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Pests and pathogens could cost agriculture billions: report
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
The spread of pests and pathogens that damage plant life could cost global agriculture $540 billion a year, according to a report published on Thursday. The report, released by the Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) at Kew in London, said that an increase in international trade and travel had left flora facing rising threats from invasive pests and pathogens, and called for greater biosecurity measures. "Plants underpin all aspects of life on Earth from the air we breathe right through to our food, our crops, our medicines," said Professor Kathy Willis, RBG Kew's director of science.
In the U.S., trees are on the move because of climate change
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Climate change is uprooting trees across the eastern United States. Dozens of species are shifting west and north of their usual locations as average temperatures and rainfall patterns change, researchers found. Oak, maple, and other deciduous trees are primarily heading westward as they follow changes in moisture availability, according to a new study in the journal Science Advances. Evergreens like firs and pines are shifting northward in search of cooler climes. SEE ALSO: Climate change is messing with all your favorite birds "It is not future predictions," Songlin Fei, the study's lead author and a Purdue University professor, said in a press release.  "Empirical data reveals the impact of climate change is happening on the ground now," he said. "It's in action." Image: Songlin FeiTree movement can have a profound impact on forest ecosystems. Soil, insects, animals, and other plants all depend on trees for shelter and sustenance. Trees themselves rely on this complex web for nutrition and seed-spreading. If these woody wonders pack up and move, the delicate system can be thrown off balance. For birds, such shifts add insult to injury. Springtime conditions have grown more variable and unpredictable in North America, making it harder for songbirds to time their migrations and secure the best nests and food supplies for their chicks, a separate report found this week. The tree study is based on an analysis of U.S. Forest Service data gathered between 1980 and 2015. It encompasses 86 tree species between Maine and Minnesota, and as far south as Florida. Image: Songlin FeiOver the 35-year period, the mean annual temperature in the eastern U.S. increased by about 0.16 degrees Celsius on average, or 0.29 degrees Fahrenheit. Northern areas saw the greatest temperature increases, researchers said. Precipitation patterns also changed, particularly in the southern region, where increasing temperatures helped lead to widespread droughts, according to the Palmer Drought Severity Index. Climate scientists attribute such changes at least partly to human-caused global warming.  As greenhouse gas concentrations in the air reach new highs, land and sea temperatures are ticking up, affecting weather patterns and spurring extreme events such as heat waves, floods, and droughts. All of these can overwhelm the ability of plants and animals to cope. Image: Songlin FeiPrevious studies on how climate change affects trees have generally shown a strong correlation between changes in temperature and shifting tree ranges. But this new study revealed that precipitation also plays a significant role in tree movement. Fei said the westward shift of deciduous trees was among researchers' most surprising findings. "When analyzing the impact of climate change, precipitation had a much stronger near-term impacts on forests instead of temperatures," he said. What's less clear is how these changes will affect the sustainability and biodiversity of forest ecosystems, though Fei said further research will focus on this area. "We want to know if there is a community breakdown among groups of species resulting from climate changes," he said. WATCH: It's official, 2016 was Earth's warmest year on record
Live Long and Prognosticate
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
GV founder Bill Maris is venturing out on his own with an ode to Star Trek to source investments in frontier technology. Bill Maris, the founder and first CEO of Alphabet Inc.’s GV, launched venture capital fund Section 32 with $150 million. When he left the unit formerly known as Google Ventures, Maris reportedly planned to raise $100 million as recently as March and target investments in healthcare and biotech.
