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Allergy Relief: real-time pollen updates may be on the way

Good news for allergy sufferers: Researchers may have hit upon a fast, new way to detect circulating pollen using a common laboratory technique that would provide instant updates of which types of the allergen are circulating in the air.  So far, the technique has only been shown to work in a lab, but it paves the way for a quicker detection system in the future, scientists report today in the journal Analytical Chemistry ...

December 22, 2008 — Coco Ballantyne

Slow Internet? Robot sub searches the Mediterranean for severed Internet cables

Although the Internet has come to be seen as ubiquitous, people in the Middle East and India were reminded Friday of just how the Web is delivered to their homes and businesses when three key undersea cables were severed within a span of 38 minutes, knocking a large portion of users offline until traffic could be re-routed...

December 22, 2008 — Larry Greenemeier

Chinese face-transplant recipient has died

One of the four people known to have received a partial face transplant has died, according to published reports.

Li Guoxing, 32, died in July at his home in southwestern China after taking herbal medicines instead of immune-suppressing drugs typically used to prevent recipients from rejecting donated tissue, his surgeon, Guo Shuzhong, told Agence-France Presse over the weekend...

December 22, 2008 — Jordan Lite

Obama names Holdren, Lubchenco, Varmus and Lander to science posts

President-elect Barack Obama named four top science advisors in his radio address yesterday. As reported widely last week, John Holdren will be his chief science adviser, as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology, and Jane Lubchenco, a professor of marine biology at Oregon State University, will direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration...

December 21, 2008 — Ivan Oransky

Technical Mumbo Jumbo May Scare Patients

Hey, doc. Watch what you say. Sticks and stones may break patients' bones but it turns out words – your words – may hurt them, too. A new study shows that physicians may unnecessarily frighten patients by using technical jargon instead of layman's terms for certain types of medical conditions, making them sound a lot worse than they really are...

December 19, 2008 — Gary Stix

Conscience clause and relaxed environmental regs among Bush's lame-duck rulings

Reproductive health and enviro activists are fuming over two more last-minute rule changes by the outgoing Bush administration: a new reg that allows heathcare workers to nix treatments to which they have moral objections, and another one that bars regulators from taking into consideration a power company's climate change–causing greenhouse gas emissions when applying for a license to build new coal-fired plants...

December 19, 2008 — Jordan Lite

Kicking rocks

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 thirteenth of her updates on the effort as part of ScientificAmerican.com 's in-depth report on the "Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARCTICA -- Last Saturday, we had a flurry of activity...

December 19, 2008 — Robin Bell

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The Essential Guide to the Modern World

The Essential Guide to the Modern World