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US planning for wind energy expansion

Photo of large ocean wind farm
(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 08, 2017 wind turbines at the Burbo Bank Offshore Wind Farm on the Burbo Flats in Liverpool Bay, operated by DONG Energy, are pictured from the the window of an aircraft flying over the Irish Sea, off the west coast of northern England. - Britain is set to leave the European Union on January 31, 2020, ending more than four decades of economic, political and legal integration with its closest neighbours. Britain says it is ready to start trade talks on February 1, but the other EU members states are still discussing what they want from the negotiations. Britain and the EU closely cooperate on security and law enforcement, education and energy among many other issues. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden calls for a big expansion of offshore wind – here’s how officials decide where the turbines may go

David Cash, University of Massachusetts Boston

The Biden administration has announced ambitious plans to scale up leasing for offshore wind energy projects along the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts. In an announcement released on Oct. 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Interior stated that it will “use the best available science as well as knowledge from ocean users and other stakeholders to minimize conflict with existing uses and marine life.” University of Massachusetts Boston public policy scholar David W. Cash, who worked at senior levels in state government for a decade, describes how this process works.

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Americans binging on protein

Photo of woman drinking a protein shake
A protein-rich shake is often the way many people try to get more of this nutrient into their diets. andresr E+ via Getty Images

Decades of hype turned protein into a superfood – and spawned a multibillion-dollar industry

Hannah Cutting-Jones, University of Oregon

Do you ever blend up a protein smoothie for breakfast, or grab a protein bar following an afternoon workout? If so, you are likely among the millions of people in search of more protein-rich diets.

Protein-enriched products are ubiquitous, and these days it seems protein can be infused into anything – even water. But the problem, as Kristi Wempen, a nutritionist at Mayo Clinic, points out, is that “contrary to all the hype that everyone needs more protein, most Americans get twice as much as they need.”

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Viruses are both the villains and heroes of life as we know it

COmputer generated drawing of a virus
Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria and play a potential role in the evolution of life. NANOCLUSTERING/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

Ivan Erill, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Viruses have a bad reputation. They are responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic and a long list of maladies that have plagued humanity since time immemorial. Is there anything to celebrate about them?

Many biologists like me believe there is, at least for one specific type of virus – namely, bacteriophages, or viruses that infect bacteria. When the DNA of these viruses is captured by a cell, it may contain instructions that enable that cell to perform new tricks.

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Thawing Alaska permafrost is accelerating bridge deterioration

Phto of a bridge and landscape in Alaska
The Denali Highway as it crosses the Susitna River. Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Rural Alaska has a bridge problem as permafrost thaws and crossing river ice gets riskier with climate change

Guangqing Chi, Penn State; Davin Holen, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Heather Randell, Penn State; Megan Mucioki, Penn State, and Rebecca Napolitano, Penn State

America’s bridges are in rough shape. Of the nearly 620,000 bridges over roads, rivers and other waterways across the U.S., more than 43,500 of them, about 7%, are considered “structurally deficient.”

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The 2021 Nobel Prize for medicine helps unravel mysteries about how the body senses temperature and pressure

Photo of a red chili pepper cut open to reveal seeds
David Julius, one of the two recipients of the 2021 medicine Nobel Prize, used the active component in chile peppers to study how the brain senses heat. Anton Eine/EyeEm via Getty Images

Steven D. Munger, University of Florida

Humans rely on our senses to tell us about the world. Which way is that waterfall? Is it day or night? Is that food fresh or spoiled?

Such questions are harder to answer if our sensory systems can’t detect the sound of rushing water, the shimmer of moonlight or the odor of spoiled milk. Prior to this week, the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine had recognized important advances in our understanding of how sensations are detected in three sensory systems: hearing, vision and smell.

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The Latest on COVID-19 Boosters

Dr. Francis Collins
US National Institutes of Health

More than 180 million Americans, including more than 80 percent of people over age 65, are fully vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19. There’s no question that full vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against this devastating virus and reduce your chances of developing severe or long-lasting illness if you do get sick. But, to stay ahead of this terrible virus, important questions do remain. A big one right now is: How soon will booster shots be needed and for whom?

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50 years ago, the first CT scan let doctors see inside a living skull

Photo of the first ever CT scan to find a tumor in a patient
The first clinical CT scan, with brain tumor visible as darker blob. ‘Medical Imaging Systems: An Introductory Guide,’ Maier A, Steidl S, Christlein V, et al., editors.,CC BY

50 years ago, the first CT scan let doctors see inside a living skull – thanks to an eccentric engineer at the Beatles’ record company

Edmund S. Higgins, Medical University of South Carolina

The possibility of precious objects hidden in secret chambers can really ignite the imagination. In the mid-1960s, British engineer Godfrey Hounsfield pondered whether one could detect hidden areas in Egyptian pyramids by capturing cosmic rays that passed through unseen voids.

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A healthy diet and exercise are not a substitute for vaccination

Photo of anti-vax protestors in a crowded street
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Several thousand protestors opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine and any mandates from the government to take it march through the streets on September 18, 2021 in midtown Manhattan, New York City. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

Can healthy people who eat right and exercise skip the COVID-19 vaccine? A research scientist and fitness enthusiast explains why the answer is no

Richard Bloomer, University of Memphis

I’m a fitness enthusiast. I also adhere to a nutrient-dense, “clean” eating program, which means I minimize my sugar intake and eat a lot of whole foods for the purpose of optimizing my health.

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Should teens taking ADHD, anxiety and depression drugs consume energy drinks and coffee?

Photo of teenager drinking an energy drink
The American Academy of Pediatrics says teens should never consume energy drinks. monkeybusinessimages/istock via Getty Images

Lina Begdache, Binghamton University, State University of New York

About 6.1 million children in the U.S., more than 9% of all kids and teens, have been diagnosed at some point in their lives with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Known as ADHD, it causes inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Many kids and teens diagnosed with ADHD take prescription stimulants, such as Adderall and Ritalin. These drugs increase brain activity to counteract a lack of focus and poor concentration.

In addition, 6 in 10 children diagnosed with ADHD have at least one other mental, emotional or behavioral disorder, such as anxiety or depression. As a result, many of them take other kinds of prescription drugs too.

Meanwhile, Monster, Red Bull and other energy drinks are commonly marketed to teens as a way to boost stamina, physical performance and alertness. This is troubling because of the high levels of caffeine those drinks contain.

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Even mild cases of COVID-19 cause changes in the brain

Artist Drawing of virus
The new findings, although preliminary, are raising concerns about the potential long-term effects of COVID-19. Yuichiro Chino via Getty Images

Preliminary research finds that even mild cases of COVID-19 leave a mark on the brain – but it’s not yet clear how long it lasts

Jessica Bernard, Texas A&M University

With more than 18 months of the pandemic in the rearview mirror, researchers have been steadily gathering new and important insights into the effects of COVID-19 on the body and brain. These findings are raising concerns about the long-term impacts that the coronavirus might have on biological processes such as aging.

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