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In a recent paper, geophysicist Mioara Mandea from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam and her Danish colleague Nils OLSEN from the National Space Institute/DTU Copenhagen, have shown that motions in the fluid in the Earth’s core are changing surprisingly fast, and that this, in turn, effects the magnetic field of our planet.

The very precise measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field delivered by the geosatellite CHAMP combined with Ørsted satellite data and ground observations over the past nine years, have made it possible to reveal what is happening at 3,000 km under ground.

Nils Olsen and Mioara Mandea have computed a model for the flow at the top of the Earth’s core that fits with the recent rapid changes in the magnetic field, and is also in agreement with the changes in the Length-of-Day variation. This core flow is rather localized in space, and involves rapid variations, almost sudden, over only a few months – a remarkably short time interval compared with the respectable age of our Planet or even with the time of the last magnetic field reversal, some 780,000 years ago.

U.S. companies are helping spread fair hiring practices across the world as they set up shop in developing nations, according to a new study of gender and age discrimination co-written by a University of Illinois labor expert.

American-based firms tend to follow U.S. hiring laws, even when they do business in countries with no anti-discrimination standards on the books, based on findings that will appear in the Journal of International Business Studies.

"American companies are very much emulated these days by companies all over the world," said John Lawler, a professor in the U. of I. Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations. "So I think to the extent they do these sorts of things, they create a very positive model that's going to have an impact internationally."

The jury is still out on the actual benefits of recycling as far as environmental impact but new research suggests that a cellular version could be useful for battling cancer. Scientists at Stanford University have identified a molecule that uses this unexpected pathway to selectively kill cancer cells.

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC), the most common form of kidney cancer, is nearly always caused by mutation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene and often does not respond well to treatment.

The researchers discovered a compound, STF-62247, that was selectively toxic to RCCs deficient in VHL whereas cells with normal VHL were not affected. Treatment of RCC cells lacking functional VHL induced autophagy, a cellular recycling process that cells normally use to conserve resources during times of stress.

An aging population means that neurodegeneration, such as Alzheimer’s disease, is one of the major health problems in the developed world.

One of the causes of neurodegeneration is a modification to the protein ‘tau’, which helps to maintain the stability of neurones in the brain, causing them to form aggregates termed ‘tangles’.

These diseases, or ‘tauopathies’ are believed to be caused by a form of the protein tau which has been excessively modified with phosphate.

When tumor cells acquire the capacity to move around and invade other tissues, there is a risk of metastases and cancer treatment becomes more difficult.

At the Institut Curie, CNRS Director of Research Philippe Chavrier and his group have just discovered how breast cancer cells break the bonds that tether them to the tumor. The basement membrane around the mammary gland is a barrier to the spread of cancer cells. Three proteins in the tumor cells transport enzymes needed to perforate this barrier, and another protein puts these enzymes in the right place.

These discoveries, published in Cell Biology and Current Biology, shed light on the early mechanisms of the formation of metastases in certain breast cancers. These findings constitute an essential step in the quest for the early identification of highly invasive tumors, or even the blocking of formation of metastases.


When Sir Thomas More stood on the scaffold in 1535 he continued to make jokes. We don't often associate humor with executions by berserk kings over religious convictions but that is why humor has always fascinated us and it leads to questions about what is funny, how humor works at such moments, and when it is 'appropriate' to rely on a sense of humor.

Renaissance humor (1500-1700) comes under scrutiny at a conference at the University of Leicester on Friday 18th July, where experts in the literature of the period will gather for the first time to discuss Renaissance humor in some detail.

A flavor of humor of what the conference might have to offer can be found in Ben Jonson's Volpone (1607), in which Jonson's anti-hero, the miser and swindler Volpone, feels such contempt for the medical profession that he twists the English language into a glorious new direction, referring to a money-grabbing quack doctor as 'a turdy-facy, nasty-paty, lousy-fartical rogue.'