 Aug 2016 12:54:00 -0500
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For 40 years, the U.S. government-operated Public Health Service conducted what was known as the Tuskegee syphilis study — one of the darkest chapters in American history. Now, over 40 years after the study ended, we still don't know — and might never know — the full extent of its effects.

"We have no idea how many wives, girlfriends, children inherited the disease and also died or were forever crippled by its effects," former Associated Press reporter Jean Heller said. 

And the study might have continued if not for a 1972 article from Heller.

"Everyone who knew about this and didn't blow the whistle — that didn't shout to high heaven that this is wrong — is culpable in my opinion," Heller said. 

Syphilis was considered a national health crisis in the early 20th century, and many doctors at the time thought syphilis and other medical complications were affected by race.

SEE MORE: Both Black And White Americans Believe There Is Widespread Racism

To study the disease, researchers found a population of poor, black, syphilitic sharecroppers in and around Tuskegee, Alabama, during the Great Depression. Nearly 400 of the participants had syphilis while another 200 — the control group — did not. 

"They just went to doctoring on us and said they were going to treat us. They just said, 'bad blood,'" survivor Charlie Pollard said.  

"Here are American medical doctors who singled out a population of several hundred human beings that they could've treated for their disease," Heller said. 

In the end, as many as 100 men died from complications related to untreated syphilis, and the message was very clear: black deaths mattered.

"Medical doctors ... deliberately let them die — wanted them to die for what they could discover from their bodies later," Heller said. 

Heller said she was 23 years old when she first learned about the Tuskegee study and knew that her story would be "explosive."

"After the story broke, there was this incredible public outcry. Sen. [Edward] Kennedy had held very public congressional hearings on this. There was a riot at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Their own employees rioted, and the secretary shut this program down the same day," Heller said. 

The study and the aftermath are well-documented in films and books. But there are still things we might never know. And for Heller, that goes back to the very beginning. 

"I still have not heard the answer to the very simple question of why. Why did anybody approve this study?" 

The Tuskegee study was meant to build off a related study done in Oslo, Norway, where researchers retrospectively examined the medical records of whites with untreated cases of syphilis. 

No black people were involved in the initial study. According to one researcher, that made the population of syphilitic men in Tuskegee a "ready-made situation."

SEE MORE: Chinese Scientists Will Be First To Use CRISPR Gene Editing On Humans

"They should've been able to determine after the first three or four autopsies that the inside of a black person ravaged by syphilis looks identical to the inside of a white person or a yellow person or a brown person ravaged by syphilis and stopped the study," Heller said.

Beyond that, Heller believes there's no way to know just how many people were directly or adjacently affected by the study or its disclosure.

Survivors, victims of the study and their families won a $10 million settlement from the U.S. government, and the study's disclosure led to modern medical ethics procedures. 

But Heller says 40 years later, there's still at least one lesson to be learned from the Tuskegee syphilis study.

"The only thing we can do about it is those of us who recognize that this country's got so far to go: Never quit fighting," she said. "Never quit standing up and yelling. I don't care if you're LGBT; I don't care if you're black; I don't care if you're disabled. You need advocates. You need people who can move the world."

<![CDATA[The Latest Attempt To Save The World? Edible Food Packaging]]> Thu, 25 Aug 2016 10:45:00 -0500
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This is food packaging you can eat.

Plastic doesn't easily break down. This edible, biodegradable packaging could be a solution.

SEE MORE: Organic And Conventional Milk Have A Few (Small) Differences After All

It's made out of milk proteins, which is why you can eat it.

The U.S. produces way more milk than the population can consume, anyways.

The proteins in the packaging also keep out oxygen better than plastic, meaning food spoils slower.

But you likely won't see this on store shelves for another three years.

The packaging actually has no taste, but the creators say flavors could be added.

Of course, this wouldn't eliminate all plastic from food packaging. To keep things sanitary, individual servings would still need to be wrapped in an outer layer of plastic.

<![CDATA[Anti-Pipeline Activists Take Their Fight To Washington, DC]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 18:50:00 -0500
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Activists gathered in Washington, D.C., to #StandWithStandingRock.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is trying to block a pipeline in North Dakota.

The $3.8 billion pipeline is supposed to run from oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois. It doesn't quite cross through the Standing Rock reservation, but it will cross the Missouri River less than a mile away.

The tribe had a hearing in a District Court to try to get an injunction.

Other tribes and activists from all over the country were there.

Actresses Susan Sarandon and Shailene Woodley were there, too.

In North Dakota, people are camping out near the pipeline construction site. Some have been there since April.

There are reportedly more than 40 tribes there from all across the country.

"The last time the seven bands of the Lakota-Dakota-Nakota nation stood together was at the Battle of the Greasy Grass, June 25, 1876. So this is historic that they answered that call," said Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will find out if it got the injunction by Sept. 9.

<![CDATA[The First Star-Visiting Probe Will Need Some Ambitious Engineering]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 16:39:00 -0500
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In cosmic terms, Alpha Centauri, a cluster of several stars, is right next door — maybe close enough to send something to explore it in the near future.

But don't break out the Starfleet uniform just yet. The first spacecraft to visit another star is likely to be uncrewed probes that are autonomous, fast, exotic and shielded. 

Autonomous because this probe is going to be on a one-way trip in interstellar space, without easy communication. By the time it arrives at Alpha Centauri, round-trip radio messages will take more than eight years.

Fast because Alpha Centauri is 25 trillion miles away. One NASA concept called Project Longshot would have accelerated to 4.5 percent the speed of light, or more than 30 million miles an hour.

Exotic because interstellar travel can't rely on the same old propulsion methods. Fuel is just too heavy. One proposed mission called Starshot would accelerate using lasers fired from here on Earth.

And shielded because it will be going so fast that even bumping into dust will produce enough energy to start to melt down the probe. Project Daedalus would have gotten around this with a giant beryllium plate on the front of the spacecraft.

Any probes we send will have to be shielded from cosmic rays, too. Our sun stops all sorts of nasty radiation from bombarding us, but once outside the solar system, any probe will be vulnerable.

Modern proposals like Starshot don't have launch dates yet, but if NASA gets involved, that might change. Members of Congress want the space agency to get its own interstellar probes ready to go by 2069.

<![CDATA[This Program May Reduce Childbirth Deaths In Areas That Need It Most]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 12:37:00 -0500
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Data and algorithms could save a mother's and baby's life during childbirth — especially in developing countries.

And a new software program called PlanWise is trying to do just that.

SEE MORE: Breastfeeding Is Really Good For Babies, But Millions Can't Do It

In developing countries, pregnant women don't always give birth in hospitals. In Kenya, where PlanWise was tested, only about half do.

And giving birth outside of a hospital can put a mother and her newborn at risk if something goes wrong.

So here's how the planning tool works: PlanWise uses pieces of information like maps and an algorithm to show where hospitals, mobile clinics and ambulances are needed most.

Real-world testing on foot and by car showed that the program works.

The goal with PlanWise is to fulfill other needs in developing countries, like showing where there are gaps in easy access to vaccinations and clean water.

But once the areas in need are identified, building and maintaining the new hospitals and clinics will still take a lot of money and time.

<![CDATA[What We Know So Far About Earth's New Twin]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 12:35:00 -0500
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A new planet has been discovered that may be Earth-like, and it's really, really close. If we're ever going to look for life outside our solar system, this is probably where we'll start. Here's what scientists say about it.

The planet might have liquid water, which is crucial to life as we know it. It's in the habitable zone, that sweet spot where it's not too hot nor too cold to have water on its surface.

The planet orbits the closest-known star to ours, Proxima Centauri, which is about 4.25 light years away. It's in the southern sky, but it's too dim to see with the naked eye.

SEE MORE: The Deep-Space Engines That Could One Day Take Us Past Mars

Four light years is nothing in space terms, but it's still too far to travel to any time soon. Our most pie-in-the-sky technology would still take decades to carry a probe there.

If we do ever travel there, it should feel somewhat familiar. The planet is about the same size as Earth, meaning gravity would be close to what we're used to. But its days and nights would be strange. It circles its sun every 11 days.

It's tempting to get excited about an Earth-like planet that couldn't be any closer, but there are some big unknowns. It's not clear yet whether the planet has an atmosphere or a magnetic field. Without those, the odds of finding life are pretty much zero.

Luckily, we don't have to wait too long to learn more. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is set to launch in 2018, and it will be able to look for an atmosphere. And Stephen Hawking is supporting a plan to send a probe to nearby Alpha Centauri.

<![CDATA[Swimming With Dolphins In The Wild Could Soon Be Banned In Hawaii]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 11:22:00 -0500
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One of Hawaii's most popular tourist activities may soon be illegal.

Federal regulators have proposed a ban on swimming with the Aloha State's spinner dolphins in the wild.

Spinner dolphins are known for their high, spinning leaps and friendly demeanor, which makes them extremely popular with tourists and locals alike.

SEE MORE: Ah, Fish Pee. Keeping Our Beloved Coral Reefs Alive

But they are nocturnal. And, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, constant contact with humans during the day is stressing them out.

"Over time, their health may be impacted. They may not nurture young as well. They may abandon their young or habitat, and they may suffer long-term population impacts," assistant regional administrator for protected resources with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service Ann Garrett told KGMB.

The proposed rule would ban swimmers and vessels from coming within 50 yards of a spinner dolphin in the ocean. And it would extend 2 nautical miles from shore.

Many animal rights activists are in favor of putting the ban into action. 

But some local businesses that operate dolphin tours and excursions have mixed feelings about the idea.

"Our people stay in a neutral way. We don’t chase them or hoard them or corral them in any way. We allow the dolphins to come to us," Richard Holland, president of Ocean Journeys LLC, told KHON.

Officials say if the proposal becomes a rule, it will probably go into effect sometime next year.

<![CDATA[British Officials Want A Worldwide Ban On Microbeads In Cosmetics]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 09:33:00 -0500
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Members of the British parliament are pushing for a worldwide ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetics due to environmental and health concerns. 

These tiny balls of plastic are smaller than 1 millimeter and have been used in toothpastes and face and body washes. Despite their small size, the beads are still able to absorb chemical pollutants.

Just one shower with one of these products can send 100,000 microbeads into waterways. 

SEE MORE: America's Meat Obsession Isn't Great For The Environment

Cosmetics companies have promised to stop using them by 2020, but a committee with the British parliament wants a full legal ban now. The committee argues pollution is an international issue. 

While microbead pollution may not be as visible a danger as, say, plastic bags, experts say microplastics can cause a lot of harm. Their smaller size means fish are much more likely to eat them. 

One fish eats another, and as the food chain moves up all the way to dinner tables, humans are eventually the ones eating the microplastics. 

Abrasion of car tires is actually the biggest source of microplastic pollution in oceans. Cosmetics represent, at most, 4 percent of the microplastic pollutants, but some officials argue a ban in that industry would show a commitment to the issue as a whole. 

The U.S. banned microbeads in cosmetics back in December

<![CDATA[How A Florida Teen Survived A Rare Brain-Eating Amoeba Infection]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 09:17:00 -0500
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When 16-year-old Sebastian DeLeon was diagnosed with a rare brain-eating amoeba earlier this month, doctors told his family to say their goodbyes.

But a little more than three weeks later, against all odds, DeLeon is alive.

"We are so thankful that God has given us the miracle through this medical team and this hospital for having our son back and having him full of life," said DeLeon's mother Brunilda Gonzales during a news conference.

According to Newsy's partners at WPTV, DeLeon contracted the Naegleria fowleri amoeba while swimming in a private lake in Orlando.

Naegleria is found in warm fresh water, like lakes, hot springs and swimming holes.

An infection occurs when water that has the amoeba enters the body through the nose.

SEE MORE: A Grieving Mother Wants To Warn You About This Rare But Deadly Amoeba

Officials believe that's exactly what happened to DeLeon. His parents rushed him to a local hospital after he got a terrible headache. And that's when doctors discovered he had been infected.

They didn't have much hope that he would make it.

The infection has a fatality rate of over 97 percent; only three other people in the U.S. have survived a Naegleria infection in the past 50 years.

And because of that, developing a reliable treatment has been very difficult.

Several drugs seemed to be effective against Naegleria in lab tests. But their effectiveness in humans is still unclear since almost all known infections have been fatal so far.

Except for one new drug called miltefosine. That's the medication credited with saving DeLeon and two other patients who had the amoeba in 2013.

Along with administering the medication, doctors also lower the patient's body temperature and induce a coma to prevent more damage to the brain.

DeLeon is expected to make a full recovery after several more weeks of medication and rehab.

<![CDATA[An Earthquake Has Rocked Central Italy; Dozens Dead, Many Missing]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 07:48:00 -0500
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Dozens are dead and scores more are missing after an earthquake damaged towns in central Italy.

The 6.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the region Wednesday was shallow, about 6 miles underground, which caused more damage than a deeper quake.

SEE MORE: This Sinkhole Swallowed More Than A Dozen Cars In Florence, Italy

The mayor of Amatrice — one of the towns affected — said "half the town no longer exists."

"It felt like the bed was on rollers, and we all kind of ran out," a witness told CNN.

Earthquakes in the area aren't historically uncommon. The last major one was in 2009.

Local officials and media are comparing Wednesday's quake to that one seven years ago: an earthquake in L'Aquila that killed at least 295. Thousands more were injured and were left without homes.

Italy sits on two fault lines, making it more susceptible to earthquakes than many other European countries.

<![CDATA[Common Houseplants Could Make Nail Salons Safer]]> Wed, 24 Aug 2016 04:00:00 -0500
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Plants can do some amazing things. Most recently, new research found some common house plants can absorb potentially harmful indoor pollutants.

