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Daily Briefing

Deep buzz for the content-deprived

Every weekday, while you get showered and dressed, we pluck these dewy- fresh, breaking stories from the info-clogged byways of the datasphere. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and stoke up on everything you need to know, or at least enough to fake it.

The Plight Of The Honeybee
Bryan Walsh, Time | The Plight Of The Honeybee | August 14, 2013

You can thank the Apis mellifera, better known as the Western honeybee, for 1 in every 3 mouthfuls you'll eat today. Honeybees — which pollinate crops like apples, blueberries and cucumbers — are the "glue that holds our agricultural system together," as the journalist Hannah Nordhaus put it in her 2011 book The Beekeeper's Lament. But that glue is failing. Bee hives are dying off or disappearing thanks to a still-unsolved malady called colony collapse disorder (CCD), so much so that commercial beekeepers are being pushed out of the business...

The Inside Of A Beehive, Live-Streamed
Lindsay Abrams, Salon | The Inside Of A Beehive, Live-Streamed | August 14, 2013

A 24/7 view of honeybees doing their thing.

Big-picture, the disappearance of the honeybee will mean catastrophe for the global food system and economy. On a much smaller scale, it will mean the loss of a uniquely fascinating insect.

Explore.org has launched a live honeybee cam that uses infrared to let viewers look inside a surviving hive. In the past six years, 10 million others like it have been wiped out by Colony Collapse Disorder. This star-turned colony has settled inside a hollow log in small-town Germany, and are busy rebuilding after their honeycomb collapsed...

Sequesytration Ushers In A Dark Age For Science In America
Sam Stein, The Huffington Post | Sequesytration Ushers In A Dark Age For Science In America | August 14, 2013

On the first floor of Jordan Hall at the University of Virginia School of Medicine is a 12-by-8 room that, at first glance, looks like a rundown storage space. The floor is a mix of white, teal and purple tiles, in a pattern reminiscent of the 1970s. Trash cans are without tops and half filled. There are rust stains on the tiles, and a loose air vent dangles a bit from the ceiling.

It is only when you see four incubators attached to six tanks of carbon dioxide that you get the feeling something more intriguing is taking place here.

Inside these incubators Dr. Anindya Dutta stores cell cultures that he believes hold the key to a massive advancement in health care. He has identified the specific strands of microRNA, the molecule that plays a large role in gene expression, that are responsible for promoting the formation and fusion of muscular tissue...

 

Tech Is Killing Childhood
Catherine Steiner-Adair, Salon | Tech Is Killing Childhood | August 13, 2013

Time spent on gadgets could be hampering kids' ability to connect to each other and the "real" world.

Kids are so obsessed with sitting inside and playing with their iPod Touch and it’s so useless. I watch my cousin, who’s six, and she sits on the couch and plays Scooby Doo with her friends on the iPad, and I’m like, jeez, when I was six years old I was figuring out how to tie teddy bears to gate posts or flinging them over the banisters. I just think of all the fun things my sisters and I would do, all these fun memories that I have and my cousins won’t because they are sitting on the couch and video-chatting. My cousins aren’t having any childhood.
—SUZANNAH, AGE THIRTEEN

[excerpted from The Big Disconnect]

Mt. Fuji, So Popular It Hurts
Ken Belson, The New York Times | Mt. Fuji, So Popular It Hurts | August 13, 2013

The words printed on the buses that drive through Kawaguchiko, a scenic town in the foothills of Japan’s tallest and most sacred mountain, were as reassuring as they were disconcerting: “Preserve the Nature of Mt. Fuji.”

The message was a reminder that despite years of effort, the millions who visit the mountain and nearby towns each year and the plethora of businesses that serve them continue to have a profound impact on the environment, whether through mounting trash, poor air quality or suburban sprawl. Mount Fuji, or Fujisan as it’s known to the Japanese, is the nation’s most recognizable natural landmark, a conical volcano immortalized by artists like Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige. These days, the mountain, less than two hours from Tokyo, is a playground for rich and poor. Climbing the mountain is on many hikers’ bucket lists...

This Pulsing Earth
Robert Krulwich, NPR | This Pulsing Earth | August 12, 2013

John Nelson is a designer, well known for tracing complex weather patterns or cultural information on maps, so considering what he usually does, this was easy. NASA's publishes pictures of our planet every month of the year, so John thought, why not stitch them together, and see what the seasons look like from outer space?

So he stitched, and then looked...

Baltimore Researchers Turn Carnivorous Fish Into Vegetarians
Darryl Fears, The Washington Post | Baltimore Researchers Turn Carnivorous Fish Into Vegetarians | August 12, 2013

Cobia is a sleek and powerful fish that devours flesh and doesn’t apologize for it. Open its belly and anything might pop out — crab, squid, smaller fish, you name it.

Recently, three Baltimore researchers — Aaron Watson, Frederic Barrows and Allen Place — set out to tame this wild and hungry fish sometimes called black salmon. They didn’t want to simply domesticate it; hundreds of fish farmers have already done that. They sought to turn one of the ocean’s greediest carnivores into a vegetarian...

Skippy, The Guardian Angel? Australian Boy Says Kangaroo Saved Him During Night Lost In Bush

A seven-year-old boy who spent a winter's night lost in chilly conditions in the Australian bush says a friendly kangaroo is the reason he survived.

South Australian police said Simon Kruger went missing in the Deep Creek Conservation Park, south of Adelaide, after wandering away from a family picnic shortly after 1.15pm Saturday....

Everything You Need To Know: Perseid Meteor Shower
Bruce McClure, EarthSky | Everything You Need To Know: Perseid Meteor Shower | August 10, 2013

In the Northern Hemisphere, the annual August Perseid meteor shower probably ranks as the all-time favorite meteor shower of the year. This major shower takes place during the lazy, hazy days of summer, when many families are on vacation. And what could be more luxurious than taking a siesta in the heat of the day and watching this summertime classic in the relative coolness of night? This shower is visible in the Southern Hemisphere, too, though to a lesser extent. No matter where you live worldwide, the 2013 Perseid meteor shower will probably be at its best on the nights of August 11-12 and/or August 12-13. Try the nights before and after that, too. Before dawn viewing is best. From northerly latitudes, you often see 50 or more meteors per hour, and from southerly latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, perhaps you’ll see about one-third that many meteors...

Why I Changed My Mind On Weed
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN | Why I Changed My Mind On Weed | August 9, 2013

Watch Dr. Sanjay Gupta's groundbreaking documentary "WEED" at 8 p.m. ET August 11 on CNN.

 

Over the last year, I have been working on a new documentary called "Weed." The title "Weed" may sound cavalier, but the content is not.

 

I traveled around the world to interview medical leaders, experts, growers and patients. I spoke candidly to them, asking tough questions. What I found was stunning.

 

Long before I began this project, I had steadily reviewed the scientific literature on medical marijuana from the United States and thought it was fairly unimpressive. Reading these papers five years ago, it was hard to make a case for medicinal marijuana. I even wrote about this in a TIME magazine article, back in 2009, titled "Why I would Vote No on Pot."

 

Well, I am here to apologize.

I apologize because I didn't look hard enough, until now...