Adobe makes the business case for diversity

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As Adobe evolved from a company that focused on selling products to offering cloud-based services, the company has refocused on investing in people. For example, in 2016, Adobe launched its Digital Academy, which offers education scholarships and stipends to low-income individuals and underrepresented minorities.

“Social impact and sustainability is about people and planet, but it’s also impacting people’s lives,” said Liz Lowe, Adobe’s sustainability and social impact lead. 

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What’s on your skin? Archaea, that’s what

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It turns out your skin is crawling with single-celled microorganisms — and they’re not just bacteria. A study by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the Medical University of Graz has found that the skin microbiome also contains archaea, a type of extreme-loving microbe, and that the amount of it varies with age.

The researchers conducted both genetic and chemical analyses of samples collected from human volunteers ranging in age from 1 to 75. They found that archaea (pronounced ar-KEY-uh) were most abundant in subjects younger than 12 and older than 60. Their study has been published in Scientific Reports (a Nature journal) in an article titled, “Human age and skin physiology shape diversity and abundance of Archaea on skin.”

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NASA keeps a close eye on tiny stowaways

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Wherever you find people, you also find bacteria and other microorganisms. The International Space Station is no exception.

That generally is not a problem. For one thing, the space station is kept cleaner than many environments on Earth. Routine cleaning activities are included on astronaut task schedules. Cargo sent to the station, and the vehicles that carry it, undergo a rigorous cleaning process and monitoring for microorganisms before launch. Crew members assigned to the space station spend 10 days in pre-flight quarantine.

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Study of US seniors strengthens link between air pollution and premature death

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A new study of 60 million Americans — about 97% of people age 65 and older in the United States — shows that long-term exposure to airborne fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone increases the risk of premature death, even when that exposure is at levels below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) currently established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers found that men, blacks, and low-income populations had higher risk estimates from PM2.5 exposure compared with the national average, with blacks having mortality risks three times higher than the national average.

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Concurrent hot and dry summers more common in future

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A combination of severe drought and a heatwave caused problems for Russia in the summer of 2010: fires tore through forests and peat bogs. Moscow was shrouded in thick smog, causing many deaths in the local population. At the same time, Pakistan was engulfed in heavy rain, as the high-pressure area over Russia blocked a low-pressure zone over Pakistan. This led to the country’s worst flooding for centuries.

According to the statistics, however, such extreme climate events, similar to the heatwave that affected large areas of western and central Europe in the summer of 2003, are only supposed to occur around every 100 years. But as global warming pushes average temperatures higher, the frequency of several extreme weather events is set to increase, experts claim.

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Biofuel from waste: Zeolite catalysts pave the road to decentralized chemical processes

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Fuel from waste? It is possible. But hitherto, converting organic waste to fuel has not been economically viable. Excessively high temperatures and too much energy are required. Using a novel catalyst concept, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now managed to significantly reduce the temperature and energy requirements of a key step in the chemical process. The trick: The reaction takes place in very confined spaces inside zeolite crystals.

Ever more electricity is produced decentrally using wind, hydro and solar power plants. “It thus makes sense to decentralize chemical production, as well,” thinks Prof. Johannes Lercher, who heads the Chair of Technical Chemistry II at TU Munich. “Theoretically, any municipality could produce its own fuel or fertilizer.”

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Want to stop wildfires? Try logging, says Utah official.

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Republican State Rep. Mike Noel said this week that “tree huggers” were to blame for a major blaze, which broke out in southern Utah on June 17 and continues to burn 11 days later.

His reasoning? The fire wouldn’t have spread if federal forest lands had been cleared of dead, bug-infested trees, and environmentalists and the federal government were getting in the way of that deed.

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“When we turn the Forest Service over to the bird and bunny lovers and the tree huggers and the rock lickers, we’ve turned our history over,” Noel said.

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How are long strands of DNA packed into tiny cells?

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Scientists are a step closer to understanding how DNA, the molecules that carry all of our genetic information, is squeezed into every cell in the body. How DNA is “packaged” in cells influences the activity of our genes and our risk for disease. Elucidating this process will help researchers in all areas of health care, from cancer and heart disease, to muscular dystrophy and osteoarthritis.

DNA is a long, floppy molecule, and there’s more than three feet of it in every cell. Our DNA is housed in structures called chromosomes, which condense the DNA to fit into the cell’s tight quarters.

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Trump’s comments to tribal leaders will make you scratch your head.

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The new Museum of Capitalism in Oakland, California, explores “the ideology, history, and legacy of capitalism.” Surprise! One of the most detrimental legacies of capitalism is … climate change.

Bear with us (and the museum’s curators): The fossil fuel production that drives climate change is due to global (read: American) desire for profit and growth.

The museum — funded largely through a grant from the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation — exhibits several works examining how humans despoil the environment in our quest for more things. Some are simple, like a bright blue baseball cap emblazoned with “COAL = JOBS” in white, akin to the ubiquitous MAGA accessory.

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Bacteria-coated nanofiber electrodes clean pollutants in wastewater

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Cornell University materials scientists and bioelectrochemical engineers may have created an innovative, cost-competitive electrode material for cleaning pollutants in wastewater.

The researchers created electro-spun carbon nanofiber electrodes and coated them with a conductive polymer, called PEDOT, to compete with carbon cloth electrodes available on the market. When the PEDOT coating is applied, an electrically active layer of bacteria — Geobacter sulfurreducens — naturally grows to create electricity and transfer electrons to the novel electrode.

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