AI Can Help Us Know What Viruses Are Up To In The Oceans And In Our Guts

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Viruses are a mysterious and poorly understood force in microbial ecosystems. Researchers know they can infect, kill and manipulate human and bacterial cells in nearly every environment, from the oceans to your gut. But scientists don’t yet have a full picture of how viruses affect their surrounding environments in large part because of their extraordinary diversity and ability to rapidly evolve.Communities of microbes are difficult to study in a laboratory setting. Many microbes are challengi ...read more

Florence Nightingale Overcame The Limits Set On Victorian Women

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For nearly 200 years, Florence Nightingale’s name has been synonymous with gentle compassion and mercy.In the mid-19th century, Nightingale became perhaps the most celebrated woman of her era – second only to Queen Victoria – for instituting sanitation practices that sharply cut death rates among British soldiers fighting in the Crimean War. A handsome bronze statue in London’s Waterloo Place has immortalized Nightingale as a slight, graceful figure carrying a lamp, the embodiment of sel ...read more

Giant Chips Boost Supercomputing Capabilities

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The ability to simulate the way matter behaves on the atomic scale is revolutionizing materials science and everything related to it. This approach is producing new materials with exotic properties, resilient alloys for nuclear power and a new understanding of protein folding, to name just a few applications.These advances are largely the result of ever more powerful computing machines, which aim to make simulations bigger, faster and longer. That’s the goal but the reality is more nuanced. Mo ...read more

AI Chatbots Are Intruding Into Online Communities

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A parent asked a question in a private Facebook group in April 2024: Does anyone with a child who is both gifted and disabled have any experience with New York City public schools? The parent received a seemingly helpful answer that laid out some characteristics of a specific school, beginning with the context that “I have a child who is also 2e,” meaning twice exceptional.On a Facebook group for swapping unwanted items near Boston, a user looking for specific items received an offer of a ...read more

Self-Diagnosing Isn’t Always Bad, But You Should Still Seek a Medical Professional

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Calling Dr. Google! Calling Dr. Google! That’s what most of us do when we’re worried about a symptom. But is it a good idea to diagnose yourself? Probably not as bad as you think, but you do need to take some precautions.You shouldn’t feel guilty about your visits to Dr. Google. Even the pros do it. Matthew Adkins is a family practice physician and member of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) board of directors. He freely admits that when he himself has a new symptom, he ofte ...read more

Hunter-Gatherers Butchered an Extinct Elephant at This Ancient Campsite

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A new snapshot of a camp on a central Chile lake reveals a picture of a band of hunter-gatherers who paused to butcher, then feast upon, an extinct relative of the elephant about 12,450 years ago. The narrative the archeologists are trying to construct based on artifacts found there includes seasonal stops at Tagua Tagua Lake and the periodic banding together of multiple groups, according to a study in PLOS ONE.A Band of Hunter-GatherersThe dominant feature of the site is the fossil remains of a ...read more

An Italian Geologist May Have Solved the Mystery of the Mona Lisa’s Background

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The Mona Lisa has long captivated viewers around the world with the mystery that surrounds it, from the subject’s mysterious identity to her ever-present gaze. Now, in early 2024, over 500 years after Leonardo Da Vinci originally painted the iconic masterpiece, one of its biggest mysteries may have been solved. Ann Pizzorusso, a geologist and art historian from Italy, says she’s identified the background of the portrait: the city of Lecco, nestled along the shores of Lake Como in northern ...read more

Fires Burning Across Canada Are Already Impacting U.S. Air Quality

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Dozens of wildfires are burning across Canada in May 2024 and sending unhealthy smoke blowing into the northern U.S. again. At the same time, the southeastern U.S. is getting smoke from Mexico, where drought conditions have been fueling fires.Last year, Canada’s record 2023 wildfire season introduced millions of Americans across the Midwest and northeastern states to the health hazards of wildfire smoke, with air quality alerts that reached levels never seen there before.Professional baseball ...read more

Ancient Neanderthal and Paleolithic Teeth Show Signs of Childhood Stress

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For a team of researchers studying the effects of stress on ancient humans, their work wasn’t exactly like pulling teeth — but it did involve examining their enamel.A study in Scientific Reports that used enamel defects as a proxy for stress, says that Neanderthal children (who lived between 400,000 years and 40,000 years ago) and Upper Paleolithic kids (who lived between 50,000 years and 12,000 years ago) experienced similar levels of stress — but at different times during their developme ...read more

Pasteurization Protects Against Foodborne Illness, Including Avian Flu

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Recent reports that the H5N1 avian flu virus has been found in cow’s milk have raised questions about whether the U.S. milk supply is safe to drink. According to the federal Food and Drug Administration, the answer is yes, as long as the milk is pasteurized.Nonetheless, raw (unpasteurized) milk sales are up, despite health experts’ warning that raw milk could contain high levels of the virus, along with many other pathogens.As an extension food scientist in a state where raw milk sales are l ...read more

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