Newsy - Sci/Health The Latest Videos From <![CDATA[This Modern Art Technique Is Actually 38,000 Years Old]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 11:32:00 -0600
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It turns out, artists have been using some of the same techniques for tens of thousands of years.

A team of excavators discovered 16 engraved limestone blocks that date back 38,000 years. One depicts a woolly mammoth in pointillist style.

In that technique, artists use small dots to create a larger image. The style was adopted by 19th- and 20th-century artists, such as Georges Seurat and Camille Pissarro.

SEE MORE: The Syrian Artist Who 'Paints On Death'

But the discovery supports previous findings that people used this style tens of thousands of years before Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte."

The same team reported earlier this year it uncovered a pointillist image of an extinct wild cow from the same ancient time period. Similar paintings have also been found in the Chauvet Cave in France, showing even our ancient ancestors knew a thing or two about art.

<![CDATA[These Skeptics Are Asking Trump To Pull Out Of A UN Climate Agreement]]> Fri, 24 Feb 2017 09:52:00 -0600
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Global warming skeptics have reportedly asked President Donald Trump to pull out of a United Nations climate agreement.

According to several reports, a group of 300 people, including some scientists, sent a letter to Trump and Vice President Mike Pence that claims carbon dioxide is not as harmful to the atmosphere as a strong majority of scientists say.

The reports say the group wants the U.S. to withdraw from the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The group argues "carbon dioxide is not a pollutant" and that it's beneficial for the environment because it is fuel for plants.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared carbon dioxide a pollutant in 2009. It and a handful of other greenhouse gases were determined to be dangerous to humans and contribute to climate change.

SEE MORE: Sure, Nature Changes The Climate, But Not Nearly As Much As Humans Do

The letter was picked up by several right-leaning outlets and blogs, which highlight its claim that limiting carbon emissions is bad for the economy. It follows a letter signed in December by over 800 scientists, who urged Trump to fight climate change.

There's been uncertainty over whether the Trump administration would continue previous actions against climate change. Trump has repeatedly promised to ditch the Paris Agreement signed under former President Barack Obama.

Climate change information also disappeared from the White House page immediately after Trump took office.

The New York Times reports the Trump administration is also considering executive orders that would drastically reduce U.S. presence in the U.N. overall. 

<![CDATA[California Is Nearly Drought-Free — A Huge Change From A Year Ago]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 22:34:00 -0600
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California is looking at its lowest drought levels since 2011.

Just a year ago, the Golden State was only 6 percent drought-free. Now, it's at 83 percent. No part of California is in extreme drought — a first in four years. 

It's probably not surprising news, given the deluge that's pounded the state lately. Heavy rains damaged roads, downed power lines and forced people out of their homes.

According to the Los Angeles Almanac, the City of Angels has already received almost 7 inches more than it normally does at this point in the year. 

SEE MORE: The 'Weather Bomb' Is A Blessing And A Curse For California

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in 2014 as the drought stretched into year two. He hasn't changed that declaration since, even with these new figures. 

A spokeswoman for the California Natural Resource Agency told NBC News the state now has to be prepared for the possibility of more floods. She said the state is on track to have its wettest year on record.

<![CDATA[Children Breathe Dangerous Pollution At Almost 8,000 Public Schools]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 18:30:00 -0600
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When it comes to their kids' health, parents probably don't think too much about air pollution. But maybe they should.

new report from the Center for Public Integrity and The Center for Investigative Reporting found that about one in 11 public schools are too close to high-traffic roads or highways.

The problem exposes nearly 4.4 million school children to highly polluted air.

And that air can cause asthma attacks, hamper lung development, increase the risk of cancer and even impede cognitive development.

SEE MORE: Air Pollution Could Be Contributing To Millions Of Premature Births

Unlike the smog of Beijing and Paris, the air pollution studied in the report is typically invisible. In fact, a lot of the at-risk schools are in rural towns or smaller cities.

And the investigation found almost a fifth of U.S. schools that opened in the 2014-2015 school year were built near high-traffic roads — even though the Environmental Protection Agency warned school districts about air pollution in 2011.

<![CDATA[How You — Yes, You — Can Help Find New Planets And More]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 16:13:00 -0600
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NASA's announcement of seven new planets has the science world geeking out. Here's how you can make your own big cosmic discoveries.

Scientists need your help studying galaxies. Projects like Galaxy Zoo and the Milky Way Project let the public classify and identify galaxies and parts of galaxies using images from space-based telescopes.

If you’re looking to help save the world, check out the Asteroid Data Hunter. This computer app lets users scan space images for potential near-Earth objects, like asteroids and comets, to improve NASA's database of known asteroids.

SEE MORE: In A Way, NASA's Latest Discovery Is Special Because It's Not

When Americans witness a total solar eclipse this summer, the Eclipse Megamovie project wants to document it. It's asking the public to submit photos and videos to piece together a film of the entire eclipse. The project coordinators say the movie will help scientists study changes in the sun's outer edge.

And while NASA may have found seven new planets, there's likely a multitude yet to be discovered. Backyard Worlds and Planet Hunters let you spot new planets — like the hypothesized Planet 9 — right in your own backyard.

<![CDATA[There's A Battle Brewing Over Bullets]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:15:00 -0600
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There's a tense battle making its way to Washington that you may not have heard about. And it centers around bullets.

The day before President Donald Trump was sworn in, the Obama administration passed a directive to begin the process of keeping hunters from using lead ammo on federal land.

Instead, people would have to turn to other metals for their bullets — like copper.

The issue isn't so much animals being hit by lead bullets, but more hunters leaving them behind. Animals scavenging can end up eating lead fragments.

In January, WNEP broke a story of a bald eagle that died from lead poisoning. Veterinarians found a metal fragment in its system and believe it might have ingested part of a lead bullet.

Lead poisoning isn't a new risk for animals, and some hunters have had to find alternative rounds for decades.

A ban on lead pellets in shotgun casings has been in place since 1991 for those hunting waterfowl on public lands.

SEE MORE: How Origami Helped Engineer A Lightweight, Bulletproof Shield

But hunters and gun advocacy groups are resisting the new directive, arguing there's no proof lead in ammo is a significant threat to animal populations as a whole.

And they say without proof of a large-scale threat, there's no reason to make hunting more expensive.

The NRA has predicted the new directive will be "short-lived."

Several media outlets have predicted Trump will overturn the ban. But Trump hasn't made any move in that direction.

<![CDATA[Texas Is Apparently Dealing With An Out-Of-Control Hog Problem]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:01:00 -0600
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Texas is apparently at war with wild hogs, and the state might have found a way to conquer them.

Let's backtrack a little. In 2011, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller made it legal for hunters to shoot feral hogs from helicopters to curb the invasive species population numbers. Apparently that wasn't enough.

Now, he wants to use a controversial anticoagulant called warfarin to deal with the more than 2 million wild pigs that plague the state.

Warfarin is used in rodent poison. It causes bleeding both internally and externally and turns the insides of the animal that ingests it blue. It can also be painful.

SEE MORE: Part-Pig, Part-Human Embryos Could Give Us Replacement Human Organs

But Miller claims the invasive species preys on newborn animals, poses a danger to humans on highways and causes millions of dollars in damage to agriculture every year.

The animals are becoming a problem in more and more places. A study found invasive hog populations are making their way across the U.S.

Hunters and wildlife activists are already criticizing the measure in Texas. Thousands of people have signed a petition to stop warfarin from being used; they argue the pesticide could contaminate humans.

Still, Miller says a "hog apocalypse" is on the horizon.

<![CDATA[Bumblebees Are Better Problem Solvers Than We Thought]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:19:00 -0600
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Bumblebees have even more brainpower than we give them credit for.

Researchers trained bees to move a ball to a target in exchange for a sugar-water treat. And when untrained bees watched their companions do it, they picked up the skill, too.

They even improved on what they learned. Untrained bees didn't just copy the behavior they saw. They found the closest ball available and moved that one because it was the most efficient way to get their sugar-water payoff.

This experiment is the most advanced problem an invertebrate has ever solved. It's impressive, even by bee standards.

SEE MORE: Backing Off These Pesticide Restrictions Could Be Bad For Bees

We know some of them can already communicate information, like when they dance to share the direction and distance to flowers. We know they can count to at least four.

And we've even taught them new skills like this before. Last year, researchers trained bumblebees to pull a string for their sugar water reward, and other bees could learn the trick by observing.

But complex ball-rolling problem-solving isn't something a bee would ever naturally do, and that's why researchers say this is such an impressive cognitive feat. Bees need to know where to go to find flowers, but playing bee football wouldn't give them any kind of survival advantage.

<![CDATA[In A Way, NASA's Latest Discovery Is Special Because It's Not]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:42:00 -0600
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NASA's discovery of several Earth-like planets is pretty big news in the search for alien life.

"Seven planets the size of Earth, all orbiting this one distant star," an anchor for WISH said. 

"One [planet] could even support life," a reporter at KLAS said.

"One expert at NASA says this is the most exciting result he's seen in 14 years. That's pretty high praise," a journalist for Fox News reported.

Extremely high praise — especially since finding a new exoplanet isn't really that rare.

SEE MORE: NASA Announces 7 New Planets

So far, astronomers have already found almost 3,500 exoplanets; those are planets orbiting stars that aren't our sun.

But what makes the seven new exoplanets exciting is the star they revolve around. In short, it's special because it's not.

TRAPPIST-1 is known as an ultra-cool dwarf star and is about a tenth the size of the sun.

Until now, we've mostly just looked for planets revolving around stars like our own. But stars like TRAPPIST-1 are a lot more common in our galaxy, and that could make planet discovery more frequent.

Scientists are trying to find as many exoplanets as possible. But it's a bit of a numbers game. The planets have to be just the right distance from their star to have a chance of supporting life.

Because ultra-cool dwarfs like TRAPPIST-1 give off less heat, planets can be closer to them and still hold liquid water.

It's possible three of the newly discovered planets have oceans on the surface. NASA has never found that many planets with a chance of life orbiting a single star before.

And after seeing TRAPPIST-1 has a number of Earth-like candidates, scientists might change their approach to where they search for life.

<![CDATA[You Should Be Eating Way More Fruits And Veggies Than You Think]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 09:53:00 -0600
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We all know eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally.

But now some scientists say they know exactly how much of the good stuff we should be eating.

According to a new study led by Imperial College London, eating 10 servings — or a little over 28 ounces — of fruits and veggies every day could significantly lower the risk of many serious health problems and even early death.

As an article on the study notes, one serving, or about 2.8 ounces, of fruit "equals approximately one small banana, apple, pear or large mandarin." For vegetables, the article says, "Three heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables such as spinach, peas, broccoli or cauliflower count as a portion."

That might seem like a lot — the World Health Organization recommends consuming about half that.

SEE MORE: Weekend-Only Workouts Might Be Just As Good As Daily Exercise

But researchers found a link between doubling WHO's recommendation and a 24 percent reduced risk of heart disease, a 33 percent reduced risk of stroke and a 31 percent reduction in premature death.

The study's lead author said in a statement, "It is clear from this work that a high intake of fruit and vegetables hold tremendous health benefits, and we should try to increase their intake in our diet."

Now, not all fruits and vegetables are created equal.

Researchers say apples, citrus fruits and leafy green veggies are best when it comes to preventing heart disease and stroke.

And to reduce the risk of cancer, they recommend chowing down on green and yellow vegetables, like spinach, carrots and peppers.

<![CDATA[North Dakota Evacuates Standing Rock Protest Camp]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 15:26:33 -0600
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The protest camp outside the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site is going up in flames.

Facing a government deadline to evacuate the camp, the remaining protesters set fire to their structures. Some protesters said the fires were ceremonial. 

SEE MORE: Dakota Access And Keystone XL Pipeline Movements Unite Against Trump

Local police have been clearing out camps after North Dakota's governor signed an evacuation order. The order ostensibly protects protesters from the risk of floods caused by melting snow.

Some of the protesters planned to defy the evacuation order, while others moved to a different camp.

The long-delayed pipeline project was revitalized last month after President Trump directed federal agencies to fast track the remainder of the pipeline's approval process.

<![CDATA[Electric Is The Future For Semis, Garbage Trucks And Buses]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 15:23:00 -0600
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Big and medium-sized trucks make up just 4 percent of traffic on U.S. highways, but they're responsible for a whopping 29 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. So let's imagine the U.S. upgraded all those trucks to zero-emission electrics. Vehicle emissions and fuel consumption would both be slashed by more than a quarter.

We might be close to seeing more environmentally friendly semis, garbage trucks and buses on the road.

Nikola Motor Company has been working on the Nikola One, a zero-emission 18-wheeler that gets a range of up to 1,200 miles. It has a 1,000 horsepower engine, a 15-minute refill time and weighs less than many diesel semis. Construction on its network of more than 300 hydrogen-fuel stations is set to begin in 2018. 

Nikola Motor plans to lease the trucks for $5,000-$7,000 per month, and some of the plans include unlimited fuel and free maintenance.

Wrightspeed makes garbage trucks cleaner and quieter. The powertrain company was started by Tesla co-founder Ian Wright, whose specialty is making big electrics more cost-effective. At least 15 Wrightspeed-equipped garbage trucks will be making the rounds in North Bay, California, neighborhoods by the end of this year. 

SEE MORE: Driverless Cars Stay In Their Lane — Even If It Means Hitting Potholes

A modern garbage truck typically costs around $500,000, but Wrightspeed says it can retrofit a truck with an electric powertrain for under $200,000. Wrightspeed also promises thousands of dollars in annual fuel and maintenance savings. 

Other Tesla veterans went on to start an electric bus company called Proterra, and if you live in Seattle, Chicago or Philly, these will start looking familiar pretty soon. 

<![CDATA[SpaceX Tried (And Failed) To Dock Its Cargo Pod On The ISS]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 14:53:00 -0600
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SpaceX launched a cargo pod into space — but it couldn't reach its target.

