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Stories by David Wagner

Even Bug Scientists Are Afraid Of Spiders

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Survey shows even scientists who study bugs for a living can suffer from arachnophobia, the fear of spiders.

Here's Why You Can Mail Scorpions But Not Spiders

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Researchers at UC Riverside studying poisonous spiders put out a public call for samples, but the post office had to remind citizen scientists that mailing spiders is against the law. So why is it legal to mail scorpions, then? The most plausible answer seems to be "lobbyists."

How The Internet Of Things Is Making Our Homes Smarter (And Easier to Hack)

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These days, the Internet seems to be everywhere, connecting everything to everything else. That can make our daily routines a lot easier, but sometimes, it can also make it easier for hackers to invade our privacy.

Would You Want A Window Implanted Into Your Skull?

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Researchers at UC Riverside have engineered an implant that offers a transparent view into the living brain. These skull skylights could help with recurring laser-based brain treatments.

Navy Expects To Kill Hundreds Of Dolphins And Whales

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In two reports published Aug. 30, the U.S. Navy acknowledged that bomb testing and sonar use over the next five years will likely kill hundreds of marine mammals and seriously injure thousands more.

Climate Change Presses Forward Despite Warming Hiatus

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In recent years, global temperatures have not spiked as much as expected, but that doesn't mean climate change isn't happening. In order to account for this warming hiatus, San Diego researchers trained their sights on cooling in the Pacific Ocean.

Mercury Levels Predicted to Rise in Pacific Ocean Fish

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As countries throughout Asia become increasingly reliant on fossil fuels, more harmful mercury is finding its way into the fish we eat. But new research suggests one way people can limit their mercury consumption: Eat more fish that dwell near the ocean surface.

Why Does The Sound of Chewing Make Some People Panic?

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For some people, repetitive noises like gum-chewing and foot-tapping are much more than annoying. They can evoke feelings of uncontrollable panic and rage, and researchers have only just begun to study what's causing this unusual condition.

San Diego Researchers Pinpoint The Genes Making Mountain Dwellers Sick

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Why does living way up in the mountains cause some people to die young from heart attacks and strokes while others live long, healthy lives? Thanks to recent advances in whole genome sequencing, a team of UC San Diego researchers just found an answer.

UCSD Engineers 3D-Print Robot For Power Line Inspection

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Think about the miles of power lines criss-crossing our modern world. Inspecting them all for signs of wear and tear can be a complicated and expensive process. That's why a group of crafty UCSD engineers built SkySweeper, an elegant little 3D printed robot that could make power line inspection a lot simpler.

Largest Study Of Its Kind Finds No Link Between Combat And Military Suicides

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Last year, United States military personnel were more likely to die by suicide than by fighting in Afghanistan, but a new study finds that the stress of combat is not what's driving the current rise in military suicides.

San Diego Tech Economy Advocate Duane Roth Dies

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As CEO of Connect, Duane Roth served as a facilitator and spokesman for San Diego's innovation industry. Roth died Saturday from injuries sustained in a bicycling accident. Over the weekend, local tech and life science leaders paid their respects.

How A San Diego Researcher Helped Foil A Cybercriminal's Heroin Set-Up

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Russian hackers recently tried to frame an innocent man by mailing heroin straight to his home, but UCSD's Sarah Meiklejohn used her research on virtual currencies and online black markets to help the victim clear his name.

Building On San Diego Research, MIT Scientists Plant False Memories In Mice

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If the latest research on so-called "memory implants" sounds strangely familiar, your mind isn't playing tricks on you. Last week's study describing a method of producing false memories in mice builds on similar work pioneered in San Diego.

Is Filner's Behavior Really Driven By A Psychological Disorder?

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Starting next week, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner will seek professional help for his self-described "failure to respect women." But will two weeks of behavioral therapy be enough to change the harassment he's accused of?

UCSD Students Light Fires In Zero Gravity For Science

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Try setting fire to biofuel on a commercial flight, and you'd probably get taken in by Homeland Security, but try the same thing on a jet simulating the weightlessness of space, and it's called science.

