ENN: Top Stories http://www.enn.com/ ENN RSS News Handwashing: Cool Water as Effective as Hot for Removing Germs http://www.enn.com/health/article/51385 <p>We all know that washing our hands can keep us from spreading germs and getting sick. But a new Rutgers-New Brunswick study found that cool water removes the same amount of harmful bacteria as hot.</p><p>“People need to feel comfortable when they are washing their hands but as far as effectiveness, this study shows us that the temperature of the water used didn’t matter,” said Donald Schaffner, distinguished professor and extension specialist in<a href="http://foodsci.rutgers.edu/"> food science</a>.</p> Nation&#39;s Beekeepers Lost 33 Percent of Bees in 2016-17 http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51384 <p>Beekeepers across the United States lost 33 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2016 to April 2017, according to the latest preliminary results of an annual nationwide survey. Rates of both winter loss and summer loss—and consequently, total annual losses—improved compared with last year.</p><p>Total annual losses were the lowest since 2011-12, when the survey recorded less than 29 percent of colonies lost throughout the year. Winter losses were the lowest recorded since the survey began in 2006-07. </p><p>The survey, which asks both commercial and small-scale beekeepers to track the survival rates of their honey bee colonies, is conducted each year by the nonprofit <a href="https://beeinformed.org/">Bee Informed Partnership</a> in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America. Survey results for this year and all previous years are <a href="https://beeinformed.org/results-categories/winter-loss/">publicly available</a> on the Bee Informed website. </p> Nation&#39;s Beekeepers Lost 33 Percent of Bees in 2016-17 http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51384 <p>Beekeepers across the United States lost 33 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2016 to April 2017, according to the latest preliminary results of an annual nationwide survey. Rates of both winter loss and summer loss—and consequently, total annual losses—improved compared with last year.</p><p>Total annual losses were the lowest since 2011-12, when the survey recorded less than 29 percent of colonies lost throughout the year. Winter losses were the lowest recorded since the survey began in 2006-07. </p><p>The survey, which asks both commercial and small-scale beekeepers to track the survival rates of their honey bee colonies, is conducted each year by the nonprofit <a href="https://beeinformed.org/">Bee Informed Partnership</a> in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America. Survey results for this year and all previous years are <a href="https://beeinformed.org/results-categories/winter-loss/">publicly available</a> on the Bee Informed website. </p> Soot particles from GDI engines http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/51383 <p>Worldwide, three new cars roll off the line every second – that’s 73 cars and 18 million utility vehicles per year. Most run on gasoline. In industrialized nations, the trend is moving towards so-called downsizing engines: smaller but with direct gasoline injection and turbocharging. This technology is kind to the environment and saves fuel, the manufacturers say. Experts estimate that by 2020, 50 million of these direct-injection gasoline engines will be running on the roads all over Europe – high time the cocktail of exhaust emissions from these engines were examined closely.</p> Engines fire without smoke http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/51382 <p>By observing the soot particles formed in a simple flame, researchers at KAUST have developed a computational model capable of simulating soot production inside the latest gasoline automobile engines.</p><p>Although today’s passenger vehicle engines are cleaner than ever before, their exhaust can still contain significant numbers of nanoscopic soot particles that are small enough to penetrate the lungs and bloodstream. This new computer model should help car makers improve their engines to cut soot formation.</p> Lyme Isn&#39;t the Only Disease Ticks Are Spreading This Summer http://www.enn.com/health/article/51381 <p>It started with vomiting and a fever. But a few days later, five-month old Liam was in the emergency room, his tiny body gripped by hourly waves of seizures. X-rays and MRIs showed deep swelling in his brain. When an infectious disease specialist at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center diagnosed Liam with Powassan virus in November, he became the first recorded case in state history. Doctors think Liam picked up the rare neurological disease from a tick his father brought back after a deer hunting trip.</p> Squeezing Every Drop of Fresh Water from Waste Brine http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51380 <p>Engineers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a new way to recover almost 100 percent of the water from highly concentrated salt solutions. The system will alleviate water shortages in arid regions and reduce concerns surrounding high salinity brine disposal, such as hydraulic fracturing waste.