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8 teens hospitalized with 'severe lung damage' from vaping — leading expert says e-cig use is 'not without health effects'

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 11:15

Experts in Wisconsin are speaking out after eight high school kids were hospitalized from vaping. “Vaping in teenagers is causing significant damage,” the hospital's chief medical officer said. “We want that message to be loud and clear.”


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Florida health officials announce uptick in mosquito-borne virus that causes brain swelling

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 11:10

Health officials in Central Florida are warning of an increase in cases of Eastern equine encephalitis, a rare mosquito-borne virus that can cause inflammation in the brain and can be deadly. Several sentinel chickens in the same flock have tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis, and the risk of transmission to humans has increased, the Florida Department of Health in Orange County announced last week.


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How Jay Inslee would address environmental justice

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 11:07

Protecting front-line communities from pollution is the focus of the Washington governor's fifth climate-related proposal of the 2020 cycle.


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Greta Thunberg to sail the Atlantic for UN summit

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 10:46

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg said Monday that she would cross the Atlantic on a racing sailboat to attend a UN climate summit in New York in September. "I've been offered a ride on the 60 ft. (18-metre) racing boat Malizia II. We'll be sailing across the Atlantic Ocean from the UK to NYC in mid August," Thunberg, 16, said on Twitter. Thunberg -- who has inspired thousands of her peers in many parts of the world to press their elders to act on climate change -- refuses to fly owing to the negative impact on the environment.


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Here's Why Lexicon Pharmaceuticals Is Collapsing Today

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 10:14

Sanofi is walking away from an important collaboration, leaving shareholders wondering what's next.


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How Astronomers Missed the Massive Asteroid That Just Whizzed Past Earth

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 09:59

A large asteroid just whizzed past our planet -- and astronomers weren't expecting it.Ranging in size from 187 to 427 feet (57 to 130 meters) wide, the space rock named 2019 OK snuck up on us Thursday morning (July 25). It swung as close as 45,000 miles (73,000 kilometers) from Earth, what one astronomer told The Washington Post was "uncomfortably close.".If the asteroid had actually collided with Earth, the crash would have caused devastating damage, Michael Brown, an associate professor in astronomy at Monash University in Australia, wrote in The Conversation.Astronomers in Brazil and the United States separately discovered 2019 OK a couple of days ago, but it's surprise visit was only announced a couple of hours before it passed by. "The lack of warning shows how quickly potentially dangerous asteroids can sneak up on us," Brown wrote. And though this asteroid "is not a threat to Earth right now," other such near-Earth asteroids can be. [Crash! 10 Biggest Impact Craters on Earth]For example, back in 2013, a meteor snuck up on us and exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk; that blast was stronger than a nuclear explosion, and the resulting shock wave shattered glass down below and injured more than 1,000 people. The Chelyabinsk meteor was much smaller than 2019 OK, spanning about 66 feet (20 meters) across.Both the Chelyabinsk meteor and 2019 OK snuck past astronomers' devices and paid surprise visits.When 2019 OK approached our planet, anyone nearby could have spotted it with a pair of binoculars as a speck of light slowly drifting across the sky, Brown wrote. But a couple of days prior, it was 1,000 times fainter and was more difficult to spot. What's more, it was traveling really fast along an odd elliptical orbit that pushed it beyond Mars (near the asteroid belt) to within the orbit of Venus, creating a situation where it spent little time near Earth, Brown told The Washington Post.This comes just days after a smaller, car-sized asteroid hit our planet and blew up into a spectacular fireball a couple hundred miles south of Puerto Rico over the weekend. Similarly, scientists had also just discovered that asteroid a couple of hours before it hit, but it wasn't nearly as large as 2019 OK.Astronomers around the world continue to work to monitor any asteroids that pose danger to us. Several ongoing large-sky surveys to track near-Earth asteroids. For example, NASA is tracking over 90 percent of the asteroids that are 0.62 miles (1 km) or larger and are orbiting close to our planet, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.Granted we know about their existence and have time to act, "asteroid impacts are the only potentially preventable natural disasters," according to NASA. They are currently studying various ways to deflect asteroids, with the so-called Double-Asteroid Redirection Test planned to launch such a technology in 2021."With just a day or week's notice, we would be in real trouble, but with more notice there are options," Brown wrote. Rather than destruction of the asteroid, which might cause it to break into multiple destructive asteroids, the solution might be a "gentle nudge rather than a vicious kick" away from our fragile planet. * Doomsday: 9 Real Ways Earth Could End * Photos: Cretaceous 'Graveyard' Holds a Snapshot of the Dino-Killing Asteroid Impact * In Images: Rising 'Phoenix' Aurora and Starburst Galaxies Light Up the SkiesOriginally published on Live Science.


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Iraq displays stolen artifacts recovered from UK, Sweden

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 09:11

Iraqi officials are displaying stolen artifacts from the country's rich cultural heritage that were recently recovered from Britain and Sweden. Many archaeological treasures from Iraq, home of the ancient "fertile crescent" considered the cradle of civilization, were looted during the chaos that followed the 2003 U.S. invasion and whisked out of the country. Now Iraq is making a massive effort to bring these pieces home, working closely with the U.N. cultural organization.