The research for presentation at a meeting of the American Chemical Society looked at pollutants called volatile organic compounds, which can be found in paints, furniture, dry cleaning and acetone — the common ingredient in nail polish remover.

The lead researcher said, "Inhaling large amounts of VOCs can lead some people to develop sick building syndrome, which reduces productivity and can even cause dizziness, asthma or allergies."

SEE MORE: Apparently, Plants Know How To 'Gamble'

Researchers say all five houseplants studied could absorb acetone from the air, but the dracaena absorbed a remarkable 94 percent of the chemical in the experiment.

Next, the lead researcher wants to test the plants in nail salons to see if they can reduce acetone exposure for workers. 

The findings could eventually make way for plants to replace more expensive ventilation systems.

<![CDATA[Debunking 'Halal Hysteria' Meat Myths]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 19:32:00 -0500
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You may have recently heard of halal meat. 

But why are some people so afraid of it?

Well, we're here in Detroit's Eastern Market to basically debunk the myths of what "halal meat" really is.

SEE MORE: Why Many Arab-Americans Check 'White' On The US Census

The Arabic word "halal" literally translates to "permissible" or "allowed."

There are a handful of requirements that make a meat permissible in Islam.

But just because it's permissible for Muslims, that doesn't mean it's only for Muslims. 

"The Halal meat is not just for Islam. The halal meat could be for everybody on the Earth," said Aref Saad, a halal meat wholesaler.  

That's probably because it tends to be healthier, cleaner and often more affordable. 

"Well, the first thing people need to know is halal meat is healthier than non-halal meat," lead butcher Ali Saad said. "What makes it halal is the way that it is killed. When all the blood is drained out of the meat, it prevents it from getting foodborne illness."

It's also required that the animal feels as little pain as possible, both physically and emotionally. That means using a very sharp, clean knife along the throat, with one swift cut — and this must be done with no other animals around watching. 

Similar to kosher meat, the person who carries out the slaughter must be of practicing faith. 

"You know, we turn it towards Mecca, we bless it and say a small prayer on it," Ali Saad said. "The things that I've heard are, you know, we're trying to feed people our meat, but I think people need to know how healthy it is."

The biggest difference in the meat is something you can actually see. 

"So, pretty much when you put a piece of steak that is actually halal, and you put it in the fridge for four or five days — and I can guarantee this — even a week, you will not see a single drop of blood on your plate. But you take a single piece of meat that is not halal, put it in your fridge for a couple of hours, and you'll see a ton of blood," Ali Saad said. 

So the process of halal really starts at the treatment of the animal, all the way until it reaches your burger bun — but it really comes down to the cleanliness and health of the meat.

<![CDATA[Congress Is Asking Why The Price Of A Life-Saving Drug Is Skyrocketing]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 10:05:00 -0500
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Congress is questioning the company that makes a life-saving drug over its skyrocketing price.

The EpiPen has a virtual monopoly in both business and effectiveness. Some argue there are no real alternative besides the EpiPen in the case of a serious allergic reaction. When these reactions do happen, a shot from an EpiPen can open airways, slow heart rates and reverse drops in blood pressure.

Since pharmaceutical company Mylan got the rights to the product in 2007, the price has increased by as much as 900 percent.

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

Back in 2007, a pair of the pens would cost around $60. Today that can cost as much as $600.

Doctors also recommend children who have severe allergies keep two pens at home and two at school, leading to a $1,200 tab.

An Iowa senator questioning Mylan notes parents aren't the only ones who have been facing higher bills. Because EpiPens are covered for many children by Medicaid, taxpayers have been hurt by the price increase, too.

Forbes estimates the actual drug inside an EpiPen costs Mylan about $1 per device.

The company does reportedly offer some coupons that, when combined with insurance, make it so families don't pay anything. However, the company told ABC an increasing number of families are choosing insurance plans with higher deductibles, so they might still be the ones having to pay.

Mylan says product improvements are the reason behind the price increase.

Correction: A previous version of this video cited a different figure for the price increase. The 900 percent increase cited here is based on one of the top prices for a pair of pens.

<![CDATA[NASA Finally Found A Spacecraft It Lost Almost 2 Years Ago]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 08:14:00 -0500
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NASA has recovered a spacecraft that's been missing for almost two years and spinning 189 million miles away.

The craft is known as STEREO-B. It and its partner, STEREO-A, started a mission in 2006 to record the energy emitted from the sun.

To get different angles of measurement, neither spacecraft was set to rotate in line with Earth. And naturally, at some point, one of them would be at the opposite side of the sun compared to Earth.

SEE MORE: Deep-Space Exploration Requires Habitats, And NASA's On It

When that happened for STEREO-B, it was pretty much impossible for scientists on the ground to track a signal. And because the sun emits almost every type of wavelength, scientists couldn't reliably look or listen for any signal. Experts expected this would last for about three months.

Soon after STEREO-B was lost, the scientists got one last weak signal. It showed them they had another problem. STEREO-B wasn't going to be moving like it should.

A computer malfunction was telling the craft it was spinning when it was actually stationary. All the tools the craft would use to stop spinning would, in this case, only make it start spinning. This meant STEREO-B's solar panels wouldn't be trained on the sun as long as they should, leading to a cycle of it dying and charging back up.

STEREO-B needs a certain amount of charge to even send a signal, so at times, the scientists could have been looking in the right area, but because the craft didn't have enough juice, they wouldn't have known it.

On Sunday, NASA finally found STEREO-B, but the craft isn't in the clear just yet. The recovery process could still take years.

Roughly three years from now, the scientists will actually be able to see STEREO-B through the Hubble Space Telescope. With that, they can check how fast it's spinning.

<![CDATA[Hormone Replacement Therapy Might Nearly Triple Risk Of Breast Cancer]]> Tue, 23 Aug 2016 07:18:00 -0500
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The risk of developing breast cancer while using combined hormone replacement therapy could be much greater than we thought.

According to a new study from The Institute of Cancer Research in London, combined HRT can almost triple a user's risk of developing breast cancer.

HRT is used to treat multiple symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, migraines, disrupted sleep and mood changes.

And about 1 in 10 women in their 50s in the U.K. use combined HRT, which has both estrogen and progestogen.

But doctors were hesitant to prescribe HRT after a 2002 study warned it could increase the risk of cancer.

SEE MORE: Eating More Fruit When You're Young Could Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Now, the authors of this newest study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, say previous research may have underestimated that risk by up to 60 percent.

To come to this conclusion, researchers monitored about 39,000 women for six years. During that time, 775 — or 2 percent — developed breast cancer.

And the study's authors found the women who used combined HRT for about five years were 2.7 times more likely to get breast cancer than those who'd never used HRT.

The risk jumped to 3.3 times for women who had used the therapy for 15 years or more.

But there is hope for women who believe using combined HRT is a necessity.

chief executive with research charity Breast Cancer Now says women should take the smallest dose for the shortest time possible. She says once the therapy ends, the risk of breast cancer begins to fall.

<![CDATA[A Mother Wrote An Emotional Note To Her Daughter's Drug Dealer]]> Mon, 22 Aug 2016 16:50:30 -0500
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A mother in a small Missouri town posted an emotional photo on Facebook to her daughter's drug dealer. 

Tina Wells Louden wrote, "To my daughter's drug dealer, this is how I spend my daughter's birthday do you live with yourself??? That's all I wanna kno (sic)...."

SEE MORE: Heroin Overdoses In The US Tripled Over The Course Of 4 Years

Louden's daughter Ashley died in 2013. KSDK reports her daughter used heroin for about five years before she died. 

This Missouri family is not alone. Heroin use is an epidemic in the United States, and the recent World Drug Report from the United Nations called it "one of the major drugs of public health concern." 

The UN report attributes the increased American use of heroin to several factors, including law enforcement and regulatory actions, as well as increased accessibility, reduced prices and high purity.

Lawmakers in the U.S. recognize the problem. In March, President Barack Obama took administrative action to expand access to treatment, implement or expand syringe services programs and create a task force to increase access to mental health and substance abuse programs. 

In July, Congress passed a bill that was signed into law by President Obama that authorizes grant programs for abuse prevention and education, expands access to treatment and recovery options and provides specific abuse prevention for veterans, women and children. 

Louden's Facebook post struck a chord with social media users. In the first week since it was posted, it's been shared nearly 250,000 times and garnered over 13,000 comments. 

<![CDATA[American Indians Stand Together To Shut Down Pipeline Project]]> Sun, 21 Aug 2016 16:37:00 -0500
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American Indians want to shut down a new oil pipeline.

"The last time the seven bands of the Lakota-Dakota-Nakota nation stood together was at the Battle of the Greasy Grass (Battle of the Little Big Horn), June 25, 1876. So this is historic that they answered that call," said Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Outside of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, the construction site for the Dakota Access Pipeline is visible — but work has stopped because of the protests.

SEE MORE: Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline

Local law enforcement cited safety concerns.

"We have had incidents and reports of weapons, of pipe bombs, of some shots fired," Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said.

Eagle thinks law enforcement misinterpreted what people were saying on social media. He said they were talking about sacred pipes, not pipe bombs: "When we say we're loading our pipes, that's our chanupa. That's a sacred object that we carry to communicate with everything within creation. It's not a weapon." 

The $3.8 billion pipeline is supposed to run from oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois. It doesn't quite cross through the Standing Rock reservation, but it will cross the Missouri river less than a mile from the reservation.

"None of our water comes from anywhere else — it's just all from the Missouri river," said Spud Medicine Horse, who is from the Standing Rock reservation and is half Lakota, half Cree. "It's just overwhelming, and I guess that we're scared. It's threatening not just us but our future generation."

SEE MORE: How Would The Keystone XL Pipeline Affect The U.S.?

The people here are worried that if the pipeline were to leak, it would pollute the Standing Rock Reservation's water source — and possibly other reservations that are also downstream.

"Mni Wiconi is 'water is life,'" Phyllis Young, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said. 

"Everything that oil is used for, there is an alternative for, there is a renewable alternative for that oil. There is no alternative for water," Joye Braun of the Indigenous Environmental Network said.

More than a dozen people have been arrested so far, including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's chairman

And the oil company is suing the protesters in federal court.

In a statement, the company told Newsy the pipeline is accordance with the law. The statement also said, "This is an important energy infrastructure project that benefits all Americans and our national economy."

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe also filed a separate lawsuit in D.C. district court against the Army Corps of Engineers for approving the project.

"This is our aboriginal territory," Young said. "So where we are today is the Army Corps taken area, but we own the mineral rights and we own the river bed. And I hate to say own because it's not in the American sense of owning. We have our own word, which is the collective ownership."

<![CDATA[This Gator Swam Around With A Python In Its Mouth, Because Florida]]> Sun, 21 Aug 2016 08:51:00 -0500
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If you needed another reason to avoid alligators, this is it: This alligator is swimming along with its lunch — a full-grown Burmese python.

Burmese pythons are actually a huge problem in the Florida Everglades. And since wildlife management can only do so much, it looks like nature is lending a hand.

SEE MORE: A Texas Man Found A 300-Pound Alligator — In His Garage

Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia, but over the past few decades they've become an invasive species in Florida, likely because people are releasing their pets into the wild.

The massive reptiles can grow to more than 20 feet long and weigh up to 200 pounds.

In Florida, pythons are predators to raccoons, opossums and even bigger animals like the Florida panther. 

And scientists fear the python's hunting patterns will eliminate some native species and have adverse effects on the Everglades.

So every year, the area puts on a monthlong Python Challenge. This year, hundreds of hunters came out, and 106 pythons were captured and killed. 

And for all the snakes those hunters couldn't catch, it appears the alligators are taking over.

<![CDATA[Rates Of Pregnancy-Related Deaths Have Doubled In Texas]]> Sat, 20 Aug 2016 21:59:00 -0500
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The rate of Texan women dying from pregnancy-related causes doubled in recent years, and scientists aren't sure why.

new survey looked at maternal mortality statistics in the U.S. from 2000 to 2014, and found that Texas maintained a steady rate of around 17 to 18 pregnancy-related deaths per 100,000 births until 2010.

SEE MORE: World Maternal Mortality Rate Is Improving; The US's Isn't

But from 2010 to 2014, that number jumped to about 35 deaths per 100,000 births. For reference, the World Health Organization says most developed countries average around 12 deaths per 100,000 births.

The spike in deaths roughly lines up with steep cuts to the state's family planning budget, but the study's authors say such a dramatic increase is tough to explain "in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval."

Things don't look much better for the rest of the states, either — the study notes maternal mortality rates rose almost 27 percent from 2000 to 2014 across the continental U.S.

<![CDATA[A Travel Advisory Won't Stop Zika From Spreading]]> Sat, 20 Aug 2016 16:38:00 -0500
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Mosquitoes are transmitting Zika in Florida, and the media is awash in progress reports.

"Today, Florida's governor drew a box around 1.5 square miles where infected mosquitoes are spreading the virus," ABC's Steve Osunsami said.

"It was the first time the CDC ever issued a travel advisory within the continental U.S.,"CBS' David Begnaud said.

SEE MORE: It Might Be Too Late To Stop Zika, But It's Not All Bad News

But you shouldn't expect pesticides, travel advisories and anything else you're seeing in the news to stop cold the transmission of the virus. They might slow Zika down, but the virus already meets the CDC's criteria for epidemic in the U.S.

Mosquitoes can fly. So can humans, for that matter. And so far, we're doing more to spread Zika than they are.

There are 14 locally transmitted cases in the U.S. at last count, all of them in Florida. But travelers have taken 2,245 cases around the country with them.

The good news is the mosquitoes that carry the virus don't live everywhere in the U.S., and people make wide use of window screens and air conditioning. CDC officials expect Zika won't get as widespread as it is in Central America.

