posted 9 days ago on ars technica
Ebola virus (credit: CDC Global) After the ghastly symptoms subside, Ebola may not be done; it may just shift to a clever stealth mode, a new study suggests. Examining archived tissue samples from infected monkeys, researchers found that Ebola can create a cryptic viral reservoir in certain immune cells and hide in corners of the body where the rest of the immune system has little reach. The study, published this week in Nature Microbiology, echoes the reports from human Ebola survivors, who complain of lingering symptoms and complications that researchers have struggled to understand. Overall, the evidence of persistent infections—which threaten to relapse and spark new outbreaks—adds extra concern for an already alarming pathogen. But researchers are hopeful that the study also provides a way forward for research into defeating this stage of infection. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Dutch Harbor at Unalaska, Alaska, as seen in 2010. (credit: Tom Doyle) In Alaska, you don’t mess with nature—lest it mess with you. Emmett Fitch, an Alaska man who runs a small ISP in Unalaska, Alaska—1,000 miles southwest of Anchorage—told Ars that last month he was out helping a drone videographer visiting from Nevada to shoot a promotional video in the nearby port of Dutch Harbor. The team flew a drone out over the harbor, Fitch said, "a mile away," and the pilot was trying to bring it back to shore. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Michiel Dijcks) On Tuesday evening, Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler released a statement saying that it would voluntarily recall three million Mercedes-Benz diesels in the EU to offer a software update that would improve emissions control system performance. The recall will cost the company about €220 million ($254 million). Mercedes-Benz was already in the process of offering software update-focused recalls to improve emissions systems in compact-class cars and V-Class cars with diesel engines, so this new announcement widens the radius on those existing recalls. Dieter Zetsche, a Daimler AG Chairman and the head of the German automaker's Mercedes-Benz brand, explained the action as a move to clear up uncertainty. He described the recalls as “additional measures to reassure drivers of diesel cars and to strengthen confidence in diesel technology.” “We are convinced that diesel engines will continue to be a fixed element of the drive-system mix, not least due to their low CO2 emissions,” Zetsche added. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Destiny 2's major May reveal event in Los Angeles came with a substantial hands-on demo, and I walked away from it pretty impressed. Some fans were kinder to the sequel's unveil than others—with many wondering if this was really worthy of its "sequel" designation. Those fans didn't get to play what I played: the new, monstrous Inverted Spire "strike" mission. That changed on Tuesday (for those who jumped through Bungie's pre-release hoops) with the launch of the Destiny 2 closed beta. Anybody who pre-ordered the game for PlayStation 4 can now redeem a code and download the beta, which will be live until this Friday. Xbox One players must wait 24 hours longer for their shot, on Wednesday, July 19 because of whatever fat check Sony wrote years ago. Bungie Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Chris Hunkeler) California lawmakers voted to extend the state’s cap-and-trade program another 10 years on Monday night. The bill includes language that would gradually tighten restrictions on businesses, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases they’re allowed to put in the atmosphere by 40 percent by 2030. California’s cap-and-trade market puts a limit on the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that companies are allowed to put into the atmosphere, and it allows companies to buy and sell GHG credits. That means that a company whose business requires additional GHG emissions over the limit would have to buy credits in an auction. The more polluting that companies are collectively, the more credits are in demand, and the more costly it is to do business individually as a polluter. The first cap-and-trade rules were passed in 2012 and went into effect in 2013. California has linked its market with Québec and has had moderate success with the program, although the most recent carbon auction in February saw low demand—regulated businesses only purchased 18 percent of the auctioned credits compared to the previous auction in November when 88 percent of the credits up for auction were sold. The money raised in the auctions goes to a greenhouse gas reduction fund. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / US Rep Dana Rohrabacher, left, in a photo with Neil Armstrong a few years ago. (credit: Dana Rohrabacher) On Thursday, the space subcommittee of the House Science Committee held a hearing to look into NASA's forthcoming big-ticket planetary exploration missions. Those missions include a Mars 2020 rover, a Europa flyby mission, and potentially a follow-up lander to the Jovian moon Europa. The hearing was respectable, with on-point witnesses and mostly incisive questions. That is, until California Republican Dana Rohrabacher had his turn at the microphone. After asking a reasonable, if rambling, question about NASA's plans for a Mars sample return mission and the kind of fuel used by spacecraft, Rohrabacher got down to business. He asked, "You have indicated that Mars was totally different thousands of years ago. Is it possible that there was a civilization on Mars thousands of years ago?" Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: loonyhiker) The Federal Communications Commission has denied a request to extend the deadline for comments on its plan to overturn net neutrality rules, and the commission is also refusing to release the text of more than 40,000 net neutrality complaints that it has received since June 2015. The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request in May of this year for tens of thousands of net neutrality complaints received by the commission. The NHMC argues that the details of these complaints are crucial for analyzing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to overturn net neutrality rules. The coalition also asked the FCC to extend the initial comment deadline until 60 days after the commission fully complies with the FoIA request. Instead, the FCC yesterday denied the motion for an extension and said that it will only provide the text for a fraction of the complaints, because providing them all would be too burdensome. Pai has previously claimed that his proposed repeal of net neutrality rules is using a "far more transparent" process than the one used to implement net neutrality rules in 2015. Pai has also claimed that net neutrality rules were a response to "hypothetical harms and hysterical prophecies of doom" and that there was no real problem to solve. Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Christmas came early for Netflix investors this year. (credit: macappsaddict via Flickr) Netflix posted its quarterly financial results (PDF) yesterday, and it is just about dominating Wall Street expectations. The streaming media company's stock jumped 10 percent after it revealed that it added 5.2 million memberships, far above the expectation that it would add 3.23 million during the quarter. The company's profits aren't huge: Netflix earned just $66 million on revenue of $2.79 billion during the quarter. But investors have shown that they're willing to forego massive profits now in exchange for breakneck growth. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: www.glynlowe.com) It's been a month since Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that he is buying the upscale Whole Foods Market grocery chain for $13.7 billion, or $42 a share, in an all-cash transaction. Now, opposition is mounting against the pending purchase. Proposed federal class-action shareholder lawsuits have been lodged to block the deal, arguing that it isn't good for Amazon shareholders. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is complaining to the Federal Trade Commission that the accord would reduce competition, limit consumer choice, and kill jobs. And a member of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law is demanding congressional hearings. "Competition is essential for a healthy economy. That's true across the board. Amazon's proposed purchase of Whole Foods could impact neighborhood grocery stores and hardworking consumers across America," said Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat of Rhode Island and the committee's ranking member. "Congress has a responsibility to fully scrutinize this merger before it goes ahead. Failing to do so is a disservice to our constituents." Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Bosch provided flights to Frankfurt and three nights' accommodation for this trip to the Bosch Mobility Experience. Video edited by Jennifer Hahn. (video link) BOXBERG, GERMANY—Are autonomous cars like buses? In one way, yes. You wait ages for a ride in one, and then all of a sudden several show up in short succession. In late June, we went for a spin in Jack, Audi's level 3 autonomous test vehicle. Then, a couple of weeks later in Germany at the Bosch Mobility Experience, we got to sample another such vehicle. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Hudson returns to BioWare as the company pivots to Anthem, its first new IP in over a decade. BioWare General Manager Aaryn Flynn unexpectedly announced today that he'll be leaving the company after a 17-year stint. His replacement as general manager will be Casey Hudson, the former Mass Effect series project director who left the company three years ago for a position as creative director at Microsoft Studios. "I have been contemplating changes in my own life for some time, but when I heard that Casey [Hudson] had confirmed he was up for the task, I realized the opportunities before us," Flynn wrote on the BioWare blog. "I will be working with him over the next couple of weeks to help catch him up and do my part to set him up for success to be the best GM he can be." The shake-up comes at a shaky time for BioWare, which saw Mass Effect: Andromeda receive a harsher-than-expected reception from critics and audiences earlier this year amid numerous launch-day technical issues. An extensive piece in Kotaku last month uses quotes from unnamed BioWare employees to highlight the difficulties that plagued the title's five-year development. A subsequent report suggests that planned single-player DLC for the game has now been canceled. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Recovered 3D meshes help, but pretty much everything about this Crash remaster image had to be rebuilt from scratch. (credit: Activision) I was happy to offer reluctant praise for the content-loaded Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy earlier this month, but I am admittedly not a Bandi-cologist. I have been watching how more hardcore fans, such as speedrunners, might react to this anthology, which required a full code rewrite, and eagle-eyed fans caught some issues that I didn't. The anthology's developers at Vicarious Visions took to their official blog on Monday to confirm the issue: Yep, you're not imagining things. "Our game engine features a different collision system than the original game, and combined with the addition of physics, certain jumps require more precision than the originals," the Monday blog post reads. This admission joins a longer description of how the jumps in each of the anthology's original PS1 games had different animation speeds and tunings, which VV only preserved to a certain extent. All three games' basic handling systems are now derived from the Crash 3 model, VV says, and "jump tunings" have been attached to the updated Crash 1 and Crash 2 to make them feel a little more like the originals. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Comcast) Comcast yesterday claimed that "the threat of Title II regulation" started harming broadband network investment in 2011—years before the US government decided to apply Title II regulations to broadband. Moreover, Comcast said that net neutrality proponents who claim that investment wasn't hurt by the Title II rules "aren't living in the real world." This comes less than a week after Comcast accused net neutrality supporters of "creat[ing] hysteria." Comcast's new statements came in comments filed yesterday with the Federal Communications Commission and in a blog post by Senior Executive VP David Cohen, who urged the FCC to stop classifying ISPs as common carriers. Comcast's claims about network investment clash with what ISPs have told their own investors; even Comcast’s chief financial officer downplayed Title II's effect on investment in December 2016. Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Eric Rosenbach, who served as the chief of staff to the secretary of defense from 2015 until 2017, seen here in 2014. (credit: Center for Strategic & International Studies) A new group at Harvard University staffed by the former campaign managers of the Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney campaigns, along with other top security experts, have banded together to help mitigate various types of online attacks that threaten American democracy. The initiative, dubbed "Defending Digital Democracy," will be run by former chief of staff for the secretary of defense, Eric Rosenbach. "Americans across the political spectrum agree that political contests should be decided by the power of ideas, not the skill of foreign hackers," Rosenbach said in a Tuesday statement. "Cyber deterrence starts with strong cyber defense—and this project brings together key partners in politics, national security, and technology to generate innovative ideas to safeguard our key democratic institutions." Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: John Barker via Flickr) President Donald Trump has said he's going to set more limits on the H-1B visa program, which allows tens of thousands of technology workers into the US each year. But yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security moved to expand another type of visa, the H-2B, which allows lower-skilled workers in on a seasonal basis. The Department of Homeland Security said yesterday it is going to allow an additional 15,000 workers to come in under the H-2B visa category, which is typically used by US businesses in industries like tourism, construction, and seafood processing. The program normally allows for 66,000 visas, split between the two halves of the year. That means the DHS increase, announced yesterday, represents an increase of more than 40 percent for the second half of 2017. Businesses can begin applying for the additional visas right away, as long as they attest under penalty of perjury that their business will "suffer irreparable harm" if it can't employ additional H-2B workers in 2017. The expansion is a temporary one, and it only applies to the current year. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: 100% Campaign) Dramatic changes are coming to the old power grid. As infrastructure ages and policy dictates a move away from fossil fuels, utilities and governments are looking at Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) as potential alternatives to continually building out a centralized grid. DERs include all kinds of hardware that the utility may not necessarily own directly—solar panels, natural gas-fired microturbines, stationary batteries, and alternative cooling. Demand-response schemes, where a grid operator shifts electricity consumer use (usually through incentives) away from high-demand times, are also considered DERs. Planning for DERs makes grid management trickier than it was when a company simply built a huge new plant and connected a power line to it. Without a lot of data, it’s hard to know what kinds of energy resources will have the most impact economically and environmentally, and what will be most cost-effective for utilities. But a trio of researchers from Stanford University is attempting to make this planning easier for utilities and policy makers to solve. The researchers published a paper in Nature Energy this week describing a program they built to model DER deployment in a way that will result in the lowest cost to grid operators. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Bruno Geiger) The Transportation Security Administration has lifted its months-long in-cabin laptop ban, which has been relaxed in recent weeks as the mostly Middle Eastern airlines have boosted security in their home countries for flights bound for the United States. In March 2017, the Trump administration imposed notable restrictions on laptops and other large electronic items larger than a smartphone against nine airlines in an attempt to mitigate the risk of terrorist attacks. On Monday, a statement on the TSA website indicated that Saudi flights from Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport would still be affected, but said on Twitter that flights from Jeddah are now clear. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge Spoiler warning: This article, as you might've gathered, completely spoils most of the story of Spectral. If you haven't seen it yet, it should be on Netflix in your country. A lot of the fascination with sci-fi movies stems from a successful blend of state-of-the-art science and technology with what might be considered an imaginable extrapolation of it. For a scientist, of course, it is especially interesting if one’s own research field is depicted. A recent example is the movie Spectral, which can be described as a mixture of a war and a ghost story, where soldiers face an enemy with seemingly supernatural properties. Well into the movie (and after a lot of people are killed along the way), the main hero, DARPA researcher Dr. Mark Clyne, has a “eureka” moment when he realises that the mysterious creatures are, in fact, fashioned out of Bose–Einstein condensate. Wow! One of my fields of research for the past 15+ years! Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: US Senator Jack Reed) Renewable power sources' intermittency could eventually cause problems as our electric grids become increasingly reliant on them. While it's always sunny somewhere, and always windy somewhere (often somewhere else), relying on weather variations for generating consistent power means integrating power sources across a large geographic region. Many countries, including several leaders in renewable power, don't have that luxury. A Swiss-UK research team has now looked at what this means for Europe, where renewable energy has boomed primarily among countries with access to the wind resources of the North Sea. They've found that certain weather patterns leave the North Sea region underproducing for over a week. But those same patterns would boost production relatively nearby—in the Balkans, Spain, and Scandinavia. While that would be enough to offset the North Sea's power slump, it won't do much to help until Europe integrates its grids. Regime change The authors focus on what they call "weather regimes," periods of similar weather that tend to stick around for five days or more. Most weather services recognize a handful of distinct European regimes, like having a low-pressure system parked south of Iceland, or high pressure just to the west of Ireland. The authors consider seven of these, nearly twice as many as most weather services recognize, because the relatively subtle differences among them can make a big difference to wind power generation. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Marie with a sniper rifle? Things get weird in Splatoon 2. (credit: Nintendo) When Splatoon launched on Nintendo's Wii U in 2015, it should have shipped with a "wet paint" sign. This was Nintendo's first major online shooter in nearly a decade, and despite the obvious innovation and fun on offer, it wasn't ready for online prime time. Weapon balancing, content, modes, and matchmaking with friends were all in short supply. Splatoon 2, out this week on the Switch, could very well have ended up being the "gussied-up port" I expected when the game was announced earlier this year. It sure looks and sounds the same as the Wii U version, and with two years of patches under its belt, that wouldn't have been a bad thing. But in the odd tradition of other beloved online shooters, Nintendo has opted to not only slap a "2" onto the title but also revisit enough of the series' nuts and bolts to merit the numerical bump. Splatoon 2 is a bona fide sequel, if barely, but that jump in number matters when I offer it as an unqualified recommendation for the next purchase most Switch owners should make. The game has its glaring issues, but Splatoon 2 absolutely executes on the promise and innovation of the original game. Read 37 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge / Yep, that's a phone. (credit: VentureBeat) Evan Blass over at VentureBeat has shared an image of HMD's upcoming Nokia flagship, the Nokia 8. The device will be the first Nokia-branded Android flagship, taking a place at the head of the existing lineup of the Nokia 3, Nokia 5, and Nokia 6. The report says the phone should be announced on July 31st. In the fast-moving smartphone world, HMD is definitely behind when it comes to design. The device looks a lot like the other budget-conscious Nokia HMD phones—and a lot like a phone design from last year. There are tall top and bottom bezels, capacitive hardware navigation buttons, and a front fingerprint reader. That's disappointing given the more modern slim-bezel designs we've seen from Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, and (if it ever launches) Essential. I think the Nokia 8 will need a competitive price to pair with the old-school design, something that puts it in "budget flagship" territory with the similarly specced, similarly designed OnePlus 5. The phone is expected to come with a Snapdragon 835, 4 or 6GB of RAM, Android 7.1.1, and a surprisingly small 5.3-inch QHD display. The back seems to feature HMD's usual anodized aluminum body (increasingly a rarity in a world of fragile glass and ceramic phones) and a dual camera setup complete with "Zeiss" branding, just like the old days. Besides the two cameras and LED flash, there's some other component in the camera module, probably a laser autofocus setup. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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We live in strange times. At one end of the automotive universe right now are pure electric cars rapidly approaching mainstream usability for anyone within a conventional gas tank's distance of a latte. Development of autonomous cars is plainly visible. Pickup trucks outsell everything in America and yet, there's still an appetite for 650 horsepower (485kW) track-day weapons. Chevy's new Camaro ZL1 1LE goes back to the well-understood niche of—comparatively speaking in sales numbers—a tiny portion of thrill-seeking track junkies who want to arrive and drive at the nearest circuit. To counter Steely Dan's debut album title, you can buy a thrill. Rocketing around the new Area 27 race track in Kelowna, British Columbia (name hinting at the car number carried around by Jacques Villeneuve, 1997 Canadian F1 Driver's Champion, who helped design the course, as well as his father Gilles), it took a bit of effort not to simply bust out laughing at the stupid level of grip, acceleration, and never-quit braking performance of the 1LE over the 3.0-mile (4.8-km) circuit. Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Bilal Farooqui) The automation revolution, where most of our jobs are replaced by robots and we spend the rest of our days floating around on rubber rings sipping piña coladas, has hit a snag: a Knightscope K5 security bot appears to have fallen down some stairs and drowned itself in a water feature. The scene, which took place at the mixed-use Washington Harbour development in Washington DC, was captured by Bilal Farooqui on Twitter. One local office worker reported that the K5 robot had only been patrolling the complex for a few days. Knightscope said in a statement that the "isolated incident" was under investigation, and that a new robot would be delivered to Washington Harbour this week for free. Here's what a Knightscope K5 looks like when it isn't on its side in a pond. It's about 5 feet (1.5m) tall and weighs 300lbs. We first wrote about the Dalek-like K5 back in 2014. The first bots were deployed on campuses and shopping complexes near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California. The company has never disclosed how many robots are on active duty, but this is the first time I've heard of a K5 deployment outside of Silicon Valley. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Mark Walton) In recent years, the humble earbud has fallen out of fashion in favour of the headphone—and with good reason. Headphones offer a sizeable upgrade over their compact counterparts, which often come bundled with smartphones and music players and offer miserable, if at least listenable, sound quality. Good headphones have more bass (a typical inadequacy of cheap earbuds), are more comfortable, block out more exterior noise thanks to heavily padded ear cups, and in some cases they're even more of a fashion statement than Apple's ubiquitous EarPods. Some might even be wireless. The tradeoff, though, is that headphones are big. For those that value discretion, headphones, even compact ones, are too bulky to be manageable on the go. That's not to mention their impracticality for fitness enthusiasts, for whom earbuds tend to be the preferred option. Traditionally, the upgrade path for earbuds has been towards sets like Sennheiser's CX300 II. These offer decent sound quality and the addition of silicone sleeves, which sit inside the ear rather than outside of it, helping to isolate outside noise, provide better bass, and ensure a more stable fit. Foam tips like these fitted to UE900 earphones are the best way to get a good seal on a budget. But even the silicone sleeve has its limits. Until recently, the best fit for consumers has been via foam tips, which are squished before being inserted into the ear where they expand to form a surprisingly solid seal. As someone that's been using Comply-branded foam tips for years with a set of Ultimate Ears' excellent UE900 earphones—which boast four balanced armature drivers, two for bass, and one each for middle and treble—I can confirm they make a huge difference to comfort and noise isolation, provided they're used with a good set of headphones to begin with. Read 31 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Enlarge (credit: Catherine Losing for Mosaic) Bringing genetics into medicine will lead to more accuracy, better diagnosis, and personalised treatment—but not for all. For Mosaic, Carrie Arnold meets families for whom gene testing has led only to unanswered questions. This article was first published by Wellcome on Mosaic, and it's republished here under a Creative Commons licence. AnneMarie Ciccarella, a fast-talking 57-year-old brunette with a more than a hint of a New York accent, thought she knew a lot about breast cancer. Her mother was diagnosed with the disease in 1987, and several other female relatives also developed it. When doctors found a suspicious lump in one of her breasts that turned out to be cancer, she immediately sought out testing to look for mutations in the two BRCA genes, which between them account for around 20 per cent of families with a strong history of breast cancer. Ciccarella assumed her results would be positive. They weren’t. Instead, they identified only what’s known as a variant of unknown or uncertain significance (VUS)—or two of them, one in both BRCA1 and BRCA2. Unlike pathogenic mutations that are known to cause disease or benign ones that don’t, these genetic variations just aren’t understood enough to know if they cause problems or not. Read 46 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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