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January 15, 2013

Standard Kilogram Needs Trimming

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 9:00pm EST
pHow do you define one kilogram? Easy: it#39;s the exact mass of a metal cylinder called the International Prototype Kilogram, IPK for short, kept in controlled conditions in France. But the standard kilogram has gained weight since its creation in 1875. To trim it and its many replicas down to size, we need to clean them. The report is in the journal Metrologia . [Peter Cumpson and Naoko Sano, Stability of reference masses V: UV/ozone treatment of gold and platinum surfaces ]/p a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=standard-kilogram-needs-trimming-13-01-15[More]/a

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Fish, Turtle and Duck Excrement Helps Spread Seagrass

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 6:22pm EST
pTo spread and regenerate, an important marine plant depends on animals to eat its seeds and poop them out around the ocean, according to recent research./p a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fish-poop-helps-spread-se[More]/a

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Fish, Turtle and Duck Excrement Helps Spread Sea Grass

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 6:22pm EST
pTo spread and regenerate, an important marine plant depends on animals to eat its seeds and poop them out around the ocean, according to recent research./p a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fish-poop-helps-spread-se[More]/a

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Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB)

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 4:30pm EST
Form a citizen-science bucket brigade to study the environmental health of your community a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/citizen-science/project.cfm?id=louisiana-bucket-brigade[More]/a

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Kenya Police Find Record Haul of Smuggled Ivory

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 3:34pm EST
pBy Joseph Akwiri/ppMOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - Police in Kenya have seized two tonnes of ivory worth 100 million shillings ($1.15 million), the biggest haul on record in the east African country, officials said on Tuesday./ppThis is a big catch, the biggest ever single seizure of ivory at the port of Mombasa, said Kiberenge Seroney, the ports police officer in charge of criminal investigations./ppWe fail to understand where one gathers the courage to park such enormous quantities of ivory, hoping that they can slip through our security systems./ppPoaching is a growing problem for sub-Saharan African countries reliant on rich wildlife in their game reserves to draw foreign tourists./ppHeavily-armed criminals kill elephants and rhinos for their tusks, which are used for ornaments and in some folk medicines. a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=kenya-police-find-record-haul-of-sm[More]/a

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Rare Japanese Rabbit Leaves Endangered Species List

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 1:13pm EST
Japan has removed the rare, nocturnal, island-dwelling Amami black rabbit (aka the Ryukyu rabbit, Pentalagus furnessi ) from its endangered species list, according to a report from The Telegraph . The rabbits can only be found on the remote islands of Amami Oshima and Toku-no-Shima, part of the Ryukyu archipelago located about 350 kilometers south of mainland Japan and 300 kilometers north of Okinawa. They have been legally protected for nearly a century, initially as a response to overhunting. In recent decades they have suffered from habitat loss and predation by dogs , cats and invasive Indian mongooses ( Herpestes javanicus ), 30 of which were introduced to Amami island in 1979 to control venomous snake populations. (At least four poisonous snake species, collectively known as habu , live on the Ryukyu islands.) By 1999 an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 mongooses inhabited the island, massively disrupting the native fauna.The Telegraph did not mention why Japan removed the Amami rabbit from its endangered species list, which is usually a sign of population recovery. Japans Ministry of the Environment did not return requests for comment or information. a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=rare-japanese-rabbit-leaves-endangered-species-list[More]/a

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More than 3,500 U.S. Weather Records Smashed in 2012

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 1:10pm EST
pNews reports in the past two weeks have noted that 2012 was the warmest year ever recorded in the U.S. Today we learn that 3,527 monthly weather records were broken in 2012, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council ( NRDC ). The tally exceeds the 3,251 records set in 2011, the previous high. NRDC has just released an interactive map equipped with a slider that can be moved from January to December to reveal where record temperatures, rainfall, snowfall, floods, droughts and wildfires were occurring on any given day./p a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=thousands-of-us-weather-records[More]/a

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Fortified by Global Warming, Deadly Fungus Poisons Corn Crops, Causes Cancer

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 12:20pm EST
pLast yearrsquo;s drought increased the spread of a carcinogenic mold called aspergillus ( Aspergillus flavus ), a fungal pathogen that poisons cattle, kills pets and has infected the 2012 corn crop, rendering significant portions of the harvest unfit for consumption./p a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=deadly-fungus-poisons-corn-crops[More]/a

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A Single Brain Cell Stores a Single Concept (preview)

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 12:00pm EST
pOnce a brilliant Russian Neurosurgeon named Akakhi Akakhievitch had a patient who wanted to forget his overbearing, impossible mother./p a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=single-brain-cell-stores-single-concept[More]/a

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Encoding Concepts in the Brain, Primitive Meteorites and Scientific American Partnerships

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 11:45am EST
pIt#39;s often surprising to me how profound insights can arise from simple questions. Here#39;s one: How does the brain capture a single concept? Naturally, our minds make use of networks of neurons--but are they sparse or distributed over large populations of cells? Researchers are exploring and debating that question and will likely be doing so for some time./p a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=encoding-concepts-brain-primitive-meteorites-scientific-american-partnership[More]/a

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Does smoking pot lower your IQ?