In the meantime, vaccine trials are making progress — but some research suggests the epidemic will have started to burn itself out by the time vaccines enter wider use.

<![CDATA[As Japan's Population Ages, Its Economy Can't Keep Up]]> Sat, 20 Aug 2016 14:06:00 -0500
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A major demographic dilemma is threatening to hit all parts of Japanese society: the country's rapidly rising age.

Right now, 1 in 4 Japanese are over the age of 65, and that proportion is expected to keep rising. Basically, fewer and fewer Japanese are "working age," while more are entering retirement age.

The drag that this demographic shift will have on the country's economic growth and social security are pretty clear. But the aging population is affecting many aspects of Japanese life.

Japan's agriculture sector, hit with the double whammy of an aging workforce and a low birthrate, might be one of the most affected areas when it comes to "graying."

Nearly two-thirds of the country's commercial farmers are 65 or older, and a 2009 government survey found that at least half of farmers over 65 don't have a younger successor.

But Japanese farmers have begun to take matters into their own hands to fight back against the demographic and economic pressure. The rise of local co-ops that are more market-oriented and profitable are attracting younger farmers.

Japan's lack of young people also has major implications for secondary education. By 2018, Japan will hit an all-time low for college-bound 18 year olds, and it'll just keep shrinking after that.

That spells bad news in a country where the vast majority of its population is already seeking higher education. Many of the almost 800 higher-ed schools grappling with decreasing enrollment will see the bottom drop out on their money.

The dean of global studies at Tama University told Ozy: "We're anticipating some schools will no longer be in operation at all."

Then there's the issue of care for the elderly. The government provides social security and a public pension system for retired workers.

SEE MORE: Japan Has So Many Centenarians, It Can't Give Them All Gifts

But those programs are using up a lot of money. In the 2012 fiscal year, social security spending was 22.8 percent of Japan's gross domestic product; that's about $924 billion.

Those programs often are not enough, and there's a shortage of nurses in Japan to help look after the elderly. And young people aren't always able to care for their elders.

Of course, Japan is trying to figure a way out of this crisis.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has laid out a road map — popularly known as Abenomics — aimed at fixing the Japanese economy and alleviating the demographic crisis.

There's been talk of loosening Japan's strict immigration policy to allow 200,000 immigrants per year. That would represent a major shift in the historically insular and not very ethnically diverse country.

<![CDATA[A Suspected Drug Dealer Was Captured Looking 40 Years Older]]> Sat, 20 Aug 2016 12:07:00 -0500
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This is the man whom police in Massachusetts found at a Cape Cod home on Thursday while they looked for a suspected drug dealer in his early 30s. This is the suspect himself. Turns out, they're the same guy.

Shaun Miller was apparently very aware police were looking for him and very prepared when they found him.

SEE MORE: Michigan Heroin Addicts Are Stealing Nail Polish For Drug Money

The Justice Department says Miller was wearing this when officers surrounded his house and demanded he come out. There's no mention of how long it took for officers to realize the "elderly man" was really Miller, but they did end up cuffing him.

For all the cleverness behind a really effective disguise, federal agents aren't laughing.

In April, federal prosecutors charged Miller and 12 other suspects with dealing meth up and down Cape Cod, which has some of the highest overdose rates in the state.

SEE MORE: Heroin Might Be The Most Addictive Drug, And It's A Growing Problem

Heroin overdoses have increased dramatically in the U.S. the past several years as opiate addiction skyrocketed and as heroin has provided a cheap way to get high. New England media outlets have covered the epidemic a lot.

So clever disguise or not, the elderly man on the left and the real one on the right are facing some serious charges now that police found him.

<![CDATA[When HPV Vaccine Has Option To Opt Out, Parents More Likely To Opt In]]> Sat, 20 Aug 2016 10:57:00 -0500
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Parents may be more comfortable with their kids having the HPV vaccine if there's an option to opt out of it.

A study found 54 percent of parents surveyed thought a required vaccine for school is a bad idea with only 21 percent supporting required HPV vaccinations.

But adding an opt-out provision almost tripled parents' support.

The human papillomavirus vaccine has been shown to be safe and extremely effective. So what's the problem?

Doctors invented the vaccine specifically to fight cancer, but the shot has been controversial since it received approval a decade ago. Many parents still don't trust it; some believe the vaccine doesn't prevent cancer or leads to other health complications.

And it also comes down to politics. In 2011, Michele Bachmann spoke against a requirement saying, "innocent little 12-year-old girls" shouldn't be "forced to have a government injection." She also said the vaccine might cause cognitive disorders, something the American Academy of Pediatrics immediately denounced as false.

The concerns surrounding the HPV vaccine are similar to those between autism and childhood vaccinations — a so-called link the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has studied nine times since 2003 and repeatedly said doesn't exist.

The issue with adding an opt-out is that it may make any requirement for the vaccine less effective.

The CDC recommends boys and girls between 11 and 12 years old get the vaccine. Right now, only Rhode Island, Virginia and the District of Columbia require it.

<![CDATA[CDC Warns Against Miami Beach Travel After More Zika Hits Florida]]> Fri, 19 Aug 2016 20:12:00 -0500
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A fresh outbreak of the Zika virus in Florida has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a travel warning for Miami Beach.

Five people, including three tourists, have been infected with the virus in a 1.5-square-mile area of Miami-Dade County. The CDC says anyone who has visited the area from July 14 onward is at risk of contracting or spreading the virus.

SEE MORE: Could The Massive Flooding In Louisiana Increase The Risk Of Zika?

This brings the total number of Zika cases originating in Florida up to 36. The virus previously prompted health officials to issue a travel warning for Wynwood, a neighborhood north of Miami.

Florida officials have been working to contain the virus's spread by curbing the state's mosquito population, but the CDC says techniques like aerial spraying won't work in the high-rises of Miami beach.

Florida governor Rick Scott has asked the CDC for additional Zika testing and prevention kits for the state and has reached out to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance.

<![CDATA[FOR SALE: Gently Used Space Station]]> Fri, 19 Aug 2016 16:05:00 -0500
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Live-in office space for sale: six beds, two baths, over 32,000 cubic feet. Beautiful sunrises every 90 minutes, convenient 23-minute plummet to Earth. Don't open the windows.

NASA's operation of the International Space Station is scheduled to end in 2024. Now, officials say instead of letting it fall out of orbit, they're looking to pass the outpost on to someone with the resources to keep it running.

SEE MORE: International Space Station Is Getting More Parking Spaces

"Ultimately, our desire is to hand the space station over to either a commercial entity or some other commercial capability so that research can continue in low-Earth orbit," NASA's Bill Hill said.

Companies like SpaceX and Boeing already run the commercial missions to resupply the station, and they'll start carrying crew in 2017. They seem well-positioned to take advantage, even if it's not clear yet what the private companies would do with their own orbiting lab.

In the meantime, other space firms are invested enough to want to improve the existing station. NanoRacks wants to add a private airlock to the ISS to launch its tiny satellites called cubesats.

That's the kind of science NASA wants to see. It's said it before: The ISS presents unique research opportunities that could help pave the way for more commercial activity in orbit around Earth.

<![CDATA[Ah, Fish Pee. Keeping Our Beloved Coral Reefs Alive]]> Fri, 19 Aug 2016 12:55:00 -0500
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It turns out nothing keeps the world's coral reefs thriving quite as well as ... fish pee.

The urine, which has phosphorus in it, is a fertilizer for coral populations. That, along with nutrients in the water, helps coral grow.

SEE MORE: Global Warming Is Killing Corals In The Great Barrier Reef

But overfishing has decreased the populations of the large fish that produce the needed nutrients for reefs to thrive.

And corals are already facing enough problems. Since the 1970s, reefs have been dying at an unprecedented rate.

The underwater animals need an intricate balance of environmental factors to thrive, but warming water temperatures are killing them. Bleaching and rising levels of acidity have caused entire reefs to disappear.

SEE MORE: When Coral Reefs Die, Fish May Lose Survival Instincts

Which isn't great because reefs are a breeding ground for species that humans need to survive, like fish used for food and economic purposes.

They are also buffers for hurricanes and other natural disasters.

<![CDATA[A Rare, Nearly Complete T. Rex Skull Just Arrived In Seattle]]> Fri, 19 Aug 2016 07:39:00 -0500
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Paleontologists have unearthed one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skulls ever discovered.

And the rare find is going to call Seattle's Burke Museum home.

"This year, we bagged the big daddy, the top predator," team leader Dr. Gregory P. Wilson told KING.

A team of paleontologists with the museum discovered the T. rex skull and other bones in the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, which is famous for its fossil sites.

It all started back in May 2015 when two volunteers noticed pieces of fossilized bone sticking out of the hillside.

And after further excavation, the team uncovered the rare skull, which is about 4 feet long and weighs a whopping 2,500 pounds, including its protective plaster jacket.

The paleontologists also dug up the 66.3 million-year-old dinosaur's vertebrae, ribs, hips and lower jaw bones — about 20 percent of its remains.

And they named the T. rex after the men who found it: Jason Love and Luke Tufts.

"We just got lucky, and the place we were going just happened to be this boulder with some bones sticking out of it," Tufts told NWCN.

The skull will be shown at the Burke Museum for a few weeks, starting Saturday.

Then, paleontologists plan to carefully remove the rock still surrounding the fossil and put it back on display in the New Burke Museum when it opens in 2019.

<![CDATA[Newsy Women (And One Dude) Get Real About Periods]]> Thu, 18 Aug 2016 21:00:00 -0500
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Monthly gift, time of the month, Aunt Flow, Shark Week, Crimson Tide, the visitor — today, we're talking about periods. And if your reaction was "eww," that's exactly why we're doing this. Talking openly about menstruation is still taboo, and we think that's a problem. So we asked the Newsy staff to have a really open conversation about bloody, crampy, frustrating, perfectly natural periods.

STEPHANIE LIEBERGEN: It's a fact of life. Everybody poops, everybody pees, and women get periods. That's just the way the human body works.

SEE MORE: Olympic Swimmer Talks About Her Period In Post-Race Interview

KRISTIN ROHLWING, READING A DEFINITION: "Taboo: a social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place or thing." Taboo is actually derived from the Polynesian word "tupua," which literally means menstruation.

EUGENE DANIELS: The first step to fixing a problem is to say that we have a problem, and we have a problem with talking about periods.

SABRINA RUSSELLO: There's a societal standard of women needing to be very ladylike and classy and almost tight-lipped about their private matters, and that's kind of carried over to periods. 

EMILY KAISER: It can make women afraid of their bodies, ashamed of their bodies or dislike something about their body that much more, and I think most people know it's already really hard to love yourself.

DANIELLE DIETERICH: It's a real problem that we don't talk about periods because it means that it's so much harder for girls to get help.

ROHLWING: There are so many women and girls around the world who don't have access to pads and tampons, and it actually gets in the way of their schooling.

SADÉ CARPENTER: Talking about it would probably lead to more access to things like tampons and pads and maybe situations in schools where tampons are free and not something you have to buy in the restroom and search for a quarter to find and worry about staining your pants because you don't have one.

RUSSELLO: It's 2016. We can all be mature. We don't have to talk about it all the time, but it shouldn't be faux pas.

CAITLIN BAKER: Without it, we wouldn't have kids today.

ROHLWING: That's pretty cool! I don't know why we act like it's something to be embarrassed about.

<![CDATA[Dr. Drew's Concern For Hillary Clinton's Health Is Probably Unfounded]]> Thu, 18 Aug 2016 20:45:00 -0500
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One of Donald Trump's many criticisms of Hillary Clinton is her health. He's said she doesn't have the physical stamina to lead the country.

Clinton's camp said Trump was offering "deranged conspiracy theories," but physician and TV personality Dr. Drew Pinsky said he looked at Clinton's published medical report and found some cause for concern.

"Based on the information that she has provided and her doctors have provided, we were gravely concerned not just about her health care — not about her health, but her health care," Dr. Drew said on "McIntyre in the Morning."

Dr. Drew focused on two of Clinton's conditions: blood clots and hypothyroidism, which is a lack of hormones from the thyroid. He said her treatment was laughable and outdated by decades. So is he right? Well, not really.

Dr. Drew questioned why Clinton took the blood thinner Coumadin. The drug has been around for a while and newer options, like Eliquis and Xarelto, have largely replaced it. 

But if Clinton is comfortable with Coumadin and it keeps her healthy, there doesn't seem to be a reason for her to stop taking it. Cardiologist Richard Kovacs told WebMD if Coumadin works for a patient, "there's generally not a compelling reason to switch."

Her thyroid medication is similar. Most doctors prescribe the synthetic version of the hormone thyroxine. Clinton instead opted for a more natural medication with the same active ingredient derived from the thyroid glands of pigs called Armour Thyroid.

So while she might not be using Dr. Drew's preferred treatments, Clinton seems to be taking appropriate drugs to help with her conditions.

Even Trump supporter Newt Gingrich defended Clinton's choices and cautioned Dr. Drew against diagnosing people he hasn't evaluated.

"I'm always dubious, with all due respect to television doctors, when you have a doctor who has never seen the patient, begin to give you a complicated, fancy sounding analysis based on what?" Gingrich said on Fox News.

<![CDATA[Maybe We Should Just Let Wildfires Burn]]> Thu, 18 Aug 2016 15:29:00 -0500
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Wildfires are as much a force of nature as tornadoes. Preventing them entirely is out of the question — no matter what Smokey says — but there's good evidence our vigorous firefighting efforts are actually making them worse.

Putting out tiny fires early leaves more fuel for the big ones, which burn more area and cost more to suppress than ever.

