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The White House Revives a Controversial Plan for Nuclear Waste

March 21, 2017 Near the southern tip of Nevada is a ridge politicians have been fighting over for 30 years. Yucca Mountain was designated the permanent underground storage site for nuclear waste in 1987. It had an ambitious mission—to entomb high-level radioactive waste safely for at least 10,000 years—and a tentative opening date...

All the Ways Trump’s Budget Cuts Science Funding

March 16, 2017 President Trump’s budget blueprint, released Thursday morning, is supposed to lay out the administration priorities, and science is clearly not among them. It deals sweeping cuts to science and health agency budgets, and, in some cases, targets specific programs championed by the Obama administration. The administration will release a more...

China’s Artificial-Intelligence Boom

February 16, 2017 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Each winter, hundreds of AI researchers from around the world convene at the annual meeting of the Association of the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. Last year, a minor crisis erupted over the schedule, when AAAI announced 2017’s meeting would take place in New Orleans in late January. The location was...

Patients Are Ditching Opioid Pills for Marijuana

February 12, 2017 James Feeney, a surgeon in Connecticut, heard it from his patients. A few actually turned down his prescription for oxycodone, the popular opioid painkiller that has also gained notoriety with the opioid epidemic. His patients, Feeney recalls, would say, “Listen, don’t give me any of that oxycodone garbage. … I’m...

Flesh-Eating Worms Reach Florida's Mainland

January 16, 2017 The stray dog came with bad news. This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that a dog near Homestead, Florida—a city 15 miles north of the Florida Keys—was found with wounds infested with screwworms, the much dreaded flesh-eating pest. If you’re not familiar with screwworm, it’s because the U.S....

A Long-Lost Data Trove Uncovers California’s Sterilization Program

January 3, 2017 In 2007, only after historian Alexandra Minna Stern had spent years researching eugenics in the American west, culminating in a published book, did she find the motherlode. During the height of the eugenics movement, California sterilized 20,000 patients deemed feeble-minded or insane. Stern, who is a professor at the University...

America's Nuclear-Waste Plan Is a Giant Mess

November 8, 2016 The fateful explosion that shut down America’s only permanent nuclear-waste storage site happened on Valentine’s Day 2014. The facility, called the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant or WIPP, is a series of salt caverns 2,000 feet below the New Mexican desert. Radioactive waste from U.S.’s nuclear weapons comes to WIPP, drum...

America's Nuclear-Waste Plan Is a Giant Mess

November 3, 2016 The fateful explosion that shut down America’s only permanent nuclear-waste storage site happened on Valentine’s Day 2014. The facility, called the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant or WIPP, is a series of salt caverns 2,000 feet below the New Mexican desert. Radioactive waste from U.S.’s nuclear weapons comes to WIPP, drum...

The Low-Tech Way to Colonize Mars

October 19, 2016 FROM NEXTGOV arrow Philip Metzger has been playing with mud. Experimenting, you could say, as he’s a planetary scientist at the University of Central Florida and co-founder of NASA’s Swamp Works lab. In any case, his lab has been stuffing Martian clay into cupcake decorating bags and extruding it into what Metzger himself...

Flesh-Eating Worms Have Returned to Florida

October 10, 2016 Screwworms do exactly what it sounds like screwworms do. The adults lay eggs in open wounds, and the hatched larvae burrow, corkscrew-like, through flesh. Screwworms ate their way into livestock, dogs, deer, and even humans in the U.S. until they were wiped out in 1982, in one of the most...