The Dragon pod took off on Sunday. It was supposed to deliver thousands of pounds of supplies to the International Space Station.

But the spacecraft had to abort its mission after the GPS system noticed an "incorrect value" in data measuring the pod's distance to the ISS dock.

Apparently, the pod was only about three quarters of a mile away from the station when the error happened. It's the second glitch to delay the mission.

SEE MORE: After Its Next Launch, SpaceX Will Probably Only Use Reusable Rockets

The pod was originally supposed to launch Saturday, but a steering problem was found only a few seconds before takeoff.

This is SpaceX's first mission from the Kennedy Space Center since one of its rockets blew up last year. The Falcon 9 rocket exploded during fueling.

Luckily, nothing is wrong with the Dragon; it's in space recalculating how to dock with the ISS, which should happen Thursday.

<![CDATA[Ireland's Flowers Are So Bad 1 Politician Wants The Army To Help]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 13:19:00 -0600
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The Irish army's latest battle might be against flowers.

But these aren't just any flowers. At least one Irish politician has called them "aggressive" rhododendrons.

They have taken over about a third of a national park.

"The rhododendron situation in Killarney National Park has gone so bad that nothing short of calling in the army is going to put it right," deputy Michael Healy-Rae said.

SEE MORE: This Flower Smells Like Rotting, Nasty, Putrid Flesh

Rhododendrons are an invasive species. The plants are hardy in many climates and spread seeds easily. Plus, they can tower up to 25 feet.

The minister overseeing the park says his department has it under control and has spent a lot of money to control the flowers.

So Irish army, you might want to hold off on declaring war for now.

<![CDATA[NASA Announces 7 New Planets]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 12:16:00 -0600
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The universe just got a bit more crowded.

NASA scientists have announced the existence of at least seven small planets orbiting a single cool red dwarf star 40 light years away.

Researchers first saw dips in the star's light as planets passed in front of it back in 2015. Now, with more observations from ground- and space-based telescopes, they've found that six of the planets are similar in size and composition to Earth.

SEE MORE: NASA Scientists Want To Make Pluto Great — Er, A Planet Again

The researchers also determined three of the planets lie in the star's habitable zone. That means they could potentially have oceans of water on the surface. 

It's not clear whether these planets could actually support life — at least for now. Scientists are developing more powerful telescopes to search for water and evidence of life on other worlds. 

<![CDATA[Since Dolly The Sheep, We're More OK With Cloning — Just Not Humans]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 12:00:00 -0600
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Twenty years ago, a sheep named Dolly became an international symbol for one of the most controversial scientific subjects: cloning.

Scientists at the Roslin Institute in Scotland said they successfully cloned the first mammal from an adult cell.

But soon after, people were worried scientists could clone humans. The National Bioethics Advisory Commission said it was "morally unacceptable" to clone a child, and then-President Bill Clinton passed a five-year ban on any research into human cloning.

Since Dolly, scientists have cloned other animals, including cows, chickens, horses and rats, citing their benefit for medicine and agriculture. In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration said meat and milk from cloned animals is as safe as the noncloned variety.

Other scientists have studied ways to save endangered species and even bring back extinct animals using cloning. A team at Harvard University is even trying that with the woolly mammoth.

SEE MORE: Why It Matters That Dolly The Sheep's Cloned 'Sisters' Are Healthier

A Gallup poll found the public has been increasingly OK with animal cloning over the years. But on the whole, human cloning is still considered taboo.

Most of the human cloning arguments center around reproduction. Supporters say it one day could help infertile couples have children. But the majority of scientists and lawmakers still consider it immoral and argue even if they could do it, there's a high chance of abnormalities.

But the public opinion of human cloning is also changing. In 2016, 13 percent said human cloning is moral, a jump of 6 percentage points since 2001.

This might be because of human cloning's potential medical benefits, like growing organs. In a recent study, scientists said they created the first successful human-animal hybrids when they put human cells into a pig. The researchers wanted to test growing human organs inside animals, which could help people who need organ transplants.

But lawmakers and the public are still divided. Experiments like the human-pig hybrid study can't get public funding. It may be a few more decades before we have Dolly, the human clone.

<![CDATA[A Mosquito-Spit Vaccine Could Protect You From Multiple Diseases]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:59:00 -0600
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Researchers are testing a new vaccine they hope will protect humans from a variety of mosquito-transmitted illnesses, including malaria, Zika and West Nile.

But instead of targeting a specific illness, this vaccine protects against the mosquito itself — its saliva, to be exact.

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health are launching a clinical trial of this new vaccine, called AGS-v.

According to researchers, the vaccine is intended to "trigger an immune response" to a mosquito's saliva.

Here's how the NIH says the vaccine works. AGS-v is made up of four synthetic proteins from mosquito salivary glands. 

SEE MORE: Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Could Be Let Loose In Florida

Those proteins should trigger a modified allergic reaction. That will help block potential infection if a person is bitten by a disease-carrying mosquito. 

Researchers are starting a phase-one trial of the vaccine, which is the earliest step in human tests. And if it's successful, it could help save hundreds of thousands of lives.

According to the World Health Organization, mosquitoes are one of the deadliest animals in the world. Malaria alone killed more than 430,000 people in 2015.

As one NIH official said in a press release, "A single vaccine capable of protecting against the scourge of mosquito-borne diseases is a novel concept that, if proven successful, would be a monumental public health advance."

The phase-one clinical trial is expected to wrap up in 2018.

<![CDATA[Good News: Life Expectancy Could Increase In 35 Countries]]> Wed, 22 Feb 2017 10:29:00 -0600
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People around the world could soon start living longer.

A study found in 35 industrialized countries, life expectancy should increase by the year 2030.

Researchers looked at two life points — birth and age 65. The ages help specify when life expectancy is increasing due to improved mother and child health, versus improved health in adults.

Generally speaking, women have longer average lifespans than men, but this new research suggests that gap could be closing.

SEE MORE: Eat Whole Grains To Up Your Chances Of A Long Life

According to the study, males in all 35 countries have an 85 percent chance of increased longevity; women have a 65 percent chance.

The purpose of studying life expectancy is to help countries plan accordingly for pensions and social and health services.

The study says of all populations, one in particular will do better than others: women in South Korea. There's a half chance women there will start living past 90 years old by 2030.

Researchers predict people in the U.S., Greece, Japan, Sweden, Macedonia and Serbia will see the smallest increases in longevity. That can be due to lifestyle choices and a lack of universal health care.

<![CDATA[Fracking Study: Scientists Say More Uniform Spill Reporting Needed]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 21:38:00 -0600
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Fracking is both a popular and controversial way of getting natural gas and oil out of the ground. But a new study shows spills are more common than we thought.

Fracking is a process of pressurizing water and chemicals to crack open bedrock and release trapped oil and natural gas. 

That dirty water worries environmental activists. They say it has the potential to spill or leak and contaminate local water supplies and harm the environment. 

The journal Environmental Science & Technology published a report that analyzed data from four states with major hydraulic fracking operations.  

It found more than 6,600 spills between 2005 and 2014.

That's way up from a study by the Environmental Protection Agency, which only found 457 spills between 2006 and 2012. 

SEE MORE: Trump's New EPA Head Is In The Middle Of An Email Controversy

That discrepancy, in part, is because of different requirements for reporting a spill. 

North Dakota accounted for two-thirds of the 6,600 spills. The state reports spills of 42 gallons or more to the EPA.

Pennsylvania, Colorado and New Mexico were the other states in the report. Colorado and New Mexico report spills of 210 gallons or more. 

About half of the spills were during movement or storage, rather than actual drilling.

And a pro-extraction group makes the point that 70 percent of the North Dakota spills in 2013 happened on the well pad and never touched land or water. 

But the scientists who published the report say the discrepancy in reporting figures illustrates a need for more uniform reporting requirements. 

<![CDATA[New EPA Head Tells Employees To 'Avoid Abuses' In Regulating Process]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 21:35:00 -0600
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New Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt seemed to try to reassure employees in his first speech at the agency Tuesday.

"I believe that we as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment — that we don't have to choose between the two," Pruitt said.

"You can't lead unless you listen. I seek to listen, learn and lead with you to address these issues that we face as a nation," Pruitt said. 

Pruitt was previously Oklahoma's attorney general. In that capacity, he sued the EPA on multiple occasions

Pruitt's nomination drew criticism from democrats and environmental activists due to his doubts about climate change.

 The EPA works to educate the public and sets regulations aimed at reducing the contribution to climate change.

SEE MORE: Trump's EPA Pick Says Something Unexpected About Climate Change

Pruitt also used his speech to lay out some principles he said he hopes the agency follows.

"Process matters, and we should respect that and focus upon that and try to avoid — not try to avoid, but do avoid abuses that occur sometimes. ... We need to be open and transparent and objective in how we do rulemaking and make sure that we follow the letter of the law as we do so," Pruitt said.

His address came the same day the Oklahoma attorney general's office said it abided by a court order to hand over thousands of emails between Pruitt and fossil fuel companies. 

<![CDATA[A New Way To Save The Planet? Leggings Made From Water Bottles]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:14:00 -0600
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These leggings are the ultimate upcycle — they'll have you wearing water bottles.

About 25 recycled water bottles from Taiwan go into each pair of leggings.

The company — Girlfriend Collective — uses clear bottles sans labels and caps. Multiple heating processes change the bottles into thread.

SEE MORE: This Designer Turns Running Shoes Into Protection From Pollution

The plastic is BPA free, and the company uses eco-friendly dyes and fair-trade practices.

A pair of leggings will cost you around $70 — less than some other brands on the market.

The company says it plans to release other activewear items in the near future.

<![CDATA[Protected Land Isn't Keeping African Forest Elephants Safe]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:03:00 -0600
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It turns out elephants aren't safe from poachers even when they are living on protected land. 

In 2004, an estimated 35,000 forest elephants lived in Gabon's Minkébé National Park in Africa. But new research from Duke University says around 80 percent of those elephants had been killed by poachers by 2014.

Forest elephants' tusks are made of an extra-hard ivory that's pinkish in color, making them a prime target for poachers. 

This latest finding seems to build on a 2013 estimate that as many as 100 of these elephants were being killed every day. 

"Studies showing sharp declines in forest elephant populations are nothing new, but a 78 to 81 percent loss in a single decade from one of the largest, most remote protected areas in Central Africa is a startling warning that no place is safe from poaching," Duke University researcher John Poulsen said.

Gabon's government has attempted to stop the poaching of its elephants by creating a National Park Police force and increasing the prison terms for ivory poachers. 

SEE MORE: This Species Of Elephants Will Need 90 Years To Recover From Poaching

The Duke researchers say Gabon needs to work more with law enforcement across its borders. Poachers from its neighbor to the north, Cameroon, play a large part in the illegal ivory trade. 

The northern part of the national park is only about four miles from Cameroon, making it pretty easy for poachers from that country to cross into the park. 

Experts estimate there are now only 75,000 forest elephants living in central Africa.

<![CDATA[NASA Scientists Want To Make Pluto Great — Er, A Planet Again]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:24:00 -0600
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It's been over 10 years, but NASA scientists have heard our cries and want to make Pluto a planet again

The team working on NASA's New Horizons program has submitted a proposal to the International Astronomical Union — the group that demoted Pluto in the first place. The proposal pushes to change the very definition of "planet."

The proposed definition would label any "round objects in space that are smaller than stars" as planets. Of course, that leaves a lot of things labeled planets that clearly aren't, like moons and brown dwarfs.

SEE MORE: There's New Evidence Of A Distant Ninth Planet In Our Solar System

The team notes that "planet" is already astronomical short hand for any planetoid, even moons. The team says they'll leave the nuances to be worked out in the future.

The New Horizons team might have a bit of a bias when it comes to Pluto's planetary status. 

After all, they launched a mission to Pluto just months after it was demoted to dwarf planet in 2006. It took the probe about a decade to reach Pluto, and it sent back some amazing images

<![CDATA[Drought, Floods And Bacteria Are Leading To An Olive Oil Shortage]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:40:00 -0600
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If you cook at home regularly, you might want to listen up: We could be facing a global shortage of olive oil.

The three countries that produce the bulk of olives and olive oil — Spain, Greece and Italy — have been suffering from drought, floods, bugs and bacteria. 

Italian growers are dealing with an outbreak of Xylella fastidiosa — the bacteria has affected more than a million olive trees. Spain had a hot, dry summer, which led to the worst olive harvest in 20 years. 

Prices have been rising. The shortage comes at a time when olive oil is already in high demand, in part due to a huge new market in China. 

From 2006 to 2012, Chinese imports of olive oil increased 30 percent a year. In 2013, China was thought to be the world's largest importer of olive oil. The spike in popularity is attributed to olive oil being healthier than traditional cooking oil.

The shortage hasn't hit U.S. wallets yet, thanks in part to the strength of the American dollar.

SEE MORE: Trump: US Dollar 'Too Strong,' GOP Tax Overhaul 'Too Complicated'

But in places like the U.K., where the uncertainty of Brexit has caused a massive fluctuation in the value of the pound, the shortage is making a bigger impact. By the end of the year, the price of a bottle of olive oil could increase by up to one third.

British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has announced he will close six Italian restaurants he owns in Britain due to the volatility of the pound and its impact on food prices. 

"Olive oil is expensive and very much in the hands of nature," Oliver said. "The really good stuff is worth every penny. You pretty much charge the oil per tablespoon, like you would foie gras or caviar." 

<![CDATA[Are Conservation Efforts Really Saving Pandas?]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:13:00 -0600
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The National Zoo's giant panda Bao Bao is set to travel to China, where she will play a special role in bolstering the giant panda population. 

Thanks to efforts like China's breeding and conservation programs, giant panda populations are finally on the rise after decades of decline.

There are now about 2,000 giant pandas in the wild, an increase of almost 17 percent since 2003. Last September, the International Union for Conservation of Nature changed giant pandas' status from "endangered" to "vulnerable."

