Health & Science

A year ago this month, animal activist Paul Shapiro sat in the offices of the Hampton Creek food technology company in San Francisco and put a forkful of foie gras in his mouth.

When Bella Doolittle heard her diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's last February, she sat in the car outside the doctor's office and cried. "He said, 'Well, we figured out what's going on with you and this is it.' And I'm like, 'No, it's not.' "

Doolittle's husband, Will Doolittle, sits next to her on the couch, recalling how she grilled the doctor. "You asked, 'How long does this take? How long do I have?' And he said, 'On average, eight years.' That really upset you."

Telemedicine isn't just for rural areas without a lot of doctors anymore.

In the last few years, urban areas all over the country have been exploring how they can connect to patients virtually to improve access to primary care and keep people from calling 911 for non-urgent problems.

Chinese tech giant Tencent is trying to do something that's never been done before: take the biggest online mobile game in China global.

Lots of people make New Year's resolutions that focus on conserving something. Some people pledge to eat less junk food. Others will commit to saving more money.

Columbia University law professor Tim Wu has a suggestion for something else people should consider conserving: attention. In his new book The Attention Merchants, Tim argues that our mental space is constantly being hijacked.

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

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is everywhere these days, from self-driving cars and voice-activated software like Siri and Alexa. It's being used in fields from criminal justice to finance. So this year in All Tech Considered, we're going to spend some time exploring AI.

Enough already with the activity trackers and fitness apps. They're so 2017. If you're tired of tech and of exercising solo and are ready to simplify your routine — maybe even join a group exercise class — you'll be in good company this new year.

Exercise is great for your health. But if you're looking to lose weight in the new year, you should know this: How much you eat ultimately matters more than how much you work out.

Like a lot of Americans, I've got some extra pounds to shed. So about two months ago, I started tracking everything I eat using an app called Lose It! It's one of several apps out there — like MyFitnessPal and MyPlate – designed to help you watch your diet. When I eat something, I can look up how many calories it contains in the app. If my food isn't listed, I add it myself.

Dozens of new emojis are planned for 2018.

One of the most popular additions? Redheads.

"People felt like they were getting left out," says Jeremy Burge of the Unicode Emoji Subcommittee. It's part of the Unicode Consortium, which sets the international standards for emojis, among other things.

"Even though I don't have red hair myself, that was the number one request we got for the last two years running. So I felt like I should step up and try and make that happen," Burge tells NPR's Weekend All Things Considered.

Federal taxpayers are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a quest for blood samples, medical information and fitness readouts from a million Americans. It's called the All of Us precision medicine initiative, and it's the biggest push ever mounted to create a huge public pool of data that scientists — and anybody else who is interested — can mine for clues about health and disease.

Proponents say this big data approach to medicine will be revolutionary. Critics aren't so sure.

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

LAUREN FRAYER, HOST:

This is Lauren's log, stardate December 31, 2017. Captain Lulu Garcia-Navarro is away, but we continue the mission to explore matters of space, the stars and the universe.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Apple had a message for its customers this past week: "We apologize."

Customers have been angry ever since the company confirmed its software updates slow down older iPhones with aging batteries. Apple says it did that to prevent those iPhones from shutting down unexpectedly.

While this apology might help on the public relations front, the legal issues are another matter.

Many of us make New Year's resolutions. Few of us realize them. Maybe it would help to reframe how we handle our resolutions by thinking of them as goals instead.

What health goals will you reach for in 2018? And which, if any, will you discuss with your doctor?

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

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

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