Oldest Water: 5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week

Also: a case for having a female doctor
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2016 5:31 AM CST
Oldest Water: 5 Most Incredible Discoveries of the Week
Geochemists in Canada have found a 2-billion-year-old water source, the world's oldest.   (University of Toronto.)

An ancient source of water and an intriguing find about how pregnancy affects the brain were among the discoveries making headlines this week:

  • World's Oldest Water Found in Canada: Scientists have discovered the oldest water ever found on Earth deep in a Canadian mine. The 2-billion-year-old oasis could help us understand the origins of life on our planet and beyond. Researchers from the University of Toronto dug 1.5 miles deep in the Kidd Creek Mine in Ontario to find it, after finding slightly younger pools (1.5 billion years old) in the same mine three years ago. One of the most surprising aspects of the water had to do with its flow.
  • Pregnancy Changes a Woman's Brain: Pregnancy affects not only a woman's body: It changes parts of her brain, too, a new study says. And the changes, first documented an average of 10 weeks after giving birth, were mostly still present two years after childbirth. In 11 places in the brain, MRI data indicate reductions in volume of the brain's gray matter—but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

  • Patients of Female Doctors Live Longer: Want to live longer? Get a female doctor. That's one takeaway of a new Harvard study that found elderly patients are less likely to die if they are treated by a woman. The difference is slight but it adds up: If all doctors performed as well as women doctors, some 32,000 lives would be saved each year. One theory about why centers on differences in communication.
  • There's a Staggering Number of Insects Above Us: Step outside and imagine there's a blanket of billions of insects overhead—because there probably is. Researchers who spent a decade tracking insects 500 to 4,000 feet above the ground in south-central England found that about 3.5 trillion bugs and butterflies migrate across the region each year—moving south in the fall and north in the spring, much like birds. For a comparable mass, think 20,000 reindeer. Also: Their speed may surprise you.
  • Experimental Ebola Vaccine Has Stunning Results: Scientists say they've created an Ebola vaccine that appears to be 100% effective. In a trial involving more than 11,000 at-risk people in Guinea, nobody given the vaccine developed the virus after a 10-day incubation period, researchers wrote in the Lancet. One wild card is about how long it lasts.
Click to read about more discoveries. (Read more discoveries stories.)

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