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If You Are Breaking Out, Your Diet Might Be To Blame

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 09:00

Don't worry! These six vitamins may help clear things up.


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CRISPR Gene Editing Will Be Used Inside Humans For the First Time in Treatment for Blindness

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 08:56

The first study to test the gene-editing technology CRISPR inside the human body is about to get underway in the United States, according to news reports.The study plans to use CRISPR to treat an inherited eye disorder that causes blindness, according to the Associated Press.People with this condition have a mutation in a gene that affects the function of the retina, the light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye that are essential for normal vision. The condition is a form of Leber congenital amaurosis, one of the most common causes of childhood blindness that affects about 2 to 3 newborns out of every 100,000, according to the National Institutes of Health.The treatment will correct the mutation using CRISPR, a tool that allows researchers to precisely edit DNA in a specific spot, the AP reported.Researchers will use an injection to deliver the treatment directly to the light-sensitive cells, according to a statement from Editas Medicine, the company that is conducting the study along with Allergan.The trial will enroll a total of 18 patients, both children (ages 3 and up) and adults.The new study is different from the controversial research of a Chinese scientist who used CRISPR to edit the genomes of twin babies last year. In that case, the Chinese scientist edited the DNA of embryos, and these gene alterations could be passed down to the next generation, the AP reported. In the new study, the DNA edits made in the children and adults cannot be passed down to their offspring, the AP said. * 10 Amazing Things Scientists Just Did with CRISPR * Unraveling the Human Genome: 6 Molecular Milestones * Bionic Humans: Top 10 TechnologiesOriginally published on Live Science.


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Colossal dinosaur bone find in France thrills scientists

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 08:43

Angeac-Charente (France) (AFP) - Scientists have unearthed a huge two-metre (6.5-foot) dinosaur bone in a winegrowing village in southwestern France dubbed a "national treasure" for its prehistoric gems. The 140-million-year-old thigh bone, which weighs 400 kilogrammes (880 pounds), is the latest discovery at the vast Angeac-Charente palaeontological site near Bordeaux, where experts and volunteers have dug up thousands of bones over the past decade. The largest land animals ever to roam the Earth, sauropods were massive plant-eating dinosaurs with a long neck and tail, towering up to 18 metres (59 feet) tall.


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Greta Thunberg to sail across Atlantic for climate summits because she refuses to fly on planes

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 08:40

Greta Thunberg is to sail across the Atlantic in a high-tech racing yacht to attend UN climate summits in New York and Chile as she refuses to fly on planes.The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist said she spent months deciding how to travel to the US without travelling by plane, which she shuns because of their high greenhouse gas emissions.Ms Thunbeg will set sail on her trans-Atlantic voyage in August in a boat fitted with solar panels and underwater turbines to generate zero-carbon electricity on board. The journey will take two weeks.“Good news! I’ll be joining the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, COP25 in Santiago and other events along the way,” she tweeted on Monday.“I’ve been offered a ride on the 60ft racing boat Malizia II. We’ll be sailing across the Atlantic Ocean from the UK to NYC in mid August. UniteBehindTheScience”.Ms Thunberg will be accompanied on the voyage by Malizia II’s skipper Boris Hermann, her father Svante and filmmaker Nathan Grossman.The teenage climate activist told AP that she wanted to avoid travelling to the US by cruise ship because of their notoriously high emissions and she had been wary of sailing across the Atlantic in August due to the risk of hurricanes.“Taking a boat to North America is basically impossible,” she said. “I have had countless people helping me, trying to contact different boats.”The founder of the “School Strike 4 Climate" movement said she is taking a year off school to raise awareness of the climate crisis and pressure world leaders to step up efforts to cut greenhouse emissions.Setting sail from London, Ms Thunberg will attend the UN Climate summits in New York on 23 September and in Sanitago, Chile, on 13 December.She also plans to join large-scale climate demonstrations in New York on 20 September.Ms Thunberg rose to prominence last year after she started started skipping classes to protest outside the Swedish parliament.Her protest inspired millions of other children around the world to walk out school on Fridays to demand greater action on climate change. Since emerging as the leader the school strike for climate movement, Ms Thunberg has spoken to policymakers at last year’s UN climate conference in Poland she has attended the World Economic Forum in Davos and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos.In April, the climate activist met party leaders in Westminster and delivered a speech to parliament.But Ms Thunberg says she was unsure how her message would be received in the US, where Donald Trump has dismissed the need to tackle climate changeMr Trump announced that the country would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and his administration has removed a quarter of all references to climate change from federal government websites since 2016.Ms Thunberg said that meeting the US president would be “just a waste of time”."He obviously doesn't listen to the science and the scientists,” she said. “So why should I, a child with no proper education, be able to convince him?" Last week, The 1975 released a song featuring a speech by Ms Thunberg, with all proceeds from the song’s sales going to Extinction Rebellion at her request.The teenage climate activist is also to appear on the front cover of Vogue as one of 15 women describes as “trailblazing changemakers” in a special issue of the magazine guest edited by Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex.Additional reporting by AP


