May 19, 2014

GoPro formally filed for its IPO Monday.     Photo: Courtesy of Steve Jennings

GoPro Files for $100 Million IPO

Even as growth slows

GoPro, maker of the now ubiquitous action cameras, has announced that it seeks to raise $100 million in its initial public offering, according to documents released to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.

While the company filed the first documents for its IPO last February, it formally released its S-1 after markets closed Monday. 

According to the filing, GoPro's revenue for 2013 totaled $985 million, up 87 percent from the previous year. But growth has slowed in the first three months of 2014, with revenue down 7 percent from the same period last year. In 2013, GoPro founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman told Forbes that the company's revenues had doubled each year up to 2012. That trend has now ended. 

We'll have to wait and see how GoPro's plan to go public will affect the company, which filed for the IPO at a particularly unstable time. Tech companies that have recently entered the market face a range of difficulties. King Digital, for example, is trading well below its IPO price, according to Forbes.

The final details of GoPro's IPO may change as the company files future registration documents. The camera maker will list on the Nasdaq under the symbol "GPRO."

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The fungus in action.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Coffee Rust Threatens to Send Prices Sky-High

Worst outbreak in decades

Along with gasoline, reasonable coffee prices are one of the essential stabilizing forces in both our economy and mental well-being. That's what makes the fungus known as coffee rust, a blight that has already caused more than $1 billion in damage and threatens to exponentially raise the price of coffee, so darn scary.

The threat has become so severe that the U.S. Agency for International Development has decided to step in, partnering with Texas A&M University's World Coffee Research Center to find an effective countermeasure. "We are concerned because we know coffee rust is already causing massive amounts of devastation," said USAID head Raj Shah. Agency estimates place the potential drop in production as high as 40 percent, with as many as 500,000 jobs lost. Production dropped 20 percent in 2013 alone.

The rust, known as roya in Spanish, primarily attacks the Arabica coffee bean through an airborne fungal spore. It can be combated with fungicides and planting methods, but Central America's smaller farms often lack the resources to implement these measures. Much of America's mass-produced coffee comes from Asia, so for now only the high-end, specialty coffee producers are being affected, but that may not be the case for long.

The goal now is to develop a variety of coffee plant that is rust resistant, but it will take some time before the collaboration between USAID and Texas A&M bears fruit. According to Leonardo Lombardini of Texas A&M's World Coffee Research, "We don't see an end in sight anytime soon."

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You already knew public urination was gross. Now we know it's definitely dirty on a bacterial level.     Photo: ViewApart/Thinkstock

Your Pee Isn't Sterile

Take note, Mr. Grylls

Bear Grylls might want to rethink his beverage of choice. According to findings presented today at a prominent microbiology conference in Boston, the common myth that urine is sterile is flat-out wrong.

"Doctors have been trained to believe that urine is germ-free," says Linda Brubaker, dean of Loyola University Chicago's Stritch School of Medicine and one of the study's investigators. "These findings challenge this notion, so this research opens the door to exciting new possibilities for patient treatment."

The Loyola team wanted to understand why some women affected by overactive bladder don't respond to conventional treatments. After evaluating urine samples from 90 women using a cutting-edge DNA-based detection method, the researchers determined that women with overactive bladders have detrimental bacteria in their urine—and that everyone's pee contains some bacteria.

"While traditional urine cultures have been the gold standard to identify urine disorders in the past, they do not detect most bacteria and have limited utility as a result," Paul Schreckenberger, the head of Loyola's clinical microbiology laboratory, said of the detection technique.

These new findings are merely the latest to suggest your pee might not be as safe as you think. Earlier this year, a study found that when people pee in pools, uric acid binds with chlorine and produces harmful chemicals—even if pros like Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps do it all the time.

By better understanding the bacterial compositions of healthy humans—because remember, some bacteria are good—scientists hope to develop more effective treatments for all sorts of ailments, including bladder problems. 

So, Bear, while we can't guarantee your piss will make you sick, we can also assure you it isn't as clean as you suspect. When it comes to TV adventurers, we still cast our lot with Les.

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Bradley Wiggins rides in the 2012 Tour de France, where he took first place.     Photo: Damien/Flickr

Wiggins Wins Tour of California

Sets sights on Tour de France

It was the fourth-closest finish and the most competitive peloton the Amgen Tour of California has ever seen, but British cyclist Bradley Wiggins pulled off first place by 30 seconds. Team Garmin-Sharp took overall team honors with a total time of 85:12:16. 

Riders traveled more than 700 miles in eight days, from Sacramento to Thousand Oaks. Wiggins, who led the race from day two, finished 20th in the eighth and final 76.1-mile stage, with an overall time of 28:22:05. Fellow Brit Mark Cavendish won Stage 8 by a hair, entering the finish line neck-and-neck with German cyclist John Degenkolb. He didn't think he would start that stage at all. "I was chasing the group," he said in an official press release. "I finally got back to them on the descent." 

Another competitor had his moment in the sun as well—but for the wrong reasons. Spanish cyclist Eloy Teruel found himself leading the seventh stage and began celebrating as he approached the finish line. He didn't notice the fans and announcers trying to tell him that he still had one lap left. He crossed the finish line after the actual last lap in 56th place.

