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Polar bears crowd on Russian island in sign of Arctic change
The bears had come to feast on the carcass of a bowhead whale that washed ashore, later resting around the food source. The crowd included many families, including two mothers trailed by a rare four cubs each, Gruzdev told AFP. Climate change means ice, where polar bears are most at home, is melting earlier in the year and so polar bears have to spend longer on land, scientists say.
US southwest sizzles as experts predict record Thanksgiving
The southwestern United States was gripped by a heat wave on Wednesday as experts warned of temperatures that would smash century-old records over the Thanksgiving weekend. Record breaking heat will peak today, with only a slight decrease tomorrow, the agency tweeted. Joe Sirard, a meteorologist at the NWS, told the Los Angeles Times the heat record for Thanksgiving in California was set at 90 degrees on November 26, 1903.
New CO2 device for unmanned ocean vessels
Carbon dioxide in remote parts of the world's oceans will be measured by a new instrument being developed by scientists. The CaPASOS, created by the University of Exeter and the National Oceanography Centre, will be carried on unmanned robotic boats to locations including the Southern Ocean. The other half is being absorbed, it is believed, in approximately equal amounts by 'carbon sinks' - vegetation on land and uptake by the ocean.
Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon
If a rainforest is cut down, the carbon stored in the trunks and leaves will be released to the atmosphere. It turned out to be the opposite: Shrubs, even though they are tallest, actually store the least carbon. It surprised me that meadows actually store a lot more carbon than shrubs. The carbon in meadows is stored mostly below the ground, next to the roots, she said.
EU bird ban sees huge drop in global trade
A new study says that an EU ban on the trade in wild birds has helped reduce the global business by 90%. Latin America has now become the main bird source, and is now responsible for 50% of the much smaller global market. It was in response to concerns about the spread of avian influenza that the EU imposed a temporary ban on wild bird imports in October 2005.
Thanks a Lot! New Reasons Not to Eat Cookie Dough
Don't panic: the researchers' concerns do not include commercial treats like cookie-dough ice cream and packaged refrigerated cookie dough. Ever since 2009, when a strain of E coli from commercial cookie dough sickened 77 people, and flour was the suspected cause, ingredients are not only pasteurized but heat-treated. Although the recall was initiated over a year ago, the broader message about uncooked flour products was not widely known. One of the reasons I went into pastry is because you can taste as you go along.
What happens once 'net neutrality' rules bite the dust?
The Federal Communications Commission formally released a draft of its plan to kill net-neutrality rules, which equalized access to the internet and prevented broadband providers from favoring their own apps and services. The FCC's move will allow companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon to charge internet companies for speedier access to consumers and to block outside services they don't like. The change also axes a host of consumer protections, including privacy requirements and rules barring price gouging and unfair practices.
Did you 'like' Russian propaganda? Facebook will clue you in
Facebook says it will show users if they followed or 'liked' Russia propaganda accounts on its service or on Instagram. Facebook, Google and Twitter testified before Congress this month, acknowledging that agents tied to the Russian government used their platforms to try to meddle with the US elections. Facebook has said that as many as 150 million Facebook and Instagram users may have seen ads from the Internet Research Agency.
Energy-saving LEDs boost light pollution worldwide
They were supposed to bring about an energy revolution-but the popularity of LED lights is driving an increase in light pollution worldwide, with dire consequences for human and animal health, researchers said Wednesday. Rather, it's that people keep installing more and more lights, he told reporters on a conference call to discuss the research. All of those new uses of light offset, to some extent, the savings that you had.
Raging debate: Does culling wolves curb poaching?
A researcher in Norway launched the latest salvo Wednesday in a fierce, sometimes caustic debate on how legal hunting impacts the poaching of large predators. The findings were widely reported, and hailed by conservationists as evidence that state-sponsored culling is bad policy. The conclusion that poaching increases with legal culling is without empirical support, he said. My conclusion is that there is negligible evidence for legal state culling resulting in increased levels of poaching in these data, Stien said, referring to Chapron's study.
'Crazy Jigsaw Puzzles' Improve Our Views of Coral Reefs
A century ago, if you wanted to document ocean life, you'd throw on a 60-pound glass helmet, dive in and sketch whatever passed by with a lead pencil on a zinc tablet. Over the last few years, technology has catapulted oceanography into a new era of discovery. It's like doing one of the most crazy jigsaw puzzles you can ever imagine, said Stuart Sandin, a coral reef ecologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.
Shake, Rattle and Roll
A Much like fingernails, the rattles are made of a protein called keratin, which strengthens cells in the outer layer of the snake's skin. As the snake outgrows its skin and sheds it, remnants of these hardened cells are left behind, forming a rattle segment. The rings are not present at birth, but a single small knob of keratin, sometimes called the birth button, is already there. It is sometimes lost through wear, as are older segments of the rattle.
An Interstellar Visitor Both Familiar and Alien
The paper describes the interstellar visitor as both reassuringly familiar and utterly alien. It is extremely elongated, at least 10 times as long as it is wide, perhaps 800 yards by 80 yards. Though the mysterious object is nearly gone, thousands like it probably lurk unsuspected and undetected in our solar system, according to the scientists. The Pan-STARRS telescope was built to patrol the sky for dangerous asteroids in our own system, not interlopers from beyond.
Camponotini ant species have their own distinct microbiomes
Many plant and animal species may have symbiotic relationships with bacteria that benefit them in various ways such as influencing reproduction, nutrition, defense, and adaptation to their environment. Many species of ants are known to possess diverse and stable microbial communities, and the microbiome in some genera of the Camponotini species has been well studied. They analyzed the ants' DNA and their bacterial DNA, and compared how the bacteria differed between each species and each stage of development.
A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure-Soft robotic system provides support
In fact, earlier this year, a Boston Children's Hospital team revealed a proof-of-concept soft robotic sleeve that could support the function of a failing heart. Despite this promising innovation, the team recognized that many pediatric heart patients have more one-sided heart conditions. We've combined rigid bracing with soft robotic actuators to gently but sturdily help a diseased heart chamber pump blood effectively, Vasilyev says.
Even Whales Have to Exfoliate
The whales kept swimming into a small, shallow bay with large boulders, where at least one removed a transmitter by rubbing against the rocks. Though she didn't know it at the time, the mystery of the rock-rubbing whales dates back at least 170 years. Several subsequent papers have also noted the behavior, usually concluding the whales were using the rocks to rest.

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