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‘Space Warps’ and other citizen science projects reap major dividends for astrophysics

The astrophysics project Space Warps offers a compelling example of why citizen science has become such a popular tool and how valuable it can be. In a roundtable discussion with the Kavli Foundation, citizen science leaders and astrophysicists Chris Lintott, Anupreeta More and Aprajita Verma discuss the tremendous impact these enthusiastic volunteers are having.

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Denmark breaks its own world record in wind energy

Danish wind turbines set a new world record in 2015. Wind power is now counted for 42.1% of the total electricity consumption in Denmark, according to data published on Friday (15 January).The percentage of wind power in Denmark's overall electricity mix is the highest in the world. Last year, the share was 39.1%, which was a record, according to Energinet, which runs the power grids. 

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Trying to quit smoking using eCigs? Might actually make it harder!

Electronic cigarettes are widely promoted and used to help smokers quit traditional cigarettes, but a new analysis from UC San Francisco found that adult smokers who use e-cigarettes are actually 28 percent less likely to stop smoking cigarettes.The study — a systematic review and meta-analysis of published data — is the largest to quantify whether e-cigarettes assist smokers in quitting cigarettes.The findings will be published online January 14 in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.“As currently being used, e-cigarettes are associated with significantly less quitting among smokers,” concluded first author Sara Kalkhoran, MD who was a clinical fellow at the UCSF School of Medicine when the research was conducted. She is now at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. 

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Regrowing functional joints in frogs

In a first, researchers have regenerated functional joints in frogs by activating a newly-found ‘reintegration’ mechanism. Further understanding of this process may help transplanted tissues integrate with the original organs and limbs after surgical removal or amputation.

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California, Feds Reject Volkswagen Recall "Fix"

Last week, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) said “no deal” to Volkswagen’s proposal to buy back some of the vehicles that were outfitted with cheat devices. According to CARB, the plan, which would see the recall of only a fraction of the 600,000 U.S. cars affected in the latest VW scandal, does “not adequately address overall impacts on vehicle performance, emissions and safety,” and would not fix the cars’ pollution problems quickly enough.

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Plague-riddled prairie dogs a model for infectious disease spread

Sporadic outbreaks of plague among black-tailed prairie dogs is an ideal model for the study of infectious zoonotic disease, say biologists. Plague doesn’t usually kill people these days, but it’s alive and well among the millions of ground-dwelling rodents of Colorado and other western states, notably the black-tailed prairie dog. They’re resilient critters, though: following wholesale destruction of colonies, they seem to repopulate with a vengeance.

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First light for future black hole probe

Zooming in on black holes is the main mission for the newly installed instrument GRAVITY at ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. During its first observations, GRAVITY successfully combined starlight using all four Auxiliary Telescopes. During its initial tests, the instrument has already achieved a number of notable firsts. This is the most powerful VLT Interferometer instrument yet installed.

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The Porter Ranch gas leak update

Senators Kevin de León and Fran Pavley announced a package of new legislation that builds on Gov. Brown’s state of emergency declaration to ensure protections for Californians impacted by the natural gas leak in Porter Ranch. The new legislation will require: a moratorium on new injections into the Aliso Canyon  storage facility until experts determine it is safe to resume and a study to see whether it makes sense to continue using the facility. (SB 875)that response costs – such as greenhouse gas mitigation, relocation, and emergency response costs – will be funded by the Gas Company shareholders, not the ratepayers who are suffering from this disaster. (SB 876)stronger laws regulating gas storage facilities, including increased inspections and health and safety measures. (SB 877)setting state climate pollution reduction targets and holding polluters accountable for meeting those targets. (SB 878)