Scientists project a drier Amazon and wetter Indonesia in the future

Climate models predict that an increase in greenhouse gases will dry out the Amazon rainforest in the future while causing wetter conditions in the woodlands of Africa and Indonesia. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine and other institutions have identified an unexpected but major factor in this worldwide precipitation shift: the direct response of the forests themselves to higher levels of carbon dioxide.

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Mind & Brain 

Music activates regions of the brain spared by Alzheimer’s disease

Ever get chills listening to a particularly moving piece of music? You can thank the salience network of the brain for that emotional joint. Surprisingly, this region also remains an island of remembrance that is spared from the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers at the University of Utah Health are looking to this region of the brain to develop music-based treatments to help alleviate anxiety in patients with dementia. Their research will appear in the April online issue of The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease.

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Weird World 

Glowing contact lens could prevent a leading cause of blindness

Hundreds of millions of people suffer from diabetes worldwide, putting them at risk for a creeping blindness, or diabetic retinopathy, that comes with the disease in its more advanced stages. Existing treatments, though effective, are painful and invasive, involving lasers and injections into the eyeball. Caltech graduate student Colin Cook (MS ’16) thinks there’s a better way.

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Matter & Energy 

A powerful laser breakthrough

The ability to harness light into an intense beam of monochromatic radiation in a laser has revolutionized the way we live and work for more than fifty years. Among its many applications are ultrafast and high-capacity data communications, manufacturing, surgery, barcode scanners, printers, self-driving technology and spectacular laser light displays. Lasers also find a home in atomic and molecular spectroscopy used in various branches of science as well as for the detection and analysis of a wide range of chemicals and biomolecules.

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