Health, Science, Environment | St. Louis Public Radio

Health, Science, Environment

Health, science, and environmental news

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 26, 2008 - Aging is the one aspect of life that none of us avoids, but most of us hate being reminded of. A wide variety of theories have been advanced to explain why humans and other animals age. Most of them focus in one way or another on the general idea that cells, the basic building blocks of our bodies, simply wear out over time.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 21, 2008 - For her whole life, Fran Lang has been finding and listening to voices that are rarely heard.

In graduate school at the University of Chicago, Lang started out studying the language and communications of bats. "My goal was to allow the voices of this unknown creature to be heard and understood," she says.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 21, 2008 - A population of Ecuadorian dwarfs has never seen even one case of diabetes or cancer. A story in the news recently, and again this week, directs attention to the possibility that height may be linked to the development of cancer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 19, 2008 - When St. Louis investors try to determine how Wall Street's woes have infected Main Street companies, they should keep flu shots in mind.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 18, 2008 - This column represents sort of an anniversary -- I have been writing columns for the Beacon for six months this week. By way of celebrating this, I have elected to rerun an old column -- the most popular column from my three year stint as a columnist for the Post Dispatch. Devoted to explaining how scientists evaluate ideas, It engendered a lot of letters from readers who had their own ideas to contribute, and I hope you too will enjoy it.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 18, 2008 - Quantum mechanics, evolution, brain surgery, genetics, economics, extra-terrestrial life -- these weighty topics were just a few of those discussed recently at the St. Louis Science Center's "Evening with Inspiring Scientists."

To showcase the importance of science and encourage a dialogue between scientists and the public, the Science Center assembled a panel of "star" scientists and science communicators, including astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of NOVA scienceNOW on PBS and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 18, 2008 - Safe drinking water, which most Americans take for granted when they turn on the tap, is unknown in many countries and regions of the world.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 18, 2008 - In the world of cancer research, the patient is the unsung hero. Without patients and families willing to take part, much of genetic research into the origins of cancer would not be possible. With this partnership, scientists at Washington University in St. Louis are the first to sequence the complete genome of a tumor and compare it, side-by-side, with the genome of healthy cells from the same person. It is, they hope, a step toward personalized cancer treatment.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 14, 2008 - A recent day-long scientific meeting and forum on floods offered diverse perspectives on why floods and flood damages are increasing, and offered helpful remedies. The Center for Environmental Sciences at St. Louis University brought together experts in hydrology, meteorology, engineering, conservation, biology and environmental law.

Among the major conclusions that are well supported by data and seemed to be accepted by practically all speakers are :

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 14, 2008 - More women are waiting to start their families, delaying pregnancy until their mid- to late-30s, 40s and beyond. While pregnancy in a woman's later years can carry some complications, "the biggest risk of delaying pregnancy is not being able to get pregnant at all," said Dr. Jill Powell, assistant professor of medicine in the department of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "We see all these celebrities having babies - even twins - in their 40s, and we take it for granted that we will be able to do it too."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 12, 2008 - High tech devices mimic real world medical maladies. Even the vomit smells real.

Pilots learn to avoid airplane crashes using flight simulators. These days, nurses learn to keep patients alive by using robotic human simulators.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 11, 2008 - Last Sunday at the American Heart Association convention in New Orleans, researchers reported that cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins can dramatically lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. In a study involving nearly 18,000 people 50 and older who did not have high cholesterol or a history of heart disease, the risk of heart attack was more than cut in half for people who took statins rather than a placebo.

Sgt. Michael King remembered

Nov 9, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 9, 2008 - (Eulogy of Sgt. Michael King) - For those of you who do not know me, I am Glenn Duncan. I am a police officer with the University City Police Department and I started working here just a few months before Mike. That’s a little over 25 years ago.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 7, 2008 -  It’s unclear where health care reform ranks on President-elect Barack Obama’s to-do list. But the mounting number of uninsured and underinsured Americans --as well as of the increase in Americans suffering from largely preventable diseases-- makes one thing clear: our health care system is in crisis.

Are you ready for WeCar?

Oct 24, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 24, 2008 - Hey there, savvy commuter. You who MetroLinks, bicycles, walks or carpools to work. And you, too, Mr. or Ms. Wannabe. If you haven’t heard of WeCar, this is your read.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 22, 2008 - The National Park Service has selected its preferred plan to improve the grounds of the Gateway Arch -- but there are still questions.

After months of back and forth with the public about ways to improve the Gateway Arch grounds, the National Park Service has selected its preferred plan. It includes, among other things, a design competition to generate even more ideas.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 20, 2008 - Ten years ago, Dora Smart sat down at her kitchen table with a sheet of paper and a pen. She began writing.

