Health & Science

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Oil companies are coming to terms with the prospect that oil prices could stay low for years. Today, Royal Dutch Shell announced it's laying off 1,600 workers. NPR's John Ydstie reports.

If there's such a thing as the first family of health care, the Lees may be it.

Five decades ago, two brothers helped start Medicare. Their father inspired them and they, in turn, have inspired the next generation.

To mark the anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson signing Medicare into law on July 30, 1965, three Lees sat down to reflect on the U.S. health care system.

An expert in ocean circulation tells NPR's Geoff Brumfiel that it is "highly likely" that currents in the Indian Ocean could have carried debris from the presumed crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 off Australia's west coast to Reunion Island near Madagascar.

Scientists are calling for an immediate ban on live salamander imports in the U.S. to try to prevent the spread of a fungal disease that could potentially devastate wild North American salamanders.

President Obama has ordered the development of a supercomputer that is some 20 times faster than the world's current record-holder and is expected to go online by 2025.

A machine at China's National University of Defense Technology in Guangzhou, called Tianhe-2 (Milky Way-2) is thought to currently be the fastest supercomputer in existence — variously reported as doing either 34 or 55 petaflops (1 petaflop is equivalent to 1 quadrillion floating-point operations per second).

Last July, a photo changed Sierra Sandison's life. She went onstage in the Miss Idaho pageant with an insulin pump clipped to her bikini bottom. The photo and the #ShowMeYourPump hashtag she created went viral on social media and became NPR's most popular online story of the year.

Chilo Ketlhoafetse struts around an eighth-grade classroom like the coolest guy in Botswana, warming the students up to talk about an awkward subject. He calls out "Nomhlaba!" and they respond "Auwe!" — nonsense words from a local childhood game. Soon he has the students clicking their fingers, dancing and following his every word.

Within an hour, the students at the Bakgatle Community Junior Secondary School in Mochudi are chanting the only message he wants to get across to them: "Older partners are riskier."

Months after they left the BBC, car enthusiasts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are headed to Amazon, hoping to re-create the success of the long-running TV show Top Gear. The trio left the BBC under a cloud after Clarkson's contract was not renewed because of a physical attack on a show producer.

"The show will be produced by the trio's long time executive producer Andy Wilman," Amazon announced Thursday, adding that production on the new show, whose name wasn't revealed, will begin soon.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Over the years, scientists have mostly interpreted the world through what they can see. But in the past few decades, a culture of listening has blossomed, especially among biologists who seek to understand how animals communicate. This week Morning Edition embarks on a weekly summer series called Close Listening: Decoding Nature Through Sound. We begin with an innovation that transformed medicine by searching sounds for clues to illness and health.

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