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27 September 2012

Thursday September 27

Ecuador dispatches scientific cruise to the Galapagos, genetically-modified mosquitoes combat dengue in Brazil, and Chile develops earthquake-resistant technology

BRAZIL

Genetically-modified mosquitoes released in Brazil have reduced the population of dengue-carrying mosquitoes in the region by 90%, according to the Brazilian science ministry. Another trial in the Cayman Islands have reduced dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the region by 80%. Over a period of 23 weeks in 2010, 3.3 million sterile male mosquitoes were released on Grand Cayman island and reproduced with wild females, which passed on a gene that caused their offspring to die before adulthood. “It is an extremely encouraging result and the first demonstration that you can suppress a target population through the release of engineered male mosquitoes,” said Luke Alphey, cheif scientific officer of the British biotech firm Oxitec that developed the genetically-engineered mosquitoes.

Ecuador has launched a scientific cruise to research the effects of El Niño on the Galapagos. Credit: Francis Bonte via Flickr.

CHILE

Chilean engineers are developing new technologies to help buildings stay intact during earthquakes. Shock-absorbing steel structures and 160-ton concrete blocks suspended like pendulums are two technologies that Chilean firm Sirve has implemented to help counteract an earthquake’s effect on a building. Sirve’s technology went into Chile’s tallest building—the Titanium tower—which was left intact by February 2010’s 8.8 magnitude earthquake.

Chile´s La Silla Observatory has captured a detailed photo of the Seagull Nebula 3,700 light years away. Made up of dust and gases, the Seagull Nebula´s ´wings´ span 100 light years and its ´eye´ is a bright star releasing strong amounts of ultraviolet radiation.

ECUADOR

Ecuador has dispatched a scientific cruise to the Galapagos Islands to study the effects of El Niño. A group of scientists from Venezuela, Peru, Chile and Colombia will join the expedition and measure oxygen levels at varying depths in addition to observing the behavior of birds and mammals, reports Antonio Rodriguez of the Oceanographic Institute of the Ecuadorean Navy.

PERU

UNESCO experts gathered in Lima, Peru to discuss a new tsunami alert system for Latin American countries. Chile´s earthquake in 2010 was the impetus for accelerating the process, said Gustavo Sanin, secretary of the Southern Pacific Permanent Commission. One of the main objectives is to integrate the alert systems of Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Chile.

Officials will vaccinate 2.5 million dogs against rabies virus over 2 days, announced Peru´s Ministry of Health. Under the name Van Can 2012, the ministry will deploy 12,000 people to set up stands at clinics, parks and markets to vaccinate dogs this weekend. September 28th is World Rabies Day.