At 66, she knew she had more years behind than ahead. She wanted her daughters to find the letter after her death. She wanted to write about what really mattered.

Commentary: Is water a human right?

Oct 14, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 14, 2008 - When Sarah Stuteville asked if anyone had heard of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, she was met with 15 blank stares and 30 motionless hands. "Well," she said with a rueful smile, "the United Nations is considering adding water as a basic human right to the declaration."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 12, 2008 - Mark Lewney, Ph.D. and celebrity science presenter, greeted those taking their seats at his SciFest presentation Friday with fully amplified rock guitar licks.

But this was more than a rock concert. In an entertaining, fast-moving presentation, Lewney (pronounced loony) took his audience from listening to the electric guitar in all its versatility to an explanation of how guitar strings create their particular sounds. Explaining that a string anchored at each end has a fundamental vibration dependent upon its length, tension and thickness, he then showed how harmonics are created.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 10, 2008 - This year more people than ever before should get a flu vaccination, according to new recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Along with the usual guideposts, the CDC is now recommending that all children, ages 6 months to 18 years, get vaccinated against influenza.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 8, 2008 - It kills more people annually than breast cancer, vehicular accidents, and AIDS combined. The killer is a pulmonary embolism. It's a blood clot in the lung that usually begins with a clot in an interior leg vein (known as deep vein thrombosis) that breaks off and enters the body's circulatory system. A pulmonary embolism often results in a death quick and unanticipated; it is a silent killer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 8, 2008 - A damaging series of floods has afflicted St. Louis this year. This series started with the near-record Meramec River flood in March, continued with the Mississippi River flood of June-July, and hopefully ended with September's record flooding of local creeks that caused fatalities and damaged hundreds of fine homes, businesses and cars.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 7, 2008 - More than 50,000 Chinese infants are seriously ill this week because of a failure of Chinese government food safety regulators to do their job. The toxic chemical melamine was being added to baby food milk to disguise the fact that the milk had been diluted to raise milk dealers' profits. Regulators missed this because they were relying upon a cheap and easily fooled test.

​This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 6, 2008 - Jingyue (Jimmy) Liu, Ph.D., director of the Center for Nanoscience at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, has focused much of his attention on making better chemical catalysts. His work embodies many of the principles important to nanoscience and nanotechnology

A catalyst increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself becoming changed. For instance, enzymes are biological catalysts; that pepsin in your stomach causes the breakdown of lots of proteins, but doesn't break down itself in the process.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 6, 2008 - This Thursday, Oct. 9, the St. Louis Science Center kicks off SciFest 08, a five-day festival celebrating science in St. Louis and around the world. From global warming, to the physics of baseball, to the science of chocolate, the festival promises something for everyone.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 5, 2008 - Bowood Farms and Cafe Osage, on Olive in the Central West End, prepare for fall with mums and pumpkins. 

A bright, growing green spot is blossoming on the northern edge of the Central West End where a deep, rural Missouri heritage intersects with the grit of the city. In centuries past, the earliest Missourians used the wood from Osage orange trees to fashion hunting bows, giving rise to the term "bow wood." Many years later, a farm family near Clarksville, Mo., honored that Osage heritage by calling their spread "Bowood Farms."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 2, 2008 - Paul Newman, screen legend, racing enthusiast, philanthropist extraordinaire and dedicated family man, died last week. The icon, an ex-smoker, had reportedly been battling lung cancer, although he had kicked the tobacco habit many years ago.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 1, 2008 - Nano-this and nano-that. Recently, anyone who follows science news is seeing the prefix "nano" everywhere -- nano(ro)bots, nanotubes, nanotechnology. We are told that nanoscience holds great promise for the future, and that the future is beginning now.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: October 1, 2008 - As the economy absorbs one hit after another, many of us feel like we want to pull the covers over our heads until it's over. That's a symptom of stress and it can affect our health.

Elevated levels of stress hormones can result in hormonal imbalances, increased risk of health conditions including heart disease, and also instigate a wide range of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia. And chronic stress leads to chronic inflammation and an even greater incidence of these afflictions.

Auction will offer little bits of 'heaven'

Sep 26, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 26. 2008 - I have to believe humans are the only animals that are truly sentimental. For instance, give someone a lump of coal, and they'll roll their eyes and sarcastically say, "thanks a bunch." But, tell them it was recovered from the Titanic, and they'll treasure it. The same is true with a rock. Who wants it? I have loads in my backyard. But, if notified the rock is from the moon, anyone would pay a fortune to own it.

The bottom line: Each has no value until its origin (read sentiment) is affixed. Then it's priceless.

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