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World Biodiversity Day: Wetlands, Biodiversity And The Role Of Earth Observations

May 22, 2015 - 4:40pm
It is somehow ingrained in my body, I think. The appreciation of biodiversity. I know I love wetlands, growing up by a lake (mostly in it as a child) as I did. It turns out that parts of that lake are so-called Ramsar wetlands of international importance. Little did I know, growing up to be an astrophysicist that these sites existed and that it would once become part of my professional life. Here. On my home planet. 
Bliksvaer Ramsar site, Norway. Photo: Bente Lilja Bye
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This Eye-Opening Parasite Can Get In Through Your Contact Lens

May 22, 2015 - 4:30pm
A recent eye infection suffered by 18-year-old Nottingham University student Jess Greaney is the kind of story that fills us with horror.

Greaney had keratitis, an inflammation of the cornea, caused by Acanthamoeba castellanii, a parasite that was living and feasting on her eye.

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Even A Well-Respected Political Scientist Doesn't Know When His Own Data Has Been Faked

May 22, 2015 - 4:00pm
A paper in Science has been retracted - by the senior author. Because he did not know the data in his paper was fake.

Whether that makes political science or the peer review system look worse will be a matter of debate.
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Hesperornithiform: Cretaceous Birds Evolved To Go Fishing

May 22, 2015 - 3:07pm
A new study of some Hesperornithiform bird fossils from the Cretaceous shows how several separate lineages evolved adaptations for diving. They began to go fishing.

Living at the same time as the dinosaurs,  Hesperornithiform has been found in North America, Europe and Asia in 65–95 million years old rocks. Dr. Alyssa Bell and Professor Luis Chiappe of the Dinosaur Institute, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, undertook a detailed analysis of their evolution, showing that separate lineages became progressively more adept at diving into water to catch fishes, like modern day loons and grebes.
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AI: Trial And Error Empowers Reinforced Learning In Robot

May 22, 2015 - 2:27pm
Researchers have developed algorithms that enable robots to learn motor tasks through trial and error, using a process that more closely approximates the way humans learn.

They demonstrated their technique, a type of reinforcement learning, by having a robot complete various tasks -- putting a clothes hanger on a rack, assembling a toy plane, screwing a cap on a water bottle, and more -- without pre-programmed details about its surroundings. 
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Rotating Or Mixing? Science Determines The Best Way To Slow Herbicide-Resistant Weeds

May 22, 2015 - 2:15pm
Though the popular imagery of farming is a small family operation on a tiny patch of land, that isn't really the case.

Over 90 percent of American farms are run by families but they are high-tech operations. Farmers want yields to go up and costs to come down and that means having data.
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5 Big Weather Myths Debunked

May 22, 2015 - 1:00pm

 Karin Heineman, Inside Science –  Predicting and analyzing weather is a highly sophisticated scientific endeavor these days. But, it is also peppered with a good deal of lore.

We're here to debunk some popular weather myths.

Myth #1: Heat lightning, or the distant flashes of lightning you see in the sky (without hearing the clap of thunder) during the hot summer months, only occur because it is hot out.

Wrong. The truth is you're actually seeing lightning from a storm that's really far away. Since most severe thunderstorms often happen during hot summer months – the name "heat" lightning stuck.

Myth #2: The Earth is farthest from the sun in January.

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Mystery Of Morgellons - Disease Or Delusion - Scientific Hypothesis Of Connection With Lyme Disease

May 22, 2015 - 12:45pm

One day you feel a strange stinging, biting or crawling sensation beneath your skin, which just won't go away. Then fibres begin to protrude from the skin or you may see red or blue lines below the surface of your skin. Eventually sores erupt all over your body, including in places you can't reach such as the middle of your back. You go to the doctor - and - after doing tests to rule out many other similar conditions, he finds that you fit the symptoms of a very rare condition, popularly called "Morgellons". He or she then tells you that this is not a real disease, but rather is a delusional condition. There is nothing physical causing this. It's just something going on in your mind which leads to all these symptoms.

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Mystery Of Morgellons - Disease Or Delusion - Scientific Hypothesis Of Connection With Lyme Disease

May 22, 2015 - 12:44pm

One day you feel a strange stinging, biting or crawling sensation beneath your skin, which just won't go away. Then fibres begin to protrude from the skin or you may see red or blue lines below the surface of your skin. Eventually sores erupt all over your body, including in places you can't reach such as the middle of your back. You go to the doctor - and - after doing tests to rule out many other similar conditions, he finds that you fit the symptoms of a very rare condition, popularly called "Morgellons". He or she then tells you that this is not a real disease, but rather is a delusional condition. There is nothing physical causing this. It's just something going on in your mind which leads to all these symptoms.

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Why 'Wellness' Isn't The Answer To Working Too Much

May 22, 2015 - 12:30pm
Many of the people who visit me in my therapy practice spend time talking about work. How much work there is, how they never seem to be able to get it all done, how many hours they spend at work, how tired they are all the time and how fearful they are about losing their jobs. They’ve read articles telling them how they can improve their work/life balance. They’ve delegated and relegated, meditated and ruminated.

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Dance Festivals And Teenage Drug Use Linked

May 22, 2015 - 6:52am

In recent years, the popularity of "electronic dance music" (EDM) and dance festivals has increased substantially throughout the US and worldwide.