SEE MORE: If It Feels Like Wildfires Are Getting Bigger, It's Because They Are

The worst 2 percent of fires now account for 97 percent of area burned and firefighting expense. In 2015, more than half the U.S. Forest Service budget went to fighting wildfires.

Experts agree: Letting smaller fires run their course is a good way to reduce the risk of bigger, more damaging ones. But the Forest Service has one good reason and one weird reason to put them out quickly.

The good reason: Letting fires burn — even with supervision — puts people and property at risk. Controlled burns sometimes go uncontrolled.

The weird reason: Thanks to how federal funding works, putting out fires can be easier to pay for than preventing them in the first place.

Controlled burning and fuel reduction costs come out of a national forest's annual budget. Paying to suppress wildfires comes from separate congressional earmarks or emergency funds. Typically, there's a lot more money there.

Experts want to change how the Forest Service pays for and fights fires, but it will take time — and the public will have to get used to smaller, more frequent fires.

<![CDATA[The Real Culprit Behind The Common Cold Might Be ... Camels?]]> Thu, 18 Aug 2016 13:47:00 -0500
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The next time you come down with a cough or a sneeze, you might think twice before blaming it on cold, rainy weather. The true culprit might be ... camels.

The National Academy of Sciences published a study that found one strain of the common cold virus actually originated in the desert animals.

SEE MORE: How A Hybrid 17th Century Camel Skeleton Ended Up In Austria

A team of researchers tested about 1,000 camels for coronaviruses and found the common cold virus in around 6 percent of those studied.

And that's not the only disease linked to them — camels have also spread the Middle East respiratory syndrome, which is often fatal to humans.

The first cases of MERS were identified in humans in 2012. The World Health Organization reports more than 600 people have died from the virus since then.

SEE MORE: So You Caught A Cold: Why Staying Warm Is Still Your Best Defense

Researchers are developing a vaccine for MERS, and clinical testing is expected to begin early next year.

The researchers say unlike that strain of the common cold, MERS hasn't adapted enough to spread globally. But they note that if it does, it could be serious, especially when you take into consideration how rapidly the common cold is passed around.

<![CDATA[An Alaskan Community Has Voted To Move Because Of Climate Change]]> Thu, 18 Aug 2016 07:46:00 -0500
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An island city on the edge of Alaska has voted to move due to the effects of global warming.

The vote in Shishmaref was close on Tuesday. On the one hand, members of the same tribe of Inuit people have reportedly lived on the island for 500 years. But it's become increasingly hard to live there — warmer water has eroded much of the island, and thinning ice has made fishing and hunting more dangerous.

SEE MORE: Global Warming Is Killing Corals In The Great Barrier Reef

But one problem is the high cost of moving. Around 650 inhabitants face a roughly $180 million cost.

And federal and state funding may not help much. Last year, federal officials announced just an $8 million budget to aid Alaska's native communities adjusting to climate change.

Keep in mind, Shishmaref isn't the only community at risk. Congress has found at least 31 Alaskan communities threatened by flooding and coastal erosion. Yet, many aren't eligible for government funding if they do try to relocate.

Even though Shishmaref's residents voted to move, they won't be going anywhere anytime soon, partly because of the enormous cost.

But it could potentially become the first American village to relocate due to the effects of climate change.

<![CDATA[Aetna CEO Told DOJ He'd Abandon Obamacare If It Blocked His Merger]]> Wed, 17 Aug 2016 16:35:00 -0500
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Aetna's decision to abandon most of its presence in the federal health care exchanges set up by Obamacare is facing new scrutiny.

The Huffington Post obtained a letter that Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini sent to the U.S. Department of Justice in July, back when the department was considering a merger request between Aetna and Humana. In the letter, Bertolini emphasized just how much it cost the company to participate in Obamacare.

SEE MORE: House GOP Wins Fight On Obamacare Subsidies ... For Now

The letter read, in part: "Our ability to withstand these losses is dependent on our achieving anticipated synergies in the Humana acquisition. ... If the DOJ sues to enjoin the transaction, we will immediately take action to reduce our 2017 exchange footprint."

The DOJ went ahead and filed an antitrust lawsuit against the merger anyway. One month later, Aetna decided to pull out of insurance markets in 11 states.

When he announced the pullout, Bertolini made no mention of the merger; instead, he just pointed to the $430 million Aetna had lost in the marketplace since January 2014.

SEE MORE: Obamacare's Almost Six Years Old. Has It Been Working?

Despite its heavy losses, Aetna has maintained that participating in Obamacare would be a good long-term investment for the company. Turns out, that investment might not be paying off quite like the company imagined it would.

<![CDATA[World-Class Runners Literally Don't Have Time To Go Any Faster]]> Wed, 17 Aug 2016 16:03:00 -0500
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What makes the world's fastest runners so fast?

It's not how quickly they put one leg in front of the other. Research shows runners of all abilities — you, me and Usain Bolt — move their legs back and forth at about the same frequency when we're running flat out.

SEE MORE: Study Shows Some Paralympic Sprinters May Have It Harder Than Others

The trick to going fast is to apply more force to the ground in the time you're in contact with it. Faster runners are pushing down harder against the ground and spending more time in midair.

You see this elsewhere in nature, too. Cheetahs at full sprint spend more time airborne than touching the ground.

But this contact with the ground creates a sort of speed limit. Since it's so brief, runners don't have enough time during each stride to push as hard as they could. Their muscles just don't contract fast enough.

Researchers in Texas and Wyoming once tested how fast people could theoretically contract their leg muscles by having them hop on one leg on a treadmill.

They found if we could get every bit of power from our leg muscles while running, humans would be able to run as fast as 42 mph. Compare that to Bolt's top speed of about 27 mph.

That's almost but not quite enough to keep up with ostriches. Long, springy legs can propel the birds forward at 43 mph, making them the fastest runners on two legs.

<![CDATA[Scientists Keep Finding Strange, New Creatures In The Deep Sea]]> Wed, 17 Aug 2016 13:56:00 -0500
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We really don't know much about the ocean.

Like, practically nothing. Experts say we have yet to explore 95 percent of our world's oceans.

Which explains why we keep finding new, bizarre-looking creatures down there.

Remember the goblin shark? Enough said. But that's old news compared to these unusual finds.

"They look like googly eyes!" one researcher said.

Last week, researchers with the Nautilus Live expedition spotted this "googly-eyed stubby squid" nearly 3,000 feet underwater off the coast of California.

Even though it looks like an octopus or a squid, it's actually more closely related to the cuttlefish, like the one seen here.

The same expedition also discovered this mysterious purple orb late last month. They're still not quite sure what it is.

Perhaps just as stunning is this new species of scorpionfish found in the deep-reef waters off the island of Curaçao in July.

And, they may not be pretty, but these two new species of bioluminescent deep-sea fish, also known as "barreleyes," are fascinating, too.

The strange discoveries will most likely keep on coming. In 2014, scientists say they identified almost 1,500 new species in the world's oceans, and that number continues to increase.

<![CDATA[SpaceX And Boeing Are Officially Setting Up Shop On The ISS]]> Wed, 17 Aug 2016 12:34:00 -0500
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The first of two docks for SpaceX and Boeing are about to be installed on the International Space Station. 

The docks will essentially return America's ability to launch astronauts from U.S. soil to the space station. Currently, American astronauts have to hitch a ride with their Russian counterparts. 

It's a critical step in NASA's Commercial Crew Program — which relies on private companies to ferry astronauts between Earth and the ISS. 

SEE MORE: NASA's Mars Mission Might Be In Trouble

The docking adapter will allow SpaceX and Boeing to park their spacecraft on the space station and allow crew to come aboard. 

The capsules designed to fit the dock aren't finished yet. SpaceX is currently working on a manned version of its Dragon capsule, and Boeing is still finishing its CST-100 Starliner.

But if all goes according to plan, the first missions with those crafts are slated for late 2017 and early 2018. 

The dock itself arrived at the ISS on July 20, but astronauts aren't installing it until Friday. Two astronauts aboard the ISS will spend about six hours outside the station to connect the dock. NASA plans to live-stream the entire operation. 

<![CDATA[Massive Yellow Fever Outbreak Prompts Emergency Vaccinations In Africa]]> Wed, 17 Aug 2016 12:22:00 -0500
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Yellow fever is running rampant in parts of Africa, so health organizations are attempting one of the largest emergency vaccine campaigns in the continent's history.

The World Health Organization has teamed up with other groups with the goal to reach over 14 million people.

SEE MORE: West Africa Is Ebola-Free, But The Virus Could Easily Return

Yellow fever is usually spread by mosquitoes. And while most symptoms are mild, extreme cases can lead to organ failure.

The campaign is a response to outbreaks that have killed hundreds in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola.

"This year with the Angola outbreak is the first time we've depleted the stock pile," said Alejandro Costa of the WHO.

Because an emergency vaccine campaign usually takes three to six months to plan — time WHO and other groups don't have — these vaccines are only about a fifth of a typical dose.

Other efforts — like spraying residents' homes to kill mosquitoes — are being carried out by other groups, like Doctors Without Borders.

<![CDATA[Michigan's Lead Problem Extends Beyond Flint]]> Tue, 16 Aug 2016 17:58:00 -0500
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Kids in Flint aren't the only ones in Michigan with higher levels of lead in their blood. A report by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services found an increase in lead in kids 6 years and younger in Detroit and Grand Rapids — along with Flint — from April through June. 

At this point, there's no answer as to why. But the state's health department says potential reasons could be a change in testing patterns and an increase in awareness by parents and doctors. 

Michigan's chief medical executive attributed the awareness factor to Flint, saying, "I think parents are now much more educated about lead. You don't want crises to make people more aware, but this does have the silver lining of making people more aware."

SEE MORE: Beyond Flint: This Town Is A Test Case For Water As A Human Right

That state says the uptick was expected, especially because exposure to lead is going to be higher when it's hot outside. Kids playing outside come into contact with more lead-painted porches and windows and soil with lead in it.  

But no matter where or how they get it, higher levels of lead in kids can lead to brain damage, kidney damage and slower development both mentally and physically. 

Lead contamination is at the top of mind for people in Michigan thanks to Flint's water and health emergencies. The city has a long way to go, but just last week the federal state of emergency ended after researchers said the water quality had improved. 

The state says it's taking the uptick seriously and is working with local health departments to identify affected kids and provide services. 

<![CDATA[Aetna Bails On Obamacare, Leaves Some Arizona Residents High And Dry]]> Tue, 16 Aug 2016 17:04:00 -0500
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Health insurance titan Aetna is pulling out of most of the insurance exchanges created by Obamacare, and that's left one Arizona county high and dry when it comes to health care coverage.

Aetna would have been the only provider selling insurance in Pinal County, Arizona, in 2017. Without them, the nearly 10,000 people in the county who currently rely on the federal marketplace won't be able to buy health insurance.

SEE MORE: Obamacare Premium Costs Could Increase In 2017

The state still has about a week to fill the gap, and the state's insurance department is apparently talking to other insurance providers about picking up the slack. But if that deadline passes, Pinal County residents won't be able to buy any of Obamacare's federally-subsidized insurance plans.

Arizona is just one of the 11 states Aetna will no longer cover through Obamacare; the company's subsidized plans will now only be available in four states. It's the third major insurer to cut back on federal exchanges, following UnitedHealth Group and Humana.

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini cited massive losses as the driving factor behind the exit; the company lost $200 million in the second quarter before taxes. Bertolini previously defended those losses to investors as the cost of entering new markets; he noted Tuesday the company wasn't giving up on exchanges altogether.

SEE MORE: Survey Shows Health Care CEOs Overwhelmingly Support Obamacare

Bertolini said, "We will continue to evaluate our participation in individual public exchanges ... and may expand our footprint in the future should there be meaningful exchange-related policy improvements."

It's also worth noting Aetna is currently squabbling with the Justice Department over its plans to acquire Humana. Last month the DOJ sued to block the proposed merger, arguing it would harm competition.

<![CDATA[Space Is So Big, Even Speed-Of-Light Messaging Can Seem Slow]]> Tue, 16 Aug 2016 15:14:00 -0500
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These days, communication happens at the speed of light — literally as fast as possible. But space is so big, even speed-of-light messages seem slow.

Talking with space station crew in low Earth orbit takes about a second.

SEE MORE: New Horizons Flyby Will Shed Light On Pluto's Mysteries

When Apollo astronauts landed on the moon, round-trip communications were delayed by 2.7 seconds.

Getting a response from Mars probes can take as long as 48 minutes.

Juno, in orbit around Jupiter? One hour, 36 minutes round-trip.

When New Horizons flew by Pluto, the delay was close to nine hours.

And talking to Voyager I — the most distant human-made object in the universe — now takes more than 37 hours.

<![CDATA[This Common Pain Reliever Could Cause Behavioral Issues In Children]]> Tue, 16 Aug 2016 13:50:00 -0500
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Could taking a common painkiller during pregnancy increase the baby's risk of developing behavioral problems later on?

A new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics says yes.

According to researchers in the U.K., children were more likely to show symptoms of hyperactivity and other behavioral issues if their mothers took acetaminophen when they were pregnant.

SEE MORE: Penicillin Shortage Spells Major Concerns For Pregnant Women

Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, is a pain and fever reducer found in hundreds of over-the-counter and prescription medicines, including Tylenol.

Acetaminophen use is generally considered safe during pregnancy.

So safe, in fact, more than half of pregnant women in the U.S. use acetaminophen to relieve symptoms from issues like allergies, colds and sleeplessness.

But this newest study found that when women in the U.K. took the pain reliever between 18 and 32 weeks into their pregnancy, the risk of their child developing hyperactivity, behavioral problems and emotional symptoms increased.

