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5/2/15 Cover

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City- and country-dwelling microbes aren’t so different

dusty shoes

The biggest influences on the microbes living in dust are the soil, plants and climate nearby, not whether you live in a city or the country. 

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Deep breaths of country air might feel fresh and clean compared to the polluted city. But city or country, you’re probably sucking in similar microbes. 

Citizen scientists in the Wild Life of Our Homes project took 1,200 dust swabs from outdoor doorways and sent them to scientists that the University of Colorado, Boulder. Researchers identified 112,000 types of bacteria and 57,000 fungal groups lurking in the dust. The scientists then constructed a map that showed how the microbes in the dust varied across the country.

The map revealed that the biggest influences on the microbes living in dust are the soil, plants and climate nearby, not whether you were a city or country-dweller.  Urban environments have less variation in microbial communities, but town or country, it’s the climate and dirt that gives outdoor dust most of its local flavor, scientists report April 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


To reduce stress and anxiety, make yourself invisible

By Helen Thompson 10:56am, April 24, 2015
We may not be able to make people invisible, but researchers have discerned its effect on the human mind in a new study.
Genetics,, Science & Society

Gene in human embryos altered by Chinese researchers

By Tina Hesman Saey 3:29pm, April 23, 2015
Chinese researchers have genetically altered human embryos.
Genetics,, Animals,, Health

Mosquito bites might be foretold in genes

By Helen Thompson 2:20pm, April 22, 2015
Attractiveness to mosquitoes could be inherited, twin study suggests.
Animals,, Ecosystems

Only three wolves left on Michigan island

By Teresa Shipley Feldhausen 11:02am, April 22, 2015
Without an infusion of new wolves, the Isle Royale wolf population, and the famous study associated with it, will die off.
Quantum Physics,, Physics

Atomic clock will keep precise time for 15 billion years

By Andrew Grant 11:00am, April 21, 2015
The world’s most precise atomic clock will not lose or gain a second in roughly 15 billion years.
Chemistry,, Science & Society

Shipwrecked bubbly gives chemists a taste of the past

By Beth Mole 6:00am, April 21, 2015
Champagne preserved at the bottom of the Baltic Sea for 170 years has given chemists a glimpse of past winemaking methods.

Smart card taps track clogs on London's Tube

By Ashley Yeager 5:33pm, April 20, 2015
To make public subway systems more efficient, researchers track smart card taps and flag problem stations.

Sky’s brilliant hues may help bodies keep time

By Ashley Yeager 3:00pm, April 17, 2015
The internal clocks of mice are sensitive to changes in the sky’s colors. Humans’ clocks may work similarly, offering a tool to trump jet lag.

Low levels of lead linked to lower test scores in children

By Beth Mole 12:00pm, April 17, 2015
A large study in grade-school children finds that even low blood levels of lead may be associated with poor school performance.
Planetary Science,, Earth

The moon is about as old as we thought it was

By Helen Thompson 6:00am, April 17, 2015
Meteorite heat signatures pinpoint the age of the collision that created the moon — confirming many previous lunar age estimates.
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