Newsy - Sci/Health The Latest Videos From <![CDATA[SpaceX Taking First Steps To Provide Internet To Anywhere In The World]]> Sun, 18 Feb 2018 14:01:00 -0600
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SpaceX plans to launch two satellites into space this week in what could be the first step to make the company's internet-in-space project a reality.

The Falcon 9 launch is scheduled for Wednesday morning at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. 

SEE MORE: After Falcon Heavy, What's Next For SpaceX?

The end plan is to deliver internet to people anywhere in the world via thousands of small satellites. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said if everything goes well and is approved, the project would be the first American-based one of its kind.

The two satellites won't be the primary load on the Falcon 9 launch Wednesday, though.

The rocket's main mission is to bring a satellite called PAZ into space for the Spanish government. PAZ will be in space for about five and a half years, orbiting the Earth and taking pictures. 

<![CDATA[Astronomers Find Nearly 100 New Exoplanets]]> Sun, 18 Feb 2018 13:01:00 -0600
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Around 3,600 exoplanets have been found since the first one was discovered in 1995. On Thursday, astronomers published a study and added nearly 100 new planets to that count.

Astronomers spent four years pouring over data from NASA's Kepler space telescope's K2 mission. In that time, they found 95 new planets.

SEE MORE: Nearby Exoplanets Appear To Be Pretty Rich In Water

The planets range in size from super-Earths to Jupiter-sized giants. And one of them is orbiting a very bright star — the brightest star Kepler has ever seen with an orbiting planet.

All of these findings add to scientists' understanding of exoplanets, which in turn helps us better understand our solar system and its place in the universe.

<![CDATA[Certain Canned Dog Foods Recalled Due To Possible Drug Contamination]]> Sun, 18 Feb 2018 09:57:00 -0600
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Dog owners, beware: J.M. Smucker is recalling a few of its canned dog food products after finding they could be contaminated with a drug veterinarians use to euthanize pets.

The products include Gravy Train, Kibbles 'N Bits, Ol'Roy and Skippy brands manufactured from 2016 to now, according to a statement released Friday from the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA reports the small amount of the drug — pentobarbital — isn't likely to "pose a health risk to pets" but that it definitely shouldn't be in their food.

Side effects to be on the lookout for are drowsiness, dizziness, excitement, loss of balance, nausea and an inability to stand. The FDA suggests taking your pet to the vet if you think it might have gotten sick from eating contaminated dog food. 

<![CDATA[Women Who Clean A Lot Could Face Decreased Lung Function]]> Sat, 17 Feb 2018 14:18:00 -0600
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A new study suggests household cleaning products might do as much damage to women's lungs as smoking cigarettes.

Researchers followed more than 6,000 participants over 20 years and found that women who used cleaning products at home or at work saw dramatic decreases in lung functionality over the years.

In fact, continued exposure is about as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day for 10-20 years.

Oddly, the study suggested there's no difference in lung function between men who routinely used cleaning products and those who didn't. But the researchers suggest that might be because there are fewer men who work as cleaners.

<![CDATA[Even With Loose CO2 Rules, The US Could Still Hit Paris Climate Goals]]> Fri, 16 Feb 2018 15:51:00 -0600
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Could the U.S. hit its Paris climate agreement goals without help from the White House? Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University say it could be possible, thanks largely to natural gas.

Power plants emit more than a third of the country's carbon dioxide. Under Obama-era regulations, they were supposed to cut back 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, with benchmarks in 2020 and 2025. That cutback alone could get the U.S. as much as halfway toward the Paris agreement goals.

Of course, the Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement and has rolled back most of the key regulations President Barack Obama put in place. 

SEE MORE: The US Will Battle Climate Change Without Washington's Help

But power plants, at least, are still on track. Natural gas doesn't contribute as much CO2 to the atmosphere as coal, and thanks to how cheap natural gas has become, more and more power plants are making the switch.

That market force alone has lead emissions to fall fast. Power plants blew past their 2020 goal in 2016 and might have hit their 2025 goal in 2017.

Beyond that, it gets a little iffy. The Carnegie researchers say a few things have to happen to make the 2030 goal a reality, and some of those things do require the federal government's help.

For instance, tax credits for renewable energy need to stay in place. Those credits were threatened in the recent Republican tax bill but have survived for the time being. And any energy policy out of Washington will have to keep natural gas cheap.

<![CDATA[Think You're Smart? See What The Experts Say]]> Fri, 16 Feb 2018 06:00:00 -0600
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Education is about more than the three R's — reading, writing and arithmetic. It's about how people think and learn. And that brings up intelligence, which is especially controversial.

The American Psychological Association says "intelligence refers to intellectual functioning." Not very specific, and there's a reason for that. After hundreds of years, intelligence is still being defined, consistently snagging on the issue of nature vs. nurture. The developments have fallen into three broad, chronological categories.

First, the nature camp. In the 19th century, psychologist Francis Galton wrote a book called "Heredity Genius," promoting the innate intelligence theory, even calling for restricting birth among what he called the "feeble-minded."

In 1905, we see the second category emerge: the role of nurture. Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon developed the Binet-Simon test. Their goal was to sort children into three groups: educable, educable with special help, and uneducable. Binet believed intelligence could be improved — that's where "educable with special help" came in. 

SEE MORE: Ex-Tech Experts Band Together On Kids, Tech Addiction

Then, about a decade later, we moved solidly into the hybrid era, where we still function today: assuming that nature and nurture mix, playing off one another. Psychologist William Stern built on the Binet-Simon screening and developed a test everybody has heard of — the intelligence quotient test, better known as the IQ test. 

These assessments have always raised questions. If intelligence is malleable — morphing in certain environments — can a person's intelligence ever be locked in and permanently defined with a single test result? 

And now there are even more questions. The prevailing theory shifted to multiple intelligences, originally proposed by Harvard professor Howard Gardner, allowing a range of abilities to be expressed. 

Here's his list of eight:

— Verbal-linguistic intelligence refers to an individual's ability to analyze.

— Logical-mathematical intelligence describes the ability to make calculations and solve abstract problems.

— Visual-spatial is comprehending graphs and images.

— Musical intelligence enables individuals to produce and make meaning of different types of sound.

— Naturalistic? Understanding the natural world.

— Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is using the body to create products or solve problems.

— Interpersonal is basically emotional intelligence with others.

— Intrapersonal: peering inward and drawing meaning.

One final point: Aptitude tests are separate from IQ tests. Aptitude is someone's ability to learn a specific skill, such as playing the guitar (think talent). It's not their general capacity to handle abstract concepts — then you're back to talking about IQ.

<![CDATA[American 'Chinese' Food Is Not At All What Chinese People Actually Eat]]> Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:22:49 -0600
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My mouth is completely on fire. It feels like someone's holding a torch in my mouth.

"This is the mild kind," barbs Tianran He, who sits opposite me. He is a Chinese-British travel presenter and an expert on Chinese culture. He's brought me here, to a popular restaurant in Beijing, to experience the core of real Chinese food: spice.

"Everyone in China eats spicy stuff," He says. 

While I'm admittedly a wuss with spicy food, this is hardly what I expected from an introduction to true Chinese cuisine, and it has me thinking: What do Americans know about Chinese food? Not takeout. Not Kung Pao chicken. Real Chinese food.

The dishes on a Chinese menu are likely alien to most Americans: spicy bullfrog, spicy crawfish, pig brain, octopus, cicadas. Basically: not General Tso's anything.

"For Chinese people, if you don't have fiddly food it's kind of not worth it," He says, twisting the head off a cooked crawfish. "People eat this thing, not because they want large amounts of meat, but they wanted to eat the flavor of the sauce. They think — a lot of Chinese people think steaks are boring, it's just a big slab of meat."

In China, people tend to eat four meals, not three. There's breakfast, lunch, dinner and yexiao: nightsnack. 

"All sorts of stuff on skewers," He says. He's in the midst of a kind of delicate dance, weaving his way through a crowded alley in Beijing's Houhai district. This place has a rubbery stench, something you'd expect from an escargot stand. But you won't find snails here. You will, however, find scorpions and grasshoppers.

SEE MORE: China's Culture Is Perfectly Encapsulated In This Park

Houhai is nightsnack central. It's a colorful reflection of Chinese nightlife, which largely revolves around food. It's a massive maze of small footpaths, all lined in shops, restaurants, bars, food stands, and booths offering light-up knick knacks that keep the throngs of people looking like the Las Vegas strip. 

And, yes, there's a lot of drinking happening here.

"Drinking culture's a bit different in China," He says. "You go to one of the rooftop bars and you get a crate of beer. And instead of sipping the beer, you down it because that proves how manly you are."

That's where nightsnack comes in — something to soak up all the alcohol.

He slips into a quiet restaurant, several hundred yards off the main drag of Houhai, and orders us some drinks and nightsnack.

"We'll get some Baijiu," He says, carefully selecting a variety of the sorghum liquor. This is not for casual drinkers. With alcohol content ranging from 40 to 70 percent, this stuff is serious.

"If you want to do business in China, you've got to firstly be able to drink. You've got to be able to drink at least one of these," He says, holding up a liter of 86-proof liquor. A liter.

"But that's a process, right?" I respond. "I mean, you spend a night drinking through that."

"Sure, I mean, two, three hours," he retorts.

He downs a glass of Baijiu in about six gulps, though claiming he could do it in one if he wanted. 

"I have to get up tomorrow," he quips with a smile.

SEE MORE: Could China Be The New Global Leader On Climate Change Reform?

He's ordered us lamb offal soup: intestine, stomach, liver, kidney. It's stewing in a mouthwatering broth with onions, chili and other spices.

As we sit over our soup, meat skewers, greens, and Baijiu (served in "oversized shot glasses," according to He, vats, according to me), He launches into a lesson on drinking etiquette. 

"Say if I'm hosting you and you're cheersing me, then my cup would be higher than your cup," He says, demonstrating with our glasses. "But if you're the host and I'm trying to curry favor with you, I'll go lower."

It's a finesse that's indicative of how seriously Chinese people take their food and drink. Eating isn't just a necessity of survival in China, it's an artful experience. It's diverse, it's particular, it's creative.

And it's nothing like what you'd expect.

<![CDATA[Soap And Paint Can Be As Bad For The Air As Car Exhaust]]> Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:17:00 -0600
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Fighting smog and pollution isn't just about reducing emissions from cars and trucks. New research shows petroleum-based products, like soap and paint, contribute just as much to air pollution as a city's motor vehicles do.

Researchers studying air quality over Los Angeles found there was more pollution in the air than vehicle emissions should cause. Their work showed other consumer products were causing at least twice as much pollution as previously thought.

But only 5 percent of petroleum gets refined into consumer products; 95 percent goes to fuel production. By weight, people use 15 times more fuel than pesticides or lotions. What makes them so potent?

While the compounds in gasoline are burned for fuel, researchers say some consumer products, like perfume, are "literally designed to evaporate." They go straight into the air.

They react with sunlight to form ozone that damages the lungs. Between that and the particle smog from tailpipes, the World Health Organization lists air pollution as the world's single largest health risk.

SEE MORE: Fine Aerosols Are Spinning Up Fiercer Tropical Storms

For what it's worth, modern vehicle regulations have worked so well that scientists can measure the decline in pollution and the health benefits that come with it. They say we could address pollution from other petroleum products the same way.

<![CDATA[Tweet About Olympic Skater Leads To Outrage Online]]> Wed, 14 Feb 2018 18:54:00 -0600
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After Mirai Nagasu became the first American woman in the world to land a triple axel at the Winter Olympics, a New York Times staff editor and writer mistakenly tweeted that Nagasu is an immigrant, which caused a swift and thorough backlash online.

Bari Weiss tweeted, "Immigrants: They get the job done," a reference to the musical "Hamilton." However, the musical's song uses the more inclusive word "we."

But Nagasu isn't an immigrant. She was born in California. And according to critics, Weiss' comment touches on the assumption that all Asian-Americans are perpetual foreigners. That comment is considered a microaggression. 

Microaggression is defined as brief, everyday exchanges that result in indirect, subtle or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group. Weiss deleted her tweet after the backlash and defended herself, saying: "Her parents are immigrants. I was celebrating her and them."

SEE MORE: The History Behind Mirai Nagasu's Olympic Triple Axel

"While the intention may be good, the impact is negative," said Dr. Gina Torino, associate professor of psychology at SUNY Empire State College. "The message that is conveyed is that you're somehow not American and somehow you're less than." 

