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Levitating Fruit Flies To Learn About Space Travel

Physicist Richard Hill and colleagues at the University of Nottingham have a powerful magnet that they have used to levitate fruits, beer and most recently, fruit flies. It's a low-cost way to study the effects of zero gravity on biological systems, Hill says.
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Debate Persists Over Publishing Bird Flu Studies

A federal advisory board has urged scientific journals not to publish the research from two labs that have developed an airborne flu virus. Microbiologist Vincent Racaniello discusses why the move sets a bad precedent. Biosecurity expert D.A. Henderson talks about the risks of publishing the research.
NPR

One Scholar's Take On The Power of The Placebo

A placebo can take the form of a sugar pill or even a fake surgery. It's often used to test the effectiveness of a trial drug. Ted Kaptchuk, director of Harvard University's Program in Placebo Studies and the Therapeutic Encounter, discusses potential applications for the healing power of placebos.
NPR

Middle-Aged Brains Are Already Past Their Prime

A study of more than 7,000 British civil servants finds that age-related declines in cognitive ability start as early as 45. The results suggest that efforts to head off mental problems late in life need to begin in middle age, the study's authors write at the end of their paper.
NPR

Monkey Experiments Boost Hope For Human AIDS Vaccine

The vaccine protected 80 percent of monkeys from infection with SIV, the simian version of HIV. By comparison, an experimental HIV vaccine was 31 percent effective in protecting people against infection in a large-scale study unveiled in 2009.
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FDA Agrees To Limit Antibiotics In Livestock

The FDA is increasing regulations on a class of antibiotic drugs commonly used by livestock producers. The drugs are great for treating infections in animals and humans. Food safety advocates say the over-use of cephalosporin in animals has contributed to the development of diseases that tolerate the antibiotic.
NPR

Zoo Crafts Love Nest To Save Ozark's Salamanders

The large, flat, slimy, river-dwelling hellbenders are among the world's largest salamanders — and they're quickly disappearing. But thanks to a new conservation program and a high-tech ecosystem at the Saint Louis Zoo, scientists say 2012 could be a year of resurgence for the animals.
NPR

The Race To Dig Deeper Ports For Bigger Cargo Ships

Many environmental concerns are starting to surface as East Coast cities plan to dredge their ports — like in Miami, where engineers would drill for two years to deepen Biscayne Bay's limestone bottom. But like many cities, Miami wants business from new cargo ships from the Panama Canal.
NPR

How Fracking And Drilling Might Be Causing Quakes

Small earthquakes in Ohio and Arkansas associated with hydraulic fracturing for gas have taken many people by surprise. Gas industry executives say there's no hard evidence that their activities are causing these quakes. But some scientists say it's certainly possible; in fact, people have been causing quakes for years.

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