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Grad Students Are Freaking Out About the GOP Tax Plan. They Should Be Amanda Coston was preparing for a meeting with her advisor Monday afternoon when her friend, another first-year PhD student in Carnegie Mellon's machine learning department, knocked on her door. Had she seen the email? A few minutes earlier, the university's Graduate Student Assembly had sent a Google Doc to department representatives across the university, and those reps had forwarded the docume
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Science | The Guardian

Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked scientists. Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world
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Science : NPR

Troubled By Flint Water Crisis, 11-Year-Old Girl Invents Lead-Detecting Device Gitanjali Rao, 11, says she was appalled by the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich. — so she designed a device to test for lead faster. She was named "America's Top Young Scientist" on Tuesday at the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minn. Andy King/Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge hide caption toggle caption Andy King/Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge Gitanjali R
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Science | The Guardian

A giant insect ecosystem is collapsing due to humans. It's a catastrophe T hirty-five years ago an American biologist Terry Erwin conducted an experiment to count insect species. Using an insecticide “fog”, he managed to extract all the small living things in the canopies of 19 individuals of one species of tropical tree, Luehea seemannii , in the rainforest of Panama. He recorded about 1,200 separate species, nearly all of them coleoptera (beetles) and many new to sc
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The Atlantic

Five Books to Make You Less Stupid About the Civil War On Monday, the retired four-star general and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly asserted that “the lack of an ability to compromise lead to the Civil War.” This was an incredibly stupid thing to say. Worse, it built on a long tradition of endorsing stupidity in hopes of making Americans stupid about their own history. Stupid enjoys an unfortunate place in the highest ranks of American governme
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Gizmodo

The Fungus That Turns Ants Into Zombies Is More Diabolical Than We Realized A dead carpenter ant with fungal spores erupting out of its head. (Image: David Hughes/Penn State University) Carpenter ants of the Brazilian rain forest have it rough. When one of these insects gets infected by a certain fungus, it turns into a so-called “zombie ant” and is no longer in control of its actions. Manipulated by the parasite, an infected ant will leave the cozy confines of its arbor
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The Atlantic

How to Hire Fake Friends and Family Money may not be able to buy love, but here in Japan, it can certainly buy the appearance of love—and appearance, as the dapper Ishii Yuichi insists, is everything. As a man whose business involves becoming other people, Yuichi would know. The handsome and charming 36-year-old is on call to be your best friend, your husband, your father, or even a mourner at your funeral. His 8-year-old company,
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Scientific American Content: Global

Link between Adolescent Pot Smoking and Psychosis Strengthens BERLIN—Society’s embrace of cannabis to treat nausea, pain and other conditions proceeds apace with the drive to legalize the plant for recreational use. Pot’s seemingly innocuous side effects have helped clear a path toward making it a legal cash crop, with all of the marketing glitz brought to other consumer products. But that clean bill of health only goes so far. Marijuana’s potentially detri
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The Atlantic

When Kids Have to Act Like Parents, It Affects Them for Life Laura Kiesel was only 6 years old when she became a parent to her infant brother. At home, his crib was placed directly next to her bed, so that when he cried at night, she was the one to pick him up and sing him back to sleep. She says she was also in charge of changing his diapers and making sure he was fed every day. For the majority of her early childhood, she remembers, she tended to his nee
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Popular Science

Mayonnaise is disgusting, and science agrees For much of the past year, I have fought a one-sided battle with a popular fast casual restaurant chain that we’ll call “Ready.” Unlike most restaurants, Ready doesn't make sandwiches, assemble salads, or otherwise perform acts of cookery upon customer request. Instead they sell nominally healthy, whole-ingredient-based pre-made soups, salads, and sandwiches. Because I’m lazy and impatient, I’m R
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NYT > Science

Trilobites: Astronomers Race to Study a Mystery Object From Outside Our Solar System For the first time that we know, an interstellar visitor has zoomed through our solar system. The small space rock, tentatively called A/2017 U1, is about a quarter of a mile long and astronomers across the world are racing to study it before it departs just as quickly as it arrived. “We’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Rob Weryk, an astronomer at the University of Hawaii Institute
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Science : NPR