</p> &#39;Heat island&#39; effect could double climate change costs for world&#39;s cities http://www.enn.com/climate/article/51379 <p>Overheated cities face climate change costs at least twice as big as the rest of the world because of the ‘urban heat island’ effect, new research shows.</p><p>The study by an international team of economists of all the world’s major cities is the first to quantify the potentially devastating combined impact of global and local climate change on urban economies.</p> Envisioning the future of metal and mineral production http://www.enn.com/environmental_policy/article/51378 <p>Metals and minerals form the base of our society, with diverse applications infiltrating all corners of our lives, including agriculture, infrastructure, transportation and information technology. As populations grow, and demand for metals and minerals rises, enhancing the sustainability of the sector is a goal for many companies, communities and policymakers.</p><p>To contribute to this, on May 11-12, MIT launched the <a target="_blank" href="http://metalsandminerals.mit.edu/">Metals and Minerals for the Environment</a> (MME) initiative with its first public symposium. MIT has long been home to research on myriad aspects of metals and minerals, and the MME Symposium serves to crystallize these efforts around the unique environmental and social challenges the sector faces.</p> A Whole New Jupiter: First Science Results from NASA&#39;s Juno Mission http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51377 <p>Early science results from NASA&#39;s Juno mission to Jupiter portray the largest planet in our solar system as a complex, gigantic, turbulent world, with Earth-sized polar cyclones, plunging storm systems that travel deep into the heart of the gas giant, and a mammoth, lumpy magnetic field that may indicate it was generated closer to the planet&#39;s surface than previously thought.</p><p>"We are excited to share these early discoveries, which help us better understand what makes Jupiter so fascinating," said Diane Brown, Juno program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "It was a long trip to get to Jupiter, but these first results already demonstrate it was well worth the journey."</p> Tackling climate change: New options for BC&#39;s forest sector http://www.enn.com/climate/article/51375 <p>British Columbia’s forestry sector can potentially make a major contribution to meeting the province’s climate targets through using a mix of regionally-specific harvest and stand management techniques, bioenergy investments and creating more long-lived wood products.</p><p>That’s a key message from a public presentation held this morning by the Forest Carbon Management Project, a multi-year collaborative effort created by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS), involving scientists from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the University of British Columbia (UBC) and other agencies.</p> Roaming Bison Get Caught in Crossfire http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/51376 <p>There’s safety in numbers for herd animals, but not if some members of the herd make poor decisions. That was one of the findings of research by  U of G integrative biology professor John Fryxell and U of G graduate Daniel Fortin, now a biology professor at Université Laval.</p><p>They studied the movement patterns of bison in Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan and found that those animals that ventured outside the park into neighbouring farmland were hunted, which contributed to the herd’s population decline over a nine-year period from 2005 to 2013.</p> Losing Sleep Over Climate Change http://www.enn.com/lifestyle/article/51373 <p>Climate change may keep you awake – and not just metaphorically. Nights that are warmer than normal can harm human sleep, researchers show in a new paper, with the poor and elderly most affected. According to their findings, if climate change is not addressed, temperatures in 2050 could cost people in the United States millions of additional nights of insufficient sleep per year. By 2099, the figure could rise by several hundred million more nights of lost sleep annually.</p><p>The study was led by Nick Obradovich, who conducted much of the research as a doctoral student in political science at the University of California San Diego. He was inspired to investigate the question by the heat wave that hit San Diego in October of 2015. Obradovich was having trouble sleeping. He tossed and he turned, the window AC in his North Park home providing little relief from the record-breaking temperatures. At school, he noticed that fellow students were also looking grumpy and bedraggled, and it got him thinking: Had anyone looked at what climate change might do to sleep?</p> Marine Species Distribution Shifts Will Continue Under Ocean Warming http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51372 <p>Scientists using a high-resolution global climate model and historical observations of species distributions on the Northeast U.S. Shelf have found that commercially important species will continue to shift their distribution as ocean waters warm two to three times faster than the global average through the end of this century. Projected increases in surface to bottom waters of  6.6 to 9 degrees F (3.7 to 5.0 degrees Celsius) from current conditions are expected.