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How to Fight Climate Change: Figure Out Who's to Blame, and Sue Them

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How it used to go was, after some extreme weather event, reporters would ask Climate McScientist, PhD whether the flood/drought/hurricane/disease outbreak/wildfire/superstorm happened because of climate change. Dr. McScientist would pat the reporter on the head and say: Well, of course, one can never ascribe any single weather event to a changing global climate. Granted, a […]

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A Clever New Robotic 'Muscle' Seriously Lifts, Bro

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Oh, the poor humanoid robots. After decades of development, they're still less sprinty Terminator and more … octogenarian on sedatives. While these robots may look like us, they aren’t built like us—electric motors in their joints drive their herky-jerky movements, whereas our muscles give us more precise control over our bodies. Well, unless we’re on […]

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The World’s Most Metal Bird Makes Darkness Out of Chaos

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The mating dance of the male superb bird of paradise is like nothing else on Earth. To win the affection of a female, he forms a sort of satellite dish with his body, revealing an entrancing band of blue. He jumps about like this, clicking in the face of the rather drab female, who appears […]

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The Amphiphilic Liquid Coating That Keeps Your Avocados Fresh

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Consider the rotten strawberry. Sitting there in your fridge, it suffers a cascading trifecta of maladies: For one, it dehydrates. Two, oxygen seeps in. And three, with the berry thus weakened, mold invades. Eventually, the strawberry turns to goop, a messy reminder of our own mortality. Rotting produce is an inevitability—I for one wouldn’t trust […]

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Puerto Rico's Observatory Is Still Recovering From Hurricane Maria

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As Hurricane Maria approached Puerto Rico in late September 2017, planetary scientist Ed Rivera-Valentin knew he needed to get out. His apartment was near the coast, in Manatí, and some projections had the storm passing directly over. “I knew I couldn’t stay there because something bad was going to happen,” he says. Some people stayed […]

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The Mad Scramble to Claim the World's Most Coveted Meteorite

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On the morning of September 15, 2007, station I08BO—an infrasound monitoring post for the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty near La Paz, Bolivia—picked up a series of atmospheric vibrations. It was an explosion at very high altitude, and there was something streaking across the sky, heading southwest at 27,000 mph. A few minutes later, at about […]

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Welcome to the Era of Orbital Publicity Stunts

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Space Graffiti n. Objects placed in orbit for the sole purpose of being seen from Earth. In January a company called Rocket Lab secretly added an extra point of light to the night sky. Dubbed the Humanity Star, it was a faceted carbon-fiber sphere parked in low Earth orbit, designed to twinkle as it caught […]

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Robots Are Renting Airbnbs to Get a Better Grip

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Maybe you like your Airbnb to come with a nice big living room or lots of light or his-and-her sinks. If you’re a robot, though, you just want a little variety. A carpet here, a hardwood floor there. Because you’re a pioneer, not just a tourist. At least, if you’re a very special robot from […]

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Women's Pain Is Different From Men's—the Drugs Could Be Too

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Men and women can’t feel each other’s pain. Literally. We have different biological pathways for chronic pain, which means pain-relieving drugs that work for one sex might fail in the other half of the population. So why don’t we have pain medicines designed just for men or women? The reason is simple: Because no one […]

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Emissions Have Already Peaked in 27 Cities—And Keep Falling

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Nothing against the countryside, which is lovely, but cities are where things happen. They are magnets for trade, and they're where cultures meet. They're also where more than half the world’s population lives, a number that will only continue to grow. Cities are also now serving as a unique testbed for responses to climate change—bolstering […]