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European ‘robot snake’ being prepared to assist Mars rover Curiosity

Robot snakes on Mars? Serpentine probe could explore Red Planet. (via The Christian Science Monitor) Scientists hope that the Mars “snake,” called Wheeko, will be able to do and see things that a six-wheeled rover cannot do or see.(SINTEF/YouTube) Last month, fans of the Curiosity rover’s images spotted something unusual…

U.S. ‘lower class’ booming even as poverty rate holds steady

US poverty rate steady at 15 percent, but ‘lower class’ is booming (via The Christian Science Monitor) A group of boys walk past a partially collapsed row house in Baltimore in April. According to new census data, the nation’s poverty rate stood still at 15 percent in 2012, the sixth…

Researchers: Comet impact could have kickstarted life on Earth

Did life on Earth come from a comet? (via The Christian Science Monitor) The Deep Impact spacecraft, which was sent to study the composition of comets in 2005, collides with comet Tempel 1 in this artist illustration. New research from the U.K. suggests that life on Earth could have started…

African population expected to double by 2050

Africa’s baby-boom: Population to double by mid-century (via The Christian Science Monitor) Women and children sit on the stoop of a produce shop in a township outside Johannesburg, South Africa, in this file photo. (Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff/File) Africa’s population is predicted to more than double to 2.4 billion people by…

Washington state publishes how-to guide for pot growers and sellers

Washington State issues how-to regs on growing, selling marijuana (via The Christian Science Monitor) A T-shirt is displayed at ‘Hempfest’ in Seattle last month. Thousands attended the three-day marijuana festival – an event that was part party, part protest, and part victory celebration after the legalization of pot in Washington…

New trend of companies offering ‘unlimited’ time off turns into nightmare for employees

Would you like unlimited days off? (via The Christian Science Monitor) Tourists take pictures at the south Bavarian Neuschwanstein castle near Schwangau, about 74 miles south of Munich. The castle, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, was built by King Ludwig II in 1869.(Michael Dalder/Reuters/File)…   ["Stock…

Radical wind changes blamed for Arizona firefighter deaths

Arizona wildfire: Details emerge on tragedy that killed 19 hotshots (via The Christian Science Monitor) As more becomes known about the devastating Arizona wildfire that killed 19 members of a “hotshot” team, broader questions are being raised: How to address the spread of residential expansion into the “wildland-urban interface” where…

Wettest Midwest spring in 40 years delays crop planting

Year after drought, wettest Midwest spring in 40 years delays crop planting (via The Christian Science Monitor) After scorching temperatures and drought conditions devastated the nation’s crop production last year, farmers across the Midwestern farm belt are now dealing with the reverse side of Mother Nature – too much rain.…

Security flaw affects 99 percent of Android phones: report

Security flaw affects 99 percent of Android phones: report (via The Christian Science Monitor) A security research firm discovered a flaw in Android phone operating system that would allow hackers to modify a regular application into a malicious one completely undetected by smart phone users, the app seller, or the…

Researchers: Cockatoo species shows problem-solving ability

Da Vinci-code, bird-style: Cockatoos can solve complex puzzles (via The Christian Science Monitor) These are birds with intellects to rival even those of Alfred Hitchock. Researchers have found that Goffin’s cockatoos can complete a complicated sequence of tasks in pursuit of a reward, suggesting that species’ cognitive ability to innovate…

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