"It's not just a small thing. ... They can have a negative impact on individuals' self-esteem, depression, anxiety," she added, "If one keeps hearing those messages over and over again, one can internalize that belief."

And the microaggressions Asian-Americans commonly face, according to Dr. Torino, is this assumption that Asian-Americans are perpetual foreigners in their own country — even though they make up 20 million of the U.S. population.

Another Asian-American was the target of a microaggression at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Figure skater Tara Lipinski outperformed Michelle Kwan, and an MSNBC headline read: "American beats out Kwan," despite the fact that Kwan is American, born in California and on the U.S. team. 

"There are good, well-intentioned people that commit these microaggressions and that we all do it," Torino said. "The best thing we can do is to be aware of them and not to be defensive. … Rather than pushing this opportunity, to learn and grow from this experience."

With Asian-Americans making up half of the U.S. figure skating team and participating more and more in the Olympics overall, microaggressions are worth noticing.  

<![CDATA[NASA Is Turning An Unused Spy Satellite Into Its Next Planet-Hunter]]> Wed, 14 Feb 2018 15:42:00 -0600
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NASA is busy getting ready to launch its flagship James Webb Space Telescope, but thanks to a surprise donation from another government agency, it's been planning a smaller specialist telescope at the same time.

The Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope started life as a classified spy satellite for the Defense Department, but it was never launched. When the National Reconnaissance Office decided to get rid of it, it donated the telescope body to NASA.

NASA plans to bolt on specialized cameras and park the telescope in the same distant orbit as James Webb. Instead of aiming at Earth as it was originally built to do, it will point at distant galaxies and star systems where other planets might be orbiting.

SEE MORE: Scientists Upgrading Very Large Telescope To Search For Exoplanets

This will give scientists a deep-space tool about as powerful as the Hubble Space Telescope with the added benefits of a wide-angle camera. WFIRST will watch for the effects of dark matter in a patch of sky 100 times wider than what Hubble can see.

It will also look closely at individual stars to hunt for exoplanets with sensors that NASA says represent a "huge leap" past the current state of the art. It will spot smaller planets than ever before and capture details about their atmospheres to look for signs of life.

Launch is slated for the mid-2020s, but just like James Webb, exact ready dates could be subject to NASA's limited funds. Even with a free telescope body, WFIRST has run over budget once already — and the Trump administration has proposed canceling the project entirely to refocus NASA on the moon.

<![CDATA[Martin County Residents Stonewalled At Meeting About Unsafe Water]]> Wed, 14 Feb 2018 14:05:00 -0600
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People from across Martin County, Kentucky, traveled to a meeting Tuesday about their water bills and the finances of the water district. Instead, they say, they were met with opposition from the board who did not allow them to ask any questions. 

Get a deeper understanding of the stories that matter with Newsy's "The Why" — weekdays 7-9 p.m. ET.  

SEE MORE: Some In This Small Kentucky County Live Without Running Water

<![CDATA[Great Lakes Fish Are Being Exposed To Lots Of Antidepressants]]> Tue, 13 Feb 2018 20:50:12 -0600
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SEE MORE: Reef Fish Make Riskier Choices If They've Been Exposed To Oil

A collaboration from the University of Buffalo and Buffalo State found that antidepressants were accumulating at the highest rate in the brains of fish in the Great Lakes region. This high rate takes a toll on animal behavior, the ecosystem and eventually people, according to Alicia Pérez-Fuentetaja, an aquatic ecologist in New York. 

<![CDATA[This Frog Is Looking For Love This Valentine's Day]]> Tue, 13 Feb 2018 14:50:00 -0600
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Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, and possibly no one is more single than a Sehuencas water frog named Romeo. Conservationists say Romeo could be the last known water frog of his species.

In an attempt to find the lone frog a partner to procreate with, Global Wildlife Conservation, Bolivian Amphibian Initiative and teamed up. The trio is working to fundraise the money needed to send scientists out looking for Romeo's valentine. even set up a dating profile for the frog. If you were wondering, Romeo is "a pretty simple guy," who enjoys "chilling at home" and "binge-watching the waters around [him]." 

<![CDATA[The White House Proposes A SNAP Food Delivery Program]]> Tue, 13 Feb 2018 07:38:00 -0600
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Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients could see big changes if part of President Donald Trump's proposed budget is enacted. 

The administration wants to deliver some of those food benefits directly to households in "USDA Food packages."

It would have things like "shelf-stable milk, ready to eat cereals, pasta, peanut butter, beans and canned fruit and vegetables," and everything inside would be "100-percent American grown foods." The box wouldn't contain all their benefits, and families would still get money on a shopping card they could use at local, approved grocery stores. 

White House Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney compared the SNAP food package to Blue Apron. 

Currently, SNAP recipients get all of their benefits loaded onto a shopping card they can use at local stores, so long as they follow certain guidelines. 

Critics of Trump's SNAP proposal say the "budget seems to assume that participating in SNAP is a character flaw" and the new program would be "far more intrusive." 

<![CDATA[NASA's Proposed Budget Does More Than Commercialize The Space Station]]> Mon, 12 Feb 2018 19:45:00 -0600
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The White House's proposed NASA budget does more than just aim to privatize the International Space Station.

Looking forward, one of the administration's main goals seems to be deep-space exploration, meaning a return to the moon and someday Mars — and maybe even "other destinations."

But with the renewed focus on exploration the White House also hopes to phase out certain programs with an eye toward replacing them with private commercial operations. Part of that is cutting government funding for the ISS, but it also aims to move away from government-owned communication satellites.

SEE MORE: She Died In The Challenger Disaster. Now, NASA Will Finish Her Mission

And the administration also wants to cut some pretty major programs, including five Earth Science missions, a top-of-the-line space telescope and NASA's Office of Education. 

But as with all presidential budgets, this one is just a wish list. In the end, it's up to Congress to determine how the country spends its money.

<![CDATA[How Do Olympians Keep Nailing Bigger And Seemingly Impossible Tricks?]]> Mon, 12 Feb 2018 19:09:00 -0600
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The Winter Olympics are full of high-flying moves considered so challenging, an athlete could earn a gold medal for pulling them off. And as the sports evolve, the gear, training and even the courses are changing to allow even bigger tricks.

Competitors in trick-based games are given awards partially based on the difficulty of their routines. But the "most difficult" trick — which can guarantee a top finish — can change by competition. At Sochi, for example, the gold standard for male snowboarders was to land something with 1,440 degrees of rotation. Now, athletes are expected to hit back-to-back 1,440s to be considered for a top spot.

But they have time to prepare. A year before the 2018 Winter Olympics started, snowboarders went to South Korea to test prototypes of courses they might see during the games. From there, athletes gave engineers requests for how to improve the halfpipe for this year's biggest tricks.

SEE MORE: Olympic Records Will Be Harder To Break As We Reach Physical Limits

This has led to larger courses that allow for more frequent big tricks. In 1998, the Olympics' snowboarding halfpipe was about 400 feet long, 50 feet wide and 11 feet tall. That pales in comparison to Pyeongchang's halfpipe, which is 600 feet long, 70 feet wide and 22 feet tall. 

Some teams have looked to science to help them break records — like the U.S. National Figure Skating team, which wants athletes to hit a quadruple axel. Coaches worked with kinesiology experts to create motion-capture technology that shows skaters how they can move to maximize the chance of landing a jump.

So although we haven't seen the quadruple axel in competition yet, it's not too wild to think someone might use what they learned from a computer to show off a trick soon.

<![CDATA[President Trump's Budget Proposal Hopes To Tackle Opioid Epidemic]]> Mon, 12 Feb 2018 16:37:00 -0600
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The White House sent its $4.4 trillion budget to Congress on Monday. Included in the proposal is $10 billion to fight the opioid epidemic in 2019.

That money would go to programs within the Department of Health and Human Services, but other departments would also get boosts in funding to combat the crisis.

And the budget also suggests some new programs, like one meant to educate children on opioid abuse.

SEE MORE: Ohio Attorney General: Drugmaker's Plan Is 'Too Little, Too Late'

But at least some of that money would come out of other health programs already meant to address the opioid epidemic, including one that helps prevent drug abuse by Medicare recipients.

But remember, presidential budgets aren't the final word on spending — Congress can do whatever it wants with the national budget. They're more like guideposts showing what the White House wants to focus on in the coming year.

<![CDATA[Trump's Commercial Space Station Proposal Isn't A New One]]> Mon, 12 Feb 2018 16:03:00 -0600
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The Trump administration might privatize the International Space Station — but the deal isn't as spontaneous as headlines might make it seem.

NASA would face the end of ISS services in 2025 if the Trump team's budget is approved. But that fate has been a possibility since 2015, when Congress approved funding for station operations through 2024. By 2016, NASA was already mulling plans to eventually sell the ISS to commercial buyers.

It remains to be seen who else might step in, but they'd be buying some of the most expensive real estate in the solar system. Keeping the station staffed and in orbit costs NASA as much as $4 billion a year.

SEE MORE: FOR SALE: Gently Used Space Station

For what it's worth, the station's parts are safety-rated for a maximum 30 years of service, with an end of life coming up in 2028. NASA has confirmed that keeping the station running that long will be "technically feasible" — as long as someone has the funds for it.

<![CDATA[Ohio Attorney General: Drugmaker's Plan Is 'Too Little, Too Late']]> Mon, 12 Feb 2018 15:46:00 -0600
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"Too little, too late." That's Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's response to Purdue Pharma's plan to stop marketing opioids in doctors' offices.  

Beginning Monday, the pharmaceutical company is notifying doctors of its strategy to help combat the opioid crisis, which also includes cutting its sales staff in half. DeWine says while it's considered a victory, the OxyContin maker should've made that decision years ago and should take responsibility for its actions. 

Purdue Pharma and other drugmakers have been the target of recent lawsuits, including one from the state of Ohio, alleging the marketing of opioids and their addictiveness was misleading.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

<![CDATA[Report: NASA Is Planning To Privatize International Space Station]]> Sun, 11 Feb 2018 14:31:00 -0600
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The Trump administration is reportedly hoping to privatize the International Space Station.

That's according to The Washington Post, which says it's obtained a NASA document that outlines plans for privatization when the U.S. government stops funding the station in 2025.

It's not clear how putting the station in private hands would work, since the ISS is an international program involving a number of other countries.

NASA will release its budget proposal Monday, and the privatization plan will reportedly be included.

<![CDATA[Opioid Maker Says It Won't Market In Doctors' Offices Anymore]]> Sun, 11 Feb 2018 13:25:00 -0600
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A drugmaker says it will no longer market its opioid products in doctors' offices after facing backlash for the way the industry promotes the addictive drugs.

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma said it will tell doctors about its decision Monday. As part of the plan, the company has cut its sales force in half.

Opioids killed more than 42,000 people in 2016 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 40 percent of those deaths involved a prescription opioid.

Doctors who want information on opioids will now need to contact the company's medical affairs department. 

<![CDATA[Jeff Flake Says John McCain Is 'Gaining Strength']]> Sun, 11 Feb 2018 09:42:00 -0600
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Sen. Jeff Flake visited Sen. John McCain at his cabin in Arizona on Saturday and said McCain is "gaining strength." 

McCain was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer over the summer and has been recovering in his home state. 

Flake posted on Twitter about his visit with McCain and said: "Had a nice visit with @SenJohnMcCain today. He's working hard and gaining strength."

Flake's visit came the same day CNN aired an episode of "The Van Jones Show" in which McCain's daughter, Meghan McCain, said her dad is "doing really good, all things considered." 

<![CDATA[Up For Debate: Should We Genetically Modify Food?]]> Fri, 09 Feb 2018 14:59:00 -0600
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In partnership with Intelligence Squared U.S., Newsy brings you a snapshot of "Up for Debate." In this episode, experts explore whether or not we should genetically modify food.

Catch a new episode of the full debate Sunday at 9 a.m. ET.

<![CDATA[New Budget Deal Includes Billions In Funding To Fight Opioid Crisis]]> Fri, 09 Feb 2018 11:19:00 -0600
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As part of the new budget deal, lawmakers say they'll spend $6 billion over the next two years to address the opioid crisis.

The bill's language is somewhat vague, but it says it'll move money to existing grants that aim to "improve well-being of families affected by substance abuse." One senator who voted on the bill says he expected a majority of the money to go to border patrol to stop a highly addictive opioid called fentanyl from entering the U.S.

Some policy experts say while the money is nice, it might have a greater impact if most of it went to outpatient addiction programs instead of security efforts. But it might not be enough. Researchers estimate we need at least $12 billion to effectively fight the crisis.

Regardless of how the money is spent, the package is the first major funding that's gone to fight the crisis since the president declared it a public health emergency in October.

The declaration did let the government use money from the Public Health Emergency Fund to fight the crisis, but the fund had only $57,000.

And the executive branch might stall Congress' funding efforts. As of early February, the president's team hasn't nominated a head administrator for the Drug Enforcement Administration or the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The president has pushed to cut the latter agency's budget by 95 percent.

<![CDATA[Your Meat Isn't Fake, It's Designer: A Newer, Cooler Era Of Meatless]]> Fri, 09 Feb 2018 06:00:00 -0600
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Who doesn't like to fire up the grill, drink a beer and flip some nice, chargrilled ... carrot fiber? Sounds weird, but those fibers are part of something new and delicious.   

Designer meat is a thing, and it's way fancier than the cardboard cutouts your grandma bought at Piggly Wiggly. Companies like Impossible Foods, Just, Inc. and Beyond Meat are going high-tech to deliver the quality basics missing from so many vegan and vegetarian diets — believable substitutes that look and taste like the original. 

There are "scrambled eggs" from Just, which are actually mung beans cooked up in the company's Northern California headquarters. Egg-less eggs that are vegan friendly. Or the Impossible Burger. It sizzles, has grill marks, and it is impossibly fake.   

The company says "relying on cows to make meat is land-hungry, water-thirsty and pollution-heavy," so they and others have created alternatives by going completely outside the culinary box. Their tools are a hodgepodge of ingredients and chemical reactions. This is a menu, not a chemistry textbook.

SEE MORE: Why Our Food Has Fewer Nutrients Than Ever Before

UCLA experts explained what goes into designer meats' texture and taste. First, texture. Meat has a "fibrous quality," so companies traditionally began with soy protein, which is heated up or dissolved and then squirted out in a new shape, like chicken fingers.

Every company has its own recipe. Take, for instance, an Impossible Burger patty. Wired reports that the contents include wheat protein for firmness and chew, potato protein so it holds water, coconut with the flavor sucked out for fat and leghemoglobin for the "meat" flavor.

That brings us to the all-important taste. Tofu just doesn't cut it for some meat lovers. Most of meat's flavor derives from proteins inside being heated up (called glutamate), so scientists had to find a new way to infuse knockoffs with a familiar profile. To do that, UCLA experts say, this umami taste "can be added back with soy sauce, tomatoes, mushroom, and cheese in the form of sauces," then a dash of coloring or spices give it the right look. 

The FDA hasn't fully endorsed the safety of these products (and doesn't always have to), but companies like Beyond Burgers argue that the nutritional facts speak for themselves with their burger that's free of GMOs, soy, gluten and cholesterol. The mung bean protein isolate used in Just Scrambled received FDA GRAS status — meaning "generally recognized as safe" — in 2017.

Customers are catching on. While meat sales are on the rise in 2018, so are meat mimics. Bloomberg reports that substitute sales are the highest they've ever been, topping $700 million a year and projected to keep climbing. Not bad for carrot fiber and all the other veggies finally getting the prime spot for grilling season.

<![CDATA[After Falcon Heavy, What's Next For SpaceX?]]> Wed, 07 Feb 2018 16:03:00 -0600
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Now that SpaceX has sent a car cruising into deep space, you might be wondering: What's next? It turns out the company is moving on to even more exciting projects, like sending a crew into space and building an even bigger rocket.

It seems counterintuitive, but even though the Falcon Heavy only launched for the first time Tuesday, its design is already pretty much finished. That's because of progress made on the earlier, smaller Falcon 9 rockets.

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

SpaceX has been launching, testing and refining the Falcon 9 since 2010, giving it more thrust and figuring out the best landing legs. CEO Elon Musk told reporters the latest version of the rocket is the last one.

Because the Falcon Heavy is basically just three Falcon 9s strapped together, if the Falcon 9 is finished, so is the Falcon Heavy.

The company's new top priority is its Dragon 2 capsule — the version designed to carry a crew. The current Dragon has been used to deliver supplies to the International Space Station since 2012, but its successor is also set to carry astronauts. Since Dragon 2 has been in the works for a while, we might actually see its first manned flight this year.

We might also see some testing on the Big Falcon Rocket, a new and enormous rocket that's designed to replace the Falcon 9s and Falcon Heavys. It's meant to be able to go anywhere, from low Earth orbit to Mars, and return to Earth safely.

It won't be operational for several years, but Musk said we might see some short liftoffs at the company's test facility in Texas by the end of the year.

<![CDATA[A Change Of Diet Could Slow The Spread Of A Deadly Breast Cancer]]> Wed, 07 Feb 2018 13:23:00 -0600
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The spread of a particularly deadly type of breast cancer could be slowed with a change of diet, according to a new study

The research was looking at asparagine, an amino acid found in asparagus and lots of other foods. It's believed asparagine is necessary for tumors to spread. So the researchers fed cancerous mice either a high or low aspargine diet. 

SEE MORE: New Gene Mutations For Breast Cancer Discovered

The result: Cancer in mice on the low asparagine diet spread much more slowly.

The researchers say such a diet might be useful in humans, but it's incredibly restrictive. Aspargine is found in just about everything except fruits and some vegetables. But the researchers are still considering a human trial to see if the diet can really help.

<![CDATA[Why Officials Are Pushing For Sleep Apnea Testing For Train Engineers]]> Wed, 07 Feb 2018 09:36:00 -0600
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The National Transportation Safety Board says undiagnosed, obstructive sleep apnea led to two commuter train crashes in the New York area. Last year, the Trump administration scrapped a proposal that would have made screening for it mandatory.

In an effort to reduce industry regulations, the Trump administration said last August it was withdrawing an Obama-era proposal to test truck drivers, train engineers and other transport operators for sleep apnea.

The decision was met with backlash from safety advocates, including the NTSB. Sleep apnea is dangerous because it can cause severe fatigue and can lead to people falling asleep on the job.

SEE MORE: 1 Person Dead After Train Carrying GOP Lawmakers Collides With Truck

In its findings from the New York-area crashes, the NTSB notes the sleep apnea safety problem isn't unique to those incidents and recommends the appropriate personnel be screened.

The agency's chairman said, "The traveling public deserves alert operators. That is not too much to ask."

<![CDATA[Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea Is To Blame For 2 Train Crashes In NY Area]]> Wed, 07 Feb 2018 07:25:00 -0600
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Undiagnosed sleep apnea led to two commuter train crashes in the New York area, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

One of the accidents happened in September 2016 in Hoboken, New Jersey. The train didn't stop and ran into the wall of the terminal, killing one person and injuring over 100.

SEE MORE: South Carolina Governor Says Amtrak Train Hit Stationary Freight Train

The other happened in Brooklyn in January 2017. A train ran past the end of its line and crashed into the station, causing more than $5 million in damage.

Both engineers in those crashes had undiagnosed, severe obstructive sleep apnea, in which breathing stops and starts during sleep. The disorder can lead to excessive daytime drowsiness.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

<![CDATA[SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Launch Was Impressive Despite Years Of Delays]]> Tue, 06 Feb 2018 17:26:00 -0600
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It's taken a while, but SpaceX has finally launched its Falcon Heavy rocket, sent a car cruising through space — and stuck two landings at once. Not only did the launch go as planned, but the first stage boosters landed safely and can potentially be reused. 

Managing synchronized rocket landings after a successful launch is a big achievement. Before the launch, SpaceX founder Elon Musk said he'd consider the flight a win even if the whole rocket exploded, as long as it cleared the launch pad

SEE MORE: Elon Musk Thinks He Has A Way To Make Colonizing Mars Cheaper

The main drawback of the launch is the fact that it was originally supposed to happen five years ago. When Musk announced the Falcon Heavy in April 2011, he said he expected it to fly in early 2013. 

The delays eventually cost SpaceX a customer. British satellite company Inmarsat had contracted with SpaceX but wound up using a different carrier when it couldn't stand to delay one of its satellites any longer. 

But as the delays grew, so did the ambitions. Landing the rockets wasn't originally part of the plan. Neither was sending a convertible on a billion-year trip around the sun. 

Now, SpaceX can move on to more practical cargo. It already has Falcon Heavy flights lined up for the U.S. Air Force and communications company Arabsat for later this year. 

<![CDATA[A Shutdown Can Stall All Federal Science — Starting With Lab Rats]]> Tue, 06 Feb 2018 16:22:00 -0600
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It could be taxes, health care or immigration, but whatever issue leads to a government shutdown, any facility that depends on federal funding can be affected — even scientific and medical research.

Rats and mice are some of scientists' best tools. They're the go-to animal for understanding what cancer and infectious diseases can do to the human body.

"People not only use rats to do the basic research part of their studies, but for pre-clinical studies you need to have a small animal model," Professor Elizabeth Bryda said.

Bryda runs the Rat Resource and Research Center in Columbia, Missouri. The center gets federal funding to engineer and grow rats for researchers around the world.

But managing a population of research animals is expensive. When the government shut down in 2013, other labs, like those at the National Institutes of Health, were forced to euthanize thousands of animals when the money to care for them ran out.

Bryda's facility is unique in how well it can withstand shutdowns. It's closely affiliated with the University of Missouri and can get funding in other ways. But if a shutdown drags on too long, there could still be serious consequences.

"Let's say it was to the point where we had to eliminate all our live colonies," Bryda said. "... If we needed to get our colonies back up to speed so we had the right number of breeding cages back there, that could take up to a year."

That kind of a delay can effectively cancel whole experiments. Rodent researchers warn if a shutdown keeps the lights off long enough, they can lose months or years of scientific progress.

SEE MORE: The Government Shutdown Could Slow The CDC's Flu-Tracking Efforts

Even smaller delays can have big effects.

"Some of the things we do are very time-sensitive," Bryda said. "They need their animals at a particular age. If we can't ship when we say we're going to ship, then the animals become too old, and they potentially can't use them anymore. Those animals would be euthanized."

As long as the center can keep its doors open, the rats will ship out when they're supposed to. But not every lab — or lab rat — is so lucky. Ultimately, it's up to Congress to agree on long-term funding and to support the animals that keep its basic science running.

<![CDATA[Nearby Exoplanets Appear To Be Pretty Rich In Water]]> Mon, 05 Feb 2018 19:13:00 -0600
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Just 40 light-years away are seven planets, and those planets have the potential to be habitable.

The planets were discovered last year, but thanks to new studies published Monday, they're already the second-most studied star system after our own.

For starters, they're all rocky — no gas giants there. And the data suggests five of the planets have atmospheres that could be comparable to Earth or Venus.

More exciting, though, is the fact that water could make up 5 percent of some of the planets' mass — that's 250 times more water than in our oceans.

Now, what form that water takes depends on where the planets are in the solar system. Closer to the star means it'd be vaporous, elsewhere it'd probably be locked away in ice. But more in-depth observations will be needed to know for sure.

<![CDATA[Can Everyone On Earth Live Well Without Wrecking The Planet?]]> Mon, 05 Feb 2018 12:09:00 -0600
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Could we ever get to the point where everyone on Earth has their needs met without wrecking the planet? It's a big, complicated question, but it might have a simple, depressing answer.

A new paper claims humanity can't currently reach a list of 11 social progress benchmarks for all 7 billion-plus human beings without using more natural resources than the Earth can provide.

Other studies claim if everyone on Earth lived like, say, an average American, we'd need four Earths worth of resources. But those studies have measured material wealth. This one looks at basic needs.

SEE MORE: Climate Threats Are Expected To Increase In 2018

It's part of a new trend in research to put concrete numbers to big questions. Over the past decade, scientists have tried to calculate exactly how much deforestation, species extinction, climate change and other effects the Earth can sustainably endure.

At the same time, other scientists have realized we need to use a certain level of resources to reach benchmarks on basic human needs. Those include physical necessities, like sanitation and nutrition, as well as more qualitative ones, like education, equality and life satisfaction.

Ideally, there would be some wiggle room: We could use enough resources to meet those needs but not so many that we overtax the planet.

But that wiggle room might not exist. According to the new study, no countries come anywhere close to reaching those benchmarks without dramatically overspending resources; the two seem to almost go hand in hand.

