Health & Science

There is one small field on Michael Sullivan's farm, near the town of Burdette, Ark., that he wishes he could hide from public view.

The field is a disaster. There are soybeans in there, but you could easily overlook them. The field has been overrun by monsters: ferocious-looking plants called pigweeds, as tall as people and bursting with seeds that will come back to haunt any crops that Sullivan tries to grow here for years to come.

"I'm embarrassed to say that we farm that field," Sullivan says. "We sprayed it numerous times, and it didn't kill it."

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In a few months, AOL Instant Messenger will go the way of such tech touchstones as AltaVista and Netscape. It was 20 years ago that "AIM" went online. It quickly exploded in popularity, peaked and then slowly succumbed to competitors.

For many of us, AIM conjures up memories of dial-up modems, the sound of a "handshake" and the phrase "You've Got Mail."

Sharelle Klaus says she has always been a foodie.

So she was gutted when she had to pass up an opportunity to dine at The French Laundry, the famous Napa Valley restaurant with three Michelin stars. She was pregnant at the time — and not drinking.

"What would be the point?" she says she remembers thinking.

She didn't want to travel all the way from Seattle — and be stuck drinking water while her dining companions enjoyed an array of Napa wines, carefully chosen to complement and complete each dish.

Every day, we are inching closer to some kind of artificial intelligence.

At this point, it isn't so important whether we're talking about truly self-conscious machines or not. Advances in big data, machine learning and robotics are all poised to give us a world in which computers are effectively intelligent in terms of how we deal with them.

Should you be scared by this proposition? Based on a lecture I just attended, my answer is: "absolutely, but not in the usual 'robot overlords' kind of way."

Updated 4:52 pm

The Trump administration is rolling back the Obama-era requirement that employer-provided health insurance policies cover birth control methods at no cost to women.

According to senior officials with the Department of Health and Human Services, the goal of the new rule is to allow any company or nonprofit group to exclude the coverage for contraception if it has a religious or moral objection.

Which Items In Our Kitchens Contain BPA?

Oct 6, 2017

It's not exactly a secret that many plastic products have an additive called "bisphenol A," or "BPA," for short. NPR has covered the chemical substance many times, including here, here, and here.

Last weekend's massacre in Las Vegas is only the latest reminder of the persistent gun violence in the United States. And a new set of statistics on the rates of gun violence unrelated to conflict underscores just how outsize U.S. rates of gun deaths are compared with those in much of the rest of the world.

Austin Rogers is not your typical Jeopardy! champion.

Sure, he's got brains — answering rapid-fire trivia in the form of a question to the tune of $278,000 in winnings.

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Right now we're in the peak of the fall migration season. Billions of birds are making their way south. Many species travel at night, and a new study shows how artificial light can affect their journey through darkness. NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce reports.

Russian hackers stole top secret cybertools from a National Security Agency contractor in yet another embarrassing compromise for U.S. spy agencies, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The NSA contractor is believed to have taken highly sensitive official software home to a personal computer in 2015. His machine was running a Russian security program made by Kaspersky Labs, which can be exploited by Russia's intelligence agencies, the Journal reported.

Artificial intelligence is the subject of great hopes, dire warnings, and now — a congressional caucus.

Douglas Sonders/NPR

The Hidden Brain is about to become a little more front and center.  The Morning Edition segment-turned-podcast makes its debut as a weekly radio show this weekend on NPR stations (including WUWM).

Neanderthals died out some 30,000 years ago, but their genes live on within many of us.

About 40 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. That is a staggering figure.

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