Doubts Cloud Death Valley's 100-Year Heat Record

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One hundred years ago, Death Valley reportedly experienced the hottest temperatures ever recorded on Earth, but some climate experts think the desert couldn't have actually reached 134 degrees.

An Up-Close Look at the World's First Zoomable Contact Lenses

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Ever dreamt of having zoom vision, just like the Terminator? Well, the technology isn't as far-fetched as Hollywood would have you think. UC San Diego engineers are currently hard at work to perfect the world's first telescopic contact lenses.

Study Of Tree Rings Reveals Climate Change's Role In El Niño

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By looking at tree rings dating back seven centuries, climate scientists have found that man-made climate change has made El Niño worse in recent years.

San Diego Jalopy Racers Recreate Homer Simpson's Dream Car

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Remember that episode of The Simpsons when Homer gets to design a car "for the average man," and ends up creating a slime-green monstrosity that bankrupts his half-brother's company? Well, a team of freak car builders in San Diego have recreated Homer's dream car in painstaking detail, gigantic cupholders and all.

The Beginning Of The End For U.S. Chimp Research

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The National Institutes of Health has taken a major step toward winding down experiments on chimpanzees, pleasing biomedical groups that have been calling for an end to such research for years. But one UC San Diego scientist thinks the move may actually harm chimp well-being.

Local Music Streaming Company Prepares To Compete With Apple

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With tech giants like Apple stepping into the online music business, how will a small San Diego company like Slacker Radio stay alive?

European Neuroscientists Unveil Most Detailed Brain Model Yet

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Scientists on Thursday involved in a major European neuroscience project unveiled the most detailed 3D computer model of the human brain yet. A San Diego neuroscientist closely involved in the U.S. BRAIN Initiative says these findings will help accelerate research happening here.

Filmmaker Urges Nuclear Power Opponents To Reconsider Stance

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Anti-nuclear activists celebrated when Southern California Edison announced the permanent closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station last week. But a new documentary opening in San Diego this weekend aims to crash that party. Is nuclear power humanity's best bet for getting a handle on climate change?

Supreme Court Gene Patenting Decision Could Affect Local Biotech Industry

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that private companies cannot patent naturally occurring human genes. That could affect the patent portfolios of some San Diego biotech companies.

Why Metadata Is Shaping The Future of Privacy

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The U.S. government has been collecting phone records on all Verizon customers since at least April, and probably longer. Defenders of the surveillance program say it doesn't breach privacy because it's only gathering metadata. But what exactly is metadata?

James Cameron Receives Award for Promoting Deep-Sea Exploration

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James Cameron has attended his fair share of Hollywood award ceremonies. But on Friday, the Oscar-winning director came to San Diego for a very different kind of ceremony, one found him hobnobbing with scientists instead of movie stars.

Engineer Builds Fake Poop Factory To Study Spread Of E. Coli

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A new study out of UC Riverside really is full of it. But it's changing what we thought we knew about the spread of disease-causing bacteria.

Private Companies Look To Cash In On Space Travel

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Last week, NASA researchers, interplanetary entrepreneurs and award-winning science fiction writers gathered at UC San Diego's new Center for Human Imagination. Everyone agreed: Humans are about to venture farther into space that we've ever gone before.

Obama Urges San Diegans To 'Call Out' Rep. Duncan Hunter On Climate Change Denial

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Along with dozens of other Republican lawmakers, a local member of Congress is under fire from President Obama's non-profit over his global warming beliefs.

Fungus-Spreading Frogs Could 'Wipe Out' California Amphibians

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The San Diego Zoo's resident frog disease expert worries that a fungus carried by invasive frogs could make most of California's amphibians simply disappear.

NASA's Planet-Hunting Kepler Telescope Shut Down Because Of Technical Difficulties

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For the last four years, the Kepler space telescope has been searching for distant relatives of the Earth. Today, NASA announced that their planet-hunting spacecraft is no longer able to keep up that search.