And while it might be possible to be efficient enough to meet physical needs, the paper says to meet the quality-of-life benchmarks — like equality, education and others — we'd need to use resources at between two and six times what the Earth can provide in the long run.

The study itself is pretty pessimistic about meeting this challenge, and it's likely only going to get more difficult: The U.N. estimates we'll add more than 2 billion people to the planet by 2050.

<![CDATA[Cosmonauts Put Antenna On Wrong During Record-Setting Space Walk]]> Sat, 03 Feb 2018 08:53:00 -0600
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Russian Cosmonauts broke their country's spacewalk record Friday while installing an antenna on the International Space Station.

The two Russians spent 8 hours and 13 minutes outside the station. The previous Russian record of 8 hours and 7 minutes was set in 2013. 

SEE MORE: Guess How Many Engines SpaceX's Giant Falcon Heavy Rocket Has?

The cosmonauts were only supposed to be out there for 6 and a half hours, but the equipment they were replacing gave them some trouble. When they finally removed it, they tossed it into space.

And after all that work, it turns out they deployed the replacement antenna in the wrong position. Luckily for the astronauts, the new equipment seems to be in working order.

<![CDATA[Russian Cosmonauts Will Take Tourists On Spacewalks For A Modest $100M]]> Fri, 02 Feb 2018 15:59:00 -0600
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If you ever wanted to float in space with nothing but a spacesuit to protect you, then you might want to head to Russia. A newly announced tourism initiative promises to take individuals to space where they can film themselves completing a spacewalk.

Officials with the Russian company behind the plan said they'll bring five or six paying tourists to visit the International Space Station in 2019. The trip lasts 10 days and costs an an estimated $100 million — and visitors will get the chance to actually venture into space.

SEE MORE: Private Space Industry's Ambitious 2018 Might Make Up For A Slow 2017

To date, only seven tourists have paid to go to the ISS, and they spent a lot less. The last tourist who flew to the ISS reportedly paid $35 million to spend about two weeks on the station.

But the new Russian space tourism deal is just the first from several companies offering to take tourists to space soon. SpaceX is planning to fly two people on a trip to the moon in the near future, and Virgin Galactic recently completed another test of its SpaceShipTwo vehicle — which has room for six passengers.

<![CDATA[India's Government Plans To Give Millions Of People Free Health Care]]> Fri, 02 Feb 2018 08:02:00 -0600
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India's government wants to provide hundreds of millions of people with free health care.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi detailed the ambitious plan — which has been dubbed Modicare — on Thursday.

Under the initiative, the government would provide health care for 100 million poor families. 

SEE MORE: 3 Major Companies Team Up To Improve Employee Health Care

The plan would cover about $7,800 worth of treatment per family each year. As The New York Times notes, that number may seem small by Western standards. But it could take care of the cost of five heart surgeries in India. 

If the plan gets approval from the Indian Parliament, it could help improve the country's notoriously poor access to health care.

The details of the initiative are expected to be presented in the coming days.

<![CDATA[Cape Town Further Restricts Water Usage As Supply Runs Low]]> Thu, 01 Feb 2018 18:44:00 -0600
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Cape Town, South Africa, just tightened its restrictions on its residents' water usage.

The city is on track to run out of water by mid-April. Starting Thursday, residents aren't allowed to use more than 50 liters of water a day — that's about 13 gallons. They're also not allowed to water plants with drinking water and are encouraged to flush toilets using a bucket filled with grey water or rain water.

Cape Town has been going through a terrible drought for the past three years. 

According to the city's latest numbers, only 55 percent of Cape Town residents were sticking to their previous restriction of 87 liters a day. The good news is that number was up 14 percent from the week before.

<![CDATA[A California Lawsuit Wants Coffee Shops To Warn About Cancer]]> Thu, 01 Feb 2018 15:49:00 -0600
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A potentially carcinogenic compound in coffee is at the center of a California lawsuit — but you probably don't need to put down your coffee cup right away. 

Filed in 2010 by a nonprofit, the suit alleges levels of the chemical acrylamide in coffee should force companies selling the beverage to warn consumers about it. 

California's Proposition 65 law requires the state to inform residents about approximately 800 chemicals it's labeled toxic or cancer-causing. It's important to note the law, which was approved in 1986, has made Prop. 65 notices prevalent in the state. The warning about coffee would join cautionary advisories on homes, workplaces, products and even parking lots.

Some defendants in this case have settled, agreeing to post the Prop. 65 cancer warning.

Although past studies have highlighted the potential health benefits of coffee, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Cancer Institute have noted the link between acrylamide found in coffee and cancer. The compound is produced when coffee beans are roasted at a high temperature.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

<![CDATA[Polar Bears Are Swimming Themselves To Death As Sea Ice Melts]]> Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:46:00 -0600
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Polar bears are the iconic animals of climate change. For years, we've watched them struggle as the sea ice they live on melts. Now, scientists can see the effects: Polar bears are swimming themselves to the brink of starvation.

Polar bears mainly eat seals, and while they can swim to hunt prey, they're more successful and burn fewer calories when they stalk unsuspecting seals on the ice. Scientists tracking bears' hunting patterns have concluded as sea ice disappears, the bears will have fewer easy kills and will spend more time swimming.

SEE MORE: Climate Change Is Melting The Arctic Ice Out From Under Our Buildings

During the test, researchers saw about half of hunting bears lost 10 percent of their body weight in just over a week. That's four times the weight they would've lost if they were on land not going after seals.

In other words, polar bears were burning more energy from hunting than they were gaining energy from food. In many instances, bears now either risk starvation or the dangers of raiding human-populated areas to eat trash.

<![CDATA[The Winter Olympics Have Been Slowly Melting]]> Wed, 31 Jan 2018 16:18:00 -0600
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For athletes at the Winter Olympics, some of the stiffest competition doesn't come from their peers but from the shifting climate. As temperatures climb, it's getting harder and harder to conduct a Winter Games.

The list of places that stay cold enough to put on a comfortable Winter Olympics is shrinking. One assessment of recent host cities showed by the middle of this century, many would probably be too warm to host again.

SEE MORE: The Pyeongchang Olympics Has A (Local) Ticket Selling Problem

And as the world warms, snow melts out from underneath training grounds and competition courses. During the 2010 Games in Vancouver, planners had to bring in snow by helicopter to give athletes enough to ski on. And during the 2014 Games in Sochi, it was so warm organizers had to put an Olympic swimming pool's worth of water into snow machines every hour to make sure there was enough to go around.

The upcoming games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, are expected to be bitterly cold, which is good news for the snow. But as in previous years, organizers are keeping the climate in mind. They're raising money to offset the carbon costs of transporting athletes and visitors to the games.

Every little bit will help, because the snow trend is expected to continue. The skiing venues for the 2022 Beijing Games are said to see just 2 inches of natural snow every year.

<![CDATA[A New Device May Slow The Debilitating Effects Of Alzheimer's]]> Tue, 30 Jan 2018 16:28:00 -0600
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Researchers say they slowed some of the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's disease with a new device that's like a pacemaker.

In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists implanted wires and stimulation devices into the brains of patients with Alzheimer's to see if electrical shocks could kick-start regions of the brain  the disease impairs. Researchers have used similar technology to treat Parkinson's.

Although the experiment couldn't completely stop the progress of Alzheimer's, everyone in the study showed some sort of cognitive improvement. For instance, one participant who couldn't prepare a simple meal or pick out her own outfits at the start of the study could do both tasks by the end.

SEE MORE: New Method Could Catch Alzheimer's 15 Years Before Symptoms Appear

But the treatment probably won't see widespread use in the near future. Some medical professionals say this method poses ethical concerns. It's not clear if patients can make informed decisions about whether or not to continue treatments as their memory gets worse.

<![CDATA[Bill Gates Reveals His Father Has Alzheimer's]]> Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:28:00 -0600
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Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is opening up about the personal connection he has to Alzheimer's.

The 62-year-old revealed to NBC News that his father, Bill Gates Sr., has been diagnosed with the brain disease. Last year, Gates donated $100 million to Alzheimer's research, with $50 million going to the Dementia Discovery Fund, a group that studies cures and treatments. Gates said he's optimistic that research and funding could lead to medical innovations in the field.

There's currently no cure for Alzheimer's disease, which is a form of dementia that affects more than 5 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

<![CDATA[Astronauts Could One Day Eat Their Own Poop In Space ... Kind Of]]> Tue, 30 Jan 2018 09:41:00 -0600
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If for whatever reason eating your own waste sounds appealing, NASA has good news for you. Researchers may have found a way to repurpose astronauts' poop into food.

A team from Penn State funded in part by NASA figured out how to quickly break down solid and liquid human waste using microbes. The resulting substance is a gooey paste like Vegemite, and it could be consumed or used to make food in space.

SEE MORE: Turkey Poop Might One Day Power Your Home

Astronauts already drink water made from their own recycled urine, so converting poop into an edible substance may not come as a shock.

The researchers think this system could be beneficial for future long-term missions, like trips to Mars, which could take months or years. Packing food on board a spacecraft increases fuel costs, and growing it takes up valuable room.

<![CDATA[3 Major Companies Team Up To Improve Employee Health Care]]> Tue, 30 Jan 2018 08:57:00 -0600
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Three major companies are joining forces to lower health care costs and improve services for their employees in the U.S.

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase announced the new partnership Tuesday.

The three corporations are preparing to create one independent company that aims to "provide U.S. employees and their families with simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost."

Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett said in a statement: "The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy. Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable."

Even though it's still in early planning stages, news of the effort seems to have spooked the health industry.

According to Fortune, CVS Health, Walgreen Boots Alliance and Express Scripts Holding dropped between 4.5 and 6 percent in premarket trading.

<![CDATA[Birds And Mammals Might Have The Best Shot At Surviving Climate Change]]> Mon, 29 Jan 2018 21:43:00 -0600
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Mammals and birds might have a distinct advantage when it comes to adapting to a world transformed by climate change, according to new research.

That's because warm-blooded animals are better able to adapt and find suitable living conditions as ecosystems shift.

The researchers combined data from current habitat distribution, fossil records and genetic information for more than 11 thousand species. With that information, scientists could tell where animals lived over the past 270 million years.

For instance, about 40 million years ago there was a shift as the world cooled. Birds and mammals seem to have done pretty well for themselves as that happened. Reptiles and amphibians, not so much.

<![CDATA[She Died In The Challenger Disaster. Now, NASA Will Finish Her Mission]]> Sat, 27 Jan 2018 15:01:00 -0600
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Just over three decades after the Challenger disaster, Christa McAuliffe's lessons will finally be taught from space.

On Jan. 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger lifted off at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Seventy-three seconds after launch the shuttle exploded, killing McAuliffe and the six other crew members on board.

SEE MORE: American Girl's Newest Doll Is NASA-Approved

McAuliffe would have been the first American civilian in space. NASA selected her for its Teacher in Space Mission, and she planned to film lessons that would be distributed to students back on Earth.

Now, 32 years later, astronauts Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold are carrying out McAuliffe's mission.

Acaba and Arnold are both former educators and will film lessons on effervescence, chromatography, liquids in zero gravity and Newton's laws while on board the International Space Station.

The lessons will be filmed over the next several months. NASA says those videos and other materials will be available on the Challenger Center's website in the spring.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

<![CDATA[Paris Is Partly Underwater, And It'll Likely Stay That Way For A While]]> Sat, 27 Jan 2018 10:07:00 -0600
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Paris is effectively submerged in water, and it's probably going to stay that way for a while.

Days of torrential rain have caused the River Seine to rise above 17 feet. People feared it could rise to more than 20 feet Saturday, but the rain has let up.

Homes are flooded, cars are underwater and Parisians are traveling down water-logged suburban streets by boat.

SEE MORE: Bigger Floods Are Coming, And Our Emergency Plans Aren't Keeping Up

Part of the Louvre, which sits next to the river, is closed due to flooding, and officials say that lower gallery likely won't open until Monday at the earliest.

Outlets note even though this flooding is inconvenient, it's nothing compared to the Great Flood in 1910, when water levels rose to more than 28 feet and forced residents to evacuate.

Still, Paris remains on flood alert. Officials expect water levels to remain high and warn there could be more rain ahead.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

<![CDATA[Trump's Infrastructure Plan Will Reportedly Cut Environmental Rules]]> Fri, 26 Jan 2018 20:01:00 -0600
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The Trump administration is reportedly revving up its push for a major infrastructure overhaul again — and environmental regulations are on the chopping block.

