When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.

Alabama authorities say a home burglary suspect has died after police used a stun gun on the man.  Birmingham police say he resisted officers who found him in a house wrapped in what looked like material from the air conditioner duct work.  The Lewisburg Road homeowner called police Tuesday about glass breaking and someone yelling and growling in his basement.  Police reportedly entered the dwelling and used a stun gun several times on a white suspect before handcuffing him.  Investigators say the man was "extremely irritated" throughout and didn't obey verbal commands.

It can be hard to distinguish among the men wearing grey suits and regulation haircuts on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. But David Margolis always brought a splash of color.

It wasn't his lovably disheveled wardrobe, or his Elvis ring, but something else: the force of his flamboyant personality. Margolis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, didn't want to fit in with the crowd. He wanted to stand out.

Montgomery Education Foundation's Brain Forest Summer Learning Academy was spotlighted Wednesday at Carver High School.  The academic-enrichment program is for rising 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the Montgomery Public School system.  Community Program Director Dillion Nettles, says the program aims to prevent learning loss during summer months.  To find out how your child can participate in next summer's program visit Montgomery-ed.org

A police officer is free on bond after being arrested following a rash of road-sign thefts in southeast Alabama.  Brantley Police Chief Titus Averett says officer Jeremy Ray Walker of Glenwood is on paid leave following his arrest in Pike County.  The 30-year-old Walker is charged with receiving stolen property.  Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff's Office says an investigation began after someone reported that Walker was selling road signs from Crenshaw County.  Investigators contacted the county engineer and learned signs had been reported stolen from several roads.

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What Porcupines Can Teach Engineers

Dec 10, 2012
Originally published on December 12, 2012 8:04 am

Pulling out a porcupine quill is painful and slow, as many a dog discovers to its dismay after tangling with the big rodent. But those tenacious quills are inspiring efforts to develop better medical devices, including less painful needles.

It turns out that no one had really picked apart why it's so hard to remove a porcupine quill. Barbs, sure. But the barbs not only stick like mad. They also make it much easier for the quill to pierce skin and flesh.

"We found the barbs have this dual functionality," says Jeffrey Karp, a bioengineer and a chairman of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "That was a surprise."

It doesn't seem to make sense that a barbed quill would go in more easily than a smooth one. But Karp and his colleagues discovered that the barbs work just like the bumps on a serrated knife. The knife's wavy blade concentrates force at the tips of the teeth, requiring less power overall to cut soft foods like tomatoes or bread.

Knife makers have known that for a long time. Now it turns out that North American porcupines know it, too. Evidently impaling dogs or other unfortunate attackers requires so little effort, it hardly ruffles the slow-moving creature's quills.

Karp's team built a prototype of a barbed hypodermic needle, and found it was indeed took less force to insert. That could make it possible to use smaller, more comfortable needles for vaccines and other injections, without the risk of breaking off the more delicate needle in the flesh.

All very nice, but how is that barbed needle going to come out? Karp says he and his colleagues are working on a biodegradable needle to address that pesky question. And they're also working on taking advantage of the tenaciousness of the barbs to make a better medical adhesive.

Their work was just published online by the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.

Surgeons typically use staples or sutures to close an incision. That requires a tedious process of realigning the wound, stitch by stitch. The barbed prototype developed by Karp's team would work like a one-sided strip of Velcro to bind the whole incision.

He imagines the quill tape being used on mesh to repair hernias. Surgeons use deep tacks to hold the mesh in place, which doesn't always work so well. "Patients end up having chronic pain," Karp told Shots.

It's not the first time Karp has ventured into the animal kingdom in search of new medical technologies. He's used spiderwebs to come up with an adhesive that's gentle on the delicate skin of premature babies, and jellyfish tentacles to inspire a DNA chain to filter tumor cells from blood.

He also developed a biodegradable medical tape patterned on the adhesive footpads of geckos. But that tape also required a glue.

The tape inspired by porcupine quills is ten times stronger than the gecko tape, and doesn't need glue.

"Often when we're trying to solve medical problems we encounter major barriers," Karp says. "We turn to nature, because evolution is the best problem solver."

Karp's lab works with companies to bring their researchers ideas to market, but they haven't yet sought corporate partners for the porcupine quill concepts. He says if all went well, he could imagine the devices being used in medical practice in three to five years.

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