Roman amphitheaters act like seismic invisibility cloaks

The discovery may explain how these buildings have survived for so long in earthquake zones.

Roman amphitheaters are among the most ancient human constructions on Earth. These structures are remarkably well preserved in various places across the ancient Roman empire.

That’s especially remarkable because much of this territory is seismically active: it sits on the tectonic boundary between the Eurasian and African plates and has experienced numerous earthquakes that have destroyed other types of buildings. So just how these amphitheaters have survived for 2,000 years is something of a puzzle.

Today we get a potential answer thanks to the work of Stéphane Brûlé and colleagues at Aix-Marseille University in southern France. These guys have studied the way that certain structures buried in the ground, or sitting on top of it, can modify the way seismic waves travel through the Earth. In particular, they have studied “seismic invisibility cloaks” that can steer seismic waves around specific regions and thereby protect them.

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Put it on camera: How to get into scientific film- and video-making

nature_It’s easier than ever to learn how to produce captivating clips that can boost your scientific outreach — or open the door to a new job.
Filming in Yellowstone

Biologist Stephani Gordon turned to freelance film-making to capture nature and science research on camera.Credit: Audrey Hall

Stephani Gordon has filmed squid in the Gulf of California, a nineteenth-century whaling boat in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands and a search for Amelia Earhart’s plane in the central Pacific. In 2017, she shot footage off the coast of Mexico of pelagic creatures such as the paper nautilus (Argonauta nouryi) and vampire jellyfish (Vampyrocrossota childressi).

Gordon, sole proprietor of Open Boat Films in Portland, Oregon, spent more than a decade working as a field biologist, studying seabirds, sharks and other marine animals. But from 2004 to 2005, while working as a marine-ecosystem research specialist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Honolulu, Hawaii, she served as a field guide for two nature photographers and was impressed by the large audience their images drew. Tiếp tục đọc “Put it on camera: How to get into scientific film- and video-making”

Why South Korea is the world’s biggest investor in research

The Asian nation is spending big in the hope of winning a Nobel prize, but it will need more than cash to realize its ambitions.

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Shin Woong-Jae A prototype axion detector in Daejeon, South Korea.

nature – Behind the doors of a drab brick building in Daejeon, South Korea, a major experiment is slowly taking shape. Much of the first-floor lab space is under construction, and one glass door, taped shut, leads directly to a pit in the ground. But at the end of the hall, in a pristine lab, sits a gleaming cylindrical apparatus of copper and gold. It’s a prototype of a device that might one day answer a major mystery about the Universe by detecting a particle called the axion — a possible component of dark matter. Tiếp tục đọc “Why South Korea is the world’s biggest investor in research”

Biological research: Rethink biosafety

11 November 2015

Tim Trevan calls on those working with organisms that are hazardous, or could be so, to take lessons from the nuclear industries, hospitals and other sectors that have established a safety culture.

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Douglas C. Pizac/AP/Pa Images Biosafety-level-3 protection at the US Army’s Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.

Nature – Two months ago, the US Department of Defense froze operations at nine biodefence laboratories where work is done on dangerous pathogens. Inspectors had discovered live anthrax outside a containment area at the US Army’s Dugway Proving Ground — a facility in Utah that tests defence systems against biological and chemical weapons. Tiếp tục đọc “Biological research: Rethink biosafety”

Indigenous peoples must benefit from science

20 October 2015

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Nature – The sun has been pale for months here in Sumatra and the skies are grey all day — choked with pollution from the massive fires that rage across the Indonesian island. Since the late 1990s, the haze caused by these annual fires has posed a significant threat to the health of Sumatra’s rural communities. This year’s haze is especially bad and has affected major cities, both here and abroad; consequently, the fires have again made headlines around the world.

Many of these news stories blame the big palm-oil companies for the fires. Slash-and-burn techniques remain the cheapest way to clear forest for new plantations. But scientific evidence suggests that this simple narrative is not absolutely true. A number of surveys have found that the bulk of these fires are started outside the official oil-palm concessions. Small-scale farmers seem to be more to blame.

The haze in Indonesia is not just an environmental issue; it is a complex socio-economic problem that is driven partly by conflict over land ownership between palm-oil companies and rural communities — a struggle that the companies usually win. Tiếp tục đọc “Indigenous peoples must benefit from science”

Why interdisciplinary research matters

Scientists must work together to save the world. A special issue asks how they can scale disciplinary walls.

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Illustration by Dean Trippe

Nature – To solve the grand challenges facing society — energy, water, climate, food, health — scientists and social scientists must work together. But research that transcends conventional academic boundaries is harder to fund, do, review and publish — and those who attempt it struggle for recognition and advancement (see World View, page 291). This special issue examines what governments, funders, journals, universities and academics must do to make interdisciplinary work a joy rather than a curse. Tiếp tục đọc “Why interdisciplinary research matters”