The Washington Post says it obtained a draft legislative proposal that the White House could send to Congress next week. The proposal would reduce the environmental requirements it takes to approve an infrastructure project.

Trump has blasted the complexity of federal infrastructure regulations before, but environmental groups worry the White House reforms will undermine key parts of environmental laws protecting clean air and water.

SEE MORE: EPA Ending A Clean Air Policy That Helps Control Toxic Air Pollution

A White House official told the Post the administration's plans won't negatively impact the environment; the administration is instead focused on removing duplicative efforts and redundancies.

<![CDATA[EPA Ending A Clean Air Policy That Helps Control Toxic Air Pollution]]> Fri, 26 Jan 2018 18:40:00 -0600
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The Environmental Protection Agency is loosening some of its rules for "major" sources of air pollution.

The agency is withdrawing a policy often referred to as "once in always in." The policy meant that companies producing a lot of toxic emissions had to use the best possible pollution control technology available, even if they managed to bring their pollution emissions back down below a certain level.

Under the new rules, plants or factories that fall below that threshold won't have to use those best pollution controls.

SEE MORE: In The US, Minorities Are Exposed To More Air Pollution

Fossil fuel companies have long opposed the old policy. And the EPA says it furthers the Trump administration's goal of cutting regulatory burdens on companies.

But environmental groups say the move will lead to major increases in hazardous pollutants like mercury, arsenic and lead. 

<![CDATA[This Supermoon Is Actually Worth Checking Out]]> Fri, 26 Jan 2018 12:27:00 -0600
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It's been about five years since major news outlets started hyping each and every supermoon, so it's understandable if you've stopped paying attention. Still, the one Wednesday, Jan. 31, may be worth your while.

A supermoon is simply when the moon is full while it's also closest to Earth. Technically, it's the biggest and brightest the moon can look, but it's hard to notice that difference with the naked eye. 

But this one will also happen during a total lunar eclipse — when the moon passes through Earth's shadow. The shadow turns the moon a rusty red color, which is usually nicknamed a blood moon, making this a super blood moon.

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

This will also be the second full moon in the same month, aka, a blue moon. So what you'll see Wednesday is a super blue blood moon — the first in 150 years.

Here's the bad news: You'll have to get up early Wednesday to see it. The best views are all around sunrise or earlier. NASA has a list of ideal viewing times for each time zone.

<![CDATA[The Oceans Are Filled With Plastic, And The Problem Might Get Worse]]> Thu, 25 Jan 2018 20:52:00 -0600
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The plastic that finds its way into our oceans seems to be making coral sick. And if nothing is done, there'll likely be a lot more of it in the near future.

The authors of the coral study estimate the number of plastic items entangled in Asia-Pacific reefs will increase by 40 percent by 2025 — bringing the total to over 15.4 billion pieces of plastic.

As for the ocean as a whole, well, in 2015 scientists estimated the amount of plastic that gets emptied into our ocean each year. That number was a whopping 17 billion pounds.

And if projected growth continues, then the oceans could contain more plastic than fish — at least by weight — by 2050.

<![CDATA[An E-Tobacco Device Just Got A Mixed Review From FDA Advisory Panel]]> Thu, 25 Jan 2018 17:02:00 -0600
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An advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave a mixed review for a new electronic tobacco device.

The FDA's outside tobacco advisory committee voted to reject a request from Philip Morris to market its iQOS device as a less-risky alternative to cigarettes. But the panel did back a claim that the device reduces exposure to harmful chemicals in cigarettes. iQOS heats tobacco, instead of burning it.

The FDA will still review and OK the device and how it's marketed; it's already sold outside of the United States. Last year, the agency started an initiative to cut nicotine in cigarettes to non-addictive levels.

<![CDATA[Plastic Pollution Is Likely Making Coral Reefs Sick]]> Thu, 25 Jan 2018 16:41:00 -0600
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Plastic pollution in our oceans isn't just bad for animals that can eat it, it's also bad for animals that merely come in contact with it.

A new study in the journal Science found that the likelihood of corals becoming sick jumps from just 4 percent to 89 percent when they come into contact with plastic.

The study's lead scientist told NPR there are two ways the plastic could be making coral sicker. The pollution can scrape the coral and make openings for pathogens, and the plastic might block sunlight from reaching coral.

The researchers estimate there's over 11 billion plastic items entangled in coral reefs in the Asia-Pacific alone. That area is home to the majority of reefs in the world.

<![CDATA[FDA: Flu Season Will Probably Peak In February]]> Thu, 25 Jan 2018 13:36:00 -0600
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Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that the flu season had already peaked, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that peak will probably happen in February.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC this year's flu vaccine wasn't as effective because a strain of the virus mutated. Flu season started early, in November, and the virus is now widespread in all states except Hawaii, according to the CDC. Gottlieb added the virus is probably spreading because people aren't staying home when they're sick.

Along with its symptoms, a New England Journal of Medicine study found that influenza can increase the risk of heart attack by six times the week after diagnosis.

<![CDATA[Fine Aerosols Are Spinning Up Fiercer Tropical Storms]]> Thu, 25 Jan 2018 13:02:00 -0600
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Scientists are well aware aerosols shape global climate, but they're still learning what the tiny particles can do while they float around. New research shows the finest haze of airborne pollution can lead to some of the strongest storms.

It starts in the saturated tropical air over open oceans and rainforests. The storms that form there pull heat from the oceans into the atmosphere and put the "rain" in "rainforest." They're one of the biggest drivers of the global climate, and their winds eventually collect aerosols from around the world: Particles of soot and smoke from fires and sulfates from energy emissions.

We knew aerosols can make these storms bigger, but scientists thought the smallest particles were too small to contribute. This new study suggests not only do tiny particles drive condensation like larger particles do, but when atmospheric conditions are right, they're also better at it.

SEE MORE: Climate Threats Are Expected To Increase In 2018

This can start a positive feedback loop. When more clouds form, it leads to more rain, warmer air and overall fiercer storms. That condensation will release more heat into the atmosphere, which creates even larger and more energetic storms the next time around.

And researchers expect today's storms are the result of years of this slow build: Fine aerosols have probably been making storms stronger since emissions started in earnest, back in the 19th century.

<![CDATA[The Humanity Star Is The Inspirational Satellite Nobody Asked For]]> Thu, 25 Jan 2018 12:02:00 -0600
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Private spaceflight company Rocket Lab put three commercial satellites into orbit during its latest rocket launch. But a secret satellite also hitched a ride — and some people in the space community aren't too happy about it.

The previously undisclosed satellite is called the Humanity Star, named after its inspirational purpose. It's shaped like a disco ball and made up of 65 reflective panels. Rocket Lab says it will be the brightest thing in the sky.

But that's problematic for astronomers. Any extra unnatural light makes it that much harder to study celestial objects in the night sky.

Others have raised concern over the rapidly growing problem of space debris, saying the Humanity Star serves no scientific value and likening it to an act of "space vandalism."

SEE MORE: SpaceX Says Its Rocket Performed As Planned Amid Lost Satellite Rumors

But Rocket Lab argues the satellite will create a shared experience, serving as a reminder of our place in the universe. And supporters of the satellite see it as an innovative art piece.

But the project is a shiny reminder that space will get more crowded as startups around the world develop better and cheaper ways to launch spacecraft.

Whether you love it or hate it, the satellite isn't a permanent fixture in the night sky. It will only stay aloft for about nine months before its orbit decays and it burns up in the atmosphere.

<![CDATA[The Trump Administration Could Cut International Space Station Funding]]> Thu, 25 Jan 2018 09:23:00 -0600
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The Trump administration is reportedly considering cutting funding for the International Space Station.

Citing a draft budget proposal, The Verge reports the administration is "preparing to end support" for the ISS program by 2025.

SEE MORE: Guess How Many Engines SpaceX's Giant Falcon Heavy Rocket Has?

The official budget request will be released next month. Anonymous sources told the outlet the directive will be included in that final version.

The ISS has been operating for almost 20 years. And it reportedly now costs NASA about $3 billion a year.

As of Thursday morning, NASA had yet to comment.

<![CDATA[Guess How Many Engines SpaceX's Giant Falcon Heavy Rocket Has?]]> Thu, 25 Jan 2018 06:45:00 -0600
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SpaceX tested a giant rocket it says will be the "most powerful operational rocket in the world" — and it went pretty well.

SpaceX conducted the static fire test Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The megarocket's 27 engines flared up at full power while the rocket stayed anchored to the launch pad.

SEE MORE: SpaceX Says Its Rocket Performed As Planned Amid Lost Satellite Rumors

This is just one step of many before the Falcon Heavy lifts off for real, and outlets report it's been a struggle to get even this far due to various setbacks.

SpaceX hasn't announced a concrete launch date, but CEO Elon Musk suggested the rocket could be ready in about a week.

<![CDATA[How Did States With Low Smoking Rates Fail A Major Health Report?]]> Wed, 24 Jan 2018 17:59:00 -0600
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In the new edition of the American Lung Association's State of Tobacco Control report, many states received failing grades for not enacting policies designed to curb smoking. But the report's targets might not tell the whole story. Many of those failing states still saw their total number of smokers dwindle. 

States are graded on five criteria, including whether the state restricts people below the age of 21 from buying tobacco; the strength of a state's smoke-free air laws; the amount it charges for excise taxes on tobacco; whether the state offers treatments to get people to quit smoking; and how well those initiatives are funded. 

At face value, the study's results paint a dismal picture. Only three states got a C or better for funding their tobacco prevention programs, and only five states hit the same benchmark for age-restriction laws. States didn't fare much better with the strength of their tobacco taxes — only 10 managed to score a C or better.  

SEE MORE: More States Are Moving To Raise The Legal Smoking Age To 21

But even while many states received all F's, some still made considerable gains in getting their residents to quit. For instance, North Carolina failed every criteria in the report, but it also recorded the lowest-ever rate of adult smokers in the state's history. 

And the same trend holds for the whole U.S., too. While the country failed two criteria, the number of smokers has steadily declined to only 15 percent of American adults — a historic low for the country.

<![CDATA[Deadly Flu Season Could Cost Employers Billions]]> Wed, 24 Jan 2018 13:27:00 -0600
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Along with being widespread and deadly, the flu can also be costly for employers.

A new report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates the 2017-18 flu season could have a price tag of $9.42 billion for employers. That figure is based on an estimated 11 million workers taking four sick days to recover.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported widespread flu activity in all states except Hawaii and 30 pediatric deaths so far. It still recommends vaccinating people ages 6 months and older, as the virus is likely to continue circulating for weeks to come.

<![CDATA[Apple's New Update Will Let You Save Medical Records On Your Phone]]> Wed, 24 Jan 2018 11:19:00 -0600
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The next version of Apple's iOS will add some pretty cool features.

One of those features is the ability to store medical records on the Health app. Users will be able to save things like records, allergies, immunizations and lab results — which could come in handy in an emergency.

SEE MORE: Apple Investors Want To Curb iPhone Addiction In Children

Users will also be able to save records from multiple doctors and clinics — if those medical institutions participate. 

Apple says the Health Records information will be encrypted and passcode-protected.

The update also will include new animojis and the ability to see battery health.

<![CDATA[Here's Who Paved The Way For Women In Medicine]]> Wed, 24 Jan 2018 07:00:00 -0600
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Female physicians have been far from center stage and public consciousness for most of modern history. Looking back through the big TV medical dramas, there are plenty of men in white coats ready to scrub in and save lives.

But when it comes to title characters, we had Doogie Howser, a teenage boy doctor, years before we had Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. It would be another decade before the world met the surgeon Meredith Grey.

That might have been what we saw on TV, but in hospitals and medical schools around the country, there have been women defying the odds and making medical history for more than a century. Elizabeth Blackwell was the first. Her story starts in 1847.

The Smithsonian explains that Blackwell was 26 years old, wanted to get a medical degree and applied to more than a dozen programs in the Northeast. The only place she was seriously considered was Geneva Medical College in New York, where the dean thought the idea so odd that he let all 150 male students vote on her admission.

SEE MORE: 2 Women Made History With Their 2018 Oscar Nominations

"Apparently, the students thought the request was little more than a silly joke and voted unanimously to let her in; they were surprised, to say the least, when she arrived at the school ready to learn how to heal," reports PBS.

In 1849, she became Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D., America’s first formally-trained female doctor. She was the first but certainly not the last.