Even though data from national samples suggests drug use among adolescents in the general US population has been declining, targeted samples have shown nightclub attendees tend to report high rates of drug use, above that of the general population. In spite of increasing deaths among dance festival attendees in recent years, no nationally representative studies have examined potential associations between nightlife attendance and drug use.


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How To Get Medicaid Patients To Use Primary Care Rather Than Emergency Rooms

May 22, 2015 - 4:55am

More than half of all Medicaid enrollees use hospital emergency departments to receive care for conditions that could be treated at a primary care clinic. Why? Some of it may be urgency, and it may be cheaper for them, since they won't miss work. But it isn't cheaper for the rest of society and as the Affordable Care Act ballooned the use of Medicaid, the costs have gone up as well.

"From a patient's perspective, having all imaging and laboratory studies done in one place is likely more cost effective than going to a [primary care provider] clinic and having gone elsewhere to get further testing," writes Roberta Capp, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine on the Anschutz Medical Campus in the journal Medical Care.


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X-linked Gene Mutations Cause Some Cases Of Male Infertility

May 22, 2015 - 4:55am

Some cases of male infertility are due to mutations in the maternal X chromosome that prevent development of viable sperm, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI). The study was published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine.


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Jelly And Lasers Lead To Discovering New Trigger For Volcanic Eruptions

May 22, 2015 - 4:55am

Scientists have made an important step towards understanding how volcanic eruptions happen, after identifying a previously unrecognised potential trigger.

An international team of researchers from the University of Liverpool, Monash University and the University of Newcastle (Australia) think their findings could lead to new ways of interpreting signs of volcanic unrest measured by satellites and surface observations.

Dr Janine Kavanagh, from the University of Liverpool's School of Environmental Sciences and lead author of the research paper, said: "Understanding the triggers for volcanic eruptions is vital for forecasting efforts, hazard assessment and risk mitigation.


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Tanzania's Disappearing Serengeti

May 21, 2015 - 11:17pm
Serengeti  means means “endless plains” in the Maasai language, but Tanzania's Serengeti National Park, which extends into Kenya towards the Mau Forest, the largest virgin montane forests of Africa, faces huge pressures from population growth.

It's easy for western elites who already have homes and educations to lament encroachment of nature by humans living in remote areas without either, but the real world needs more practical solutions. A new EU program is attempting to help.
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NaSt1 - One-Of-A-Kind 'Nasty' Star

May 21, 2015 - 9:57pm
NaSt1, about 3,000 light years away, was discovered a few decades ago and identified as a Wolf-Rayet star, a rapidly evolving star that is much more massive than our Sun.

Wolf-Rayet stars lose their hydrogen-filled outer layers quickly, exposing a super-hot and extremely bright core where helium is fusing into heavier elements. Typically, Wolf-Rayet stars have two outward flowing lobes of material, but in this case, the Hubble observations revealed a pancake-shaped disk of gas encircling the star. This vast disk is more than 3 billion billion kilometers wide. It seems to have formed in the last few thousand years from an unseen companion star that snacked on its outer atmosphere.

The star is so weird that astronomers have nicknamed it “Nasty 1”.
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Facebook’s Instant Articles App May Mean The End Of The Media Paywall

May 21, 2015 - 9:45pm

Ubiquitous social media giant Facebook announced has launched a mobile app called Instant Articles. The app allows news stories provided by a number of partners to be read in their entirety by iPhone users.

Those who download the app will spared the inconvenience of clicking on a link in their usual newsfeed, which may take up to ten seconds to direct to another page.

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It's A Brand New Planktonic World

May 21, 2015 - 8:56pm
When you mention rich ecosystems that are vital for life on Earth, people tend to think of rainforests, but ocean plankton are actually just as crucial. The microscopic beings that drift on the upper layer of the oceans are globally referred to as "plankton"; together they produce half of our oxygen, act as carbon sinks, influence our weather, and serve as the base of the ocean food web that sustains the larger fish and marine mammals that we depend upon or draw delight from.

"Beyond the cutting-edge science that was developed thanks to our collaborative work with the Tara Expéditions Foundation, this adventure is also about showing people all over the world how important the ocean is for our own well-being," says Eric Karsenti, director of Tara Oceans, from EMBL and CNRS. -->

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New Shakespeare Portrait Controversy Misses The Big Picture

May 21, 2015 - 8:30pm
Historian Mark Griffiths claims to have cracked a code in an Elizabethan book on botany to discover a true portrait of Shakespeare made within the bard’s own lifetime.

The find has been hailed as “the literary discovery of the century” by the editor of Country Life – the magazine in which the details of Griffiths' process will be revealed. Yet other scholars, including the Director of the Shakespeare Institute, professor Michael Dobson, remain skeptical.

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Canada Lags Far Behind Other Countries In New Medicines

May 21, 2015 - 8:27pm
If you want cheap medicine, Canadian taxpayers make it possible to get a great deal, but when it comes to new medicines, Canada is behind similar countries, according to a new report which ranks it 16th out of 18 comparable OECD countries. 

Only 23% of 141 Health Canada-approved new medicines were included in public plans, ranking Canada 17 out of 18 there. Public drug plans in Canada make new medicines available only on a conditional, case-by-case basis, resulting in more administration, longer wait times for patients before beginning treatment, increased paperwork for physicians and no guarantee that patients will receive coverage.

The report further notes that:
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