Health & Science

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The number of new HIV cases reported in the Philippines has surged over the last few years, according the country's health agency. In 2007, fewer than 400 new cases were reported; in 2017, more than 11,000 new cases were identified.

Catastrophic wildfires. Devastating hurricanes. Extreme temperatures. Sea levels that are too high. Ice levels that are too low.

Needless to say, planet Earth (and by extension, humanity) is going through a lot right now.

Could our future be in the stars?

For a company that's all about the future of communication, Facebook is looking to the past to solve at least some of its problems.

After months of intense scrutiny over the role the company played in the 2016 presidential election, the social network giant announced it wants to use postcards to verify the identity of advertising buyers to prevent future foreign meddling.

NPR's "Take A Number" series is exploring problems around the world — and solutions — through the lens of a single number.

One of the places many people are first prescribed opioids is a hospital emergency room. But in one of the busiest ERs in the U.S., doctors are relying less than they used to on oxycodone, Percocet, Vicodin and other opioids to ease patients' pain.

If you need cataract surgery, your eye surgeon may have to do double duty as your anesthetist under a new policy by health insurer Anthem. In a clinical guideline released this month, the company says it's not medically necessary to have an anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist on hand to administer and monitor sedation in most cases.

Some ophthalmologists and anesthesiologists say the policy jeopardizes patient safety, and they are calling on Anthem to rescind it.

The Trump administration wants to allow insurance companies to offer more policies that have limited health benefits and that can reject customers if they have pre-existing medical conditions.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the plans, which don't meet the legal requirements for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, will allow consumers who can't afford insurance now to find cheaper plans.

Directions, weather reports, water bottles. Those are some of the things we've seen robots offering at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics — helping to host thousands of visitors and media. They're also helping South Korea present itself as a tech-savvy nation with an eye on the future.

Most of the robots we've seen in Pyeongchang and Gangneung, the two areas where the Winter Games are being held, weren't made to look human. Instead, they present a wide range of looks — and autonomy.

A grocery store's baby formula aisle often stocks an overwhelming number of options. Aside from different brands of pastel-hued tins and tubs, there are specialized formulas — some for spit-up reduction, gas or colic. And in the past decade or so, companies have introduced formulas meant for toddlers who are leaving bottles behind.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Hidden Brain: A Study Of Airline Delays

Feb 20, 2018

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

If you've taken a flight any time recently, you may have heard the pilot make one of those announcements - ladies and gentlemen, we're going to be arriving about 10 minutes early.

SHANKAR VEDANTAM, BYLINE: (Laughter).

In 1984, two men were thinking a lot about the Internet. One of them invented it. The other is an artist who would see its impact on society with uncanny prescience.

First is the man often called "the father of the Internet," Vint Cerf. Between the early 1970s and early '80s, he led a team of scientists supported by research from the Defense Department.

Initially, Cerf was trying to create an Internet through which scientists and academics from all over the world could share data and research.

Like a lot of science fiction fans, I read William Gibson's visionary novel Neuromancer not long after it came out in 1984. It painted a dystopian world where people spent most of their time on computers communicating across networks in "cyberspace."

When I read it, I thought it was an engaging fantasy. Now, over 30 years later, the prescience of Gibson's novel is unquestionable. In the intervening years, I've wondered how he and other artists were able to imagine the future when the technologies they wrote about had barely been invented.

It's shaping up to be one of the worst flu seasons in years.

If you are one of the thousands of Americans who are sick with the flu, this one's for you.

In the fall of 2008, Omega Young got a letter prompting her to recertify for Medicaid.

But she was unable to make the appointment because she was suffering from ovarian cancer. She called her local Indiana office to say she was in the hospital.

Her benefits were cut off anyway. The reason: "failure to cooperate."

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