Health & Science

Krulwich Wonders...
5:27 am
Fri December 20, 2013

One Man. One Cat. Multiplied

Courtesy of Mike Holmes

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 10:08 am

We start with a man called Mike and a cat called Ella. Two creatures.

Nothing odd about them, except that Mike has a beard and Ella is a touch chunky. Otherwise, they could be any cat and guy. Except ...

When you think about it, no one is ordinary. You could put a totally bland cat-and-guy couple in front of a hundred people, ask them to look, and each one would see a very different pair, different in a thousand subtle ways, because everybody looks at everything with different eyes.

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Brain Candy
4:10 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Do Crossword Puzzles Really Stave Off Dementia?

Originally published on Fri December 20, 2013 10:13 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK. Play along here: The subject of our next story is nine letters long. It's a type of word puzzle. Answers go horizontally and vertically in this grid of squares. I've probably given it away, haven't I? Yes, it's a crossword. And tomorrow, the venerable crossword puzzle turns 100 years old. In its first century, the game has gained legions of fans around the world and a reputation for staving off dementia. NPR's Adam Cole takes a look at the history and the hype.

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Health Care
4:05 am
Fri December 20, 2013

How Fraud Flourishes Unchecked In Medicare's Drug Plan

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 3:47 pm

With just a handful of prescriptions to his name, psychiatrist Ernest Bagner III was barely a blip in Medicare's vast drug program in 2009.

But the next year he churned them out at a furious rate — not just psychiatric drugs, but expensive pills for asthma, cholesterol, heartburn and blood clots.

By the end of 2010, Medicare had paid $3.8 million for Bagner's drugs — one of the highest tallies in the country. He added another $2.6 million the following year, records analyzed by ProPublica show.

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The Two-Way
6:04 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

New York City Extends Smoking Ban To E-Cigarettes

Jim Watson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 6:30 pm

New York's City Council has approved extending the city's strict smoking ban to include electronic cigarettes, which emit a vapor.

The measure was pushed by outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg and backed by public health advocates in the city. It comes just weeks after New York became the first major city to raise the age for buying tobacco to 21.

Earlier this month, New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said that "more research is needed on electronic cigarettes," but that "waiting to act could jeopardize the progress we have made over the last few years."

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All Tech Considered
5:03 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Outdated Magnetic Strips: How U.S. Credit Card Security Lags

The U.K., Canada and other countries have been using more secure chip credit cards for years now. Why hasn't the U.S. caught up?
Martin Keene PA Photos/Landov

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 12:47 pm

Criminals may have stolen information from 40 million credit and debit cards used at Target. A possible weakness? The magnetic stripe on credit cards — which fraudsters can pull credit card numbers and expiration dates from to make counterfeit cards.

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All Tech Considered
4:26 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

A City Turns To Lettuce Fields To Grow High-Tech Startups

A lettuce thinner created by an agricultural tech startup uses cameras and sensors to thin lettuce rows. Salinas, Calif., has hired a venture capital fund to help it attract other high-tech agricultural companies to the area.
Courtesy of Foothill Packing Inc.

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 7:46 pm

Salinas is just one hour south of California's Silicon Valley, but generations behind when it comes to technology. Many of its sprawling lettuce farms are stuck in the era of rakes and hoes.

City officials are hoping to change that — and also spur some job growth — by investing in high-tech agriculture.

At Taylor Farms in Salinas, Andrew Fernandez, the company's vice president of product, is stepping on heads of crunchy romaine lettuce, making his way over to a very big tractor. It's a water jet knife machine, and it's on the cutting edge of lettuce farming technology.

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Shots - Health News
4:16 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Poll: Americans Favor Age Restrictions On Morning-After Pill

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 23, 2013 3:50 pm

Emergency contraception has been embroiled in controversy pretty much from the start.

But this year the legal wrangling over who can buy the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill without a prescription came to an end. A federal judge in New York ruled in April that the morning-after pill also had to be made available over the counter to girls 16 and under.

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Around the Nation
3:45 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Hackers Stole 40 Million Credit, Debit Card Numbers From Target

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 4:42 pm

Right in the middle of holiday shopping season, some 40 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen in a major breach of Target customer data. The thefts occurred in stores, not online. Target says it's working with a forensics company to investigate and prevent similar data thefts from occurring in the future. Security experts say one way to limit them is to switch from magnetic stripes on cards to embedded chips.

Shots - Health News
1:36 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

How To Make Sense Of Confusing, New Blood Pressure Advice

Some people with only slightly elevated blood pressure might be able to relax a bit, if they're doctors go along new treatment guidelines.
iStockphoto

If you're confused about the latest recommendations for treating high blood pressure, take heart. Doctors are confused, too.

On Wednesday, a panel of specialists called the Eighth Joint National Committee published guidelines saying that many people over 60 don't need to start taking medications to lower blood pressure until it's above 150/90 millimeters of mercury.

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Shots - Health News
2:26 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Congress Poised To Permanently Fix Its Medicare Payment Glitch

It's health results — not the number of treatments — that should count, leaders say.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 11:56 am

The two-year budget deal approved by the Senate on Wednesday is aimed at preventing another government shutdown.

It also includes a familiar annual rider — language to avert a steep pay cut to doctors who treat Medicare patients. But this time might be different, with a fix that lasts. After more than a decade of temporary solutions, it appears Congress might be on the verge of permanently solving its persistent problem in the way it makes Medicare payments to doctors.

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