Health and Science

As bird flu spreads, Illinois zoos take action

By Traci Badalucco and Christina Bucciere

Illinois zoos are taking measures to protect their flocks from potential avian flu infection as the virus wipes out millions of hens across the Midwest.

Illinois, which neighbors Iowa where 27 million birds have caught the virus, is on alert for signs of avian flu. That includes keeping an eye on bird populations in the zoos.

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From granite to glacier: Rebuilding Antarctica’s Ice Age past

By Jia You

Palisades, New York — They rest side by side on a dark bench table, two coarse linen bags labeled with big, round numbers and letters. Mike Kaplan carefully unties the bag labeled “JRI-14-33” and reaches inside.

“That’s a really nice granite,” the 46-year-old geologist exclaims as soon as he sees the light gray rock, large as his palm and twice as thick. He takes off his glasses to examine it up close. Outside, cherry trees are blossoming under a clear April sky at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in the Palisades. But inside the dim underground lab, Kaplan is absorbed with the granite and the clues it holds to climate change.

Yes, it’s the same rock used for flooring tiles and posh kitchen countertops. Except it took Kaplan a month of hiking through Antarctica to find this piece of granite — a time capsule from the ancient past, when our planet emerged from the last Ice Age and the massive ice sheets covering much of North America and Eurasia thawed.  Human hunters and gatherers soon started growing their own food. Just like how people bury metal boxes of photos, newsreels and other artifacts for future generations to discover, a melting glacier deposited rock on an island off Antarctica’s northeastern tip some 8,000 years ago — a rock that contained secret messages depicting how the climate changed at the time. Kaplan discovered those messages.

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VIDEO: Trapeze school offers Chicagoans chance to fly

by Lukas J. Voss

If you ever wanted to fly, trapeze is probably the closest experience you can get: swinging from a 23-foot platform performing jumps, swings and flying dismounts. Afraid of flying? No problem. The Trapeze School New York Chicago has been teaching students how to handle the trapeze for the past 15 years.

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Dutch royals focus on business, healthcare in Chicago visit

By Meghan Morris

THE HAGUE, the Netherlands — The king and queen of the Netherlands will visit Chicago June 2-3 to meet with leaders in business, healthcare and community organizations.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima are visiting the country for three days in their first trip to America since the king succeeded his mother to become the monarch in 2013. Their visit celebrates the economic and historic ties between the countries: The U.S. is the biggest country investor in the Netherlands, and the Dutch still honor their American liberators of World War II. Continue reading

VIDEO: Ice sculptures bring awareness to ALS

By Anne Arntson

Jessica Holloway walked by Daley Plaza after finishing jury duty Tuesday afternoon.

She saw frozen shapes that looked like people and wanted to learn more.

That’s exactly what the Les Turner ALS Foundation wanted her to do, as they debuted seven ice sculptures as part of a three-day, 12-sculpture exhibit to bring awareness to the disease. Each sculpture was formed in the likeness of a person with ALS, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Continue reading

Video: Special Olympics brings Spring Games to Chicago

By Lukas J. Voss

Over 3,500 athletes gathered on Chicago´s Southeast Side to celebrate the annual Special Olympics Spring Games. The week-long competition featured athletes from all over the state, who will compete in several track and field competitions.

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VIDEO: Man puts positive spin on ALS diagnosis

By Kira Boyd

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is an incurable neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It is 100 percent fatal. Bruce Lindgren, 58, of Aurora, was diagnosed with ALS in September 2013. He has remained determined to keep a positive attitude about his diagnosis.

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VIDEO: Evanston farmers market celebrates 40 years of community

By Sara Shouhayib

Farm Manager Philip Guida at Lake Breeze Organics farm in Benton Harbor, Michigan, unloaded Italian spinach, lettuce heads and purple passion asparagus at the Evanston Farmer’s Market Saturday.

It was opening day for the season. Guida said the Evanston market is worth the drive because of the customers. Continue reading

Report ranks Chicago the nation’s 6th ‘sneeziest and wheeziest’ city

By Jia You

As Chicagoans brace themselves for another peak asthma and allergy season, a national report ranks the Windy City among America’s top 10 “sneeziest and wheeziest” cities. And the report, released Wednesday, blames climate change for making things worse.

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VIDEO: Illinois advisory board recommends expanding medical marijuana coverage

By Avinash Chak

Cancer, HIV/AIDS and Alzheimer’s are a few of the diseases that qualify patients for medical marijuana usage in Illinois. The Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board now recommends that those with 11 other conditions get the chance to benefit from marijuana prescriptions. The board, however, rejected other conditions commonly associated with medicinal marijuana in its vote May 4.

The Illinois Medical Cannabis Advisory Board’s recommendations now need the approval of the state’s public health department. Legislators could then write new regulations for Illinois’ marijuana law. It could take months before the conditions become part of the official list.

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