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COVID’s Other Toll: Unnecessary Tests and Huge Hospital Bills

In a physician chat group recently, a doctor who treats hospitalized patients made a recommendation to our group of 38,000 members that left me startled and alarmed. She shared her protocol for all COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital: every one of them gets not only a chest x-ray but an entire battery of special […]

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COVID-19 Herd Immunity Strategies Could Bring ‘Untold Death and Suffering’

In May, the Brazilian city of Manaus was devastated by a large outbreak of COVID-19. Hospitals were overwhelmed and the city was digging new grave sites in the surrounding forest. But by August, something had shifted. Despite relaxing social-distancing requirements in early June, the city of 2 million people had reduced its number of excess […]

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Acorn Woodpeckers Fight Long Bloody Territorial Wars

[Acorn woodpeckers fight sounds] What you’re hearing is war—among woodpeckers.  A species called acorn woodpeckers. The birds fight long, bloody battles over access to trees, where these woodpeckers nest and store their food—you guessed it, acorns. “They build these giant acorn granaries, and these are basically acorn storage structures, where they store thousands of acorns […]

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Quantum Time Twist Offers a Way to Create Schrödinger’s Clock

Albert Einstein’s twin paradox is one of the most famous thought experiments in physics. It postulates that if you send one of two twins on a return trip to a star at near light speed, they will be younger than their identical sibling when they return home. The age difference is a consequence of something […]

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A Medical Student Contemplates Pandemic-Era Isolation–and Connection

People told me medical school would be a flood of information, a prolonged inundation, but in the beginning, it felt dry and incomplete. After moving from New York City to North Carolina to begin medical school, I decorated a new apartment with photographs of places I wish I were, leased a car for the first […]

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Coronavirus News Roundup, October 17-October 23

The items below are highlights from the free newsletter, “Smart, useful, science stuff about COVID-19.” To receive newsletter issues daily in your inbox, sign up here. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) this week broadened its definition of a “close contact” with an infected person, thereby expanding “the pool of people considered at risk […]

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The Disturbing History of Research into Transgender Identity

In 1975 psychiatrist Robert Stoller of the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote something bizarre in his textbook on sex and gender. He asserted that people who were assumed to be boys when they were born but whose gender identity or expression did not match that assumption “often have pretty faces, with fine hair, lovely […]

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This Beetle’s Stab-Proof Exoskeleton Makes It Almost Indestructible

They don’t call it the diabolical ironclad beetle for nothing: Phloeodes diabolicus, a rugged insect native to western North America, has an almost supernatural ability to resist compression and blunt hits. Now, 3D scans have revealed that layered structures in its interlocking wing cases make the beetle twice as hardy as some of its relatives — […]

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Climate Portion of Final Trump-Biden Debate Revolved Around Ending Oil, Wind ‘Fumes’

President Trump loves “beautiful” factories but is worried about “fumes” from wind turbines. Joe Biden wouldn’t ban fracking but wants to “transition” away from it. Yesterday’s presidential debate saw one of the most substantive exchanges on climate policy in the history of general election matchups, largely because it’s an issue that rarely gets such valuable […]

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Beehives on a Cliff Wall Are Protected from Predators and Pesticides

A high mountain in China turns into a safe haven for the declining insects A beekeeper checks beehives on the cliff in Shennongjia National Nature Reserve in central China’s province of Hubei on April 27, 2015. Credit: Jie Zhao Getty Images  Advertisement Bees do not usually buzz around wooden hives 4,000 feet above sea level, […]