Science, Health & Tech

We cover these essential linchpins of the Pittsburgh regional economy, and how they impact residents' personal health and employment. 

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

A Department of Health report out this week has shown that only 28 percent of Pennsylvania children undergo recommended lead testing.

Colt Group / Flicker

 

In mid-September, the Pittsburgh Technology Council will take a delegation of Pittsburghers across the Atlantic to Bilbao, Spain for a five-day trip. The goal of the visit is to take a leaf out of our Spanish sister-city’s book.

Brian Kennedy, senior vice president for government relations and operations at the council, stressed that if Pittsburgh wants to keep bringing in talent to fill high-tech jobs, the city needs to be a place that’s both exciting to live in and easy to get around in.

 

Bigstock / via WHYY

Teenagers are often thought of as irresponsible — or even reckless. But a group of local researchers recently came to a different conclusion about what's going on in the teenage brain.

Stereotypes about young people and their brains abound, and scientists have not been immune to those ideas, said Dan Romer, research director at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center.

First, it was raging hormones that explained those wacky teens. Then, Romer said, it was the fact that the prefrontal cortex doesn't fully develop until adulthood.

Volmar Beche / flickr

An elderly woman in Pittsburgh’s East End has contracted West Nile Virus, the first reported case in Allegheny County since 2015.

Allegheny County Health Department officials said, while the disease can’t be spread through human contact, infected mosquito activity is higher this summer than in the previous six years.

Ryan Melaugh / Flickr

A new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released earlier this month shows the suicide rate among females aged 15 to 19 hit a 40-year high in 2015.

The new data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics finds suicide rates doubled for females and rose by more than 30 percent for boys in the same age group between 2007 and 2015. 

Bill Sikes / AP

Two legal organizations say health insurer Aetna revealed the HIV status of patients in several states by mailing envelopes with a large, clear window that showed information on purchasing HIV prescriptions.

The Legal Action Center and the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania say some patients' relatives and neighbors learned of their HIV status as a result.

Aetna says that "this type of mistake is unacceptable" and that the company is reviewing processes to ensure it never happens again.

frankieleon / Flickr

A new University of Pittsburgh-led study reveals Pennsylvania Medicaid enrollees prescribed an opioid are still highly likely to continue that prescription after an overdose from a legal opioid or heroin. 

Carnegie Mellon University / YouTube

 

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are using the centuries-old concept of a telescope to develop new structures that could increase robots' flexibility and versatility in the future.

 

A telescoping structure is made of nested pieces which slide in and out of one another to different lengths. A classic, if outdated, example would be a pirate or sailor’s retractable telescope. Today, some ladders, umbrellas and tentpoles also use this technology.

Not coincidentally, these applications all share a common trait.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Surrounded by sea of scissors, masking tape and aluminum foil, dozens of families gathered at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh to build pinhole projectors out of paper towel tubes, long rectangular cardboard boxes and cereal boxes.

Martial Trezzini / AP/Keystone

Analogies are a common problem solving method in research. For example, the Wright Brothers used their knowledge of how balance and weight affect a bicycle to create the first airplane. Velcro was invented when a Swiss engineer took a closer took at the burrs that stuck to his dog's fur.

Courtesy of Romeo Durscher / NASA

It is indeed dark during the day as a total solar eclipse makes its way from Oregon to South Carolina. Eleven states are in the path of total darkness. Follow the astronomical phenomenon's journey across America along with NPR journalists and others experiencing the eclipse.

Charlie Riedel / AP

Pennsylvania's top prosecutor wants to make sure people don't get burned by glassed they've bought to view Monday's solar eclipse.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro says folks should check to make sure their glasses have filters recommended by NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which runs the nation's space exploration program.

Shapiro says the fake glasses don't have the NASA-recommended filters and people who try to view the eclipse using them could hurt their eyes.

Garry Knight / Wikipedia Commons

The elderly benefit more from standing exercises than traditional seated ones, according to a report by the University of Pittsburgh. Researcher Jennifer Brach said while this has been assumed for quite a while, her study was the first to prove it scientifically.

screengrab via nasa.gov

There’s no shortage of excitement surrounding Monday’s solar eclipse.