SEE MORE: This Panda Is Super Excited About Snowpocalypse 2016

Experts attribute much of the success to China's environmental efforts, including new conservation policies and nature reserves.

China has also studied how to improve care for newborn panda cubs, as well as ways to make artificial insemination for pandas commonplace. This has contributed to greater success in captive breeding

There are now more than 300 pandas in captivity. Researchers say the captive panda population has enough genetic diversity to begin releasing some giant pandas into the wild, helping to keep the species resilient.

<![CDATA[Where To Go To See A Giant Panda In The US]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 14:38:00 -0600
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Giant panda Bao Bao's new home is in Chengdu, China. But there are 12 other giant pandas in the U.S. you can still visit.

There are three pandas at the San Diego Zoo. Bai Yun and Gao Gao are successful panda parents: Xiao Liwu is their fifth cub.

Zoo Atlanta hosts four pandas: Lun Lun, Yang Yang and their 6-month-old twin cubs, Ya Lun and Xi Lun.

SEE MORE: The Panda Population Is Perking Up, But It Still Has A Long Way To Go

Memphis Zoo in Tennessee has two pandas, Ya Ya and Le Le. Keepers have been trying to help them have a cub for more than a decade now.

And in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian National Zoo is still home to three pandas: Mei Xiang, Tian Tian and their cub Bei Bei, who was born in 2015. When he is 4 years old, he will follow his sister Bao Bao to China.

<![CDATA[UN Declares 'Man-Made' Famine In South Sudan Amid Conflict, Inflation]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 08:53:00 -0600
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There is officially a famine in South Sudan, and that means people are already dying of starvation.

Several U.N. agencies warn roughly 100,000 people are currently at risk of starvation, and another 1 million are on the brink of famine

A new report estimates 4.9 million people will be severely food insecure through April 2017. That's a number that could increase to 5.5 million this summer without proper support. Those estimates designate between 42 percent and 47 percent of the population in South Sudan as food insecure.

The root of the problem isn't weather or climate — this crisis is man-made. South Sudan has been riled with conflict for decades. It has also struggled with skyrocketing inflation. The country declared independence from Sudan in 2011, but disputes over issues like oil have kept tensions high.

SEE MORE: How Genocide In South Sudan Could Be Prevented

Various aid convoys have helped reduce the risk of starvation since the beginning of the South Sudanese conflict, but recently the local government and rebels have impeded their relief.

This is the first famine declaration since 2011. In that crisis, an estimated 260,000 people in Somalia died between October 2010 and April 2012.

<![CDATA[Flint Water Might've Made People Sick Again, But Not From Lead]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 15:23:00 -0600
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New evidence suggests city water in Flint, Michigan, caused a bacterial outbreak that killed multiple people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a genetic link between water samples taken from McLaren Flint hospital and phlegm from three people diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease.

Legionnaires' is a type of pneumonia people get from inhaling contaminated water dropletsMore than 70 people in the Flint area have had the illness since the water crisis started in 2014. Twelve have died.

The state of Michigan argues the high number of Legionnaires' cases involving the hospital were due to failures in its private water system, not city water from the river.

SEE MORE: Flint Had Lead In The Water; This Town Has Lead In The Land

But one of the three people the CDC sampled wasn't treated at the hospital.

If bacteria found at the hospital matches a patient who didn't receive services, it's possible that both cases came from somewhere else — like Flint River water.

The discovery marks another public health concern for a city plagued with water problems. In 2015, Flint declared a state of emergency after discovering that aging pipes filled the river with lead.

Officials haven't been able to identify where that third person was exposed to Legionnaires'. A state official told Michigan Live the case still needs a lot of "sleuthing."

<![CDATA[Trump's New EPA Head Is In The Middle Of An Email Controversy]]> Sat, 18 Feb 2017 13:19:00 -0600
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The latest addition to President Donald Trump's Cabinet is facing an email controversy his first day on the job.

Former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is the new director of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The night before the Senate confirmed him, a judge ordered his office to release thousands of emails to and from fossil fuel companies.

An Oklahoma county district judge gave Pruitt until Tuesday to release more than 3,000 emails requested by the Center for Media and Democracy, a watchdog group.

SEE MORE: Michael Flynn Resigns As National Security Adviser

Since 2014, CMD has filed more than eight requests under the Oklahoma Open Records Act to Pruitt's office.

But it only received 411 emails, some which were already publicly available.

Twenty-seven of those emails were part of a 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation that revealed Pruitt presented fracking legislation drafted by Devon Energy, an Oklahoma oil company Pruitt's office has ties to.

Democrats asked Pruitt to turn over the emails as part of his confirmation. Pruitt said no and asked the senators to file their own public records request.

<![CDATA[The Coolest, Weirdest Stuff Humans Put In Space]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:58:00 -0600
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Our space-junk problem is getting a little out of control. Aside from the half million pieces of debris floating around our planet at over 17,000 mph, we've put some weird stuff up there that might not fit your standard definition of junk in space.

For example, there are space burials, but they're not quite like Spock's in "Star Trek." They're more like what actually happened to the show's creator, Gene Roddenberry. His ashes are among the few to leave the planet; his returned to Earth, like most do, but a few don't. Thing is, you can't really scatter ashes up there because we have standards for space cleanliness.

And sometimes, we express ourselves with space junk; a tiny tile of art was rumored to be smuggled to the moon. It has six artists' work, like Andy Warhol's initials. Or did he draw a rocket? Or something else?

It's believed we left something like 96 packets of human excrement on the moon during our Apollo missions. And sometimes, a spacecraft in orbit dumps its space waste, which might look extraterrestrial but is actually just cosmic pee.

The moon has other stuff, too. Just remember it might not always stay how you left it. Apollo 16's Charles Duke left a family picture there, but by now, it's probably entirely black because space radiation will do that.

SEE MORE: Seam Me Up, Scotty: How Spacesuits Evolved From Clunky To Cool

Golfing on the moon is as awesome as it sounds. Alan Shepard, the first American in space, convinced NASA that bringing his collapsible 6-iron on the Apollo 14 mission was worth it. We found out on the moon that a 15,000-yard drive was possible. Yep. Worth it.

Now, if you're doing some work outside a craft orbiting Earth, losing something like a $100,000 tool bag gets a little dicey. From Earth, if you've got the right equipment, it might look like a dot streaking through the sky. But stuff that goes adrift, including escaped space spatulas, comes back toward Earth and burns up in the atmosphere eventually.

So if you're looking for something a bit more permanent, check this out. If scientists are right and in billions of years from now the sun engulfs Earth and all our drifting space junk, we've still got two golden records safely aboard both Voyager probes over 12 billion miles away.

Those records are 12-inch, gold-plated copper discs that have recordings of greetings in 55 languages (just in case aliens speak Latin), songs and sounds (some of them are super creepy) and a slew of epic pictures.

The aliens who find this fragment of our space junk legacy will be super impressed — or incredibly terrified.

<![CDATA[A Form Of Woolly Mammoth Resurrection Might Be Closer Than We Thought]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:58:00 -0600
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A team of scientists at Harvard told The Guardian they're getting close to bringing the woolly mammoth back to life, but not in the way you might expect.

By splicing mammoth genes for features like long, shaggy hair and cold-adapted blood into Asian elephant DNA, the group hopes to create a hybrid creature similar to the extinct giant mammal.

Woolly mammoths disappeared from the planet roughly 4,000 years ago, and their potential return is controversial

SEE MORE: Ancient Mammoth Skeleton Found On Michigan Farm

While Harvard project leader George Church believes resurrecting the mammoth ensures a future for the endangered Asian elephant and could help fight climate change, others are concerned about draining resources for animals that need help now.

Church admits his team still has two years to go before the "mammophant" embryo is even a reality, and several more years after that until the creatures could roam the earth.

<![CDATA[John Glenn Made History — Without A College Degree]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 16:26:00 -0600
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Monday marks 55 years since John Glenn made history, becoming the first American to orbit Earth. He's since been regarded a national hero, and his flight was commemorated in the film "Hidden Figures."

But at the time of the launch, Glenn was missing a big qualification — on paper at least. NASA required its Mercury Seven candidates to have science degrees. Glenn didn't have one. He'd left university to join the Marines before finishing his engineering degree.

SEE MORE: NASA Needs Your Help For A Once-In-A-Lifetime Discovery

His experience as a military pilot more than made up for the missing degree, though. Glenn circled the globe three times aboard the Mercury capsule Friendship 7 before splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean on Feb. 20, 1962.

Today's astronaut selection is a bit more strict when it comes to science credentials. The No. 1 requirement is a degree in science, technology, engineering or math, plus at least three years working in that field. Candidates must also be able to pass the astronaut physical exam, meeting specific standards for height, blood pressure and eyesight.

<![CDATA[The Northern Hemisphere Is Getting Less Snow, And That's A Big Problem]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:49:00 -0600
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Scientists have seen dramatic shifts in when and where snow falls, and the change could mean trouble for hundreds of millions of people.

According to a NASA report, in the Northern Hemisphere, snow cover has shrunk by a million square miles since 1967. 

Snow is vital for water security in some parts of the world. The report says more than 1.2 billion people rely on meltwater from seasonal snowpack and glaciers.

In the western U.S., NASA says melting snow makes up at least 70 percent of water resources, so changes in snowfall change the water supply.

Timing of the snowfall also makes a difference. For example, earlier spring runoff tends to prolong droughts. That's bad news for states like California, which has suffered a multiyear drought.

SEE MORE: A Warming Climate Will Make It Harder To Stay Healthy

Other parts of the world could see similar effects. A recent study found warmer global temperatures may cause the Alps to experience a shorter winter season and lose as much as 70 percent of its snow cover by the end of the century.

While it is still too early to determine this year's average global snow accumulation, scientists are already seeing changes in snowfall patterns. Many of the recent winter storms arrived earlier than average.

But scientists are tracking these changes on Earth and from space. NASA recently launched its SnowEx campaign, which measures not only how much snow is on the ground at any given time, but also how much water is in that snow. The campaign expects its first results in the next couple of years.

<![CDATA[A Warming Climate Will Make It Harder To Stay Healthy]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 15:09:00 -0600
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Climate change is about more than extreme weather and rising sea levels. Scientists think the warming planet will affect your health, too. It will change what we eat, where plants and animals live and even how we interact with one another.

While unchecked climate change is expected to cramp the global food supply, it will also make the food that does grow less nutritious. Crops grown when more CO2 is in the air have less iron, zinc and protein, which isn't good for anyone who depends on them for a balanced diet.

Scientists expect that disease-carrying mosquitoes and ticks will spread to more climates — where people haven't had to deal with infestations before.

SEE MORE: Scientists Could Be Closer To Increasing Global Food Productivity

And analysis of dozens of studies on crime and conflict shows as the climate gets more extreme, conflict is more likely. And this is true whether climate anomalies last for hours or decades, and whether it's two people in conflict, or whole countries.

These are problems we're already seeing, but scientists and activists are busy discussing what can and is being done to make sure these issues don't ever get out of control. They expect any climate-friendly policies we implement now could make us healthier almost immediately.

<![CDATA[Air Pollution Could Be Contributing To Millions Of Premature Births]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 09:34:00 -0600
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Every year, roughly 15 million babies are born prematurely.

And now, scientists think the air we breathe is partially to blame.

Estimates in a new study have linked up to 3.4 million premature births to pregnant women breathing fine particulate matter — or air pollution.

According to the study, the highest numbers of those births are in South and East Asia, the Middle East and some African countries.

SEE MORE: India Is On Its Way To Having The Worst Air Pollution In The World

The study does have limitations. There's not a whole lot of research on preterm births in some highly affected areas. Other factors like poverty, infection, education and psychological health also come into play.

Still, researchers believe a reduction in air pollution in the areas where it's most prevalent could mean fewer babies being born too early.

And that's an important finding. According to the World Health Organization, complications from premature births are the leading cause of death for children under 5.

<![CDATA[A San Francisco Law Makes Rescue Dogs And Cats A Priority]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 09:24:00 -0600
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Soon, pet stores in San Francisco will only be allowed to sell rescue dogs and cats.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to change the city's health code under a proposal from Supervisor Katy Tang.

Now, according to an op-ed Tang and others wrote for the San Francisco Examiner, there are no known pet stores in the San Francisco area that sell dogs or cats.

But under the new rules, local pet stores are prohibited from selling non-rescue dogs and cats as well as puppies and kittens under the age of 8 weeks. The ordinance won't affect responsible breeders.

SEE MORE: Thousands Of Animal Abuse Records Are No Longer Easily Accessible

Officials hope this new legislation will help thousands of animals living in local shelters and act as a "deterrent" for local businesses. They hope it will prevent businesses from selling animals from "irresponsible mass-producing breeders that churn out puppies and kittens as if they were on an assembly line."

San Francisco will join several other cities that have implemented similar ordinances, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Austin.

According to data from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, U.S. shelters take in around 7.6 million animals every year.

<![CDATA[Why Scientists Developed Facial Recognition For Lemurs]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2017 08:07:00 -0600
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All lemurs may look cute and cuddly, but just like humans, no two are the same.

A collaborative team of biologists and computer scientists has developed a facial recognition system for lemurs. They call it LemurFaceID.

The scientists modified human facial recognition software to recognize lemurs based on their face, skin and hair. LemurFaceID could identify individual lemurs with almost 99 percent accuracy.

SEE MORE: Scientists Created Stuttering Mice To Help People Who Stutter

So why would scientists even want lemur facial recognition? It turns out, individual lemurs actually look pretty similar — so similar that different scientists studying the same group might not agree who's who. A computerized system could mean more accurate data, and it's less invasive than catching and tagging the animals.

The more accurate data researchers can get — especially on the endangered lemurs of Madagascar — the better. Studying individuals over long periods is crucial for understanding the animals and their environment. Plus, the team hopes the new technology could work for other species, too.

