Science

5:03pm

Thu December 12, 2013
Shots - Health News

Why Meningitis That Hit Princeton Is Hard To Beat With Vaccines

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 5:46 pm

Developing a vaccine for meningitis B was tricky. Even the existing vaccine doesn't protect against all B strains.
Josef Muellek iStockphoto.com

There's been a lot of talk about meningitis B lately. That's the type responsible for outbreaks at Princeton and the University of California in Santa Barbara.

And it got us thinking. How come this form of the illness isn't fazed by the vaccines given routinely to most young people in the U.S.?

This week, Princeton is administering an imported vaccine not approved for general use in this country, with special permission from the Food and Drug Administration.

Read more

4:35pm

Thu December 12, 2013
The Two-Way

So Much For The 'Mozart Effect'

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 7:02 pm

Researchers could not find a link between exposure to music and improved IQs in preschoolers.
Dmitry Naumov iStockphoto

Music makes the heart grow fonder, but scientists are not so sure that it boosts IQ.

The Boston Globe notes:

Read more

12:55pm

Thu December 12, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Why We Need More Than Three Genders

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 3:49 pm

iStockphoto

Some of the people who will read this blog post are female, some are male, some are both and some are neither. To all, greetings of the season!

Of the many things I want to celebrate during this annual round of holiday joy, the beauty of human diversity and the pleasure we may take in recognizing it sit near the top of my list.

Yet here's something I've noticed: While the array of gorgeous human skin colors and ethnicities and sexualities is increasingly embraced as a matter of human rights, we are slower to celebrate multiple genders.

Read more

5:22am

Thu December 12, 2013
Around the Nation

Newtown Parents Seek A Clearer Window Into Violent Behavior

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 11:22 am

Avielle's artwork hangs on the walls and windows of Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel's home.
Craig Ruttle AP

The shooting in Newtown, Conn., last December has left families of the 26 victims, most of them children, struggling to heal in different ways.

Jeremy Richman and Jennifer Hensel are one such family. They lost their only child, 6-year-old Avielle, in the shooting. In the year since, they've responded as any parents would: Asking why such a tragedy could have happened.

Read more

7:38pm

Wed December 11, 2013
The Two-Way

NASA: Trouble With Space Station Cooling System Is No Emergency

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:37 pm

Commander Oleg Kotov (left) and Sergey Ryanzansky, preparing for a spacewalk aboard the ISS on Nov. 9.
NASA

One of two cooling systems aboard the International Space Station is experiencing problems, but there's no imminent danger to the crew of six, NPR's Joe Palca reports.

Read more

7:31pm

Wed December 11, 2013
The Two-Way

Scientists Map Vast Reserves Of Freshwater Under The Seabed

Scientists published the first global survey of the known undersea freshwater reserves. Water is relatively cheap now, but the reserves could be valuable if it becomes scarcer in the future.
Olivier Morin AFP/Getty Images

Not all the water in the sea is seawater.

Scientists think there are vast reserves of fresh groundwater buried under the oceans — a potentially valuable resource for coastal cities that need freshwater.

A recent report in Nature estimates the amount of fresh groundwater around the world at about 120,000 cubic miles — that's 100 times more than all the groundwater that has been pumped up from wells since the 1900s. The reserves are scattered across coastal regions around the world.

Read more

5:23pm

Wed December 11, 2013
The Salt

Drug Companies Accept FDA Plan To Phase Out Some Animal Antibiotic Uses

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:07 pm

Young broilers nibble feed at a chicken farm in Luling, Texas. The Food and Drug Administration has issued new guidance on how drug companies label antibiotics for livestock.
Bob Nichols USDA/Flickr

If drug companies follow guidance issued Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration, within three years it will be illegal to use medically important antibiotics to make farm animals grow faster or use feed more efficiently.

The FDA's announcement wasn't a big surprise; a draft version of the strategy was released more than a year ago.

Read more

5:23pm

Wed December 11, 2013
Energy

Big Batteries Needed To Make Fickle Wind And Solar Power Work

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 8:57 am

PG&E, a Northern California utility company, is already experimenting with big batteries to store wind-generated electricity at its Vaca-Dixon Substation.
Richard Harris NPR

Giant batteries are coming to a power grid near you. In fact, they're already starting to appear on the grid in California.

That's because California is planning to rely increasingly on power supplies that aren't necessarily available every minute of every day. The state plans to get one-third of its electricity from wind and solar energy by 2020.

Utilities in the state are trying to figure out how they can cope with that uncertain power supply. Batteries aren't a panacea, but they could help.

Read more

4:02pm

Wed December 11, 2013
Shots - Health News

Staph Germs Hide Out In The Hidden Recesses Of Your Nose

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 3:33 pm

The interior of the nose is like a lush rain forest that's barely been explored.
Courtesy of Sunje Pamp

Otherwise innocuous bacteria can cause deadly infections when people have surgery or fall ill. To prevent trouble, patients sometimes have their bodies scrubbed clean of Staphylococcus aureus.

But it doesn't always work.

That may because the germs thrive in upper recesses of the nose, far from the spots typically tested for staph bacteria, or where antibiotics are applied.

Read more

2:54pm

Wed December 11, 2013
The Two-Way

Wake Up, Rosetta! Europeans Begin Checklist For Comet Landing

Rosetta and Philae in an artist's rendition of the spacecraft's comet encounter.
European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe, launched in March 2004, will be awakened from a deep sleep next month in preparation for a rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which will culminate late next year with the first-ever soft landing on such a body.

The 6,600-pound spacecraft, which has spent nearly a decade making repeated flybys of Earth and Mars to gain enough speed to catch the comet, was put in hibernation in July 2011, after its last major gravity-assist maneuver.

Rosetta's wake up call is set for Jan. 20, 2014 at precisely 1000 GMT (5 a.m. EST).

Read more

Pages