This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. In the disease multiple sclerosis, the body's own immune cells stage a mutiny. Those cells, white cells, normally go after foreigners in the body like bacteria or other invaders that make us sick. But in MS, the immune cells go after the body itself, attacking the myelin covering that wraps around nerve cells. As that myelin gets degraded, nerve signals don't get transferred properly, and that's what leads to the symptoms of MS.
As President Obama and his Chinese counterpart prepare for a weekend summit in California to discuss thorny bilateral issues, a new poll shows that ordinary Americans and Chinese increasingly eye one another with suspicion.
California's San Onofre nuclear power plant will be shut down for good amid concerns as to whether it could be safely restarted after being offline since early last year because of a radiation leak.
The plant's operator, Southern California Edison, said in a statement Friday that San Onofre's twin reactors "had served the region for over 40 years" but that the 16 months of uncertainty about whether they would or wouldn't go back online "was not good for our customers, our investors or the need to plan for our region's long-term electricity needs."
This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Up next, surviving the big one, and I mean a really big one. As any fan of dinosaurs knows, extinction happens. The Earth isn't immune to assaults. You've got your asteroids, your volcanic eruptions, events that cause so much disruption to the environment that eventually life or most of life is wiped out.
Scenes of destroyed homes and businesses were common following the recent Oklahoma tornadoes. David Prevatt, a structural engineer at the University of Florida, says that improving resistance to tornadoes will require better building materials and techniques, plus a strong dose of political will.
When doctors run out of clues on how to treat a cancer patient, they sometimes order a scan of all the patient's genes. But such a test can turn up unexpected results, such as greater risk of another disease. When are doctors obligated to tell the patient what they know? And do patients have the right not to know?
Many people associate France today with the production of great wines. But winemaking isn't native to the French. Patrick McGovern, an archaeologist of fermented beverages, has dated the beginning of viniculture in France to around 500 B.C. and contact with the Etruscans.