Google's balloon
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
During natural disasters, the ability to communicate with loved ones and get basic information is vital. But communication infrastructure is often one of the first things to be knocked out by high winds, massive rain, and flooding — especially in remote and rural regions. Massive jellyfish-like balloons traveling at the edge of space, however, are making that problem a thing of the past.  SEE ALSO: 9 incredible ways we're using drones for social good Over the past two months, Peruvians affected by extreme rain and severe flooding since January have had basic internet access, thanks to Project Loon, an initiative from Google's parent company Alphabet to bring internet to developing nations. The efforts in Peru show that Project Loon could be a model for relief during future natural disasters, with the potential to increase connectivity and communication when it's needed most. A map of Peru's flooding, and the areas where Project Loon is active in the region.Image: Alphabet / Project LoonHundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by heavy rains in Peru over the past several months, and the Peruvian government has declared a state of emergency in more than 800 provinces in the country. X — Alphabet's research division for "moonshot technologies" to make the world a better place — has used Project Loon to connect tens of thousands of Peruvians in flooded regions around Lima, Chimbote, and Piura. Project Loon head Alastair Westgarth announced the success of the effort in a blog post on Wednesday. "Loon balloons float 20 km up in the stratosphere, and so have the potential to extend connectivity to where it's needed regardless of what's happening below," Westgarth wrote. "We've been flying balloons over Latin America and running connectivity tests with our telecommunications partner Telefonica in Peru for the last few months. So when we saw what was happening, we reached out to Telefonica and the government to see how we could help." High-speed internet is transmitted up to these balloons, which float twice as high as airplanes and above weather, from a telecommunications partner on the ground. In the case of the Peru floods, this partner was Telefonica. The transmission is then sprinkled back down, giving users on the ground access to reliable internet on their phones in emergency situations. "More than 160 GB of data has been sent to people over a combined area of 40,000 square kilometers — that's roughly the size of Switzerland, and enough data to send and receive around 30 million WhatsApp messages, or 2 million emails," Westgarth wrote. About 57 percent of the world's population — or 4.2 billion people — still live without internet access, especially those living in remote and rural regions. Connectivity during disasters like the flooding in Peru is essential, helping citizens reach loved ones and medical aid. Relief workers also benefit from the balloon-powered internet access, which enables them to better communicate with each other to distribute aid more effectively. The ongoing success of the project in Peru highlights how the use of X's balloons could revolutionize the future of disaster relief.  Other tech companies are experimenting with similar efforts, like Facebook's Aquila drone program, to connect the developing world. Google announced earlier this year that it would be abandoning its Titan project, which was working to develop internet-connected drones. WATCH: Google glass may be uncool, but the product is irreplaceable for autistic kids
Joe Lieberman: 5 things to know about Trump’s possible pick for FBI director
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, politics
The president is expected to announce his pick to replace fired FBI Director James Comey as early as this week, and according to multiple reports, former Sen. Joseph Lieberman has emerged as the leading candidate for the position.
Trump denies any collusion between his campaign and Russia
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, politics
President Trump strongly denied that he or members of his campaign colluded with the Russian government in order to influence the 2016 election.
Harvard student submits rap album as his senior thesis
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, odd news
BOSTON (AP) — While other Harvard University students were writing papers for their senior theses, Obasi Shaw was busy rapping his.
Taboo
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, world
From the lecterns of mass rally stages, and during live television debates, Iran’s presidential candidates have crossed multiple regime red lines in their bids to cast opponents as dangerously unfit for office. Energized by the electoral fisticuffs, thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets each night, with activists from both sides – either seeking change, or fearing it – expressing their views in noisy traffic jams. Recommended: How much do you know about Iran?
How Mueller appointment may calm a roiled Washington
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, world
The appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel overseeing the agency’s Russia investigation adds a measure of integrity and calm during a time of tumult in Washington. It cools the nascent – and premature – talk of impeachment that had started to build following President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, and reports that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to drop an investigation into the president’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
70+ Easy and Delicious Popsicle Recipes
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
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34 Must
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
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23 Fantastically Festive 4th of July Party Ideas
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
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Photographer Brings Deployed Husband and Wife "Together" for Touching Maternity Photo Shoot
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
I'm not crying, *you're* crying.
Mom's Warning Goes Viral After Fidget Spinner Sends Her Daughter to the Hospital
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
Kelly Rose Joniec said her daughter started choking on the toy, causing a trip to the emergency room.
Couple Documents Entire Pregnancy Journey In An Incredible Time
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
If only three trimesters could pass by in a minute IRL.
Dad Wins the Internet Today With Message Proclaiming "I'm Not the Babysitter"
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
"I'm their dad. And looking after them and guiding them and caring for them is my responsibility."
Alison Sweeney On the Accident That Changed Her — And How She Found Her Strength Again
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
"At first it was hard for me to even get out of bed — which was good in one way."
11 Things You Should Never, Ever Wear to a Wedding
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
Like, err, your own wedding dress. (Seriously, it's happened.)
Katie Holmes and Jamie Foxx's Allegedly Spent a Romantic Long Weekend In Paris
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
It's the latest news about the super secretive couple.
This Mom Took Her Teen's Phone Away and Discovered Something Amazing
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
"When the phone had been gone for a week, he actually told me he felt happier without it."
Steve Irwin's Wife Reveals the Real Reason Why She Hasn't Dated Since He Died
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
It's been over 10 years since her late husband's fatal accident.
These Bedtime Routine Cartoons Are Hilariously Accurate for Parents
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
The struggle is real.
Gratitude for Invisible Systems
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Before asking the question of how technology can affect democracy, I’m going to ask: What is democracy for? In a developed, post-industrial country at the start of the twenty-first century, one of the main functions of a democratic political system is to help us collectively manage living in a complex, global society. Our daily lives take place in a network of technological, socio-technical, and social systems that we barely notice, except when things go wrong.