<![CDATA[Australia And New Zealand Might Not Be Part Of The Same Continent]]> Thu, 16 Feb 2017 21:05:00 -0600
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Australia and New Zealand are part of the same continent, right? Well, maybe not. It turns out there might be a whole continent hidden underneath New Zealand.

Geologists are calling it "Zealandia," and a recently published paper wants it to be recognized as a new continent.

Zealandia probably broke away from Australia around 60 to 85 million years ago, at which point it sank. At their nearest point, the two are only about 15.5 miles apart.

Around 94 percent of the potential continent's nearly 2 million square miles is underwater, so it might be a bit of a battle getting it recognized. 

There's no international body that decides what is or isn't a continent. Other geologists have to accept Zealandia as a continent to make it true.

SEE MORE: Scientists Believe They've Found Proof Of A Long-Lost Continent

But the scientists are certain there's enough evidence to prove that Zealandia deserves to be called Earth's eighth continent. 

Or maybe Earth's seventh continent — geographers and geologists can't seem to agree on the number. Geographers count Europe and Asia as two separate continents, but geologists often count them as a single continent — Eurasia.

<![CDATA[Whether It's To The Moon Or Mars, NASA Wants Astronauts Flying Soon]]> Thu, 16 Feb 2017 16:59:00 -0600
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Whether it's the moon or Mars, NASA just wants to launch more missions. 

That was the consensus Thursday at NASA's first congressional hearing of 2017. It's been more than five years since NASA launched astronauts into space aboard the shuttle, and the agency is chomping at the bit for its next manned mission.

NASA currently plans to launch astronauts into deep space aboard its Orion crew capsule and SLS rocket. But that's not scheduled until at least the 2020s.

While Orion has completed its first test flight, the SLS has yet to launch, and both systems have dealt with budget constraints and slipping deadlines.

SEE MORE: NASA Needs Your Help For A Once-In-A-Lifetime Discovery

But that isn't stopping the agency from pushing for more missions. According to The Washington Post, NASA is exploring the option of adding astronauts to the EM-1 mission — the first integrated flight of the SLS and Orion — scheduled for 2018. That's years before the current schedule for a deep space manned mission.

So what might hold NASA back? Aside from safety concerns or engineering capabilities, a big factor is funding. An audit by the Office of the Inspector General showed software needed for the SLS and Orion launches was more than a year behind schedule and way over budget.

If money is the big problem, it doesn't look like it'll be solved anytime soon. Congress has yet to approve NASA's next budget, but the agency has asked for $3.3 billion for human space exploration — which is less than it got in 2016.

<![CDATA[Why The Endangered Species Act Can Be So Controversial]]> Thu, 16 Feb 2017 14:50:00 -0600
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The Endangered Species Act has saved hundreds of plants and animals. So why have there also been hundreds of attempts to attack the law?

Going back to the beginning, CBS notes the act was created during the Richard Nixon era to keep species alive "no matter the cost."

Depending on how successful you think the act has been, you could consider that mentality noble or misguided. 

Without a doubt, the act has had some famous success stories. The bald eagle wouldn't be around today without it. 

Neither would gray wolves, gray whales, the American alligator or the Florida manatee. 

Roughly 40 percent of species in the U.S. that are listed as endangered have seen their numbers improve under the act. 

But getting species off the list entirely is another issue. Fewer than 50 species have ever recovered enough to be delisted. Currently, over 1,200 species are listed as endangered.

Critics argue if delisting is your definition of success, the act's effects on businesses have been too costly, and it's infringed on states' rights. 

SEE MORE: Sure, Nature Changes The Climate, But Not Nearly As Much As Humans Do

Supporters argue the act hasn't been around long enough for many species to make full recoveries. Instead, they believe success should determined by the number of species it's kept from going extinct. 

From that perspective, the act has been extremely helpful. Only 10 species that were protected by the law have gone extinct. 

Because of these two different ideas of success, some in conservation argue the act shouldn't be repealed, but it should be reworked to make both goals more achievable. 

<![CDATA[Trump Administration Proposes Obamacare Changes To 'Stabilize' Market]]> Thu, 16 Feb 2017 13:50:00 -0600
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The Trump administration has proposed a new rule for Obamacare.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services — which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services — proposed the rule, which would cut the health care law's open enrollment period in half.

It would also tighten special enrollment procedures that allow people to sign up for coverage after the deadline.

The goal here is to make it harder for consumers to "game the system." Insurance companies complain that people wait to enroll until they're sick then drop their coverage after they receive treatment, which drives the insurer's costs up.

And that is forcing anxious companies to either raise their rates or abandon the marketplace completely.

This week, Humana became the first major insurer to pull out of Obamacare for 2018 under President Donald Trump. And others have warned they will follow suit.

SEE MORE: Proposed Republican Health Care Plan Allows States To Keep Obamacare

The CMS says its proposed changes will help "stabilize" the marketplace while the government continues to consider reforming or replacing the law.

The acting administrator of the CMS said in a statement, "This proposal will take steps to stabilize the Marketplace, provide more flexibility to states and insurers, and give patients access to more coverage options. They will help protect Americans enrolled in the individual and small group health insurance markets while future reforms are being debated."

But no one knows when or if a new insurance system will be put in place. Trump promised to quickly repeal and replace Obamacare. But the GOP has hit several roadblocks in its journey to dismantle the law.

The CMS will take public comments on the proposal till March 7. The final rule could go into effect shortly after that.

<![CDATA[The Ocean Is Losing Oxygen; Here's How It's Affecting Sea Life]]> Thu, 16 Feb 2017 11:02:00 -0600
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The ocean is losing oxygen — and that could be really bad for creatures that live there.

Scientists found global oxygen levels dropped over 2 percent in the ocean between 1960 and 2010.

While 2 percent might sound like a small number, it actually has serious implications for creatures of the deep, fisheries and economies that run on the sea.

That's because the number of "dead zones," or areas with extremely low oxygen concentration, are increasing. Without oxygen, macroorganisms — basically any critters you can see without a microscope — can't survive.

SEE MORE: The Ocean Is Too Loud For Whales And Dolphins

The loss of oxygen is attributed primarily to two things: warming water temperatures and ocean stratification.

Warm water can't hold on to oxygen and other gases like cold water can. Warm water is also less dense. And as the ocean's temperature increases near the surface, less water circulates downward.

That stratification isn't so much a problem for fish that live near the surface. But creatures in the deep might not get the oxygen they need.

Over time, fish have to move upward to more oxygen-rich waters, and that leaves them prone to new problems — like overfishing.

It's worth noting the 2 percent drop is a worldwide average and some areas saw a bigger change than others. The researchers predict the trend will continue and that oxygen levels could drop 1-7 percent by 2100.

<![CDATA[NASA Needs Your Help For A Once-In-A-Lifetime Discovery]]> Thu, 16 Feb 2017 10:28:00 -0600
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NASA needs your help searching for new worlds at the edge of our solar system.

The space agency is one of several institutions behind Backyard Worlds, a website where regular people get access to real data. The anomalies you spot could lead to historic discoveries.

Scientists are crossing their fingers that someone can confirm the existence of "Planet 9." That's the nickname for a possible planet larger than Earth that may be just past Pluto. There's more and more evidence it exists, but so far, the evidence has been pretty indirect.

What Backyard Worlds has done is pool months of infrared images of the sky.

Like a flip book, the website gives you short movies made up of a series of images. If an object looks like it's moving, it could be a planet.

SEE MORE: Scientists Upgrading Very Large Telescope To Search For Exoplanets

You might be wondering why NASA doesn't just use computers to do the legwork.

One specialist at the University of California, Berkeley notes certain areas of the sky can mess with search algorithms. For instance, they get tripped up by the vast number of stars in the Milky Way's galactic plane.

Now, there's no guarantee human searches will be successful. But the same Berkeley researcher noted the website is allowing for "once-in-a-century discoveries." And you could be behind those groundbreaking finds.

<![CDATA[Pope Francis And Bernie Sanders Seem To Agree On The Dakota Pipeline]]> Wed, 15 Feb 2017 16:33:00 -0600
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Even Pope Francis seems to be weighing in on the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

The pope met with indigenous people from around the world during the International Fund for Agricultural Development's Indigenous Peoples' Forum. IFAD is a United Nations agency focused on eliminating food insecurity and poverty in developing countries. 

In an open letter released after the forum, the pope highlighted the need "to reconcile the right to development, both social and cultural, with the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories." 

"This is especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth," he added. 

The statement seems especially poignant given ongoing protests over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Native American tribes say the pipeline's path threatens both the water supply and the land around it. 

SEE MORE: Tribes Lose Religious Argument To Halt Dakota Access Pipeline

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders shared the pope's message on Facebook, saying, "Enough is enough. We must fight for a new kind of relationship between the federal government and the Native American community." 

Pope Francis is absolutely right. The Native American people have given us so much, yet they have been lied to, treaties...

Posted by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders on Wednesday, February 15, 2017

<![CDATA[How To Control Our Tiniest Medical Machines]]> Wed, 15 Feb 2017 16:04:00 -0600
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Tiny robotics hold a lot of promise, especially for the medical field. They're less invasive than surgery, and their small size makes them more precise.

And we're getting better at controlling them. Magnetic fields can stop and turn these bots on a dime — with a whole lot of room to spare.

The challenge is controlling individual bots. We'd like to have swarms of micro-bots cooperating to do complex tasks, but that requires magnetic fields fine enough to steer them one at a time.

To do this, scientists with Philips Research created a magnetic field that has a regular weak spot. The strong part of the field holds a whole group of magnetic screws still, while a second magnetic field in the weak spot turns an individual screw. 

SEE MORE: A Robot Made Out Of Stretchy, Electronic 'Octopus Skin'

This demonstration isn't micro-scale yet, but it is promising. As machines get smaller, those rotating magnetic fields are more efficient at moving them around than pushing or pulling on them. The researchers say their system of strong and weak fields could control hundreds of machines simultaneously.

And even if the machines don't scale down immediately, the researchers see possible medical applications for right now. The magnetic screws could deliver precise, adjustable radiation treatments without major surgery or batteries.

<![CDATA[New Document Shows Churchill Contemplated The Existence Of Alien Life]]> Wed, 15 Feb 2017 13:05:00 -0600
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Winston Churchill: army officer, politician ... and now space enthusiast.

newly discovered essay written by Churchill reveals he thought seriously about the likelihood of life on other planets.

Churchill drafted the 11-page article in 1939 when Europe was about to launch into war. Titled "Are We Alone In Space?" Churchill's article assesses the odds that other stars could host planets and contemplates whether those planets may harbor life — 50 years before the discovery of exoplanets. He notes the importance of liquid water and that a planet’s temperature must be in what is often referred to as the "Goldilocks zone" — not too hot, not too cold — to support life.

SEE MORE: If We Ever Do Find Alien Life, Here's How It Might Happen

Churchill concludes that we may never know whether other planets support life due to the vastness of the universe.

But he had strong views on what discovering alien life would mean. Documents released in 2010 claim Churchill classified a report on a UFO sighting because he believed the report would incite panic and shake the public's religious faith.

Whether Churchill actually believed in the existence of aliens or UFOs, his essay shows he was ahead of his time. The presence of liquid water still drives our search for life on other celestial bodies, and astrobiologists continue to comb through the universe, looking for earth-like planets beyond our solar system.

<![CDATA[So You Want To Help Animals Trapped In Conflict Zones; Here's How]]> Wed, 15 Feb 2017 12:11:00 -0600
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When people flee conflict zones, zoo animals are often left behind with little to no food or water. But some organizations are trying to help.

Four Paws is an international nonprofit that brings food, water and medicine to animals after a natural disaster or to those stuck in conflict areas. Depending on the circumstance, it also helps evacuate animals to nearby sanctuaries. You can donate here and can specify which cause.

SEE MORE: Conflicts Aren't Just Dangerous For People; Animals Suffer, Too

The International Fund for Animal Welfare also helps animals recover after a natural disaster or conflict. It has a network of partners around the world. You can donate here or sign one of its petitions.

Kurdistan Organization of Animal Rights Protection helps protect domestic and wild animals in Iraq and the Kurdistan region. Volunteers have helped feed and transfer animals in Iraq's Mosul Zoo. To donate to KOARP, email

<![CDATA[India's Record Satellite Launch Is Also A Call To Big Businesses]]> Wed, 15 Feb 2017 10:44:00 -0600
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In one fell swoop, India's space agency broke a world record and gave big business something to think about. 

The Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO, successfully launched 104 satellites from a single rocket on Wednesday. That's almost 70 more satellites than Russia's previous record in 2014. 

In reality, India launched one big satellite and 103 "nano satellites." Pretty much of all of those were from other countries, like Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S.  

And that's kind of the point. Many note India is trying to capture more of the space market where putting commercial satellites into orbit is a multi-billion-dollar business. 

It's similar to what Elon Musk and SpaceX are known for with their Falcon 9 rocket. 

But while SpaceX is a cheaper option by industry standard's, India's space agency could become a steal

The cost of the rocket India used on Wednesday is about a third the cost of the Falcon 9. 

SEE MORE: After Its Next Launch, SpaceX Will Probably Only Use Reusable Rockets

And the ISRO has gained popularity by charging companies about 60 percent of what other space agencies bill.

Low labor costs are a big reason India's launches are cheaper. Aerospace engineers there can earn $1,000 a month –– just a fraction of what their salaries could be if they worked in the U.S. or Europe. 

Somewhat like SpaceX, the ISRO is developing reusable rocket technology to cut costs further. With that technology, it hopes to charge companies 10 percent of what it has been.

<![CDATA[India Is On Its Way To Having The Worst Air Pollution In The World]]> Wed, 15 Feb 2017 09:29:00 -0600
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It's official: India could soon have the deadliest air pollution in the world.

Air pollution in India has been linked to nearly 1.1 million premature deaths per year. Right now, that's roughly the same as China. But it probably won't stay that way.

In the past five years, government regulation in China has helped level off the number of deaths and even started a downward trend.

