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11:38PM

Earth's Dechlorination

That complex life could evolve on Earth involved a set of fantastic coincidences. One of them was the prolonged pummeling of the planet for 800 million years, starting over 4.5 billion years ago. Seeding the planet with cosmic debris was essential to its evolution, as was what was taken off in the process. One benefit of bombardment was ridding Earth of most of its chlorine.

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4:33PM

Cicada Time

Late spring 2013: from the remaining forests of the northeastern United States, cicadas are emerging to mate as the culmination of their 17-year life cycle. Their ways retain enigmas.

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2:44PM

Poison Avoidance

Organisms of all kinds rapidly adapt. The more primitive, the more quickly evolution creates a solution. Human pests are exemplary.

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9:32PM

Red Meat

It has long been known that eating red meat engenders cardiovascular disease. The tasty fat marbled in the meat has long been pointed to as the villain, as has cholesterol. That turns out be a subplot in the story, though consuming animal fat is unhealthy, and the wrong kind of cholesterol does damage. Instead, carnitine is the culprit.

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2:18PM

Free Enterprise

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) advocates "limited government and free markets." They campaign against clean air and clean water, and favor legislation that allows routine animal cruelty.

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10:07PM

Buzz Off

Pollination is essential to two-thirds of the world's food crops. Commercial bee hives are often relied upon, but unkempt insects, including bees, beetles, flies and butterflies, are important, as the wild things are more productive pollinators. Pesticides and herbicides, blithely applied worldwide, are indiscriminate killers. Ironically, considering their intended benefit, crop yields are declining because of their use.

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10:16PM

Status Sniff

Many mammals, including dogs, rats and cats, sniff each other out when they meet. For rodents at least, sniffing intensity signals social status.

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4:44PM

Beneficial Viruses

The germ theory of disease originated in 1546, when Italian physician Girolamo Fracastoro (1476 – 1553) hypothesized epidemic diseases were caused by infectious seeds of some sort. Since that time, bacteria and viruses came to be microbial evil incarnate. Only in recent years have bacteria redeemed themselves a bit by discovery that they define digestion, regulate physiology, and that humans are mostly made up of them. Now it is viruses turn.

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9:35PM

Marsh Making (& Loss)

Marshes form a transition zone between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Marshes are found worldwide.

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7:42PM

Small Matter

At the heart of every atom stirs at least one proton, created by three hyperactive quarks. Far away bustles a bunch of electrons, orbiting with a complex layering that affords combination with other atoms. From this the stuff of matter is built. Physicists have been recently startled to discover that the proton has gotten punier. The confounder comes with not knowing why.

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