Researchers used data from an ongoing study from the University of Bristol, which is analyzing the health of more than 14,000 families. Still, it's important to note only 5 percent of children showed behavioral problems by age 7.

And neither this study nor any previous research on the subject has proven a causal link between acetaminophen use and negative effects on child development.

Researchers say expectant mothers should remember the overwhelming majority of children exposed to acetaminophen in the womb don't end up having behavioral problems and that pregnant women who need to take it shouldn't be criticized.

<![CDATA[Viruses Might Be More Likely To Get You Sick In The Morning]]> Tue, 16 Aug 2016 13:44:00 -0500
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new study says you're more likely to get sick from a virus if you're infected in the morning.

While bacteria have cells that let them survive and reproduce in a host's body independently, viruses need to hijack the host's cells. And University of Cambridge researchers say these cells may be more vulnerable earlier in the day.

The researchers studied mice and found viruses spread 10 times more effectively when the animals were injected with the virus at "sunrise" than when they were injected later in the day.

SEE MORE: We're Slowly Recruiting Viruses To Treat Cancer

This means an infection that takes hold in the morning could cause more serious harm.

This works another way, too. The discovery supports a past finding, that flu vaccinations are more effective if given in the morning.

And here's another thing. One of the researchers noted every cell in the body has an internal clock that lets it predict changes in the environment.

But having an irregular sleep schedule can disrupt the body's clock. Researchers found when they messed with the mice's sleep schedules, the spread of the infection was no longer related to when the infection was introduced.

Translation: This could mean shift workers –– who may work one night and rest the next –– are more at risk of getting sick from viruses.

The researchers also looked at a gene that regulates the body's clock, and found mice that didn't have it got equally sick, no matter what time of day they were injected with a virus.

But it's not just the case for mice. Your tendency to get the flu in the winter rather than any other time of year? Yeah, this gene drops during that season, too.

<![CDATA[A Satellite That Shoots Light Could Make China Unhackable]]> Tue, 16 Aug 2016 08:43:00 -0500
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In the digital age, cyberattacks and global electronic surveillance can be nightmares for governments.

But China launched a satellite into orbit Tuesday that it hopes will make its communications hack-proof. And it aims to do this by using quantum technology, and a system that is, in theory, impossible to crack.

To simplify, a quantum is the smallest possible amount of many types of energy, like light. And light is exactly what's being used in this case.

SEE MORE: China Hates Democracy So Much It Warns People Not To End Up Like Syria

And here's the other part. A message can be sent through random, jumbled characters as long as the recipient has the key. The trick is keeping an eavesdropper from stealing the key to the message.

To do this, quantum encryption physically passes keys along through small amounts of light. If a third-person tries to intercept it, it'll change.

The Wall Street Journal says it's like writing a message on a soap bubble, and when a person tries to catch it, the bubble pops.

Quantum encryption is seen as reliable when the message is sent over short distances. But with this satellite, China's attempting to use the same principles on a much bigger global scale.

Chinese state-run media says the goal is to use the satellite in multiple fields, like defense, military and finance.

But getting the satellite perfectly in line with the receiving stations on Earth could be hard. The project's chief commander says, "It will be like tossing a coin from a plane at 100,000 meters above the sea level exactly into the slot of a rotating piggy bank."

<![CDATA[Could The Massive Flooding In Louisiana Increase The Risk Of Zika?]]> Mon, 15 Aug 2016 12:01:00 -0500
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Massive flooding continued to wreak havoc in southern Louisiana Monday, leaving thousands of people homeless and stranded.

But once the waters recede and residents begin to rebuild the parts of their lives destroyed by the flood, experts say there could be a different threat waiting for them:

The Zika virus.

The dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine told USA Today the floodwaters could wash away a lot of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which carry the Zika virus, and their eggs.

But eggs that have already been laid in containers, like an empty bucket, could be protected from the water and stimulated to hatch once the flooding stops.

He told the outlet, "We could be seeing an increased number of Aedes aegypti now in the coming weeks. This is crunch time."

SEE MORE: It Might Be Too Late To Stop Zika, But It's Not All Bad News

According to the World Health Organization, standing water caused by flooding can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry diseases like Zika, West Nile and malaria.

But, as an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told USA Today, the Aedes aegypti mosquito is smaller than other species and can easily be washed away by floodwaters.

There haven't been any local cases of Zika reported in Louisiana. But health officials have confirmed a total of 23 cases of travel-associated Zika transmission in the state.

<![CDATA[An English Zoo Says It Is The First To Breed This Rare Type Of Spider]]> Mon, 15 Aug 2016 10:43:00 -0500
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A zoo in England says it's the first to successfully breed an extremely rare and mysterious species of spider. 

Roughly 200 Montserrat tarantulas recently hatched at the Chester Zoo. 

Aside from the fact that their native home is an island in the Caribbean, little was known about the tarantulas before researchers at the zoo began studying a small group of them three years ago. 

SEE MORE: Scientists Created A Wire That Acts Like A Spider's Web

One challenge for the researchers was the difference in lifespans. Males live two and a half years, at the most, while the females live much longer. Because of this, scientists worry males will die off before females reach sexual maturity.

That is assuming the females even accept the males' advances. One of the scientists told the BBC the females can choose to kill the males instead of mating with them. 

Ultimately, three females did choose partners, and then they disappeared. The BBC reports  three apparently impregnated females buried themselves underground for months, leaving the scientists wondering what happened to them. 

Eventually, about 200 spiderlings rose from the ground, all coming from one female. 

The zoo says this was the first successful breeding of the threatened Montserrat tarantulas. And it added that techniques the scientists learned in this process will be applied to breed other threatened species. 

Conserving Montserrat tarantulas could also help species that prey on them, like the mountain chicken frog, which is endangered

<![CDATA[This Family Saved Their 4-Year-Old From A Mountain Lion Attack]]> Mon, 15 Aug 2016 09:09:00 -0500
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The parents of a 4-year-old Idaho girl are being credited with saving their daughter from a mountain lion attack. 

"I just had this comfort, and I knew she was OK. And I felt like angels were there protecting her," the girl's mother told East Idaho News.

It happened Friday night at the family's campsite near Green Canyon Hot Springs.

Kera Butt, the girl's mother, saw the mountain lion in the distance and warned everybody. A short time later, as the children were playing, the lion attacked Kelsi Butt. 

Adults rushed toward the girl and scared off the mountain lion, much like this one.

Kelsi was treated for her injuries, which included bite marks and scratches.

SEE MORE: Mom Rescues 5-Year-Old From The Jaws Of A Mountain Lion

Madison County Sheriff's deputies killed the mountain lion early Saturday. 

And how's this for brave? Kelsi and her family returned to the campsite for the rest of their scheduled camping trip after leaving the hospital. 

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game said sightings of the animals and attacks on humans are rare.

East Idaho News reports the family wants one of the lion's claws and teeth to remember just how lucky they were.

<![CDATA[The Heat In NYC Means Cockroaches Are Flying, So That's Horrifying]]> Sun, 14 Aug 2016 09:25:00 -0500
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New Yorkers have a lot to deal with — sky-high rent prices, an overcrowded metro system and a heat wave reaching dangerous temperatures. And now? Flying cockroaches.

DNAinfo published a study on Friday that said the heat wave taking over the Upper East Side apparently signals to the city's roach population that it's time to take flight — and people aren't having it. 

SEE MORE: Lightning Struck An Unusual Number Of People This Week In New York

Ken Schumann, a researcher at Bell Environmental Services said, "When it's warm and steamy that seems to be what they like."

The study claims the higher the temperatures, the more the roaches are able to use their muscles. And the more activity they get, the chance of them stopping goes down. Which is probably why in humid states, like Texas and Florida, the flying beasts are just a part of life.

Researchers say the ample trash supply in New York has encouraged the roaches to stick to the ground over the years. On the plus side for the bugs, that trash supply can now provide all the energy needed for the pests to infest the air.

But New Yorkers shouldn't worry too much. The roaches can't fly long distances. Instead, Schumann said, "It's almost like they just glide down."

So stay cool New Yorkers and have fun dodging the newly liberated cockroaches.

Music provided courtesy of APM Music. 

<![CDATA[What Makes An Olympic Swimming Pool 'Fast'?]]> Sat, 13 Aug 2016 16:35:00 -0500
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The oldest Olympic swimming records are from the 2008 games in Beijing. Setting new record times has become a bit of a trend since then.

Yes, these are some of the most capable swimmers on the planet. But experts think the pools themselves might have something to do with it, too.

SEE MORE: We Humans Are A Lot Faster And Stronger Than We Used To Be

"It's by far the fastest pool in the world. And when I say fast, I'm talking about deep water," NBC's Rowdy Gaines told NPR in 2008.

Since the Beijing games, all the Olympic pools have been 3 meters deep, the recommended Olympic depth set by swimming's world governing body.

By accident or by design, it's deep enough that the waves the swimmers generate don't rebound off the bottom, so the water at the surface stays calmer.

Lane lines, unoccupied buffer lanes on either side and special gutters along the edges of the pool all help reduce the effect waves and turbulence have on the swimmers.

And the benefit would seem to be in the numbers. During the Rio Olympics, swimmers set more than 10 new world or Olympic records.

<![CDATA[Trillions Of These Are Flying Through Your Body Right Now]]> Fri, 12 Aug 2016 16:12:00 -0500
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The particles of the standard model are the smallest bits of matter we know of. They make up everything, go everywhere — they're even flying through you right now.

Some of them, like neutrinos, are so small that 100 trillion pass through the space within your atoms every second — and most of them keep going right through the planet.

You encounter one sextillion photons per second, most of them from our sun. This includes visible light and ultraviolet radiation, which is why you wear sunscreen.

SEE MORE: Data Suggests There's Probably Not A New Particle Like We Thought

Muons come from cosmic rays and pass through you at a rate of close to 300 per second. They make up about 5 percent of all radiation you get in a year.

And while we still don't understand them the way we do the particles of the standard model, scientists estimate billions of dark matter particles pass through your body every second. They're a very tiny source of radiation and don't appear to do any harm.

<![CDATA[These Tiny Island Foxes Just Bounced Back From Near Extinction]]> Fri, 12 Aug 2016 10:41:00 -0500
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These adorable miniature foxes native to California's Channel Islands were classified as an endangered species back in 2004.

But now, just 12 years later, federal officials say three subspecies of the little guys have made a full recovery.

And that's a pretty big deal.

SEE MORE: A Majority Of The World's Largest Animals Could Be Extinct By 2100

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the foxes that roam the islands of San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz were declared federally endangered after golden eagles nearly wiped them out.

Officials say, by 2000, there were only 15 foxes each left on San Miguel and Santa Rosa and 55 foxes left on Santa Cruz.

But thanks to an effort that bred the foxes in captivity while relocating their predators, the species made a record-breaking recovery.

The director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services said in a statement: "It's remarkable to think that in 2004, these foxes were given a 50 percent chance of going extinct in the next decade. Yet here we are today."

But the recovery effort definitely had its fair share of controversy.

See, golden eagles prey on piglets, so wildlife officials said they had to shoot and kill thousands of feral pigs on the islands to force the eagles to hunt elsewhere. And several animal rights groups weren't too happy about that.

Still, wildlife officials consider the foxes' recovery a resounding success, and they say they hope it can be a template for saving other species.

This video includes clips from The Nature ConservancyU.S. National Park Service and Planet Doc and images from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

<![CDATA[Tyson Fires Employees After Another Animal Cruelty Video Surfaces]]> Thu, 11 Aug 2016 18:18:00 -0500
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Tyson Foods has fired employees, changed its policies and pledged to re-train its workers after an undercover video captured scenes of graphic animal cruelty.

The footage, secretly captured by animal rights group Compassion Over Killing, shows workers at a Tyson chicken breeding farm hitting, punching and throwing chickens. One clip captures a supervisor suffocating a chicken by standing on its head. 

SEE MORE: McDonald's Just Revamped Its Chicken Nuggets

The supervisor told the undercover worker: "Can't let nobody see you do that. ... It's inhumane, standing on his head and letting him suffocate. They'll take you to court for that."

Tyson responded to the video by firing 10 members of the crew captured in the footage and says it will cooperate with authorities over any animal cruelty charges. It also promised to re-emphasize the importance of animal welfare to its employees.

Compassion Over Killing's video also documents the practice of "boning," or piercing part of a young male bird's nostrils to limit their food consumption. Tyson says it's phased the practice out at all but two locations, and those locations have been ordered to stop as well.

Christine Daugherty, vice president of sustainable food production for Tyson Foods, told Compassion Over Killing: "Animals in our care deserve to be treated humanely. It's our responsibility to ensure that everyone who works for our company behaves properly. Our management team is dedicated to continue fostering a culture of proper animal handling."

SEE MORE: Tyson Foods Ends Contract With Pig Farm Over Abuse Video

The largest chicken processor in the world, Tyson has been targeted numerous times by undercover activists. The company fired two workers last year after a similar video of animal abuse was released.

This video includes images from Getty Images and clips from Tyson Foods. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

<![CDATA[Deep-Space Exploration Requires Habitats, And NASA's On It]]> Thu, 11 Aug 2016 13:25:00 -0500
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NASA has partnered with six U.S. companies to make livable habitats on Mars.

The agency announced Tuesday the second part of its Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships, or NextSTEP, program to advance deep-space exploration and development.

The six partners will have approximately 24 months to develop prototypes of "deep space habitats" where humans can live and work for months or years at a time on the red planet.

SEE MORE: Commercial Space Companies Have Big Plans For The Future

The companies selected are Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Space Systems and NanoRacks.

NASA says the prototypes will be the testing ground for long-term human, robotic and spacecraft missions to the planet.

