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The Daily brief: July 29, 2011

Law & Order: Real Life | The Law School’s drive to give its graduates more real-life experience is gathering growing attention, as seen in today‘s San Francisco Chronicle. Currently, faculty are considering requiring all students to work in the school’s legal clinic before they can earn their J.D.

Building a Better Toilet | While Bill Gates may have just announced his new initiative for a more accessible toilet, mechanical engineering professor Reginald Mitchell already has an idea. Mitchell’s toilet, designed with Brian Von Herzen of the Climate Foundation, turns human waste into biochar that can be used to improve soil.

Into the Autistic Brain | Stanford scientists have replicated symptoms of autism after overexciting the brain cells of mice. When the cells were stimulated, the normally social mice became less so, suggesting that disorders in which social behavior breaks down — such as autism and schizophrenia — might be linked to similarly overexcited cells.

Overheard | “People are always happy to be lazy, and it’s sort of a rule of safety design, so if you give people the slightest opportunity to be lazy, they’ll take to it with great gusto and joy.” — Communications professor Clifford Nass on multitasking, especially when driving, in an article on the subject by Wired.com

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