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Stories by David Wagner

UC San Diego Computer Is Better Than You At Spotting Fakers

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Researchers at UC San Diego have programmed a computer that can recognize feigned expressions of pain better than humans.

San Diego Research Feels Federal Budget Squeeze

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San Diego scientists depend on federal dollars to carry out much of their research, but keeping their projects funded is an uphill political battle.

Extinct California Porpoise Discovered In San Diego Had A Major Underbite

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Twenty-four years ago, a San Diego man saved a fossil from being run over by a bulldozer. This week, it was finally identified as the skull of an unusual — and now extinct — porpoise.

How Poor East Coast Weather Can Bum Out Californians Too

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According to UC San Diego scientists, when you bring your rainy day blues to Facebook, you could be bumming out people all across the country.

New San Diego Biotech Company Targets Aging With Lots (And Lots) Of Genome Sequencing

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J. Craig Venter was one of the first scientists to sequence a human genome. A decade later, his company wants to push genomics forward by sequencing thousands more.

Why Don't Crowd-Controlled Videogames Devolve Into Total Chaos?

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Hundreds of Zelda players were able to cooperate enough to beat The Legend of Zelda three times over in less than a week. Here's how.

Why Bitcoin Schemers Have Been Hijacking Personal Computers

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With one of Bitcoin's largest exchanges losing a half-billion dollars and filing for bankruptcy Friday, the virtual currency's future remains uncertain. And malware operators are moving on.

Gluten: The Marketing Versus The Science

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Gluten-free foods have been claiming more and more space on grocery store shelves lately. But the commercial take on gluten doesn't always square with science.

US Customs Consider Using Facial Recognition, Other Biometrics At US-Mexico Border

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It's still too early to say exactly how this technology would be used at border crossings like San Ysidro or Otay Mesa but officials say biometrics would not be focused on U.S. citizens.

San Diego Scientists Discover A Bacteria's Weird Napoleon Complex

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Why does one of the smallest organisms known to science have such an outsized ability to conquer our immune systems? Scripps scientists reveal its secret weapon.

Building A Digital Worm Is Harder (And More Important) Than You Might Think

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From San Diego to Siberia, volunteer researchers are joining forces to digitally recreate a very simple, very tiny worm.

'Pineapple Express' Is Bringing Rain To Northern California

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San Diego scientists say we shouldn't expect this weekend's "atmospheric river" to even come close to ending California's historic drought.

Rents Spike In Tech Hubs Like San Diego

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According to a new report, rents in cities with booming tech industries are climbing faster than in the rest of the country. San Diego has seen some of the steepest increases.

San Diego Will Play A Role In California's New Stem Cell Genomics Center

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Since the passage of Proposition 71 in 2004, California taxpayers have been pumping billions into stem cell research. Now, a new statewide effort will attempt to marry the latest in gene research with advancements on stem cells.

Tijuana's Need For Internet Speed

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By some measures, Mexico might have some of the fastest Internet in Latin America. But for Tijuana's ambitious tech entrepreneurs and aspiring professional gamers, it's still painfully slow.

San Diego Attorney Loses Twitter Libel Case Against Courtney Love

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Can tweets be libelous? Of course they can, say legal experts. But defamation on social media can be hard to prove, as demonstrated in a trial involving rock singer Courtney Love and her former attorney.

San Diego Researcher Explains Why We Trash-Talk Opponents

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A UC San Diego researcher has done a study to show why some video game players talk trash to their opponents — aside from it being really, really fun.

San Diego Company Claims Major Milestone In Gene Sequencing

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Sequencing an entire genome for $1,000 or less has long been seen as a tipping point in the field of genetics. One San Diego company says they've now succeeded in bringing prices down that low.

Qualcomm Moves Beyond Phones At CES

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Qualcomm may be known as the company that makes the stuff inside smartphones. But the company didn't roll out any new phone chips at this year's Consumer Electronics Show.

UC San Diego Professor Slams TED Talks — During His TED Talk

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One San Diego academic recently took the anti-TED gospel to those least likely to want to hear it: TED devotees.

Snapchat Security Breach Affects Millions Of Users

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The private messaging app Snapchat just got much less private for millions of users after the app got hacked through a known security flaw.

San Diego Fails To Secure Drone Test Site

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The Federal Aviation Administration announced Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia will host test sites for drones.

Proposed CA Law Would Turn Stolen Smartphones Into Bricks

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Proposed legislation in California would require smartphone manufacturers to include a so-called "kill switch" in their devices.

San Diego Artist Turns Rush Hour Into A Rainbow

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By rearranging cars according to color, San Diego filmmaker Cy Kuckenbaker invented a whole new way to see the Cabrillo Freeway.