The prototypes won't come cheap, though. NASA's bill is estimated to be around $65 million from 2016 to 2017, with additional funding continuing to 2018 if necessary.

Of course, NASA isn't sure if these prototypes will be ready by the end of the 24 months — or ever. But for all the space nerds out there, this could get us one step closer to colonizing Mars.

This video includes clips and images from NASA and images from Getty Images. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

<![CDATA[This Giant Shark Can Live For 400 Years]]> Thu, 11 Aug 2016 13:01:00 -0500
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Think tortoises live a long time? The oldest known tortoises have gotten close to 200 years. That's pretty old.

But it's got nothing on the Greenland shark, which is huge, rare and, it turns out, extremely long-lived.

Greenland sharks are the new record holders for longest-living vertebrates after a new study put their maximum lifespan at an incredible 400 years.

SEE MORE: Want To See What A Shark Sees? This Camera Can Show You

The study also found they don't even reach sexual maturity until around 150 years old. So at an age when tortoises are becoming elderly, Greenland sharks are just leaving childhood.

In fact, lots of ocean dwellers live longer than tortoises. Bowhead whales can live more than 200 years. Even a humble koi fish is thought to have survived to age 226. 

The sharks have one thing in common with tortoises, though: They both move very slowly. Greenland sharks tend to swim at about 1 or 2 miles per hour.

This video includes clips from Rod Kennedy / CC BY 3.0St. Helena GovernmentBBCSan Diego ZooNational Geographic and Leonhard Weese / CC BY 3.0 and images from Julius Nielsen. Music by Frenic / CC BY 3.0.

<![CDATA[These Mind-Controlled Robots Are Changing Paralyzed Patients' Lives]]> Thu, 11 Aug 2016 07:56:00 -0500
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For decades, scientists have tried to build machines that can scan a person's brain and translate their thoughts into movement. The research has had some success, offering rare hope that paralyzed people or amputees might one day be able to move and walk again just by thinking.

But researchers in Brazil and the U.S. weren't expecting to see their test subjects actually get better. In an incredible first, people who were completely paralyzed regained some natural control over their own bodies — all by training to work with robots.

Eight paraplegic patients spent a year using brain-scanning helmets to move virtual legs or command robotic body parts as part of the Walk Again Project.

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

All eight of them regained some ability to feel sensations and contract muscles in their lower limbs; some could move their legs again. Four patients improved so much that doctors revised their clinical status from complete to partial paralysis.

What's more, participants regained some control over bladder, bowel and even sexual functions, which can have a huge impact on quality of life.

The team wasn't expecting this. Some subjects had been considered completely paralyzed for more than a decade. The researchers said when the training started, the subjects' brains had basically erased leg movement from their toolkits.

"These patients may have been able to transmit some of this information from the cortex through the spinal cord through the very few nerves that may have survived the original trauma. It's almost like we turned them on again," said lead researcher Miguel Nicolelis.

The same group of patients is approaching two years of therapy now, and while the results aren't published yet, they've reportedly continued to improve. Next, the scientists want to test using their program as a treatment — on purpose this time.

This video includes clips from DARPATomasz Rutkowski / CC BY 3.0, the University of Houston,  Korea University / TU Berlin / CC BY SA 4.0Johns Hopkins University and Alberto Santos Dumont Association for Research Support and Lente Viva Filmes, São Paulo, Brazil and images from Shawn Rocco/Duke Health. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

<![CDATA[It's August, And We've Already Maxed Out Earth's Resources For 2016]]> Wed, 10 Aug 2016 08:42:00 -0500
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We haven't even made it to the middle of August, and we've already used all of Earth's resources for the year. At least that's what one group of researchers thinks.

Global Footprint Network, an international climate research group, keeps track of the world's resources like a budget and monitors how much each country uses.

SEE MORE: The Slow Rise Of America's Renewable Energy Market

The U.S. consumes the third most resources per person, demanding roughly five times what the planet can sustainably regenerate.

Under the current trends, the world population as a whole needs 1.6 Earths to meet its resource demand. By 2030, the researchers predict it will need two.

SEE MORE: Is It Safe To Store Carbon Dioxide Deep Underground?

How much we use, in resources, isn't the only issue. There's also the question of how much of our waste the Earth's atmosphere can absorb. Carbon emissions were this year's fastest growing contributor to the budget max out.

The researchers say the day when the world reaches that zero balance comes earlier and earlier. Last year it was on Aug. 13. This year it was Aug. 8.

This video includes clips from ABCCCTVU.S. Department of Energy and Deutsche Welle. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

<![CDATA[Clinton And Trump Seem To Have Really Different Views On Zika]]> Tue, 09 Aug 2016 19:38:00 -0500
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"This is a serious challenge and one that we need to be mobilized to address before it expands," Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said in a press conference Tuesday. 

SEE MORE: Congress Is Going On Vacation – Without Funding The Fight Against Zika

Clinton has called on Congress to come back just to vote on Zika funds as the virus starts to directly impact America. That's a bit different from what her GOP rival, Donald Trump, said earlier this week when asked about whether an emergency session was necessarry. 

"I would say that's up to Rick Scott. It depends on what he's looking to do. Because he really seems to have it under control in Florida," Trump told WPEC

Well, Rick Scott has once again made it clear what he wants. On Tuesday, he reiterated his call for Congress to "show up," saying, "The federal government must stop playing politics and Congress needs to immediately come back to session to resolve this."

It'll be interesting to see if Trump's message will change as we get closer to the general election. As you probably already know, Florida is a huge swing state and Clinton is signaling that Zika will be a big issue on the campaign trail. She's already called out the Trump campaign's rhetoric on Zika and sent aides to Puerto Rico early on. 

SEE MORE: Zika's Untold War: The Fight Continues

And Congress really needs to get a move on. The funding they transferred from the Ebola fund is about to run out, and four more people in Florida have gotten the Zika virus from mosquitoes, bringing the state's total to 21. 

This video includes video from Scott for FloridaDonald J. Trump for President Inc.WPECYahooRight Side Broadcasting and Hillary for America. Music provided courtesy of APM Music. 

<![CDATA[Commercial Space Companies Have Big Plans For The Future]]> Tue, 09 Aug 2016 16:10:00 -0500
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Private companies' influence on space is about to expand way past just resupplying the International Space Station.

SpaceVR wants to put a 360-degree camera in orbit, so anyone with a virtual reality headset can look around and appreciate the views — without all the astronaut training.

In 2017, it will launch its satellite aboard a SpaceX supply mission. In the future, the company hopes to put the cameras "around the solar system."

SEE MORE: One Small Step For Science, One Giant Leap For Commercial Space Travel

Moon Express is planning a literal moonshot. The company has partnered with NASA to put an unmanned lander on the moon by 2017. It would be the first private company to leave Earth's orbit.

It wants to eventually harvest lunar resources, water and exotic fuels like helium-3, which could provide clean power for nuclear reactors here on Earth.

SEE MORE: Apollo Astronauts' Health Issues Reveal A Hurdle To Deep-Space Travel

Deep Space Industries wants to provide fuel, air and raw materials to other commercial and non-commercial missions.

For that, it needs to mine asteroids. Its first test flight will attempt to land a probe on a nearby space rock before 2020.

And SpaceX, of course, wants to send commercial missions to Mars as early as 2018. For that, it needs a bigger rocket — the Falcon Heavy could get its first test launch as soon as December.

This video includes clips from SpaceXSpaceVRNASAMoon Express and Deep Space Industries. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

<![CDATA[Texas Confirms Its First Zika-Related Death]]> Tue, 09 Aug 2016 11:59:00 -0500
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Texas health officials confirmed the state's first Zika-related death on Tuesday.

According to KTRK, a baby girl born with microcephaly died shortly after birth.

SEE MORE: Zika Vaccine Trials Have Begun, But Funding Is About To Run Out

KPRC reports the baby's mother traveled to El Salvador while she was pregnant and is believed to have been infected there.

However, the outlet reports the mother didn't know she was infected until after the baby was born a few weeks ago.

SEE MORE: Zika's Untold War: Power vs. The People

Harris County health officials told KHOU test results linked the infant's birth defects to the Zika virus.

"Zika's impact on unborn babies can be tragic, and our hearts are with this family," said Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner for Texas Department of State Health Services. "Our central mission from the beginning has been to do everything we can to protect unborn babies from the devastating effects of Zika."

At least one other case of an infant born with microcephaly has been reported in the same county.

While there haven't been any confirmed cases of people contracting the virus in Texas, health officials say they are "on alert for the possibility of local transmission."

The news comes shortly after officials in Florida reported more than a dozen cases of Zika were locally transmitted in Miami.

Zika is primarily transmitted through infected mosquitoes. It usually comes with mild symptoms, including a rash, fever and joint pain. However, it can cause birth defects in infected pregnant women. That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued travel notices urging pregnant women not to travel to Central and South America where the virus is more prevalent.

This video includes clips from ABCKRIVWFORCBSCenters for Disease Control and Prevention and NBC, and images from Getty Images.

<![CDATA[One New Discovery Could Treat 3 Neglected Diseases]]> Tue, 09 Aug 2016 10:40:00 -0500
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One new discovery might eventually fight three tropical diseases.

Parasites that cause Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and so-called sleeping sickness infect a combined 20 million people each year –– mostly in poorer communities in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Funding for treatment has been a problem compared to other diseases. While more than 50,000 people die each year due to those three illnesses, experts say people infected with the highly publicized Zika virus rarely get sick enough to need medical attention.

SEE MORE: Florida's Zika Problem Could Be Much Bigger Than The Numbers Suggest

All three parasites that cause those diseases have vastly different symptoms in human hosts, and each is spread by a different insect.

Yet they all have a common enzyme. A team of scientists has discovered one compound that could effectively kill all three parasites. It works by binding to them and preventing them from spreading.

CNN notes there are already drugs on the market to fight these diseases, but some aren't practical given the availability of medical care in these poorer regions. One benefit of the new drug is it could be taken as a pill.

So far, the compound has only been tested on animals, but it didn't show adverse effects or do damage when applied to human cells. That means it could have fewer side effects than the drugs that currently treat the parasites.

This video includes clips from Al JazeeraKazakh TVAnimal PlanetWTVFNBCABCKRQE and Doctors Without Borders and images from Curtis-Robles et al. / CC BY 4.0.

<![CDATA[Here's What Those Red Spots On Michael Phelps' Back Were All About]]> Mon, 08 Aug 2016 09:39:00 -0500
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If you were watching coverage of the Olympics on Sunday night and wondering what the heck those spots on Michael Phelps' back and shoulders were, you weren't alone.

SEE MORE: Rio Olympics Are Shaping Up To Be Great For Michael Phelps ... So Far

And no, they weren't perfectly circular hickeyspepperoni tattoos or the result of a fight with cookie-cutter sharks.

Turns out, the marks are actually from cupping, an ancient form of Chinese therapy. And it's not as uncommon as you might think.

Here's how it works. A therapist takes round suction cups, heats them up and places them on sore parts of the body. The suction from the cup is believed to relieve the pain by stimulating the muscles and blood flow in the area.

Phelps is a huge cupping fan. He's posted several snippets of his experiences on Instagram.

And the therapy even made its way into his Under Armour commercial.

Clearly, Phelps created quite the buzz with his cupping marks. But he's not the only Olympic athlete sporting them. U.S. gymnast Alex Naddour and Belarusian swimmer Pavel Sankovich have both been spotted with the spots.

So far, science has yet to prove that cupping truly relieves pain. But proponents of the treatment swear by it, and it's generally believed to be safe.

This video includes clips from WMARKMSPKTSMInstitute of Clinically Applied Hijama Therapy and ACE Massage Cupping and images from Getty Images. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

<![CDATA[Disney World Is Building A Wall To Prevent Another Alligator Attack]]> Mon, 08 Aug 2016 07:01:00 -0500
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"At about 3:30 today, we recovered the remains of the 2-year-old from the water," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said in June.

It has been nearly two months since an alligator dragged 2-year-old Lane Graves from the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon at a Walt Disney World hotel. 

Now, construction crews are building a wall of boulders in the hopes it will prevent another tragedy.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the wall is part of the original plan implemented in the days after the incident. USA Today reports the wall is expected to be completed by October.

SEE MORE: Rescuers Recover Body Of Toddler Attacked By Alligator Near Disney

The Graves family was enjoying a night on the beach of the lagoon near Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa on June 14 while visiting from Nebraska. Lane had been standing in the water when an alligator dragged him in.

The boy's father, Matt Graves, tried to rescue his son from the alligator but was unsuccessful. 

Prior to the incident, there weren't any signs warning visitors about the alligators. Afterward, Disney installed warning signs and a rope fence.

In the days after the attack, wildlife officials captured and killed several alligators to ensure the alligator responsible was no longer a threat.

Last month, the Graves family released a statement saying it would not sue Walt Disney World.

The statement said in part, "As each day passes, the pain gets worse ... we will solely be focused on the future health of our family."

The family also announced the creation of the Lane Thomas Foundation.

This video includes clips from ABCWFTV and WKMG, and images from the Graves family and Getty Images. 

<![CDATA[For These Vigilantes In India, Cows Come Before People]]> Sun, 07 Aug 2016 14:45:00 -0500
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India has cow vigilantes whose goal is to protect the animals — but for some, that comes at the cost of other humans.

Cows are highly valued and respected among much of India's largely Hindu population, and the vigilantes want to enforce that. 

This often includes targeting low-income families and those outside of the Hindu faith who eat beef. 

SEE MORE: America's Meat Obsession Isn't Great For The Environment

It's already illegal in most Indian states to kill cows or eat their meat. 

Since last year, dozens of people have been attacked or killed. 

