This Week in Science. Oct 20, 2014

This weekly feature of STAOblog brings you a sampling of the latest science news sorted by curriculum strand. Use these items to enrich your class discussions and engage your students.

Share your favourite Science News “gems”  by emailing them to

7308778_s  from 123rfBiology

The healing powers of poop are now available in pill form — and a new study has found that just two days of the treatment can cure a dangerous infection that kills 14,000 Americans per year. D-brief |

Ebola Spread Shows Flaws in Protective Gear and Procedures

A Spanish nurse who contracted the virus is just one of hundreds infected while battling the deadly disease, often with substandard equipment and safety protocols. Scientific American.

Nurses reveal gaps in Ebola preparedness in Ontario hospitals

Union letter to Canada’s chief public health officer highlights five instances of Ontario hospitals failing the preparedness test.  The Globe and Mail.
Scant financial rewards and lack of progress with conventional drug discovery have prompted many Big Pharma companies to abandon the search for new bacteria-fighting medicines. Yet for academic microbiologists these are exciting times.  The Globe and Mail.

13698187_s from 123rfChemistry

Ability to See Single Molecules Gets Chemistry Nobel

Stefan W. Hell, Eric Betzig, and William Moerner share the prize for developing new ways to see inside a cell. Scientific American.

Nanoparticles can act like liquid on the outside, crystal on the inside. 

 A surprising phenomenon has been found in metal nanoparticles: They appear, from the outside, to be liquid droplets, wobbling and readily changing shape, while their interiors retain a perfectly stable crystal configuration. Science Daily

18685938_s  from 123rfPhysics

Is matter falling into the massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way or being ejected from it? 

Is matter falling into the massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way or being ejected from it? No one knows for sure, but astrophysicists are searching for an answer.Science Daily

Earth’s magnetic field could flip within a human lifetime.

Earth’s last magnetic reversal took place 786,000 years ago and happened very quickly, in less than 100 years — roughly a human lifetime. The rapid flip, much faster than the thousands of years most geologists thought, comes as new measurements show the planet’s magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than normal and could drop to zero in a few thousand years. Science Daily

12693495_s from 123rfEarth and Space Science

Icebergs once drifted to Florida, new climate model suggests

Using a first-of-its-kind, high-resolution numerical model to describe ocean circulation during the last ice age about 21,000 year ago, oceanographers have shown that icebergs and meltwater from the North American ice sheet would have regularly reached South Carolina and even southern Florida. Science Daily