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Far Out

The Search for Another Earth

NASA/Reuters

On Thursday, researchers announced the discovery of Kepler-186f, an Earth-like exoplanet orbiting in a “habitable zone.” Could this bring us closer to discovering life in the cosmos?

Not so terribly long ago, the only planets we knew about for certain orbited our Sun. Within the last 20 years, though, astronomers have identified more than a thousand exoplanets: worlds orbiting other stars. And when you consider that all of those are within our galactic neighborhood, it’s pretty clear our galaxy alone is host to billions of planets.The news of an exoplanet discovery is hardly earthshaking anymore, which is disappointing in a way.

Parenthood

‘Parent Martyr’ Must Die

YouTube

Did you see that “world’s toughest job” video that went viral? Yeah, it’s a bunch of bull.

You’ve probably seen this viral ad posted on one of your friends’ Facebook feeds. Maybe you even shared it on yours. It announces itself as a hoax wherein the perpetrators have convinced some poor saps that they are participating in a job interview via Skype; but it doesn’t reveal exactly what else the pranksters are up to besides advertising a fake opening.The actor playing the interviewer lays out the responsibilities of the “job,” called “Director of Operations,” to the would-be applicants, and it becomes evident that he is describing the worst working environment this side of The Jungle.

Wrap It Up

Trojan’s ‘STD Month’ Scheme

April is STI Awareness month—a month that Trojan has swooped in and taken ownership of. Using these four weeks to promote condom use is a good thing, right? Not exactly.

America sure does love its national commemorative months (PDF), especially health-related ones. Take April, for example. Right now we are celebrating, or at least acknowledging, Youth Sports Safety Month, National Poetry Month, Confederate History Month (Southern states only), and Sexually Transmitted Infection Awareness Month.Happy Sexually Transmitted Infections Awareness Month, dear! Though Hallmark has not yet signed in with a series of cards and e-grams, other commercial enterprises surely have.

Horrific

When Mothers Kill

AP

The case of Megan Huntsman, a Utah mother who killed six of her babies and hid the bodies in a garage, isn’t the first of its kind. What happens in a mother’s brain to make her do such a thing?

The mug shots have gone viral: wide-eyed, scared-looking Megan Huntsman, 39. The speculation is rife: how could this 39-year-old from Pleasant Grove, Utah, have allegedly killed six of her babies soon after their birth without anyone noticing she was even pregnant?But the bigger question is what emotional drivers pushed her to do such a thing, one she has reportedly admitted.So far, the details in Huntsman’s case, which emerged this weekend, remain murky.

Baby Blues

Antidepressant-Autism Link

Emiliano Rodriguez/Shutterstock

New research shows SSRI use during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, may elevate the risk of autism spectrum disorders. But mothers-to-be shouldn’t panic just yet.

It’s standard for doctors to tell pregnant women that to take care of their unborn children, they must take proper care of themselves. However, new evidence showing an association between selective serotonin inhibitors (SSRI) use during pregnancy and having a child with autism may complicate that seemingly straightforward advice for women who suffer from depression.Published this week in Pediatrics, the study examined whether prenatal exposure to SSRI medicines—which are commonly used to treat depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders—increased an infant's chance of having autism spectrum disorders.

’TIL TEXT DO US PART

A Prenup for Digital Privacy

@vweirvoronov

Celebrities and power couples are asking for digital protection in their pre- and post-nup marriage agreements, but having something to hide isn’t necessarily the reason.

The breakup, makeup, and alleged breakup again of figure skater Johnny Weir and his husband, Victor Voronov, has captivated media and skating fans alike. The flamboyance Weir has long brought to his performances on the ice colored this story as well, from accusations of high-fashion theft to a brewing custody battle for the couple’s dog, Tema. Then there are the more serious mutual allegations of domestic violence. But the contents of a post-nuptial agreement reported to be a last-ditch effort to save the union proved to be even more eyebrow-raising than many of the allegations Weir and Voronov hurled back and forth at each other in the media and in court.

HALF BAKED

Dude, Weed Won’t Rot Your Brain

The Daily Beast

Can casual marijuana use damage the brains of young adults? A new study says yes—but its participants suggest otherwise.

All across the Internet, headlines are screaming Buzzkill and Marijuana Makes Young Brains Go to Pot. But a new study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, does not in any way prove that casual marijuana use is bad for your brain.In order to understand why, all you need to do is actually read the research—and be able to think a bit critically. You don’t need to know anything particular about fMRI or any other scary acronyms and you don’t need to know your amygdala from your Shatner’s Bassoon.

Airborne

Just Plane Weird

Paramount/Photofest

From accidental plane porno to “prank” terrorism—this week’s slate of airline-related incidents suggests air travel has hit a new altitude of bizarre.

According to the latest news in aviation, the world of air travel has gone a little wonky. US Airways inadvertently tweeted an—ahem—racy photo involving a lady and a toy plane. A traveler attempted to jump from their flight midair while another spat on fellow passengers in a fit of rage. A wave of “joke” bomb threats on Twitter indicates some teens feel prank terrorism is the new cool thing to do.We’ve all been there; a delayed flight can be more frustrating than a fee for a bag of airline peanuts.

