Ancient rocky core beneath North America not that solid, study suggests | ESA astronaut on ISS uses force-feedback to move rover on Earth | Calif. sequoias, famous stump ready for threatening wildfires
 
September 15, 2015
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Ancient rocky core beneath North America not that solid, study suggests
North America's rocky core, or craton, isn't as solid as once thought, and is misshapen, having moved off-center to the west-southwest by about 528 miles, or 850 kilometers, according to scientists at the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. "We combined and analyzed several data sets from Earth's gravity field, topography, seismology and crustal structure and constructed a three-dimensional density model of the composition of the lithosphere below North America," said Mikhail Kaban, an author of the study published in Nature Geoscience. Discovery (9/14)
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Science in the News
ESA astronaut on ISS uses force-feedback to move rover on Earth
A European Space Agency astronaut on the International Space Station has maneuvered a rover on Earth using a system that allowed him to feel the force exerted on the rover's arm, a first-ever demonstration of "force-feedback" to control a rover from space. Andreas Mogensen was able to have the rover insert a peg into a hole twice. "Andreas managed two complete drive, approach, park and peg-in-hole insertions, demonstrating precision force-feedback from orbit for the very first time in the history of spaceflight," said Andre Schiele, who is leading the experiment. Space.com (9/14)
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Calif. sequoias, famous stump ready for threatening wildfires
One of the wildfires raging in California is burning in and around Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks, but officials aren't too concerned about the ancient trees and renowned stump that reside there. The famed Chicago stump, a portion of a giant General Noble sequoia displayed at the Chicago World's Fair more than 100 years ago, is wrapped in fire-resistant material, and the ancient sequoias in the area, some thousands of years old, are genetically built to withstand fire. National Geographic News (free registration) (9/14)
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Study: Bats perform $1B service for global corn crops
Bats are key to controlling pests in global corn crops, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers found that bats perform an ecological service worth in excess of $1 billion to corn farmers worldwide. "Bats are maligned in the media and there is a public fear, so if we can demonstrate a valuable, positive impact of bats, then it is good for the species and it is good for society," said Josiah Maine, a study co-author. "What it suggests is that conservation is necessary not just from an ethical stance, but from an economic standpoint as well." BBC (9/14)
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Navy agrees to cut back on sonar use to protect whales, dolphins
A federal judge in Hawaii has signed off on an agreement between environmental groups and the US Navy that restricts the use of sonar that may unintentionally harm whales and dolphins in areas near California and Hawaii. Sonar and explosives used in naval exercises have been blamed for problems with marine life, and this agreement is meant to reduce injuries and deaths of the creatures. BBC (9/14)
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Sitting for 10 or more hours a day can increase risk of liver disease, study finds
Add liver disease to the list of maladies people have an increased risk of developing by sitting for more than 10 hours a day, a study published in Hepatology suggests. Researchers in South Korea say people who are sedentary for 10 or more hours a day are 9% more likely to develop nonalcoholic fatty liver disease than those who sit fewer than five hours a day. More than 139,000 generally healthy young and middle-aged people took part in the study. LiveScience.com (9/15)
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Study links ASD risk to interpregnancy interval
Children were at a two- to threefold increased likelihood of having autism spectrum disorder if they were born after an interpregnancy interval of less than 12 months or more than or equal to 72 months, compared with those born after an interval of 36 to 47 months, according to a study in Pediatrics. Researchers evaluated data of 45,261 children born between 2000 and 2009. PhysiciansBriefing.com/HealthDay News (9/14)
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Study: TIV, PCV13 vaccination not linked with increase in febrile seizure
A study in Pediatrics revealed no statistically significant increase in the risk of febrile seizures among children who received the trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine or the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine during the 2010-11 influenza season. Researchers also found no association between febrile seizures and same-day TIV and PCV13 vaccination, compared with separate-day vaccination. PhysiciansBriefing.com/HealthDay News (9/14)
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Funding Watch
Knee pain study receives $6M grant from NIH
The National Institutes of Health has awarded Wake Forest University a $6 million grant to study treatments for knee pain in older adults. The funds will go toward setting up trials on the effects of diet and exercise on osteoarthritis on knees. "Our work has looked at effects of walking, strength training and weight loss on function and pain in (osteoarthritis) under very controlled settings. We've decided to take what we've learned before and move it out in the community," said researcher Steve Messier. The News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) (9/14)
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Ala. knee tissue study awarded $450,000 grant
Alabama State University researchers have received a $450,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study the use of artificial tissue to repair knee anterior cruciate ligament tears. "Farther in the future, this type of research could be used to help people injured in accidents, burn victims and soldiers who have been injured during battle or by explosions," said researcher Derrick Dean. Montgomery Advertiser (Ala.) (tiered subscription model)/Gannett News Service (9/14)
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