Health and Science

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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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: 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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NFL’s Play 60 sparks youth interest

By Sam Fiske

The glow of the 2015 NFL Draft has come and gone, but the lasting imprint may ultimately reside with Chicago youth through the league’s Play 60 marketing campaign.

Play 60, which promotes an active and healthy lifestyle in the fight against childhood obesity, leveraged the popularity of the draft to draw kids, including those from Willa Cather Elementary School, to participate in football clinics in Grant Park last week.

“This is an amazing experience for the kids,” said Cather’s Dean Arick Lockheart, who campaigned to get 100 of his students invited to the Play 60 events. “It’s more about health and wellness.”

With raised awareness of concussions due to the violent nature of the sport, Play 60, which conducts clinics and football-related games and activities for kids nationwide, attempts a positive re-branding of the sport.

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