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Preview: L.A. Times - Science

L.A. Times - Science

In-depth science news coverage of space exploration, medical science, climate change, technological breakthroughs and more.

Last Build Date: Mon, 29 May 2017 06:29:40 -0700

Copyright: ©2017 Los Angeles Times

Immunotherapy drug opens a new era of precision medicine for cancer

Fri, 26 May 2017 22:05:00 PDT

With little fanfare, the Food and Drug Administration did something this week that it's never done before: The agency approved a single prescription drug, pembrolizumab (marketed by Merck as Keytruda) for treatment of solid tumors in any organ so long as the malignancy bears a specific genetic...


Another consequence of climate change: A good night's sleep

Fri, 26 May 2017 15:20:00 PDT

It’s no surprise that a change in our planet’s climate would affect our coastlines, our weather patterns and our food supply. But here’s something you may not have considered before: Global warming might also affect how well we sleep at night.

In a paper published Friday in Science Advances, researchers...


This is Jupiter? Giant planet surprises scientists in Juno’s first flybys

Thu, 25 May 2017 16:25:00 PDT

Scientists with the NASA Juno mission have released the findings from the spacecraft’s first two orbits around Jupiter — and the results are unlike anything they expected.

Deep beneath its striped layers, Jupiter still has a surprising amount of structure that researchers had not predicted. The...


What the DNA of the Zika virus tells scientists about its rapid spread

Thu, 25 May 2017 05:00:00 PDT

A family tree can reveal a lot, especially if it belongs to a microscopic troublemaker with a knack for genetic shape-shifting.

DNA sleuthing can outline the route an emerging pathogen might take once it makes landfall in the Americas and encounters a wholly unprotected population. It’s a modern...


Whales are the largest animals on Earth. Now we know why they got so big

Wed, 24 May 2017 15:10:00 PDT

You have the privilege of sharing the planet with the largest animal that ever lived on Earth.

The great blue whale, which can be found in every ocean around the globe, is bigger than any dinosaur you’ve seen in a museum.

It can weigh as much as 24 elephants and grow longer than two school buses.


Chocolate may be good medicine for reducing the risk of an irregular heartbeat, study says

Wed, 24 May 2017 12:05:00 PDT

Medical researchers have identified a compound that may reduce your risk of a dangerous type of heart rhythm that can lead to strokes, dementia, heart failure and early death.

In a study of more than 55,000 Danish men and women who were tracked for up to 16 years, people who used this compound...


What stays, and what goes, in Trump's $19.1-billion budget proposal for NASA

Tue, 23 May 2017 18:05:00 PDT

President Trump’s $19.1-billion budget proposal for NASA will allow the space agency to continue its long-term efforts to explore the universe, including sending humans to the moon and to Mars.

The 2018 funding plan, released Tuesday, includes support for about 100 space missions even as it cuts...


Cancer research, public health and worker safety would all see steep cuts under Trump budget

Tue, 23 May 2017 17:50:00 PDT

Under the heading “Putting America’s Health First,” the Trump administration’s 2018 budget blueprint includes a $5.8-billion cut for the National Institutes of Health, a move that would slash the medical research agency’s funding by just over 18%.

It would reduce public health spending by the U.S....


Scientific research would take a big hit under Trump's budget — and that's bad for the economy, experts say

Tue, 23 May 2017 16:25:00 PDT

How does science fare under President Trump’s proposed budget?

Not too well.

The American Assn. for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) estimated that the budget released Tuesday morning represented a 16.8% decrease in overall funding for scientific research compared with the current budget.



Pediatricians take aim at juice: It 'has no essential role in healthy, balanced diets of children'

Mon, 22 May 2017 12:15:00 PDT

The American Academy of Pediatrics has some new advice about juice: Kids should not drink it.(image)

In 2016, scientists discovered 18,000 new species. Now meet the Top 10

Mon, 22 May 2017 06:00:00 PDT

Life on Earth is relentlessly diverse, and every year brings thousands of new examples. Meet 10 of the most remarkable species discovered last year.(image)

Southern California, this is your chance to see some of the most 'extreme' mammals that ever lived

Fri, 19 May 2017 10:40:00 PDT

Let's take a moment to meditate on the awesomeness of mammals. Especially the "extreme" ones.(image)

Trump Interior Department nominee tells Senate panel he can avoid potential conflicts of interest

Thu, 18 May 2017 18:10:00 PDT

President Trump’s nominee for the No. 2 position in the U.S. Department of the Interior found himself caught in a partisan, California-focused crossfire at his Senate confirmation committee hearing Thursday.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural...


