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New AI program aims to improve how we search through science

When it comes to the body of scientific literature in existence, the world is suffering from information overload. There are now more than 100 million academic papers online and that number is estimated to be growing at a rate of nearly 5,000 new articles each day. According to one study, only half of those papers are being read by anyone other than the author and the editors of whatever journal…

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New studies deepen concerns about a climate-change ‘wild card’

Two new studies are adding to concerns about one of the most troubling scenarios for future climate change: the possibility that global warming could slow or shut down the Atlantic’s great ocean circulation systems, with dramatic implications for North America and Europe. The research, by separate teams of scientists, bolsters predictions of disruptions to global ocean currents — such as the Gulf Stream — that transfer tropical warmth from the…

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Did Big Oil seek to sway scientists in climate debate?

A key Democratic lawmaker is seeking an expanded inquiry into whether fossil-fuel companies have been secretly underwriting the research of some of the country’s most prominent scientific skeptics of climate change. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D- Ariz.), the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, sent requests to seven universities asking for detailed records on the funding sources for affiliated researchers who have opposed the scientific consensus on man-made…

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Vaccination debate flares in presidential race

Medical experts reacted with alarm Monday as two top contenders for the Republican presidential nomination appeared to question whether child vaccinations should be mandatory — injecting politics into an emotional issue that has taken on new resonance with a recent outbreak of measles in the United States. First, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, while visiting a vaccine laboratory here, called for “some measure of choice” on whether shots guarding against…

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New smog rules proposed, both parties unhappy

The Obama administration is expected to propose restrictions on smog-causing ozone on Wednesday in a move that will address a major cause of respiratory illness for millions of Americans while also setting the stage for new clashes with the Republican-controlled Congress. The Environmental Protection Agency’s long-awaited proposal will reportedly call for toughening restrictions on the pollutant, which forms when chemicals in factory smoke and automobile exhaust react to sunlight. Ground-level…

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Pope gives Church a little nudge toward science

Delivering an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope Francis continued his habit of making provocative, seemingly progressive statements. The pontiff appeared to endorse the theory of the Big Bang and told the gathering at the Vatican that there was no contradiction between believing in God as well as the prevailing scientific theories regarding the expansion of our universe. “When we read about creation in Genesis, we run the…

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New book and TV series, ‘How We Got to Now’

We all know how important the printing press has been to human history. Invented in the 1400s, it allowed the mass production of books, newspapers and magazines. That fueled rapid increases in literacy and spawned new industries such as publishing. It also laid the foundation for colossal changes in how citizens expected to be governed, leading to more open and democratic societies. But did you know that the printing press…

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EPA proposes major cut in CO2 emissions

Photo by arbyreed on Flickr The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a regulation Monday that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by up to to 30 percent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, taking aim at one of the nation’s leading sources of greenhouse gases. Under the draft rule, the EPA would let states and utilities meet the new standard with different approaches mixing four options including energy…

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