Health & Science

Far below the surface of the ocean, off the coast of eastern Australia, is an area simply known as "the abyss." The largest and deepest habitat on the planet, the abyssal zone stretches well beyond Australia's waters and spans half the world's oceans — but it remains largely unexplored.

Marine biologist Tim O'Hara recently set out change that, on a monthlong expedition with about two dozen scientists from seven countries. The voyage dredged up hundreds of previously unknown species along the way.

About 20 percent of baby food samples tested over a decade-long period had detectable levels of lead, according to a new report from Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit group.

The group evaluated data collected by the Food and Drug Administration from 2003 to 2013. This included 2,164 baby food samples. They found 89 percent of grape juice samples, 86 percent of sweet potatoes samples and 47 percent of teething biscuits samples contained detectable levels of lead.

Uber is a mess — the "bad boy" ethos shattered, a nervous breakdown in its place. This week, the CEO announced he is taking a sudden leave of absence. A former U.S. attorney general released a brutal audit of the startup's culture. It's a terrifying moment for many investors who want that $70 billion unicorn to make them rich or richer — not implode.

After surgery to treat her epilepsy severed the connection between the two halves of her brain, Karen's left hand took on a mind of its own, acting against her will to undress or even to slap her. Amazing, to be sure. But what may be even more amazing is that most people who have split-brain surgery don't notice anything different at all.

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Five Ikea designers last week were envisioning tiny houses meet Mars.

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Esraa Yousria Saleh was walking down El Hussein, a busy street in downtown Cairo famous for its souvenirs and tchotchkes, when a man in his early 20s made eye contact with her. He followed her, circled her, then suddenly — she felt a hot breath in her ear:

"I would like to put it all inside."

Saleh, 28, a feminist and activist based in Egypt, was furious. Why did that man feel like he could look at her? Follow her? Say those lewd words to her?

A study published Thursday shows how a bird flu virus that's sickening and killing people in China could mutate to potentially become more contagious.

Just three changes could be enough to do the trick, scientists report in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

And the news comes just as federal officials are getting ready to lift a moratorium on controversial lab experiments that would deliberately create flu viruses with mutations like these.

Paul Terefenko / The Lavin Agency

When you take your child to the doctor, she or he might be pretty skilled at seeing what’s wrong and figuring out what’s causing the physical symptoms. But when it comes to behavioral issues, we are beginning to learn that the causes might not always be obvious, but could instead have been caused by issues in the past.

People who work with children are starting to take toxic stress into account when it comes to helping them through a technique known as trauma-informed care. 

The use of electronic cigarettes by middle and high school students in the United States has dropped for the first time since the federal government started tracking the use of these products by young people.

The number of teenagers using e-cigarettes fell from 3 million in 2015 to 2.2 million in 2016, according to a report published Thursday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Goats and Soda is NPR's global health and development blog. We tell stories of life in our changing world, focusing on low- and middle-income countries. And we keep in mind that we're all neighbors in this global village.

In 1974, McDonald's set its sights on opening a new franchise in Manhattan's Upper East Side at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 66th Street. This location wouldn't be anything like the ketchup and mustard colored buildings in the suburbs. It would be tasteful and blend in with the townhouses surrounding it. Regardless of aesthetics, Upper East Siders were having none of it.

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It is a good time for the spoken word. There's a whole lot out there - from radio to podcasts to audio books. Turns out there are lots of choices out there for young audiophiles too.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOW IN THE WORLD")

The gray seal population in New England has bounced back, and new data points to how well seal numbers are doing.

Gray seal numbers had been decimated for more than a century when the Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed in 1972. The animals were hunted in New England, and as NPR has reported, Massachusetts even paid a bounty of $5 each.

Though it has been clear that the population has grown in number, it has been difficult to pinpoint just how much.

psphotography / Fotolia

From physical ailments to post-traumatic stress disorder - the health issues facing veterans are getting much more attention than they used to. In the Milwaukee area, most of the care veterans of all ages receive happens through the Veterans Administration and the Clement Zablocki VA Medical Center. But the VA doesn’t always go it alone.

Climate activist and citizen lobbyist Jay Butera believes in the power of polite persistence. Nearly every week for the past 10 years, he's taken the train down to Washington D.C. from his home in suburban Philadelphia to convince Congress members to act on climate change.

Butera says he's had hundreds of conversations with Republican aides and congressmen.

"There were times when it felt like this is not going to happen," said Butera. "This is impossible, this is the most polarized issue in Congress."

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