SEE MORE: India's Growing Economy Leaves Behind Infrastructure And Education

But India's stats don't look as great. From 2010 to 2015, the number of premature deaths from air pollution increased from almost 960,000 to more than a million.

That's because of weak government regulation, population growth and a heavy reliance on coal for energy.

Still, India isn't the only place with a pollution problem. In the Western world, Mexico CityLondon and Paris have had public health concerns, too.

And The Guardian found in at least 15 cities across the world the danger of 30 minutes of outdoor cycling outweighs the benefits of exercise altogether.

<![CDATA[Moon Or Mars: Where To?]]> Tue, 14 Feb 2017 16:13:00 -0600
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NASA has been training astronauts and building the spacecraft that will take them to Mars. But there are signs the Trump administration wants NASA to put astronauts back on the moon instead.

Politico reports that on Jan. 23, Charles Miller, a member of the new administration's transition team at NASA, sent an email to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Congressman Robert Walker, claiming the White House would approve a new strategy for the agency.

The strategy targets three main goals: building privately owned and operated space stations, focusing on economic development in space and launching a "rapid and affordable" return to the moon by 2020.

Just days later, Rep. Bill Posey introduced a bill to Congress titled the Reasserting American Leadership in Space Act, which calls for NASA to plan a return to the moon and maintain a constant human presence on our nearest celestial neighbor.

NASA's first congressional hearing of the year might also emphasize a return to the moon. Three of the four speakers have been involved in moon-related missions, and two of the speakers, Jack Schmitt and Lt. Gen. Thomas Stafford, are former Apollo astronauts.

But there might also be some resistance to changing the plan. Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have stressed the importance of avoiding major disruptions to NASA's programs.

SEE MORE: Gene Cernan Really Wanted Us To Return To The Moon

There's a tendency for NASA's priorities to get shifted with every new administration. In 2010, former President Barack Obama canceled the Bush-era Constellation program, which had planned a return to the moon but was over budget and behind schedule.

Obama instead called for NASA to establish a mission to Mars, but the new priorities meant NASA wouldn't have a vehicle to send humans into space after the shuttle program ended in 2011.

No final plans have been announced by the new administration, which has yet to appoint a new NASA head. But the Feb. 16 hearing might shed some light on NASA's next move.

<![CDATA[Google's New Doodle Uses An Adorable Game To Send A Serious Message]]> Tue, 14 Feb 2017 10:04:00 -0600
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Google has a message this Valentine's Day, and it's not political.

Instead, the search giant is hoping we all enjoy its new Doodle — an online game where players help a scaly mammal called a pangolin reach its true love.

The cartoon version is pretty adorable, as are the real-life creatures. But Google is also trying to raise awareness for pangolins, the world's most-trafficked mammal.

Their scales and meat are in high-demand, especially in China where they are used in traditional medicine.

All eight pangolin species, which span Asia and Africa, are threatened; two are listed as critically endangered.

SEE MORE: China Announces Largest-Ever Pangolin Smuggling Bust

Change is already happening. Last year, an international ban against trade of any type of pangolin was put in place.

But Google has done more than just raise awareness. A while ago, the company gave the World Wildlife Fund a grant to develop a new camera technology to help catch poachers.

Since the doodle launched Feb. 11, Google searches for pangolins have increased, and those searches have been popular in Bangladesh, the Philippines, Ireland and the U.S.

Google is featuring the Doodle before World Pangolin Day on Feb. 18.

<![CDATA[Sure, Nature Changes The Climate, But Not Nearly As Much As Humans Do]]> Tue, 14 Feb 2017 09:05:00 -0600
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Humans are changing the climate 170 times faster than natural forces, according to new research from The Australian National University.

Natural forces include things like the intensity of the sun, volcanoes and changes in Earth's orbit. Those have only increased the global temperature rates by 0.01 degrees Celsius per century.

SEE MORE: Al Gore Is Making Sure The CDC's Climate Change Conference Happens

But human-caused greenhouse gas emissions over the past 45 years have bumped up the rate of the global temperature rise to 1.7 degrees Celsius per century.

Greenhouse gas emissions have implications on ecosystems worldwide. Last year, the Great Barrier Reef experienced its worst coral bleaching ever recorded.

Sea ice hit record lows at both poles in November. And climate change could drive about 1 in 6 animal species to extinction by 2100.

The researchers say the human impact on global warming is so strong that nature's effect is pretty much zero.

<![CDATA[Scientists Screw Up And Create Mice That Can't Form Coke Habit]]> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 19:51:37 -0600
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Scientists in Canada were trying to create a mouse that got addicted to cocaine easily. They got the exact opposite.

They ended up with a mouse they just couldn't give a coke habit too — and they tried. 

The mice were engineered to have more of a kind of protein that's associated with learning. Studies have shown humans with more of the protein are more susceptible to drug addiction.

SEE MORE: How Mouse Embryos Showed Scientists Reproduction Is Possible In Space

But these mice seemed to have so much of it that it blocked certain connections between brain cells. That meant the mice couldn't associate cocaine and pleasure, preventing an addiction from forming.

The study could someday lead to new ways of treating addiction, but a lot more testing will need to be done first. 

<![CDATA[Pollution Can Affect Even The Most Remote Ecosystems In Big Ways]]> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 19:36:00 -0600
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Humans have visited the deepest part of our planet, the Mariana Trench, only twice: once in 1960, and again in 2012.

Yet the trench — a nearly 7-mile deep rift in the Pacific — appears to be pretty polluted. Some animals there have contamination levels similar to what you'd see in highly polluted industrial areas. They also contain toxins banned in the 1970s.

The pollutants seem to concentrate thanks to gravity and the food chain. As animals who were contaminated near the surface die and sink to the bottom, the toxins build up in the ecosystem.

The toxins are called Persistent Organic Pollutants. They can cause birth defects and developmental problems in both animals and people. The most infamous example of this type of toxin is probably the pesticide DDT.

SEE MORE: This Company Turns Air Pollution Into Ink

The same kind of pollutants can be found on land, too. A 2016 study found that polar bears — already at risk because of melting arctic ice — were consuming the toxins through their mother's milk. 

Now, it's beginning to look like many remote ecosystems are becoming a sink for pollutants. Over time, these toxins seem to be concentrating in more remote areas of the globe. 

<![CDATA[Tribes Lose Religious Argument To Halt Dakota Access Pipeline]]> Mon, 13 Feb 2017 17:21:00 -0600
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A federal judge has struck down a request by two Native American tribes to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

The Cheyenne River Sioux and Standing Rock tribes recently added a religious freedom component to their legal argument against the oil pipeline that would go underneath the tribes' water supply. 

The tribes argue the oil pipeline will taint the religious purity of their water supply, placing a burden on their ability to exercise their religion. 

SEE MORE: Army Corps Of Engineers Greenlights Dakota Access Pipeline

U.S. district judge in Washington, D.C., rejected the tribes' request for an immediate temporary restraining order on the project. 

But he said he'll reconsider the pipeline before a hearing Feb. 26, and he promised to rule on the issue before the pipeline is ever used for oil.

<![CDATA[Why This Squid Has Mismatched Eyes]]> Sun, 12 Feb 2017 20:38:00 -0600
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Deep in the ocean, you'll run into some pretty interesting creatures. Their strange features help them survive in their cold, dark world. Take the cockeyed squid, for example.

With one normal eye and one giant, bulging eye, it drifts through the sea some 200 to 1000 meters below the surface in a region called the "twilight zone." The sunlight that reaches these depths is so dim that sometimes the bioluminescence of other sea creatures is brighter. The cockeyed squid evolved to spot both of these light sources. That's why one eye is bigger than the other.

SEE MORE: This Simple Sea Creature Might Have Been Earth's First Animal

In a recent study, biologist Kate Thomas found the large eye looks upward. The squid uses it to search for shadows of other sea creatures against the sunlight. Its small eye looks down at the deeper, darker water and spots bioluminescent flashes.

Thomas used computer models to show that increasing the size of the upward facing eye greatly improves the squid's sensitivity to sunlight. But increasing the size of the downward facing eye has little affect on its sensitivity; it's too dim down there to see anything more clearly.

So, the cockeyed squid might look funny, but it may have evolved those mismatched eyes to save energy.

<![CDATA[Why Do Whales Beach Themselves? Scientists Have A Few Theories]]> Sun, 12 Feb 2017 13:39:00 -0600
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Hundreds of pilot whales managed to return to the water after being stranded on a New Zealand beach.

About 416 whales were stranded Friday; many got free but were then restranded. Hundreds of whales died. It was the third largest mass stranding in New Zealand history.

But how do whales and dolphins — who are naturally expert navigators — end up getting beached?

Individual animals will strand themselves for simple reasons, including illness, injury and old age.

But mass strandings — like those in New Zealand — are a bit more mysterious.

Humans might have a hand in some whale strandings. Loud sonar can cause them to flee and beach themselves.

SEE MORE: The Ocean Is Too Loud For Whales And Dolphins

But other factors could play a role as well. Whales and dolphins are, for the most part, social creatures. And some species follow a leader, which could lead them to shore.

Environmental factors could also be to blame. Scientists think changes in the Earth's magnetic field could disorient them. And red tides — poisonous red algae blooms — might have been responsible for stranding over 300 whales in Chile in 2015.

<![CDATA[Thousands Of Animal Abuse Records Are No Longer Easily Accessible]]> Sat, 11 Feb 2017 16:00:00 -0600
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Thousands of animal abuse records have disappeared from the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.

The USDA says the inspection reports — which detail cases of mistreatment, death and injuries at labs, zoos, animal breeders and factory farms — were removed because of privacy concerns.

Those records have been public for decades, and sensitive information is redacted in files available to the public. So the move has many asking: Why are privacy concerns now an issue?

Critics claim pressure from industries that exploit animals led to the removal. They're accusing those industries of trying to cover up indiscretions.

Journalists and other watchdogs have used the files to publicize instances of abuse and help change legislation surrounding animal welfare.

But some businesses that rely on animals argue the public files push consumers to unfairly target or avoid certain companies.

The documents will still be available through Freedom of Information Act requests, but those can take years to come through.

<![CDATA[Trump's First Weeks Prioritize Energy Over Environment]]> Fri, 10 Feb 2017 20:33:00 -0600
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Oil companies are winning big under President Trump. The environment is not.

Trump gave the green light to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

He signed an executive action expediting environmental review for infrastructure projects.

Trump nominated a climate change doubter to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

The House voted to repeal a rule limiting methane emissions from drilling on public lands.

SEE MORE: 'Data Rescuers' Are Stockpiling A Ton Of US Climate Info

The Senate and House repealed the Stream Protection Rule, which blocked coal mining companies from polluting streams and rivers.

The Senate and House repealed a transparency rule that forced oil companies to disclose payments to foreign governments.

And we're only a few weeks in.

<![CDATA[How To Solve The Nuclear Waste Problem: Put It Back To Work]]> Fri, 10 Feb 2017 16:01:00 -0600
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Nuclear power's biggest problem is the radioactive waste it leaves behind. But we may soon be able to put that waste to use — and also make it safer.

 The U.S. alone has about 70,000 metric tons of nuclear waste, and right now, we just store it until it isn't as dangerous. 

What we could do is recycle it into more fuel. Nuclear engineers are working to process waste so it can be re-used in newer plants. This would make nuclear power more efficient and would produce less waste. And that waste wouldn't be nearly as radioactive as what we store today.

Or we could use it to power spacecraft. Labs in Britain have processed nuclear waste into fuel that could replace the plutonium deep space probes use. That's attractive because plutonium isn't easy to come by — but you do need more of the new fuel for the same amount of power.

SEE MORE: The US Is Down To Just One Major Nuclear Fusion Lab

Or we could use diamonds to turn waste into batteries. Last year, researchers wrapped nuclear waste in man-made diamond. When the diamond was exposed to the radiation from that waste, it produced electricity.

It wasn't a lot of electricity, but these batteries could last for thousands of years. What's more, the diamond coating sealed most of the radiation inside, making it less radioactive than the average banana.

<![CDATA[Archaeologists May Have Just Found Another Dead Sea Scrolls Cave]]> Fri, 10 Feb 2017 10:15:00 -0600
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For the first time in decades, archaeologists say they have found another cave they believe once held Dead Sea Scrolls.

A team of scientists was excavating a cave near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea when they discovered pretty much everything except a completed scroll.

The long list of uncovered items includes smashed jars, a piece of blank parchment, cloth used to wrap scrolls and a leather strap that would have bound a scroll together.

Archaeologists say the cave was most likely looted, considering they also found a pair of pickax heads from the 1950s.

SEE MORE: The Delicate Science Of Reading Ancient Scrolls That Can't Be Opened

As one of the team members told The Washington Post, "Thank God they took only the scrolls. They left behind all the evidence that the scrolls were there."

Until now, scientists thought only 11 caves had contained Dead Sea Scrolls, which are historically, religiously and linguistically important.

The first scrolls were discovered in the late 1940s. It's unclear who wrote them, but some scholars believe a Jewish sect known as the Essenes may be responsible.

Archaeologists say they will continue excavating in the desert northwest of the Dead Sea in the hopes of finding more ancient treasures.

<![CDATA[Trump Administration Delays Listing Bee Species As Endangered]]> Thu, 09 Feb 2017 18:36:00 -0600
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The rusty patched bumblebee would've officially been designated an endangered species Friday, but the Trump administration has delayed the listing until March 21.

The White House says the delay gives them time to review "questions of fact, law and policy." The move is in line with an order by the administration that freezes some regulations issued by the Obama administration.

Two of the biggest threats to the rusty patched bumblebee are monocropping — when farmers plant the same crop year after year — and pesticides. 

Which has some agricultural groups worried that listing the bee as endangered might make it hard for them to fully utilize their farmland. 

SEE MORE: A Zoo Lost Its Endangered (And Adorable) Red Panda

But the senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council says the delay "has put the rusty patched bumblebee back on the path to extinction."

The bumblebee species used to be fairly common in the U.S., but it's lost 90 percent of its old range in the past 20 years.

