ENN: Top Stories

Researchers find new clues for nuclear waste cleanup

A Washington State University study of the chemistry of technetium-99 has improved understanding of the challenging nuclear waste and could lead to better cleanup methods.

The work is reported in the journal Inorganic Chemistry. It was led by John McCloy, associate professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and chemistry graduate student Jamie Weaver. Researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the Office of River Protection and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory collaborated.


Melting polar ice, rising sea levels not only climate change dangers

Climate change from political and ecological standpoints is a constant in the media and with good reason, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist, but proof of its impact is sometimes found in unlikely places.


Forests worldwide threatened by drought

Forests around the world are at risk of death due to widespread drought, University of Stirling researchers have found. An analysis, published in the journal Ecology Letters, suggests that forests are at risk globally from the increased frequency and severity of droughts.


Air pollution may have masked mid-20th century sea ice loss

WASHINGTON, DC — Humans may have been altering Arctic sea ice longer than previously thought, according to researchers studying the effects of air pollution on sea ice growth in the mid-20th Century. The new results challenge the perception that Arctic sea ice extent was unperturbed by human-caused climate change until the 1970s.


Low snowpacks of 2014, 2015 may become increasingly common with warmer conditions

Oregon experienced very low snowpack levels in 2014 and historically low snowpack levels in 2015; now a new study suggests that these occurrences may not be anomalous in the future and could become much more common if average temperatures warm just two degrees (Celsius).

The low snowpack levels were linked to warmer temperatures and not a lack of precipitation, the researchers say. Based on simulations of previous and predicted snowpack, the study suggests that by mid-century, years like 2015 may happen about once a decade, while snowpack levels similar to 2014 will take place every 4-5 years.


Study Targets Warm Water Rings that Fuel Hurricane Intensification in the Caribbean Sea

Last year’s devastating category-5 hurricane—Matthew—may be one of many past examples of a tropical storm fueled by massive rings of warm water that exist in the upper reaches of the Caribbean Sea.


Cavefish May Help Humans Evolve to Require Very Little Sleep

We all do it; we all need it – humans and animals alike. Sleep is an essential behavior shared by nearly all animals and disruption of this process is associated with an array of physiological and behavioral deficits. Although there are so many factors contributing to sleep loss, very little is known about the neural basis for interactions between sleep and sensory processing. 


Sugar's 'tipping point' link to Alzheimer's disease revealed

For the first time a “tipping point” molecular link between the blood sugar glucose and Alzheimer’s disease has been established by scientists, who have shown that excess glucose damages a vital enzyme involved with inflammation response to the early stages of Alzheimer’s.


What, You Can't Tell Two Lemurs Apart? Computers Can

The Centre Valbio research station, a modern building of stone and glass set in the jungled hills at the edge of Madagascar’s Ranomafana National Park, was starting to look like the third season of The Wire. Big tackboards lined the walls, each one covered with dozens of pinned-up photographs. Some images were grouped together in families, while others floated alone, unconnected. It was 2012, and Rachel Jacobs was using Detective McNulty-style tactics to sort out the associations in a very different kind of crew: the park’s population of red-bellied lemurs.


Oil and Gas Wastewater Spills, including Fracking Wastewater, Alter Microbes in West Virginia Waters

Wastewater from oil and gas operations – including fracking for shale gas – at a West Virginia site altered microbes downstream, according to a Rutgers-led study.

The study, published recently in Science of the Total Environment, showed that wastewater releases, including briny water that contained petroleum and other pollutants, altered the diversity, numbers and functions of microbes. The shifts in the microbial community indicated changes in their respiration and nutrient cycling, along with signs of stress.


Fishing for bacteria in New Zealand

If you asked Richard Sparling, what he did during his sabbatical early last year, he’d probably say “fishing in New Zealand.”

But this ambiguous answer by the department of microbiology associate professor does not tell the whole story.