Monsanto Attacks Scientists After Studies Show Trouble For Weedkiller Dicamba Bob Scott, an expert on weeds with the University of Arkansas, in a research plot where soybeans were exposed to dicamba vapor. Dan Charles/ NPR hide caption toggle caption Dan Charles/ NPR Bob Scott, an expert on weeds with the University of Arkansas, in a research plot where soybeans were exposed to dicamba vapor. Dan Charles/ NPR In a normal year, Kevin Bradley, a professor of weed science at
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TED Talks Daily (SD video)

We're building a dystopia just to make people click on ads | Zeynep TufekciWe're building an artificial intelligence-powered dystopia, one click at a time, says techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci. In an eye-opening talk, she details how the same algorithms companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon use to get you to click on ads are also used to organize your access to political and social information. And the machines aren't even the real threat. What we need to understa
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BBC News - Science & Environment

'Big void' identified in Khufu's Great Pyramid at Giza Image copyright Getty Images The mysteries of the pyramids have deepened with the discovery of what appears to be a giant void within the Khufu, or Cheops, monument in Egypt. It is not known why the cavity exists or indeed if it holds anything of value because it is not obviously accessible. Japanese and French scientists made the announcement after two years of study at the famous pyramid comple
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NYT > Science

Pruitt Bars Some Scientists From Advising E.P.A. Democrats, scientists and environmental groups denounced the decision. They said E.P.A. advisory boards already had stringent conflict of interest policies, and they asserted that neither Mr. Pruitt nor Republican critics of the panels had found any cases in which academic advisers profited from the agency by providing advice. Climate Change Is Complex. We’ve Got Answers to Your Questions. We kno
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The Atlantic

The Surprising Revolt at the Most Liberal College in the Country At Reed College, a small liberal-arts school in Portland, Oregon, a 39-year-old Saturday Night Live skit recently caused an uproar over cultural appropriation. In the classic Steve Martin skit, he performs a goofy song, “King Tut,” meant to satirize a Tutankhamun exhibit touring the U.S. and to criticize the commercialization of Egyptian culture. You could say that his critique is weak; that his
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Gizmodo

Watch an Oil Painting Instantly Lose 200 Years of Grimy Varnish GIF Image: Philip Mould What you’re seeing is a valuable painting being partially dissolved on purpose. Fine art is often coated with varnish for the same reason furniture is: it provides a protective barrier to the elements. But varnish turns yellow over time, and an even less attractive color after a few centuries—which is why art restoration experts need to strip old varnish off and reapply it
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New Scientist - News

Sharks now protected no matter whose waters they swim in Whale sharks will finally be protected at offshore hotspots to which they migrate, including Madagascar, Mozambique, Peru and Tanzania Reinhard Dirscherl/FLPA By Andy Coghlan IT’S been a good week for beleaguered sharks. A cross-border conservation pact signed by 126 countries this week promises for the first time to extend extra protection to sharks and several other migratory species, which
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Science : NPR

China Shuts Down Tens Of Thousands Of Factories In Unprecedented Pollution Crackdown A woman wearing a face mask walks on a street as Beijing is hit by polluted air and sandstorms on May 4. Andy Wong/AP hide caption toggle caption Andy Wong/AP A woman wearing a face mask walks on a street as Beijing is hit by polluted air and sandstorms on May 4. Andy Wong/AP In the gritty industrial town of Yiwu, workers prepare jeans to be dyed in a vivid range of colors. Two months ago, this f
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The Atlantic

A Catfishing With a Happy Ending Emma Perrier spent the summer of 2015 mending a broken heart, after a recent breakup. By September, the restaurant manager had grown tired of watching The Notebook alone in her apartment in Twickenham, a leafy suburb southwest of London, and decided it was time to get back out there. Despite the horror stories she’d heard about online dating, Emma, 33, downloaded a matchmaking app called Zoosk. T
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New Scientist - News

