At nearly seven miles below the water's surface, the Mariana Trench is the deepest spot in Earth's oceans. And the site north of Guam is where director and explorer James Cameron recently fulfilled a longtime goal of reaching the bottom in a manned craft.
For the dive, Cameron designed a 24-foot submersible vehicle, the Deepsea Challenger — "this kind of long, green torpedo that moves vertically through the water," as he tells All Things Considered's Melissa Block. Cameron was able to watch his descent, he says, through a window that was about 9-1/2 inches thick.
Everybody itches. Sometimes itch serves as a useful warning signal — there's a bug on your back! But sometimes itch arises for no apparent reason, and can be a torment.
Think of the itchy skin disorder eczema, or the constant itching caused by some cancers. "A very high percentage of people who're on dialysis for chronic kidney disease develop severe itch that's very difficult to manage," says Dr. Ethan Lerner, an associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School.
Scientists now say they've got a much better clue as to how itch happens.
Quite a few medical school students have something against obese people, and most of those who have such a bias are unaware of it.
That's the conclusion of study appearing in the July issue of Academic Medicine. It was conducted at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. The study's author says the subconscious judgments could affect how patients are treated.
With memories of last year's Superstorm Sandy still fresh, NOAA is warning East Coasters and those farther inland to brace for another active Atlantic season, predicting that as many as six major storms will develop between the beginning of June and the end of November.
Scientists have completed the first assessments of how readily the H7N9 flu virus in China can pass among ferrets and pigs. The mammals provide the best inkling of how dangerous these bugs may become for humans.
The news is both bad and good. They've found the new bird virus is easily passed between ferrets sharing the same cage.
A 3-D printer is being credited with helping to save an Ohio baby's life, after doctors "printed" a tube to support a weak airway that caused him to stop breathing. The innovative procedure has allowed Kaiba Gionfriddo, of Youngstown, Ohio, to stay off a ventilator for more than a year.
Credit Ian Harrowell, Christine Austin, Manish Arora / Harvard School of Public Health
This model of a molar shows color-coded barium banding patterns that reveal weaning age.
Credit Alyson Hurt, Adam Cole / NPR / Christine Austin / Westmead Centre for Oral Health
Top: Lines on a 100,000-year-old Neanderthal tooth mark the passage of time. Bottom: The distribution of barium shows dietary transition: low barium before birth (1), high barium during breast-feeding (2) and falling barium as the Neanderthal transitions to a mixed diet (3).
Our closest relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas, breast-feed their offspring for several years. Some baby orangutans nurse until they are 7 years old.
But modern humans wean much earlier. In preindustrial societies, babies stop nursing after about two years. Which raises the question: How did we get that way? When did we make the evolutionary shift from apelike parenting to the short breast-feeding period of humans?
Scientists have completed an unusual survey: a census of the fungi that inhabit different places on our skin. It's part of a big scientific push to better understand the microbes that live in and on our bodies.
"This is the first study of our fungi, which are yeast and other molds that live on the human body," says Julie Segre, of the National Human Genome Research Institute, who led the survey.