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Extreme Weather, Krypton 81 and Bunnies with Terminator-like Vision

Science panel: Get Ready for Extreme Weather

Associated Press.jpgA special report issued on Friday from the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change focused on heat waves, floods, droughts, storms and other extreme weather events resulting from climate change. This was the first such report issued by the U.N. panel, and it predicts that heat waves will get hotter, storms and flooding more violent — and that all of it will become more common. And extremes could get so bad that some regions may need to be abandoned, Seth Borenstein reports. Pair this with Borenstein’s latest article on new figures from the U.N. World Meteorological Association that show greenhouse gases increasing at an ever-faster rate, and the news appears to be getting worse. (Associated Press, Seth Borenstein)

A Rare Isotope Helps Track an Ancient Water Source

New York Times.jpgThis piece looks at research on the radioactive isotope krypton 81, “one of the rarest particles on earth,” and “devilishly difficult” to isolate and catch, and its role in helping scientists understand the workings of Egypt and Libya’s Nubian Aquifer. It explains how scientists trapped krypton 81 isotopes with laser beams and measured their decay to track the movement and activity of water underground. (Felicity Barringer, New York Times)

U.S. Science Agencies Dodge Deep Cuts

So far, the spending bill for the 2012 budget that was passed on Nov. 17 has been good to science. The latest budget proposal includes modest increases to National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Food and Drug Administration. And for NASA, there will be restored funding for the struggling James Webb Space Telescope. Still to be determined in the next phase of negotiations: the budget for the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health. (Ivan Semeniuk, Nature News)

Electronic Contact Lens Displays Pixels on the Eyes

New Scientist.jpgA U.S. and Finnish team of scientists has placed contact lenses with electronic displays powered by remote radiofrequency transmitters into the eyes of live rabbits. The hope is to eventually use such devices on humans. Augmented reality devices built into contact lenses could include antennas, radio chips and light sources. “A display with a single controllable pixel could be used in gaming, training, or giving warnings to the hearing impaired,” New Scientist reports. (Paul Marks, New Scientist)

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