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New York State proposes iPod tax

Want to download tunes to your iPod? You may have to pay a premium—at least in New York Gov. David Paterson, desperate for ways to narrow the projected (and ever-expanding) $15.4-billion budget deficit, yesterday proposed taxing just about anything he could to raise much-needed cash, including digital music downloads.

December 17, 2008 — Larry Greenemeier

Almost calibrated

Editor's note: Marine geophysicist Robin Bell is leading an expedition to Antarctica to explore a mysterious mountain range beneath the ice sheet. Following is the eleventh of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's in-depth report on the "Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA (December 10) -- Flying over any town is an unusual request and McMurdo is not an exception.  When I asked if we could fly at 1,000 feet over town, I was greeted with skeptical looks.  McMurdo is nestled beneath a valley between Observation Hill and Hut Point.  The request sounded like a boondoggle.  I had to explain that to ensure the laser is correctly aligned with the aircraft frame, we have fly over pointed roofs.  Our Reigl laser is developed in Austria where there are ample pointed roofs for calibrating the instrument.  There are not many pointed roofs in Antarctica so flying over McMurdo seemed like the obvious answer.

December 17, 2008 — Robin Bell

Moving? Be sure to pick up a map of natural hazards in your new 'hood

Thinking about relocating? Forget the proximity of good schools, trendy shopping and green space. You might want to take a look at a new “hazard map” of the U.S., which spells out by geographic region the likelihood of dying from floods, earthquakes or other natural dangers.

December 16, 2008 — Jordan Lite

Baby's hot wheels: An incubator made of car parts

Some four million babies around the world die within a month of their birth, according to the World Health Organization. But one designer who's trying to get working incubators to developing countries says as many as 1.8 million of those infants might be spared if they could spend just a week in the units, which help babies who are born early or at low birth weights regulate their body temperature until their organs fully develop.

December 16, 2008 — Jordan Lite

Sleep badly, burn calories?

Sleep apnea, a disorder that can cause sufferers to temporarily stop breathing while snoozing, has long been associated with obesity. Paradoxical new findings suggest an ironic benefit: the worse the disease gets, the more calories patients burn.

December 15, 2008 — Jordan Lite

Colonoscopy: Not so great after all?

For about a decade, public health officials have been aggressively pushing colonoscopy, a procedure that inspects the colon for growths using a tube and camera, as the gold standard for detecting tumors while they're still treatable.

December 15, 2008 — Jordan Lite

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