Science notes: Hollywood quake fault could scuttle skyscraper

  • Updated: August 3, 2013 - 4:19 PM

Hollywood quake fault is active

California’s state geologist has declared that the Hollywood earthquake fault is active and may run directly underneath a skyscraper project recently approved by the Los Angeles City Council. The assertion raises new doubts about whether the 1-million-square foot Millennium Hollywood project — which would create two of Hollywood’s tallest towers — should go forward without significantly more seismic safety testing than the city has so far required.

Several geologists interviewed by the Los Angeles Times have urged more extensive testing, such as digging dozens of bore holes or a trench, to determine exactly where the fault lies. If an earthquake fault is found underneath the Millennium towers, it could force a revision of architectural plans or scuttle the project.

 

Genes determine what we smell

We all smell things a little differently, and new research shows why: By examining the DNA of hundreds of individuals and testing their sense of smell, scientists found the genetic basis for why we smell certain scents.

Although smell is a huge part of our sensory experience — the inability to smell is called anosmia — little research has been done on what controls it. Richard Newcomb, a geneticist at the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research and senior author on the study in Current Biology, set out to pinpoint the genes controlling the ability to detect certain scents in food.

So he assembled a research team to see how well people could smell 10 fragrances as varied as blue cheese and eucalyptus.

They found a statistically significant genetic basis for four of the 10 fragrances: apples, violets, blue cheese and malt. It appeared that there was a single gene responsible for each of them, Newcomb said.

But when his team screened genetic databases from around the world to see if there was any way to predict which populations might be genetically programmed to like certain scents, they found no rhyme or reason — everyone has their own unique sense of smell.

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