Medscape has an inspiring rundown of history-makers, including these women. In 1947, Dr. Gerty Cori "became the first woman in the United States to earn a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the 'discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen.'"

Dr. Virginia Apgar created the "Apgar score" in 1953, "a gold standard to evaluate and guide the health of generations of newborn babies," and it’s still used in delivery rooms. Skip ahead a few decades to 1990: Dr. Antonia Novello "became the first woman and the first person of Hispanic origin to become the Surgeon General of the United States."

Two years later, going to the next level completely, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first black woman ever to travel to space on a NASA rocket in September 1992. These are just a few stories of the incredible, determined women crushing norms and changing medicine even to this day.   

<![CDATA[Google's Race To The Moon Competition Ended Without A Winner]]> Tue, 23 Jan 2018 18:17:00 -0600
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The Google Lunar X Prize race to the moon is over, and the winner is ... no one.

The $30 million prize will go unclaimed after Google determined no team would be able to make the March 31 deadline.

SEE MORE: Trump Signs Declaration To Send American Astronauts To The Moon, Mars

The point of the competition was to see which privately funded company could put a robotic spacecraft on the moon first. The robot had to be able to move 1,640 feet on the moon's surface and send pictures back to Earth. The first team to do so would receive $20 million, and the second would win $5 million. Another $5 million would be awarded for "various special accomplishments."

The contest was announced in 2007, and creators said they expected a winner by now.

The original deadline, the end of 2012, has already been extended a few times.

There were five finalists in the competition, including Moon Express, which aims to start mining the moon of valuable resources by 2020. 

<![CDATA[Why Is A Proposed Road In An Alaskan Wildlife Refuge So Controversial?]]> Tue, 23 Jan 2018 17:00:00 -0600
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Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has approved a long-sought land exchange that could lead to a controversial road being built through an Alaskan wildlife refuge. 

The agreement lets King Cove, a remote Alaskan town, exchange some of its tribal land for federal land in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Officials plan to build a 12-mile road through the refuge, connecting the town to an all-weather airport often used for medical evacuations.

Locals say the road would be a much safer way to get to the airport during emergencies. Right now, they fly in, sail in or get evacuated straight from King Cove. Between 1980 and 1994, 12 people died while being airlifted out of town.

SEE MORE: Alaska's Biggest Wildlife Refuge Has More Oil Than We Need Right Now

But conservationists say they don't want a road through the refuge. In 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded a road would cause "irreversible damage not only to the Refuge itself, but to the wildlife that depend on it."

Critics also argue while the government says the road's primary purpose is medical evacuations, its actual use might be commercial. King Cove is the home of North America's largest salmon cannery, and a road could help transport goods to the nearby airport.

King Cove officials think construction will take two or three years — if the road is ever built. Advocacy groups, like Defenders of Wildlife, say they plan on challenging the federal land exchange in court.

<![CDATA[Trump's Solar Panel Tariffs Probably Won't Stall The US Boom For Long]]> Tue, 23 Jan 2018 16:52:00 -0600
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The Trump administration's newly-announced tariff on solar panel imports would be one of its strongest direct attacks on renewable energy so far — and might stunt the growth of U.S. solar power.

This tariff was due in part to pressure from two foreign solar manufacturers who make their panels in the U.S. They said they couldn't compete with countries like China, whose cheap panels have driven most of the U.S. solar boom.

SEE MORE: Basic Solar Panels Are Now About As Good As They're Going To Get

And taxing those imports could slow down what was supposed to be another busy year. In January, U.S. energy officials expected solar power would expand its share of the energy market through 2019. It might still account for just a tiny slice of U.S. electricity, but solar is getting more and more affordable as the technology improves and the industry scales up.

Now, installers expect they might have to pause some projects and shed jobs. Some stocked up on panels in case of a tariff like this, and that might help them meet their short-term goals. However, that could make the market's shrinking supply even smaller.

But solar trade groups don't expect the market to stall out for long. Some larger projects might be able to take the hit. The tariff would also taper from 30 percent to 15 percent over the next four years, and it wouldn't apply to the first 2.5 gigawatts of imported cells.

But panelmakers in China think the new measure is unfair, too. They've suggested they might take their case to the World Trade Organization, which could decide the tariff is illegal before it even goes into effect.

<![CDATA[Tiny Crystals Might Be Key In Predicting Volcanic Eruptions]]> Tue, 23 Jan 2018 07:37:00 -0600
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Thousands of Filipinos evacuated the area around the Mayon volcano just a week before it exploded. To give at-risk communities more warning, researchers are developing new methods of predicting when volcanoes might erupt. One group thinks the answer is in the miniscule crystals of volcanic rocks.

The hard-to-miss crystals contain a historical record of the goings-on inside volcanoes right before eruption — similar to how tree rings can tell scientists about past climate events.

When researchers examined the crystal layers from Mount Etna in Italy, they found magma a little more than 6 miles below the surface was often enough to trigger an eruption. The same technique might also be applied to crystals from other sites to determine when eruptions might occur. 

SEE MORE: Climate Change Might Make Effects Of Major Volcanic Eruptions Worse

The team said they hope their technique might help volcanologists know how deep to look for warning signs of a possible eruption. The approach might also be useful for studying historically dormant volcanoes that don't have any recent data for scientists to measure.

<![CDATA[Geoengineering Earth Might Not Actually Help Combat Climate Change]]> Mon, 22 Jan 2018 10:53:00 -0600
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Climate change took its toll on 2017, making it one of the warmest years on record and the United States' most expensive disaster year ever. As the warming trend continues, researchers are exploring whether solar geoengineering might slow it down. But they're finding it might actually do more harm than good.

Solar geoengineering involves reflecting more sunlight back into space so the planet cools down. Scientists think if it's done together with reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, it might offset some of the effects of climate change.

One of the most popular and feasible methods involves spraying sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere to form a cloud that would reflect solar radiation. This is similar to what happens during large volcanic eruptions.

Models have shown this technique might not only help cool the planet but could also reduce melting of sea and land ice, slow down sea level rise and make it easier for plants to absorb carbon dioxide.

SEE MORE: How We Could Make Mars A Livable Planet

But the risks might outweigh the benefits. Some models show if we start sulfur seeding and then abruptly stop for some reason, the planet might actually begin rapidly heating up — far faster than if seeding hadn't been used at all. The warming could be disastrous for ecosystems, especially fragile ones in the polar regions.

Other studies have found sulfur seeding might also lead to substantial ozone depletion, reversing the slow natural repairs to the ozone hole above Antarctica.

So before we go spraying aerosols into the sky, we might want to seriously weigh as many risks and benefits as we can. Scientists won't know all of the implications of geoengineering until it's underway.

<![CDATA[The Government Shutdown Could Slow The CDC's Flu-Tracking Efforts]]> Sat, 20 Jan 2018 15:42:00 -0600
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Flu season doesn't seem to be slowing down, and the government shutdown could make the illness more difficult to track.

In its contingency plan, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would furlough half its staff. Some agencies, like the Food and Drug Administration and Indian Health Services, will get to retain more than half of their employees. Other agencies aren't as lucky.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which responds to disease outbreaks, will only retain 37 percent of its staff. That means it'll still be able to collect and report data about the flu from local authorities — but likely at a slower pace.

SEE MORE: You Can Easily Spread The Flu Just By Breathing

The agency told CNBC: "Our staff resources are limited, which means it will take longer to review, analyze and report out information needed for public health action."    

In its most recent update, the CDC reported 30 flu-related pediatric deaths. Between Oct. 1 and Jan. 13, there have been 8,990 hospitalizations.

<![CDATA[Trump Administration Renews Emergency Declaration For Opioid Crisis]]> Sat, 20 Jan 2018 08:50:00 -0600
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The Trump administration just renewed its emergency declaration for the opioid crisis, days before the original order was set to expire.

A spokesperson with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Friday: "This is further evidence of the Trump administration's strong, ongoing commitment to addressing this crisis and protecting the health and well-being of the American people."

SEE MORE: FDA Is Trying To Keep Cough Medicines Containing Opioids From Kids

Some public health experts, however, argue the original emergency declaration hasn't been very effective in actually combating the opioid crisis.

That's because the administration hasn't yet announced new funding or resources. Instead, the White House commission on the crisis recommended giving existing federal money to local authorities. 

Beyond funding, the administration also hasn't yet named the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Kellyanne Conway was tapped to be the new "opioid czar," but that position may focus more on messaging than policy.

On Thursday, Politico reported President Donald Trump may cut the Office of National Drug Control Policy's budget by 95 percent, shifting the office's grants to other agencies.

<![CDATA[Cape Town Could Become The First Major City To Run Out Of Water]]> Fri, 19 Jan 2018 17:17:00 -0600
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Cape Town could become the first major city in the world to run out of water.

The city has been facing a three-year drought, and officials predict the city's reservoirs will be nearly empty toward the end of April — what they're calling "day zero."

And starting in February, residents of Cape Town will only be allowed to use 13 gallons of water a day. For some perspective, Americans use nearly 100 gallons of water per day.

This impending crisis could be a preview of a new normal for South Africans.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says South Africa is already experiencing decreased rainfall. And dry spells are likely to get worse as the century progresses.

SEE MORE: Why It's So Hard To Get Everyone Access To Clean Water

South Africa isn't the only place facing a water deficient future. By 2040, 33 countries could face extreme water stress.

To help stave off future water scarcity, Cape Town has already begun to install desalination plants to make salt water more drinkable, and it's looking into extracting groundwater.

Those options will be helpful for facing droughts in the future, but for right now, the city is unlikely to find much relief before day zero.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

<![CDATA[You Can Easily Spread The Flu Just By Breathing]]> Fri, 19 Jan 2018 15:00:00 -0600
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We all know the guidance to avoid getting sick during flu season: Try not to touch your face or other stuff, wash your hands often and, most importantly, don't cough or sneeze without covering up. But new research shows how mere breathing can spread the flu.

Scientists at the University of Maryland measured people with flu infections while they breathed, talked, coughed and sneezed. They found simply breathing in and out is enough to lace the air with the flu virus.

This means people can transmit the flu through the air more easily than previously thought. Most health officials thought the virus spread mostly through coughing or sneezing, but this new research suggests those explosive events aren't required.

SEE MORE: Why It's So Hard To Get A Flu Vaccine Right

Researchers also found that flu breath is most infectious in the early stages of illness. They recommend the same things world and national health organizations do: If you're sick with the flu, stay home.

<![CDATA[To Fight Rising Generic Drug Prices, Hospitals Form New Drug Company]]> Thu, 18 Jan 2018 20:55:00 -0600
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Four not-for-profit hospital networks are joining forces to form a new generic drug production company

Together, the four systems own 10 percent of hospitals in the U.S. They say they hope to lower generic medication prices, which have seen major increases in recent years.

Those increases are partly because existing drug companies started buying rights to older drugs and bumping the prices up.

SEE MORE: US Officials Accuse More Drugmakers Of Overcharging For Certain Drugs

The new alliance hasn't said what drugs it intends to produce because it doesn't want other pharmaceutical companies to undercut it temporarily and return to high prices later.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is also on board for the project. It's not providing any financial support but it's interested in becoming a customer of the new company.

<![CDATA[A Blood Test For Common Cancers Could Be In The Works]]> Thu, 18 Jan 2018 19:52:00 -0600
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Researchers at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have developed a blood test that could one day screen for many types of cancer.

The screening was designed to identify eight different types of cancer. Certain cancers seem to be easier to detect than others. For instance, the test found ovarian cancer 98 percent of the time, but only caught breast tumors 33 percent of the time.

The test isn't ready for doctors' offices just yet. All the tests were done on people already diagnosed with cancer. For it to be useful, scientists need to prove that it can be used to find undiagnosed cancer.

And that's what's important. Some cancers take 20 to 30 years to become symptomatic. By then, they're hard to treat because they've already spread. Early detection like this blood test potentially offers could save a lot of lives.

SEE MORE: The Cancer Death Rate Continues To Drop In The US

The researchers have already launched their next study to see if the test can detect cancer in people who don't have any symptoms yet.

They hope to someday offer a cancer screening test that costs less than $500 to take. 

<![CDATA[Robomedic? This Drone Might've Just Saved A Life]]> Thu, 18 Jan 2018 16:25:00 -0600
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Lifeguards in Australia just used a drone to make a potentially lifesaving rescue in the ocean.

Two swimmers were caught in rough water off the coast of New South Wales. The drone dropped a flotation device to them and they used it to get to shore.

