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Your World This Week, Volume XIII

Google’s Self-Driving Car Project Takes A Big Step Forward

Google may have just taken its most important step yet in making the self-driving car a reality. And it didn’t happen in a lab, testing track or anywhere of the sort. It’s happening in a board room.

Later this month, auto industry veteran John Krafcik will become the CEO of Google’s self-driving car project. The message is clear: this project is indeed not some theoretical pipedream; Google now definitively has its eye on the business side of this venture. They’re not just building a self-driving car, they’re preparing to bring it to market.

While Google is presumably still a long way off from setting any kind of release date for the self-driving car, Krafcik’s impressive resume–including successes at Ford, Hyundai, and elsewhere–bodes well for the project. Learn more at The Wall Street Journal.

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De-Extinction: The Who, How, When, And Why Of Bringing Extinct Species Back To Life

Mammoth De-Extinction

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In 1598, the Dutch landed on the island of Mauritius, just off the coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Here, they were met by a massive population of flightless, naive, meaty birds. Salivating, the sailors happily began killing them, kindly bestowing the name “dodo” upon the shell-shocked animals. Over the next several decades, humans, and the rats, pigs, monkeys and other animals they brought with them, made short work of the small island and the entire species of the dodo, rendering it extinct by 1662.

This isn’t exactly a unique story, as far as extinction goes. Colonizers move in, and the indigenous animal (as well as human and plant) populations begin to dwindle. But, what if we could apologize for our pillaging ways and resurrect these extinct species?

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Your World This Week, Volume XI

California's Sinking Island

RIO VISTA, CALIFORNIA, USA – NOVEMBER 1, 2009: Dennis Baldocchi, a biogeochemist at the University of California walks along some of the seepage from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta on Sherman Island pasture near Rio Vista, California. The land that his family farmed for three generations is sinking—further below sea level each year. Image Source: Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images

What’s Keeping California’s Engineers And Economists Up At Night? It’s Not The Drought

In spite of California’s historic drought, it is water that keeps engineers, economists and state planners awake at night, says Wired. Indeed, California’s plumbing is in a state of disrepair, with its network of levees essentially amounting to “mounds of dirt,” even when compared to those which failed New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

Experts note that if enough water were to breach the levees, sea water from the Bay area would rush in and damage the water supply that serves two-thirds of California, translating to three years of further water restrictions in the Golden State. Learn more about the levees and how their failure can affect you—yes, you—at Wired.

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5 Amazing Citizen Science Projects You Can Join Right Now

When a new word makes its way to the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary, something’s up. Such was the case with the term “citizen science,” which entered the English language canon in 2014. For those unfamiliar, citizen science draws on the power of the people to help make scientific discoveries. And these volunteers often do: in 2011, a puzzle-solving, citizen science game called Foldit made headlines when configurations found by the players led scientists to discover the structure of an enzyme that helps the AIDS virus reproduce.

Since then, the Internet has only continued to expand the possibilities for connecting curious people with projects that seek to understand our world. For those interested in exploring the great outdoors, some projects involve outdoor monitoring of plant or animal species. But even the most dedicated homebody can participate in these projects, many of which require nothing more than wifi and a set of eyes.

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