Fox Firepower: Sights and sounds from SOFIC 2017
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Tech Take: Allison Barrie highlights some of the most interesting military hardware seen at the 2017 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference
Senators Urge Trump Not To Slash Agency's Office Of Education
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Sens. Tim Kaine and Tammy Baldwin spearheaded a letter signed by 32 other senators, arguing that cutting NASA's Office of Education will hurt the U.S. workforce.
You think your baby's needy? Orangutan moms breastfeed for 8 years
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Well, that photo would have been just fine in the orangutan world: young orangutans keep nursing for 8 years or more — longer than any other mammal, according to a new study. Researchers analyzed the teeth of four wild orangutans for an element absorbed from breast milk, barium. The presence of barium suggested that breastfeeding continues in cycles for at least 8 years, helping young orangutans get their nutrition even when other food sources like fruits are scarce.
Meet the company vying to take on Tesla in clean energy
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Tesla isn't the only automaker vying to claim your rooftop as well as your garage.  Mercedes-Benz now wants to sell you a full "ecosystem" of clean energy services, including solar panels that charge battery packs, which in turn charge electric vehicles — or at least let you store daytime solar power for nighttime use. The German automaker on Thursday became the newest player in the growing U.S. market for home batteries through a collaboration with Vivint Solar, a leading U.S. residential rooftop solar installer. SEE ALSO: How Elon Musk plans to make Tesla Motors a clean energy powerhouse The partnership will allow both companies to compete with similar offerings from Elon Musk's Tesla, which acquired rooftop installer Solar City last year, as well as Sunrun, LG Chem, and other clean energy firms. A new kind of Benz.Image: vivint solarEnergy storage systems are rapidly spreading in the United States as the prices of both lithium-ion batteries and solar photovoltaic panels steadily plummet. Deployments of these set-ups totaled 336 megawatt-hours in 2016, double the amount deployed in 2015, GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association reported in March. Still, they're not exactly cheap.  The Mercedes-Vivint systems will cost between $5,000 and $13,000 to fully install. The systems are made up of 2.5-kilowatt-hour batteries — each the size of a mini-fridge — that can be combined in systems up to 20 kilowatt hours. That's about enough to run a typical refrigerator for a week. Boris von Bormann, chief executive of Mercedes-Benz Energy Americas, said the new venture presents two big opportunities for the automaker. Image: GTM Research / ESA U.S. Energy Storage MonitorHome energy storage opens up an entirely new market for the company's battery technology, which it originally developed to power its line of electric vehicles. Mercedes began selling its batteries in Europe and South Africa this year and will offer them in the U.S. through Vivint this summer, starting in California. The second advantage is that energy storage gives electric vehicle owners a more convenient way to charge their cars at home. With solar panels charging the batteries, owners won't have to worry about racking up high utility bills or overloading the electric grid. Plus, they can avoid using electricity from coal or natural gas. Mercedes said it plans to release 10 new electric vehicles by 2022. If would-be car buyers don't have to fret about how they'll charge the car batteries, they might be more inclined to give these models a chance. Hi, I'm a battery.Image: vivint solar"An energy storage system will allow you to have an electric vehicle and self-produce that electricity for the electric vehicle," von Bormann said in an interview. He noted the company will soon launch other "add-on offerings" to further ease customers' transition from internal combustion engine to electric car. "We're looking at ... the whole ecosystem that a future electric vehicle driver will experience," he said. Electric car owners aren't the only target audience for these new storage systems. Homeowners who have rooftop solar panels — or want to get them — would also benefit by having round-the-clock renewable energy. "It solves a great problem and need for our customers, where they'll produce power during the day, and now they can consume it in the evening hours," David Bywater, CEO of Vivint Solar, said in an interview. The new collaboration "is allowing us to expand our reach," he added. WATCH: Faraday Future just unveiled a super fast Tesla competitor — here's what it looks like  
It's happening: Google's AI is building more AIs
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
We've reached AI inception, but Google CEO Sundar Pichai still wants to "go deeper."
Roger Ailes predicted his own death — and he was right
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Five years ago, Roger Ailes tried to predict his own death. “My doctor told me that I’m old, fat, and ugly, but none of those things is going to kill me immediately,” Ailes told a Vanity Fair reporter when he was 71. Where did Ailes get his estimate?
Google doodle gears up for Antikythera mechanism's discovery
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
A doodle celebrates a lump of bronze from a Roman shipwreck that turned out to be a forgotten piece of computer history.
New Zealand quake scientists discover surprise: Hot water
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Researchers in New Zealand have stumbled upon hot water while drilling deep into an earthquake fault, discovering a potential source of energy for industries like dairy farming
Spreadsheets and determination lead to Geographic Bee win
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
WASHINGTON (AP) — Pranay Varada was stung by last year's National Geographic Bee, when he flubbed the official language of Sierra Leone — it's English; he answered French — and finished in sixth place. Determined to avoid another setback in his final year of eligibility, he started studying for this year's bee that same day.
