MI weekly selection #20

Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest | Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest | Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Malaria reduced by preserving biodiversity of forests

Researchers at Brazil’s University of Sao Paulo found that malaria could be kept from spreading while still preserving the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest. The traditional view is that clearing such forests curbed the spread of the disease. Using a mathematical model, researchers found that the parasite causing malaria was not spread as widely if there were more animals and mosquitoes.


Laporta GZ et al. (2013) Biodiversity Can Help Prevent Malaria Outbreaks in Tropical Forests. PLoS Negl Trop Dis DOI:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002139

Radioactive bacteria shows promise in zapping cancer cells

Pancreatic tumors in mice have been reduced using a weakened strain of bacteria that leaves normal tissue untouched. The mice showed a drastic reduction in metastases when treated with radioactive Listeria monocytogenes. The method could be used to treat metastatic cancer in humans.

The Scientist

W. Quispe-Tintaya et al., “Nontoxic radioactive Listeriaat is a highly effective therapy against metastatic pancreatic cancer,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI:10.1073/pnas.1211287110, 2013.

Australia was found 50,000 years ago by planned colonization

A study suggests that aboriginal settlers landed on Australia some 50,000 years ago in an organized migration, going against the theory that the continent was discovered by accident. Researcher Alan Williams used radiocarbon dates to reconstruct a timeline of Australia’s prehistory.


Alan N. Williams (2013) A new population curve for prehistoric Australia Proceedings of the Royal Society B DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0486

Mayan solar observatory remains suggest complex origins

Scientists have uncovered evidence at a site in Guatemala that suggests the origins of the Maya civilization are more complex than previously thought.


Takeshi Inomata et al (2013) Early Ceremonial Constructions at Ceibal, Guatemala, and the Origins of Lowland Maya Civilization Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1234493

Earth’s core is as hot as the surface of the Sun

A team of European scientists has determined the boundary between the Earth’s inner and outer core is 6,000 degrees Celsius — as hot as the Sun’s surface. The temperature is important because it partly explains how the Earth’s magnetic field is generated. The planet’s spin combined with at least a 1,500-degree difference to generate “thermal movements” is needed to create the field.

Our Amazing Planet

S. Anzellini et al (2013) Melting of Iron at Earth’s Inner Core Boundary Based on Fast X-ray Diffraction Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1233514

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