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Earth ‘recycles’ itself faster than thought

The volcanic recycling of the Earth's crust that sinks deep into the earth due to the movement of tectonic plates happens much faster than scientists had previously thought, a new research has found.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz say that the rock of the oceanic crust reemerges through volcanic eruptions after around 500 million years.

Previously, geologists thought this process would take about two billion years. Hot rock rises in cylindrical columns, the so-called mantle plumes, from a depth of nearly 3000 kilometres. Near the surface, it melts, because the pressure is reduced, and forms volcanoes. The plume originates from former ocean crust, which early in the Earth’s history, sank to the bottom of the mantle.

 The chemical analysis of tiny glassy inclusions in olivine crystals from basaltic lava on Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii has now surprised geologists: the entire recycling process requires at most half a billion years, four times faster than previously thought. Researchers found residues of seawater with an unexpected strontium isotope ratio in lava samples from Hawaiian volcanoes, which suggested an age of less than 500 million years for the inclusions.

Soon, electronic patch on skin to monitor patients’ health

Researchers at the University of Illinois have designed an ultra-thin electronic device that can be applied to skin like a temporary tattoo and can be used in sensing, medical diagnostics, communications and human-machine interfaces.

The circuit bends, wrinkles, and stretches with the mechanical properties of skin.These electronic tattoos could one day help doctors to diagnose and monitor health conditions of patients non-invasively.

The researchers demonstrated their concept through a diverse array of electronic components mounted on a thin, rubbery substrate, including sensors, LEDs, transistors, radio frequency capacitors, wireless antennas, and conductive coils and solar cells for power.

The patches are initially mounted on a thin sheet of water-soluble plastic, then laminated to the skin with water – just like applying a temporary tattoo. Alternately, the electronic components can be applied directly to a temporary tattoo itself, providing concealment for the electronics.

“The technology can connect you to the physical world and the cyberworld in a very natural way that feels very comfortable,” a researcher said.

Most men and women with arthritis are couch potatoes

Being physically active is one of best ways people with arthritis can improve their health, but researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have found that more than half of women and 40 percent of men with arthritis are virtually couch potatoes.

They asked more than 1000 people with radiographic knee osteoarthritis to wear an accelerometer– a small, sophisticated device that looks like a pedometer – to measure their physical activity for one week during waking hours. Physical activity can help people with arthritis better control and lower pain and improve general function. Some studies indicate exercise may delay or even prevent disability in people with arthritis, a lead researcher said.

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