So who's to blame for all these bad stories and the sorry state of health journalism? One new study, published in the British Medical Journal, assigns a large fraction of blame to the press shops at various research universities. The study found that releases from these offices often overhype the findings of their scientists — while journalists play along uncritically, parroting whatever showed up in their inbox that day. Hype, they suggest, was manufactured in the ivory tower, not the newsroom.

Science journalist Ranga Yogeshwar has gained extensive access to Japan's battered Fukushima power plant. He speaks to DW about exploring radiation-contaminated zones, and how the cleanup has progressed so far.

Eating food contaminated with radioactive particles may be more perilous than thought—at least for insects. Butterfly larvae fed even slightly tainted leaves collected near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station were more likely to suffer physical abnormalities and low survival rates than those fed uncontaminated foliage, a new study finds. The research suggests that the environment in the Fukushima region, particularly in areas off-limits to humans because of safety concerns, will remain dangerous for wildlife for some time.

What is it about walking, in particular, that makes it so amenable to thinking and writing? The answer begins with changes to our chemistry. When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.

If you're feeling sleepy and want to wake yourself up — and have 20 minutes or so to spare before you need to be fully alert — there's something you should try. It's more effective than drinking a cup of coffee or taking a quick nap.

It's drinking a cup of coffee and then taking a quick nap. This is called a coffee nap.

It might sound crazy: conventional wisdom is that caffeine interferes with sleep. But if you caffeinate immediately before napping and sleep for 20 minutes or less, you can exploit a quirk in the way both sleep and caffeine affect your brain to maximize alertness. Here's the science behind the idea.

“The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future — deforestation, erosion, fresh-water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities and the spread of disease,” reported the 2004 July/August issue of World Watch Magazine.

In the current Journal of Transport and Health, Garrick and Marshall report that cities with more compact street networks—specifically, increased intersection density—have lower levels of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The more intersections, the healthier the humans.

“It might not be common for people to explicitly contemplate health when selecting a place to live,” Garrick and Marshall write, “but this research indicates it is worth considering.”

Children can learn to eat new vegetables if they are introduced regularly before the age of two, suggests a University of Leeds study.

Even fussy eaters can be encouraged to eat more greens if they are offered them five to 10 times, it found.

Ugh, jet lag. Just when you’re dropped in an unfamiliar place—sometimes with important business—you feel groggy and useless. And there’s no definitive cure, or even a single great treatment. But you can mitigate the effects. Here are some tips:

These water issues are clearly major problems that will take decades, new technologies and billions of yen to resolve, but they are a completely different beast from the problems of the accident’s early days. Fukushima’s problems are fodder for debates on broader issues, making it crucial that these latest concerns about leaks and groundwater contamination be neither overblown nor understated. Our goal here is to try to draw a clear and evenhanded picture of the situation at Fukushima Daiichi today and the risks it poses. § [An MSM article refreshingly free of both alarmism and "everything is fine" rhetoric. Only discusses water, though, and not, for example, structural integrity of buildings.]

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