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Expert says banning petrol and diesel cars is symbolically important

Credit: University of the West of England Following the announcement yesterday that the government plans to ban petrol and diesel cars from 2040 Professor Graham Parkhurst, Director of the Centre for Transport and Society at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), says that this announcement is symbolically important. Professor Parkhurst comments, “Given the severe nature of the air quality problem here and now, this announcement is largely symbolic in that respect. “The symbolism is important, however, as it confirms that the UK Government has finally accepted the seriousness of the situation, having previously failed to meet its …

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Comcast tops Street 2Q forecasts

This Wednesday, March 29, 2017, photo shows a sign outside the Comcast Center in Philadelphia. Comcast Corp. reports earnings, Thursday, July 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) Comcast is reporting second-quarter net income of $2.51 billion. The Philadelphia company had profit of 52 cents per share, which is 4 cents better than Wall Street had expected, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research. The cable provider posted revenue of $21.17 billion in the period, which also topped Street forecasts. Fifteen analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $20.82 billion. Comcast Corp. shares have climbed 14 percent since the beginning of the year, …

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Twitter user growth stalls, revenue dips

Twitter said revenues in the quarter slipped five percent from a year ago to $574 million, and advertising revenue fell eight percent to $489 million Twitter failed to boost its user base and saw a drop in revenues in the past quarter, the social network said Thursday, sending its shares tumbling in pre-market trade. The message platform, which has been struggling to keep pace in the fast-moving world of social media, reported a net loss of $116 million in the second quarter, slightly wider than its $107 million loss a year ago. More significantly, Twitter reported its base of monthly …

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An app to help you zero in on summer fun

Credit: EPFL / Alain Herzog An app developed by an EPFL doctoral student suggests outings you’re sure to like – from sporting events to culture and outdoor fun. How does it work? The app is linked to a huge database of events and powered by a machine-learning algorithm that learns from your choices. Looking for something to do this summer? You can put away the movie listings and event calendars, because there’s a new app that indexes all activities in your area and highlights the ones you’re most likely to enjoy. The app – called Flyerz – was developed by …

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The real consequences of fake news

Credit: Shutterstock Fake news, or fabricated content deceptively presented as real news, has garnered a lot of interest since the U.S. presidential election last fall. Although hardly a new phenomenon, the global nature of the web-based information environment allows purveyors of all sorts of falsehoods and misinformation to make an international impact. As a result, we talk of fake news and its impact not only in the United States, but also in France, Italy and Germany. Even though the rise of fake news in recent months is undeniable, its impact is a different story. Many argue that fake news, often …

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50 years ago, diabetic mice offered hope for understanding human disease

Hope from diabetic mice [Millions of diabetics] could be indebted to a strain of diabetic mice being bred in Bar Harbor, Maine. In diabetes research, “this mouse is the best working model to date,” one of its discoverers, Dr. Katharine P. Hummel, says.… A satisfactory animal subject had eluded diabetes researchers, until the mouse was found. — Science News, August 12, 1967 Update Hummel’s diabetic mice are still used in research to mimic type 2 diabetes in humans, which is linked to obesity. In the mid-1990s, researchers found that the diabetic mice carry a mutation in the leptin receptor gene, which prevents …

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Half of the Milky Way comes from other galaxies

View the video Galaxies may grow by swiping gas from their neighbors. New simulations suggest that nearly half the matter in the Milky Way may have been siphoned from the gas of other galaxies. That gas provides the raw material that galaxies use to build their bulk. The finding, scheduled to appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, reveals a new, unexpected way for galaxies to acquire matter and could give clues to how they evolve. “These simulations show a huge amount of interaction among galaxies, a huge dance that’s going on,” says astronomer Romeel Davé of …

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For the first time, chrysanthemums sport “true blue” hues

Mums are now a flower of a different color. Japanese researchers have added a hint of clear sky to the humble plant’s palette, genetically engineering the first-ever “true blue” chrysanthemum. “Obtaining blue-colored flowers is the Holy Grail for plant breeders,” says Mark Bridgen, a plant breeder at Cornell University. The results are “very exciting.” Compounds called delphinidin-based anthocyanin pigments are responsible for the natural blues in such flowers as pansies and larkspur. Mums lack those compounds. Instead, the flowers come in a variety of other colors, evoking fiery sunsets, new-fallen snow and all things chartreuse. In previous attempts to engineer a …

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Expert eavesdroppers occasionally catch a break

In July of 1972, NASA launched the first Landsat satellite into orbit around Earth. Since then, the spacecraft and its successors have transformed our understanding of Antarctica (and the rest of the planet, too). In the first year following the launch, Landsat’s images of the faraway continent showed “uncharted mountain ranges, vast ice movements and errors in maps as little as two years old,” according to an article published in Science News. William MacDonald of the U.S. Geological Survey, who had spent eight years mapping a part of West Antarctica, was “shocked” to learn of previously unknown peaks just 100 …

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Balloons will broadcast the 2017 solar eclipse live from on high

Only a lucky few have watched a solar eclipse from above the Earth. Angela Des Jardins wants to bring that view to everyone. On August 21, Des Jardins, an astrophysicist at Montana State University in Bozeman, will help broadcast the first livestream of a total solar eclipse from the edge of space. She and more than 50 groups across the United States will launch high-altitude balloons to film the moon’s shadow racing across the Earth and broadcast it over the internet as it happens (eclipse.stream.live). “On the ground, an eclipse just kind of happens to you. It just gets dark,” …

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