Outbreak of great quakes underscores Cascadia risk

The 18 great earthquakes that have struck Earth in the past decade hold ominous lessons for western North America, a top seismologist has warned. Many of these large quakes — including the 2004 Sumatra quake that spawned the Indian Ocean tsunami, and the 2011 Tohoku disaster in Japan — were surprisingly different from one another despite their similar geologic settings.  Read more

Geologists face off over Yukon frontier

Geologists face off over Yukon frontier

The walls of the Geological Survey of Canada’s Vancouver office are, not surprisingly, plastered with maps. There’s one of the country of Canada, one of the province of British Columbia, and even a circumpolar Arctic map centered on the North Pole.  Read more

UN Security Council says Ebola is security threat

UN Security Council says Ebola is security threat

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is “a threat to international peace and security,” the UN Security Council said on 18 September, in a resolution calling for a massive increase in the resources devoted to stemming the virus’s spread.  Read more

Prime numbers, black carbon and nanomaterials win 2014 MacArthur ‘genius grants’

Yitang Zhang, a mathematician who recently emerged from obscurity when he partly solved a long-standing puzzle in number theory, is one of the 2014 fellows of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.  Read more

Lasker Award goes to breast-cancer researcher

The 2014 Albert Lasker Special Achievement Award has been awarded to the geneticist Mary-Claire King. King, of the University of Washington in Seattle, is the leader of the team that discovered the BRCA genes, mutations of which are linked to breast cancer. King’s team found that the 10% of women affected by such mutations have nearly an 80% chance of developing breast cancer. The rush to develop tests for the mutations triggered a legal dispute in the United States that ended with a US Supreme Court ruling prohibiting the patenting of naturally-occurring genes.  Read more

Philanthropists aid Keeling curve

The iconic ‘Keeling curve,’ a 56-year record of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, will continue with support from American philanthropists Eric and Wendy Schmidt. A five-year, US$500,000 grant, announced on 3 September, will help ease funding pressure on the greenhouse-gas monitoring effort run by researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California.   … Read more