Illustration by Oliver Munday

Motherhood is the gift that keeps on giving. But some of its gifts may be lethal.

Basic human biology teaches that children share cells from both their genetic contributors. But during pregnancy, however, cells not only pass from mother to embryo through the placenta, but embryonic cells walk the placental pathway back to the mother.

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The nation's top nutritionists have dropped another bomb in the never-ending shell game about what we should and should not eat. Cholesterol has taken its rightful place among the list of recently vindicated foods.

Last year, it was fat. The British Medical Journal unraveled decades of low-fat dieting when it revealed that saturated fats were, in fact, not bad for the heart. Sugar became responsible for everything which fat had previously been blamed.

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Do you remember the loggerhead turtle and the bonobo? That's a question our grandchildren may ask. Scientists expect to confirm a mass extinction — defined as a loss of 75% of species — over the next few centuries if current trends continue.

There have been five mass extinction events in Earth's history. In the worst, which occurred 250 million years ago and was caused by rising carbon dioxide levels, nearly all marine species and almost three quarters of all land species died off. The last mass extinctions occurred 66 million years ago, when a six-mile-wide asteroid is believed to have collided with Earth, wiping out the dinosaurs.

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In a recent letter to the White House, CEOs of leading environmental groups urged President Obama to take strong and swift action against insecticides that are devastating honey bee and wild bee populations, threatening the nation's food supplies.

These insecticides, called “neonics” or "neonicotinoids" are particularly lethal to bees, because “they poison the whole treated plant including the nectar and pollen that bees eat, and they are persistent, lasting months or even years in the plant, soil, and waterways.” What happens next to the bee is devastating, as illustrated by beekeeper James Doan. "The pesticide blocks the nerve endings of the bee, and so the bee is paralyzed and then what happens is they starve to death, so you see the bee shaking, and it's a very horrific way of dying for a bee."

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Once upon a time, there were some baby bots. They were sweet and docile and did precisely what they were programmed to do. But fast forward some years, and these bots entered a more rebellious stage. Suddenly, their actions became less predictable, sometimes with very unexpected results.

The Random Darknet Shopper is an automated online shopping program (a “bot”) that trawls the darker markets of the web in search of items to purchase—at, well, random—using $100 in Bitcoins per week. (Bitcoins are an “innovative payment network” and a new form of currency, currently trading at around US $235 per bitcoin.) According to the bot creators, !Mediengruppe Bitnik, a Zurich/London-based group that uses “hacking as an artistic strategy,” this was a form of performance art. “The Random Darknet Shopper is a live Mail Art piece, an exploration of the deep web via the goods traded there.” The randomized purchases were then exhibited at Kunst Halle St. Gallen, a contemporary art gallery near the Swiss Alps through January 11, 2015.

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The virtual reality (VR) headset, as any gamer will tell you, has undergone a myriad of transformations over the years, some clunky, some sleek, but all sharing the common themes of disorientation and motion sickness, known in this context as simulation sickness.

Simulation sickness is similar to motion sickness, except that your brain thinks you’re moving, while your body knows it’s sitting still. As technology journalist Lauren Orsini described it, “the eyes see motion but the inner ear feels nothing. It’s motion sickness in reverse,” and it was pretty much the expected adjunct to any VR adventure.

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What would it feel like to soar over mountaintops? Or travel to Paris in a blink of the eye? How about sitting courtside at Wimbledon? Or better yet, playing at Wimbledon? Imagine not just telling but sharing the experience with twenty of your closest friends. With Facebook’s recent acquisition of Oculus VR, a company specializing in immersive virtual reality (VR) technology, that day may not be far off.

Fancy a stroll around Paris? (Google street view through the Oculus Rift)

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