Gayathri Vaidyanathan ::

Scientists trace origins of India’s tigers, elephants and other large mammals

 About 120 million years ago, the supercontinent of Gondwana broke into a jigsaw puzzle of continents and islands in the Southern Hemisphere. One of those was a giant island forming what we now call India.   About 55 million years later, an asteroid, perhaps, or a comet, hit Earth, and the planet’s dinosaurs died out. Mammals seized the […]

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Oceanic Black Holes Found in Southern Atlantic

Black holes are a tear in the fabric of space-time from which nothing escapes, not even light. They take on a mythic significance in popular culture as portals to alternate dimensions or grave threats to space travel. Astronomers are certain they exist out there in the universe, formed by the collapse of dead stars. Now, […]

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Gorilla Populations Need More Human Interference

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM: It’s best for gorillas if they have little to do with humans.   CONTRARY VIEW: Tracking great apes for eco-tourism purposes can protect the species.   For years, scientists have attached tracking devices to a variety of animals, but they have mostly steered clear of tagging great apes. In recent years, conservationists have worried that habituating gorillas, […]

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Biosolids Tracking Efforts a Jumble of Research With No Clear Answers

The residents of Rio Vista could smell trouble. In 2001, in this wind-whipped Sacramento River Delta town, 17 people in the town of about 4,500 lodged complaints with the council office about a strange odor brought about during the mid-afternoon by southeastern winds. They complained of flies and odor, said the town’s then-Mayor Marci Coglianese. […]

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Radio: Basketball offers hope to Kurdish youth

People in southeastern Turkey know the meaning of conflict all too well. Government forces have been fighting Kurdish rebels for the past 27 years, with hundreds of thousands of people displaced as a result. Poverty and unemployment are high, and there are few opportunities, particularly for young people. But a Kurdish Basketball club offers an […]

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Cell: Clinical trials on trial

As Hiroyuki Mano entered the oncology ward at Seoul National University Hospital, he was amazed to see his patient walking around, asking people to recommend the best local restaurant. Just days before, the patient had been hooked up to oxygen monitors. Cancer had spread rapidly through his lung, making it difficult to breathe and swallow. […]

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Apes in Africa: The Cultured Chimpanzee

JALAY TOWN, Liberia (Jun 2011) — Thump! Thump! Thump! As the hollow sound echoes through the Liberian rainforest, Vera Leinert and her fellow researchers freeze. Silently, Leinert directs the guide to investigate. Jefferson ‘Bola’ Skinnah, a ranger with the Liberian Forestry Development Authority, stalks ahead, using the thumping to mask the sound of his movement. […]

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Nature: Science in Africa – View from the Frontline

Kenyan science is a study in contrasts. Among sub-Saharan nations, it ranks third — behind South Africa and Nigeria — in its output of scientific papers published in international journals, and its publishing outranks that of economic heavyweight Nigeria in fields such as environment, ecology and immunology. It is also a hub of collaborations on the continent (see ‘Country connections’). But Kenya’s research output has grown more slowly than most other sub-Saharan nations. In the recent African Union survey, Kenya scored last in terms of the increase in the numbers of published research papers, normalized for population size.

Most of the scientific work in Kenya is centred in government-owned research institutes that have extensive international collaborations.

By contrast, the universities suffer from lack of infrastructure and money. The government and donors have focused on boosting primary and secondary education, but have neglected universities, say observers […]

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Nature: The Wheat Stalker

Njoro, Kenya (Jun 30, 2011) — David Cheruiyot noticed that his wheat fields were turning the wrong colour. The stems of the plants took on a sickly brown hue, and when he peeled open the heads there was no grain inside. “If you go to inspect it, there is nothing but dust,” he recalls. Ug99, […]

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Nature News: Better biosurveillance could halt disease spread

Germany is still recovering from one of the world’s worst outbreaks of enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli, which as of 18 June had sickened more than 3,200 people and caused 39 deaths1. The unusually deadly bacteria moved undetected through the food supply from livestock to agriculture to the dinner table, and the response to the outbreak was branded slow and inefficient by physicians and scientists (see ‘Microbe outbreak panics Europe’).

Now a group of health professionals assembled by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, has called for biosurveillance efforts in the United States and worldwide to be streamlined to help recognize and respond to threats quickly […]

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Nature News: A last push to eradicate polio

Funding gap persists as agencies and organizations attempt to wipe out the tenacious virus. Some 99% of wild poliovirus has been eradicated, but it clings on in a few places. The last endemic hot spots are the conflict-ridden front lines of Pakistan and Afghanistan, areas of India and Nigeria — and governments and charities are […]

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Greenwire/NYTimes.com: Dengue Re-emerges in U.S., Spurring Race for Vaccine

June 28 — For the first time in more than 65 years, dengue has returned the continental United States, according to an advisory the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued in late May. While a few cases were reported earlier, they were primarily in Americans who had caught the virus abroad or at the […]

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