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Bird populations decline years after Fukushima's nuclear catastrophe

This is the time of year when birds come out and really spread their wings, but since a disastrous day just before spring’s arrival four years ago, Japan’s Fukushima province has not been friendly to the feathered. And as several recent papers from University of South Carolina biologist Tim Mousseau and colleagues show, the avian situation there is just getting worse.

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Human sweat conveys our emotional state!

Humans may be able to communicate positive emotions like happiness through the smell of our sweat, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The research indicates that we produce chemical compounds, or chemosignals, when we experience happiness that are detectable by others who smell our sweat. 

While previous research has shown that negative emotions related to fear and disgust are communicated via detectable regularities in the chemical composition of sweat, few studies have examined whether the same communicative function holds for positive emotions.

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New oil repellant materials could help clean up oil spills

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have announced a significant step forward in the development of materials that can ward off oil — a discovery that could lead to new protective coatings and better approaches to cleaning up oil spills. In a new paper in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, professor of chemical and biological engineering David Lynn and assistant scientist Uttam Manna describe new coatings that are extremely oil-repellant (or "superoleophobic") in underwater environments.

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Japan's 'scientific whaling' fail

Japan's latest plans for 'scientific whaling' in the Southern Ocean have fallen at the first hurdle, writes Tony Press. The IWC's expert panel says Japan's proposal contains 'insufficient information' on which to judge its validity, in particular the need for the 'lethal sampling' of over 3,996 Minke whales that is central to the research plan.

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How California distributes scarce water

The state of California is asking a basic question right now that people often fight over: What's a fair way to divide up something that's scarce and valuable? That "something," in this case, is water.

There's a lot at stake, including your very own nuts, fruit and vegetables, because most of the water that's up for grabs in California goes to farmers. This year, some farmers will get water, and others will not, simply based on when their land was first irrigated.

Consider, for instance, the case of Cannon Michael. He grows tomatoes and melons in California's Central Valley. And despite the drought, he'll still grow them this year.

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What lead is doing to our students

Every child's ability to succeed in school is influenced by lots of external factors: teacher quality, parenting, poverty, geography, to name a few. But far less attention has been paid to the power of a child's bedroom walls. Or, rather, the paint that's on them and the lead that may be in that paint. A new study published in the Harvard Educational Review suggests that efforts to reduce kids' lead exposure have led to tangible academic gains in Massachusetts.

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Report finds rise in ER visits following heavy rainfall

Consumers whose drinking water can be contaminated by the release of untreated wastewater after heavy rains face increased risk for gastrointestinal illness, according to a report in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. “Combined” sewer systems collect both sewage and stormwater runoff on the way to treatment facilities. When heavy rainfall fills these systems beyond their capacity, untreated wastewater can back up into homes. To reduce the risk of home flooding during heavy precipitation, municipalities often discharge some of the untreated flow into nearby bodies of water. The release of untreated waste is known as a combined sewer overflow.

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The importance of oceanic phytoplankton

Do you have any idea just how many organizims are in seawater?  Not the fish you can see, but the microscopic organizims you cant see?

Dip a beaker into any portion of the world’s oceans, and you’re likely to pull up a swirling mix of planktonic inhabitants. The oceans are teeming with more than 5,000 species of phytoplankton — microscopic plants in a kaleidoscope of shapes and sizes. Together, phytoplankton anchor the ocean’s food chain, supplying nutrients to everything from single-celled organisms on up to fish and whales.

Through photosynthesis, these tiny organisms supply more than half the world’s oxygen. When these plants die, they drift to the ocean bottom, or evaporate into the air as carbon — a process that generates more than half the world’s cycling carbon.

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Warmer Waters Threaten Future of Traditional Fish and Chips

Popular North Sea fish such as haddock, plaice and lemon sole could be replaced on the menus of the nation’s fish and chip shops as the seas around the UK continue to warm at a rapid rate, a new study warns. Fish distributions are limited by water temperature and some species can only thrive in certain habitats and depths. 

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Fungi thrived in flooded Colorado homes months after waters receded

Basements that flooded after heavy rains deluged the Colorado Front Range in September 2013 had higher levels of airborne mold and other fungi months after the waters receded compared with basements that didn’t flood, according to a study by the University of Colorado Boulder.

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