Enn Original News
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.
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.