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Smoggy Beijing to Reveal More Pollution Data

A bureau in charge of monitoring China's frequently smog-choked capital will release more detailed reports, state media said Friday, following a public outcry over the hazards of fine particle pollution.

Beijing's decision to publish the data appeared aimed at appeasing residents' anger over the pollution and a lack of government transparency.

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Seven Whales Die in New Zealand Stranding

Conservationists in New Zealand were struggling Saturday to save 18 long-finned pilot whales after a mass stranding in which seven of the animals died.

The surviving whales had been refloated but appeared to lack the energy to swim away, the Conservation Department's area manager John Mason said.

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Japan to Shut Nuke Reactors after 40 Years of Use

Japan says it will soon require atomic reactors to be shut down after 40 years of use to improve safety following the nuclear crisis set off by last year's tsunami.

Concern about aging reactors has been growing because the three units at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in northeastern Japan that went into meltdown following the tsunami in March were built starting in 1967. Among other reactors at least 40 years old are those at the Tsuruga and Mihama plants in central Japan, which were built starting in 1970.

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U.S. Proposes Regulating Face, Hand Transplants

The U.S. government wants to start regulating face and hand transplants just as kidneys, hearts and other organs are now, with waiting lists, a nationwide system to match and distribute body parts and donor testing to prevent deadly infections.

It's a big step toward expanding access to these radical operations, especially for wounded troops returning home.

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Hawking Defies Science to Celebrate 70th Birthday

When Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease aged just 21, he was given only a few years to live. But the British scientist marks his 70th birthday on Sunday, as questioning as ever.

Despite spending most of his life crippled in a wheelchair and able to speak only through a computer, the theoretical physicist's quest for the secrets of the universe has made him arguably the most famous scientist in the world.

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Tiny Wires Could Usher New Computer Era

Scientists said Thursday they have designed tiny wires, 10,000 times thinner than a human hair but with the same electrical capacity as copper, in a major step toward building smaller, more potent computers.

The advance, described in the U.S. journal Science, shows for the first time that wires one atom tall and four atoms wide can carry a charge as well as conventional wires.

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Now You See it, Now You Don't: Time Cloak Created

It's one thing to make an object invisible, like Harry Potter's mythical cloak. But scientists have made an entire event impossible to see. They have invented a time masker.

Think of it as an art heist that takes place before your eyes and surveillance cameras. You don't see the thief strolling into the museum, taking the painting down or walking away, but he did. It's not just that the thief is invisible — his whole activity is.

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Tasmania, Off Australia, is Nature-Lover's Dream

Last March, I embarked on a mini-road trip around Tasmania, an island off the southeast corner of Australia. Tassie, what Aussies affectionately call their smallest state, is a nature-lover's dream, with enough history and culinary delights to satisfy urbanites. While its landscape has similarities to New Zealand's North Island, with lush, rocky, "Lord of the Rings" countryside, it is unequivocally Australian, with carnivorous marsupials, eucalyptus forests and a mellow, rustic spirit.

Tasmania is best explored by car, which can be daunting for independent travelers. Like other Commonwealth countries, motorists in Australia drive on the left, in cars where the driver sits on the right. Yet it is rather easy to "hire" a car in Australia. Foreign drivers licenses in English are honored, and insurance is incorporated into the affordable rental package.

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Parasitic Fly Could Explain Bee Die-Off

Northern California scientists say they have found a possible explanation for the honey bee die-off: A parasitic fly that hijacks the bees' bodies and causes them to abandon hives.

The symptoms mirror colony collapse disorder, in which all the adult honey bees in a colony suddenly disappear. The disorder continues to decimate hives in the U.S. and overseas.

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Bits of Russia Space Probe Set to Fall Jan. 15

Fragments of a failed Russian space probe are now expected to fall to Earth on Jan. 15, officials said Wednesday.

The unmanned Phobos-Ground probe was launched Nov. 9 on what was supposed to have been a 2 1/2-year mission to the Mars moon of Phobus to take soil samples and fly them back to Earth, but it became stuck in Earth's orbit and attempts to send commands that could propel it toward the Mars moon were unsuccessful.

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