A team of lifeguards happened to be getting ready to train with the drone at the time. The New South Wales government spent more than $400,000 to implement it into lifeguarding. It's actually part of a $16 million plan to minimize shark attacks on the shore, but it's obviously useful as more than a shark lookout.

SEE MORE: This Cute New Space Drone May Take Over Some Astronaut Duties

And it's not a unique program. In France, a small fleet of drones has been helping distressed swimmers for a couple years.

Drones can usually get to people faster. In Australia, it took only a couple minutes for the drone to launch and reach the swimmers.

Drones could turn into lifesavers in other ways. A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association recommended sending defibrillators to people in cardiac arrest via drone.

<![CDATA[As Expected, 2017 Was One Of The Hottest Years On Record]]> Thu, 18 Jan 2018 15:56:00 -0600
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Climate scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed what early evidence told us — 2017 was one of the warmest years ever measured.

"We are in a long-term trend," said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

"2015, '16 and '17 now represent the three warmest years on our record," said Derek Arndt, monitoring branch chief with NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information.

NASA lists 2017 as the second-warmest year in its records, while NOAA marks it as the third. Researchers say the differences in rank are likely due to how the two agencies measure polar temperatures.

Both agencies agree greenhouse gas emissions are driving the trend, which is apparent even without the warming and cooling effects of El Nino and La Nina.

"The planet is warming regardless of what's going on in the tropical Pacific," NASA climate researcher Gavin Schmidt said. "2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 all would have been record warm years."

SEE MORE: Climate Change Will Create More Refugees And Mass Migration

And this can lead to more than just unusually high temperatures. 2017 was the U.S.' most expensive disaster year ever. If the climate continues to warm, scientists anticipate it will displace more people, kill more species and steer us toward a serious resource crunch.

The good news is there's still time for policy and social decisions to help ease these pressures. In the U.S., increased use of renewable power sources drove nationwide emissions down in 2017. And so far, every other nation that signed the Paris climate agreement intends to stick to their emissions-reducing goals.

<![CDATA[YouTube's Cracking Down On The Latest Viral Video Challenge]]> Thu, 18 Jan 2018 14:44:00 -0600
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YouTube is going to start removing Tide Pod challenge videos.

If you're unfamiliar, teens and kids have been challenging each other to eat or take a bite of a laundry pod and record it.

It's kind of like the cinnamon challenge — but with a product that contains toxic ingredients.

SEE MORE: Here's How YouTube Is Punishing Logan Paul

YouTube said it's also going to give any users that upload Tide Pod challenge videos a strike for violating the company's content rules. If an account gets three strikes within a three-month period, it's removed from the site. 

Facebook has also started removing the videos.

The challenge has pushed Tide to put out marketing videos that state the obvious: Eating Tide Pods is "a BAD IDEA."

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.

<![CDATA[For The Love Of Ketchup]]> Wed, 17 Jan 2018 20:38:00 -0600
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Ask almost any kid their favorite food, and you'll hear chicken nuggets, hot dogs, french fries ... oh, and they always need ketchup. At this point, ketchup is all-American. But one couple is redefining the classic condiment.

<![CDATA[Meteorites Can Sell For A Lot — If You Can Actually Find One]]> Wed, 17 Jan 2018 16:36:00 -0600
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The recent meteor that streaked over southeast Michigan piqued the interest of stargazers and sent meteorite hunters scrambling to find some of the valuable space rock.

A meteorite's value depends on a few things, but it's mostly based on physical makeup. Common meteorites are usually stony and sell for about $25. But rarer celestial rocks can be studded with valuable crystals, pushing their price tag to as much as $850,000.

Value is also based on professional opinion. For example, Christie's in-house appraiser once valued one meteorite at more than $1 million using a four "S" scale: size, scientific importance, source and the story of how the meteorite ended up on Earth.

SEE MORE: Jupiter Is Making The Perseid Meteor Shower Way Better This Year

But before you go looking for these rocks, keep in mind they're really hard to find. One lunar geochemist said only 1 in every 1,000 finds are actual meteorites.

So if you do happen to find a potential meteorite, make sure it's legit. That same geochemist noted people have asked him to appraise bowling balls and musket balls they thought were meteorites.

<![CDATA[Climate Threats Are Expected To Increase In 2018]]> Wed, 17 Jan 2018 16:11:00 -0600
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Each year, the World Economic Forum compiles a list of the most pressing threats to humanity. And this year, as with previous years, it predicts some of the biggest challenges will be climate-related.

Experts agree that failure to slow climate change, stronger natural disasters and more extreme weather events will pose some of the greatest risks to global society in 2018. Last year is a good example of what could be in store; record heat and unprecedented financial tolls from natural disasters were hallmarks in 2017.

The report ranked climate threats higher than others, like terrorism or infectious disease, partly because climate issues can lead to even more problems. Soaring temperatures can deplete food stocks or force populations to migrate. Severe storms can ruin infrastructure — as Hurricane Maria did across Puerto Rico.

SEE MORE: Why Is Climate Change No Longer Considered A National Security Threat?

The forum repeated its encouragement from last year and from other international groups like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: The best counter to climate threats that affect everyone is cooperation.

World and business leaders will discuss their path forward at the forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, starting Jan. 23. Even President Donald Trump is expected to attend — the first U.S. president to do so in 18 years.

<![CDATA[Olympic Records Will Be Harder To Break As We Reach Physical Limits]]> Wed, 17 Jan 2018 15:22:00 -0600
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Olympic athletes train hard to bring home the gold and maybe set a new record. But it's getting harder to break records, leading some researchers to wonder if humans have hit their physical limits.

The human body, like that of any living species, is finite — with a set number of muscles and bones. And each part has limited capabilities. Humans can stretch their limits — but not forever.

Although athletes are still breaking records, research shows a slowdown in the frequency and number of records. One study, for example, looked at trends in events like running, swimming, cycling and skating from 1896 to 2016 and found improvements in performance have slowed for both men and women.

SEE MORE: North And South Korea Will March Together At The 2018 Winter Olympics

It's not just observational. The math behind record-breaking shows that the frequency will continually decrease over time. That's why athletes are breaking records in newer sports more often than in older sports. One group calculated that athletes could set the maximum world records for half of all Olympic events by 2027.

And despite continued advances in our understanding of fitness and nutrition, as well as newer and better equipment, some experts say we won't see much more record-breaking, just a larger number of athletes reaching the body's limits.

So, the Olympics might not see as much record-breaking, but competition could become tighter as more athletes show impressive athletic performance.

<![CDATA[Britain Has Appointed A Minister To Help Tackle Loneliness]]> Wed, 17 Jan 2018 13:58:00 -0600
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Britain has appointed a minister for loneliness.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced Wednesday that Minister for Sport and Civil Society Tracey Crouch will serve as the "ministerial lead on loneliness."

The new position is part of a wider effort to tackle loneliness and social isolation in the U.K.

Research shows it's a big problem in Britain. The British Red Cross says more than 9 million people there always or often feel lonely.

SEE MORE: Isolation Could Become A Bigger Public Health Threat Than Obesity

May said in a statement, "For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life. I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action."

Crouch will lead a group responsible for establishing policies on the issue and keeping it on the government's agenda.

<![CDATA[Trump Got A Perfect Score On A Cognitive Assessment Test]]> Tue, 16 Jan 2018 18:17:00 -0600
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President Donald Trump requested he do something a little different for his annual exam: a cognitive assessment.

"We did do a cognitive assessment as part of the exam, and initially I had no intention of including a cognitive assessment in this exam," Dr. Ronny Jackson said on Tuesday. "Because to be honest with you, per all the guidelines that are out there, it's just not indicated at this time."

The test given was the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, or MoCA. It's designed to quickly screen for mild cognitive dysfunction and is typically administered to older adults. The test takes around 10 minutes and questions evaluate things like attention, concentration and memory.

Jackson, the White House physician, said Tuesday that Trump scored a perfect 30 out of 30 on the test. A score of 26 and above is considered normal, and this means the president likely doesn't have Parkinson's disease or dementia.

SEE MORE: Why The Conversation Around Trump's Mental Health Is Controversial

The MoCA test, however, doesn't screen for every mental illness, and it doesn't gauge intelligence or genius.

Jackson said Trump "actively asked" him for the cognitive exam so he could put to rest speculation over his mental fitness.

<![CDATA[CDC Confirms First 'Widespread' Flu Activity For Whole Continental US]]> Tue, 16 Jan 2018 18:11:00 -0600
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For the first time in recorded history, the entire continental United States is experiencing what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls "widespread influenza activity."

When a flu outbreak happens, the virus that gets people sick in Alabama may not be the same strain in Washington. So some parts of the country may have rougher flu seasons than others, depending on the strain.

SEE MORE: Why It's So Hard To Get A Flu Vaccine Right

The CDC said there are two reasons for this widespread activity. First, most people getting the flu are picking up the H3N2 strain, which is notorious for mutating so fast that vaccines can't keep up. This year's vaccine is thought to be just 32 percent effective at stopping H3N2.

Second, some hospitals are poorly equipped to deal with H3N2 because of supply shortages outside of vaccines. For example, some parts of the U.S. don't have enough of the intravenous fluid that delivers medicine to patients because hurricanes damaged the facilities in Puerto Rico where it's made. And in the hardest-hit parts of the U.S., there's not enough antiviral medication.

Despite these shortages, the CDC did say that this season isn't expected to be as severe as other recent H3N2-dominated years. But there are still at least 11 weeks of flu season to go, so researchers are encouraging those who haven't had their flu shot to get one.

<![CDATA[Experts Predict What The World Will Look Like In 2050]]> Tue, 16 Jan 2018 12:42:00 -0600
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Although 2050 is still a ways away, researchers are predicting what the "future" might look like — from the wacky to the alarming.

Our world might look physically different, especially if the effects of climate change match what current models predict. Sea levels are expected to rise about 1 to 2 feet along the U.S. coast, while some coral reefs might die off if bleaching episodes get worse. On land, we might have to deal with more frequent, larger wildfires.

As more people live longer, the global population is set to hit 9.8 billion by 2050. And more people are expected to use more natural resources. One group predicts we'll use over 110 billion tons more by mid-century, about a 70 percent increase.

SEE MORE: 'Superbugs' Could Kill 10 Million People A Year By 2050

But all those people might end up living most of their lives in a simulated world. Futurist Ian Pearson told Business Insider technological advances might allow us to plug our brains into computers and live in a virtual reality. We might also add a layer of digital intelligence to our brain — something Tesla CEO Elon Musk is already looking into.

Other advances might also revolutionize things like space travel and cars. Some researchers predict most vehicles on the road will be capable of autonomous driving and will run on anything from solar power to pressurized air.

But all these predictions are just that — predictions. We didn't get flying cars by 2000, and we might not get them by 2050.

<![CDATA[Bipartisan Lawmakers Ask For Ocean-Drilling Exemption For Their State]]> Mon, 15 Jan 2018 13:23:00 -0600
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A bipartisan group of New Jersey lawmakers sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke asking to keep offshore drilling programs away from their state.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Gov.-elect Phil Murphy and U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez signed the letter.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration started taking steps to dramatically increase offshore drilling. But Zinke later said that expansion wouldn't apply to Florida because the state relies heavily on tourist traffic.

SEE MORE: Trump Proposes Major Increases To Offshore Drilling

The New Jersey lawmakers said the same rule should apply to them. In the letter, they say an oil leak could hurt the state's economy and "unique marine ecosystem."

They also say the New Jersey "coastal economy generates millions of dollars in revenue" and claimed it provides hundreds of thousands of jobs.

New Jersey isn't the only state asking to be exempt from future oil-drilling projects. Some lawmakers from North Carolina, New York and California have also said they want their states exempt.

<![CDATA[Trump's Doctor Says He Is 'In Excellent Health']]> Fri, 12 Jan 2018 20:20:00 -0600
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President Donald Trump underwent his first medical exam as president, and his doctor says he's "in excellent health."

The president's health has been under heavy scrutiny during the lead up to Trump's annual exam. Though Trump said he would be surprised if it didn't go well, some outlets questioned his physical and mental fitness. 

SEE MORE: Why The Conversation Around Trump's Mental Health Is Controversial

That's because Trump is notably fond of fast food and reportedly drinks 12 cans of Diet Coke a day. Besides golf, the president also reportedly doesn't believe in exercising

Next Tuesday, the White House physician who examined Trump will be answering questions during the daily briefing. The Hill notes this is an unusual move.

