Marrriage and Midlife

To marry or not to marry? There are many pros and cons. Could marriage, and associated companionship, be a key to a longer life? According to new research, not having a permanent partner, or significant other, during midlife is linked to a higher risk of premature death during those midlife years. The work, by Dr. Ilene Siegler and colleagues from Duke University Medical Center in the US, is published online in Springer's journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

In the News: South Georgia to cull invasive reindeer

As well as being home to 3,000 reindeer, the island of South Georgia has many endemic species of fauna and flora that evolved in the absence of grazing pressures. These species are now struggling to survive in the reindeer's overbearing presence, and the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands has announced plans to eradicate the population in an effort to save the island's unique species.

Why is SO Much Food Wasted?

A new report titled "Global food, waste not, want not" published by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers has found that 30 to 50 percent of all food produced in the world never reaches a stomach. The authors of the study warn that these figures are quite conservative. The large amounts of land, energy, fertilizers and water that are wasted in the food production have not been accounted for.

2012 Weather in Review

From tropical storms and hurricanes like Sandy, to extended heat waves and detrimental summer droughts, to unprecedented wildfire outbreaks in the American West, 2012 marked a historic year for extreme weather events in the United States. In fact, 2012 takes the prize for the warmest and second most extreme year on record for the contiguous US thus allowing the year to break some other climate and weather related records. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center reports the State of the Climate and offers some of last year’s highlights. - 2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States with the year consisting of a record warm spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.2°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year. Every state in the contiguous U.S. had an above-average annual temperature for 2012. - The average precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. for 2012 was 26.57 inches, 2.57 inches below average, making it the 15th driest year on record for the nation. This was also the driest year for the nation since 1988. - Each season of 2012 had precipitation totals below the 20th century average.

Invasive Aquarium Fish

Home tropical fish aquariums are home to a number of pretty fish and seaweeds. Perfectly harmless right? Not in the wrong environment. It is surprising how hardy some of them can be if let loose in the wild. In a report released today to the California Ocean Protection Council, lead author Susan Williams, an evolution and ecology professor with the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, found that more than 11 million non-native ornamental marine individuals — such as tropical fish, seaweed and snails bound for aquariums — representing at least 102 species are being imported annually through California’s ports of San Francisco and Los Angeles, primarily from Indonesia and the Philippines. And 13 of those species have been introduced to California marine waters — presumably after being released from aquariums.

Study suggests magma forms deeper than previously thought

A group led by Rajdeep Dasgupta, geologist and assistant professor of Earth science at Rice University, put samples of peridotite, a dense igneous rock, under pressure in a Rice University laboratory and found that rock can and will liquefy, as deep as 250 kilometers in the mantle beneath the ocean floor. These recent findings provide new evidence that magma can form at a depth much deeper than scientists once thought.

Brain Development in Children Directly Impacted by Parenting Technique

Infancy and early childhood is a critical time for the development of a healthy brain as well as positive emotional development. It is the role of the parents to ensure that their babies grow up to be healthy, functioning members of society. However, a new study from the University of Notre Dame claims that social practices and cultural beliefs of modern life are preventing the healthy development of children. Traditional methods of nurturing, having been passed down from our hunter-gatherer days, are being neglected for more stereotypically modern childbearing norms to the detriment of the youth of America.

Shoe Stable Fly!

Swatting at flies is a major aggravation but luckily for us, we can often shoe away these annoying arthropods before that painful bite. But what about cows and other livestock that only have a tail to defend themselves? Besides a quick pinch, stable flies actually have a huge effect on cattle costing the U.S. cattle industry more than $2.4 billion! How might you ask? Animals will often stop grazing and bunch together to minimize the number of bites they're getting. Consequently, this can reduce milk production in dairy cows, decrease weight gain in beef cattle, and reduce feed efficiency.

The World’s Oldest Living Olive Trees Are Lebanese

Tucked away in the sleepy village of Bechealeh, Lebanon, 16 olive trees have witnessed 6000 years of political unrest, plagues, diseases, varying climatic conditions and changing civilizations. In fact these "trees of Noah" are considered by locals to be a living miracle because nature, as we all know, is often silent and passive in the face of hardship, greed and violence so the fact that these arcane olive trees have managed to skirt 6000 years of climatic shifts, hacking axes and diseases makes me believe that, as improbable as this may sound, that there has been some mystical or divine providence watching over and protecting those trees for Bechealeh, for Lebanon and – who knows – maybe even for all the rest of us.

Exocomets

A comet is an icy small body that, when close enough to the Sun, displays a visible coma (a thin, fuzzy, temporary atmosphere) and sometimes also a tail. These phenomena are both due to the effects of solar radiation and the solar wind upon the nucleus of the comet. Comet nuclei range from a few hundred meters to tens of kilometers across and are composed of loose collections of ice, dust, and small rocky particles. The discovery by astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Clarion University in Pennsylvania of six likely comets around distant stars suggests that comets – dubbed exocomets – are just as common in other stellar systems with planets.