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Does fracking boost risk of preterm birth?

Expectant mothers who live near active hydrofracking of natural gas wells are at increased risk for high-risk pregnancies and premature delivery.

Quit smoking: This drug works faster for women

The most effective prescription drug used to quit smoking initially helps women more than men, a recent study shows.

Housing boom was a bust for African Americans

In the roller coaster ride that was the US real estate market in the first decade of this century, some US homebuyers found wealth while others took big hits–often depending on when they bought.

‘Tree of life’ links birds to 3 dinosaur lineages

Cardinals and woodpeckers evolved from a hawk-like ancestor and most of the world’s water birds also appear to be a close-knit group, indicating one avian lineage quickly adapted to aquatic environments after most of the dinosaurs died out at the end of the Cretaceous period.

What ‘runners’ high’ tells us about drug addiction

The pleasure and reward centers of the brain are activated similarly by dangerous drugs as well as by exercise, which is why therapies to treat drug addiction often include lots of exercise.

Most urban schools in U.S. get a failing grade

A new report says urban schools in the United States are failing to offer a quality education—especially when it comes to opportunities for poor students and students of color, who now make up the majority of America’s public school students nationwide.

Why frequent sex makes women more fertile

Scientists say they’ve figured out why having frequent sex can increase a woman’s chances of getting pregnant, even when she is outside the window of ovulation.

Scientists grow sweet potatoes in Martian greenhouse

In the new movie The Martian, botanist Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) is stranded on Mars. The only way to survive is to figure out how to grow potatoes on the freeze-dried planet.

New ‘light meter’ discovered in the eye

The cornea is a light-sensitive tissue, according to new research. The findings add to past work proving the retina senses light as part of its role in synchronizing our body clocks to Earth’s cycle of light and darkness.

Index ranks planet’s potential for alien life

Astronomers have created a “habitability index” to compare and rank exoplanets to help prioritize which of the thousands discovered warrant close inspection in the search for life beyond Earth.

Online ‘buddies’ beat ads for promoting fitness

The social influence of online peers is more effective for improving people’s exercise habits than are motivational messages, a new study finds.

Why do placebos treat pain in U.S. clinical trails?

The success of placebos in managing chronic pain may be why so many clinical trials for drugs to treat pain fail, a new study suggests.

Some part-timers over 50 want more work

In a recent survey, three-quarters of part-time workers said that people collecting Social Security benefits should be able to earn more before being taxed.

Mammoth found on Michigan farm was likely butchered

An ancient mammoth found this week in a farmer’s field in Michigan could push back the date for human habitation in the region.

For organic farms, tillage is a double-edged sword

In the battle against weeds, tillage is one of the strongest weapons organic or ecologically based farmers have.

El Niño heat sets off waves of dengue fever

New research shows that epidemics of dengue—caused by a mosquito-borne virus—across southeast Asia appear to be linked to the abnormally high temperatures brought by the El Niño weather phenomenon.

The global footprint of pandas on a plane

An international team of scientists wanted to understand how pandas and local people in pandas’ fragile environment interact across the world.

Stress primes ‘teen’ rats for tough times later

Rats that experience frequent physical, social, and predatory stress during adolescence solve problems and forage more efficiently as adults—even when under high-threat conditions.

Crop fires are isolating rare monkeys in Africa

Human activities are driving an endangered monkey species into isolation in Tanzania, where the genetics of the Udzungwa red colobus monkey is undergoing troubling changes. The monkey (Procolobus gordonorum) is considered an indicator species of ecological change.

Why networking is a lousy way to build teams

Companies may want to think twice about hiring employees based on their business contacts. Researchers reached that conclusion after analyzing the signings and performance of every team in the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1977 to 2011. Teams who signed players through their managers’ contacts at his old clubs produced a lower winning percentage than those that didn’t.