Trapping seawater contaminants in calcareous deposits

Electrochemical technique can trap up to 24% of nickel in metal-rich seawater, in just seven days.

The same process that causes crusty limescale to build up on the inside of your kettle could help to clean up nickel pollution in seawater, according to new research from the South Pacific island of New Caledonia. Read more in Chemistry World.

Maternal health enters the information age in Peru

How the Wawared project is using technology to collect and share health data that will improve the lives of women and, perhaps eventually, everyone in the nation.

In much of the developing world, women suffer higher rates of maternal mortality and morbidity than necessary — most of the causes of ill health that lead to sickness or the death of mothers and infants are preventable. The rates are even more disproportionately high among poor and Indigenous communities.

“One of the major issues is that health-care providers and the women themselves aren’t armed with accurate, timely, trusted information to make the best decisions on care,” says Chaitali Sinha, a senior program officer with the International Development Research Centre, which supports a project called WawaredRead more in Canadian Geographic.

Competition Pressured Killer Whales Into Menopause

Selfish daughters, not altruistic grandmothers, could explain the evolution of menopause.

Surviving beyond the end of your reproductive life is a rare trait: only female humans, killer whales, and short-finned pilot whales are known to do it. The question is why?

If the purpose of life is to pass on your genes, as evolutionary biologists suggest, then an end to reproductive ability—menopause—really just makes no sense. Read more in Hakai Magazine.

The big cull

Can New Zealand pull off an audacious plan to get rid of all invasive predators by 2050?

Razza the rat nearly ended James Russell’s scientific career. Twelve years ago, as an ecology graduate student, Russell was releasing radio-collared rats on to small islands off the coast of New Zealand to study how the creatures take hold and become invasive. Despite his sworn assurances that released animals would be well monitored and quickly removed, one rat, Razza, evaded capture and swam to a nearby island.

For 18 weeks, Russell hunted the animal. Frustrated and embarrassed, he fretted about how the disaster would affect his PhD. “I felt rather morose about the prospects for my dissertation,” he says. Read more in Nature.

Florida’s White Ibises May Be Spreading Disease

The increasingly urban birds are carrying salmonella.

If you’re golfing in Florida this winter, resist the urge to feed the friendly white ibises congregating around the water hazards—they might just give you salmonella.

The birds, native to Florida’s dwindling wetlands, have been moving to urban golf courses and parks. There they come into close contact with people—even being hand-fed in some cases—and leave their droppings on benches and buildings. Each point of contact has the potential to infect people. Read more in Hakai Magazine.

Canada’s government scientists get anti-muzzling clause in contract

Scientists working for the Canadian government have successfully negotiated a clause in their new contract that guarantees their right to speak to the public and the media about science and their research, without needing approval from their managers.

“Employees shall have the right to express themselves on science and their research, while respecting the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector … without being designated as an official media spokesperson,” the new clause states. Read more in Science.

Excessive Pubic Hair Grooming Linked to Higher Rates of STIs

Shaving and grooming may create an opportunity for infections to spread.

People who frequently groom or remove their pubic hair are more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections, according to new research.

The researchers surveyed more than 7,500 people aged 18-65 from across the United States, and found that two-thirds of men and 84 percent of women reported grooming their pubic hair. Among those who groomed, the survey found higher rates of infections, including herpes, syphilis, gonorrhoea and HIV. The risk is highest for “extreme” groomers – those who remove all pubic hair at least 11 times a year, and high-frequency groomers who trim their hair daily or weekly. Read more in Inside Science.

Outlook: Multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is a devastating disease that induces the body’s own immune system to eat away at the central nervous system, slowly robbing patients of their physical mobility. It is also mysterious. Despite years of research, the cause remains elusive, and treatments are few and far between. But new research to find the causes and provide innovative treatments means that progress, although still slow, is beginning to speed up. Read more in this Nature Outlook that I edited.

The devoted spider dads who fix up nurseries for their babies

Most male spiders bail out after mating – if they make it through the process alive, that is, as females of many spider species cannibalise their mates.

But not this spider. Male Manogea porracea in South America not only help with childcare, they often end up as single dads. Read more in New Scientist.

Drones on the delta

In Ghana’s Volta River delta, the remotely-operated aerial vehicles are going where researchers can’t to help study coastal erosion, flooding and migration.

River deltas are among some of the most densely populated places on Earth, especially in some developing African and Asian nations. They’re also some of the areas most vulnerable to climate change, with rising seas and increasingly powerful storms driving flooding and erosion.

So how do the people who live in these regions adapt to the changes that are occurring there? That’s what Kwasi Appeaning Addo, an associate professor in the department of marine and fisheries sciences at the University of Ghana, is trying to help determine. Read more in Canadian Geographic.

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