And it's caused protests all over India, especially by members of the Dalit community — the lowest caste — who are often targeted. 

Dalits are primarily the ones in charge of removing cow carcasses from Indian roads if the animals die. Cows in India are allowed to roam freely. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke out against the vigilante groups for the first time at the beginning of August. In fact, he addressed it two days in a row.

And even the U.S. government has spoken out about the violence over beef. At the end of July, U.S. Department of State spokesman John Kirby said, "We stand in solidarity with the people in the government of India in supporting exercise of freedom of religion and expression."

This video includes clips from the Office of Indian Prime Minister Narendra ModiVideo VolunteersAaj TakNational DastakPatty Ho / CC BY 2.0 and India Parish / CC BY 2.0 and images from Getty Images. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

<![CDATA[Sharks Munching On A Whale Carcass Close Down Massachusetts Beaches]]> Sun, 07 Aug 2016 12:31:00 -0500
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In case sharks weren't terrifying enough, seeing what a pair of great whites did to a whale carcass puts things in a whole different perspective. 

The Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Massachusetts, found a mostly intact minke whale carcass in Cape Cod on Wednesday. 

SEE MORE: A Dying Breed: Why South Africa's Great White Sharks Are Disappearing

But when they went back the next day, they found little more than a spinal column and skull remained. 

At least two great whites were picking the carcass clean. The find led to the closure of several local beaches, since there were sharks actively feeding in the area. 

The whale carcass washed up on shore on Friday, so there was a good chance the sharks gave up and left the area. 

A marine science professor told The Guardian great whites have actually seen a resurgence in the area thanks to conservation measures put in place in the '90s. 

But that doesn't necessarily mean you have to be worried. He said, "Everybody thinks there are these crazy sharks out to be raging predators, but they focus on the dead, the sick, the dying."

This video includes images from Getty Images and clips from National GeographicCenter for Coastal Studies in Provincetown and Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.

<![CDATA[Jupiter Is Making The Perseid Meteor Shower Way Better This Year]]> Sat, 06 Aug 2016 13:21:00 -0500
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The Perseid meteor shower could be nearly twice as flashy this year.

Skywatchers could see as many as 200 meteors per hour under the darkest conditions. Astronomers call these increases in activity "outbursts."

The energetic show is thanks to Jupiter, in a roundabout way.

SEE MORE: Jupiter's Great Red Spot Is So Loud It Heats Up The Planet

All Perseid meteors come from the debris trail of comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the Sun every 133 years.

We see the Perseid meteor shower when Earth passes through the debris trail. Most years, it's not a direct hit.

But researchers at NASA say Jupiter has been pulling the dust trails around with its outsize gravity.

This year, Earth might run right through the middle of the streams, meaning more meteors will burn up in the atmosphere.

And the show's already started. Meteor activity is expected to peak on Aug. 11 and 12.

This video includes clips from Angel Fire Resort / CC BY 3.0NASA and Tom Munnecke / CC BY 3.0 and images from Gerald Rhemann / NASA and the European Southern Observatory.

<![CDATA[Data Suggests There's Probably Not A New Particle Like We Thought]]> Fri, 05 Aug 2016 16:10:00 -0500
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Late last year, physicists thought they might have found a new particle — sparking a flood of research papers — but it turns out it was probably a false alarm.

In 2015, the Large Hadron Collider made a "measurement that deviates slightly from what would be expected from known physics."

Now, with about four months of more recent data to work with, signs of the new particle have more or less disappeared. This happens pretty regularly in particle physics.

And deviations from known physics are a big deal. They could represent new parts of the Standard Model, which is the simplest explanation scientists have come up with for how all the matter in the universe works.

SEE MORE: CERN Says LHC Really Found Higgs Boson, Will Restart In 2015

The last time physicists added to the model was with the discovery of the Higgs Boson in 2012. This latest measurement showed an early "bump" in the particle collision data — the same way we found evidence of the Higgs.

There were suggestions the spike might be evidence of heavier particles like gravitons, which are the theoretical particles responsible for the effects of gravity. They're part of the Standard Model we haven't explained yet.

But, again, probably a false alarm. Researchers want to analyze the LHC's entire 2016 dataset so they can be more confident about whether the spike exists. Experiments will run through October.

This video includes clips from CERN, the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

<![CDATA[Reading A Book For Just 3.5 Hours A Week Could Help You Live Longer]]> Fri, 05 Aug 2016 10:10:00 -0500
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Reading a chapter a day may keep the doctor away. 

That's according to a new study of the benefits of reading books. 

Researchers say they found book readers live an average of two years longer than people who don't read at all.

The study's authors analyzed data from more than 3,500 people who were participating in a larger health study. They were all over the age of 50 and answered several questions about reading.

Researchers then divided the participants into three groups: those who didn't read any books, those who read books for up to three and a half hours a week and those who read books longer than that.

After controlling for certain factors such as gender, education level, income and race, the authors found those who read for up to three and a half hours per week were 17 percent less likely to die over 12 years of follow-up. 

And those participants who reported reading more than that were 23 percent less likely to die.

The study's senior author told The New York Times, "People who report as little as a half-hour a day of book reading had a significant survival advantage over those who did not read."

SEE MORE: An Antibiotic Found In Our Noses Fights MRSA

Now, the reason why book lovers appear to live longer is still unclear.

But several recent studies have shown books can have a positive impact on a person's life.

Like this report published in The Economic Journal back in the spring. 

Researchers found children who had access to books were able to expect a higher adult income than those who didn't.

You can read more about this most recent study in the journal Social Science & Medicine. After all, it's good for your health.

This video includes clips from TriStar Pictures / "Matilda," images from Getty Images and music from Kevin MacLeod / CC BY 3.0.

<![CDATA[Happy Lonely Birthday, Curiosity]]> Fri, 05 Aug 2016 09:43:40 -0500
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Curiosity landed on Mars on Aug. 5, 2012. It's now four years old.

So it's singing "Happy Birthday" to itself, using tools designed to analyze samples of Mars' dirt.

SEE MORE: How NASA Brings Parts Of The Universe Home

There won't be a Martian birthday party. The current population of Mars is just two — robots.

Curiosity's nearest friend is Opportunity. It's on the other side of the planet.

This video includes clips and images from NASA.

<![CDATA[This Flower Smells Like Rotting, Nasty, Putrid Flesh]]> Thu, 04 Aug 2016 18:39:00 -0500
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This flower smells like death.

"The first five or six hours, it definitely was giving kind of the dead-animal, rotting-flesh smell where the name corpse flower comes from," said Devin Dotson, a communications specialist with the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. "But it kind of changed in the early afternoon to a cabbage sort of smell. And then late that night, it was kind of like hot trash."

SEE MORE: Why Sunflowers Follow The Sun

This flower doesn't bloom often. So when it does, everyone gets super pumped. People waited in line for hours on the first day it bloomed at the garden in Washington.

"It's a rock star plant. People love to see it. It has such a unique story both of its size, its unpredictability and its horrible smell," said Dotson.

The flower blooms randomly, and it could bloom once in a decade or as often as back-to-back years. When it does, it only blooms for 24-72 hours.

This year, a bunch of corpse flowers are blooming across the country, from Florida to Missouri. Experts don't really know why they're all blooming at once. Some think it's possible the plants in the U.S. are all related.

"We're looking into a few ideas about why there might be multiples blooming," Dotson said. "It's totally smelling because it wants to attract pollinators. It's all trying to reproduce."

But the plant's smell wouldn't attract your average flower pollinator, like a bee.

"Flies, carrion beetles who are looking for something that smells like rotting flesh. It heats up on the first day that it opens. It can reach as much as 100 degrees. In the wild, it can move its scent as far as a mile away from a single plant."

This video includes music from APM Music.

<![CDATA[Scientists Are Pushing Ahead With Human-Animal Hybrid Research]]> Thu, 04 Aug 2016 17:32:00 -0500
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Lots of people are creeped out by the idea of scientists making human-animal hybrids in the lab, but the government's ban on funding the research turned out to be short-lived. 

The National Institutes of Health plans to start funding hybrid research in early 2017, around a year and a half after saying scientists needed to slow down and consider the implications. 

SEE MORE: Gene Editing Tool CRISPR Is Making Scientists Face The Hard Questions

Understanding exactly what the NIH could be allowing can be tricky, though. Let's start with what's already considered normal in medical research. 

Swapping body parts between humans and animals is commonplace these days. Thousands of people are walking around with pig valves in their hearts, for instance. 

Scientists would eventually like to be able to give patients the pig's entire heart, not just a valve. When it comes to animal organs we might one day give people, pig hearts are the favorite option. 

All kinds of animals have been given snippets of human DNA, too. It can make their parts more suitable for transplant and helps scientists study human diseases in the lab without needing to experiment on people. 

So when it comes to mixing human and animal DNA, that genie is long out of the bottle. What the government has been stalling over is a step further: putting not just human DNA, but human stem cells into animals. Some scientists are already doing this using other funding sources. 

The scientists engineer a pig or sheep embryo not to be able to make a certain organ, like the heart or pancreas. They then take human cells, usually skin from adults, make them into stem cells and inject them into the animal embryo to fill in the gap. 

The animal would then be born with a human organ as part of its body. 

In context, it doesn't look that different from what scientists have been doing for decades. But the difference between animals with some human DNA and animals with entire human organs is enough to raise a lot of ethical questions. 

If you want the NIH to hear what you think, the agency will post its new guidelines Friday and give the public 30 days to comment. 

This video includes clips from PBSEva-Karin Viklund / CC BY 3.0, and Andy Richards / North Carolina State University and images from Getty Images, Robertolyra / CC BY SA 2.0jmaggliocco and Andy333. Music provided courtesy of APM Music. 

<![CDATA[A Legend Of A Flood Spurring Chinese Civilization May Be A Little True]]> Thu, 04 Aug 2016 13:46:00 -0500
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Scientists might have confirmed a 4,000-year-old legend: the story of the beginning of Chinese civilization.

As the legend goes, a huge flood from the Yellow River lasted a generation until a hero known as Yu the Great dredged and built canals.

For that, the rulers of the area were so grateful they made him emperor. His descendants became China's first great dynasty, taking the country into the bronze age.

Yu's story supposedly happened around 2,000 B.C., but the earliest written records about him come more than a thousand years later. So the tale of China's founding is seen as a myth.

But scientists recently discovered an area of the Yellow River with evidence of an earthquake, landslide, natural dam and a dam burst that consequently would have led to a massive flood –– all happening around 1,900 B.C.

Plus, the clues suggest the river would have taken a long time to adjust to that flooding, meaning that whole "lasting a generation" part could actually be true.

The researchers say the "flood shares the main characteristics of the Great Flood described in ancient texts."

Even if the flood happened, there are still parts of the legend that seem a little fanciful — like that part about Yu fighting a dragon.

SEE MORE: Researchers Found A Really, Really Old Beer Recipe In China

This video includes clips from CCTVNTDTV and Wu Qinglong and images from Cai Linhai, Carla Schaffer / AAAS and Gisling / CC BY SA 3.0. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

<![CDATA[Why Sunflowers Follow The Sun]]> Thu, 04 Aug 2016 13:14:00 -0500
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Why do sunflowers follow the sun? More sunlight equals better growth, and the plants know it.

New research shows this sun-tracking is a circadian rhythm. The plants turn overnight to face east because their internal clocks anticipate sunrise.

SEE MORE: Apparently, Plants Know How To 'Gamble'

Biologists at the University of California, Davis demonstrated this regulation and its reliance on the sun when they moved the plants into a room with constant overhead light. Their east-west rhythm deteriorated in a few days.

And when researchers staked plants in place or turned their pots away from the sun in the mornings, they didn't grow as big as the rest.

This sun-following behavior eventually stops naturally when the sunflower matures and its priority shifts from growth to pollination.

Mature sunflowers face east constantly to catch the first rays of the sun. According to the researchers, "bees like warm flowers" — as much as five times more than cold ones.

This video includes clips from Peter Sachs / CC BY 3.0Hagop Atamian / UC Davis, the University of Wyoming / CC BY 3.0Kevin Karl / CC BY 3.0 and Nicky Creux / UC Davis and images from Chris Nicolini / UC Davis, Ben Blackman / UC Berkeley and Evan Brown / University of Virginia. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

<![CDATA[This Vietnamese Slum Gets Electricity From Plastic Buckets]]> Thu, 04 Aug 2016 13:09:00 -0500
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These plastic buckets provide supplemental electricity for a slum in Vietnam.

They harness energy much like wind turbines. Old printer motors act as generators, and old motorcycle batteries store the energy. 

SEE MORE: Chernobyl May Produce Energy Again, But This Time It Will Be Clean

The entire system costs about $44 and supplements electricity in the whole community, or about 14 families. Without the new system, electricity was limited and cost each family about $15 a month.

The wind turbines have supplemented enough energy to cut bills by a third.

So far, this slum along the Red River is the only area to install the system. The project's creators gave the residents 10 turbines at no cost.  

But residents were pretty wary at first. The inventor had to go there multiple times to convince them he didn't mean any harm. 

Not only does the system help Vietnam's poor, it's also environmentally friendly.

This video includes clips from Le Coung. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

<![CDATA[Asking For A Friend: What's It Like To Be A Professional Cuddler?]]> Wed, 03 Aug 2016 16:03:00 -0500
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Keeley Shoup has a unique job. She opens up her home — and arms — to clients. Her office is a panda-packed pillow top mattress, where she banks $80 per hour. And where most would see a desktop computer, she has a copy of a book titled "The Cuddle Sutra" to help her clients with those touchy subjects.

Keeley cuddles as a career and is essentially certified in spooning via Cuddlist — a site that promotes a strict code of conduct for both users and facilitators. Newsy's Cody LaGrow lay down with her and asked, "What's it like to be a professional cuddler?"

