Health & Science

Environment
4:06 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Swinging CO2 Levels Show The Earth Is 'Breathing' More Deeply

Plants accumulate carbon in the spring and summer, and they release it back into the atmosphere in the fall in winter. And a change in the landscape of the Arctic tundra, seen here, means that shrubs hold onto snow better, which keeps the organic-rich soils warmer and more likely to release carbon dioxide that's stored there.
Jean-Erick Pasquier Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 8:34 pm

Plant life on our planet soaks up a fair amount of the carbon dioxide that pours out of our tailpipes and smokestacks. Plants take it up during the summer and return some of it to the air in the winter. And a new study shows that those "breaths" have gotten deeper over the past 50 years.

This isn't just a curiosity. Plant life is helping to reduce the speed at which carbon dioxide is building up in our atmosphere. That's slowing the global warming, at least marginally, so scientists are eager to understand how this process works. The new study provides some clues.

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The Two-Way
3:53 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Email Service Allegedly Used By Edward Snowden Is Shut Down

The free email service Lavabit allowed users to send encrypted emails.
Lavabit

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 5:17 pm

The email service allegedly used by "NSA leaker" Edward Snowden is no more.

The owner and operator of Lavabit, which encrypts communication between two people, shut down the site and left a cryptic message on its homepage.

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The Two-Way
1:27 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

U.S. 'Space Fence' Will Cease To Operate, Site Says

A rendering of objects currently in Low Earth Orbit (not illustrated to scale). According to NASA, "approximately 95 percent of the objects in this illustration are orbital debris, i.e., not functional satellites."
NASA

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 3:54 pm

A U.S. radar system that tracks thousands of objects orbiting Earth — from satellites to harmful debris — has been slated for shutdown, according to the Space News site. The ground-based network known as the "Space Fence" may cease to operate in October.

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The Salt
12:27 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Can Chocolate Boost Brain Health? Don't Binge Just Yet

Researchers say one particular flavanol, (-)-epicatechin, may be the source of the brain benefits seen from consuming cocoa.
Philippe Huguen AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri August 9, 2013 1:10 pm

Wouldn't it be grand (and delicious) if we could boost our brain power with a daily dose of chocolate?

At first blush, a study published in the journal Neurology this week appears to offer tantalizing evidence that this may be the case, at least when it comes to seniors.

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The Two-Way
11:44 am
Thu August 8, 2013

NASA: Sun Getting Ready For A 'Field Flip'

NASA/SDO

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 2:05 pm

Our nearest star is about to pull a once-in-11-years move by swapping its north and south magnetic poles.

The sun's polarity switch is a natural part of "solar max" — the period of peak activity during what averages out to be roughly an 11-year cycle. According to NASA, this year will mark the fourth time since 1976 that scientists have observed the 180-degree pole flip.

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Health & Science
10:28 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Exo-Planets Could Hold Key in Search for Extraterrestrial Life

The "gap" in this young star's surrounding disc of gas and dust indicates that new exo-planets are being made.
Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech

Lake Effect's Bonnie North interviews astrophysicist Dr. David Latham.

An astrophysicist says the search for extraterrestrial life is about to get interesting.

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The Two-Way
9:29 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Stars And Stripes: Pair Of Sumatran Tigers Born At National Zoo

A Tigercubcam view of the new cubs, born at the Smithsonian's National Zoo on Monday.
Smithsonian's National Zoo

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 12:03 pm

The Smithsonian's National Zoo has announced the birth of a pair of Sumatran tigers, a species that has dwindled to less than 500 in the wild. Both mother and cubs are reportedly doing well.

There was no immediate word Thursday on the sex of the cubs.

Four-year-old Damai gave birth on Monday. The new arrivals appear healthy, and so far, "Damai is being a great mom, and is nursing and grooming both cubs," the zoo says on its website.

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Shots - Health News
9:18 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Scientists Disclose Plans To Make Superflu In Labs

Some scientists think new types of bird flus should arise only in chickens, not in labs. Here a worker collects poultry on a farm in Kathmandu, Nepal, where the H5N1 virus was infecting animals in October 2011.
Prakas Mathema AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 9:56 am

Who do these guys think they are, the Dr. Frankensteins of virology?

First, two teams of virologists created more dangerous versions of the deadly H5N1 flu. Now they want to give the H7N9 virus, which has already sickened at least 134 people and killed 43 people in Asia, a few new capabilities: drug resistance, faster transmission between people and the ability to sneak past the immune system.

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The Two-Way
7:17 am
Thu August 8, 2013

Report: NSA Is Searching 'Vast Amounts' Of Americans' Emails

The National Security Agency headquarters at Fort Meade, Md.
Saul Loeb Getty Images

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 9:50 am

"The National Security Agency is searching the contents of vast amounts of Americans' e-mail and text communications into and out of the country, hunting for people who mention information about foreigners under surveillance, according to intelligence officials," The New York Times reported Thursday.

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Shots - Health News
7:00 am
Thu August 8, 2013

What Makes Good Bacteria Go Bad? It's Not Them, It's You

S.pneumoniae bacteria may look harmless, but don't rile them.
CDC

Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 9:01 am

Imagine a friend of a friend brings his family to stay with you — his family of tiny survivalists. For weeks or months you all live quietly side by side with no problems. You share meals. Your kids play together.

Then one day you get sick — maybe felled by a bad cold or the flu. Suddenly certain the end is near, your jittery houseguest breaks out an armory's worth of chemical weapons. He abandons his community to save himself and hunt for a new home, wreaking havoc on the way out the door.

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