Enn Original News

'No evidence' of links between Pacific earthquakes
January 5, 2012 12:43 PM - MarĂ­a Elena Hurtado, SciDevNet

Scientists have rejected fears that a series of highly destructive large-scale earthquakes in the past few years, in countries bordering the Pacific Ocean, signal an increased global risk of these deadly events. Several vast earthquakes have taken place since 2004 — in Chile, Indonesia and Japan — leading some academics to express concern that they may be linked.

The Perils of Vacuum Cleaners
January 5, 2012 12:24 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A vacuum cleaner is a device that uses an air pump to create a partial vacuum to suck up dust and dirt, usually from floors, and optionally from other surfaces as well. Does not sound so bad does it? Some vacuum cleaners — those basic tools for maintaining a clean indoor environment in homes and offices — actually contribute to indoor air pollution by releasing into the air bacteria and dust that can spread infections and trigger allergies, researchers report in a new study. It appears in the ACS' journal Environmental Science & Technology. Lidia Morawska and colleagues explain that previous studies showed that vacuum cleaners can increase levels of very small dust particles and bacteria in indoor spaces, where people spend about 90 percent of their time. In an effort to provide more information about emission rates of bacteria and small dust particles, the scientists tested 21 vacuum cleaners sold in Australia. The vacuums came from 11 manufacturers, included those marketed for household and commercial use, ranged in age from six months to 22 years and cost from less than $100 to almost $800. They looked at the effects that age, brand and other factors had on the amount of small particles and bacteria released into air.

Study: Parasitic Fly to Blame for Honeybee Population Decline
January 5, 2012 09:34 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Populations of honeybee have been in a seemingly unstoppable downward spiral, and scientists are still grasping to find the cause. A new study from the San Francisco State University suggests that one factor may be a parasitic fly, Apocephalus borealis, which lays its eggs in the bees' abdomens. The parasitic eggs cause atypical behavior in the bees, causing them to abandon their hives. Like a scene out of Alien, the eggs eventually hatch and the newborn flies burst out of the bee, killing it in the process.

European Carbon Regulation for Airlines Takes Off
January 4, 2012 02:47 PM - Raz Godelnik, Triple Pundit

2012 started with some good news. On Sunday, the European Union began charging all airlines flying into and out of Europe for their carbon emissions. Covering a third of all global flights, this new scheme is one of the widest-reaching measures adopted lately by any country or regional bloc to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Given all the hurdles and protest it faced, the fact that this scheme actually began is not just an incredible accomplishment for the EU, but also a bit of a miracle. The new scheme will make all airlines flying to, from or within the EU liable for their CO2 emissions. They will receive tradable carbon allowances, covering a certain amount of CO2 emitted each year, based on historic data. Carriers that exceed their limit will be able to buy allowances from other carriers that have emitted less than allowed. The EU believes this cap and trade scheme is the fairest way to cope with aviation’s contribution to global warming and incentivize airlines to reduce their footprint, which represents about 3 percent of global CO2 emissions.

Deep Down in the Sea: A Lost World
January 4, 2012 02:26 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Deep down under the sea is another universe of sheer blackness hidden from the sun. Yet a busy blackness in some cases. Communities of species previously unknown to science have been discovered on the seafloor near Antarctica, clustered in the hot, dark environment surrounding hydrothermal vents. The discoveries, made by teams led by the University of Oxford, University of Southampton and British Antarctic Survey (BAS), include new species of yeti crab, starfish, barnacles, sea anemones and an octopus.

Breakthrough Facility to Trap Solar Energy in Molten Salt
January 4, 2012 10:10 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

One of the greatest problems of large scale solar power facilities is that they do not produce electricity at night, and when they do produce power, it is constantly fluctuating with the sun's strength. Under development in the deserts of Tonopah, Nevada is a new technology that will effectively store solar energy in the form of molten salt. When the sun goes down, thermal energy from the salt will be able to produce electricity for eight to ten hours.

Moon Study: Crust to Core
January 3, 2012 01:16 PM - Editor, ENN

NASA's twin spacecraft to study the moon from crust to core have arrived in lunar orbit. Named Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL), the spacecraft are scheduled to be placed in orbit on December 31 and January 1. "Our team may not get to partake in a traditional New Year's celebration, but I expect seeing our two spacecraft safely in lunar orbit should give us all the excitement and feeling of euphoria anyone in this line of work would ever need," said David Lehman, project manager for GRAIL from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The distance from Earth to the moon is approximately 250,000 miles. NASA's Apollo crews took about three days to travel to the moon. Launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Sept. 10, 2011, the GRAIL spacecraft are taking about 30 times that long and covering more than 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) to get there.

Mercury in the Atmosphere
January 3, 2012 11:21 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Mercury is an extremely toxic material. It is known to emitted to the atmosphere but what happens to the Mercury after that? How is it removed or processed? Humans pump thousands of tons of vapor from the metallic element mercury into the atmosphere each year, and it can remain suspended for long periods before being changed into a form that is easily removed from the atmosphere. New research shows that the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere work to transform elemental mercury into oxidized mercury, which can easily be deposited into aquatic ecosystems and ultimately enter the food chain.

New Year's Resolution: Keep Your Brain from Shrinking
January 3, 2012 09:46 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The typical New Year's resolution is about losing weight. However, there are other aspects of our health that perhaps deserve more attention. One, for instance, is keeping a healthy mind. Alzheimer's disease is a terrible affliction of the mind and it is associated with a shrinking of the brian. A new study which was just published before the New Year suggests brain shrinkage can be avoided if people consume the right diet. The researchers recommend diets with high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids and lots of vitamins B, C, D, and E.

Math and Piegons
December 30, 2011 08:24 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

There is a common saying that being a bird brain means you are not very bright. But how bright is that? Pigeons can learn abstract numerical rules, a skill that scientists had believed only primates possessed. Although the birds may not be able to do higher math, their ability to reason numerically is likely something that a wide variety of species can do, too, researchers say. Many species, from honeybees to elephants, can discriminate between quantities of items, sounds, or smells, and represent numbers mentally. However only primates (all species, from lemurs to chimpanzees) were known previously to be able to reason numerically.

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