</p><p>The findings, reported in Progress in Oceanography, suggest ocean temperature will continue to play a major role in where commercially important species will find suitable habitat. Sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Maine have warmed faster than 99 percent of the global ocean over the past decade.  Northward shifts of many species are already happening, with major changes expected in the complex of species occurring in different regions on the shelf, and shifts from one management jurisdiction to another. These changes will directly affect fishing communities, as species now landed at those ports move out of range, and new species move in.</p> Camera on NASA&#39;s Lunar Orbiter Survived 2014 Meteoroid Hit http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51371 <p>On Oct.13, 2014 something very strange happened to the camera aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), which normally produces beautifully clear images of the lunar surface, produced an image that was wild and jittery. From the sudden and jagged pattern apparent in the image, the LROC team determined that the camera must have been hit by a tiny meteoroid, a small natural object in space.   </p><p>LROC is a system of three cameras mounted on the LRO spacecraft. Two Narrow Angle Cameras (NACs) capture high resolution black and white images. The third Wide Angle Camera captures moderate resolution images using filters to provide information about the properties and color of the lunar surface. </p> Changing climate could have devastating impact on forest carbon storage http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/51370 <p>New research from a multi-university team of biologists shows what could be a startling drop in the amount of carbon stored in the Sierra Nevada mountains due to projected climate change and wildfire events.</p><p>The study, <a href="http://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-02686-0">“Potential decline in carbon carrying capacity under projected climate-wildfire interactions in the Sierra Nevada”</a>, published this week in Scientific Reports, shows another facet of the impact current man-made carbon emissions will have on our world if big changes aren’t made.</p><p>“What we’ve been trying to do is really understand how changing climate, increases in temperatures and decreases in precipitation, will alter carbon uptake in forests,” said University of New Mexico Assistant Professor Matthew Hurteau, a co-author on the paper. “The other aspect of this work is looking at disturbance events like large scale wildfires. Those events volatilize a lot of carbon and can kill many trees, leaving fewer trees to continue to take up the carbon.”</p> High Levels of PFOA Found in Mid-Ohio River Valley Residents 1991 to 2013 http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/51369 <p>New research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) reveals that residents of the Mid-Ohio River Valley (from Evansville, Indiana, north to Huntington, West Virginia) had higher than normal levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) based on blood samples collected over a 22-year span. The exposure source was likely from drinking water contaminated by industrial discharges upriver. </p><p>The study, appearing in the latest publication of <a href="http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749117301264">Environmental Pollution,</a> looked at levels of PFOA and 10 other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in 931 Mid-Ohio River Valley residents, testing blood serum samples collected between 1991 and 2013, to determine whether the Ohio River and Ohio River Aquifer were sources of exposure. This is the first study of PFOA serum concentrations in U.S. residents in the 1990s.</p> No Evidence That Brain-Stimulation Technique Boosts Cognitive Training http://www.enn.com/lifestyle/article/51368 <p>Transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS)—a non-invasive technique for applying electric current to areas of the brain—may be growing in popularity, but new <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0956797617698139">research</a> suggests that it probably does not add any meaningful benefit to cognitive training. The <a href="http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0956797617698139">study</a> is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the <a href="http://www.psychologicalscience.org/">Association for Psychological Science</a>.</p><p>“Our findings suggest that applying tDCS while older participants engaged in daily working memory training over four weeks did not result in improved cognitive ability,” explains researcher Martin Lövdén of Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University.</p> Conch shells spill the secret to their toughness http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51367 <p>The shells of marine organisms take a beating from impacts due to storms and tides, rocky shores, and sharp-toothed predators. But as recent research has demonstrated, one type of shell stands out above all the others in its toughness: the conch.</p><p>Now, researchers at MIT have explored the secrets behind these shells’ extraordinary impact resilience. And they’ve shown that this superior strength could be reproduced in engineered materials, potentially to provide the best-ever protective headgear and body armor.