science

Until very recently it was thought that just one bacterium was to blame for causing Lyme disease in humans. But it turns out that a second, related bug can cause it too.

In 2013, during routine testing of bacterial DNA floating around in the blood samples of people suspected of having Lyme disease, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., realized they were looking at something different.

Genetics researchers often discover certain snips and pieces of the human genome that are important for health and development, such as the genetic mutations that cause cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia. And scientists noticed that genetic variants are more common in some races, which makes it seem like race is important in genetics research.

Cosmic Crisp, near Quincy, Wash., on Sept. 18, 2013
Courtesy of Good Fruit Grower/TJ Mullinax

Bill Radke speaks with Washington State University apple researcher Kate Evans about Cosmic Crisp, a new variety of apple she helped develop that will be exclusively grown in Washington state. 

We asked our listeners to weigh in on their favorite varieties, check out their varied responses below!

"Squat! Squat! Squat! Higher! Faster!"

In the basement of the Duane Physics and Astrophysics building at the University of Colorado Boulder, a science demonstration is going on, but it looks more like a vaudeville act.

One by one, students balance precariously on a rotating platform. Then they are handed what looks like a spinning bicycle wheel, holding it by two handles that stick out from either side of what would be the hub of the wheel. When you flip the wheel over, like a pizza, your body starts rotating in the opposite direction.

The Science Of Getting Kids Organized

Feb 2, 2016

If you've ever gotten a glimpse inside a high schooler's backpack or locker, you know organization doesn't always come naturally to teens. Being scatterbrained in school can make make it tough to stay focused and do well.

That was the case when Lilli Stordeur was about halfway through her freshman year of high school in Northampton, Mass. She felt totally overwhelmed.

"I was being tutored for the classes I was having trouble in," she says, "but I would be having a hard time organizing my binders, and notebooks and stuff, and knowing when to hand things in."

The history of science is full of happy accidents — most folks have heard that penicillin was discovered in 1928, when a few mold spores landed on some neglected petri dishes in a London lab. But sometimes serendipity's role is a bit less ... mainstream.

4 things you wanted to know about gene editing

Feb 1, 2016
m
Creative Commons

Regulators in the UK today approved research on human embryos using CRISPR-Cas9, a controversial form of gene editing that has been exciting scientists and alarming bioethicists around the world.

Praying for rain? You'll get (slightly) less when the moon is very high, a new study finds.

Scientists at the University of Washington say the moon's position impacts the amount of rainfall on Earth.

"As far as I know, this is the first study to convincingly connect the tidal force of the moon with rainfall," researcher Tsubasa Kohyama says in a press release from the university.

Editor's note at 10:51 a.m. ET, Feb. 1: The original version of this post lacked a perspective from the food industry. That post also may have given the impression that NPR has a position on whether food ads should or should not be banned. A new version appears below and the original version follows.

Why is it that we haven't seen ads for cigarettes on television since the Nixon administration?

Some octopuses intimidate their neighbors by turning black, standing tall and looming over them threateningly, like an eight-armed Dracula.

That's according to a study published Thursday that helps show that octopuses aren't loners, contrary to what scientists long thought; some of the invertebrates have an exciting social life.

Tracing your genealogy has become a popular hobby in the United States. More than 1 million people around the country have taken these tests. Shows like PBS's Finding Your Roots have shown the public how much information you can find out about your family tree with a simple DNA test.

Editors' note, Feb. 1, 2016: On Jan. 20, we reported on a statement from the American Psychological Association that a research paper, "Chronic Adolescent Marijuana Use as a Risk Factor for Physical and Mental Health Problems in Young Adult Men," had a statistical error. The APA now says that statement, which was titled "APA Corrects Article Regarding Teen Marijuana Use," should not have said there was an error in the paper. Jim Sliwa, a spokesman for the APA, told NPR: "There was no error.

Despite long odds, a subtropical system in the Atlantic was upgraded to hurricane status this morning by the National Hurricane Center.

Satellite images showed Hurricane Alex, a well-defined tropical storm, churning in the open Atlantic, closer to Africa but at about the latitude of Jacksonville, N.C.

"It's rather surprising and remarkable," Richard Pasch, senior hurricane specialist for the National Hurricane Center, tells our Newscast unit. "It's a pretty rare event."

Officers of 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 'Ready First' 1st Armored Division, participate in an urban combat exercise at a training facility on Fort Bliss, Texas in 2011.
Flickr Photo/DVIDSHUB (CC BY 2.0)/http://bit.ly/1njNs6z

William Kerby was exposed to repeated blasts when he was deployed to Iraq as a Marine infantryman.

“For instance, we were setting off a charge on a door or a gate to blow it open, and there’s nowhere really to go, so you basically turn away from it within a few feet,” Kerby said. “You can feel that kind of concussion, that shockwave, as it goes through your body.”

The nation's veterans are being asked to contribute DNA for the largest genetic research project in history.

Pages