Latest News

    How pure quartz was formed in the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

    25 Sep 2017, 11:43 am
    Our February issue, which focused on Petrified Forest National Park, generated a lot of reader interest in this Northern Arizona gem. And a few readers wrote to ask about something we didn't mention in the magazine. "If the age of the trees and, I assume, tree pieces are more than 200 million years old, why is it that many of the petrified tree sections appear to have been sawed cleanly apart?" asked Bob Klages of Oxford, Michigan. "A bit more of the scientific explanation of the actual process of petrification would also have been fascinating to read about." To answer Mr. Klages' question, we turned to Bill Parker, the park paleontologist we featured in the issue. "The fossilization process itself is fairly complex," he says, but it goes something like this: A tree dies, falls over and is buried in a river channel or floodplain, under layers of mud, sand and gravel. In the groundwater table, the tree becomes saturated like a sponge and expands. The water, sand and gravel cut off exposure to oxygen, so the tree doesn't rot. Volcanic ash in the water breaks down, and the silica that was in the ash goes into solution - forming silicic acid, which enters the waterlogged tree and interacts chemically with the wood, altering it to silica and replicating the features of the wood. Over time, you end up with a silica replica of the tree.

    Picking wild blueberries in Newfoundland

    25 Sep 2017, 11:37 am
    It's difficult to imagine such abundance in an inhospitable environment until you see it for yourself.

    Globocop: Trump issues new travel ban to 'bad people', includes Venezuelan officials 'responsible for identified inadequacies'

    25 Sep 2017, 10:14 am
    A new extended travel ban announced by Donald Trump's administration will restrict travel to the US from North Korea and Venezuela, as well as from Iran, Chad, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia - countries included in previous bans - based on "security or safety threat." The new restrictions, which come as a result of a review of previous travel bans challenged in American courts, are set to take effect on October 18. "North Korea does not cooperate with the United States government in any respect and fails to satisfy all information-sharing requirements," the Sunday proclamation said, explaining the addition. The document, titled "Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats," was published on the White House's website.

    General Mills brings back old Trix cereal in all its artificial glory

    25 Sep 2017, 10:11 am
    So much for making the recipe more natural. People would rather eat artificial ingredients than give up vibrant colors.

    Photopharmacology: Using light for health

    25 Sep 2017, 10:08 am
    According to new research published by Scientific Reports,1 a certain type of LED lighting is "more efficient and effective" at producing vitamin D in your skin than what can be obtained through the sun, "the sunshine vitamin." News-Medical reported that in research conducted by scientists at Boston University School of Medicine, skin samples exposed to RayVio Corporation's 293 nm UV (ultraviolet) LED (light-emitting diode) for just 0.52 minutes could produce more than twice the amount of vitamin D3 as skin samples exposed to sunlight for 32.5 minutes. RayVio Corporation, a health and hygiene company based in California, says it uses advanced health and hygiene technology to provide UV disinfection "for health care environments and devices, for water and air, and for appliances and personal care, (giving) consumers control over health without chemicals or costly consumables."2 Dr. Michael F. Holick, professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at the university, who led the study, explained: "RayVio's 293nm LED showed the most significant potential for vitamin D3 production in the shortest amount of time. This study will lead to a new generation of technology that can be labeled as photopharmacology in which the use of LEDs with targeted wavelengths can cause specific biologic effects in human skin to help treat and prevent chronic illnesses."3 A number of serious diseases and disorders are linked to vitamin D deficiency, such as osteoporosis, depression, unexplained aches and pains, stomach trouble, certain cancers and rickets. The researchers suggested the 293 nm LED device for making vitamin D could be a perfect fit for patients with fat malabsorption syndromes, including gastric bypass surgery or with inflammatory bowel disease.4