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Polar bear dick size is apocalypse’s most recent casualty

Photo courtesy of NOAA.

This is one of those super-depressing "oh my god the world is ending" things that’s easy to joke about because it involves shrinking polar bear penises. And let’s face it, shrinking polar bear penises are just funny, the way rubber chickens or people falling down are just funny.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Got a broken coral reef? Send in the tiny robots

Go ask that microbot over there for a cigarette. (Photo courtesy of NOAA.)

Coral reefs are fragile. Their biggest enemies: storms and bottom-fishing. Their new best friend? Tiny robots.

Yes, robots are now good for more than speaking in a monotone and repeating the same non-sequitur every time you ask them a question. Researchers at Heriot-Watt University are developing swarms of underwater robots that can repair busted coral reefs. The “coralbots" will gather broken pieces of coral from the sea floor (they will be “trained” to differenciate coral from other things in the sea like rocks or shells or Spongebob Squarepants), and they will then affix these pieces to the remaining reef.

Read more: Uncategorized

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China’s brand-new baby panda is the result of actual panda sex

Stop talking about my parents having sex!! (Photo by Huang Zhiling.)

Fans of (slightly weird) adorableness are having a good week, as a panda named Yuan Yuan at Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base in southwest China gave birth to her fourth cub.

Read more: Uncategorized

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They’re genetically modifying goats to create human breast milk substitute

Mom, why do you have to go feed that dumb human baby? (Photo by Lionel Rich.)

You know that human breast milk is very important for babies’ development. (If you don't know this, go ostentatiously bottle-feed a baby doll near a farmers market! It will be fun, I promise.) But for various reasons, sometimes new moms can't breastfeed -- they need medication that shows up in breast milk, for instance, or they just don't produce enough. And this is where genetically engineered goats, uh … butt in.

Read more: Food

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Number of bees in Queens man’s yard exceeds population of Queens

Like this, but crazier, because it's in Queens. (Photo by Max Westby.)

New York legalized beekeeping in 2010, but that does not mean that it was cool with city officials when they discovered that a guy in Queens named Yi Gin Chen had 45 beehives in his yard, containing 3 million bees. That's more bees than there are people who live in Queens.

Read more: Cities

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A single sticker turns your bus commute into a monster rampage

Unlike most games that let you control a monster that terrorizes a city eating people's heads, Maneater doesn't require a console, or even electricity. All it needs is a sticker of a monster with big googly eyes and an open mouth, and a window on a moving tram or bus (the moving part is very important). The goal: Move your head so that the monster eats the heads of people (or dogs) that you pass.

Read more: Cities

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Threatened sea lions are being killed off to save threatened fish

Imagine what that would taste like with a little caper sauce, dude. (Photo courtesy of NOAA.)

This is a pretty complicated Sophie's Choice-esque eco-problem brewing in the Columbia River at the base of the Bonneville Dam, in the Pacific Northwest. California sea lions are protected. But they eat Chinook salmon and steelhead, which are also protected. So, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has given the states of Washington and Oregon permission to kill the sea lions. Which is really sad, especially when you look at the picture of the thing and it’s so darn cute. 

Read more: Uncategorized

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Snap-together house is easy to assemble, hard to pay for

Sexy. Sustainable. More money than you'd like to spend on something this small.

The good news: Some Danish architects teamed up with some British digital fabrication people to create a 1,250-square-foot house produced in a rapid prototyping machine. (A rapid prototyping machine uses computer modeling to quickly produce scale models of physical parts.) The bad news is, for a house made of Tinkertoy, it cost a bundle to build: $300,000, enough to get you a pretty decent house that would be much harder for a wolf to blow down.

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New map keeps track of 25,000 species

Scientists and garden-variety animal lovers who want specifics about where to find particular species have reason to rejoice: A new online database called The Map of Life provides cutting-edge accuracy about the whereabouts of some 25,000 species, and it's adding more all the time.

Read more: Uncategorized

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This rescued baby manatee is so cute we can’t stand it

If you can think of something cuter than this you are nuts. (Photo by AMPA.)

Yeah, manatees are really cute. I think we can all agree on that. They're just so cuddly, like what a TempurPedic mattress would look like if it came to life. Even cuter: baby manatee. Even cuter than that: baby manatee with a sad story that has a happy ending.

Read more: Uncategorized