quake forecast: Researchers at Yale and the University of Washington, both in the US, suggest a new way to forecast severe earthquakes. They say that big earthquakes, like the 2004 Sumatra earthquake, may be caused by the build-up of sediment on top of subduction zones -- the boundaries where two tectonic plates collide. The scientists used computer simulations to identify specific areas within a subduction zone that will produce the most severe damage when they rupture.
artificial bone: The next generation of artificial bone may rely on a few secrets from the sea. Scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US have developed a substance that mirrors the intricate structure of nacre, which is a finely layered substance found in some mollusc shells, such as oysters and abalone. The porous, scaffolding-like material is four times stronger than material currently used in synthetic bone and could also be used in other applications such as dental implants and airplane manufacturing.
rising mountains: Two new studies by a US researcher show that mountain ranges rise to their height in as little as two million years, which is several times faster than what geologists thought. Each of the findings came from two pioneering methods of measuring ancient mountain elevations, and are in tight agreement.
"These results really change the paradigm of understanding how mountain belts grow," says Carmala Garzione from the University of Rochester, who conducted the studies on the Bolivian Altiplanon.
biobullets: British researchers have developed a "biobullet" against the zebra mussel, an invasive species that has ravaged US waterways, virtually wiping out some native specimens. The new microcapsules, which contain toxins that dissolve within the mussel's digestive tract, offer a safe and cost-effective way of eliminating one of the world's "most important economic pests" without harming other aquatic life, according to scientists at the University of Cambridge.
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