Health & Science

With the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season finally over, scientists are taking stock of what they say was a monumental year.

A total of 10 hurricanes swept the region. Six were major storms of Category 3 or higher, and three of those were Category 4 or higher when they made landfall, spreading havoc from the Caribbean to Texas.

The Atlantic Ocean is vast and has always made its own weather. But a typical year sees about six hurricanes, not 10. And three strong hurricanes hitting land — Harvey, Irma and Maria — is extraordinary.

So what's going on?

The students entering college are not millennials. The next generation, Generation Z, has arrived. The oldest in the group are in their early 20s.

Not only have they never known a world without the Internet, some have had smartphones since middle school.

And for this group, memes, animated GIFs and emojis are second nature, says Geoff Nunberg, a linguist who does features on language on NPR's Fresh Air.

Peregrine falcons, known for making spectacular dives to snatch smaller birds midair, conduct their aerial assaults in much the same way that military missiles hit moving targets, scientists have found.

Peregrines have been known to dive at 200 mph or more, plummeting toward dinner with astonishing precision. How, exactly, the birds are able to do that at such speeds has been the subject of decades of research.

The Ground Beneath Our Feet

Dec 4, 2017

During a major soil catastrophe — the Dust Bowl — President Franklin Roosevelt told state governors, “The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.”

Still, we treat our soil like dirt. By growing food and storing carbon dioxide and water, the loam and peat that coats the earth sustains us all. In return, we till it, treat it with chemicals and generally walk all over it.

CVS Health is looking to create a national network of community medical clinics that will serve as "America's front door to quality health care."

That's the goal, according to a statement by CEO Larry Merlo on his company's deal for Aetna. It's an ambitious one for CVS, a company better known as a quick stop for Tylenol and a Coke.

Mil Schooley, an 18-year-old student in Denver says most of her friends have a JUUL — an e-cigarette that can vanish into a closed fist. When asked roughly how many, she stumbles a bit. "I wanna say like 50 or 60 percent? I don't know. Maybe it's just the people I know. All my friends in college have one," she says. "It just blew up over the summer."

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro says his country will create a cryptocurrency system called the "petro," backed by oil reserves and other natural resources, in his latest attempt to cope with an abysmal national economy and multiple rounds of U.S. sanctions.

Unveiling the petro plan on his weekly national TV program Sundays with Maduro, the president said the cryptocurrency (in Spanish, criptomoneda) could help Venezuela evade international sanctions.

Stephen Jay Gould famously described the relationship between science and religion as one of "non-overlapping magisteria," with science restricted to facts and theories about the empirical universe, and religion to questions of moral meaning and value.

This is one way to understand the relationship between science and religion: two compartments with a solid wall between them, fixed and non-porous.

But it's by no means the only, or even the most popular, approach.

Fishermen are worried about an offshore wind farm proposed 30 miles out in the Atlantic from Montauk, N.Y., the largest fishing port in the state. They say those wind turbines — and many others that have been proposed — will impact the livelihood of fishermen in New York and New England.

Scallop fisherman Chris Scola fishes in an area 14 miles off of Montauk. He and his two-man crew spend 2 ½ hours motoring there, then 10 more dredging the sea floor for scallops before heading back to port.

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Nobody likes the feeling of being left out, and when it happens, we tend to describe these experiences with the same words we use to talk about the physical pain of, say, a toothache.

"People say, 'Oh, that hurts,' " says Nathan DeWall, a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky.

DeWall and his colleagues were curious about the crossover between physical pain and emotional pain, so they began a series of experiments several years back.

Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

On a visit to Utah on Monday, President Trump announced his proclamations dramatically shrinking the size of the state's two massive national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Taken together, Trump's orders mark the largest reversal of national monument protections in U.S. history.

The change has already been challenged in court by conservation groups.

People who experience frequent migraines may soon have access to a new class of drugs.

In a pair of large studies, two drugs that tweak brain circuits involved in migraine each showed they could reduce the frequency of attacks without causing side effects, researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Updated at 8 p.m. ET

CVS is preparing to buy the health insurance giant Aetna for $69 billion, the companies say.

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