<![CDATA[Want To Fight Smog? Try Covering A Building In Plants]]> Thu, 09 Feb 2017 14:57:00 -0600
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China's smog problem isn't getting better. But covering tall buildings in plants is one way to try to fix it.

By the time the buildings are finished next year, they'll be home to 1,100 trees and 2,500 other plants.

The company behind the project, Stefano Boeri Architetti, estimates all those plants will soak in 25 tons of carbon dioxide a year and release 60 kilograms of oxygen daily.

SEE MORE: China's Smog Could Make It More Difficult To Fight Off Some Infections

Similar "vertical forests" exist in other cities.

And while that sounds like enough to make somewhat of a dent, some environmentalists have mentioned that new construction creates a lot of carbon dioxide. And later on, the plants will need upkeep and water.

As for their uses — one building will feature a variety of attractions like a museum and private club. The other will be a hotel.

Would you like to see a building like this constructed in a city near you? Let us know on our social channels.

<![CDATA[This Company Turns Air Pollution Into Ink]]> Thu, 09 Feb 2017 13:24:00 -0600
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If you've ever wanted to draw something using air pollution, here's your chance.

A company called Graviky Labs has figured out a way to turn air pollution into ink.

It works by attaching a device that collects pollutants to the tailpipe of a car. The company says 45 minutes of pollution can make 30 milliliters of ink.

The researchers then remove the heavy metals and carcinogens, leaving behind carbon pigment. After that, the pigment is made into various inks and paints.

SEE MORE: Part Of London Passed Its Annual Pollution Level For 2017 — In 5 Days

Right now, the ink comes in two forms: felt-tip pens and a bottle of Air-Ink. Eventually, the Graviky team wants to branch into spray paints and oil-based paints.

Companies are finding more and more ways to make use of air pollution. Last year, an artist unveiled a smog tower in Beijing that sucks up pollution and turns it into jewelry.

<![CDATA[When It Comes To Sexy Dancing, Science Says It's All In The Hips]]> Thu, 09 Feb 2017 13:22:00 -0600
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Scientists say they've found the most attractive dance moves for women, so pay attention if you're going out this weekend.

Psychologists in the U.K. used 3-D motion-capture technology to record the dance movements of 39 female college students. Then they had plain digital avatars act out the moves and asked 200 people to rate each dance.

The study surveyed both heterosexual males and heterosexual females, but both groups agreed on what makes for a good dance: Moving the hips, thighs and arms were rated as most attractive — so, basically the dance from "Gangnam Style."

SEE MORE: How To Nail Those Viral Dances At Your Holiday Party

This same team of researchers did a similar study with men. The scientists found that unlike women, the sexiest dance moves for dudes involved the upper body.

So why do scientists care about sexy dance moves? Besides the fact that dancing is just plain fun, researchers say dance has an evolutionary significance for human behavior. And studying it tells scientists about some ways we attract partners.

But don’t worry about that go-to move. You're already killing it with that moonwalk.

<![CDATA[Accidentally Discovered Gel Might Help Bees Pollinate Plants]]> Thu, 09 Feb 2017 11:02:00 -0600
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Velcro, Penicillin and the microwave are proof that scientific progress sometimes happens by mistake. Now, a new, sticky gel can be added to that list — one that could someday be used to pollinate plants.

This hairy, sticky, wax-like gel was originally created to be an electrical conductor, but the researcher who created it deemed it a failure. Now, a decade later, he may have found another use for it.

Inspired by the recent decline in honeybee populations, Dr. Eijiro Miyako explored whether the gel was just sticky enough to pick up and deliver pollen. He took horse hair — which mimics the fuzzy exterior of bees — coated it with the gel and attached it to the underside of a tiny, four-propeller drone. He found that the robot could absorb and distribute pollen as it moved from flower to flower.

SEE MORE: Backing Off These Pesticide Restrictions Could Be Bad For Bees

The idea is this pollen-carrying gel could eventually be attached to something like Harvard University's RoboBee, which mimics how bees fly and creates swarms of artificial pollinators.

But for now, that technology is still very distant. Some scientists predict we won't see artificial pollinators in the field for at least another 20 years.

<![CDATA[This Burger Is Eco-Friendly — But With The Taste You Know]]> Wed, 08 Feb 2017 15:21:00 -0600
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These vegetarian burgers taste, feel and even bleed like your typical beef patty. 

Creators use heme — which is the same molecule in your blood — to make the patties "bleed." As NPR explains, "By taking the soybean gene that encodes the heme protein and transferring it to yeast, the company has been able to produce vast quantities of the blood-like compound."

Compared with their animal counterparts, these burgers require 95 percent less land and 74 percent less water. And they emit 87 percent less greenhouse gas.

When people cut back on meat, it can help the environment. But studies have shown only about 6 percent of Americans realize this.  

SEE MORE: Arnold Schwarzenegger Wants China To Quit Pigging Out On Meat

And while some people will likely have concerns over their food being made in a lab, the burgers are free of hormones, antibiotics and artificial ingredients.

Would you try one of these burgers? Let us know on any of our social channels. 

<![CDATA[What Melting Arctic Ice Sheets Could Do To The World's Ocean Currents]]> Wed, 08 Feb 2017 13:30:00 -0600
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Our planet's climate follows a "seesaw pattern" of warming and cooling. But a new study says that pattern is being disrupted.

In this system, freshwater from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets flows into the Atlantic Ocean, cooling the water. The cooler water is more dense, and it sinks and flows south. Warm water from the Southern Hemisphere flows northward, creating the Gulf Stream current.

Researchers studied an ice core from the East Antarctic ice sheet that gave them 720,000 years of climate data. They found the Gulf Stream weakens as more freshwater flows into the Atlantic Ocean, which could have severe effects on the global climate.

SEE MORE: Climate Change Is Freaking People Out Enough To Not Want Kids

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a weakened Gulf Stream could influence rainfall patterns and temperatures over North America and Western Europe.

And while some researchers study a weakened Gulf Stream, others are trying to predict when it might collapse. In a 2016 study, researchers said it could happen in 300 years if carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere doubled. Other scientists agree a collapse might be here sooner than we think, especially as the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets shrink.

Scientists are working on better ways to measure ice sheet melt. NASA researchers built a map that shows what parts of the Greenland sheet are thawed. Knowing whether that ice rests on wet ground or dry, frozen bedrock is key to predicting how this ice will flow in the future — and how our planet will fare in the face of climate change.

<![CDATA[Check Out The Trailer For 'Bill Nye Saves The World']]> Wed, 08 Feb 2017 11:11:00 -0600
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Bill Nye, famous for teaching a generation of kids about science (and for one very catchy theme song), has a new show in the works. "Bill Nye Saves the World" will tackle a different concept in each episode and break it down with experts, panels and — knowing Bill Nye — probably some cool experiments. 

The show comes to Netflix April 21.

<![CDATA[Watch Hydras Regrow Their Entire Bodies]]> Tue, 07 Feb 2017 11:05:00 -0600
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Water-dwelling hydras have the unique ability to constantly regenerate their cells. They can rebuild their entire bodies from tiny pieces, and they don't appear to age.

We used to think chemical signals told them how to regrow. But new research published in Cell Reports shows even tiny bits of hydra hold a physical blueprint for what their bodies are supposed to look like.

Hydras get their shape from a network of stringy proteins called a cytoskeleton. Researchers found that if even a tiny fragment of hydra has some of its cytoskeleton, its fibers act as a template for lining up new cells so the animal grows into the proper shape.

But if this template gets messed up, so does the end result. When researchers cut hydras into tiny rings, clusters of cytoskeleton overlapped, and the hydra regrew with extra heads.

SEE MORE: Meet The Tiny, Immortal Hydra, Which Rips Itself Open To Eat

The stronger the alignment forces from the cytoskeleton, the better. When researchers gave a ring slice of hydra a stability boost with a piece of stiff wire, it regenerated with just one head like it's supposed to.

Researchers think watching hydras regenerate could help them better understand how physical forces and chemical signals work together to grow cells. It could be useful insight for us humans — our own muscle cells have cytoskeletons, too. 

<![CDATA[As A Star Slowly Dies, The Rotten Egg Nebula Is Born]]> Tue, 07 Feb 2017 10:21:00 -0600
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Thank god you're 5,000 light-years away because this is called the Rotten Egg Nebula.

It's real name is the Calabash Nebula, but it gets the nickname from the large amount of sulfur it has.

This new photo from NASA and the European Space Agency shows the star changing from a red giant to a planetary nebula.

In layman's terms, it's dying –– just very, very slowly. It still has 1,000 years before it's done becoming a planetary nebula.

SEE MORE: An Asteroid Possibly Worth $10,000 Quadrillion Is NASA's New Mission

Although it looks small in pictures, the Rotten Egg Nebula is 8 trillion miles long. Yellow gas fired from the central star is currently moving at over 620,000 miles per hour.

Our own sun will eventually go through the same process. Luckily, it's scheduled 7 billion to 8 billion years from now.

Hopefully it's a less stinky ordeal. Fingers crossed for a cooler name, too, like the Tarantula Nebula, the Cat's Paw Nebula or the Bubble Nebula.

<![CDATA[Japan's First Attempt To Clean Up Space Didn't Go So Well]]> Mon, 06 Feb 2017 17:18:00 -0600
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Japan's experiment to try to clean up space has ended in failure

In early December, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched a craft taking supplies to the International Space Station. On board was also an experimental magnetized tether meant to gather space junk in orbit around Earth.

But the tether didn't deploy. So on Sunday, the craft made a controlled deorbit — burning up in Earth's atmosphere on its way down.

Removing orbital debris is an admirable goal. Over 100 million pieces of junk have been left in orbit since we started exploring space about 60 years ago. All that trash poses a major threat to anything else we send up there. 

SEE MORE: After Its Next Launch, SpaceX Will Probably Only Use Reusable Rockets

This experiment was the first in-space test for this kind of technology. But the U.K. is hoping to test other ways of removing space debris in 2017, and the European Space Agency has proposed similar tests for 2023.

<![CDATA[A Puerto Rican Neighborhood Found A Way To Avoid Gentrification]]> Mon, 06 Feb 2017 15:19:00 -0600
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How do you revive a community without gentrifying it? A canal neighborhood in Puerto Rico might have figured it out.

Caño Martín Peña residents have dealt with flooding and polluted water for decades. But any plan to dredge its canal and fix those problems might raise the value of the land, which could displace low-income residents.

community land trust has paved the way for a solution. The land trust means the people of Caño Martín Peña now collectively own and govern 200 acres that can't be sold.

It's been so successful in Puerto Rico that experts think it could work for low-income communities worldwide. 

Puerto Rico is about $70 billion in debt, so the expensive task of dredging its troublesome canal keeps getting postponed. But that hasn't stopped Caño Martín Peña residents from reaping other benefits from their land trust.

SEE MORE: This Is How Disastrously Bad Puerto Rico's Economy Is

Since the land trust was established in the early 2000s, one of its biggest accomplishments has been relocating people displaced by floods.

It's also created entrepreneurship and literacy programs, and it's encouraged residents to be more involved in local government. The neighborhood is fighting food insecurity and promoting sustainability through community gardening.

There are some unresolved challenges. The land trust isn't fully operational yet, but once it is, it's supposed to be mostly self-funded. Right now, it gets subsidies from both the public and private sector for specific projects, and it relies heavily on volunteer work.

David Ireland is the director of the Building and Social Housing Foundation. He told The Guardian, "While not a guarantee, [the land trust] offers a level of protection, and gives a community a fighting chance to stay where they belong."

The hope is that as the area improves, the land value will increase and the land trust can keep reinvesting in itself.

For more information about the work that's gone into the Caño Martín Peña land trust, check out the documentary "Cada Vez Que Llueve."

<![CDATA[This Year's Puppy Bowl Includes 3 Adoptable Pups With Disabilities]]> Sun, 05 Feb 2017 15:05:00 -0600
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Regardless of how you feel about football, the appeal of the Puppy Bowl is undeniable. You've got adorable dogs basically just running around for 90 minutes, with a break for kittens during halftime. But it's not just cute — all 78 of the Puppy Bowl players are up for adoption, and Animal Planet uses the event to advocate for adopting shelter dogs. 

This year, the event will also feature three special-needs dogs, including this little three-legged pup named Lucky:

Because, as the "We Rate Dogs" Twitter account reminds us, all dogs are good dogs.

You can watch the Puppy Bowl live here, just sign in with your TV provider.

<![CDATA[France's Rising Political Star Wants America's Best Minds]]> Sun, 05 Feb 2017 10:49:00 -0600
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The rising star in France's presidential election doesn't have to win over American hearts, but he's trying to steal some of its best minds.  

During a rally Saturday, Emmanuel Macron called out to American climate and health scientists, offering them a new home in France. 

The comment was also a dig at President Donald Trump, who he argued is stifling scientific progress. 

Trump is a climate change doubter, and some in that field fear he'll cut funding for research. 

SEE MORE: Were Badlands National Park's Climate Change Tweets A Dig At Trump?

Macron supports climate change research, and he pledged to give researchers more resources. A new opinion poll shows he's leading the pack for the first round of France's election in April. 

<![CDATA[Mexico City's Car Restrictions Aren't Working Like They Should]]> Sat, 04 Feb 2017 16:04:00 -0600
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Banning cars in cities with high pollution might not fix the problem. Just look at Mexico City.

A program in the city called Hoy No Circula is supposed to cut down air pollution levels and says residents can't drive their cars for one weekday each week.

In 2008, that program was expanded to Saturdays. The goal was to cut air pollution rates by 15 percent — a lot for a city with some of the world's highest pollution levels. But a new study shows that isn't exactly working.

There are a couple reasons. First, people aren't using public transportation on the days they can't drive. Instead, they're just carpooling.

SEE MORE: Driverless Cars Stay In Their Lane — Even If It Means Hitting Potholes

Geography is also a challenge. Mexico City is between mountains, which can trap pollutants in the city.