San Clemente Doesn't Want San Onofre's Nuclear Waste Sticking Around

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Elected officials in San Clemente are expressing concern about how long waste will be stored in their backyard.

How To Prosecute A Revenge Porn Profiteer?

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Making money by exposing the private, nude images of strangers may be sleazy, but is it illegal?

San Diego Man Arrested In Connection With Revenge Porn Website

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A San Diego man was arrested Tuesday on charges related to operating a revenge porn website. It's the first bust of its kind since California criminalized revenge porn earlier this year.

California Girls Aren't The Only Ones Saying Everything Like It's A Question?

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Uptalk — the rising speech pattern that like totally makes everything sound like a question — isn't just a Valley girl vocal tic. San Diego researchers say the dialect is widespread throughout Southern California and guys do it too.

San Diego Woman Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Personal Gene-Testing Company

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A San Diego woman who paid $99 to have her genes analyzed by 23andMe wants her money back. And she thinks thousands of other customers will too. Just days after the FDA ordered 23andMe to stop selling its products, the company now faces a class action lawsuit.

Why Some Holiday Shoppers Are Spending Bitcoin This Black Friday

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Bitcoin has an image problem. But some entrepreneurs believe a wholesome makeover could take this unregulated digital currency mainstream, and what could be more wholesome than holiday shopping?

San Diego Scientist Struggles To Fund Iconic Climate Change Graph

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For more than 50 years, scientists have used the Keeling Curve to plot the rise of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere. But with funding increasingly hard to come by, the project's future is uncertain.

What's Going To Happen To San Onofre's Nuclear Waste?

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At a meeting on Monday, San Diegans will have their chance to talk about the reality that waste will be staying at the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Stations for decades—and possibly centuries.

How To Make Online Dating Less Segregated, In One Easy Step

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People on dating sites like OkCupid might be unlikely to reach out to someone of a different race. But when someone from another background reaches out to them, they'll be much more likely to write back.

Woman Ticketed For Wearing Google Glass While Driving In San Diego

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A San Diego woman might have made history Tuesday night by receiving what appears to be the first traffic violation for driving while wearing Google Glass.

The Return of Virtual Reality Excites Gamers, Researchers

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In hardcore video gaming circles, virtual reality headsets are back! And that's good news for veterans with PTSD.

The Case Of The San Diego PhD Asked To Work For Free

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A San Diego researcher recently discovered a surefire way to elicit heated reactions from Ph. D.s: Just ask them to work for free.

Scripps Gets A Big Grant To Study DNA, Digital Devices And Healthcare

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The Scripps Translational Science Institute in La Jolla will use the funds to continue studying how advancements in genetics, coupled with wireless technology, could make healthcare more personalized, affordable and effective.

Salk Scientists Create A Light Switch For Brain Proteins

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Researchers at the Salk Institute in La Jolla have developed a new way to manipulate mouse brains using light. The new technique could help illuminate long-standing mysteries about brain biology.

Could Wireless Charging Spell The End Of Battery Anxiety?

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That feeling you get when your cell phone is just about to die has a name: "Battery anxiety." And wireless companies hope to soon make it a thing of the past, if they can put aside their differences.

Maybe Next Year? Antarctic Research Suspended Under Government Shutdown

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An Antarctic research trip planned by San Diego researchers could be canceled if Congress doesn't manage to reopen the federal government in the next few days.

Female Soldiers Facing Combat More Likely To Be Sexually Assaulted

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Women in the U.S. military who see combat are more likely to be sexually harassed and assaulted, according to a new study.

Mammals In Carved-Up Forests Can Go Extinct In Just 25 Years

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Conservationists have long known that clearing forests will cause animals to die off. But what happens when you carve up forests into a bunch of tiny islands?

San Diego Teen Earns Top Prize at Google's Science Fair

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A San Diego high school senior researching new flu drugs can now add "Grand Prize Winner, Google Science Fair" to his college applications.

Avalanche Of Apple Updates Clogs Campus Networks

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Apple released its new iOS 7 on Wednesday, and college students were eager to check it out. But all those iPhone updates clogged campus networks and slowed Internet connections to a crawl.

National Neuroscience Effort Zooms In On Brain Circuits

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When President Obama announced an ambitious national effort to map the human brain earlier this year, some scientists criticized the project for being too vague, but the BRAIN Initiative is beginning to sketch out more specific goals.

How A Heat-Seeking Bacterium Enabled The Genetics Revolution

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Hudson Freeze might have a chilly last name, but this week, he'll receive an award for finding something hot. An unusual bacterium he helped discover in the late '60s went on to catalyze a biotech boom and enabled modern genetic sequencing.

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.