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25 October 2012

Thursday October 25

Scientists study monarch butterflies in Mexico, Brazil has lost 80% of its northern coral reefs, and study finds cholera in Haiti came from Nepal.

ARGENTINA

Yesterday’s TEDxRiodelaPlata conference in Buenos Aires highlighted the work of several scientists, physicians, and engineers from Argentina and around the world. One highlight: Miguel San Martin, an Argentine aeronautical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, discussed the teamwork and 7 minutes of terror that was Curiosity’s landing on Mars. Videos will be up soon here.

The impact of genetically-modified crops in Argentina and the U.S. has been explored in a new video from Greenpeace. Schoolteachers interviewed describe the skin lesions found on children which they say were caused by aerial fumigation of transgenic crops in the region. The video comes on the heels of the conviction of a farmer and a cropdusting pilot for fumigating crops too close to urban neighborhoods near the Argentine city of Cordoba.

    Mexican scientists are studying the migration patterns of the monarch butterfly. Credit: Pablo Leautaud via Flickr.

BRAZIL

Brazil’s northern coast has lost 80% of its coral life in the last fifty years, according to a national monitoring study. Scientists report that the main threats to coral reefs in Brazil are climate change, pollution, overfishing, sedimentation, and the destruction of mangrove swamps. Beatrice Padovani of the Universidad Federal de Pernambuco says the coral degredation is worst closest to shore.

CHILE

The largest ever catalog of the Milky Way has been compiled with 84 million stars using the VISTA telescope in Chile’s Atacama desert. The study, headed by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), has added ten times more stars to the data set of the stars that make up the Milky Way’s bulge.

A new theory has surfaced regarding how the statues on Easter Island were transported from rock quarries many kilometers to where they were carved. Archaeologists explain how the statues, some weighing more than 3 tons, could have been ‘walked’ by rocking them side to side with ropes. Easter Island lies over 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile.

HAITI

A new study concludes that the strain of cholera now spreading through Haiti is of Nepalese origin and that ground zero of the outbreak was the Haitian headquarters of the United Nations shortly after the earthquake of January 2010.

MEXICO

Mexican scientists and students at the Technical University of Monterrey in Mexico are studying the migration patterns of Monarch butterflies and the effects of recent droughts and urban sprawl. The wintering grounds of the butterflies were unknown until in 1975 a University of Toronto scientist discovered huge colonies of Monarchs in the mountains of Michoacan, Mexico.

PARAGUAY

The fossils of a recently unearthed giant sloth have been stolen in northern Paraguay. The fossils were stolen as paleontologists from around the world en route to Paraguay to study the specimen. Paraguayan paleontologist Victor Filippi explained that the fossilized skeleton was almost complete before it was raided.