East Anglia, United Kingdom
Talk of global warming and climate change often raises concerns as to how much longer the earth will remain habitable for humans. Recent discoveries by astrobiologists at the University of East Anglia can help ease some of these concerns–at least for the next billion years. The research team, led by Andrew Rushby, discovered that the earth is expected to be habitable for at least another 1.75 billion years. “After this point,” Rushby said, “Earth will be in the ‘hot zone’ of the sun, with temperatures so high, the seas will evaporate. We would see a catastrophic and terminal extinction event for all life. “Although the earth may be in the habitable zone for at least another 1.75 billion years, humans may not survive that long. “Humans would be in trouble with even a small increase in temperature, and near the end only microbes in niche environments would be able to endure the heat,” Rushby said. According to Rushby, knowing the amount of habitable time on a planet allows for the investigation of other planets as potential hosts for life. “If we ever needed to move to another planet, Mars is probably our best bet,” Rushby said. “It’s very close and will remain in the habitable zone until the end of the Sun’s lifetime; six billion years from now.”
Sea of Okhotsk, Russia
An 8.3 magnitude earthquake that struck off the coast of Russia has seismologists reeling, struggling to understand how it happened. Thorne Lay, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at the University of California Santa Cruz, explained the conundrum. “It’s a mystery how these earthquakes happen. How can rock slide against rock so fast while squeezed by the pressure from 610 kilometers of overlying rock?” Though deep earthquakes such as this one are usually not harmful, scientists will continue to puzzle toward an explanation.
Every winter as the cold season rolls in, doctors struggle to distinguish viral infections from bacterial infections. Often times patients receive antibiotics to combat their colds, even if the type of infection is uncertain. Duke University researchers are working to develop a blood test to better diagnose respiratory illnesses as either viral or bacterial. In turn, the new test will hopefully reduce the dangerous overuse of antibiotics and aid doctors in making a speedy and accurate diagnosis.
Washington, District of Columbia
Smithsonian researchers recently discovered that e-readers might greatly impact the dyslexic population’s ability to read. Some people with dyslexia are able to read more quickly and easily and with higher comprehension on e-readers when the devices are set to display a minimum amount of words per line. This research proves to be revolutionary for those diagnosed with dyslexia, suggesting that this reading method may be a solution, or at the least an educational resource, for the dyslexic population.