Live updates: Car speeds into crowd in Times Square; 1 dead, 22 injured
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, politics
The incident, which occurred around 12 p.m. local time, does not appear to be terror-related.
Trump says special counsel will hurt ‘our country’
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, politics
President Trump said the United States will be hurt by the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to look into Russian influence in the 2016 election. “I believe it hurts our country terribly,” said Trump in a quote provided by NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie, “because it shows we’re a divided, mixed-up, not unified country. Guthrie was one of a group of news anchors who met with Trump at the White House Thursday.
Salem congressman responds to Trump's 'witch hunt' tweet
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, odd news
BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts congressman is taking issue with Republican President Donald Trump's claim he's the target of the "single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history."
The place in America where (almost) no one drinks their tap water
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, world
“[O]n the TV you see someone go to the faucet and get a drink of water, and it just makes me mad cause, you know, we can’t do that,” says Mr. Fannin, who buys two or three 24-packs of bottled water a month for drinking and cooking. For the rest of the community, relying solely on bottled water is seen as just a way of life, not a reason to protest.
More than they bargained for? Israeli leaders gird for Trump visit.
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, world
A recent cartoon in the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz showed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu breaking a sweat as he greeted a friend bearing gifts: President Trump with a package containing an Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Mr. Netanyahu, on the heels of a famously bad relationship with former President Barack Obama that both sides did little to hide, has gone out of his way to signal that Mr. Trump is a president he can deal with. For his part, Trump took office after campaigning hard on the theme he would be a more sympathetic friend to Israel.
How Saudis claim freedom
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, world
For his first official trip abroad, President Trump will be in Saudi Arabia this weekend, attending a dizzying number of public events. Written by Swiss entrepreneur Rolf Dobelli with tips for independence in thought, the book’s popularity speaks volumes about what Saudis want in a society long controlled by a monarchy and clerical authorities. In recent years, Saudis have taken to Twitter to speak out against government – despite the threat of a public lashing if they go too far in criticizing the monarchy.
Feeling Squeezed: Healthcare Is Top Concern in CR's New Consumer Voices Survey
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. When it comes to healthcare, Americans may not agree on much, but they agree on this: Affordable, quality coverage is ge...
Secret
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
Looking to add another delicious vegan dessert to your arsenal? Watch the video above and you’ll see why you should be adding aquafaba to your healthy dishes ASAP.
Easing the Side Effects of Breast Cancer Treatment
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. Advances in breast cancer treatment in recent years have saved and extended the lives of tens of thousands of women. Bu...
Apricot Vanilla Cashew Bars
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, health
Watch this video to learn the easy way to get your sweet fix with these healthy, nutrient-rich apricot vanilla cashew bars.
'Winged Serpent' Fossil Found in 5
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Inside a 5-million-year-old sinkhole in Tennessee, at a spot dubbed Gray Fossil Site, scientists have unearthed the fossilized remains of an ancient "winged serpent" among hundreds of other snake bones. Though it may sound like the stuff of nightmares, the winged snake was not gifted with flight — its name is in reference to the wing-like protrusions on its vertebrae. Snakes' vertebrae are key to the classification of the creatures' fossils, according to study lead author Steven Jasinski, a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania and acting curator of paleontology and geology at the State Museum of Pennsylvania.
Earth’s Space Weather Can Storm From Nuclear Explosions
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Humans affected space weather, in a way usually reserved for the sun when the U.S. and the Soviet Union exploded nuclear bombs in the atmosphere during the Cold War.
Google.ai aims to make state of the art AI advances accessible to everyone
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
On the stage of Google I/O, CEO Sundar Pichai announced Google.ai, a new initiative to democratize the benefits of the latest in machine learning research. Google.ai will serve as a center of Google's AI efforts — including research, tools and applied AI. The new site will host research from Google and its Brain Team.
Go west, young pine: US forests shifting with climate change
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
WASHINGTON (AP) — A warmer, wetter climate is helping push dozens of Eastern U.S. trees to the north and, surprisingly, west, a new study finds.
Pope tells geneticists that destroying embryos is unjustifiable
JAY GORY, MANAGING EDITOR, science
Pope Francis praised scientists working on treatments for genetic diseases on Thursday but condemned any use of human embryos in medical research. "I encourage you to carry out (your work) in ways that do not contribute to nourishing the 'throwaway culture' that sometimes creeps into the world of scientific research," he said at an event aimed at raising awareness of Huntington's disease, a degenerative brain condition. "We know that no end, even a noble one like the expectation of a benefit for science, for other human beings or for society, can justify the destruction of human embryos," Francis added.