Science

Intelligence Squared U.S.
3:56 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Debate: Should We Genetically Modify Food?

Samuel LaHoz Intelligence Squared U.S.

Many plants we eat today are a result of genetic modifications that would never occur in nature. Scientists have long been altering the genes of food crops, to boost food production and to make crops more pest-, drought- and cold-resistant.

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Shots - Health News
8:21 am
Wed December 10, 2014

A Crowd Of Scientists Finds A Better Way To Predict Seizures

Mathematician Phillip Adkins (left) and Drew Abbot, a software engineer at AiLive. They were members of the winning team.
Courtesy of Phillip Adkins

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 7:12 am

An online contest for data scientists has produced a great leap forward in efforts to predict when someone with epilepsy is going to have a seizure. The winning team used data on electrical activity in the brain to develop an algorithm that predicted seizures 82 percent of the time.

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Shots - Health News
3:54 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Scientists Often Skip A Simple Test That Could Verify Their Work

When the wrong cells take over, scientists' experiments can be derailed.
Chris Nickels for NPR

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 4:34 pm

There's a simple test that scientists could use to make sure the cells they're studying in the lab are what they think they are. But most of the time, academic scientists don't bother.

That omission is a problem. One study found that between 18 percent and 36 percent of all cell lines have been misidentified. And this kind of mistaken identity is one reason that many results from experiments run in scientific labs can't be reproduced elsewhere.

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The Two-Way
5:11 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

After $4.75 Million Auction, Watson Will Get Nobel Medal Back

The 1962 Nobel Prize Medal in Medicine or Physiology that James Watson sold at auction last week will be returned to him, at the buyer's request.
Christie's

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 5:27 pm

It was the first time a living Nobel Prize recipient had ever sold his medal. And now scientist James Watson, 86, will hang on to the medal he won for his work on DNA, after a Russian billionaire who bought the medal for $4.75 million at auction says he wants Watson to keep it.

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Shots - Health News
4:16 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

This Nursing Home Calms Troubling Behavior Without Risky Drugs

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 4:34 pm

It's a sunny autumn afternoon and a good time to make apple crisp at Pathstone Living, a memory care facility and nursing home in Mankato, Minn. Activities staffer Jessica Abbott gathers half a dozen older women at a counter in the dining area, where the soundtrack is mostly music they could have fox-trotted to back in the day.

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Space
3:25 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Curiosity's View Of 'Mt. Sharp' Offers New Clues About Water On Mars

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 5:47 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The Salt
3:17 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Venison As Benison: Food Banks Score From Deer Overpopulation

Ralph Roloff trims meat from a deer donated to the Help Us Stop Hunger program in State Center, Iowa in 2007.
Scott Olson Getty Images

White tailed deer are so common in Washington, D.C., that my kids barely take note, even if I have to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting them.

But the National Park Service says there's a problem beyond the risk of driver-deer collisions, which lead to an estimated $4 billion in damages each year. The overabundance of deer are a threat to native vegetation.

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Shots - Health News
4:11 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Mistaken Identities Plague Lab Work With Human Cells

Georgetown's Robert Clark says it's very difficult to say precisely how many experiments have been spoiled by contaminated cell lines.
Phil Humnicky Courtesy of Georgetown University

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 6:55 pm

There's a major flaw in many medical research studies that seems so basic that you'd think scientists would be smart enough to avoid it.

It turns out that cells studied in the laboratory often get mixed up. A researcher who thinks she is studying breast cancer cells might in fact be using melanoma cells.

It's a surprisingly common problem — even in some of the top scientific labs.

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Shots - Health News
2:35 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Nursing Homes Rarely Penalized For Oversedating Patients

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 5:26 pm

Antipsychotic drugs have helped many people with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. But for older people with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia, they can be deadly. The Food and Drug Administration has given these drugs a black box warning, saying they can increase the risk of heart failure, infections and death. Yet almost 300,000 nursing home residents still get them.

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The Two-Way
8:09 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

NASA Photos Show New Signs Of A Lake On Mars

NASA says "cross-bedding" in the layers of this Martian rock is proof that water moved on Mars, leaving waves or ripples of loose sediment. The image is from a site at Mount Sharp that NASA calls "Whale Rock."
NASA

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 11:41 am

Signs of water currents and sediments are seen in the latest photos NASA's Curiosity rover sent home from Mars, the space agency said Monday. The images suggest "ancient Mars maintained a climate that could have produced long-lasting lakes," NASA says.

In the huge Gale Crater where Curiosity has been exploring, the water and sediment flow might have been massive enough to build a mountain — the 3-mile-high Mount Sharp — NASA researchers say. But they acknowledge that they're still working to solve the mystery of how the mountain formed in a crater.

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