Make No Bones About It: Cholera Research in Italy

A combined team of archaeologists and researchers, including Clark Larsen, professor of anthropology at the Ohio State University, are trying to better understand the lethal bacteria cholera.
The team of researchers are excavating an ancient graveyard on the grounds of the Badia Pozzerveri Church in Tuscany. The dig cite is in an area of the cemetery where cholera victims were buried. Most of the victims died in a epidemic that affected most of the world in 1850s.
By examining the remains of the victims researchers hope to learn has much as they can about how people lived and died in this region of Europe. These bodies are particularly well preserved because the dead victims were covered in lime before they were buried which preserved the bones particularly well. The researchers also found that the lime preserved the the DNA of bacteria and other organisms that lived in the humans buried there.
Although they have not yet found the cholera DNA they are looking for in any soil samples the researchers are hopeful. The goal is to find ancient cholera DNA and compare it to the modern strain—by documenting the evolution of the bacteria they hope to find a cure.

By examining the soil in the graveyard the team is learning a lot about ancient people’s lives. Larsen remarked that the research is like having a “thousand-year window” into the history of the village. The research is allowing them access to information about ancient people’s health and how they lived and died.
The project began in 2010 when the local community, Ohio State and the University of Pisa joined forces to study the site.


The Future of Electronics Found In Its Past

Researchers at the Ohio State University are looking into using germanium, the base material of transistors from the 1940’s, as a replacement for silicon.

Joshua Goldberger, assistant professor of chemistry, is developing a new form of germanium called germanane. In 2013 Goldberger and his Ohio State University lab team were the first to successfully create a one-atom-thick sheet of germanane. This is so thin one might call it two dimensional.

Ok, but what does all this mean? What is the goal. Their goal is to create a material that will transmit electrons 10 times faster than silicon. But it will also be better at absorbing and emitting light. This will aid in the development of even more efficient LEDs and lasers.

The Goldberger’s team has also been experimenting with adding tin atoms to their new material – which Goldberger claims could make the conduction of electricity 100 percent efficient at room temperature. His lab also reported that this theoretical new material can be made chemically stable.

In fact, the team is already trying to work within traditional silicon manufacturing practices so that their new technology will be easily adaptable to the existing industry when the time comes.

Jody Victor


Weird Science: The Way We Walk

In 2000, charity participants took the first walk over the newly opened London Millennium Footbridge. As they walked their feet synchronized and the natural side-to-side motion caused the bridge to sway—much to the dismay of the walkers. Officials closed the footbridge until 2002 while they made modifications to stop the swaying.

Obviously the charity participants were frightened, but in a sense they brought it on themselves: because walking on a swaying surface takes about 5% less energy than walking on a stationary surface.

Ohio State University researchers wanted to look into the human behavior side of this equation. Why is it that, consciously or unconsciously, the charity participants fell into the same way of walking and kept walking that way as the bridge swayed beneath them?

The study found that when a few people walked on such a surface as the bridge, the optimal way to walk was without shaking it. Add enough people and the group will make the bridge sway to lower the group’s energy cost.

The research team is trying to discover a complete theory of why we walk the way we do. Unsurprisingly they found that stability is always the first concern, but the next priority is conserving energy despite the situation. The team has jokingly named it “the principle of maximum laziness” as their working theory suggests people usually adjust things like cadence or length and width of strides to save even a tiny it of energy.


Jody Victor

Ohio State Creates The John Glenn College of Public Affairs

The Ohio State University has a long relationship with former astronaut and senator John Glenn. Among the honors they’ve bestowed on him, they established the John Glenn Institute of Public Affairs in 1998, then it became the John Glenn School of Public Affairs in 2006). But what do these name changes mean, really?

The John Glenn School of Public Affairs was already ranked among the nation’s top 30 public administrative programs. It already offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees. Becoming a “college” the opportunities within existing programs as well as the number of programs will likely grow.

The John Glenn School of Public Affairs goal is to train young people to improve public policy making and management through research and analysis. The practical knowledge created through its research is passed on to all students in an effort to improve the public sector.

One well known program are the MAPS training seminars that build management and leadership skills for top executives, mid-level managers and first-line supervisors and support staff. As a college programs like these as well as opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students will only increase.

If you know a college-bound young person who is interested in these kinds of programs more information can be found here: