Over 700 women in the US die per year from (sometimes unknown) causes that involve pregnancy or childbirth and the same Republican Congress we are often told doesn't care about pregnant women just devoted $60 million to finding out why it's happening. Good for them. 

The bill defines a "pregnancy-associated death" as death while pregnant or with a year after. A  "pregnancy-related death" is while pregnant or within a year after from any cause related to the pregnancy unless it's accidental. 
At insect size, miniature superheroes Ant-Man and The Wasp should be dead in minutes. Since they did not train on the top of Mt. Everest, they would be unable to overcome the atmospheric density they would have to face at tiny size, and that's without getting into the metabolism issues.

Ant-Man clearly didn't have a lot of scientific thought that went into him when he was created by a combination of Stan Lee and his brother Larry Lieber, plus artist Jack Kirby. But superheroes are big science business now. Billions and billions of dollars in box office will do that. They even have their own science publication, the Journal of Superhero Science.
Does the world need another sweetener? With debates raging over cane sugar, corn sugar, beet sugar, raw sugar, and numerous zero-calorie alternatives to sugar, new products would seem to be just another thing for Center for Science in the Public Interest to manufacture lawsuits about.

The debate may be why Brazzein, from the fruit of the West African Pentadiplandra brazzeana plant, never got any commercial traction despite being 2,000 times sweeter than sucrose but with zero calories. It's not a sugar at all, it's a protein. For 25 years it's remained a novelty. (1)

Modified bacteria may be the key

This may be a welcome change from the climate change discussion which got a bit heated over the weekend. The Talanoa climate change story telling dialogs. They have been going on all day, in seven simultaneous sessions, today, 11th December 2018. The stories have been archived and you can rewatch them via Skype

Talanoa is a traditional word used in Fiji and across the Pacific to reflect a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue. The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.

If you are reading media claims about President Trump and the Waters of the United States, they are using terms like "unprecedented" and "sabotage" regarding rollback of some 2015 Obama restrictions that environmentalists had lobbied for and won. 

Yet these new regulations never took effect, so how can it be sabotaging us?

Were we really in danger and only a set of regulations never enacted would save us? Are close-ups of frogs in pea-soup-looking water (obviously to evoke images of chemical sludge for readers who may have never seen a frog in a pond) real or fake news?

Non-profit, non-ideological science media can help un-muddy the waters.

The ichthyosaur (literally ‘fish-lizard’) lived in what is today southern Germany during the Jurassic Period some 180 million years ago. The two-meter long reptile swam in the vast ocean that is now, after climate and geological changes, Europe.

Researchers have analyzed the remains of an ichthyosaur so well-preserved that its soft-tissues retain some of their original pliability; the most comprehensive and in-depth examination of a soft-tissue fossil ever undertaken. Among other things, the study reveals that the soft parts have fossilized so quickly that both the original cells and their internal contents are preserved.
NASA's InSight experiment landed on Mars November 26th after traveling 300 million miles over seven months. Though it is there to analyze seismic activity. its seismometer and air pressure sensor and picked up different vibrations on Dec. 1st. 

The slight hum turned out to be 10-15 mph winds as they blew across Mars’ Elysium Planitia.

We can now hear sound on another planet.

"Capturing this audio was an unplanned treat," said Bruce Banerdt of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in their press release.  

For you and me both.

There's not a lot I can add to that so I will just be awed.

Like that your child's modern baby seat can't erupt in flame? Thank the Roman military of almost 2,000 years ago. Like heating up your recyclable pouch of avocado toast points in the microwave? Thank the American military of World War II,(1) when Raytheon engineer Percy Spencer discovered their culinary benefit while working on RADAR.(2)

This is running as a scary story in the news today. I’m asked if it means we are all going to die. No, it does not. That was a 10 °C rise and we are headed towards 3.6 °C at maximum with the Paris pledges already. With the Paris agreement if they continue to ramp up the pledges they should get within 2 °C, many countries have already got to that point in their pledges and a fair number to within 1.5 °C. Others, especially China and Russia, face huge challenges but are rising to them especially China. We aren’t currently headed for anything like 10 °C.

Short summary - the risk from larger asteroids of 1 km upwards, large enough to have some global effects is more or less retired as a result of astronomical searches for the last few decades. There is still a risk from smaller asteroids, but in most cases we’d be able to deflect them if necessary, or evacuate the area. The chance of dying from an asteroid is tiny, far less than the risk of dying of lighning.


An asteroid 20 meters in diameter hits every 80 years or so. Since only 1% of the Earth is urban that means around 8,000 years between impacts on an urban area.