Abstracts: Hyperloops, Zika, Bees, and More


• Health officials published the first comprehensive review of Zika-related birth defects in the U.S. this week. Fifty-one babies with birth defects were born to women with lab evidence of the virus, and the cases show no sign of slowing down. (NPR)

Beekeeping programs have been introduced at seven prisons in Washington state. Visual: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

• Researchers use machine learning to untangle some of the mysteries around diagnosing and treating depression. (MIT Technology Review)

• With eyes on the administration’s forthcoming 1 trillion dollar infrastructure plan, city officials pitched their cities as the ideal place for the first commercial hyperloop transportation system. (Wired)

• Scientists found that treated drinking water samples from around Iowa contained neonicotinoids, the pesticide that kills bees. The concentration was small — the equivalent of one drop of water in 20 Olympic pools — but the effects of the pesticide on people are still poorly understood. (Washington Post)

• Rat lungworm disease is on the rise in Hawaii. Once lodged in the brain, the potentially-life threatening parasite causes headaches, neck stiffness, and temporary facial paralysis. Slugs and snails spread the worm over produce, but smashing, burning, or burying the gastropods doesn’t always prevent rats from eating them and restarting the parasite’s life cycle. (Associated Press)

• How many calories would you get from consuming a whole human body? An archeologist published a calorie counting guide for Paleolithic cannibals this week, detailing the calorie density of each body part. (New York Times)

• Reproductive health activists take a Silicon Valley approach to hacking abortion access. (The New Yorker)

• Rising temperatures are melting the permafrost around Nunalleq, giving archeologists access buried artifacts of the Yupik people group in southwestern Alaska. But rising temperatures come with rising sea levels, a direct threat to coastal sites. (National Geographic)

• And finally, flagging honeybee populations have an ally — the Washington State Department of Corrections. In addition to cultivating both more bees and beekeepers, volunteer beekeeping groups work with prisoners to raise queen bees, a challenging and time-intensive process that is often not commercially viable on the outside. (Huffington Post)