Discovered: There's an app for keeping tabs on the spread of malaria; strange extracts from a Martian meteorite; tomatoes reduce stroke risk; stem cells fight deadly brain condition.
Cellphones track the spread of malaria in Kenya. No one wants to hear that they're being tracked through their cellphones. We ask, "Who's trying to sell me something? What government agency is putting me under surveillance?" But researchers in Kenya are tracking cellphones for a completely different purpose: to better understand the spread of malaria. Cellphones are useful for tracking movement, and Carnegie Mellon researchers lead by Amy Wesolowski are using data on almost 15 million Kenyans with cellphones to locate vectors of the disease. Often infected people don't realize they have malaria until after they've traveled far and wide, spreading it to insects and other humans along the way. Tracking cellphones can reveal hotspots and pinpoint who exactly might be spreading it. Tom Scott, a researcher with the Mosquito Research Laboratory at UC Davis, comments that the new effort gives, "previously unattainable insights into long distance movement of malaria parasites." [New Scientist]
Meteorite carries Martian black glass to Earth. Meteorites bring lots of cool things to Earth. Water might have come to our planet via meteorite, and everyone knows Superman landed here in a glorious shower of meteors. Scientists have just discovered another cool thing brought to us on the wings of a meteor—black glass from Mars. Intrepid researchers trekked out to the Moroccan desert to gather fragments from a meteor shower last year. Studying one of the meteorites, named Tissint after the town where it was discovered, reveals that it originated from Mars long ago. The black glass found in its veins peg the rock to be at least 700,000 years old. Only one other meteorite connected to Mars has had shards of black glass. [ScienceNow]