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Where Did Plants Come From? This Ancient Algae Offers Clues

Andrew Knoll, a professor of natural history at Harvard University, expressed similar reservations. “It is quite possible that the fossils reflect an extinct, early branching group,” he said in an email. “Various forms of multicellularity have evolved repeatedly within the greens, so such an interpretation isn’t a stretch.” The evolutionary innovations seen in Tang’s fossil […]

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Business as Usual Is On Hold—Even at the EPA

2020 has a new motto: “Canceled due to the coronavirus.” Businesses, schools, sports, travel, film, and TV production, conferences, meetings, and basically any and all business as usual has been suspended in the US as individuals and institutions try to slow the spread of Covid-19. We have, at least, had outdoor space to go to—staying […]

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The Pandemic Has Led to a Huge, Global Drop in Air Pollution

This story originally appeared in The Guardian and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. The coronavirus pandemic is shutting down industrial activity and temporarily slashing air pollution levels around the world, satellite imagery from the European Space Agency shows. One expert said the sudden shift represented the “largest-scale experiment ever,” in terms of the […]

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An ER Doctor Describes What It’s Like to Treat Covid-19

The coronavirus has landed, hard, in American emergency rooms. Hospitals in some areas are overwhelmed with critically ill Covid-19 patients, as the patient surge that epidemiologists warned us about is beginning. Now it’s on doctors and nurses in emergency rooms across the US, who are also desperate for personal protective equipment like masks and gloves. […]

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The Race to Keep Health Care Workers Protected from Covid-19

The prognosis is grim. “We’re all anticipating that the situation is going to get worse,” says Elissa Schechter-Perkins, an emergency room physician at Boston Medical Center. As the coronavirus spreads across the United States, health care workers are reckoning with how to protect themselves while helping Covid-19 patients in increasingly harrowing circumstances. Access to personal […]

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Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Are a Public Health Hazard

Conspiracy theories will always circle major world events and disasters like paranoid vultures, but with the Covid-19 pandemic they have been given a feast. Since China first alerted the world to the spreading disease late last year, the coronavirus has inspired countless wild stories about its origins, its effects, its cure. That’s only natural. People […]

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Why Stress-Baking and Cleaning Make You Less Anxious

Micah Bucey is surprised by how well guided meditations work over Zoom. Bucey, an associate minister at New York’s Judson Memorial Church, usually leads in-person meditations once a week. But since the coronavirus outbreak, Bucey’s gone digital. “I actually am quite taken by how intimate Zoom feels,” says Bucey, who now leads about 30 participants […]

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France’s Virus Train Moves Patients to Less Hard-Hit Areas

Along with much of the world, France has gone into lockdown mode to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Citizens are staying at home, planes on the tarmac, cars in garages. The national railroad has whittled service to a minimum, but it sent a TGV high-speed train from Strasbourg to Angers, in the Loire […]

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How to See the World’s Reflection From a Bag of Chips

However, some experts caution that future versions of the technology are ripe for abuse. For example, it could enable stalkers or child abusers, says ethicist Jacob Metcalf of Data & Society, a nonprofit research center that focuses on the social implications of emerging technologies. A stalker could download images off of Instagram without the creators’ […]

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The Ibuprofen Debate Reveals the Danger of Covid-19 Rumors

Two weeks ago, national and world health authorities—and armchair experts and worried well-meaning people—were warning anyone concerned about Covid-19 to avoid ibuprofen. Now, facing contradictory evidence, they’ve backed off that claim. But the brief online furor over whether it’s safe to use the fever reducer, and the attention paid to the claim that it might […]

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Engineers Made a DIY Face Shield. Now, It’s Helping Doctors

Early last week, Lennon Rodgers, director of the Engineering Design Innovation Lab at University of Wisconsin-Madison, got an urgent email from the university’s hospital. Could his lab make 1,000 face shields to protect staff testing and treating Covid-19 patients? The hospital’s usual suppliers were out of stock, due to the spike in demand prompted by […]

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Researchers Push For Mass Blood Tests as a Covid-19 Strategy

Next week, blood banks across the Netherlands are set to begin a nationwide experiment. As donations arrive—about 7,000 of them per week is the norm—they’ll be screened with the usual battery of tests that keep the blood supply safe, plus one more: a test for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Then, in […]

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The Covid-19 Pandemic Is a Crisis That Robots Were Built For

We humans weren’t ready for the novel coronavirus—and neither were the machines. The pandemic has come at an awkward time, technologically speaking. Ever more sophisticated robots and AI are augmenting human workers, rather than replacing them entirely. While it would be nice if we could protect doctors and nurses by turning more tasks over to […]

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What Coronavirus Isolation Could Do to Your Mind (and Body)

By now, you may have noticed a divide among your friends. As social distancing and self-imposed quarantine wear on and more workplaces urge employees to avoid the office, the Covid-19 outbreak has left many people more alone than they’ve been in a long time, or ever. Some are responding by hunkering down into cozy domesticity: […]

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Doctors Are Pooling Data to Help Understand Covid-19

Doctors are especially eager to study the welfare of patients with Covid-19 who have a preexisting rheumatic condition because the viral disease and auto-immune disorders share a commonality: In both, the immune system sometimes goes into overdrive, creating uncontrolled inflammation. In some severe cases of Covid-19, lung inflammation causes life-threatening damage. A patient registry can’t […]

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