Sediment Flows into Galveston Bay Studied to Help Understand Health of Watershed

A better understanding of sediment and freshwater flow into Galveston Bay is now available from a new U.S. Geological Survey report, done in cooperation with the Texas Water Development Board, and the Galveston Bay Estuary Program.


India Using Coal Tax Money to Fund Renewable Energy Projects

India has a goal of quadrupling the amount of electricity it generates from renewable sources to 175 gigawatts by 2022. 


Serendipity Uncovers Borophene's Potential

Almost one year ago, borophene didn’t even exist. Now, just months after a Northwestern Engineering and Argonne National Laboratory team discovered the material, another team led by Mark Hersam is already making strides toward understanding its complicated chemistry and realizing its electronic potential.


From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a chaotic solar system

Plumbing a 90 million-year-old layer cake of sedimentary rock in Colorado, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Northwestern University has found evidence confirming a critical theory of how the planets in our solar system behave in their orbits around the sun.


NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.


Cultivating cool-for-cash-crops

When deciding what crops to grow during a season, growers look at several factors. Do the crops have a good yield in their area? Does the area currently have the resources - usually water - to grow that crop? Will the crop give a return on the investment? And, what are the future effects that growing that crop might have on the grower’s fields?


'Smart' bacteria remodel their genes to infect our intestines

Hebrew University researchers describe how infectious bacteria sense they’re attached to intestinal cells and remodel their gene expression to exploit our cells and colonize our gut.


Researchers Gain Insight Into a Physical Phenomenon That Leads to Earthquakes

Scientists have gotten better at predicting where earthquakes will occur, but they’re still in the dark about when they will strike and how devastating they will be.


Inside the Race to Build the Battery of Tomorrow

The battery might be the least sexy piece of technology ever invented. The lack of glamour is especially conspicuous on the lower floors of MIT’s materials science department, where one lab devoted to building and testing the next world-changing energy storage device could easily be mistaken for a storage closet.


Science vs. the sea lamprey

Of all the fishy predators in the Great Lakes, few are more destructive than the sea lamprey. There’s something of a horror movie in their approach: jawless, they attach to prey such as salmon, whitefish or trout with a sucker mouth and drain the victim of its blood and lymph.

For years, scientists and policy-makers have been trying to devise strategies to curb this population, which first arrived from Europe through shipping channels in the early 20th century.


New studies quantify the impacts of water use on diversity of fish and aquatic insects in NC streams

The health of fish and aquatic insects could be significantly affected by withdrawals of fresh water from the rivers and streams across North Carolina according to a new scientific assessment.

A series of studies were conducted by a team of researchers, led by Jennifer Phelan, Ph.D., a senior ecologist at RTI International, to understand the relationships between changes in streamflow and the diversity of fish and richness of aquatic insects.


Dream of energy-collecting windows is one step closer to reality

Discovery could lower cost and expand possibilities for building-integrated solar energy collection

Researchers at the University of Minnesota and University of Milano-Bicocca are bringing the dream of windows that can efficiently collect solar energy one step closer to reality thanks to high tech silicon nanoparticles.

The researchers developed technology to embed the silicon nanoparticles into what they call efficient luminescent solar concentrators (LSCs). These LSCs are the key element of windows that can efficiently collect solar energy. When light shines through the surface, the useful frequencies of light are trapped inside and concentrated to the edges where small solar cells can be put in place to capture the energy.

The research is published today in Nature Photonics, a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the Nature Publishing Group.


OFFSHORE WIND PUSH

Researchers show US grid can handle more offshore wind power, cutting pollution and power costs

Injecting large amounts of offshore wind power into the U.S. electrical grid is manageable, will cut electricity costs, and will reduce pollution compared to current fossil fuel sources, according to researchers from the University of Delaware and Princeton University who have completed a first-of-its-kind simulation with the electric power industry.


Transforming restaurant waste into fuel

When most people look at discarded vegetable oil—browned and gritty from frying food—they likely see nothing more than waste.

But to Ajay Dalai, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, the cooking process creates a byproduct that has newfound potential as a source of fuel and biolubricant.