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Anthony Wexler, an atmospheric scientist at the University of California, Davis, studies how very small particles -- measured in nanometers, or billionths of a meter -- contribute to air pollution and affect human health and climate. Wexler believes the role of these atmospheric nanoparticles is one of the largest unknowns in understanding global climate change. Clouds form when water droplets form around nanoparticles, and the thickness and whiteness of clouds affects how much heat from the sun is reflected back into space.

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The increasing number of people without insurance -- an estimated 47 million in 2008 -- and growing health care costs are fostering more interest in and movement toward overhaul of the health care system. At the national level and state levels, dozens of proposals are on the table, offered by candidates, businesses, consumer advocates and many others. The proposals range from national health insurance modeled on Medicare to private market options based on tax breaks. Many policy analysts expect substantial movement on the issue in 2009.

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