<![CDATA[Wildlife In Protected Areas Can Often Become Casualties Of War]]> Fri, 12 Jan 2018 16:46:00 -0600
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Between 1950 and 2000, 80 percent of armed conflicts took place in biodiversity hot spots, especially in Africa. A new study shows how frequently fighting can spill into areas designated to protect vulnerable wildlife.

Researchers collected hundreds of records on protected animal populations in Africa to see which were near conflicts, and how that affected the abundance of wildlife. They found during the past six decades, more than 70 percent of Africa's protected areas saw some sort of conflict. 

Interestingly, decreases in protected animal growth rates were not in areas hit hardest by war, but in places of frequent fighting. For instance, in the Gorongosa National Park, which saw fighting off and on since 1977, 90 percent of the park's wildlife populations were exterminated at its worst point. 

SEE MORE: The Eastern Black Rhinoceros Has Officially Returned To Rwanda

There isn't a singular reason these animals die. Occasionally, military forces or villages with financial problems will kill elephants for their ivory and bush meat. Other times, these animals die because conflict destroys their habitats, or because fighting puts too much stress on the governments that protect them.

Fortunately, researchers noted many parks that lost the most wildlife were not doomed to lose them forever. Only one park included in the study saw some of its protected species go extinct. And at Gorongosa, the park's wildlife has returned to 80 percent of its total prewar abundance. 

And in many cases, the revitalization of those parks and animals within them can bolster the economies of African countries that lost animals to fighting. In Rwanda, the government has drawn millions of dollars in tourism revenue by reintroducing once lost wildlife into its protected areas. 

<![CDATA[Pot Farms Could Be Hurting Animals And The Environment In California]]> Fri, 12 Jan 2018 16:17:00 -0600
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Two owl species in California are being poisoned, and the culprit might be marijuana farmers.

That's according to a new study published Thursday. The poisoning affects the Northern spotted owl — considered threatened by the U.S. government — and the barred owl.

Pot farmers likely aren't poisoning the owls on purpose, but they are setting poison down for rodents, which owls can eat.

Both species studied weren't anywhere near urban areas. But the areas studied have seen increases in marijuana growing operations. The authors say one of the counties studied has thousands of pot farms with little regulatory oversight.

SEE MORE: California Rings In The New Year With New Marijuana Laws

And the researchers say they're worried legalizing recreational marijuana in California could make the problem worse.

These marijuana operations aren't just hurting owls. A 2015 study linked illegal marijuana farms and the same type of poison to the death of some fishers — a member of the weasel family.

And another study from last year shows pot farms are also hurting the ecosystems these animals live in by causing deforestation and forest fragmentation. Those issues are small now but could become "substantial threats" as cannabis farming becomes more common.

<![CDATA[What's Taking NASA's James Webb Telescope So Long To Launch?]]> Fri, 12 Jan 2018 15:33:00 -0600
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Construction on the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble, was finished in 2016, but the telescope isn't scheduled to launch until 2019. What's the holdup? Testing, testing and more testing.

It's been in development since the mid-'90s, and by the time it launches, it might cost around $10 billion, so a mishap would be really expensive. If that's not stressful enough, getting the telescope to its final destination is extremely complicated.

Once in space, it will have to unfold and assemble itself in a process that takes two weeks. When it gets to its destination, it'll be a million miles from Earth, or about four times the distance to the moon, so sending astronauts to fix anything that breaks will be difficult — if not impossible.

SEE MORE: How Does NASA Transport A Massive $9 Billion Telescope?

So everything has to go right the first time. That's why NASA spent most of 2017 testing it, and 2018 will be no different.

First, the telescope was bombarded with acoustics and vibrations to see if it could withstand getting jostled around in a launch. Then, it was carefully packed up and flown to Houston where it spent three months in a cryogenically cooled vacuum chamber, testing whether it could function in space at temperatures near absolute zero.

At the same time, its sunshield, a delicate stack of aluminum sheets, was tested in California. The next phase involves sending the main instruments to California as well, where the whole spacecraft can be fully assembled for the first time and, yes, tested some more.

NASA even tested its tests: A replica of the James Webb telescope was also shipped around the country and cryogenically frozen, just to make sure the tests themselves were safe.

And NASA and the European Space Agency aren't taking any chances with the launch. When the telescope finally lifts off, it'll be riding an Ariane 5, one of the most dependable rockets in use today.

<![CDATA[Newly Discovered Martian Ice Could Be Good News For Future Astronauts]]> Thu, 11 Jan 2018 20:02:00 -0600
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Scientists think ice found below the Martian surface began as snow that fell on Mars long ago. 

Some of that ice is sticking out above the surface where it's combined with rocks and dust, making the ice a prime target for future lander missions.

That also means the ice is a lot more accessible than previously thought. And it could tell scientists a lot about Mars' climate history.

The deposits below the surface are also relatively pure, meaning they could be useful for possible future manned missions to the red planet. 

<![CDATA[Scientists Find Deep Deposits Of Ice Below Martian Surface]]> Thu, 11 Jan 2018 19:18:00 -0600
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Planetary scientists say they've found large deposits of ice just below the Martian surface.

Using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists located eight steep slopes with large ice deposits below them. Some of those deposits are more than 300 feet thick

We've known for a while that Mars is home to a lot of ice. But until now, we hadn't been able to tell much about the ice that is there or how deep it is. 

<![CDATA[FDA Is Trying To Keep Cough Medicines Containing Opioids From Kids]]> Thu, 11 Jan 2018 18:26:00 -0600
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is requiring increased safety labeling on cough and cold medicines to protect kids from opioids.

The FDA made the announcement Thursday, saying, "Given the epidemic of opioid addiction, we're concerned about unnecessary exposure to opioids, especially in young children."

Medicines containing codeine or hydrocodone are now required to have a label indicating they're for people age 18 and over. 

But health officials say that shouldn't be a problem as most coughs don't need any treatment. 

The FDA says treating sick children with medicines that contain opioids poses "serious risks that don't justify their use."

<![CDATA[The Government Talks Differently About Climate Change Under Trump]]> Thu, 11 Jan 2018 17:59:00 -0600
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Reports that the Trump administration banned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using certain words may have been exaggerated. But recent research shows some government agencies have changed their language online. 

A report out Wednesday shows how government agencies have scrubbed or altered references to climate change and related topics from federal websites. 

The changes affect multiple departments, including ones not obviously associated with environmental issues, like the Department of Transportation. 

Many of the alterations have been noted before. But the authors of the report — a coalition of academics and nonprofits — hope to hold the government accountable by collecting them in one report. 

<![CDATA[Those 'Banned' CDC Words Weren't Banned After All]]> Thu, 11 Jan 2018 16:03:00 -0600
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Reports that the Trump administration banned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using certain words may have been exaggerated.

In December, The Washington Post reported the Trump administration asked the CDC not to use seven words: "vulnerable," "entitlement," "diversity," "transgender," "fetus," "evidence-based" and "science-based."

But documents obtained by CNN show there were only three words to be avoided: "vulnerable," "diversity" and "entitlement." And an unnamed official with the Department of Health and Human Services told the outlet those words were suggested as a strategy to gain funding. 

"Nobody ever told them they couldn't use these seven words. It was just said, 'If you think these words would cause someone to jump to a conclusion, then use a substitute. But if there isn't a good substitute, then go ahead and use the word,'" one unnamed official said. 

The director of the CDC had previously denied the reports, saying in a string of tweets there are "no banned words" at the CDC and the agency "will continue to talk about all our important public health programs."

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN

<![CDATA[Why It's So Hard To Get A Flu Vaccine Right]]> Thu, 11 Jan 2018 13:05:00 -0600
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There's something to those headlines that call this flu season worse than usual. Annual vaccination efforts are a sort of arms race: Some years, vaccine makers can't keep up with the flu.

Every year, researchers compose a cocktail flu vaccine that inoculates people against three or four strains. Health officials have to make an informed prediction about which strains will show up in the next season.

But flu is notorious for mutating. When it rearranges the proteins on its surface, vaccines against it are less effective. And this happens quickly. Sometimes, by the time researchers grow the year's vaccines in chicken eggs, those vaccines can be out of date.

Certain strains, like the H3N2 virus that's making the rounds this season, also mutate more quickly than others and can lead to more severe illness.

SEE MORE: The Flu Nearly Reached Epidemic Levels This Season

So if the vaccine predictions are wrong, the shot will be less effective. But officials urge everyone to get vaccinated every year anyway. The benefits still outweigh any downsides — and in the years where it's matched well, a vaccine can be as much as 60 percent effective.

<![CDATA[Disagreement Over Paris Deal Re-emerges During US-Norway Talk]]> Wed, 10 Jan 2018 17:34:00 -0600
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After the U.S. withdrew from the Paris climate agreement, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg made clear her disagreement. That disagreement re-emerged when she met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday.

When asked about the Paris climate agreement, Trump reiterated his argument that it was "very unfair." Solberg responded by advocating for her country's own strong environmental policies.

"There are business opportunities in this, as we talked about during this, because we have strict regulations to reach our Paris targets," Solberg said. "That means that we have very strong policies for environmental-friendly and climate-friendly technology."

SEE MORE: The US Is Now The Only Country Not On Board With The Paris Accord

Working to cut down on carbon and gas emissions, Norway exempts electric cars from taxes. As a result, almost half of the new cars in the country are electric.

Responding to Trump's public doubt regarding the science behind global warming, Solberg told The Washington Post: "We believe that the science is proof."

Despite their disagreements about the environment, Solberg and Trump found common ground in trade and military power.

<![CDATA[California's Devastating Mudslides Are A Product Of Historic Wildfires]]> Wed, 10 Jan 2018 16:41:00 -0600
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When wildfires raged across California in December, they didn't just cause millions of dollars of damage. They also created the perfect conditions for the devastating mudslides that followed.

When wildfires scorch an area, they damage plants, which play a key role in keeping the soil in place. They also change the soil itself, reducing the amount of water the land can absorb and how quickly it can absorb it. In some cases, dirt can even become water-repellent.

SEE MORE: California's Wildfires Are Forming A Newly Classified Type Of Cloud

When rainfall eventually hits those dried out areas, the land can't handle the water, and it begins to tumble down hillsides, along with debris. It doesn't take much rain to trigger this. Southern California has seen slides occur with as little as 7 millimeters of rainfall.

And those flows can happen before anybody sees the warning signs. The U.S. Geological Survey does have models to estimate the likelihood and size of a debris slide. But it takes a few days to get solid results, and in some instances undetected flows can happen within 30 minutes of the start of a storm.

For now, California's mudslides look to be finished, as most of the storm systems have left the area. From here, crews are trying to figure out how they're going to get rid of all the mud that's left hundreds trapped and many more missing.

<![CDATA[The Flu Nearly Reached Epidemic Levels This Season]]> Wed, 10 Jan 2018 14:55:00 -0600
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Cases of the flu were close to epidemic levels at the end of 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Specifically, cases of H3N2, a strain of influenza A, are high. H3N2 is especially dangerous and can be harder to contain.

A CDC official told "Good Morning America" this flu season reached its peak about a month earlier than normal. He said recent weather conditions and holiday travel could be to blame. 

<![CDATA[New York City Is Suing Major Oil Companies Over Climate Change]]> Wed, 10 Jan 2018 13:28:00 -0600
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New York City is going after big oil over climate change.

The city is suing five major oil companies for billions of dollars to pay for the cost of protecting New York City from the effects of climate change.

The companies are BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

SEE MORE: Pope Francis Once Again Calls For Efforts To Fight Climate Change

Mayor Bill de Blasio argues fossil fuel companies knew about threats from climate change and intentionally misled the public.

De Blasio also said the city will divest billions of dollars worth of financial interests in fossil fuels.

<![CDATA[Trump Administration Won't Allow Offshore Drilling Near Florida]]> Tue, 09 Jan 2018 20:33:00 -0600
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The Trump administration says it won't allow offshore drilling in Florida waters.

On Tuesday, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke met with Florida Gov. Rick Scott to talk about his objections to drilling in waters near the state. 

Zinke later said, "As a result of discussion with Gov. Scott and his leadership, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms."

The Trump administration announced last week it was considering opening up almost the entire outer continental shelf to drilling and received bipartisan opposition across state lines.

Some of the most vocal opponents were Florida lawmakers.