Though Pittsburghers won’t be able to view a total eclipse (states south of Pittsburgh will get the full experience), we’ll still get about 80 percent coverage, according to NASA.

If you’re in the city or outside, you can check out what your view will look like on this Jet Propulsion Laboratory app:

Keith R. Stevenson / Pocono Record via AP

When Carolyn Choate was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2003, her tumor had already grown the size of a golf ball. Doctors gave her three years to live.

Fourteen years later, Choate is kayaking the Delaware River for a cause that's close to her heart: continuing the work of the woman who saved her life.

"This trip is our tribute to Dr. Angela Brodie," Choate said. "She's not here to see me finish this, but we want her work to continue."

Best Robotics

The national robotics education nonprofit Best Robotics is moving its headquarters to Pittsburgh.

Thousands of students participate in Best Robotics competitions annually, spending six weeks building robots with real world potential.

“Every year there's an industry theme for the competition,” said executive director Rosemary Mendel. “Last year, it was agriculture; this year, it's fire and rescue.”

The idea is to train the future tech workforce and get more kids excited about pursuing careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

As students in Pittsburgh and across the state prepare to head back to school, they will be required to comply with a new immunization policy from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Mark Lennihan / AP

Terry Collins will tell you BPA is a scary compound. It's a chemical that's used to manufacture plastics, and more than 6 billion pounds of it are produced every year.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Every year in the U.S., 200,000 people get pacemakers, 600,000 get knee replacements and 2.5 million have surgery to implant artificial eye lenses to fix cataracts. But the medical community knows little about how the aging process affects these implantable medical devices.

Bryan Brown wants to change that.

He’s a professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and he’s trying to figure out how to harness the immune system’s natural inflammatory response to better integrate these devices into the body.

Jim Fetzner / Carnegie Museum of Natural History

A researcher at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History has helped discover three new kinds of crayfish in Kentucky's Appalachian region. Jim Fetzner and his team said these newly classified lobster-like crustaceans could help us understand how crayfish evolve.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Placing much of the blame on smoking, a study chronicling the ongoing health crisis in Appalachia has concluded that the 13-state region suffers from a growing disparity in infant mortality and life expectancy, two key indicators of "a nation's health and well-being."

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh's reputation as a center for engineering innovation is largely due to Angel Jordan, according to his friends and colleagues.

Jordan, the former Provost of Carnegie Mellon University and founder of its Robotics Institute, died Friday at the age of 86. 

PA Internet News Service

Pennsylvania officials are urging state residents to do all they can to prevent tick bites, especially in light of Pennsylvania’s history with Lyme disease.

In fact, the disease is so prevalent in Pennsylvania that the state dedicated a task force to combat tick-borne illnesses in 2014.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania could see more resources to combat the opioid crisis if President Donald Trump heeds a federal commission, which advised him earlier this week to declare a national emergency.

Gerry Broome / AP

A report released Thursday by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network finds Pennsylvania isn’t doing enough to produce statewide policies that help prevent and fight cancer.

Kathleen J. Davis / WESA

A Lawrenceville-based robotics company is collaborating with UCLA’s Biomechatronics Laboratory to make robots for the U.S. Navy. The goal is to create robots that can disarm underwater explosives, keeping military personnel away from dangerous environments.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The meeting space was standing-room-only at the Carnegie Library branch in East Liberty at Monday’s launch of Pittsburgh’s Human Library project.

A library is, essentially, a collection of information and stories that live inside books, on tape or via DVD. In a human library, the stories are told aloud by the people who lived them. The idea started in Denmark in 2000, as a way to break down stereotypes and has since made its way around the world.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

The San Francisco Chronicle published an article in July detailing why the Bay Area is the new king in self-driving automotive technology.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf touted the work of a Pittsburgh cellular technology company during a Monday stop on his "Jobs That Pay" tour, saying it was an example of why investing in education is good for the economy.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

A ceremonial groundbreaking took place Thursday afternoon for a medical cannabis growing and processing facility coming to McKeesport.

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