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How Long Do We Have Before Arctic Ice Melts Away?

“Pull out your ice picks,” a scientist whispers in the inky twilight. We’re standing on 30 centimeters of ice — a thin veneer that separates us from the deadly Arctic Ocean below — and the ice is trembling. It emits a loud popping sound as a crack starts to spread tens of meters away. Unsure […]

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Even Ultra-Tough Water Bears May Be Vulnerable to Climate Change

More so than any other animal on Earth, the water bear (aka tardigrade, aka moss piglet) doesn’t particularly appreciate dying. Scientists have exposed the microscopic critters, which look like eight-legged gummy bears, to insane conditions—they’ve boiled them, frozen them, irradiated them, exposed them to the vacuum of space (rocket scientists recently crashed them into the […]

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A Feral Cat Infestation, Swarms of Snake Emoji, and More News

Cats are in the rubble and snakes are causing trouble, but first: a cartoon about the internet frontier. Here’s the news you need to know, in two minutes or less. Want to receive this two-minute roundup as an email every weekday? Sign up here! Today’s News Cats are making Australia’s bushfire tragedy even worse Animals […]

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Scientists Fight Back Against Toxic ‘Forever’ Chemicals

On the day Susan Gordon learned Venetucci Farm, in Colorado, was contaminated by toxins, the vegetables looked just as good as ever, the grass as green, and the cattle, hogs, chickens, and goats as healthy. The beauty of the community farm she and her husband managed made the revelation all the more tragic. Chemicals known […]

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Cats Are Making Australia’s Bushfire Tragedy Even Worse

Cats are scientifically, objectively, monumentally terrible for the planet. In the US alone, free-ranging domestic cats kill up to 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion mammals a year, to say nothing of reptiles and amphibians. They are a scourge of the highest order. Now felines are poised to exacerbate the ecological crisis unfolding in Australia […]

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Do Carbon Offsets Really Work? It Depends on the Details

Last week, JetBlue announced it will offset its 15 billion to 17 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing carbon credits and pumping cleaner-burning aviation fuel into planes landing at San Francisco International Airport. Great! Or is it? American corporations across the economy are trying to build up their green credentials, and carbon offsets […]

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Meet Xenobot, an Eerie New Kind of Programmable Organism

Under the watchful eye of a microscope, busy little blobs scoot around in a field of liquid—moving forward, turning around, sometimes spinning in circles. Drop cellular debris onto the plain and the blobs will herd them into piles. Flick any blob onto its back and it’ll lie there like a flipped-over turtle. Their behavior is […]

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Australia’s Wildfires Might Intensify Future Climate Crises

Australia’s wildfires are burning with such intensity that they’re sparking contained, small-scale weather systems. Thunderstorms triggered by atmospheric disturbance might at first seem to offer relief in the form of raindrops, but instead, bolts of lightning can strike nearby trees and spread the fire even further than before. Wired UK This story originally appeared on […]

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China’s Swift ID of a New Virus Is a Win for Public Health

Since mid-December, a mystery illness has gripped the central Chinese city of Wuhan, in the same region where a deadly viral epidemic emerged nearly 20 years ago. So far, one person has died and dozens of others have been hospitalized with unexplained pneumonia-like symptoms, including high fever, lung lesions, and difficulty breathing. While initial reports […]

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Computers Are Learning to See in Higher Dimensions

Computers can now drive cars, beat world champions at board games like chess and Go, and even write prose. The revolution in artificial intelligence stems in large part from the power of one particular kind of artificial neural network, whose design is inspired by the connected layers of neurons in the mammalian visual cortex. These […]

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Scientists Made a Nearly Invincible Lithium-Ion Battery

Lithium-ion batteries have shaped the modern world. These power pouches are at the heart of most rechargeable electronics, from cell phones and laptops to vapes and electric cars. But while they’re great at holding charge and have a high energy density, lithium-ion batteries aren’t without their problems. Their reliance on toxic, flammable materials means the […]

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The FDA Announces Two More Antacid Recalls Due to Cancer Risk

The FDA’s own tests with simulated gastric fluid didn’t show formation of NDMA—but they didn’t add sodium nitrite. “There is also some evidence that there may be a link between the presence of nitrites and the formation of NDMA in the body if ranitidine or nizatidine is also present,” the FDA acknowledged on December 4. […]

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Do LEDs Cause Orange Presidents?

Remember incandescent lights? They’ve largely been phased out because of their horrendously low efficiency—less than 5 percent. Incandescent bulbs are classified by how much electrical power they use, like 60 watts or 100 watts. But most of that power is turned into thermal energy, not light. Of course, if you’re trying to heat things up, […]

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How the US Knew Iranian Missiles Were Coming Before They Hit

On Tuesday, Iran launched more than a dozen missiles targeting two Iraqi military bases housing American soldiers. The attack was retaliation for the US drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, a top-ranking Iranian military general. In a televised speech on Wednesday, President Donald Trump said “minimal damage was sustained” during the attack and that no […]

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