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A long weekend at the South Pole

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's in-depth report on the "Future of the Poles." McMURDO STATION, ANTARTICA-- We are all strapped into our seats preparing for our last ride to the Willy Ice Runway when I have a momentary panic...

December 23, 2008 — Robin Bell

Coal war: Can the fossil fuel be cleaned up?

The original fossil fuel is back in the spotlight, under fire for being the biggest contributor to climate change (when burned in power plants). In an attempt to polish coal's tarnished image, the industry has launched a series of ads and other PR efforts (to the tune of “Jingle Bells”): Frosty the coal man is a jolly happy soul
He's abundant here in America and he helps our economy roll
Frosty the coal man's getting cleaner every day
He's affordable and adorable and helps workers keep their pay Beyond caroling coal available online (isn't a lump of coal at Christmas traditionally a bad thing?), a slew of clean coal advertisements have hit the airwaves, touting the benefits of technology that can capture and store the climate-changing greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) produced when coal is burned to generate electricity...

December 23, 2008 — David Biello

Online v. print reading: which one makes us smarter?

It's no mystery that publications have been taking a beating as more and more people read their news on the Net. But there's a catch. The online info may be instant and abundant -- and in many cases free -- but it may come at a cost, says a new study published in the Journal of Research in Reading ...

December 23, 2008 — Coco Ballantyne

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

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