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Nostalgia Isn’t Just A Fixation On The Past – It Can Be About The Future, Too

Enlarge this image Getty Images We take it for granted that nostalgia is an ordinary, harmless emotion. You won’t get a referral for a psychologist because you’ve posted a childhood photo with the caption #ThrowbackThursday, or because you have a weak spot for Lucky Charms or Fruit Roll-Ups. But that’s a relatively new way of thinking. The scientist who coined the term “nostalgia” in 1688 thought of this emotion as a neurological illness caused by demons. Other scientists latched onto this conception of nostalgia as a disease. It took marketers,…

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Sleep Scientist Warns Against Walking Through Life ‘In An Underslept State’

Enlarge this image Some people claim a late cup of coffee won’t keep them up and that alcohol helps them sleep. But research shows both drugs mess with sleep’s depth and restorative quality, says scientist and Why We Sleep author Matthew Walker. MCKIBILLO/Getty Images/Imagezoo hide caption toggle caption MCKIBILLO/Getty Images/Imagezoo The National Sleep Foundation recommends an average of eight hours of sleep per night for adults, but sleep scientist Matthew Walker says that too many people are falling short of the mark. “Human beings are the only species that deliberately…

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After Hurricane Power Outages, Looking To Alaska’s Microgrids For A Better Way

Enlarge this image Seafood processors like Ocean Beauty are some of the largest energy consumers in Kodiak, Alaska, which has generated more than 99 percent of its electricity from renewable sources since 2014. Here, the Ocean Beauty seafood plant. Eric Keto/Alaska’s Energy Desk hide caption toggle caption Eric Keto/Alaska’s Energy Desk The waterfront island off Alaska’s southern coast is one of the busiest commercial fishing ports in the country. Inside the Ocean Beauty seafood plant in Kodiak, where a maze of conveyer belts carry gutted salmon, manager James Turner ticks…

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Studies Skewed By Focus On Well-Off, Educated Brains

Enlarge this image Roy Scott/Ikon Images/Getty Images Brain imaging studies have a diversity problem. That’s what researchers concluded after they re-analyzed data from a large study that used MRI to measure brain development in children from 3 to 18. Like most brain imaging studies of children, this one included a disproportionate number of kids who have highly educated parents with relatively high household incomes, the team reported Thursday in the journal Nature Communications. For example, parents of study participants were three times more likely than typical U.S. parents to hold…

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Astronomers Strike Gravitational Gold In Colliding Neutron Stars

Enlarge this image The collision of two neutron stars, seen in an artist’s rendering, created both gravitational waves and gamma rays. Researchers used those signals to locate the event with optical telescopes. Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science hide caption toggle caption Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science For the first time, scientists have caught two neutron stars in the act of colliding, revealing that these strange smash-ups are the source of heavy elements such as gold and platinum. The discovery, announced today at a news conference and in scientific reports written…

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Mindfulness Apps Aim To Help People Disconnect From Stress

Enlarge this image She’s not tuning in, she’s tuning inward — letting go of stress, or at least trying to, with a mindfulness app on her phone. Photo Illustration by Carolyn Rogers/NPR hide caption toggle caption Photo Illustration by Carolyn Rogers/NPR From fires and hurricanes, to confrontational politics — with all that’s been going on, it’s no wonder the American Psychological Association found an increase in Americans’ stress levels over the last year. Our constant checking of smartphones — with the bombardment of news and social media — can amp…

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‘Quackery’ Chronicles How Our Love Of Miracle Cures Leads Us Astray

Enlarge this image An ad selling cocaine drops for tooth pain, from the book Quackery. Courtesy of Workman Publishing hide caption toggle caption Courtesy of Workman Publishing Since the beginning of time, humans have been searching for ways to make ourselves feel better fast. Unfortunately, history has shown that many of those ways — cannibalism, cocaine tooth drops, ingesting heavy metals — left us sick, broke, or both. Yet we keep looking for that fast cure. Dr. Lydia Kang, an author and a primary care physician in Omaha, Neb., is…

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A School For Kids With Autism Copes With Fire’s Physical And Emotional Damage

Enlarge this image Andrew Bailey, CEO of Anova school, holds a cellphone with a photo of the facility, which was destroyed by the Tubbs Fire this week in Santa Rosa, Calif. Devin Katayama/KQED hide caption toggle caption Devin Katayama/KQED Among the many buildings destroyed in Northern California wildfires this week, was a nonprofit private school that serves 125 students with who have autism. Anova school — located in Santa Rosa, Calif., inside the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts — serves students age 5 to 22 who have been diagnosed…

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Jeremy, The Lonely, Left-Twisting Snail, Dies — But Knows Love Before The End

Enlarge this image A sinistral snail at the University of Nottingham has brought 56 baby snails into the world. They all have right-curling shells. And about a third are believed to be “fathered” by Jeremy the snail. Stephanie Hayworth/University of Nottingham hide caption toggle caption Stephanie Hayworth/University of Nottingham Jeremy, the rare snail with the left-curling shell whose search for a mate kicked off an international quest, has shuffled off this mortal coil. But there’s one last twist to the story. Reader, before he died, Jeremy procreated. That’s right. The…

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‘The Butchering Art’: How A 19th Century Physician Made Surgery Safer

Enlarge this image Joseph Lister directing the use of carbolic acid spray in one of his earliest antiseptic surgical operations, circa 1865. Bettmann Archive hide caption toggle caption Bettmann Archive The operating theaters of 19th century England were dirty, crowded spaces where patients screamed and spectators bought tickets to watch life and death struggles. Surgeons wore blood-encrusted aprons, never washed their hands, and speed was prized over skill, since most patients were awake during surgery in the pre-anesthesia days. Many patients died of infections soon afterward, if they didn’t die…

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