When you see them on the beach, spinach-like plops of green sprawled on the sand, you'd never guess their teeny nervous systems are imprinted with beach-ness. They are the ultimate Beach Boys. For them it's always summer.
What should parents be told before their premature infants participate in a clinical study?
For the second time in four months, the consumer group Public Citizen is alleging that a large, federally funded study of premature infants is ethically flawed.
Both complaints raise a big issue that's certain to get more attention beyond these particular studies: What's the ethically right way to do research on the validity of the usual care that doctors provide every day.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will host an unusual forum on that question next Wednesday — stimulated by the sharp questions raised by Public Citizen.
Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 7:32 am
By Barbara J. King
For the first time in 30 years, obesity rates in the United States have remained flat. Given the grim numbers, that finding hardly counts as uplifting news. I like the way this inelegant headline cuts to the heart of things: "U.S. adult obesity rates holding steady, but still bad."
When there's room to spread out, we often take advantage of it. Think about a big car or an SUV. You're behind the wheel, you roll the window down. You might prop up your left elbow. The other arm is outstretched on the wheel. It all sounds nice and relaxing, but it could have some major consequences. There's new research suggesting that you are more likely to blow a stop sign or a red light and not even know it. NPR's social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is here to explain this.
The Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant is back in the news more than two years after an earthquake and tsunami triggered a series of meltdowns. New leaks found this week prompted regulators to consider raising the alert level there in Japan. NPR's science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel joined us to explain. Geoff, good morning.
Kesennuma, in the Tohoku region of Japan, was devastated in a March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. A researcher studying recent mega-quakes says this one, centered some 300 miles from Tokyo, could actually mean an increased risk of a quake hitting Japan's capital, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world.
There's a joke among scientists: Prediction is difficult, especially about the future. For Ross Stein, it wasn't a joke after the Indian Ocean quake and tsunami in 2004. It killed some 275,000 people. "I just felt almost a sense of shame," Stein says, "that this tragedy could have been so immense in a world where we have so much intense research effort."
Judith Curry with her dogs, Rosie (left) and Bruno, in the mountains near Lake Tahoe. The climatologist focuses on the uncertainties of climate change far more than on the consensus of climate scientists.
While the Obama administration presses forward with plans to deal with climate change, Congress remains steadfast against taking action. It's not easy to find a scientist who will agree with that point of view. But Republicans have found an ally in a climate scientist by the name of Judith Curry.
"If you could imagine a grandfather clock and see the pendulum swinging back and forth, ideally that pendulum would swing back and forth very uniformly," Ludlow says. "Each swing would take exactly the same amount of time."
That's stability. But what if something perturbs the system, like a mischievous toddler?