Geography aside, the research could be an important case study for other cities trying to decrease pollution by limiting the cars on the road — think Paris or Madrid.

The World Health Organization reports outdoor air pollution is linked to around 3 million deaths a year worldwide. Mexico City says it wants to get rid of all diesel vehicles by 2025 to protect its residents' health.

<![CDATA[NASA's Commercial Crew Flights Are Probably Delayed — Again]]> Sat, 04 Feb 2017 15:29:00 -0600
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We could be waiting even longer to send crews to orbit on commercial rockets. A draft government report suggests SpaceX and Boeing are probably going to miss the 2018 deadlines set late last year.

Officials familiar with the unreleased report say both contractors still have work to do to meet safety requirements for manned missions. Boeing is having trouble with the parachutes that will land its Starliner capsule, and SpaceX has had problems with its rocket engines for months. The fuel pumps are prone to cracking.

SEE MORE: Congress Could Make A Manned Mission To Mars Mandatory

SpaceX says its engines can take the damage, but NASA isn't going to risk its crews. SpaceX will redesign the pumps before the Falcon 9 carries astronauts — and the changes could push its launch schedule back even more.

For now, U.S. astronauts will keep hitching rides on expensive Russian rockets, which is getting less popular on Capitol Hill. Lucky for NASA, it has a contractor friend who also works with Russia; it could buy seats through 2019 from Boeing.

<![CDATA[Turns Out Whales Don't Jump Out Of The Water Just For Fun]]> Sat, 04 Feb 2017 11:55:00 -0600
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Scientists might have have figured out why some whales leap out of the ocean.

It's pretty common for whales to slap their fins and tails on the surface, but hurling a 33-ton body out of the water takes a lot of energy.

And because whales fly out of the ocean during migration when a lot of them fast, breaching must be important.

Turns out, several groups of humpback whales off the Australian coast held the answer. Researchers studying the whales think the mammals can communicate by flying out the water.

The results of the study were published in the journal Marine Mammal Science.

The whales studied reportedly breached more often or were more likely to breach when they were farther apart — a couple miles apart.

SEE MORE: The Ocean Is Too Loud For Whales And Dolphins

The team thinks that has to do with background ocean noise. From far away, it'd be a lot easier to hear a giant thud than a smacking tail slap.

That theory seems to be an "aha" moment for some in the scientific community. A biologist not affiliated with the study told Hakai Magazine it makes "perfect sense." 

"If there's a lot of noise, it might be easy to drown out," he said. "Leaping up in the air and splashing down is equivalent to the really keen kid in a classroom jumping up and down waving his arms."

Whales have a lot of ways to communicate with their pods. Scientists have tracked humming, grunts and even special clicking patterns the groups use to track or find food.

They've even detected regional "accents." A study from 2016 found a group of sperm whales in the Caribbean used distinct calls other pods around the world don't make.

But up to this point, breaching has been pretty mysterious. Turns out, it's likely a flashy way for the massive creatures to say "hello."

<![CDATA[Congress Now Wants To Keep The 3.3M Acres It Planned To Sell]]> Sat, 04 Feb 2017 10:26:00 -0600
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Congress has backed off a bill that could have sold off more than 3 million acres of public land.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced a measure in late January aiming to sell 3.3 million acres of federal land that spans 10 states. Then, he withdrew it.

The land is currently used for oil, timber and recreation and brings in millions of dollars in economic activity. Chaffetz and those behind the bill got a wave of backlash from conservationists, hunters, fishers and others who use it.

SEE MORE: Were Badlands National Park's Climate Change Tweets A Dig At Trump?

The Utah representative said on Instagram, "Groups I support and care about fear it sends the wrong message."

What he didn't address in his statement is what else came with the bill. Chaffetz wants to take authority away from the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service police and instead give that power to a local authority, like a sheriff.

Chaffetz pointed out the Clinton administration said the land served no public purpose. Still, he said he plans to kill the bill.

<![CDATA[These Genetically Modified Cows Don't Need Antibiotics]]> Fri, 03 Feb 2017 18:22:00 -0600
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Scientists in China have successfully created cows that are resistant to bovine tuberculosis — a disease that can force livestock owners to slaughter entire herds.

The scientists used recently developed gene editing technology. They inserted a gene linked to bovine TB resistance into 11 cow embryos. 

The modified cows were exposed to TB bacteria after they were born, and they didn't get sick. They also didn't appear to have any adverse health effects from the genetic modification.

So-called editing of genes to this degree became much easier in 2015 when the CRISPR-Cas9 (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) came into more common use. The CRISPR system has been called a "search and replace function" for DNA. It allows scientists to disable or change genes' functions by switching DNA letters.

The authors of the study think this method of antibiotic-free disease resistance could be expanded to genetically shield livestock from other infections.

SEE MORE: Here's Why Antibiotic Resistance Has Become A Problem

This research comes at a time when infections are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics due to overuse. According to the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, 10 million people will die per year from antibiotic-resistant disease by 2050.

<![CDATA[Double Exposure: How One Breast Cancer Survivor Reclaimed Her Identity]]> Fri, 03 Feb 2017 18:19:00 -0600
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"I mean, I'm bald-headed, I have no hair and I have no tits," Shantise Sipho said.

Sipho was diagnosed with breast cancer at 23. 

"It was just crazy because part of my life was normal. I lived a normal life. I was a mom, I worked, I went to school. And then the other part of — I was battling cancer," she said. 

She has now been cancer-free for 7 years. But the chemotherapy and double mastectomy that saved her life cost her parts of her identity. 

"And I kinda lost myself a lot. … They didn't immediately put implants in, so I was flat-chested for the first time in my life, and I had lost all my hair, so I had lost complete identity of who I was," she said. 

Her feelings are not unusual. The American Cancer Society reports 31 to 67 percent of the estimated 3.1 million breast cancer survivors have concerns about body image. Hair and breast loss are some of the most common issues cited. 

A sexy photo shoot was the first step toward regaining her confidence and sense of self. 

SEE MORE: Best News Of 2017 So Far? Cancer Death Rate Drops A Fourth Since '91

"That was the first time that I literally looked in the mirror and saw nothing but beautiful," she said. "I mean, you couldn't tell me nothing after that."

To help spread that feeling of empowerment to other women, Sipho opened her own boudoir studio.

"It's all about seeing yourself in a whole new light," she said. "It's about stripping yourself down, and I think it's more of the mental aspect of it than it's actually the clothing part of it. You're … exposing yourself to yourself."

<![CDATA[Zookeepers Are Nursing This Preemie Hippo Back To Health]]> Thu, 02 Feb 2017 20:19:00 -0600
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The Cincinnati Zoo has a big struggle on its hands. It's caring for a tiny hippopotamus.

Fiona the hippo was born Jan. 24 — six weeks before her due date. She weighed 29 pounds. That sounds big for a newborn, but baby hippos can weigh up to 120 pounds at birth.

After she was born, Fiona was too weak to even stand up. She's received round-the-clock care from vets at the zoo.

SEE MORE: Scientists Just Realized There's More Than One Kind Of Giraffe

The zoo is taking donations to help offset the cost of caring for Fiona.

Fiona still hasn't been able to stand up for long enough to feed without help. Zookeepers are caring for her with mom and dad nearby, but she needs to get a lot bigger before she can be reunited with them. 

<![CDATA[Stem Cell Therapy Might Offer Hope To Multiple Sclerosis Patients]]> Thu, 02 Feb 2017 19:51:00 -0600
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Stem cell research is making medical breakthroughs, and now, it could offer hope to people who have multiple sclerosis. 

A new National Institutes of Health study suggests one-time stem cell transplants might be more effective than long-term medicinal treatment at treating relapsing-remitting MS. 

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that causes a person's immune system to attack their central nervous system. Common symptoms are impaired motor function, weakness and chronic pain. Relapsing-remitting MS is the most common form of the disease.

Stem cells are cells that haven't decided what they want to be when they grow up. That means they can develop into different types of cells. Because of that, they can be used to heal older damaged cells, like those attacked by the immune system.

The study followed 24 people who weren't having success with the typical MS medications. The experimental treatment suppressed participants' immune systems with chemotherapy. Then, their own stem cells were transplanted back into their bodies to rebuild their immune systems.

SEE MORE: Part-Pig, Part-Human Embryos Could Give Us Replacement Human Organs

Five years after treatment, most participants' symptoms were in remission. Some of them even showed some improvements.

Larger studies will be needed to confirm these findings. But the head of the study said it's a good first step toward more effective treatment for an incredibly debilitating and deadly disease.

<![CDATA[Scientists Believe They've Found Proof Of A Long-Lost Continent]]> Thu, 02 Feb 2017 18:30:00 -0600
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Scientists believe they found proof of a long-lost continent.

The evidence of this massive discovery comes from the tiny island of Mauritius, located between India and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

Mauritius is a relatively young landmass at about 9 million years old. But researchers found some zircon minerals on the island that were billions of years old.

SEE MORE: New Study Shows The Solomon Islands Are Being Swallowed By The Ocean

So how does an island contain minerals that are older than the island itself? 

"When Africa and India began to spread apart, they leave pieces behind — one of which was later blanketed by volcanoes at about 6 to 7 million years ago, and it's invisible. So in that sense, it's a lost continent," professor Lewis Ashwal said.

Those volcanoes would eventually spew out the lava that became the island of Mauritius, but not before gathering enough evidence to help scientists discover how the world looked millions of years ago.

<![CDATA[This Breath Monitor Tells You If You're Sick]]> Thu, 02 Feb 2017 16:11:00 -0600
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For people with the flu, the faster they are diagnosed and treated, the better. Diagnosis used to require lengthy lab tests. Then, scientists developed a miniaturized chip version. Now, you might be able to check with just one breath. 

Perena Gouma, a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, created a hand-held breath monitor that may be able to detect the flu virus. 

SEE MORE: Losing Sleep Isn't Just Bad For Your Health — It's Bad For The Economy

This breath monitor is similar to the ones police officers use to check for alcohol on people's breath. Patients exhale into the device, which uses sensors to detect biomarkers commonly associated with the flu virus. This tells patients whether they have the flu. 

The idea is to eventually make the device available in drugstores so people can detect and treat the flu in its earliest stages. It could even help prevent flu epidemics from spreading. 

<![CDATA[Humans' Earliest Known Ancestor May Have Been Tiny ... And Terrifying]]> Thu, 02 Feb 2017 14:26:00 -0600
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If we go all the way back in your family tree, hundreds of millions of years before Homo sapiens got their start, our earliest known ancestor might have looked like something from the movie "Alien."

Researchers say they've found evidence of humans' earliest known ancestor — a millimeter-long, bag-like creature called saccorhytus.

SEE MORE: What Makes A Frog's Tongue So Sticky?

Fossils from China showed saccorhytus likely got around by wriggling and had a mouth that could expand to engulf larger prey. It lived in shallow seabeds 540 million years ago.

Of course, there are a lot of evolutionary steps between you and saccorhytus.

The creature is thought to be the most primitive example of a deuterostome –– a biological category that led to fish with spines, which eventually led to humans.

<![CDATA[This Hawaiian Volcano Has Created A 'Firehose' Of Lava]]> Thu, 02 Feb 2017 12:52:00 -0600
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Hawaii's most active volcano is currently puking a ton of lava into the ocean.

Several acres of land collapsed at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in December and exposed a tube at the Kamokuna lava delta.

At that time, the lava was just a small stream. But toward the end of January, the Kilauea volcano started spewing a lot of lava — so much that the park dubbed it the "firehose."

SEE MORE: We're Taking Our First Close Look At Undersea Volcanoes

The area around the lava "waterfall" has become a safety hazard. When the lava hits the ocean water, it causes explosions that can send rocks and shards of volcanic glass flying.

The national park has roped off a lot of the area from visitors. Still, park rangers have said people are crossing the lines and getting too close.

Officials aren't sure how long the volcano is going to continue to spew, but it doesn't appear to be letting up anytime soon.

<![CDATA[Cat People Now Have A Reason To Watch The Westminster Dog Show]]> Thu, 02 Feb 2017 07:54:00 -0600
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The most prestigious dog show in the U.S. is including cats this year — because it's 2017, and apparently nothing is sacred.

The Westminster Kennel Club is hosting its 141st annual dog show. Contrary to what you might think, the kitties won't be on a leash parading around the arena with their barking counterparts.

But for the first time, cats will be a part of the Meet & Compete event that takes place a couple days before the main event.

Meet & Compete is in its third year. The combination show will feature the American Kennel Club's Meet the Breeds and the 4th Masters Agility Championship. Cats have been featured in Meet the Breeds before.

SEE MORE: Canine Companions Can Help Baby Big Cats Thrive In Captivity

Visitors will be able to meet, learn about and play with the felines during Meet the Breeds. The cats will also have their own agility events.

Aside from featuring felines, the event will introduce three new dog breeds; the American hairless terrier, the pumi and the sloughi.

This year's show will feature more than 2,800 dogs.

<![CDATA[What Makes A Frog's Tongue So Sticky?]]> Wed, 01 Feb 2017 13:56:00 -0600
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Frogs can catch prey in a flash using a springlike tongue that sticks to food and recoils back into the mouth. But what makes a frog's tongue so sticky?

In a recent study, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology found the stickiness is a result of none other than the frog's spit, coupled with a super-soft tongue.

SEE MORE: A Lot Of Marine Animals Eat Plastic ⏤ Now We Know Why

A frog's saliva has a unique reversible capability. It's thick and sticky as the frog captures the prey, and then becomes thin and watery when the prey enters the frog's mouth. The combination of this reversible saliva and soft surface makes a frog's tongue 50 times more adhesive than your average sticky-hand toy. 

The researchers say they hope these findings will inspire better adhesives in everyday products, like bandages.

<![CDATA[This Flying Robot Gets Its Agility From Bat Biology]]> Wed, 01 Feb 2017 13:10:00 -0600
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Researchers have developed an autonomous flying robot that takes some cues from the only mammal that can fly on its own — the bat.

