Here's today's roundup of science, nature and environment news from the Bay Area and beyond.
Beach pollution at third-highest level in 22 yearsBeaches across the nation continue to be fouled by sewage and storm water pollution that puts swimmers at risk of getting sick, according to a report by an environmental group. The Natural Resources Defense Council found that although the number of days American beaches were closed or posted with advisories because of contaminated water dropped 3% last year, they were at their third-highest level in 22 years.
It's not just how many calories, but what kind, study findsA calorie is a calorie is a calorie - or is it? Maybe not, a small study has found. Once the pounds are shed, the proportions of carbohydrates, proteins and fats you chow down on may determine whether you keep the weight off - or slowly but surely pack on pounds again.
DuPont Says Claims Over Herbicide Hit the MillionsDuPont, which introduced a herbicide last year that was later linked to the deaths of thousands of trees, has begun processing claims for compensation that are running into the hundreds of millions of dollars, company officials said. Some 30,000 homeowners, golf courses, municipalities and landscapers across the country have submitted claims, said Rik Miller, DuPont's president for crop protection.
Interior Department Will Likely Allow Shell to Drill in ArcticWASHINGTON - Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday that it was "highly likely" that the agency would grant Shell permits to begin drilling exploratory wells off the North Slope of Alaska as early as next month.
Climate change would lead to increased fire activity, study showsClimate change is likely to alter fire patterns around the world, including a potential increase in the number of fires for much of California in the next 30 years, according to a new study led by UC Berkeley researchers. The study, published in Ecosphere, modeled projected climate changes and how those changes would affect fire activity.
Fracking moratorium advances in California LegislatureA key Senate panel on Tuesday supported legislation that would ban the use of hydraulic fracturing in California until regulators write rules governing the controversial procedure.
Court upholds state pollution rules on offshore shipsThe U.S. Supreme Court rejected a shipping industry challenge Monday to California's air pollution rules requiring ocean-going vessels to use low-sulfur fuel within 24 miles of the coast, standards that the state said would save thousands of lives.
In a Big Network of Computers, Evidence of Machine LearningMOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - Inside Google's secretive X laboratory, known for inventing self-driving cars and augmented reality glasses, a small group of researchers began working several years ago on a simulation of the human brain. There Google scientists created one of the largest neural networks for machine learning by connecting 16,000 computer processors, which they turned loose on the Internet to learn on its own.
One Per Cent: Universal speech translator app ready for Olympics(Image: Sipa Press/Rex Features) In one month's time, millions of tourists from across the world will descend on London for the 2012 Olympics, creating the perfect test bed for a new speech translation iPhone app. The app, dubbed VoiceTra4U-M, is a bit of a mouthful to say, but lets people converse with foreigners in their own language.