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Second Hand Smoke at Home
November 9, 2011 10:17 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Strong clean indoor air laws are associated with large increases in voluntary smoke free home policies both in the homes with and without smokers according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. These results support the hypothesis of norm spreading of clean indoor air laws. There has been concern that such laws might encourage smokers to smoke more in their homes or other private venues. Children living in a home with an adult smoker may be up to twice as likely to take up smoking themselves. The present study of the U.S. uses the individual-level data from the Tobacco Use Supplements to Current Population Survey to investigate the influence of smoke free workplace and public place laws on the presence of smoke free rules in U.S. homes.
November 8, 2011 03:36 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Here is a strange thought/illusion to consider. When we gaze at a shape and then the shape disappears, a strange thing happens: We see an afterimage in the complementary color. Now a Japanese study has observed for the first time an equally strange illusion: The afterimage appears in a complementary shape—circles as hexagons, and vice-versa. "The finding suggests that the afterimage is formed in the brain, not in the eye," the author, Hiroyuki Ito of Kyushu University, wrote in an email. More specifically, the illusion is produced in the brain’s shape-processing visual cortex, not the eye’s light-receiving, message-sending retina. The findings appear in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.
Roman Era Drought in Southwest USA
November 7, 2011 04:19 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
There have been periodic droughts in the American southwest for millenia. A new study at the UA's Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research has revealed a previously unknown multi-decade drought period in the second century A.D which was in the middle of the Roman era. The findings give further evidence that extended periods of aridity have occurred at intervals throughout our past. Almost nine hundred years ago, in the mid-12th century, there was a better known multi-decade drought in the southwestern US made locally famous by the Anasazi. This was the most recent extended period of severe drought known for this region.
Permafrost Microbial Action
November 7, 2011 11:06 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
There are an estimated 1,7 billion metric tons of carbon in the frozen soils at the north pole. This sequestered carbon is more than 250 times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions attributed to the United States in the year 2009. As global temperatures slowly rise, however, so too do concerns regarding the potential impacts upon the carbon cycle when the permafrost thaws and releases the carbon that has been trapped for eons. In this case the concern focus on the microbes in the permafrost that will ultimately release, contain, or somewhere in between limit the carbon release.
The Lights of Really Distant Cities
November 7, 2011 08:25 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Light pollution is not something to be terribly happy about. Researchers from Princeton and Harvard universities now suggest a seemingly more straightforward method to see who is out there by seeing who's left the light on. Edwin Turner, a professor in Princeton's Department of Astrophysical Sciences, and Avi Loeb, professor and chair of Harvard's Department of Astronomy, have reported a technique that could detect alien civilizations by the artificial light that would emanate from their cities. Turner and Loeb's work, which presents a mathematical algorithm to detect and observe this artificial light from Earth, has been submitted to the journal Astrobiology.
Tree Change in North America
November 4, 2011 05:22 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Over the last three to four decades, forests throughout much of western North America have been subjected to disturbance at a scale well beyond that previously recorded over the last century. Although some disturbances may be attributed to fire suppression policies, which have resulted in fuel accumulation and denser stands prone to insect attack, climate change is more likely the cause, based on recent surveys and analyses of natural mortality by a new study by Oregon State. In the new report, scientists outline the impact that a changing climate will have on which tree species can survive, and where. The study suggests that many species that were once able to survive and thrive are losing their competitive footholds, and opportunistic newcomers will eventually push them out.
Life on Mars
November 4, 2011 04:51 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
It has been speculated for centuries that life existed or once existed on Mars. A new NASA study suggests if life ever existed on Mars, the longest lasting habitats were most likely below the Red Planet's surface. A new interpretation of years of mineral-mapping data, from more than 350 sites on Mars examined by European and NASA orbiters, suggests Martian environments with abundant liquid water on the surface existed only during short episodes. These episodes occurred toward the end of a period of hundreds of millions of years during which warm water interacted with subsurface rocks. This has implications about whether life existed on Mars and how the Martian atmosphere has changed.
The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Future
November 4, 2011 03:37 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
USGS scientists and academic colleagues have investigated how California's interconnected San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (the Bay-Delta system) is expected to change from 2010 to 2099 in response to both fast and moderate climate warming scenarios. Results indicate that this area will feel impacts of global climate change in the next century with shifts in its biological communities, rising sea level, and modified water supplies. "The protection of California's Bay-Delta system will continue to be a top priority for maintaining the state's agricultural economy, water security to tens of millions of users, and essential habitat to a valuable ecosystem," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "This new USGS research complements ongoing initiatives to conserve the Bay-Delta by providing sound scientific understanding for managing this valuable system such that it continues to provide the services we need in the face of climate uncertainty."
First Humans in Europe Identified
November 4, 2011 03:09 PM - David A Gabel, ENN
Researchers at the Oxford University have determined that a recovered jawbone and teeth originate from the first modern humans in Europe. The fossilized remains have been carbon dated to reveal the age of the bones. The researchers first believe the fossils, which were found in a prehistoric cave in Italy, were those of the Neanderthal. Through additional research, they concluded that they were in fact from anatomically modern humans. Radiocarbon testing revealed the age of the bones, 43,000 — 45,000 years old, the oldest of any modern human remains in Europe.
The Great Sunstone
November 2, 2011 05:18 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The sunstone is a type of mineral attested in several 13th—14th century written sources in Iceland, one of which describes its use to locate the sun in a completely overcast sky. Sunstones are also mentioned in the inventories of several churches and one monastery in 14th—15th century Iceland. A theory exists that the sunstone had polarizing attributes and was used as a navigation instrument by seafarers in the Viking Age. To see if calcite is accurate enough for navigation, a team led by Guy Ropars, a physicist at the University of Rennes 1 in France, built a sunstone. They used a chunk of calcite from Iceland spar, a rock familiar to the Vikings, and locked it into a wooden device that beams light from the sky onto the crystal through a hole and projects the double image onto a surface for comparison. They then used it over the course of a completely overcast day. Their sunstone came within 1% of the true location of the sun even after it had dipped below the horizon.