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Residents of the central and southern Midwest are crossing their fingers, saying their prayers, planning evacuations, and in some cases filling sandbags in preparation for the excessive water ravishing communities in Iowa and Wisconsin.

"The flood wave is propagating down the Mississippi River towards St. Louis at about the pace of a brisk walk," said Robert E. Criss, Ph.D., professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. "Some areas north of St. Louis in Missouri and southern Iowa are bracing for the second worst flood in their history. This is serious water."

Criss is a geologist. One of his specialties is hydrogeology. He said that the floodwaters are projected to crest at St. Louis at 38 feet on June 22 or 23, marking the 11th time since the Civil War that St. Louis has reached that flood stage. During the flood of 1993 waters at St. Louis crested at 49.6 feet.

Today, at an international conference, a team of European astronomers announced they have found a triple system of 'super-Earths' around the star HD 40307, called such because they are more massive than the Earth but less massive than Uranus and Neptune (about 15 Earth masses.)

These super-Earths are around a rather normal star, which is slightly less massive than our Sun, and is located 42 light-years away towards the southern Doradus and Pictor constellations.

Looking at their entire sample studied with HARPS, the astronomers count a total of 45 candidate planets with a mass below 30 Earth masses and an orbital period shorter than 50 days. This implies that one solar-like star out of three harbors such planets.



When smoked, crystal meth rapidly achieves high concentrations in the brain without the burdens of the intravenous route. Stephen J. Kish PhD of the Departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, University of Toronto, and the Human Neurochemical Pathology Laboratory, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, reviews the actions of methamphetamine and explains the potential role of dopamine in methamphetamine craving.

Kish states that there is no medication approved for the treatment of relapses of methamphetamine addiction, but potential therapeutic agents targeted to dopamine and non-dopamine systems are in clinical testing.

Amenorrhea, or absence of menstruation, occurs in as many as 25 percent of female high school athletes, compared with 2 to 5 percent in the general population, according to the study's presenter, Madhusmita Misra, MD, a pediatric endocrinologist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Amenorrhea in athletes is known to cause infertility and early onset of low bone density and may increase the risk of breaking bones. Evidence suggests that intense exercise associated with caloric restriction, and therefore a state of energy deficit, is most responsible for menstrual irregularities among athletes.

In females ages 12 to 18, Misra and her colleagues measured levels of various hormones, including ghrelin. Giving ghrelin to animals and humans has been shown to cause impaired secretion of hormones that regulate ovarian and menstrual function, and ghrelin levels are elevated in people with anorexia nervosa, another condition of severe energy deficit, she said. Until now, ghrelin levels have not been studied in teenage athletes in relation to ovarian hormones.

There are microbialites, strange coral-like growths, at the bottom of Pavilion Lake in British Columbia. They have been out of the reach of scientists but with the addition of new submersible technology they can now be studied.

The growths might, says Greg Slater, an environmental geochemist at McMaster University, hold the key to life beyond Earth.

These unique carbonate rock structures are known as microbialites because they are covered with microbes. Some of these microbialites grow at depths up to 180 feet below the water's surface, too deep to reach by non-decompression SCUBA diving.

The Y chromosome is an established evolutionary tool and has been used in many evolutionary studies. While easy to use, it has limitations which prevent it from full utilization about the most evolutionary informative DNA segments in the Human genome.

As part of her doctoral studies, Holly Leung in the Department of Genetics at University of Leicesteris has been investigating the potential of the X chromosome as another evolutionary informative segment in the human genome.

The University of Leicester has done many human population studies with the Y chromosome, including the relationship between the male surname and the Y chromosome, as well as a better understanding of the Viking settlement in the Northwest England.