As for Wiggins, he'll add this victory to a list that includes the 2012 Tour de France and the 2010 Olympics in London. Next stop: possibly the Tour de France, though it is still unclear if he plans to ride this year. Last year, a knee injury and chest infection kept him from competing in both the Tour and the Giro d'Italia.

After his win in the Tour of California, Wiggins did bring up the Tour de France, saying, "If I am fortunate enough to be in the Tour, it will be in support of Chris [Froome]. Chris wants to win his second Tour, and as the defending champion, everyone understands that, including myself."

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Richard Bowen's photographs of Mount St. Helens taken on May 18, 1980, went unpublished for 34 years.     Photo: Richard Bowen/Courtesy of the Oregonian

Mount St. Helens Photos Surface

Father and daughter captured 1980 eruption

On May 18, 1980, 11-year-old Tara Bowen woke up to ash rising over her Portland home and told her father to look out the window. Richard, a retired geologist and photographer, reached for the phone and called a local pilot to see if he could get closer.

  Photo: Richard Bowen/Courtesy of The Oregonian

Then he looked at Tara and asked her if she wanted to come along.

Richard and Tara would fly daringly close to Mount St. Helens that day, capturing these photos, first published last week by the Oregonian. Richard's flight log reads: "Flt around Mt St. Helens with Tara & K. Wheatley—Big one!"

  Photo: Richard Bowen/Courtesy of The Oregonian

Tara said she noticed both her father and the pilot were sometimes too engrossed in their photography to fly the plane.

"My dad never put us directly in harms way," she said. "He knew the mountain was erupting."

Simply put, it was something that happened. "Dad documented it and we moved on."

  Photo: Richard Bowen/Courtesy of The Oregonian

The past was the past, Seth Walker writes, "and there was no need to promote or brag." So the photos remained in Richard's hallway closet for 34 years.

But he did capture something. Richard recognized what few outside the realm of geology do: That sometimes—seemingly without plan—the earth erupts and takes our breath away.

  Photo: Richard Bowen/Courtesy of The Oregonian

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The flooding in the Balkans is the worst since rainfall measurements started being recorded 120 years ago.     Photo: stefanogiantin/cc/flickr

Severe Flooding in the Balkans

Unprecedented damage after record rainfall

More than 40 people have died so far as a consequence of severe flooding in the Balkans. The BBC reports that three months' worth of rain have fallen in the past few days, causing thousands of landslides and catastrophic damage in Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia. The flooding is the worst since rainfall measurements began to be recorded 120 years ago. 

The situation is particularly grave in areas along the Sava River, the Danube tributary that runs through Serbia and along the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition to forcing tens of thousands to evacuate their homes, flooding in this area has threatened structures like the Nikola Tesla Power Plant in Obrenovac, Serbia, which is the largest in the country.

Serbia's prime minister, Aleksandar Vucic, said, "These are the kind of waters not seen in 1,000 years, let alone 100."

Zeljka Cvijanovic, prime minister of Republika Srpska (aka the autonomous Bosnian Serb Republic), was quoted as saying, "The damage is such that we cannot recall even after the 1992–1995 war."

Her reference to the Bosnian War is ominously relevant in more ways than one: There are increasing fears that some of the thousands of unexploded land mines from the conflict may have been dislodged in the landslides. Today also marks the start of the defense case of Ratko Mladic at the wars crimes tribunal in the Hague. The Bosnian Serb former army chief, ignominiously known as the Bosnian Butcher, faces 11 charges, ranging from hostage-taking to genocide, for his involvement in the war.

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The "big hand" in Wyoming seems to reach for oil rigs, not education.     Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Jim Parkin

Wyoming Rejects Science Standards

For oil, coal industry

The founder of Wyoming's conservative political arm, Liberty Group, says the Next Generation Science Standards—adopted thus far by 11 states and the District of Columbia (which means those states acknowledge human climate impact)—are coercive.

Largely defending statewide outputs of companies such as Exxon and Chevron, Susan Gore of the Wyoming Liberty Group (and daughter Gore-Tex founder Wilbert L. Gore) believes government should have nothing to do with public education, and pro-coal-and-oil speak continues to dominate Wyoming's legislative rhetoric in response to the proposed standards. Opposition to the Next Generation Science Standards is "becoming a political litmus test" for this year's governorship, according to Richard Barrans, a science education professor at the University of Wyoming and member of the standards review board.

Wyoming became the first state to reject lessons on the human impact of global warming taught in its classrooms two months ago, despite a unanimous vote of the state's science educators in favor of adopting the standards. In March, lawmakers put an anti-Next-Gen footnote in writing, prohibiting public funds allocated toward achieving the standards. They hold that the standards are based in theory—not fact—and officially reject the Next Generation Science Standards for this perceived lack of validity.

"The majority of us will present evidence," a science facilitator for Wyoming's Goshen County school district told the New York Times. "That's what the scientific method is all about."

With respect to Gore's statement, the standards propose very little "big hand" involvement in how states reach the standards. Individual educators choose which textbooks they use (and, ultimately, how the standards are met), but the big hand in Wyoming seems to reach for fossil fuels, not education.

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