Enn Original News

Illinois Researchers Identify Promising New Biofuel
February 23, 2012 11:24 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Biofuel production has ratcheted up to become a major part of America's energy and agricultural industries. Corn, or maize, is by far the most widely grown crop to be converted into ethanol. However, the dominance of maize in the biofuel industry is not without its pitfalls. Now, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have identified a temperate-tropical maize hybrid that can potentially revolutionize biofuels in this country. The maize hybrid has the potential to increase ethanol production for each unit of plant material, and minimize the environmental cost of biofuel production.

Low Levels of Fallout from Fukushima Release
February 23, 2012 10:35 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

There is always concern when something radioactive is released as to what its downwind effects might be. Certainly there are effects at the actual site but thousands of miles away? Fallout from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power facility in Japan was measured in minimal amounts in precipitation in the United States in about 20 percent of 167 sites sampled in a nationwide study released today. The U.S. Geological Survey led the study as part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP). Levels measured were similar to measurements made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the immediate days and weeks following the March 2011 incident, which were determined to be well below any level of public health concern at the time by EPA.

What Happens in the Aurora
February 22, 2012 12:32 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

An aurora is a natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere. The charged particles originate in the magnetosphere and solar wind and, on Earth, are directed by the Earth's magnetic field into the atmosphere. A team of scientists on Saturday night launched an instrument-laden, two-stage sounding rocket arcing through shimmering green aurora, 186 miles above the Earth. Instruments on board, including those built at University of New Hampshire's Space Science Center, sampled electric and magnetic fields as well as charged particles in Earth's upper atmosphere (ionosphere) that get sloshed back and forth by a specific form of electromagnetic energy known as Alfven waves.

Phytoplankton Research in Arctic May Help Determine Environmental Accident Impacts
February 22, 2012 10:42 AM - Sara Stefanski, ENN

Today, the 178th annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science is being held in Vancouver. Marcel Babin, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Remote Sensing of Canada's New Arctic Frontier at the Université Laval, is one of the researchers who will be discussing his findings on the effects of environmental changes in the Arctic. The focus of Babin's research is on Arctic micro-organisms and the findings are uncovering how melting sea ice due to environmental changes could be leading to an overall increase in algae levels in Arctic waters. Based on the models that Babin and his team developed, predictions ten years in advance about algae production in the arctic will be possible by the end of this year.

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.

Science Spending
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".

Transparent Iron
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.

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