Rhitu Chatterjee

For most of her childhood, growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania, Kelly Zimmerman felt alone and anxious.

She despaired when her mother was depressed or working late shifts; when her parents fought nonstop; when her friends wanted to come over, and she felt too ashamed to let them see her home's buckling floor, the lack of running water.

Kelly tried to shut out those feelings, and when she was 18, a boyfriend offered her an opioid painkiller — Percocet.

Her anxiety dissolved, at least for a little while.

Loneliness isn't just a fleeting feeling, leaving us sad for a few hours to a few days. Research in recent years suggests that for many people, loneliness is more like a chronic ache, affecting their daily lives and sense of well-being.

Now a nationwide survey by the health insurer Cigna underscores that. It finds that loneliness is widespread in America, with nearly 50 percent of respondents reporting that they feel alone or left out always or sometimes.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, has proposed a new rule that restricts scientific research that can be used by the agency for its regulatory decisions.

The proposed rule only allows the use of studies that make all data publicly available for anyone to analyze. Pruitt proposed the new rule as a way to make the agency's decision-making more "transparent, objective and measurable."

Our ancestors in Kenya's Southern Rift Valley made some pretty innovative tools. And they made them far earlier than previously thought.

The oldest innovations were axes designed to be held in the palm of the hand. They were shaped like a tear drop, with a rounded end and a pointed eye. The edges were wavy and sharp. And they look as if they were great at chopping down branches — or chopping up the carcass of a large animal.

Back in October 2017, women took to social media to share their experiences of sexual harassment. The #MeToo movement went viral, spurring a national and global discussion on the issue.

Many women have since come forward with their experiences of being sexually harassed by colleagues and bosses, costing influential men in the entertainment industry and the media — including journalists here at NPR — their jobs.

Archaeologists in Israel have discovered the oldest fossil of a modern human outside Africa. The fossil suggests that humans first migrated out of the continent much earlier than previously believed.

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