Cosmic rays have revealed a new chamber in Egypt’s Great Pyramid What’s hiding inside? ScanPyramids By Mika McKinnon Cosmic rays may have just unveiled a hidden chamber within Egypt’s most famous pyramid. An international team led by Kunihiro Morishima at Nagoya University in Japan used muons, the high-energy particles generated when cosmic rays collide with our atmosphere, to explore inside Egypt’s Great Pyramid without moving a stone. Muons can penetrate
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Science | The Guardian

Archaeologists discover mysterious void deep within Great Pyramid of Giza Archaeologists have uncovered a mysterious enclosure hidden deep inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The massive cavity stretches for at least 30 metres and lies above the grand gallery, an impressive ascending corridor that connects the Queen’s chamber to the King’s in the heart of the historic monument. It is the first major structure found in
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Gizmodo

How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You've Ever Met In real life, in the natural course of conversation, it is not uncommon to talk about a person you may know. You meet someone and say, “I’m from Sarasota,” and they say, “Oh, I have a grandparent in Sarasota,” and they tell you where they live and their name, and you may or may not recognize them. You might assume Facebook’s friend recommendations would work the same way: You tell the social netw
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Science | The Guardian

Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown | George Monbiot W hich of these would you name as the world’s most pressing environmental issue? Climate breakdown , air pollution , water loss, plastic waste or urban expansion? My answer is none of the above. Almost incredibly, I believe that climate breakdown takes third place, behind two issues that receive only a fraction of the attention. Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect n
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NYT > Science

Smuggled, Beaten and Drugged: The Illicit Global Ape Trade The Sting For years, Mr. Stiles has performed undercover research on wildlife trafficking across Africa, but recently his work has taken him off the continent. A big, freckled, gregarious man, he favors wearing baggy shorts and wrinkled safari shirts. He has also invented several false online identities, with webpages that depict him as an active buyer of rare animals. Many illegal wildlife trans
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The Atlantic

The Computer Scientist Who Prefers Paper F or years, Barbara Simons was the loneliest of Cassandras—a technologist who feared what technology had wrought. Her cause was voting: Specifically, she believed that the electronic systems that had gained favor in the United States after the 2000 presidential election were shoddy, and eminently hackable. She spent years publishing opinion pieces in obscure journals with titles like Municipal Wo
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NYT > Science

F.D.A. Approves Second Gene-Altering Treatment for Cancer The treatment was originally developed at the National Cancer Institute, by a team Dr. Steven Rosenberg led. The institute entered an agreement with Kite in 2012, in which the company helped pay for research and received rights to commercialize the results. Largely on the strength of the new drug and related research, the drug giant Gilead purchased Kite in August, for $11.9 billion. “Today marks
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Ars Technica

Most scientists now reject the idea that the first Americans came by land Science reader comments 116 It's been one of the most contentious debates in anthropology, and now scientists are saying it's pretty much over. A group of prominent anthropologists have done an overview of the scientific literature and declare in Science magazine that the "Clovis first" hypothesis of the peopling of the Americas is dead. For decades, students were taught that the first people in
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NYT > Science

Trilobites: Male Mammoths Died in ‘Silly Ways’ More Often Than Females, Study Finds A previous study of mammoth remains, in Hot Springs, S.D., had found that among 14 dead specimens, 13 were young adult males and only one was female. But Ms. Pečnerová’s study investigated sex ratios using genetics. Photo A mammoth tusk found in Chukotka, Siberia, by researchers Patrícia Pečnerová and Love Dalén on their most recent trip to the field. Credit Patrícia Pečnerová The 98 specimens th
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Science | The Guardian

Reconstructed Roman Temple of Mithras opens to public in London London’s Temple of Mithras , once displayed on a car park roof with a crazy paving floor, is to reopen to the public – this time on its original site. Visitors to the temple will now descend through steep, black stone-lined stairs, in Bloomberg’s new European headquarters , to seven metres below the city streets where in Roman times the smelly river Walbrook once flowed sluggishly through marshy
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Science : NPR

