Thu January 17, 2013
Shots - Health News

It's Legal For Some Insurers To Discriminate Based On Genes

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 10:48 am

Slides containing DNA sit in a bay waiting to be analyzed by a genome sequencing machine.
David Paul Morris Bloomberg via Getty Images

Getting the results of a genetic test can be a bit like opening Pandora's box. You might learn something useful or interesting, or you might learn that you're likely to develop an incurable disease later on in life.

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Thu January 17, 2013

Understanding Climate Change, With Help From Thoreau

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 12:35 pm

Researchers in Massachusetts and Wisconsin are comparing modern flower blooming data with notes made by Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold. The sight of irises blooming during a Boston winter helped spur the research.
Darlyne A. Murawski Getty Images/National Geographic Creative

Modern scientists trying to understand climate change are engaged in an unlikely collaboration — with two beloved but long-dead nature writers: Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold.

The authors of Walden and A Sand County Almanac and last spring's bizarrely warm weather have helped today's scientists understand that the first flowers of spring can continue to bloom earlier, as temperatures rise to unprecedented levels.

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Thu January 17, 2013
Shots - Health News

Scientists Try To Thwart Flu Virus By Resetting Its Clock

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 3:33 pm

When flu viruses (in red) accumulate an escape protein too quickly, they exit the cell nucleus (in blue) before they've made enough viral copies to spread the infection.
Benjamin tenOever

Flu viruses can tell time. Sort of. And the viral clock-watching could provide a new way to fight the flu.

A study in Cell Reports describes how researchers tapped into the flu's internal clock as they search for ways to keep the virus from spreading.

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Thu January 17, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Why Does Jared Diamond Make Anthropologists So Mad?

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 7:54 am

Diamond argues that there are things we can learn from small-scale societies like those found in Papua New Guinea.
Torsten Blackwood AFP/Getty Images

Jared Diamond is once again inflaming my tribe.

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Thu January 17, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Learning To Live In The Moment With 'The Dude'

Jeff Bridges attends The Big Lebowski Blu-ray release on August 16, 2011 in New York City.
Mike Coppola Getty Images


Thu January 17, 2013
The Salt

Yes, Virginia, Crabs Likely Feel Pain, But They're Still Delicious

Boiling is the easiest way to dispatch a crustacean, but there are some signs that the creatures can feel pain.

Whether crustaceans feel pain is generally something people try not to think about while munching on a crab cake or a lobster roll. Few of us would like to think that our dinner suffered during preparation, but still, we can't help but be a little curious.

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Wed January 16, 2013

Could Some Midwest Land Support New Biofuel Refineries?

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 7:16 am

Vegetation like the kind growing here at Michigan State University's Kellogg Biological Station could one day be used to feed small biofuel refineries spread throughout the Midwest.
J.E.Doll Michigan State University

Millions of acres of marginal farmland in the Midwest — land that isn't in good enough condition to grow crops — could be used to produce liquid fuels made from plant material, according to a study in Nature. And those biofuels could, in theory, provide about 25 percent of the advanced biofuels required by a 2007 federal law.

But there are many ifs and buts about this study — and, in fact, about the future of advanced biofuels.

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Wed January 16, 2013
Krulwich Wonders...

A Mysterious Patch Of Light Shows Up In The North Dakota Dark

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 1:57 pm

Suomi NPP Satellite/NASA Earth Observatory


Wed January 16, 2013
13.7: Cosmos And Culture

Get Your Nerd On: Desire, Passion And The Scientific Bookstore

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 4:09 pm

Ada's Technical Books in Seattle, where everyday's a party if you love differential calculus.
Courtesy of Ada's

It never seemed to be in the same place twice. After stumbling on to it by accident during my undergrad days, I seemed to lose its location time and time again. But it was easy to lose, just a door on 19th Street (or was it 17th?) between 5th and 6th Avenue. The door led to a cramped hallway and locked stairwells. Then came an ancient, cranky elevator that took you up to the 3rd floor (or was it the 4th?) and spilled out onto an empty, poorly lit hallway. It always felt creepy, like I was there for a drug deal.

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Tue January 15, 2013
The Two-Way

Beijing's Pollution, Seen From Space In Before And After Photos

Originally published on Wed January 16, 2013 6:54 am

NASA Earth Observatory

We wrote earlier this week on the stifling pollution in Beijing that's being called "airpocalypse." According to an air monitoring station located at the U.S. Embassy there, particulate pollution was literally off the charts — with readings well into the 700s on a 0-500 scale.

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