The Study

It's the first Earth Day since the BP oil spill. People the world over are still angry, Gulf Coast fishing has not quite recovered, and yet BP might actually have banner profits this year. Of course, as any Earth Day activist would tell you, the Gulf Coast will be coping with the BP oil spill for many Earth Days to come. But how long will those effects last? The closest precedent is the Exxon Valdez spill off the coast of Alaska in 1989.

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Late yesterday, Google introduced its newest service, Google Offers, which will send users daily emails about deals in their area. If this sounds familiar, that's because Google Offers is a direct competitor to Groupon, LivingSocial, and other daily deals services. Google actually tried to buy Groupon last December, but their $6 billion bid was rejected, and instead the search engine giant developed Google Offers.

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On Sunday morning, children all over the country will embark on an annual hunt for Easter eggs, hopefully full of sugary treats. The White House expects 30,000 attendees for its annual Easter Egg Roll, and Americans will buy 71 million pounds of chocolate candy for the holiday. In spite of her responsibilities as the mother of 21 children, the Easter Bunny is one of the most familiar mythical figures in American folklore. Nevertheless, not every child believes in the Easter Bunny, as anyone who's ever debated said bunny's existence in kindergarten can tell you.

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Video game blog Kotaku reported Wednesday that neither the next Microsoft Xbox nor the next Sony Playstation will be released until 2014 at the earliest, almost a decade after the current generation of video game consoles were introduced.

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Richard Branson is back in the news this week: After unveiling a deep-sea exploration vehicle earlier this month, he has announced plans to import lemurs to his Caribbean islands. (Yes, that's "islands" plural. He's quite wealthy, you know.) "Lemurs are found only on the African island of Madagascar and many species are threatened, largely because of deforestation," reports the BBC, "The threat has grown worse since the toppling of President Marc Ravalomanana's government two years ago, which allowed illegal logging to flourish.

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This past weekend, tornadoes battered a number of states around the country, killing over 40 people in 15 states, including 24 in North Carolina. Experts believe the weekend could be one of the worst three-day tornado outbreaks in the country's history.  Unfortunately, tornadoes are difficult to study: though clues are available in local atmospheric data, tornadoes are so spontaneous that tracking and taking measurements from them is problematic.

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Large wildfires are still threatening many parts of Texas, as firefighters struggle to contain what the AP called "some of the worst wildfire conditions in state history." Today, officials announced that the estimated size of one fire creeping closer to the Dallas-Fort Worth area has doubled in the past 24 hours, to about 150,000 acres, threatening hundreds of homes. After one of the driest Marches in Texas history, the New York Times says, "National Weather Service meteorologists expected a “lull” in the high winds on Wednesday, and a cold front could bring rain that evening.

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On Monday, Volkswagen launched the 2012 Beetle, the second redesign of Volkswagen's most famous model. The original Beetle was in production for 65 years, the longest-running single design in automotive history; the car has also featured in movies ranging from The Love Bug to Dazed and Confused. The new Beetle (at right) has become slightly less curvy and lower to the ground to project what Volkswagen's design chief calls "a clean, self-confident and dominant sportiness." The design also echoes the original Beetle, as well as its aesthetic cousin, the Porsche 911.

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Millions of Americans are filing tax returns today, an exercise that is almost certainly not on anyone's "favorite things to do" list. In recent years, though, thanks to the unpopularity of tobacco companies, and the terrible smells emanating from any and all smoking sections, cigarette taxes have remained that rarest of American institutions: a popular tax. Supporters argue that taxes discourage use, but what is the overall effect?

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This morning, almost 27,000 entrants ran in the 115th annual Boston Marathon. Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya won the men's race in a world-record time of 2:03:01, denying American Ryan Hall, who finished 4th, the chance to become the first American to win the race in almost 30 years.

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