Health & Science

Energy
4:23 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Big Batteries Needed To Make Fickle Wind And Solar Power Work

PG&E, a Northern California utility company, is already experimenting with big batteries to store wind-generated electricity at its Vaca-Dixon Substation.
Richard Harris NPR

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 7:57 am

Giant batteries are coming to a power grid near you. In fact, they're already starting to appear on the grid in California.

That's because California is planning to rely increasingly on power supplies that aren't necessarily available every minute of every day. The state plans to get one-third of its electricity from wind and solar energy by 2020.

Utilities in the state are trying to figure out how they can cope with that uncertain power supply. Batteries aren't a panacea, but they could help.

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Shots - Health News
4:21 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Global Malaria Deaths Hit A New Low

Children get tested for malaria at a clinic near the Myanmar border in Sai Yoke, Thailand. Drug-resistant strains of the parasite have appeared in the region over the past few years.
Surkree Sukplang Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 2:33 pm

The death rate from malaria dropped by 45 percent globally between 2000 and 2012, the World Health Organization reported Wednesday. In Africa, the rate fell by almost half.

Despite this progress, the mosquito-borne disease remains a serious problem in the developing world, said Dr. Robert Newman, who heads WHO's global malaria program. There were more than 200 million cases of malaria in 2012, and the disease killed an estimated 627,000 people last year.

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Shots - Health News
3:02 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Staph Germs Hide Out In The Hidden Recesses Of Your Nose

The interior of the nose is like a lush rain forest that's barely been explored.
Courtesy of Sunje Pamp

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 2:33 pm

Otherwise innocuous bacteria can cause deadly infections when people have surgery or fall ill. To prevent trouble, patients sometimes have their bodies scrubbed clean of Staphylococcus aureus.

But it doesn't always work.

That may because the germs thrive in upper recesses of the nose, far from the spots typically tested for staph bacteria, or where antibiotics are applied.

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The Two-Way
1:54 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Wake Up, Rosetta! Europeans Begin Checklist For Comet Landing

Rosetta and Philae in an artist's rendition of the spacecraft's comet encounter.
European Space Agency

The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe, launched in March 2004, will be awakened from a deep sleep next month in preparation for a rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which will culminate late next year with the first-ever soft landing on such a body.

The 6,600-pound spacecraft, which has spent nearly a decade making repeated flybys of Earth and Mars to gain enough speed to catch the comet, was put in hibernation in July 2011, after its last major gravity-assist maneuver.

Rosetta's wake up call is set for Jan. 20, 2014 at precisely 1000 GMT (5 a.m. EST).

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The Salt
12:47 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

Chowing Down On Meat, Dairy Alters Gut Bacteria A Lot, And Quickly

Morgan Walker NPR

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 10:24 am

Looks like Harvard University scientists have given us another reason to walk past the cheese platter at holiday parties and reach for the carrot sticks instead: Your gut bacteria will thank you.

Switching to a diet packed with meat and cheese — and very few carbohydrates — alters the trillions of microbes living in the gut, scientists report Wednesday in the journal Nature.

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