Salk Researchers Halt The Progression Of Alzheimer's In Very Old Mice

Researchers at the Salk Institute are making progress on a compound that they believe could potentially stop Alzheimer's disease in its tracks. To show just how promising their drug candidate is, they put it through unusually hard experiments.

Online Searches Show Recession's Effect On Mental Health

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The economy may be getting its groove back, but the nation's collective mental health remains in a funk. By studying online searches, a local researcher finds that the public's anxieties haven't receded, even though the worst of the recession has.

New Test Unveiled In San Diego Could Change Prostate Cancer Treatment

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By telling doctors how aggressive a patient's prostate cancer is, a new test could help more men decide to forgo aggressive — and sometimes unnecessary — treatments.

Scripps Researchers Help Addicted Rats Stay Clean With Heroin Vaccine

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Vaccines usually protect us from invaders. But scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have been making progress on a different kind of vaccine — one that would inoculate people against substances they willingly put into their own bodies.

Palomar Observatory Will Assist In Worldwide Search For Gravitational Waves

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Astronomers around the world are beginning to use new tools, some of them right here in San Diego County, to track down the ripples in space-time predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of relativity.

High-Skilled Immigrants Aren't Optimistic About Reforms

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Tech companies have been calling for immigration reforms to bring in more high-skilled workers from overseas. But the immigrants who've actually gone through the system have very different ideas about how to fix it.

SDSU Students to Build Mobile Health Tools of the Future

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Dozens of San Diego State University students and faculty members will be spending the next year trying to change the way we monitor our health. If they're successful, they could be $10 million richer.

How A Rat-Tickling Neuroscientist Influenced a Local Composer's Music

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San Diego composer Joseph Waters tends to invite a mixed group of musicians to his annual music festival. But this year, one of the people he's bringing isn't a musician at all.

San Diego Company Prints Functional 3-D Liver Tissue

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The day when organs can be printed as easily as newspapers remains far in the future. But with technology that can assemble small chunks of life-like liver tissue, a San Diego company has taken one more step toward making it a reality.

SDSU Professors Help NASA Find Two Most Earth-Like Planets Yet

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Two planets found by NASA's Kepler mission are now the most likely places we know of for harboring life beyond our own solar system. Two San Diego State University professors were instrumental in tracking them down.

San Diegans In Boston Horrified By Explosions

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Runners and others from San Diego in Boston during today's Boston Marathon said they've been shaken by what they witnessed.

Online Searches Show Depression, Mental Illness Spike in Winter

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Does wintertime mess with your mind? According to a new study using data from Google, you're not alone. In fact, if online searches are any indication, the wintertime blues might encompass a far greater number of mental illnesses than previously thought.

Scripps Researchers Find Culprit in Alzheimer's-Related Brain Damage

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Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute say the most commonly prescribed diabetes drug could be responsible for brain damage in Alzheimer's patients.

Thirsty Consumers Could Find Ways to Skirt Big Soda Bans

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Soda bans like the one recently floated in New York City could easily backfire, according to a new study out of UC San Diego. In an experiment on limited soda sizes, participants actually bought more soda when jumbo cups were taken off the menu.

San Diego's Pollution Progress Is in the Air (And On Your Phone)

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San Diego has more cars and residents than ever before, yet the city's air has been clearing up. Air quality officials are showing residents that progress by putting local, hourly pollution updates in the palms of their hands.

President Obama Taps San Diego Neuroscientists for Brain Mapping Initiative

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Scientists still don't fully understand what's going on inside the human brain. But thanks to a robust White House initiative, local researchers could help get us closer to answering that basic question.

Drone Industry Boosters Pilot Controversial Local Growth Plan

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When it comes to the controversial unmanned aircraft known as drones, business is booming. That could mean scores of new jobs for San Diego, but privacy defenders say courting the drone industry could cost us our civil liberties.

Scripps Researchers Map Vast Underwater Volcano the Size of San Diego County

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Harnessing electromagnetic technology often used to find offshore oil, Scripps Institution of Oceanography researchers now have a better sense of just how enormous an underwater volcano off the coast of Central America really is.