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A joke in the European business community is that most young people turn 18 and start thinking about their pensions. They may have good reason, according to a study by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR), which found that for each additional euro the eastern Germans received in benefits from pensions and public health insurance after reunification, they gained on average three hours of life expectancy per person per year. 

Public spending appears to have contributed substantially to life expectancy, they say, so much that in just a generation life expectancy in eastern Germany has increased to be almost equivalent to life expectancy in the west, a big victory for proponents of more government spending.

What's not red and about the size of your thumb?

Tomatoes, before ancient scientists set out to make them patabale.  This genomic history of tomato breeding, based on sequencing of 360 varieties of the tomato plant, has vaulted beyond the first tomato genome sequence completed just two years ago. It will lend insight into science for people who believe genetic modification only began happening during the Clinton administration.

Analysis of the genome sequences of these 360 varieties and wild strains shows which regions of the genome were under selection during domestication and breeding. The study identified two independent sets of genes responsible for making the fruit of modern commercial tomatoes 100 times larger than their wild ancestors.

Given a critical change in the environment, how exactly do species adapt? 

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, is a way to extract natural gas from shale rock, by using a modern process to inject a high-pressure water mixture at the rock to release the gas inside. By all accounts it has been an environmental boon, responsible for causing energy emissions from coal to plummet back to early 1980s levels without causing energy prices to rise and harm poor people.

The Dutch have always been bold. Not just any culture would make wooden shoes a thing and turn tulip bulbs into a luxury investment. And if you like New York City, you can thank New Amsterdam.

Now Holland wants to be a colonial power again, this time on Mars. The "Mars One" project, announced in 2012, wants to establish the first human colony on the Red Planet by 2025. It's a one-way trip but there is no shortage of people willing to be one of the four that will build the first human settlement in space. 

In an instantaneous, 24-hour news cycle, a lot of being made of current U.S. droughts but the 1934 version was 7X larger than other comparable intensity droughts that struck North America between 1000 A.D. and 2005, and nearly 30 percent worse than the next most severe drought that struck the continent in 1580, finds a new analysis.