Short Science, May 26, 2013

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 4:35am


Exercise shoes leave a giant carbon footprint

Runners tread more heavily on the earth than they may ever have imagined, according to a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists. Synthetic running shoes typically generated 13.6kg of carbon dioxide emissions, the researchers found, an unusually high carbon footprint for a product that does not use electricity, or require sophisticated components. The researchers said it was equivalent to leaving a 100-watt light bulb burning for a week. Shoes account for a big share of the emissions produced in clothing manufacture, with more than 25 billion pairs produced every year, mostly in developing countries. More than two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the shoes tested by the MIT researchers came during the manufacturing process, not in sourcing the materials or in their actual use. The Guardian


Swiss say breakthrough on ageing is step closer

Swiss researchers say they are a step closer to unlocking the mystery of ageing after discovering the impact of a longevity gene in mice and then managing to extend the life-span of worms by 60 per cent thanks to a basic antibiotic treatment. "They were not only living longer, but were also more fit," said Johan Auwerx on a video released by the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, a Swiss research institute. The findings of Auwerx's team have been published in the scientific journal Nature. AFP


Early man's brain gain came in the rain

Early humans living in South Africa made cultural and industrial leaps in periods of wetter weather, said a study that compared the archaeological record of man's evolution with that of climate change. Anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens, first made their appearance in Africa during the Middle Stone Age which lasted from about 280,000 to 30,000 years ago. Some of the earliest examples of human culture and technology are found in South Africa, with fossil evidence of innovative spurts whose cause has left scientists puzzled. The record reveals that a notable period of human advancement occurred about 71,500 years ago, and another between 64,000 and 59,000 years ago. "We show for the first time that the timing of ... these periods of innovation coincided with abrupt climate change," said study co-author Martin Ziegler of the Cardiff University School of Earth and Ocean Sciences. The study is published in the current issue of the journal Nature Communications. AFP