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The first direct evidence of how and when tectonic plates move, that collision with one sliding below the other into the rocky mantle, could potentially improve their ability to assess earthquake risks.

A team of researchers writing in Nature found that, contrary to common scientific predictions, dense plates tend to be held in the upper mantle, while younger and lighter plates sink more readily into the lower mantle.

The mantle is a zone underneath the Earth's crust encompassing its super hot molten core. It is divided into an upper and lower area, and is made up of a 2,900 km circumference of churning, viscous rock. It is constantly fed with new material from parts of tectonic plates which slide down from the surface into it.

A new way of looking at cities has emerged during the last 20 years that could revolutionise planning and ultimately benefit city dwellers.

‘The Size, Scale and Shape of Cities’ in Science advocates an integrated approach to the theory of how cities evolve by linking urban economics and transportation behaviour with developments in network science, allometric growth and fractal geometry.

Professor Batty argues that planning’s reliance on the imposition of idealised geometric plans upon cities is rooted in the nineteenth century attitude which viewed cities as chaotic, sprawling and dirty.

Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have found a previously unknown molecular pathway in mice that spurs the growth of new blood vessels when body parts are jeopardized by poor circulation.

At present, their observation adds to the understanding of blood vessel formation. In the future, though, the researchers suggest it is possible that the pathway could be manipulated as a means of treating heart and blood vessel diseases and cancer.

Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, and his colleagues at Dana-Farber discovered that PGC-1alpha – a key metabolic regulatory molecule – senses a dangerously low level of oxygen and nutrients when circulation is cut off and then triggers the formation of new blood vessels to re-supply the oxygen-starved area – a process known as angiogenesis.

Deadly emerging diseases have risen steeply across the world and an international research team has provided the first scientific evidence mapping the outbreaks’ main sources.

They say:

New diseases originating from wild animals in poor nations are the greatest threat to humans and;

Expansion of humans into shrinking pockets of biodiversity and resulting contacts with wildlife are the reason.

Meanwhile, richer nations are nursing other outbreaks, including multidrug-resistant pathogen strains, through overuse of antibiotics, centralized food processing and other technologies.

Zoonotic pathogens passed from wildlife to people, from lowest occurrence (green) to highest (red).


University of Michigan scientists and their colleagues at the National Institute on Aging have produced the largest and most detailed worldwide study of human genetic variation, a treasure trove offering new insights into early migrations out of Africa and across the globe.

Like astronomers who build ever-larger telescopes to peer deeper into space, population geneticists like Noah Rosenberg are using the latest genetic tools to probe DNA molecules in unprecedented detail, uncovering new clues to humanity's origins.

The latest study characterizes more than 500,000 DNA markers in the human genome and examines variations across 29 populations on five continents.

A schematic of worldwide human genetic vari


A team of researchers has discovered the remains in Madagascar of what may be the largest frog ever to exist.

The 16-inch, 10-pound ancient frog, scientifically named Beelzebufo, or devil frog, links a group of frogs that lived 65 to 70 million years ago with frogs living today in South America.

Discovery of the voracious predatory fossil frog is significant in that it may provide direct evidence of a one-time land connection between Madagascar, the largest island off Africa's southeast coast, and South America.

Beelzebufo. This ain't your daddy's giant devil frog. Credit: SUNY-Stony Brook