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 11:39am EST
As marijuana is being legalized in Washington and Colorado states, its proliferation and use raise legitimate issues regarding its dose-dependent and long-term effects. One key question is whether pot leads to cognitive decline and a lowering of IQ, especially if its consumption is started at an early age. Answering this question is important for users, families and policy makers to have a realistic idea of personal and legal policies regarding widespread cannabis use.Last year, Madeline Meier and her group from Duke University reported results from the so-called Dunedin study which tracked a group of 1037 people from their birth to age 38. These volunteers pot smoking histories were monitored at periodic intervals from age 18 onwards. The study found a troubling decline of IQ and cognitive abilities among regular pot smokers, especially those whose habit kicked in during their teens. No explicit causal relationship was assigned between the two facts, but the correlation was positive and significant. The study naturally raised a lot of questions regarding the wisdom of early pot use, especially in light of its current legalization in two states. a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=does-smoking-pot-lower-your-iq[More]/a

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Worried Russian Region Targets Wolves in Three-Month Hunt

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 10:59am EST
pBy Steve Gutterman/ppMOSCOW (Reuters) - Its open season on wolves across a wide swathe of Siberia./ppWorried about attacks by wolves that are devouring reindeer in increasing numbers, the leader of Russias vast Sakha Republic issued a decree on Tuesday initiating a three-month hunt targeting the predators./ppThe goal is to bring the wolf population of the India-sized region also known as Yakutia down from more than 3,500 to the optimal number of about 500, Russias official gazette, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, reported./ppThe population is more concerned than ever about mass wolf attacks on farm animals, the paper quoted Sakha President Yegor Borisov as saying at a recent regional government meeting. a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=worried-russian-region-targets-wolves[More]/a

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Art and Science Come Together in Nikon Time-Lapse Competition

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 10:33am EST
A time-lapse movie showing the immune response in the lymph nodes of a mouse edged out a fruit fly sperm fight for top honours at this years Nikon Small World in Motion Photomicrography competition.

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Docs Frequently Fail to Sniff Out Boozers

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 10:06am EST
[caption id=attachment_10656 align=alignleft width=350 caption=Image courtesy of iStockphoto/chrisbrignell] [/caption]Height? Weight? Any changes in your health? Do you smoke? Simple screening in the doctors office can help clinicians pick up on potential health problems. But these perfunctory questions--combined with any other follow-up an individual doctor might decide to do--fail to detect one exceedingly common health issue: too much drinking. a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=docs-frequently-fail-to-sniff-out-boozers[More]/a

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Dry Outlook Troublesome for Drought-Stricken U.S.

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 8:30am EST
pBy Sam Nelson/pp(Reuters) - Forecasts for a return to dry weather for the balance of January in the already drought-stricken U.S. a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=dry-outlook-troublesome-for-drought[More]/a

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Scientists Use Weather Techniques to Track Flu Virus

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 7:32am EST
As the flu outbreak reaches epidemic levels in the US, scientists are turning to weather modeling to help forecast the future seasonal spread of the virus.

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What science should we fund? Questioning new policy on H5N1 gain-of-function research

Scientific American - Posted: January 15th, 2013, 7:32am EST
[caption id=attachment_5355 align=alignleft width=316 caption=Terrence Tumpey, whose team reconstructed the extinct 1918 Spanish Flu virus. Cutting edge influenza research has generated controversy, with some claiming that the benefits of creating new (or resurrecting old) viruses are outweighed by the risks of an accidental or intentionally caused pandemic. Source: CDC] [/caption]Science can be risky business, but it is important to know what those risks are. It is established wisdom that we need to experiment on viruses, for example, to better defend against emerging infectious diseases. But there is a fine line between creating a new strain of avian influenza to better understand how to defend against infectious disease, and using the same strain to cause a deadly pandemic. a href=http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=what-science-should-we-fund-questioning-new-policy-on-h5n1-gain-of-function-research[More]/a

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