Enn Original News
Pretty Pleistocene Flower
February 21, 2012 04:05 PM - Editor, ENN
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2.6 million to 12,000 years ago that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciation. Not much has survived from that era except as fossils until now. Fruit seeds stored away by squirrels more than 30,000 years ago and found in Siberian permafrost have been regenerated into full flowering plants by scientists in Russia, a new study has revealed. The seeds of the herbaceous Silene stenophylla are far and away the oldest plant tissue to have been brought back to life, according to lead cryologists Svetlana Yashina and David Gilichinsky of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The Quiet Clean Mining Revolution
February 21, 2012 10:56 AM - Guest Author, Clean Techies
Few industries have got the black eye, literally and metaphorically, of mining. After centuries of environmental effects ranging from toxic emissions to unsightly tailings ponds, acid mine drainage, massive energy consumption and other impacts, mining is slowly cleaning up its act. Why? Mostly because new clean technologies are increasing industrial efficiencies. They're lowering mining companies' power needs. And they're even helping reduce water requirements, and/or remediating the produced water and mines of years past that are now leaching toxins. And that's translating into cost savings for mining companies, which are being held increasingly accountable for their environmental impacts and are looking for ways to minimize the expenses of both the production phase of their operations, and reclamation.
Republic of Congo Expands National Park to Protect Great Apes
February 21, 2012 10:39 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
The Nouabale-Ndoki National Park is a lush rainforest park within the equatorial nation of the Republic of Congo (ROC), not to be confused with the much larger Democratic Republic of Congo to the south and east. The ROC has followed through on its commitments to expand the NNNP by 8 percent, from about 1,500 square miles to about 1,630 square miles. The newly included area holds a unique ecosystem known as the Goualougo Triangle. The Goualougo is a very dense, swampy forest that is home to a nearly pristine and untouched great ape population that was first discovered in 1989 by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) scientists.
February 21, 2012 07:55 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Photosynthesis is the process whereby biological systems convert sunlight into food and the source of all the fossil fuels we burn today. In a way it is the ultimate source of all energy supplies that we use. Glasgow scientists Professor Lee Cronin, Gardiner Chair of Chemistry, and Professor Mike Blatt, Regius Professor of Botany, will lead the UK efforts in two of four transatlantic research teams exploring ways to overcome limitations in photosynthesis which could then lead to ways of significantly increasing the yield of important crops for food production or sustainable bioenergy.
February 17, 2012 08:19 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Science has changed the world. It has created new products and ease of service. What the future will bring is, of course, always uncertain. "It’s not every day you have robots running through your house," Barack Obama quipped last week at the White House science fair, a showcase for student exhibitors that also gave the US president a chance to reiterate a favourite theme. Science and technology, he said, "is what’s going to make a difference in this country, over the long haul".
February 16, 2012 01:08 PM - Editor, ENN
When one thinks of iron one thinks of a dull grey solid. Transparent iron is an odd thought. The effect of electromagnetically induced transparency (EIT) is a known phenomena from laser physics. With intense laser light of a certain wavelength it is possible to make a non-transparent material transparent for light of another wavelength. This effect is generated by a complex interaction of light with the atomic electron shell. At DESY's X-ray source PETRA III, the Helmholtz research team of Röhlsberger managed to prove for the first time that this transparency effect also exists for X-ray light, when the X-rays are directed towards atomic nuclei of the Mössbauer isotope iron-57 (which makes up 2% of naturally occurring iron). The potential real world benefit for this phenomena may be in the a quantum effects computer which would be extremely fast.
Survival of Fish with Antifreeze in Antarctica
February 16, 2012 12:30 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
A unique group of fish that has evolved to live in Antarctic waters thanks to anti-freeze proteins in their blood and body fluids is threatened by rising temperatures in the Southern Ocean, according to a new study by Yale. The development of antifreeze glycoproteins by notothenioids, a fish family that adapted to newly formed polar conditions in the Antarctic millions of years ago, is an evolutionary success story. The three species of fish are an example of the diversity this lineage achieved when it expanded into niches left by fish decimated by cold water environment. Now the same fish are endangered by warming of the Antarctic seas.
Coal-Power in China Makes Electric Vehicles More Polluting
February 16, 2012 11:42 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
China produces electricity for its burgeoning economy with its ample coal reserves. A full 80 percent comes from coal-burning power plants, and new plants are being constructed all the time. The country's reliance on coal power, while causing very dirty pollution, also has an interesting side effect. It takes away the "greenness" of electric vehicles. A new study from a team of University of Tennessee researchers has found that the power generated to fuel electric cars produces much greater emissions of particulate matter (PM) than gasoline-powered cars. Perversely, this also makes driving an electric car in China a greater public health hazard than driving a gasoline car.
Organic Brown Rice and Arsenic
February 16, 2012 06:38 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
A new study by Professor Brian Jackson, director of the Trace Element Analysis Core Facility at Dartmouth has found alarming levels of Arsenic in Organic Brown Rice and Brown Rice Syrup. This is particularly alarming since Brown Rice Syrup is being sought by health conscious consumers as a "healthy" alternative to sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Dartmouth researchers and others have previously called attention to the potential for consuming harmful levels of arsenic via rice, and organic brown rice syrup may be the latest culprit on the scene. With the introduction of organic brown rice syrup into food processing, even the health conscious consumer may unknowingly be ingesting arsenic. Recognizing the potential danger, Brian Jackson and other Dartmouth researchers conducted a study to determine the concentrations of arsenic in commercial food products containing organic brown rice syrup including infant formula, cereal/energy bars, and high-energy foods used by endurance athletes.
Budget Woes and Ozone
February 15, 2012 08:00 AM - Editor, ENN
Budgets are being cut all over. So something has to be hurting. U.S. scientists are raising the alarm about Environment Canada saying cuts in the department could go far beyond ozone monitoring. Programs tracking pollution wafting into Canada from Asia, Europe and the U.S. are also being hit, they say. And it’s an open question if Canada will be able to fulfil its obligations under several international agreements if more cuts go ahead, five leading atmospheric scientists write in the newsletter of the American Geophysical Union, which has 61,000 members in 148 countries.