SciNews – Sunday, April 17, 2016

People-powered research tracking penguins; some people are able to evade genetic diseases; even top-calibre diamonds aren’t perfect; greater prosperity equals greater carbon footprint; fast charging stations coming soon to Canada; humans are moving North Pole to the east; 10 years after An Inconvenient Truth – just a few of the themes in today’s eclectic collection of SciNews.  Share these stories with your students and get them excited about science.

SciNews is published twice weekly. Stay tuned for more.

7308778_s from 123rfBiology

Citizen science helps with big data: Bob McDonald

Helping scientists track the whereabouts of penguins, Antarctica’s iconic inhabitants, is the latest idea to be added to an international project carried out by citizens and school groups. And you, too, can participate.

A program called PenguinWatch 2.0 has been added to the Zooniverse, a collection of web-based citizen science projects — what they call “people-powered research” — designed to help scientists deal with the flood of data they are faced with.  Read more…

Some people are resistant to genetic disease. Science News

Some people can evade diseases even though they carry genetic mutations that cause serious problems for others.

Researchers found 13 of these genetic escape artists after examining DNA from nearly 600,000 people, the scientists report online April 11 in Nature Biotechnology. Learning how such people dodge genetic bullets may help move inherited-disease research from diagnosis to prevention.  Read more…


13698187_s from 123rf

Most diamonds share a common origin story. Science News

Even top-caliber diamonds aren’t perfect. And their imperfections are finally settling a debate about the origins of the gem-quality diamonds used in jewelry.

Previously, scientists had an explanation only for how cloudy and impurity-ridden fibrous diamonds form. Those diamonds crystallize inside fluid pockets deep within the Earth that contain compounds called carbonates. Carbonate-containing impurities inside fibrous diamonds provide information about the diamonds’ origins. Gem diamonds typically don’t contain these impurities, so scientists argued over whether the gems formed under different conditions than fibrous diamonds.  Read more…

Economic development equals greater carbon footprint, greenhouse gas emissions. Science Daily

Must greater prosperity necessarily lead to a greater carbon footprint and increased greenhouse gas emissions? In theory, no, but in practice this seems to be the case, suggests a study of 138 countries, the first ever to take a global approach to the connections between growth, prosperity and ecological sustainability.  Read more…


18685938_s from 123rf

Ottawa moving on high-speed charging stations for electric cars. CBC

The federal natural resources minister says there’s no time to lose in establishing a high-speed charging network for electric cars in Canada.

That’s why Jim Carr is planning to ask the private sector for proposals this spring to develop a series of fast charging stations across the country.  Read more…

Earth and Space Science12693495_s from 123rf

North Pole is headed east and humans are the cause. CBC

The North Pole suddenly changed direction and started drifting east around the year 2000. Now scientists have uncovered the reason — and found that humans are to blame.

The geographic North Pole, located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, is the northern end of Earth’s rotational axis. Its location, and that of the South Pole with it, affects GPS measurements, along with results from Earth-observing satellites and ground-based observatories, so keeping track of the pole is important to scientists.  Read more…

Changing climate: 10 years after An Inconvenient Truth. Science News

More than 25 years before the star-studded Los Angeles premiere of An Inconvenient Truth, glaciologist Lonnie Thompson was about as far away from the red carpet as possible. It was 1978, and high in the rugged Andes, Thompson and fellow scientists were witnessing the first glimpses of a pending worldwide disaster. Rising temperatures were melting ancient titans of ice and snow. Mammoth glaciers were disappearing at unprecedented rates and withering to the smallest sizes in millennia. The delicate balance of Earth’s climate was upset.  Read more…

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