Culture

Washington, DC—Although measurement techniques surrounding earthquakes have improved enormously over the last few decades, it has remained very difficult to measure changes in the crust that could enable earthquake prediction. Now, scientists have measured interesting changes in the speed of seismic waves that preceded two small earthquakes by 10 and 2 hours. These measurements, published in the July 10 issue of Nature, are an encouraging sign that hold promise for the field of earthquake prediction.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Asteroids with moons, which scientists call binary asteroids, are common in the solar system. A longstanding question has been how the majority of such moons are formed. In this week's issue of the journal Nature, a trio of astronomers from Maryland and France say the surprising answer is sunlight, which can increase or decrease the spin rate of an asteroid.

WASHINGTON – Few domestic policy areas that the new administration must address will have greater long-range consequences than nanotechnology — a new technology that has been compared with the industrial revolution in terms of its impact on society. If the right decisions are made, nanotechnology will bring vast improvements to almost every area of daily living. If the wrong decisions are made, the American economy, human health and the environment will suffer.

Barcelona, Spain: New figures on assisted reproduction technology (ART) in Europe show that there has been an explosion in the use of ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) to treat infertility, the 24th annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Barcelona heard today (Wednesday). Researchers believe that some countries may now be using the procedure too often.

Money is a necessity: it provides us with material objects that are important for survival and for entertainment, and it is often used as a reward. But recent studies have shown that money is not only a device for gaining wealth, but a factor in personal performance, interpersonal relations and helping behavior, as well.

More evidence for the beneficial effect of green tea on risk factors for heart disease has emerged in a new study reported in the latest issue of European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation.1 The study found that the consumption of green tea rapidly improves the function of (endothelial) cells lining the circulatory system; endothelial dysfunction is a key event in the progression of atherosclerosis.

Geological evidence found in Ohio and Indiana in recent weeks is strengthening the case to attribute what happened 12,900 years ago in North America -- when the end of the last Ice Age unexpectedly turned into a phase of extinction for animals and humans -- to a cataclysmic comet or asteroid explosion over top of Canada.

KINGSTON, R.I. – July 2, 2008 – Standing in a greenhouse at the University of Rhode Island, Rebecca Brown was smiling even though it appeared that something had gone terribly wrong. Almost all of the 16 species of grass she planted last February in hundreds of small pots were dead.

The associate professor of turf science wasn't surprised. That's because the pots had been sitting in increasingly saltier water for five months, and few varieties of grass can put up with that environment.

In this edition of Science Picks, learn about an upcoming Canoe Journey to study water resources in the Salish Sea, a new USGS partnership to develop a volcano early warning system in Chile, how California sea otter populations are recovering at a slow rate and what the odds are of a 500-year flood in the Midwest. Discover what makes an old geyser faithful, a recent finding that may help explain the solar system's formation and new research on the sage-grouse's chances for survival. As Independence Day approaches, many will ask what makes the colors in fireworks so vivid.

Honolulu, HI – A new pathway for methane production has been uncovered in the oceans, and this has a significant potential impact for the study of greenhouse gas production on our planet. The article, released in the prestigious journal Nature Geoscience, reveals that aerobic decomposition of an organic, phosphorus-containing compound, methylphosphonate, may be responsible for the supersaturation of methane in ocean surface waters.