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The Great, Maddening Promise of Fusion Energy

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 08:00

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Twenty-five years ago, as a young physicist, I worked on research linked to fusion energy. Nuclear fusion powers the sun and stars through reactions that turn hydrogen nuclei into helium nuclei, and if we could master the process on Earth, we'd have a safe and virtually limitless source of clean energy. At conferences every year, scientists from around the world gathered to discuss the achingly slow progress then being made. Government and university labs have now been trying unsuccessfully for more than 50 years.The fusion conferences still go on — this month in Opole, Poland, and at the University of Wisconsin in September — but there’s a different tone, and more excitement, as the research finally seems to be bearing fruit and bringing us closer to fusion energy as a viable energy source. A flurry of new startups aim to achieve it within only 15 years, spurred by the belief that nimble private companies may succeed where lumbering government projects have not. Think Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp.It’s probably naive to expect similar success for fusion energy. It took SpaceX 13 years to become the first private company to launch and then re-land a rocket capable of achieving orbit, and the company had the advantage of a deep base of scientific understanding of rocket technology. In the race for fusion, in which the extreme conditions required to create it make the scientific challenge immeasurably harder, the slow and methodical government labs may still turn out to have the edge.Conceptually, fusion seems easy: It only requires getting hydrogen fuel to a sufficiently high pressure and temperature, then keeping it there long enough for the crucial reactions to take place. The main obstacle is instability, arising from the many surprising ways things can go wrong. In one approach, known as inertial confinement fusion, or ICF, intense pulses of laser light are used to compress a tiny pellet of fuel in an attempt to reach temperatures and pressures comparable to the interiors of stars. Despite decades of refinement, the violent compression always mixes hot and cold parts of the imploding fuel together, limiting the results.But a series of experiments last year at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility did finally pass a landmark, with the implosion releasing more energy from fusion reactions than was put in to make it happen. Computation and machine-learning algorithms may help researchers build on this achievement through improved experimental designs. Another approach uses magnetic bottles to hold matter at extreme temperatures but much lower densities than the compression experiments. This is the goal of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, the world's largest fusion project, being built in France; it hopes to prove the possibility of sustained fusion by 2035. Algorithms are also improving prospects here, where the key instabilities come through “disruptions” involving sudden catastrophic discharges of super-hot matter and electric current that damage key components of the reactor. One research team recently found that algorithms can be trained on data to spot these damaging disruptions before they occur, giving scientists a warning of 30-thousandths of a second, enough to take steps to avoid a breakdown altogether. Such mainstream approaches build upon decades of accrued learning. Could any of the new private firms beat them to the finish line? One called Commonwealth Fusion Systems and linked to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology plans to build a working reactor by 2025. First Light Fusion, a company spun out of Oxford University in the U.K., plans to use a radically different approach completely unlike the mainstream fusion efforts. More than 20 other startups have emerged in the past few years. In a report last year, the U.S. science and technology advisory group JASON offered a fairly pessimistic view on the prospects for near-term, low-cost fusion success, in part by looking to the development history of other key technologies, including solar and wind energy. These came to fruition by gradual, incremental improvements through better designs and new materials, and much more slowly than most industry experts expected. JASON put practical fusion energy still 30 years in the future.I asked Omar Hurricane, chief scientist of the ICF program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, for his thoughts. He describes himself as a “pessimistic optimist.” After 50 years of research, he told me in an email, scientists now understand the extreme conditions required for fusion. They still can't create them in the lab but are gradually getting closer. He expects the startups to make some interesting advances and rapid initial progress, but they will run into more difficult problems soon thereafter, as the other fusion programs have.“Science and technology follows a learning curve, so with anything new we get rapid initial progress,” he says, “but the rate of learning steadily slows as the easy problems get solved.”Ultimately, success is likely, he expects, although the timing may be difficult to predict.“I am optimistic that the laboratory fusion problem is a solvable one,” he says. “But Mother Nature makes the fusion problem diabolically hard because the required conditions are so extreme.”He suggests that investors in private-sector fusion efforts have patience, and they shouldn't expect too much, too soon. “Getting to fusion is going to be a long hard march that will require a lot of discipline to stick with and long-term vision to realize,” he says.To contact the author of this story: Mark Buchanan at buchanan.mark@gmail.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Brooke Sample at bsample1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mark Buchanan, a physicist and science writer, is the author of the book "Forecast: What Physics, Meteorology and the Natural Sciences Can Teach Us About Economics."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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Jay Inslee Calls For Banning 'Forever Chemicals' In Environmental Justice Plan

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 07:57

The Washington governor's campaign may be lagging, but he keeps building out a massive library of detailed policy ideas.


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