DURHAM, N.C. – What do a tree and the Eiffel Tower have in common?

According to a Duke University engineer, both are optimized for flow. In the case of trees, the flow is of water from the ground throughout the trunk, branches and leaves, and into the air. The Eiffel Tower's flow carries stresses throughout the structure without collapsing under its own weight or being downed by the wind.

For most engineers, the laws governing fluid and solid mechanics like these examples are like oil and water – they just don't mix.

Durham University expert, Alex Densmore, is to explore the fault lines that caused the May 12th earthquake in China that killed 69,000 people.

Dr. Densmore, Director of Hazards Research at the Institute of Hazard and Risk Research at Durham University, is the first UK scientist to visit the region to research the faults and the effects and causes of the Sichuan earthquake since the disaster.

CHAPEL HILL – People who use monosodium glutamate, or MSG, as a flavor enhancer in their food are more likely than people who don't use it to be overweight or obese even though they have the same amount of physical activity and total calorie intake, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health study published this month in the journal Obesity.

University Park, PA – August 13, 2008 – Relational Uncertainty refers to people's lack of confidence in their perceptions of relationship involvement. A new study in the journal Personal Relationships evaluated associations between intimacy and relational uncertainty and found that fluctuations in perceptions of relationships are meaningful aspects of non-marital romantic relationships.

EVEN when they tiptoe discreetly through the undergrowth, nature lovers and ecotourists may be having an unexpectedly damaging impact on wildlife. A study of protected Californian forest has shown that hiking, wildlife-watching and similar low-impact activities are linked to a sharp drop in numbers of carnivores such as bobcats and coyotes.

"We saw dramatic, fivefold reductions in the native species," says Adina Merenlender of the University of California, Berkeley, who ran the study with Sarah Reed of the San Francisco-based Wilderness Society.

Washington, DC—Democratic politicians receive a 40% increase in contributions in the 30 days after appearing on the comedy cable show The Colbert Report. In contrast, their Republican counterparts essentially gain nothing. These findings appear to validate anecdotal evidence regarding the political impact of the program, such as the assertions by host Stephen Colbert that appearing on his program provides candidates with a "Colbert bump" or a rise in support for their election campaigns.

Young people from 10 countries around the world have shared their views on housework and abortion issues in a new study from the University of Adelaide, Australia.

The research, conducted by Professor Chilla Bulbeck in the University's Discipline of Gender, Work and Social Inquiry, looked at the attitudes of young men and women to a number of gender equality issues.

Small surveys were conducted at high schools and universities in the United States, Canada, Australia, Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, India and Indonesia.

Long-distance running is widely seen as one of the great physical challenges a human can undertake and as the 2008 Summer Olympics commence in Beijing on August 8, many eager sports fans will await with baited breath the last event of the Games – the men's marathon, held on August 24. For these armchair fans, how marathon runners can complete the gruelling, 42.195 km event – physically and mentally – may seem like a great mystery.

The western Amazon, home to the most biodiverse and intact rainforest left on Earth, may soon be covered with oil rigs and pipelines.

According to a new study, over 180 oil and gas "blocks" – areas zoned for exploration and development – now cover the megadiverse western Amazon, which includes Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and western Brazil. These oil and gas blocks stretch over 688,000 km2 (170 million acres), a vast area, nearly the size of Texas. The study appears in the August 13 edition of the open-access journal PLoS ONE.