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Belgium to Completely Phase Out Nuclear Power by 2025
November 2, 2011 09:19 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
The small western-European country of Belgium currently has two commercial nuclear sites and a total of seven reactors. Nuclear energy accounts for over half of the nation's power consumption, a total of about 45 billion kilowatt-hours per year. Although typically quite fractured, Belgium's political parties have reached a consensus on nuclear power. The oldest reactors are to be shut down by 2015 and all nuclear reactors at both sites will be shut down by 2025. The plan is conditional on Belgium finding enough energy from alternative sources to prevent power shortages.
Interacting with Mars
November 1, 2011 05:42 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
First there were telescopes looking up at Mars. In time this became orbital views and then remote control robots wandering the surface. It would be nice to walk on Mars and really see what there is to see. Until then there is something called a CAVE, which is a 3D visualization center and it gives you a total immersive environment. This means that it renders virtual data in three dimensions and as you move your head and really see Mars as if you were there. So, when you are in that environment you can interact with the data on other planets in a more personal hands on or eyes on way.
November 1, 2011 03:27 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Birds tend to be small creatures on average. SF State scientists, working with researchers from PRBO Conservation Science and the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory who collected the data, found that birds' wings have grown longer and birds are increasing in mass over the last 27 to 40 years. What's making the birds bigger? The researchers think that the trend is due to climate change, but their findings put a twist in the usual thinking about climate change and body size. A well-known ecological rule, called Bergmann's Rule, states that animals tend to be larger at higher latitudes. One reason for this rule might be that larger animals conserve body heat better, allowing them to thrive in the generally colder climate of higher latitudes. The logic would then be that as the climate warms, birds should get smaller. Apparently this is not so.
E-Waste Dump in Africa Contaminating Community
November 1, 2011 01:30 PM - David A Gabel, ENN
Electronic waste, or "e-waste", is a major problem of the information age. As consumers continually upgrade their electronic devices, the old devices are discarded and usually end up in a toxic e-waste dump, usually located in a poor developing country. Such a dump is located in the capital city of the African country, Ghana. Toxic chemicals from the dump, known as the Agbogbloshie scrap metal site, have affecting the nearby community market, church headquarters, and school. Contaminants include lead, cadmium, and others, some at levels over 50 times higher than risk-free levels.
Northeast Weather Disaster Closes Schools and Postpones Halloween
October 31, 2011 03:01 PM - David A Gabel, ENN
The disaster that was this weekend's snow storm has wreaked havoc in the northeastern states of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. The damage was so widespread that it is being compared to the summer's big storm, Hurricane Irene. While the October storm doesn't get a name, it has left many people in the dark, just as the cold temperatures are settling in. Power outages and downed trees and wires throughout the area have caused many schools to be shut down. It has even caused the unthinkable in many towns: Halloween has been postponed.
October 31, 2011 11:46 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Can or do zombies exist? How can they and what are they? Zombie is a Haitian term used to denote an animated corpse brought back to life by mystical means such as witchcraft. It has evolved since then. The term is often figuratively applied to describe a hypnotized or infected person bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli. Since the late 19th century, zombies have acquired notable popularity, especially in North American and European folklore and urban legend. The living dead are a year-round affair these days, and not just in movies. Around the world, a growing number of people are dressing up as zombies for parties, festivals, walks and pub-crawls in every season. To explain the undying boom in all things zombie, experts point to the versatility of zombies as a metaphor.
Why Population Matters to the environment
October 31, 2011 07:14 AM - Simon Ross, Chief executive, Population Matters
Environmentalists agree on the issues facing us, including collapsing diversity, climate change and resource insecurity. We also agree on the causal factors, including pollution, invasive species, resource over-exploitation, waste, population growth, global industrialisation, unsustainable consumption and poor business practices. Solutions are harder. None will solve all our problems and all face obstacles and opposition. Technological solutions, such as biofuels, fracking, shale oil, GM foods and nuclear have side effects, while renewables have limited scope. Environmentally conscious lifestyles, including less waste, travel and consumption, are increasingly adopted, but the impact may by limited given the billions seeking to improve their low living standards. Changes to corporate and governmental practices have occurred, but are far from universal, particularly in the developing world. In my lifetime, human numbers have grown from 3 billion in 1960 to 7 billion today. By 2085, they are projected to grow to 10 billion. One can argue about the impact this makes, but it clearly does not help. We believe that a smaller population would help us to preserve the environment and live within the limit of renewable resources, as part of a comprehensive approach to the environment and sustainability. Most would agree that improving living standards for the poor, women's rights and access to health, including family planning, are desirable and they all tend to lead to women choosing to have smaller families. We would argue that aid for family planning to developing countries should be prioritised, both for environmental reasons and because it contributes to poverty alleviation, women’s empowerment and better health. While individual consumption in those countries is low, growing populations do affect the environment and they will not always be poor as the world industrialises.
El Hierro Volcano: New Land
October 28, 2011 03:21 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
On Oct. 9 an underwater volcano started to emerge in waters off El Hierro Island in the Canaries, Spain. The volcanic cone has reached a height of 100 m and the lava tongue flows down its side, even though its activity has slowed down in the past few days. The base of the volcano lies at a depth of 300 m. It is conical and 100 m high with a base diameter of 700 m and a crater width of 120 m. The volume of the volcano is around 0.012 km3, 0.07 km3 of which is made up of its lava tongue that is slowly filling the adjacent valley. Whether the eruption near the archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa will ever actually result in new land remains uncertain. But it's clear that the magma reservoir under El Hierro is simmering unchecked, constantly pouring out magma and causing the ground to shake several times a day. Since July, there have been more than 10,000 earthquakes (mostly imperceptible) on El Hierro.
October 28, 2011 12:37 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Normally Oxygen is fairly tight bound to the hydrogen in water. If it can be easily removed, it has potential benefits for certain energy and fuel systems. A team of researchers at MIT has found one of the most effective catalysts ever discovered for splitting oxygen atoms from water molecules — a key reaction for advanced energy-storage systems, including electrolyzers, to produce hydrogen fuel and rechargeable batteries. This new catalyst liberates oxygen at more than 10 times the rate of the best previously known catalyst of its type.
New Benefit of Aspirin: Preventing Cancer
October 28, 2011 08:54 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid, is one of the most widely used drugs in the world. It is proven to lower fevers, relieve minor aches and pains, and to reduce inflammation. It also has the long-term use of preventing heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots due to its antiplatelet characteristic, which prevents blood from clotting too large within the blood vessel. A new study from Queen's University in Belfast has found that the regular intake of aspirin can lower the risk of developing hereditary cancer by 50 percent.