</p> A 3D Look at the 2015 El Nino http://www.enn.com/climate/article/51366 <p>El Niño is a recurring climate pattern characterized by warmer than usual ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. Two back-to-back 3-D visualizations track the changes in ocean temperatures and currents, respectively, throughout the life cycle of the 2015-2016 El Niño event, chronicling its inception in early 2015 to its dissipation by April 2016. Blue regions represent colder and red regions warmer temperatures when compared with normal conditions.</p><p>Under normal conditions, equatorial trade winds in the Pacific Ocean blow from east to west, causing warm water to pile up in the Western Pacific, while also causing an upwelling—the rise of deep, cool water to the surface—in the Eastern Pacific. During an El Niño, trade winds weaken or, as with this latest event, sometimes reverse course and blow from west to east. As a result, the warm surface water sloshes east along the equator from the Western Pacific and temporarily predominates in the Central and Eastern Pacific Ocean. At that same time, cooler water slowly migrates westward just off the equator in the Western Pacific.</p> Factories that forage http://www.enn.com/lifestyle/article/51363 <p>Professor Steve Evans calls himself "an angry environmental optimist". Angry because he feels we are borrowing from the future, but optimistic because many of the problems with regard to the environment are perfectly solvable.</p><p>"We have reached clean energy parity," he says. "Renewable energy is not just cleaner than other forms; it is now cheaper."</p> Bioelectricity new weapon to fight dangerous infection http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51362 <p>Changing the natural electrical signaling that exists in cells outside the nervous system can improve resistance to life-threatening bacterial infections, according to new research from Tufts University biologists.  The researchers found that administering drugs, including those already used in humans for other purposes, to make the cell interior more negatively charged strengthens tadpoles’ innate immune response to E. coli infection and injury. This reveals a novel aspect of the immune system – regulation by non-neural bioelectricity – and suggests a new approach for clinical applications in human medicine. The study is published online May 26, 2017, in npj Regenerative Medicine, a Nature Research journal.</p><p>“All cells, not just nerve cells, naturally generate and receive electrical signals. Being able to regulate such non-neural bioelectricity with the many ion channel and neurotransmitter drugs that are already human-approved gives us an amazing new toolkit to augment the immune system’s ability to resist infections,” said the paper’s corresponding author Michael Levin, Ph.D., Vannevar Bush professor of biology and director of the <a href="http://allencenter.tufts.edu/">Allen Discovery Center </a>at Tufts and the <a href="http://ase.tufts.edu/biology/labs/tcrdb/">Tufts Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology</a> in the School of Arts and Sciences. Levin is also an associate faculty member of the <a href="https://wyss.harvard.edu/team/associate-faculty/michael-levin-ph-d/">Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering</a> at Harvard University.</p> Argonne scientists make vanadium into a useful catalyst for hydrogenation http://www.enn.com/energy/article/51361 <p>Just as Cinderella turned from a poor teenager into a magnificent princess with the aid of a little magic, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have transformed a common metal into a useful catalyst for a wide class of reactions, a role formerly reserved for expensive precious metals.</p><p>In a new study, Argonne chemist Max Delferro boosted and analyzed the unprecedented catalytic activity of an element called vanadium for hydrogenation – a reaction that is used for making everything from vegetable oils to petrochemical products to vitamins. </p> Nagoya University Researchers Break Down Plastic Waste http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51360 <p>What to do proteins and Kevlar have in common? Both feature long chain molecules that are strung together by amide bonds. These strong chemical bonds are also common to many other naturally occurring molecules as well as man-made pharmaceuticals and plastics. Although amide bonds can give great strength to plastics, when it comes to their recycling at a later point, the difficultly of breaking these bonds usually prevents recovery of useful products. Catalysts are widely used in chemistry to help speed up reactions, but breaking the kinds of amide bonds in plastics, such as nylon, and other materials requires harsh conditions and large amounts of energy.</p> Tornado Spawning Eastern U.S. Storms Examined by NASA&#39;s GPM Satellite http://www.enn.com/sci-tech/article/51359 <p>On Wednesday May 24, 2017 severe weather affected a large area of the eastern United States. That&#39;s when the Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite passed over the area and found extremely heavy rainfall and towering clouds in the system.</p><p>Tornadoes were reported in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Ohio on that day. The National Weather Service noted that rainfall in Tallahassee, Florida set a record at 1.52 inches on May 24.</p>