Health & Science

The Puzzle Of Quantum Reality

44 minutes ago

There's a hole at the heart of quantum physics.

It's a deep hole. Yet it's not a hole that prevents the theory from working. Quantum physics is, by any measure, astonishingly successful. It's the theory that underpins nearly all of modern technology, from the silicon chips buried in your phone to the LEDs in its screen, from the nuclear hearts of the most distant space probes to the lasers in the supermarket checkout scanner. It explains why the sun shines and how your eyes can see. Quantum physics works.

Remember that skeleton hanging in the front of your biology — or art — classroom?

It's possible those bones are not plastic, but actual human remains. A lot of classroom skeletons, in high schools, universities and medical schools, are real.

When Roger Severino tells his story, discrimination is at its heart.

"I did experience discrimination as a child. And that leaves a lasting impression," he tells me.

Severino directs the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. When I meet with him at his office in the shadow of the Capitol, he talks about his childhood as the son of Colombian immigrants growing up in Los Angeles.

Robots have taken over many of America's factories. They can explore the depths of the ocean, and other planets. They can play ping-pong.

But can they pick a strawberry?

"You kind of learn, when you get into this — it's really hard to match what humans can do," says Bob Pitzer, an expert on robots and co-founder of a company called Harvest CROO Robotics. (CROO is an acronym. It stands for Computerized Robotic Optimized Obtainer.)

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit

In an effort to reduce the number of invasive iguanas in South Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has funded a project in which scientists from the University of Florida approach green iguanas sleeping at night with the goal of killing them.

It was November 2014, and I was working on a feature story about a hot new blood-testing company in Silicon Valley that promised to "disrupt" the lab industry with new technology.

The company, Theranos, claimed its new finger-prick test would be a cheap and less painful way to run tests with just a few drops of blood. Old-fashioned venous blood draws, where the patient watches as vial after vial of blood is collected, would quickly become obsolete, Theranos promised.

In Robin Dando's lab, several mice chowed down on a specialized diet designed to make them as fat as possible. "I can say the mice are happy. They love this unhealthy diet, and pretty fast they get pretty overweight," says Dando, an assistant professor of food science at Cornell University.

But the mice were not long for this world. Eight weeks after they started their delicious nosh, they were euthanized and their tongues were excised for direct comparison against their skinnier brethren.

A Chinese space lab the size of a city bus will soon be falling back to Earth, and no one knows exactly where bits of it might crash down.

This year's World Happiness Report doesn't have too many surprises — Scandinavian countries occupy many of the smiliest slots. But there's a West African country that's getting rave reviews for its happiness. Togo, which ranked at the very bottom of the 2015 World Happiness Report, comes in this year as the "biggest gainer," the report says. That means Togo is the country with the most-improved level of happiness in the world.

WATCH: How A Tick Digs Its Hooks Into You

9 hours ago

Spring is here. Unfortunately for hikers and picnickers enjoying the warmer weather, the new season is prime time for ticks, which can transmit bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

How they latch on — and stay on — is a feat of engineering that scientists have been piecing together. Once you know how a tick's mouth works, you understand why it's impossible to simply flick a tick.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Many of us find that our circle of friends gets smaller as we get older, and researchers say this is especially true for men. NPR social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam looks at social isolation among men and what it can do to their health.