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Spotted salamander first solar-powered vertebrate discovered

While scientists have known about multiple animals that can turn sunlight into energy, they haven’t been sure that any vertebrate could do so — until now. As far back as 1888, a biologist found that the eggs of a spotted salamander contained a kind of green algae, but now firm…

DNA database not so anonymous on the Internet: study

On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog — but it is getting increasingly easy for someone to figure it out. As more and more of our personal data — and those of the people we know and are related to — gets posted online, the anonymity promised by the…

Study confirms link between climate change and early blooming

As global average temperatures warm due to climate change, scientists have learned that plants are flowering earlier in the year than ever before. More troubling, scientists explained this week in the journal PLOS ONE that Massachusetts and Wisconsin in particular saw the earliest flowerings in recorded history during 2010 and…

Temperature hits all-time record in Sydney

Temperatures in Sydney hit their highest level on record on Friday, with the mercury in Australia’s biggest city reaching 45.8 degrees Celsius (114.4 Fahrenheit) in the mid-afternoon. Sydney’s previous hottest recorded temperature was 45.3 degrees set in 1939. “It’s a historic day for Sydney today,” Weather Channel meteorologist Dick Whitaker…

Some children outgrow autism: study

Some children diagnosed as autistic at a young age see their symptoms completely disappear when they get older, new research shows. The small-scale study — published in the “Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry” — included 34 subjects who were diagnosed very early on with the disorder but who, by…

Sarah Silverman tells Neil deGrasse Tyson: NASA gave Mars rover a stripper name

Comedians Jim Gaffigan and Sarah Silverman along with astrobiologist David Grinspoon appeared on StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson and Eugene Mirman to discuss the Curiosity Mars Rover last September. In video published Thursday on YouTube, Tyson explained that NASA’s latest Mars rover used an innovative new system to safely land…

Authoritarian regimes use Silicon Valley software to censor Internet: report

Authoritarian regimes around the world are using technology from a Silicon Valley firm for Internet surveillance, filtering and censorship, according to a report by Canadian researchers. The report this week from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab said devices from California-based security firm Blue Coat Systems were being used in…

Lawmakers ‘unjustifiably focus’ on illicit drugs rather than alcohol: report

Lawmakers around the world “unjustifiably” treat illicit drugs as if they were a greater public health concern than alcohol, according to a report published online Wednesday in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. Alcohol is at least as harmful as illicit drugs, according to Jan van Amsterdam of the Laboratory for Health…

Study: Flu shots pose no extra risk for pregnant women

Pregnant women in Norway who got vaccinated against the swine flu virus that caused the 2009-2010 pandemic showed no increased risk of pregnancy loss, contrary to popular belief, says a study released Thursday. Pregnant women who came down with the flu did however have increased risk of miscarriage and still…

Weird marine creature could be the ancestor to modern shellfish

A weird marine creature that lived 500 million years ago at a time of explosive growth in Earth’s biodiversity could be a forerunner of worms and molluscs, a study published on Thursday said. Palaeontologists in China and Europe have taken a second look at fossils of a species called Cotyledion…

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