Current Events in Science - Part 1 -- Sept. 10, 2014

[size=150]Part 1 of 2[/size] [size=100][b]Life Science:[/b] [i]Why Humans Don't Suffer From Chimpanzee Malaria[/i] By comparing the DNA of malaria parasites that affect chimpanzees and those that affect humans, researchers discovered that it is the difference in the parasites' surface proteins that determine which host it will infect. Researchers have identified surface proteins as promising vaccine candidates already; and this finding adds more support for this idea, as well as providing the first systematic view of the differences between parasites that infect humans and those that infect our close relatives. Human malaria emerged from the Great Apes, so this comparison using chimpanzee malaria is the closest that scientists have come to fully understanding the changes associated with parasites switching from infecting our primate relatives to infecting humans. [url=][/url] [b]Environmental Science:[/b] [i]Invasive toads are threatening rare wildlife in Madagascar[/i] The Asian common toad has somehow made it to Madagascar, perhaps by hitching a ride on a container ship. Madagascar doesn’t have any native toads, and these poisonous toads are a threat to Madagascar’s already endangered wildlife. Madagascar is home to thousands of native plants and animals that are found nowhere else on earth — things like lemurs, chameleons and giant baobab trees. Why is Madagascar home to so many unique plants and animals? Because the island's geography, geology, and climate have provided opportunities for species to evolve and diversify in isolation, ever since Madagascar broke off from the mainland 88 million years ago. Its species include many that have been living and evolving there for many tens of millions of years, and now these rare species are at risk due to the poisonous toads. [url=][/url] [b]Earth Science:[/b] [i]What makes the rocks move in Death Valley?[/i] For a long time it was a mystery why rocks move across the surface of the dry lakebed in California's Death Valley National Park known as the “Racetrack Playa.” (See attached photo.) Geologists have been studying the moving rocks for over 60 years. It was a difficult research problem because often there is no motion of the rocks for decades until a precise series of natural events occurred: The first requirement is rain in a parched climate. Next, temperatures must fall low enough to freeze the water before it evaporates. Then the sun has to come out and thaw the ice. Finally, wind has to blow strongly enough to break the ice into floes — free-moving sheets — and move it across shallow water underneath. Under these conditions, even a light wind can be enough to get the ice and rocks moving. [url=][/url] [b]Climate Change:[/b] [i]Carbon Dioxide Concentration Surges[/i] The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2013, propelled by a surge in levels of carbon dioxide, implying even greater urgency for the need for concerted international action against accelerating climate change. In 2013, concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was 142% of that of the pre-industrial era. The ocean absorbs some of the CO2, thereby cushioning the increase in CO2 that would otherwise occur in the atmosphere, but with far-reaching impacts. The current rate of ocean acidification appears unprecedented at least over the last 300 million years. [url=][/url] [b]Physical Science and Technology:[/b] [i]Researchers Figure Out How to Use UHF Radio Waves For Long-Distance WiFi[/i] If you teach about the electromagnetic spectrum, perhaps your students know that (non-cable) television broadcasts use radio waves. Parts of the UHF radio spectrum were opened after the recent switch to digital television, and the UHF wavelengths can be used to create long-distance wireless Internet hotspots. [url=][/url] [/size]

Matt Bobrowsky
Matthew Bobrowsky
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Fantastic. That you for posting!

Megan Rawson
Megan Rawson
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