Next-Gen

The Rise of the Stealth Drone

U.S. Navy/Getty

Forget the Predators, the iconic unmanned aircraft of the last war. The next generation of robot planes will be deadly, and very, very difficult to find.

The Predator drone has become the symbol for America’s unmanned war, zooming over the heads of low-tech foes like the Taliban. But the battles to come are likely to be against more sophisticated, better-equipped foes—especially with a newly-aggressive Russia on the march. And in those conflicts, the Predator would be all-but-useless. The drone is too easy for an advanced military to spot and shoot down.That’s why the Pentagon—and about every country capable of building combat airplanes—is working on advanced, speedy, stealthy, next-gen drones.

Shut Up

Anti-Vaxxers’ Newest Scheme

Kenneth Johansson/Corbis

After years of alignment with anti-vaxxers, Jenny McCarthy says she’s not anti-vaccine—she’s pro ‘one poke per visit.’

So close, Jenny McCarthy. So close. Well… not really. But I’m trying to adopt the same conciliatory tone that McCarthy affects in a recent Chicago Sun-Times op-ed, in which she claims that she was never really “anti-vaccine” and that believing otherwise is just a big misunderstanding.“For years, I have repeatedly stated that I am, in fact, ‘pro-vaccine’ and for years I have been wrongly branded as ‘anti-vaccine,’” she writes.Mercy me! How ever could we have come to such a misguided conclusion?Unfortunately for McCarthy’s new shtick of ersatz innocence, it took a whopping 20 seconds on Google for me to find an interview she did with Larry King back in 2008 in which she said quite emphatically that “vaccines play the largest role right now [in causing autism] and something needs to be done,” later telling a doctor who dared suggest that vaccines were good for families that it was “bullshit.

Breakthrough

When TB Was a Death Sentence

Spencer Platt/Getty

Dr. Robert Koch’s celebrated discovery of the tuberculosis bacterium was the first step in taming a ferocious killer. An excerpt from Thomas Goetz’s ‘The Remedy,’ about the quest for a cure.

On a brisk spring evening in March 1882, Robert Koch walked into the library at the University of Berlin, and prepared to change the course of medicine for all time.There were about 100 men gathered in the room, the greatest scientists in Germany. Koch barely acknowledged them as he began his demonstration. He showed his test tubes and cultures. He explained how he had tested and retested his work. There was no grandstanding, no theater. There was only evidence and explanation—and finally, a declaration.

Puhleeze

Eyerolling at ‘American Blogger’

First-time filmmaker Chris Wiegand recently debuted the trailer of his documentary ‘American Blogger,” and was met with ridicule. (Rightly so.)

Most objects of Internet derision only remain interesting for a day or two, tops. The outrage and mockery come fast and furious, and then we move on to the next opportunity for cathartic Schadenfreude, satisfied that the perpetrators have been duly chastened. But a blog post announcing the impending arrival of a movie about blogging, called American Blogger, has inspired a week of steady disdain in the blogosphere and on social media, including countless posts, multiple hashtags, parody Twitter accounts, and spoof videos.

GET REAL

Fat? You Got Yourself to Blame

Shutterstock

You want to lose weight, or give up smoking? Stop blaming the amount and availability of fast food, or the power of big tobacco companies—and just use your willpower.

As children, we were rarely given ‘puddings’. Instead, at the end of a meal, we’d reach for the fruit bowl: tangerines, apples or a handful of grapes. Puddings were treats for birthdays and special occasions: chocolate cake, or jelly and ice-cream. We weren’t actually ‘taught’ this – it was obvious to us, even as young children, that fruit was healthier than sweets and biscuits.Which is why I was surprised at the media furore over the latest health findings.

TOO FAR?

Tennessee to Criminalize Pregnancy

Peter Bauer/Daytona Beach News-Journal, via AP

The state legislature has passed a bill that would allow police to investigate drug-taking mothers if their unborn children are harmed by their addiction.

Tennessee may become the first state with a law that could criminally prosecute pregnant women if they harm their unborn children by taking illegal drugs. Miscarriages, stillbirths, and infants born with birth defects would be grounds for police investigation and charges that could put the mother behind bars for up to 15 years.Last week, the proposed legislation to allow for criminal assault charges to be brought against drug-addicted pregnant women overwhelmingly passed the Tennessee Senate with bipartisan support after already sailing through the House.

My Bumps

WTF Is Up With Measles?

The Daily Beast

If you’re vaccinated against measles, you can’t contract them, right? Wrong.

A recent report in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases documented a fully vaccinated 22-year-old in New York City, who contracted measles and was contagious, transmitting the disease to four of 88 people she was in contact with. Two of those people were also fully vaccinated. It’s the first report of a fully vaccinated person getting and then passing measles.The measles vaccine works 95 percent of the time, said Mark Slifka, a senior scientist at Oregon Health and Science University, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Better. Faster. Stronger.

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Lincoln Center, NYC | APRIL 3-5, 2014

The Women in the World 2014 Agenda

The Women in the World 2014 Agenda

The fifth annual summit hits New York's Lincoln Center stage April 3-5, 2014. Hear stirring true stories that stretch from war zones to Washington, and learn how you too can get involved. Watch LIVE on The Daily Beast starting today at 6:30PM EST!