Illinois Public Media News
A new study shows bugs, even those that feed on crops, might not always be a bad thing for farmers. It is possible some could ultimately do more good than harm to the plants they feed on, by helping them pull through hardships like this year's drought.
It is a year of honors for University of Illinois Engineering and Physics Professor Nick Holonyak Jr.
A new seismic survey shows a more than 100 mile stretch in Central Illinois is better poised for oil drilling.
Meteorologists remain cautious about the aftermath of this summer's drought in Indiana even though much of the state has had plenty of rain in recent weeks.
Researchers in Chicago are launching a study to find out whether weight loss can help African-American breast cancer survivors.
The University of Illinois at Chicago study is funded by a five-year, $3 million grant from the National Cancer Institute.
Melinda Stolley is leading the research. She says poor diet, lack of physical activity and obesity contribute to breast cancer progression.
The randomized study will recruit 240 breast cancer survivors who finished their treatment at least six months ago. Study participants need to be overweight, able to participate in moderate physical activity and not currently in a structured weight-loss program.
UIC will coordinate with the Chicago Park District to carry out the study in the Roseland-Pullman, Englewood, Austin, South Shore and Lawndale neighborhoods of Chicago.
African-American women with breast cancer in Chicago are more likely to die of their disease than white women.
Now a new study by Chicago researchers finds that the disparity is a widespread problem in major cities. A team from the Sinai Urban Health Institute calculated the race gap in breast cancer mortality for the nation's 25 biggest cities, and found that more than half of them have a significant disparity.
"In the United States the number of deaths that occur each year because of the disparity, not because of [just] breast cancer, is 1,700," said Steven Whitman, director of the Institute. "That's about five a day."
Chicago was among the worst cities, with black women in the city 61 percent more likely to die than white women. Memphis had the largest disparity, and three other cities fared worse than Chicago: Denver, Houston and Los Angeles. All of the data are based on the years 2005-2007.
The study authors have connections with the Metropolitan Breast Cancer Task Force, whose research indicates that societal factors - "racism," as Whitman bluntly put it - are mainly responsible for the disparity. Task force members say unequal access to screening mammograms is largely to blame, and point out that Illinois' program providing screening to low-income women is nearly broke. Other public health researchers note that genetics likely plays a significant role in the race gap as well.
The study was funded by the Avon Foundation and published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology.
Things are looking up for the Chanute Air Museum in Rantoul.
After it looked like a bleak financial picture might cause the museum to close, the last year has seen an improved bottom line.
Nancy Kobel is president of the museum's board of directors. Kobel tells The (Champaign) News-Gazette that the museum has enough money to cover payroll until the end of January.
She said that's a lot better than in August 2010 when the museum had only enough money to cover about two weeks of payroll.
Kobel said the board's efforts to promote the museum on the former Air Force base have been effective enough to allow them to stay open on Sundays, something they couldn't afford to do last winter.
The pharmaceutical company, Abbott and the University of Illinois have set up a center that is focused on the connection between nutrition and the health of the brain.
Located on the Urbana-Champaign campus, the Center for Nutrition, Learning and Memory is looking for research proposals that would be funded for a year. The Center's director is Neal Cohen, who heads the university's neuroscience program. He said nutritional scientists are pushing to know more about the role of nutrition in learning and memory.
"At the same time, neuroscientist are looking for ways to impact the brain that has included the effects of exercise and now the effects of nutrition," Cohen said. "This project is right at the intersection of that."
The center plans to use the U of I's existing research facilities at the Institute for Genomic Biology and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.
The first call for research proposals closes on January 6, and those submissions will then be narrowed down to several final projects, which will receive funding.
A research project studying a method to keep carbon dioxide emissions out of the atmosphere got down to business this week. After three years of preparations, the Illinois Basin-Decatur project began injecting CO2 from an ethanol plant into the ground more than a mile deep.
Robert Finley with the Illinois Geological Survey at the University of Illinois' Prairie Research Institute said the CO2 injections will continue for another three years, until a million metric tons of the gas is embedded in the massive Mount Simon underground sandstone formation. Finley said Mount Simon offers a big potential at a place for storing CO2 emissions.
"The Mt Simon sandstone at Decatur is 1,650 feet thick, and we'll be storing only in the lower several hundred feet of this unit, and this rock unit is quite laterally extensive," Finley explained. "It covers most of Illinois, southwestern Indiana and western Kentucky."
The Illinois Basin-Decatur project is located on the Archer Daniels Midland campus in Decatur, and uses CO2 from an ADM ethanol plant. The U of I's Illinois State Geological Survey is the lead agency for the project, which is one of seven around the country funded by the U-S Department of Energy, and the second to begin actual sequestration. Finley said the carbon sequestration process has started smoothly --- and the long-term question is whether the gas can be pumped underground continuously without leaking.
He said their findings will be applied to another, larger carbon sequestration project, for which ADM is taking the lead. A training and education center for the larger project is being built at Decatur's Richland Community College.
Eventually, Finley said the experience and knowledge gained from the projects at Decatur can help other carbon sequestration projects --- like the FutureGen project which will bury CO-2 emissions from a coal plant in western Illinois.
Chicago-based Boeing announced new plans on Monday to build space shuttles for people and cargo. Boeing will build reusable capsules that can take up to seven people into space.
Ever since NASA's space shuttle program ended, the U.S. has been relying on Russia to get to the International Space Station. Boeing's new program is expected to provide another way to get there.
Morningstar analyst Neal Dihora said Boeing's space technology accounts for about 13 percent of the company's sales this year.
"With the space shuttle shut down, they were going to see some exits or decreases in revenue and this actually helps them over a longer time frame," Dihora said. "But it's not really that big of a material difference for the entire company as a whole."
Boeing will lease a former shuttle hangar at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The project is expected to create more than 500 jobs by 2015. More than 4,000 space-related jobs have been lost in the Cape Canaveral area.
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