But it's not as complex as the real thing; some live bats have 40 joints in their wings. So engineers simplified and built the robot using only the most important joints for flight. The bot has a flexible tail like a bat's and is covered with a stretchy, synthetic version of bat skin.

Most importantly, researchers made sure each wing can move independently, just like a bat's. This lets the robot take sharp turns and dives.

SEE MORE: Bats Can Learn To Put Up With Us Noisy Humans

Robots that flap still look a bit clunky compared to the smooth flight of something like a quadcopter drone, but the animal kingdom might be onto something. Flying animals are way more maneuverable than planes or even helicopters. They can make harder turns and rolls, they can hold up to more G-forces, and for some, hovering mid-flight is really easy.

The researchers building this bot think their work might lead to nimble flying tools that can stop or turn on a dime. That could be useful during construction or for search and rescue. They might be safer for nearby humans, too. Soft, flapping wings don't have to move nearly as fast as drone propellers.

<![CDATA[Researchers Have Found Another Reason To Avoid Fast Food]]> Wed, 01 Feb 2017 10:39:00 -0600
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Fast food isn't exactly the healthiest option out there. 

And, turns out, even the containers and wrappers could be bad for you.

According to a new study, synthetic chemicals that have been associated with cancer and other serious health problems have been found in some fast food packaging.

These chemicals are known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFASs

To find out how prevalent PFASs are in fast food packaging, researchers tested wrappers from 27 fast food companies, including McDonald's, Wendy's, Starbucks and Panera Bread.

SEE MORE: A Third Of US Kids Eat Fast Food On Any Given Day

They found that one-third of all samples tested contained detectable amounts of fluorine, which is a marker for PFASs. The packages that were most likely to contain fluorine were paper wrappers for desserts and sandwiches.

They're known for their ability to resist oil, water, heat and stains — which makes them a valuable ingredient for wrappers holding greasy, fast food items. 

The problem is, some of those man-made chemicals have been linked to high cholesterol, low birth weight, cancer and other health risks.

And these chemicals are really hard to get rid of. They don't break down very easily in the environment, and they can build up in the human body.

One of the study's authors told The Washington Post, "We have more than one reason to try to eat more fresh food, and to reduce our consumption of fast food. This is another reason."

This particular study didn't determine whether PFASs found in packaging leached into the food. But previous research has shown the chemicals are more likely to make their way into your meal if it's hot and greasy.

<![CDATA[Congress Members Are Trying To Sell Millions Of Acres Of Public Land]]> Wed, 01 Feb 2017 10:22:00 -0600
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Some Republican Congress members are inching closer to giving away millions of acres of public land.

The latest draft of rules for the 115th U.S. Congress was released in early January. Those rules contain a section that changes the value of federal lands. 

Basically, the transfer or sale of public land is no longer considered "economically significant," which makes it much easier for Congress to give it away. 

Now, Rep. Jason Chaffetz has introduced a bill that aims to sell off 3.3 million acres of public land. The Utah representative claims the land serves "no purpose for taxpayers."

That land spans 10 different states — and it appears conservationists and some government officials aren't on board with the plan.

SEE MORE: Were Badlands National Park's Climate Change Tweets A Dig At Trump?

Not only is the land used for oil, timber and recreation, it also serves as a home to big game and brings in millions of dollars in economic activity from fishing and hunting.

Chaffetz has proposed the bill a few times in the past. But even more interesting is what comes paired with it. 

Chaffetz wants to take away the authority of the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service police and instead give that power to a local authority, like a sheriff.

The bill was introduced in late January. Now it's moving for a vote in the House.

<![CDATA[Dakota Access Pipeline Actually Hasn't Gotten The Green Light Yet]]> Wed, 01 Feb 2017 10:18:00 -0600
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Social media was filled with misleading reports on Tuesday night that claimed the final legal barrier blocking construction on the Dakota Access pipeline had been lifted.

But the Army Corps of Engineers still needs to grant an easement for the pipeline's last construction project — the crossing beneath Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

The Corps said in early December it wouldn't grant the easement and instead would conduct an environmental review while it looked for alternative pipeline routes.

SEE MORE: Would You Wear The Same Jacket For 30 Years For The Environment?

Tuesday's confusion over the easement seems to have started with a press release from North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven. Hoeven claimed the acting secretary of the Army had ordered the easement to be granted.

But as of Wednesday morning, the easement hadn't officially been given. And activists with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe — the pipeline's most visible opponents — called the announcement premature.

Many see Hoeven's statement as a sign the easement is coming soon. Standing Rock's attorney said he expects the easement to be granted sometime next week.

In January, President Donald Trump issued an executive order speeding up the approval processes for both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.

<![CDATA[Trump Brings His Campaign Promises To His Meeting With Pharma CEOs]]> Tue, 31 Jan 2017 17:32:00 -0600
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President Trump sat down with the heads of major pharmaceutical companies Tuesday, and he brought his campaign talking points with him. 

Trump told the drug company CEOs, "We have to get lower prices, we have to get better innovation, and I want you to move your companies back to the United States."

Trump has latched on to the bipartisan push against high drug prices, promising to improve price negotiation and competition in the drug industry. 

SEE MORE: Proposed Republican Health Care Plan Allows States To Keep Obamacare

But Trump apparently won't be getting those lower prices through Medicare. The program is currently banned from negotiating prices, but Trump still accused it of "price-fixing." 

Trump did pledge to cut regulations and streamline the approval process for new drugs. He also lashed out at "global freeloading," accusing other countries of unfairly profiting from U.S. drug research.

<![CDATA[New Technology Gives Completely Paralyzed Patients A Voice]]> Tue, 31 Jan 2017 14:15:00 -0600
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When people become completely paralyzed, either through disease or injury, they lose the ability to communicate. But new brain-scanning technology has given some of them a voice — and now even people with the most extreme cases of paralysis might communicate again.

So-called "brain-computer interfaces" have been around for a few years. In a 2014 study, a patient who could only control his eyes was able to communicate using a virtual keyboard. He wore a cap of tiny electrodes, and when he focused on a specific letter, the cap detected changes in his brain.

Other approaches are more invasive. In a 2016 study, researchers used a similar approach to the virtual keyboard, but this time, researchers implanted electrodes directly into the patient’s brain.

SEE MORE: Concussions Are Still A Medical Mystery

But those tests involved people who could still control something, whether it was small head movements or their eyes. In extreme cases, where people are completely paralyzed, it was believed they couldn't do anything voluntarily — even focus their thoughts. Researchers call this being "locked in."

In a new study, researchers from the Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering in Switzerland tested a technique in which patients who were completely paralyzed wore an electrode cap that measured blood oxygen levels in the brain. They were able to decipher patients' thoughts when asked "yes" or "no" questions.

The technique was about 70 percent accurate, which is on par with the earlier studies. And it shows that completely locked-in patients might still be able to communicate — hopefully with even better accuracy as the technology improves.

<![CDATA[France Is Saying Bye-Bye To Free Soda Refills]]> Tue, 31 Jan 2017 13:16:00 -0600
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France is saying "au revoir" to free soda refills.

The government announced it wants to limit access to sugary drinks. So energy beverages, fruit juices and anything that has added sugar can't be refilled for free.

France has made some big steps in the past, seemingly with a goal to improve the health of its citizens.

In 2004, it voted to take vending machines selling candy and soft drinks out of schools. In 2012, the country imposed a tax on sugary beverages.

The refill ban is in line with recommendations from the World Health Organization. The WHO has urged countries to regulate sugary drinks, saying tooth decay, obesity and diabetes are on the rise.

SEE MORE: Soda Is About To Get More Expensive In Some Cities

On average, the French are less overweight compared to many other countries in the European Union, as well as the United States.

Still, authorities are doing what they can to limit the intake of unhealthy products — especially for young people.

<![CDATA[NASA Remembers Fallen Astronauts Of Apollo 1, Challenger, Columbia]]> Tue, 31 Jan 2017 10:55:00 -0600
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Just days after the 50th anniversary of the tragic accident that killed the Apollo 1 crew, NASA celebrated its annual Day of Remembrance. The day is intended to "honor members of the NASA family, including the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, who lost their lives while furthering the cause of exploration and discovery." 

SEE MORE: 2016 Space Exploration Was Enlightening And Kinda Weird

Jan. 27, 1967: The crew of Apollo 1 was killed when a fire broke out during a launch rehearsal. 

- Virgil "Gus" Grissom (April 3, 1926 - Jan. 27, 1967)

- Edward H. White II (Nov. 14, 1930 - Jan. 27,1967)

- Roger Chaffee (Feb. 15, 1935 - Jan. 27, 1967)

Jan. 28, 1986: The crew of the Challenger shuttle was killed when a booster engine failed and the shuttle broke apart just over a minute after launch.

- Francis "Dick" Scobee (May 19, 1939 - Jan. 28, 1986)

- Michael J. Smith (April 30, 1945 - Jan. 28, 1986)

- Judith A. Resnik (April 5, 1949 - Jan. 28, 1986)

- Ellison Onizuka (June 24, 1946 - Jan. 28, 1986)

- Ronald McNair (Oct. 21, 1950 - Jan. 28, 1986

- Gregory Jarvis (Aug. 24, 1944 - Jan. 28, 1986)

- Christa McAuliffe (Sept. 2, 1948 - Jan. 28, 1986)

Feb. 1, 2003: The crew of the Columbia shuttle was killed when the orbiter broke up upon re-entry. The shuttle was only 16 minutes from landing when Mission Control lost contact.

- Rick D. Husband (July 12, 1957 - Feb. 1, 2003)

- William C. McCool (Sept. 23, 1961 - Feb. 1, 2003)

- Michael P. Anderson (Dec. 25, 1959 - Feb. 1, 2003)

- David M. Brown (April 16, 1956 - Feb. 1, 2003)

- Kalpana Chawla (March 17, 1962 - Feb. 1, 2003)

- Laurel Clark (March 10, 1961 - Feb. 1, 2003)

- Ilan Ramon (June 20, 1954 - Feb. 1, 2003)

See more from NASA about its Day of Remembrance.

<![CDATA[Early Results Of Astronaut Twin Study Surprise Scientists]]> Mon, 30 Jan 2017 21:38:00 -0600
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Time in outer space might change more than just your perspective on life — it might change your very biology

Astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly are twins. And they're taking part in one of the most ambitious genetic studies ever to see how time in space might affect genetics.

The brothers are the perfect candidates for a genetic study: They're almost genetically identical, and one spent nearly a year in space while the other stayed on Earth.

The official results of the study aren't out yet, but initial results are showing interesting differences between the twins.

One difference was in the telomeres — the protective bits at the end of our chromosomes. After his year in space, Scott's telomeres were longer than his brother's. They have since returned to normal. His microbiome changed, too. In fact, nearly everyone working on the study is finding differences.

SEE MORE: NASA's Lighting Experiment May Help Astronauts Finally Get Some Sleep

The study found Scott's gene-expression signature had changed. Gene signatures are the way genes in a cell combine to express a certain trait. Changes in the gene-expression signature aren't uncommon, but the changes in Scott's seemed to be larger than normal.

Scott also exhibited a decrease in DNA methylation — a change in a chemical marker that can effect gene expression. His brother saw an increase during the same period. Scientists working on the project aren't sure what this means yet.

Long-term exposure to microgravity can really wear on a person's body. This study could help NASA come up with ways to lessen those effects on long term missions — like the one they want send to Mars sometime in the 2030s.

Even though it took less than a year to get out the preliminary results of the twin study, NASA said it could be a while before the full study is released — if they release the full study at all.

<![CDATA[This Life-Saving Opioid Antidote Device Now Costs $4,500]]> Mon, 30 Jan 2017 10:10:00 -0600
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A company that produces a life-saving opioid overdose drug injector has raised the price of its product almost $4,000.

The Evzio auto injector delivers an antidote that can temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose. In the last several years, drug overdoses have been a growing problem. In 2015, more than 33,000 people reportedly died from opioid overdoses. 

Unlike other naloxone injectors, Evzio talks the user through the process of administering the injection. Its creator, Kaléo pharmaceutical company, says that feature alone makes the product worth its steep price tag.

And as demand increased, so did Evzio's price — from $690 in 2014 to $4,500 in 2017. The cost of the drug itself, injectable naloxone, has gone up, but critics of the pharmaceutical company say the injector's cost increase is unwarranted.

The price hike is reminiscent of Mylan's controversial price increase for the EpiPen. Kaléo began when its founders attempted to develop an EpiPen competitor. That first product was recalled for delivering inaccurate doses of epinephrine, but it's set to be rereleased in mid-February. 

SEE MORE: EpiPen Drug Company Under Scrutiny After Price Increase

Kaléo distributed a limited supply of free Evzio injectors to first responders in urban areas and rehabilitation centers last year. But those ran out by July.

The company does offer a discount card to people with insurance, making Evzio free in some cases. But analysts say consumers will still pay the price through increasing insurance premiums.

<![CDATA[What Will The March For Science Do?]]> Sat, 28 Jan 2017 15:07:00 -0600
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Researchers, activists and concerned citizens plan to march on Washington, D.C., for science.

Rigorous science is nonpartisan — but that doesn't stop gridlock between the scientific and political communities. Just look at the climate debate.

Now, march organizers are worried about how quickly anti-science sentiment is starting to resemble anti-science policy. They're marching to hold policymakers accountable for how they treat research and for their repressive stances on science itself.

SEE MORE: Al Gore Is Making Sure The CDC's Climate Change Conference Happens

"An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world," they write on their website.

Anthony Barnosky — a biology professor at University of California, Berkeley — told The Guardian when leadership suppresses facts and communication, it can undermine democracy.

"The data are the data, and the public has a right to know," Barnosky said.

So don't expect just lab coats at this march — though, there will probably be plenty. Scientists, nonscientists and everyone else has a stake.

An announcement of the official march date is expected Jan. 30.