How nature’s patterns form

When people on airplanes ask Alan Newell what he works on, he tells them “flower arrangements.”
He could also say “fingerprints” or “sand ripples” or “how plants grow.”
“Most patterns you see, including the ones on sand dunes or fish or t…

Detecting lethal diseases with rust and sand

The next big thing in medical diagnostics could be minutes particles of rust, iron oxide, coated with the material from which sand is formed, silicon dioxide. These magnetic nanoparticles, a mere 29 to 230 nanometers across, can be used to trap an…

MU researcher studies how infants compare quantities

Parents are often amazed at how fast their child grows and develops. New research at the University of Missouri has determined that the ability to quantify — even things that are hard to quantify, such as liquid — may develop much sooner than mo…

Fat sand rats are SAD like us

Saying goodbye to summer can be difficult for everybody. In some people the onset of winter triggers Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, a mood disorder in which sufferers experience symptoms of depression. Happily, a special kind of gerbil e…

Troubled islands: Hurricanes, oil spill and sea level rise

Boulder, CO, USA – The islands flanking the outlet of the Mississippi River are not only facing losses due to sea level rise and local subsidence, according to one study, but new unknown impacts from oil recovery operations, say researchers working …

November-December 2010 GSA Bulletin highlights

Boulder, CO, USA – Topics in the November-December 2010 GSA Bulletin include earthquake hazard assessment, tectonics, fault ruptures, paleo-earthquakes, magmatism, landslides, climate modeling, and geochronology. The issue also reports the first …

Turtle, dugongs ‘at risk under climate change’

The “turtle and dugong capital of the world”, the northern Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and Torres Strait region, faces increased pressure under climate change from human actions such as fishing, hunting, onshore development and pollution.
“Depletion…

Protection Equipment Demonstration: Something for Everyone

Under rows of tents and inside large aircraft hangars, more than 2,600 force protection products were demonstrated and exhibited for Defense Department, federal and local agencies at Force Protection Equipment Demonstration IV May 6-8. Among the highlights: Geocell Systems, which demonstrated how to build sand barriers using a foldable plastic device. The modular and collapsible plastic grids require no special tools and can be assembled in seconds to hold sand horizontally to any desired length. The grids are also stackable to hold sand vertically. Barney Greinke, director of marketing for the company, said the sand-filled wall can act as a barrier against vehicles, and can help stop small-arms fire and blast fragments from small bombs. “You have to understand that a wall of sand 4 feet wide by 8 feet tall weighs around 12,000 pounds,” Greinke said, “So it can be quite effective. It’s basically replaces the sandbag.”

Catnip stops termites dead in their tracks

Cats may adore catnip, but termites hate it. That’s what two researchers found in a new study presented today at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, held this week in New Orleans. The oil derived from the catnip plant was found to repel and kill termites in a laboratory test. The researchers hope that eventually a commercial product derived from the oil might provide a less toxic alternative to pesticides used today. Termites cause damages estimated at more than $1 billion annually in the United States. In New Orleans, the aggressive Formosan subterranean termite ? now found in at least 11 states ? is believed to infest about 30 percent of the area’s live oak trees and costs home owners more than $300 million a year.

Center studies wheelchair substitutes for beaches

It’s virtually impossible for people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices to enjoy the full benefits of a beach experience, but the National Center on Accessibility at Indiana University Bloomington is working to remedy this situation that affects millions of Americans. “Most typical wheelchairs are impossible to use on sand, so people with disabilities are unable to enjoy the beach,” NCA Director Gary Robb explained. “We had about 40 men and women who use wheelchairs test five different wheeled devices designed to traverse beach sand to evaluate their usability. We are now compiling the data and hope to report our findings in two to three months to government agencies, people with disabilities, and others interested in an independent analysis of this equipment.”

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