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The Lead

Olympians to Swim, Boat in Rio’s Sewage

July 30, 2015 | by Associated Press, Brad Brooks, Jenny Barchfield | Comments

Athletes in next year's Summer Olympics will be swimming and boating in waters so contaminated with human feces that they risk becoming violently ill and unable to compete in the games, an investigation has found.

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App Hails Driverless Rides for Users

July 31, 2015 7:00 am | by EPFL | Comments

The driverless minibuses that have been making their way around the EPFL campus since April now show up on demand. Users can use a free app to order up a ride and track the location of the vehicles in real time. This marks a new phase in the development of urban transport.

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Alzheimer's-linked Protein May Have a Helpful Side

July 31, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Melbourne | Comments

Researchers have discovered that a protein involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease also has properties that could be helpful for human health. The discovery helps researchers better understand the complicated brain chemistry behind the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

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Drought's Impact on Forests Incorrect in Climate Models

July 31, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Utah | Comments

In the virtual worlds of climate modeling, forests and other vegetation are assumed to bounce back quickly from extreme drought. But that assumption is far off the mark, according to a new study of drought impacts at forest sites worldwide.

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‘Golden Jackals’ Are Wolves

July 31, 2015 7:00 am | by UCLA | Comments

Although they look very similar, the “golden jackals” of East Africa and those of Eurasia are two entirely different species, life scientists have reported. The discovery, which is based on DNA evidence, increases the diversity of the biological family Canidae— the group including dogs, wolves, foxes and jackals— from 35 living species to 36.

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America’s Strategy to Fight AIDS Gets Updated

July 31, 2015 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Mike Stobbe | Comments

U.S. health officials have updated their strategic plan for fighting AIDS, setting new goals for reducing infections and deaths. The new document, "seizes on the rapid shifts in science as we've learned more about this disease," said President Barack Obama.

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Website of the Week: What Does it Mean to be Human?

July 30, 2015 2:09 pm | by Michelle Taylor, Editor-in-Chief | Comments

This week's website comes from an initiative at the Smithsonian that seeks to reflect on what it means to be human. The initiative’s goal is to explore the universal human story at its broadest time scale, and stimulate new research findings that deepen an understanding of what makes our species unique and how we came to be.

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Sugar Alters the Chemistry of Tea, Coffee

July 30, 2015 2:00 pm | by Univ. of York | Comments

New research has given tea and coffee drinkers new information about why their favorite drinks taste as they do. The study shows that sugar has an important effect in reducing the bitterness of tea and coffee, not just by masking it but by influencing the fundamental chemistry.

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Algae Yields Natural Sunscreen

July 30, 2015 2:00 pm | by ACS | Comments

For consumers searching for just the right sunblock this summer, the options can be overwhelming. But scientists are now turning to the natural sunscreen of algae— which is also found in fish slime— to make a novel kind of shield against the sun’s rays that could protect not only people, but also textiles and outdoor materials.

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Scientists Seek Tastier Wines with Fewer Pesticides

July 30, 2015 2:00 pm | by ACS | Comments

Wine-making is steeped in age-old traditions, but to address the threat of pests and concerns over heavy pesticide use, vintners are turning to science. With the goal of designing better grape breeds, scientists are parsing the differences between wild American grapes— which make terrible wine but are pest-resistant— and the less hardy grape species pressed for fine wines worldwide.

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Chill-tolerant, Hybrid Sugarcane Grows at Cooler Climes

July 30, 2015 2:00 pm | by Univ. of Illinois | Comments

U.S. farmers have long hoped to extend sugarcane’s growing range northward from the Gulf coast, substantially increasing the land available for sugar and biofuels. Researchers have reported that two miscanes– the offspring of crosses between sugarcane and a hardy, cold-tolerant grass, Miscanthus– perform well at 50 F, staying green and converting carbon dioxide to plant matter at a steady rate.

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World’s Largest, Deepest Pool Being Considered by UK University

July 30, 2015 1:55 pm | by Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter | Comments

The world’s largest and deepest pool could be built in the coming years at the University of Essex. The pool would be 50 meters long– and also 50 meters deep, allowing scientists to simulate deep-sea and even outer space environments.

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Climate Change Poses ‘Significant Risks’ to U.S. Interests, Pentagon Report Says

July 30, 2015 11:39 am | by Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter | Comments

Syria experienced some severe and long-lasting droughts between 2006 and 2011. Crops failed, populations fled to the cities, which grew crowded and hard to control. The domino-like effect threw region into chaos leading to the rise of ISIS. Climate change means there could be such chaotic times of political, economic and military stress caused by changes to the world’s sea levels and food and water availability.

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Dawn Space Mission to Ceres Continues, Despite Attention on New Horizons

July 30, 2015 9:59 am | by Seth Augenstein, Digital Reporter | Comments

The New Horizons mission reached the outer fringes of our solar system in recent weeks, snapping vibrant pictures of Pluto, providing new scientific information from millions of miles away and exciting the curious back here on Earth. But the Dawn mission has continued to seek out new worlds and solve galactic mysteries– just without as much fanfare.

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Q&A: Paul Spagnuolo, Cancer and Avocados

July 30, 2015 9:27 am | by Lily Barback, Associate Editor | Comments

Laboratory Equipment’s scientist of the week is Paul Spagnuolo from the University of Waterloo. He and a team found that molecules derived from avocados could be effective in treating a form of cancer.

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Exotic Material Dramatically Cuts Energy Use in Electronics

July 30, 2015 8:46 am | by MIT, Rob Matheson | Comments

An exotic material called gallium nitride (GaN) is poised to become the next semiconductor for power electronics, enabling much higher efficiency than silicon. An MIT spinout has announced a line of GaN transistors and power electronic circuits that promise to cut energy usage in data centers, electric cars and consumer devices by 10 to 20 percent worldwide by 2025.

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