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Pagan News Beagle: Earthy Thursday, November 19

The continuing threat of global warming is evaluated. The future of human space exploration is considered. And the American Cancer Society changes its recommendation regarding mammograms. It's Earthy Thursday, our weekly segment on science and Earth-related news. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

Earlier this year, reports surfaced that the eastern Antarctic coast had been gaining mass, news that was immediately seized upon by climate change deniers as evidence that global warming was a fraud. But the truth, writes astronomer Phil Plait, is much more complex. Indeed, while parts of Antarctica have been gaining mass from snowfall, most of the continent's ice has been shrinking, not growing.

When we think of scientists, we often picture men and women in white coats populating big laboratories filled with expensive equipment. But science is just as often done in the field and a great many discoveries are made by "citizen scientists," amateur researchers who collect data and submit it for public consumption. If you're interested in contributing, Discover Magazine is outlining a project that could use your help.

It's been the lament of several people for some time now that the U.S. space program has been something of a limbo ever since the halt of the space shuttle program several years ago. NASA currently has ambitions to increase its presence and launch capability, but if it's too finally break free of low earth orbit, it may take a little pushing. Esther Inglis-Arkell of Gizmodo argues that if NASA is getting serious, we should go back to the Moon.

The common image of manufacturing is one of automated assembly lines, massive factories full of machines and pumping out fossil fuels, and industrial plants. But not all manufacturing is done the same way. Grist interviews biologist Cristina Agapakis about the possibilities of introducing biological elements to manufacturing, primarily through the use of synthetic or genetically altered microbes.

The recent cancer news most people have been focusing on recently has been the announcement that processed meats (and possibly unaltered red meat as well) can contribute to bowel cancer. But that's not the only relevant news to be released recently. As Scientific American details the American Cancer Society has also revised its recommendations to women as to how often they should receive a preventative mammogram, arguing that the level of frequency previously recommended had little positive effect on the effectiveness of treatment.

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Aryós Héngwis (or the more modest Héngwis for short) is a native of the Pontic-Caspian steppe, born some 5000 years ago, near the village of Dereivka. In his youth he stood out from the other snakes for his love of learning and culture, eventually coming into the service of the local reǵs before moving westward toward Europe. Most recently, Aryós Héngwis left his home to pursue a new life in America, where he has come under the employ of BBI Media as an internet watchdog (or watchsnake, if you will), ever poised to strike the unwary troll.


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