Rising sea levels could mean twice as much flood risk in Los Angeles and other coastal cities

Thu, 18 May 2017 17:00:00 PDT

The effects of rising oceans on coastal flooding may be even worse than we thought. Scientists have found that a mere 10 to 20 centimeters of sea-level rise — which is expected by 2050 — will more than double the frequency of serious flooding events in many parts of the globe, including along the...


When states have strong gun laws, they also have fewer fatal police shootings

Thu, 18 May 2017 14:35:00 PDT

Fatal shootings of civilians by police officers are less common in states with stricter gun laws than they are in states that take a more relaxed approach to regulating the sale, storage and use of firearms, new research says.

A study published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health...


This is your brain on ... the modern world

Thu, 18 May 2017 06:00:00 PDT

Our Western diet is famously bad for the circulatory system, but for a long time, people thought the damage stopped there. Then around 10 years ago, Terry Davidson, a behavioral neuroscientist, wondered whether our modern eating habits might also affect our brains.

To test it out, he fed lab rats...


How our memories are made in the brain

Thu, 18 May 2017 06:00:00 PDT

A full-page illustration that shows how the brain stores and retrieves a memory.(image)

Why exercise is the best medicine for your brain

Thu, 18 May 2017 06:00:00 PDT

Given time, any brain can succumb to dementia — memories fade, thoughts scatter, basic abilities wither on the vine. Brains don’t come with lifetime guarantees, but there is one major step you can take to protect yourself from Alzheimer’s or other causes of mental decline: exercise your body.



‘I’m 55, I’m healthy and I’m articulate’ – and have Alzheimer’s disease

Thu, 18 May 2017 06:00:00 PDT

A lot of people don’t believe I have Alzheimer’s. I’m 55, I’m healthy and I’m articulate. But I fight dementia every day.

I was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in May of 2016. Before that, I was an analyst at a company that manages retirement plans. My boss had called me in to say that my...


Eight things you can do now that might reduce your odds of dementia later

Thu, 18 May 2017 06:00:00 PDT

It’s a safe bet that you’d like to avoid getting Alzheimer’s. But you probably haven’t done the one thing that could make you five times more likely to reach the age of 85 without getting the disease and 7.5 times more likely to have suffered no memory loss or other major cognitive decline.



When the memory flickers out

Thu, 18 May 2017 06:00:00 PDT

Facts, faces, experiences: Our brain’s capacity to learn new things, store the memories and summon them up on demand is a marvel. Yet we take it all for granted until the skills start to crumble in those we love, or in ourselves.

What goes awry in the brain to make this happen?

Dementia is a collection...


Many kinds of dementia, and many causes

Thu, 18 May 2017 06:00:00 PDT

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia caused by cerebrovascular disease are the conditions that most commonly interfere with thinking, but there are many others. Some, like Alzheimer’s, result from misshapen proteins in the brain and tend to get worse over time. Examples include frontotemporal dementia...


Is this normal forgetfulness or should I be worried about Alzheimer's?

Thu, 18 May 2017 06:00:00 PDT

Everybody forgets things now and then, and it’s totally normal for that problem to worsen as the candles on the birthday cake pile up. But when should a lapse in memory or thinking become a cause for concern?

The main symptom to look for is a change in abilities, advises Heather Snyder, senior...


How to help a loved one cope with dementia

Thu, 18 May 2017 06:00:00 PDT

You found her reading glasses in the fridge, saw bewilderment overtake him in the grocery store, heard from a concerned friend that something didn’t seem quite right. Suddenly, your roles are reversed: That person who never forgot birthdays and guided you to adulthood now needs your help to navigate...


How to give your brain a chemical boost, and whether you should

Thu, 18 May 2017 06:00:00 PDT

At some point, we could all use a bit of performance enhancement for the noggin — something to help us ace that test, command the room or nail a project under deadline.

Yes, there’s a pill for that — in fact, there are several. Drugs shown to modestly boost cognitive performance include stimulants...