Top Stories

Exercise Helps Maintain a Healthy Brain!

People who exercise later in life may better protect their brain from age-related changes than those who do not, a study suggests. Researchers found that people over 70 who took regular exercise showed less brain shrinkage over a three-year period than those who did little exercise. Psychologists and Neuroimaging experts, based at the University of Edinburgh, did not find there to be any benefit to brain health for older people from participation in social or mentally stimulating activities. Greater brain shrinkage is linked to problems with memory and thinking and the researchers say their findings suggest that exercise is potentially one important pathway to maintaining a healthy brain both in terms of size and reducing damage. >> Read the Full Article

To See a Molecule

Molecules are pretty small. If one could see them, it might be easier to diagnose some problems. When someone develops liver cancer, the disease introduces a very subtle difference to their bloodstream, increasing the concentration of a particular molecule by just 10 parts per billion. That small shift is difficult to detect without sophisticated lab equipment – but perhaps not for long. A new "lab on a chip" designed by Brigham Young University professor Adam Woolley and his students reveals the presence of ultra-low concentrations of a target molecule. As the BYU researchers report in the journal Analytical Chemistry, their experiments detected as little as a single nanogram – one billionth of a gram – of the target molecule from a drop of liquid. And instead of sending the sample to a lab for chemical analysis, the chip allows them to measure with such precision using their own eyes. >> Read the Full Article

Researchers Emphasize the Need to Monitor Rivers for Triclosan

Ever heard of triclosan? As an antibacterial and antifungal agent, it is used in everything from toothpaste, to soaps, socks and trash bags. While the US Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the European Union all regulate triclosan, the chemical is not monitored and often gets absorbed into sewage sludge after wastewater treatment. Researchers from Germany and Slovakia are claiming that triclosan is harmful to the ecology of rivers and are calling for further monitoring of the chemical. After monitoring the Elbe river basin, concentrations of the chemical at various test sites were found to exceed the predicted no-effect concentration for algal communities. From the 500 river basin-specific pollutants investigated, triclosan ranked sixth as one of the most particularly harmful substances in Europe. >> Read the Full Article

Saturnian Storms

The idea of storms on other worlds is not uncommon. NASA's Cassini spacecraft has tracked the aftermath of a massive storm on Saturn. Data reveal record-setting disturbances in the planet's upper atmosphere long after the visible signs of the storm abated, in addition to an indication the storm was more forceful than scientists previously thought. Saturn's usually bland atmosphere occasionally exhibits long-lived ovals and other features common on Jupiter. In 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope imaged an enormous white cloud near Saturn's equator that was not present during the Voyager encounters and in 1994, another, smaller storm was observed. Data from Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS) instrument revealed the storm's powerful discharge sent the temperature in Saturn's stratosphere soaring 150 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. >> Read the Full Article

Study Reveals High Levels of Formaldehyde in Child Day Care Centers

In a comprehensive survey conducted by University of California (UC), Berkeley, researchers analyzed the indoor environmental quality of day care centers. In general, the results were similar to most indoor environments except for formaldehyde. This and several other contaminants were found to exceed California state health guidelines. The source is believed to be the cleaning and sanitizing products and furniture coatings. >> Read the Full Article

'Aquaponics' Help Islanders Cultivate Crops and Raise Fish

A pilot aquaponics experiment is now underway in the Cook Islands that has the potential to become the South Pacific region's best chance for preventing food shortages. First announced during the Pacific Islands Forum earlier this year (27–31 August), the pilot project combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals like fish in tanks) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in symbiosis, a strategy that can be replicated in other island nations. The project's long-term objective is to give Pacific islanders — who are facing climate-related issues such as drought and fish poisoning — a way to sustainably grow crops using minimal water and no pesticides. >> Read the Full Article

Survey Shows Business Community Moving Toward Sustainability

Initially, corporate sustainability was a tertiary practice that focused on reporting; increasingly, it is influencing core strategic business decisions. A proactive stance on sustainability is becoming a competitive necessity to attract investors, source talent, meet the requirements of supply chain partners, and address growing consumer demand. Companies are seeing the value of operating in ways that address environmental concerns, health and safety issues and operational risks. They increasingly understand that good product stewardship, responsible energy consumption, and low carbon practices are necessary components of a competitive business. Although a sustainability strategy can be onerous, it is an increasingly essential aspect of a viable business. Engaging sustainability requires that companies are innovative and that they know consumers. Obviously, they must avoid greenwashing and they must tie sustainability to their core business. Some of the contemporary realities that are emerging around the issue of sustainability involve collaborative approaches and securing appropriate external certification. >> Read the Full Article

Earthquake aftershock forecasting must be improved

The need to speed up work on a reliable system for predicting potential aftershocks in the days following a strong earthquake has become more urgent, say US scientists, after a rare quake earlier this year was found to have triggered many large, and potentially damaging, earthquakes around the world. >> Read the Full Article

Reconstructing Communities with Green Buildings

Green building is taking the construction industry by storm, and its benefits are perhaps best seen in disaster-related rebuilds. The pros of sustainable and energy-saving construction are easy for most to identify. Reducing energy consumption with efficient building materials, household appliances, and heating and cooling systems benefits the environment and saves the building owner money. Green buildings often last longer, too, meaning they won't require frequent updates and remodels. However, most people become initially concerned with green building startup costs. In this sense, disaster zones can be something of a blank slate for developers: When towns or cities need rebuilds, developers often have an easier time incentivizing home and business owners to construct with water and energy efficiency in mind. >> Read the Full Article

Bacteria Evolution

The ancestors of modern bacteria were single-celled microorganisms that were the first forms of life to appear on Earth, about 4 billion years ago. For about 3 billion years, all organisms were microscopic, and bacteria and archaea were the dominant forms of life. Bacteria have a bad rap as agents of disease, but scientists are increasingly discovering their many benefits, such as maintaining a healthy gut. A new study now suggests that bacteria may also have helped kick off one of the key events in evolution: the leap from one-celled organisms to many-celled organisms, a development that eventually led to all larger multi-celled animals, including humans. >> Read the Full Article