Abstracts: Irma, NIH Budget Boost, and More


• Hurricane Irma devastated the Caribbean Islands yesterday, killing at least 10 people and leaving 70 percent of Puerto Rican households without power. The storm, considered historic in its size, is expected to soon hit Miami and much of South Florida. (Washington Post)

Hurricane Irma is predicted to hit South Florida on Sunday. Visual: Antti Lipponen/Flickr

• A Senate subcommittee approved a $2 billion raise for the National Institutes of Health’s budget yesterday. The boost is a six percent increase from the last fiscal year and contrasts with President Trump’s proposed 22 percent cut for the agency. (Science)

• A new report found that access to maternal healthcare in rural parts of the country declined by 20 percent between 2004 and 2014, as more hospitals in rural counties close their obstetric units. The trend is most prominent in counties with large black populations and in states that significantly limit eligibility for Medicaid. (Pacific Standard)

• Packs of African wild dogs — among the most endangered species in the world — sneeze to vote on whether or not to set out on a hunt, according to new research. The more the dogs sneeze, the more likely it is that the pack will start hunting. (NPR)

• East of Houston in Channelview, Texas, Hurricane Harvey swept hazardous liquid mercury onto at least one man’s property, prompting a public health investigation. Officials and scientists are concerned that the pollutant could be widespread, as Channelview is near a flooded Superfund site, though they have not been able to determine its source. (New York Times)

• Bats crash into walls, windows and other smooth, vertical surfaces because they interpret them as clear paths, just as they interpret flat, horizontal surfaces as water, new research suggests. Because bats use sound to navigate, these surfaces may interfere with echolocation. (Science News)

• A major genetic study reveals that natural selection may be selecting against genes that shorten people’s lifespans. Drawing from 215,000 people’s DNA, the study is one of the first to look at human evolution over the course of a few decades. (Scientific American)

• And finally, listening to happy-sounding music could help people think more creatively. (New Scientist)