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While You Were Sleeping for March 2016

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Fahrenholzia pinnata, the common louse, under a light microscope.  - VINCENT S. SMITH
  • Vincent S. Smith
  • Fahrenholzia pinnata, the common louse, under a light microscope.

A study published in January revealed the truth about bugs in our homes. In North Carolina, researchers visited 50 houses within 30 miles of Raleigh to collect any arthropods they could find. More than 100 species of flies, spiders, beetles, lice, and other arthropods were found in each house. Researchers wore kneepads and headlamps as they crawled along the floor, using forceps and an aspirator to collect samples for further inspection underneath the microscope. In total, 579 morphospecies were found from 304 different families of insects. The gall midge, a fly that is four one-hundredths of an inch long, was found in every home. "The vast majority of the arthropods we live with are not pest species," Dr. Trautwein said. "They are not going to suck your blood, eat your food, or destroy your house." The scientists are expanding their study to include houses on all seven continents.

Source: New York Times

During January in Texas, an investigation into an accusation against Planned Parenthood took an unexpected turn. Videos released last July claimed to reveal Planned Parenthood officials illegally profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. Director of the Center for Medical Progress David R. Daleiden, 27, posed as a biotechnology representative to record Planned Parenthood officials during his attempt to purchase fetal tissue. Another employee of the center, Sandra S. Merritt, 62, was also involved in the videos. Both employees had made and presented fake California driver's licenses for their April meeting at Planned Parenthood in Houston. Planned Parenthood sued the center, Daleiden, and other anti-abortion members involved in the videos, accusing them of engaging in a three-year criminal enterprise targeting the group. Daleiden was charged with a felony for tampering with a government record and a misdemeanor charge for purchasing human organs. Merritt was also indicted on the same felony charge.

Source: New York Times

German inventor Clemens Bimek has created a new form of birth control—for men. The Bimek SLV, a small, valve-like device, is designed to sit beneath the skin of the scrotum, giving men the power to allow sperm in and out of their ejaculatory system like a light switch. When the device is inserted, the severed ends of the vas deferens are fitted into the valve, and then held in place by a connector—similar to the way a garden hose fits into a spout. When the device is turned on, some sperm cells are left in the spermatic duct. It takes at least 12 weeks—or just 20 to 30 ejaculations—for the remaining sperm cells to die. Bimek has already implanted this device within himself. His team is accepting volunteers to test the device. Bimek hopes that by 2018 he will have medical certification to begin manufacturing the device.

Source: Good Magazine

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a report titled "Why Can't New Yorkers Get Tickets?" detailing a three-year-long investigation of the online ticket market. In the report, Schneiderman discusses the rigged system in which scalpers and presales make tickets to popular music and sporting events inaccessible to the ordinary citizen. The attorney found that one high-tech scalper bought more than 1,000 tickets for a U2 show at Madison Square Garden last year by using an a scalper bot computer program. The report poses ways to alter the online ticketing system in order to make tickets more accessible to the general public.

Source: New York Times

A startup in Austria has launched a business around eating bugs. Livin Farms has created a desktop insect breeding unit, the Hive, that allows people to harvest their own insects to eat. The Hive is 24 inches tall and comes with mealworms ("micro livestock") that are high in protein but neutral in taste, according to the designers. The unit consists of eight stacked compartments. The mealworms are placed in the "pupation compartment"—the top drawer—where they are fed vegetable scraps and oats. The built-in vibration technology divides the insects as they mature. The unit is controlled by a button, which triggers the microclimate to ensure the worms receive fresh air and the right temperature. Roughly 500 grams of mealworms can be harvested per week. The team plans to ship units later this year.

Source: Good Magazine

Major airlines are profiting more than ever due to falling oil prices. Four of the largest airlines earned around $22 billion last year, which is a huge turnaround from previous decades of bankruptcies and cutbacks. While this shift has allowed low-cost carriers to lower its rates, major airline executives have made it clear that their number one priority is to continually improve their financial performance in order to pay back longstanding debt. While these airlines claim that they are improving their services, they are maximizing their income by providing additional seating and offering fees for priority boarding. To make up for these increased charges airlines such as American and United will once again start giving free snacks to coach passengers on domestic flights.

Source: New York Times

Mars, Incorporated is changing its ingredients to satisfy a shift in consumer demand for natural food. The company is removing artificial colors from its human food products, encompassing over 50 brands, such as M&Ms, Skittles, Wrigley's Gum, Snickers, and Twix. Company officials will meet with suppliers to investigate new, natural ways of coloring their products. The process is expected to take place slowly over the course of five years.

Source: Fortune

James Clapper, the US director of national intelligence, admitted that agencies may in fact employ smart household devices to increase their surveillance efficiency. "Intelligence services might use the [Internet of Things] for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials," stated James. Many other countries such as Russia and China have more sophisticated cyber programs than the US that have been able to track online threats against certain regions. While items such as automobiles, dishwasher, and alarm systems are nowhere near in advancing their security components, the US government is taking measures to encourage the manufacturers of laptop, tablet, and smartphone devices to feature an update or digital switch that could track communications with online attackers.

Source: Guardian (UK)

This year, 271 concussions were detected in NFL players across preseason and regular-season games, which is a 31.6 percent rise from last year. The NFL has increased its surveillance on players by forcing athletic trainers to pay closer attention to their athletes' injuries, as it has been discovered that many players will opt to play while having a concussion. There has been more neuro-trauma consultants placed on the sidelines of games to make sure that the players are in fact well enough to go out on the field. These increased precautions most likely led to the higher accumulation of detected head injuries in NFL players that in other years probably would not have been discovered.

Source: New York Times

Compiled by Leah Rabinowitz & Diana Waldron


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