Research Report: Google Earth making waves


Google has launched an extension of Google Earth, which allows Internet users to virtually explore the ocean. Scripps Institution of Oceanography contributed to the project by providing an “expedition layer,” offering marine points of interest on Google’s virtual globe that range from undersea volcanoes to the Earth’s magnetic field.

The data is from a two-and-a-half year voyage aboard the research vessel Melville; an expedition that took scientists to the waters of 10 countries and 17 ports in the western Pacific Ocean - more than 100,000 nautical miles.

In the works is development of a “Scripps layer” in Google Earth, which will detail the hundreds of Scripps-related ocean and earth science research projects taking place around the planet.

Accelerating bone growth

Engineers at UCSD may have come up with a way to help accelerate bone growth through the use of nanotubes and stem cells. This new finding could lead to quicker and better recovery, for example, for patients who undergo orthopedic surgery.

In the study, UCSD bioengineers and material science experts placed mesenchymal stem cells - which can be extracted from a patient’s own bone marrow - on top of very thin titanium oxide nanotubes. Doing so controlled the differentiation of the cells turning them into bone-building cells (osteoblasts). The hope is that broken bones would heal faster aided by the surgical implantation of titanium oxide nanotubes with stem cells. The study appears in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

Restoring blood flow

Brain damage from stroke can continue for hours or even days if tissue surrounding the injury is starved of oxygen and nutrients. A promising new study by UCSD researchers finds that a grid of small arteries at the surface of the brain redirects flow and widens at critical points to restore vital blood supply following a stroke.

Previous work with animal models found that blood flow can slow in the aftermath of a stroke hindering the delivery of drugs that might help recovery. But those studies only measured the speed of the blood.

In the new study both the speed of blood cells moving through individual small arteries and the diameters of vessels were measured. Scientists found that arteries dilate to compensate for a decrease in blood flow velocity, thus, maintaining a constant delivery of blood cells. The study appears in “The Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism.”