Watch The Moment A Dying Chimpanzee Recognizes An Old Friend Mama celebrates her 50th birthday on May 3, 2007 with fruit and vegetables at the Burgers Zoo in Arnhem, Holland. AFP/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption AFP/Getty Images Mama celebrates her 50th birthday on May 3, 2007 with fruit and vegetables at the Burgers Zoo in Arnhem, Holland. AFP/Getty Images :Animal videos are shared online nowadays at a pace that can be overwhelming. Once in a whil
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NYT > Science

A Grecian Artifact Evokes Tales From the ‘Iliad’ and ‘Odyssey’ The seal stone comes from an untouched shaft grave near the ancient palace of Pylos. The grave was discovered in May 2015 by Jack L. Davis and Sharon R. Stocker, archaeologists at the University of Cincinnati who had been digging at Pylos for more than 25 years. “It was after cleaning, during the process of drawing and photography, that our excitement slowly rose as we gradually came to realize t
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Science | The Guardian

Acid reflux drug linked to more than doubled risk of stomach cancer – study A drug commonly used to treat acid reflux is linked to a more than doubled risk of developing stomach cancer, researchers have claimed. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce the amount of acid made by the stomach and are used to treat acid reflux and stomach ulcers. A study published in the journal Gut identified an association between long-term use of the drug and a 2.4 times higher risk of devel
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Science : NPR

Einstein's Note On Happiness, Given To Bellboy In 1922, Fetches $1.6 Million The owner of a Jerusalem auction house holds up a note on happiness written by Albert Einstein in 1922. The note, which Einstein gave to a courier in lieu of a tip, sold for $1.56 million on Tuesday to an anonymous buyer. Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images The owner of a Jerusalem auction house holds up a note on happiness written by Albert
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The Atlantic

The Shepherds of the Tusheti Mountains Every autumn, a spectacular animal migration takes place in Georgia’s Tusheti region in the northern Caucasus Mountains. Radio Free Europe photographer Amos Chapple recently joined a group of shepherds and their dogs on what he refers to as a “ deadly, boozy journey ” from the steep mountains to the plains, as they brought their 1,200 sheep down to their winter pastures.
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BBC News - Science & Environment

Sheep 'can recognise human faces' Image copyright SPL Image caption Ewe look familiar: sheep have a human-like ability to recognise faces Sheep have demonstrated the ability to recognise familiar human faces, according to a study. Cambridge University researchers were able to train sheep to identify the faces of actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Emma Watson, former US President Barack Obama and BBC newsreader Fiona Bruce. After training
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Gizmodo

Stunning AI Breakthrough Takes Us One Step Closer to the Singularity As a new Nature paper points out, “There are an astonishing 10 to the power of 170 possible board configurations in Go—more than the number of atoms in the known universe.” (Image: DeepMind) Remember AlphaGo, the first artificial intelligence to defeat a grandmaster at Go ? Well, the program just got a major upgrade, and it can now teach itself how to dominate the game without any human intervent
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Science : NPR

Scientists Start To Tease Out The Subtler Ways Racism Hurts Health The day Dr. Roberto Montenegro finished his Ph.D. was memorable. But not for the right reasons. "I still cringe when I think about it," says Montenegro. It had started well. His colleagues at UCLA had taken him and his girlfriend (now wife) out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate. "I was dressed up in the fanciest suit I had at the time and my wife looked beautiful, like always," he says. "We laug
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BBC News - Science & Environment

Professor Stephen Hawking's PhD viewed two million times Image copyright Cambridge University/Stephen Hawking Image caption Stephen Hawking's handwriting can be seen on the document Stephen Hawking's PhD thesis was accessed more than two million times within days of it being made available to the public, it has been revealed. Prof Hawking's 1966 work proved so popular on the day of its release it crashed the publications section of Cambridge University
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NYT > Science

Ending Medical Tax Break Could Be a ‘Gut Punch’ to the Middle Class “This bill helps Americans keep more of the money they earn for expenses that arise throughout their lives — such as medical bills — rather than providing a myriad of provisions that many Americans may only use once in their lifetimes, and only if they go through the hassle and frustration of itemizing,” said Lauren Aronson, a spokeswoman for the House Ways and Means committee. Photo Suzanne Holl
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