Cody LaGrow: "What is the end goal of a professional cuddler?"

Keeley Shoup: "What I do, in my profession, is I say consensual, nonsexual touch is the end goal. The goal is relaxation."

CL: "Can you describe the rules when it comes to cuddling?"

KS: "The rules are that are clothes are going to stay on. We are not going to touch other in our bathing suit areas. The other one, and it's kind of squicky, is no saliva exchange."

CL: "Who is your average client?"

KS: "I do have female clients. Love them. Average would be male — 35-60. Men aren't given as many outlets in life to nonsexually touch people. Women are traditionally the caregivers, they have kids, snuggle kids. They can hug each other. You don't see a ton of guys hugging each other because that's just not how our society, specifically in America, socializes and normalizes it. There's a thing called skin hunger."

SEE MORE: Asking For A Friend: How Do I Fix 'Skinny Fat'?

CL: "Do you think you could show me and be my outlet today?"

KS: "Do you have a favorite cuddle position?"

CL: "I guess I'm always forced into being little spoon."

KS: "Are you used to just spooning?"

CL: "I guess my only experience in cuddling comes from spooning."

KS: "Do you want to try something different today?"

CL: "Yes."

KS: "If at any point, you or I are uncomfortable, we're going to commit to yourself to say something. If you say, you know, 'I'm uncomfortable right now,' or 'I don't want to do this,' then I'll say, 'Thank you for taking care of yourself.' That's ground rule one. Rule two: Before we touch each other in any way, we're going to ask and make sure we get a verbal yes. And it's really specific. Can I touch your shoulder?"

CL: "Yes."

KS: "OK, this doesn't mean I can run my hand along your arm. So you get complete control over how you're being touched at all times. And so can I."

CL: "When you are done with a cuddling session, how do you feel different?"

KS: "We call it the cuddle coma. You are in a pretty blissed-out state. You relax and it triggers the trust responses in our brain. So we are more likely to trust an individual, we are more open to connection, we have all those other benefits. Your heart rate is down. Your immune system is producing more. Your blood pressure is lower. You have this really great physical and mental state."

CL: "It honestly sounds like the benefits of an orgasm without the risk of an STD."

KS: "Yes, and without the risk of getting into that woods. A lot of my clients have a very rocky history with touch coupled with that sex."

SEE MORE: Asking For A Friend: So, You Have A Wife And A Boyfriend?

CL: "This is a weird ask as the big spoon, but do you ever personally deal with erections?"

KS: "I personally don't, but erections happen. A couple things to kind of touch on that. Erections are a natural body process. I encourage my clients to take a deep grounding breath. Normally, my clients report that when they ground themselves, and refocus and remind themselves that the intention isn't sexual, it's not going to lead somewhere else, normally it dissipates in a few moments. It's a practice."

CL: "But like the commercials say, four hours or longer, you need to get to the hospital."

KS: "Because I am fully aware and making the conscious decision to be nonsexually intimate, if I do, in another moment and then if I do, in an appropriate situation with a partner if I want to be sexually intimate with that person, it's a much deeper experience. It's much more intentional."

CL: "I feel like you're exploring new depths to your brain is what it is."

KS: "Absolutely. The kind of consent and control you're regaining over your life, your body and your intentions is profoundly transformative."

This story includes clips from Def Jam Recordings / Desiigner and The Island Def Jam Music Group / Mariah Carey. Music provided courtesy of APM Music. 

<![CDATA[Zika Vaccine Trials Have Begun, But Funding Is About To Run Out]]> Wed, 03 Aug 2016 15:55:00 -0500
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Scientists are pushing forward with another Zika vaccine even as officials warn funding to fight the outbreak is about run out. 

The National Institutes of Health announced Wednesday that its vaccine entered clinical trials.

This is the second Zika vaccine to reach that stage. Last week, Inovio Pharmaceuticals announced clinical trials began for its vaccine. 

SEE MORE: Zika's Untold War: The Fight Continues

The NIH says the vaccine is still a long way from becoming commercially available. 

But a White House official says an organization key to developing a vaccine will likely run out funding by the end of the month. 

That would lead to a halt on any work being done on a vaccine until Congress can approve more funding when the next session starts in September.

This video includes clips from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and images from Getty Images. Music provided courtesy of APM Music. 

<![CDATA[Fighting Wildfire With Fire — With Drones]]> Wed, 03 Aug 2016 15:45:00 -0500
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The U.S. Forest Service is exploring a new tool that could help wildland firefighters do their jobs: a drone that drops tiny firebombs.

Scientists at the University of Nebraska developed the drones to start controlled burns.

SEE MORE: If It Feels Like Wildfires Are Getting Bigger, It's Because They Are

The remote drones carry a hopper of what are essentially incendiary paintballs.

"Each ball is rotated and injected with alcohol to start a chemical reaction before being dropped to the ground. Seconds later, the ball ignites," a video from the University of Nebraska explains. 

The mechanical precision could be useful for firefighters setting prescribed burns in the wild.

These intentional fires consume fuel that might otherwise feed uncontrolled fires. They also help fight invasive plant species and return useful nutrients to the soil. Right now, they're set by hand or from helicopters.

The U.S. Geological Survey thinks using drones to do it could be safer — air accidents have accounted for about a quarter of firefighter deaths in the U.S. since 2000.

But there's still a lot of red tape in the way before drones can start distributing fire themselves. The U.S. Forest Service still treats them as full-size aircraft, with all the same training and maintenance requirements. And the FAA has strict rules against drones carrying "hazardous materials." Fireballs would probably qualify.

This video includes images from Getty Images and clips from Harvest Public Media, the University of NebraskaYouTube / Dirac Twidwell, the U.S. Forest ServiceCalifornia Office of Emergency Services / CC BY 3.0Lockheed MartinNASA and Marcus R. / CC BY 3.0. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

<![CDATA[One Small Step For Science, One Giant Leap For Commercial Space Travel]]> Wed, 03 Aug 2016 12:22:00 -0500
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Moon Express is going where no private company has ever gone before — the moon.

In the past, the trip has only been made by world government superpowers — the U.S., China and Russia.

But now, the U.S. government has given approval for Moon Express's 2017 unmanned mission to the moon. 

Other companies like, SpaceX, have launched satellites and re-supply missions to the International Space Station, but no private company has gotten federal permission to land on the moon until now.

SEE MORE: The US Government May Soon Approve The First Private Moon Mission

To get approval, the company had to develop its own temporary guidelines for federal oversight — there weren't any existing regulations for commercial missions to another planet.

Mostly, the rules ensure the mission doesn't risk the public's safety and doesn't interfere with any current space missions or historic sites from the Apollo landings. 

But the regulations Moon Express drew up won't affect hypothetical future commercial trips to the moon.

This company's trip to the moon isn't just for kicks or cool pictures — it's for business. Moon Express wants to mine Helium-3, a resource that's believed to be plentiful on the moon and could potentially provide a huge amount of clean energy.

And if water is found on the moon, it could be used a refueling station in space. The hydrogen found in water could be used for rocket fuel, and the oxygen could be used to refill breathable air supplies. 

This video contains clips from NASASpaceX and Moon Express.

<![CDATA[The Latest In Preventing Drunken Driving? This 'Temporary Tattoo']]> Wed, 03 Aug 2016 11:35:00 -0500
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In the not-so-distant future, a "temporary tattoo" may warn you when you've had too much to drink. 

The device — created by engineers at the University of California, San Diego — is really two parts: film that can detect your blood-alcohol level and a flexible circuit board that sends the information to you.

Of course, blood samples provide the most accurate readings of blood-alcohol content. Breathalyzers are more common and noninvasive, but they can give inaccurate readings

SEE MORE: Uber Might Not Decrease Drunken Driving, But We're The Reason Why

The tattoo is meant to be somewhere in between. It has a chemical in the film that makes you perspire. Alcohol levels in that sweat can be correlated with the amount of alcohol in your system overall.

And the circuit board can use Bluetooth technology to send the readings to your phone.

More testing will need to be done, as the university's latest study on the technology used only nine people. But one of the researchers' next goals is to tweak the device to detect alcohol levels for a full 24 hours. 

This video includes clips from Alaska Dispatch News and WWLP and images from the University of California, San Diego. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

<![CDATA[Our Obsession With Cute Canines Is Killing The English Bulldog]]> Tue, 02 Aug 2016 14:06:00 -0500
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Most dog-lovers can agree: English bulldogs are pretty darn cute.

After all, those trademark flat faces, adorable underbites and stocky bodies helped make them the fourth most popular breed registered with the American Kennel Club.

But breeding bulldogs to have those desirable traits might come at a dangerous cost.

According to a new study published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, hundreds of years of inbreeding to produce desirable traits in purebred bulldogs has caused extreme damage to the breed.

And researchers believe it would be nearly impossible to save them without crossbreeding them with other dogs.

As one of the study's authors told The Washington Post, "The English bulldog is the most egregious example of getting carried away with oneself in actually designing a dog that's as far from nature as you can possibly get."

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

To come to this conclusion, scientists studied the DNA of 102 healthy English bulldogs.

They found the average bulldog is "genetically equivalent to offspring of full sibling parents that came from a highly inbred subpopulation."

Translation: The dogs were more closely related than if their parents had been siblings, and that definitely causes issues for them.

Selective breeding to produce the perfect bulldog has given them many health problems, including poor eyesight, shortness of breath, skin allergies and hip dysplasia.

And the breed's health has deteriorated so much, one section of the study claims, "Bulldogs that reproduce without assistance, move freely, walk or run for long distances, and breathe normally even at rest are the exception."

And because bulldogs are so genetically similar now, one researcher says the chances of breeding those harmful traits out of the gene pool are slim to none.

The study has gotten a lot of attention in the U.K. and renewed calls for important revisions in breed standards.

This video includes clips from the American Kennel ClubAnimal PlanetNorCal Bulldog Rescue / CC BY 3.0United Hope for Animals / CC BY 3.0 and danguba013's channel / CC BY 3.0 and images from Getty Images. Music provided courtesy of APM Music. 

<![CDATA[How NASA Brings Parts Of The Universe Home]]> Tue, 02 Aug 2016 13:47:00 -0500
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The upcoming OSIRIS-REx mission, scheduled to launch in September, will be the first time NASA has retrieved samples from an asteroid. But NASA also has plenty of experience collecting other bits of the solar system.

Sometimes the easiest way to get samples from other cosmic bodies is to wait for them to come to us. That's how we got samples from asteroid Vesta: An ancient impact scattered chunks of it into space that eventually landed on Earth as meteorites.

But sample-return-by-meteorite can take millions of years and lots of luck. So NASA started running its own sample-collection missions with the Apollo program. All told, astronauts shoveled almost 850 pounds of moon rocks and dust into bags and brought them back for study.

SEE MORE: How To Search For Mars Life Without Contaminating Everything

To study the sun, the Genesis mission used platters of silicon and gold film to catch particles from the solar wind.

The Stardust mission swapped the silicon for an ultra-lightweight material called Aerogel to capture particles from comet Wild 2 without damaging them.

The OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid Bennu will gather samples with ... a vacuum on a stick. A pogo stick, actually. It's hard to land on a low-gravity asteroid without bouncing, so mission engineers designed the sample arm to spring off the surface after it sucks up its payload.

It should be more graceful than the first asteroid sample return mission in 2005 when Japan's aerospace agency accidentally bounced a probe off the surface of its target asteroid.

This video includes clips from NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

<![CDATA[A Majority Of The World's Largest Animals Could Be Extinct By 2100]]> Tue, 02 Aug 2016 11:05:00 -0500
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A majority of the world's largest animals could be extinct by 2100. 

Researchers say roughly 60 percent of large carnivores and herbivores are currently at risk. 

The situation is especially alarming in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

Overhunting and poaching are huge problems, but the growth in the human population and its increased land use are contributors, as well. 

SEE MORE: Kenya Says Its Plan To Burn 105 Tons Of Ivory Will Protect Elephants

When people eliminate large animals, they also eliminate their positive effects on the ecosystem. 

A team of conservation biologists says the threat can still be reversed. 

But they wrote last week it'll take significant social, political and financial commitments across the world. 

This video includes clips from World Wildlife FundCCTVBBCCNN and National Geographic. Music provided courtesy of Chris Zabriske / CC BY 3.0.

<![CDATA[Florida's Zika Problem Could Be Much Bigger Than The Numbers Suggest]]> Mon, 01 Aug 2016 18:33:00 -0500
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Public health officials are scrambling to stop the spread of the Zika virus now that infected mosquitoes have likely made it to the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel warning for Wynwood, Florida, just north of Miami, after 10 more people contracted Zika, likely from mosquito bites in the U.S.

On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott announced Florida was the first state where Zika was spread locally by infected mosquitoes. The CDC now suspects at least 14 people contracted the virus in the U.S., but the real number could be much higher.

SEE MORE: The First Cases Of Locally Transmitted Zika Are Confirmed In Florida

There are likely many more people infected because 4 out of 5 people with Zika don't show any symptoms. The virus can cause fever, aching muscles and joints and red eyes.

Mosquito control efforts are reportedly struggling. The CDC said mosquitoes in the area might be growing resistant to pesticides.

Scott asked the CDC to send an emergency response team to the affected area to help study and contain the spread of the virus. For now, local crews are spraying the area to reduce the mosquito population.

Due to Zika-related risks of birth defects, officials recommend any pregnant woman who was in that area any time after June 15 should get tested. Anyone who visited the area is advised to wait at least eight weeks before trying to conceive a child.

This video includes clips from Centers for Disease Control and PreventionUSA Today and WKMG and images from Getty Images. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.