July 29, 2014

A new study at the University of Michigan Medical School found that infants may be able to detect their mothers' fear — through smell.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that infants, or at least infant rats, recognize their mothers' feelings of being threatened by identifying certain smells.

"Our research demonstrates that infants can learn from maternal expression of fear, very early in life," lead researcher Jacek Debiec told Business Standard. "Most importantly, these maternally-transmitted memories are long-lived, whereas other types of infant learning, if not repeated, rapidly perish."

The researchers studied rats that they taught to fear the smell of peppermint by "exposing them to mild, unpleasant electric shocks" before they were pregnant, according to Business Standard. The mother rats then passed the fear along to their offspring as they acted distressed at the smell.

Debiec told Business Standard that the study's findings may help "prevent children from learning irrational or harmful fear responses from their mothers." Meghan DeMaria

2:16 a.m. ET
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An investigation by The Associated Press found incredibly high levels of viruses and bacteria from sewage in the water of Rio de Janeiro venues where Olympic and Paralympic athletes will compete next summer.

Over a period of five months, AP conducted four rounds of tests at Olympic sites, and found that none were ready for swimming or boating events. The results consistently showed large amounts of active and infectious human adenoviruses, which can cause respiratory trouble and intense vomiting and diarrhea, with concentrations similar to those seen in raw sewage. At one site that was thought to be cleaned up, Rodrigo de Freitas Lake, there were 14 million adenoviruses per liter to 1.7 billion per liter; for comparison, in Southern California, water officials are concerned when viral counts are at 1,000 per liter. "What you have there is basically raw sewage," marine biologist John Griffith told AP. "It's all the water from the toilets and the showers and whatever people put down their sinks, all mixed up, and it's going out into the beach waters."

Already, some competitors training in Rio have become sick, complaining of fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. The Austrian sailing team has been training for months in the Guanabara Bay, and coach Ivan Bulaja said it "is by far the worst water quality we've ever seen in our sailing careers. I am quite sure if you swim in this water and it goes into your mouth or nose that quite a lot of bad things are coming inside your body." In Rio, most of the waste goes through open-air ditches, down through streams and rivers that feed the Olympic water sites. Even though Brazilian officials have promised that the water will be safe in time for the games, international experts told AP it's too late to get everything cleaned up. Catherine Garcia

someone didn't think this one through
1:39 a.m. ET

It was supposed to be the "first women's museum in the UK." Instead, it will be dedicated to Jack the Ripper, a madman who brutally murdered prostitutes in London's East End during the late 1800s.

Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, the former head of diversity and inclusion for Google, was approved to build a "world class" museum in an old building in the Whitechapel district. In documents, architects Waugh Thistleton said the museum would "retell the story of the East End through the eyes, voices, experience, and actions" of women, the London Evening Standard reports. Now that area residents know about the new direction Palmer-Edgecumbe took, they're not happy. "We feel we have been completely hoodwinked and deceived," filmmaker Julian Cole said. "My neighbor thought it was some kind of sick joke."

The museum is set to open Tuesday, and Palmer-Edgecumbe says he's not going to glorify the murderer. "We did plan to do a museum about social history of women but as the project developed we decided a more interesting angle was from the perspective of the victims of Jack the Ripper," he told the London Evening Standard. "It is absolutely not celebrating the crime of Jack the Ripper, but looking at why and how the women got in that situation in the first place." Catherine Garcia

Late Night Antics
1:02 a.m. ET

On Wednesday's Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon and Jason Segel showed how fast they can think on their feet during a game of "Word Sneak." The premise was simple — both had five different, totally random words they had to work into a conversation as casually as possible. After a rough start (really, "mongeese"?), Segel won the game thanks to the clever way he was able to slip "Gene Shalit" into the discussion — plus, he gets bonus points for cracking up Questlove. Watch the video below. Catherine Garcia

12:11 a.m. ET

Investigators still don't know if the piece of airplane wreckage found on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean is from missing Malaysia Airline Flight 370, but experts say that the way the ocean's currents work, it's entirely 'plausible.'

"It depends on where it went in, but it's about the right time for debris to wash up," oceanographer Robin Robertson told Reuters. Reunion Island is 4,000 miles from MH370's last known position before it vanished in March 2014 with 239 people onboard, but it's also in the Indian Ocean gyre, a major spiral of currents driven by surface winds. Currents rarely move in a straight line, and can reach speeds of more than 2.2 miles per hour, or 300 miles a week.

The Joint Agency Coordination Centre, an Australian agency working with Malaysia on the search, said the spot where the fragment was found is "consistent with other analysis and modeling that the resting place of the aircraft is in the southern Indian Ocean." Sources told NBC News that Boeing Corp. investigators believe the fragment is from a 777, and MH370 is currently the only missing 777 in the world. Investigators will look closely for any distinctive markings, and can even glean clues from the barnacles and shells that are now on the surface; by determining how old the sea life is, they can figure out when the jet debris entered the water. Catherine Garcia

July 29, 2015
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This isn't your great-great-great-great-grandmother's Little Women.

Because now we have to go back to the 1800s for our television shows, the CW is putting into development a series that takes the beloved March sisters and throws them into a situation much worse than living with scarlet fever and rejecting marriage proposals. As Deadline reports, the project is being described as a "hyper-stylized, gritty adaptation of the 1868 novel by Louisa May Alcott, in which disparate half-sisters Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy band together in order to survive the dystopic streets of Philadelphia and unravel a conspiracy that stretches far beyond anything they have ever imagined — all while trying not to kill each other in the process." OK.

Why stop there? Let's make Tom Sawyer an android anarchist attempting to survive life in a hellish police state, and have Moby Dick live in a post-apocalyptic ocean where he's just misunderstood and not really out to destroy ships and kill people. Now that Atticus Finch is a racist, it's not like the classics are sacred anymore, anyway. Catherine Garcia

See you in court
July 29, 2015
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Three University of Virginia graduates and Phi Kappa Psi fraternity brothers are suing Rolling Stone magazine and journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely for defamation, claiming that an article that ran in December 2014 and has since been retracted identified them as participants in a gang rape.

George Elias IV, Stephen Hadford, and Ross Fowler filed the lawsuit in New York federal court on Wednesday, and are seeking more than $75,000 for "mental anguish and severe emotional distress" caused by the article and its aftermath, The Washington Post reports. The story centered around a junior referred to as Jackie, who said that during a September 2012 party at the University of Virginia Phi Psi house, she was raped by seven fraternity members as two older brothers watched.

The filing states that the "plaintiffs have been embarrassed to admit that they are members of Phi Kappa Psi as a result of the article and its accusations," and Elias said that since he lived in the frat house at the time, people believed he was involved. None of the fraternity brothers were named in the 9,000-word article, which was retracted after a Columbia Graduate School of Journalism review in April concluded it was profoundly flawed. Catherine Garcia

July 29, 2015
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Wednesday in Minnesota, the National Football League Players Association filed a lawsuit against the NFL on behalf of Tom Brady  to vacate his suspension.

The New England Patriots quarterback was suspended for four games May 11 after a report maintained that while he did not improperly handle deflated balls used in the AFC Championship game won by the Patriots 45-7, he "at least" was "generally aware" of the alleged involvement of Patriots staff. On Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodall upheld the suspension, and the NFLPA said it would file an appeal.

The suit claims that Brady's punishment was not fair and consistent, and the appeal hearing "defied any concept of fundamental fairness," reports. It also alleges that Goodell was partial in his decision to uphold the suspension. Catherine Garcia

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