New evidence shows Neanderthals got 'surfer's ear'

Our relationship with water still matters.

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  • According to new research, half of Neanderthal skulls studied had exostoses — aka "surfer's ear."
  • The condition is common in mammals that spend a lot of time in water.
  • Though today we are largely disconnected from nature, the consequences of our relationship to it are still felt.
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Solar-powered desalination plant in Kenya gives fresh water to 25,000 people a day

Turning salt water into fresh water with the power of the sun.

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  • New solar-powered desalination plant provides fresh water in Kenya.
  • The plant is already able to support 25,000 people a day.
  • As more water-scarce regions pop up worldwide, technology such as this offers an energy efficient way to provide fresh water.
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What is the Halliburton loophole?

A loophole signed into law during the Bush administration has been fiendishly tough to close.

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  • In 2005, then-Vice President Dick Cheney was head of the Energy Task Force. This task force provided recommendations that informed the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
  • One such recommendation that was later signed into law was to provide an exemption for hydraulic fracturing fluid (or fracking fluid) from being regulated by the EPA.
  • Cheney previously served as CEO of Halliburton, which just so happens to be the world's largest provider of fracking services.
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Amid obesity epidemic, many American kids are still ditching water

A new research letter points to another reason for childhood obesity.

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  • A research letter, published in JAMA Pediatrics, notes that one out of every five children (ages 2–19) do not drink water on any given day.
  • Children that replace water with sugar-sweetened beverages drink twice as many calories.
  • Researchers note that this is a factor in childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and other avoidable ailments.
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Illegal sand mining in India is fatefully hurting gharial crocodiles, Ganges River dolphins

In India, a construction boom is fueling a criminal enterprise around one of the most ubiquitous substances on Earth: sand.

Photo credit: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP / Getty Images
  • India's construction industry is booming, which means that demand for concrete is very high.
  • Sand is a crucial ingredient in concrete, but mining it can cause significant environmental damage.
  • The Indian government has, therefore, regulated the mining of sand — but doing so is an easy way for many Indians to earn some extra money. As a result, illegal sand mining has become a commonplace activity, leading to corruption and sometimes violence.
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