Today’s Science: Body Clocks and Earthquakes

By Lauren Blake ’20

Every week, interesting discoveries, revelations, and developments in the field of science occur all over the world. Whether it’s news about the rainforest, oceans, space, or technology, The Bamboo’s “Today’s Science” column seeks to inform readers about what’s happening in the scientific world.


Is Your “Body Clock” in Sync?

The BBC reports that American scientists Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young will share the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology for their research on the molecular workings of the circadian rhythm — the cellular “body clock” that affects the functions and behavior of the human body as well as other animals and plants.

Their pioneering research on how circadian rhythms work in fruit flies revealed how circadian rhythms also affect the daily workings of humans and plants. This body clock impacts a person’s urge to sleep at night by controlling hormones and other body processes. A day-to-day rhythm influences mood, hormone levels, body temperature, and metabolism. The body clock controls the natural identification if it is day or night. When someone experiences jetlag in a short amount of time, the body clock is disrupted which affects memory formation. When the body clock is out of sync over a long period of time, this increases the chances of developing cancer, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes.

Professor Russell Foster, body clock scientist at the University of Oxford, notes,”If we screw that system up, we have a big impact on our metabolism.” As students, it is important to work hard for our goals and future, but not at the price of our health and well-being. Keeping our body clocks in sync is a scientifically supported reason to make sure to get a good night sleep.

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Do Humans Provoke Earthquakes?

The common misconception of earthquakes is that they happen naturally. However, the Seismological Research Letters has pinpointed 730 incidents of earthquakes which have occurred as a result of human activity over the past 150 years.

These types of human-provocated earthquakes can be deadly, reaching up to 7.9 magnitude in size. The highest number of human-provocated earthquakes are caused by mining. Some 167 sites have experienced many earthquakes as a result of dam-building and water reservoirs. An example of this was in 2008 when a 7.9 earthquake hit in the Sichuan province of China, causing approximately 80,000people to be either missing or dead.  Scientists proposed that this was caused by the Zipingpu Reservoir which had 320 million tons of water over a fault line that was already known.

The U.S. has experienced these types of earthquakes in Oklahoma from oil and natural gas fracking which encourages seismic activity. It is good to be prepared for earthquakes in California, especially with the possibility of powerful earthquakes and the rumor of the pending “Big One.” Based on this research, fracking for oil and natural gas should be halted and alternatives explored in order to prevent any further earthquakes.

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