Science

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Asleep

Aug 5, 2011

A century ago, a mysterious epidemic emerged. Patients could not move, yet they were fully aware of everything going on around them. This so-called "sleeping sickness" claimed over a million lives, then disappeared as quickly as it had arrived. On Friday, a look at the pandemic which doctors are still trying to understand.

<i>Image by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/moneystudio/307417440/">Money Munni</a>/<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/deed.en" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

Historian Naomi Oreskes says that while the U.S. scientific community has led the world in research on issues like public health and environmental science, there's also a small group of scientists that mislead the public with ideas based on political agendas rather than science. Oreskes has written a book that explores how this has skewed our understanding of climate change, tobacco and more. She joins Doug to talk about these "Merchants of Doubt." (Rebroadcast)

<i>Image by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ddpf/3582526331/">David Pereira</a>/<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

Breastfeeding is portrayed as the very essence of dedicated motherhood and a protection against all sorts of maladies, from obesity to allergies to even leukemia. Joan B. Wolf isn't buying it. She's not anti-breastfeeding, but she says medical research on the health benefits of breast-milk is inconclusive and the social pressures to breastfeed are often harmful to the mother. On Friday, Wolf joins Jennifer Napier-Pearce to challenge the idea that breast is best.

In the next decade, cancer is projected to become the leading cause of death in the US. The disease was first mentioned in an ancient Egyptian scroll and through the modern era, its history is marked by the epic battles we've waged against it. Siddhartha Mukherjee is a cancer physician, and in trying to understand what his patients must endure, he turned a historical and literary eye on cancer. The result is his book The Emperor of All Maladies and he joins Doug to talk about it.  (Rebroadcast)

7/26/11: Annoying

Jul 26, 2011

In ANNOYING: The Science of What Bugs Us. NPR science correspondent Joe Palca and Flora Lichtman, multimedia editor for NPR's Science Friday, go on a scientific quest through psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology, and other disciplines to uncover the truth about being annoyed. Tuesday they join Doug to discuss what it is that makes the perfect recipe for being annoyed.

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (kuer) - Journalist Christopher McDougall points out that there is only one other animal on the planet that wears shoes, and that's just because we "grab them by the legs and hammer them on." McDougall is the author of "Born to Run" and his book is at the center of the barefoot running trend. Wednesday, he joins us to explain why so many people are ditching their sneakers and reconnecting with the way he says our bodies were built to run. (Rebroadcast)

<i>Image by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/adisetiawan/2332993278/">Adi Setiawan</a>/<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

Even as society contemplates the dangers of video games, neuroscientists and psychologists are using virtual reality therapy to treat a whole host of conditions. From post-traumatic stress disorder to burn treatment to stroke, researchers and practitioners are finding that virtual reality can ease pain, both physical and psychological. On Friday, Jennifer Napier-Pearce explores how therapeutic simulations are empowering both doctors and patients.

<i>Image by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosieobeirne/4090198486/">Rosie O'Beirne</a>/<a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en" target="_blank">Creative Commons</a> via flickr</i>

It's an unpaid, taxing and often thankless job. And it's being performed in nearly one-third of American households: Someone is giving round-the-clock care for an elderly parent or a chronically ill spouse. Author Gail Sheehy has been there and on Friday, she joins Jennifer Napier-Pearce to talk about the challenges, fears and rewards of caregiving.

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