Death by volcano?

The discovery of anomalously high levels of mercury in rocks from the Ordivician geological period has led to a new interpretation of the ensuing mass extinction. A sequence of disturbances may have led to catastrophic cooling by reflective sulfate aerosols injected into the atmosphere by massive volcanism. The finding is important since aerosol cooling is under consideration as a way to temper global warming.
chemistry bottles - creative commons

STEM students who learn by example may miss key concepts

No matter how smart, well-prepared or hard-working, many college students struggle with rigorous introductory science courses because their approach to learning fails to provide a working knowledge of abstract concepts that underlie examples presented in the classroom, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

New use for a pesky weed

Dandelions are much-maligned weeds, with a paratrooper-like seed dispersal system that makes them difficult to eradicate. However, new research from an engineer at Washington University in St. Louis finds a great benefit in an unlikely place for the pesky dandelion: each of its tiny seeds can be used as a perfect pipette in the laboratory setting.

A simple sniff

A team of engineers from Washington University in St. Louis has combined nanoparticles, aerosol science and locusts in new proof-of-concept research that could someday vastly improve drug delivery to the brain, making it as simple as a sniff.

Studying the brain’s suspension system in TBIs

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, can be devastating and debilitating. Researchers know that the membranes separating the skull from the brain play a key role in absorbing shock and preventing damage caused during a head impact, but the details remain largely mysterious. New research from a team of engineers at Washington University in St. Louis takes a closer at this “suspension system” and the insight it could provide to prevent TBI.

Rice goes rogue

We tend to assume that domestication is a one-way street and that, once domesticated, crop plants stay domesticated. A new study of rice shows, however, that different methods of farming change the evolutionary pressures on crop plants, and the plants easily “de-domesticate,” evolving to take advantage of these opportunities.

Mars in the hallway

Geologist Phil Skemer, of Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, is assembling a database of three-dimensional models of crystal structures, rock outcrops and landforms that will allow students to study geology in three dimensions.
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