Enn Original News
Zebra Stripes as Bug Repellant
February 9, 2012 09:46 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
On the plains of Africa, the zebra are not the only creature roaming in herds. There are a great number of other species, not least of all, the dreaded horsefly. Zebras, like all horse species, have large bodies which they cannot always reach with their mouths, hooves, or tails, making them an inviting prey for blood-sucking, flying insects. More than the lion, the horsefly is the bane of zebra's existence. This, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, is why zebras evolved to having stripes. The black and white stripes effectively deter the horseflies by making the zebras less attractive.
Tree Rings and Volcanic Eruptions
February 8, 2012 11:28 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Counting the number of tree rings and observing the relative growth for each ting can give an age for when something happened. However, it may not be that simple. Some climate cooling caused by past volcanic eruptions may not be evident in tree-ring reconstructions of temperature change, because large enough temperature drops lead to greatly shortened or even absent growing seasons, according to climate researchers who compared tree-ring temperature reconstructions with model simulations of past temperature changes.
Housecats Susceptible to Wild Feline Disease
February 8, 2012 10:13 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
There are really two types of cats out there: the cute and cuddly house cat and the vicious predator wildcats. However, for bacteria and viruses, there is no difference. The domestic cats are equally vulnerable to the same diseases that afflict wild bobcats, cougars, and others. A new study led by Colorado State University found that all cats living in the same area share the same diseases. In fact, domestic cats can act as a bridge to spread feline diseases to human households.
Heat is Power Association Launches
February 7, 2012 03:16 PM - Kelsey (Walker) Southerland, Executive Director, Heat is Power Association
In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama called upon an America built to last, "an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values." Today, the Heat is Power Association is ready to answer this call in this country and beyond. A coalition focused on the wide-scale development of a robust Waste Heat to Power (WH2P) market re-launched today as the Heat is Power Association to bring together everyone with a stake in clean energy and industry to capture an opportunity we're wasting every day—waste heat. And we're not alone. From the White House to the campaign trail to state houses across the country, almost everyone can agree on two things: that the way to spur the global economy is through manufacturing, and we must shore up clean energy supplies to power and protect cities and towns everywhere. Alongside President Obama's call for a renewed manufacturing sector, he touted the thousands of jobs that have been created at the hands of clean energy investments. By expanding our focus on the output of energy resources — emission-free electricity — we can grow those numbers exponentially.
February 7, 2012 10:00 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Sand dunes flow over the land subject to the winds like ocean waves or rivers. What makes them move? What makes them start or stop? In a study at the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, University of Pennsylvania researchers have uncovered a unifying mechanism to explain the beautiful dune patterns that occur. The findings may also hold implications for identifying when dune landscapes like those in Nebraska's Sand Hills may reach a tipping point under climate change, going from valuable grazing land to barren desert.
The Future of Trucking is Electric
February 7, 2012 09:29 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Trucking has become the most common mode for transporting goods across the land. However, all those trucks on the road burning diesel fuel can create a great deal of air pollution. Plus, higher gas prices cause increases in the prices of goods. Now is the time to consider the next era of trucking, the electric truck. At the moment, they cost about three times more than the internal combustion engine truck. However, a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) shows that a fleet of electric trucks can actually be more cost effective than the standard diesel fleet.
A Shining Star of Bipartisan Cleantech Support
February 6, 2012 05:12 PM - David Gold, Clean Techies
Amid all the negative publicity that Solyndra's failure has brought to the Administration's cleantech efforts, one cleantech program has received broad bipartisan support: DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy (ARPA-e). In 2012, ARPA-e will receive $275 million, a 53% increase from the prior year with both the House and the Senate supporting significant funding for the agency's third year of operations. ARPA-e is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which for over 50 years has funded early-stage research projects that show the potential to develop technologies that could yield disruptive advances for the military. DARPA's projects have resulted in major leaps including, but definitely not limited to, the Internet, stealth technology and the Global Positioning System. Both agencies operate by soliciting proposals from companies, universities, and labs within broad thematic areas and select the most promising proposals for grant awards. Readers of my blog know that I am not a big fan of some of the Administration's cleantech efforts. ARPA-e is at least one exception. Authorized in the last year of the Bush Administration and initially funded through the Obama Administration's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the ARPA-e program may be one government program that can help seed the disruptive advances needed in our energy economy.
Once, men abused slaves. Now we abuse fossil fuels
February 6, 2012 04:51 PM - Andy Gryce, Population Matters
Pointing out the similarities (and differences) between slavery and the use of fossil fuels can help us engage with climate change in a new way, says Jean-François Mouhot, visiting researcher at Georgetown University, USA. In 2005, while teaching history at a French university, I was struck by the general disbelief among students that rational and sensitive human beings could ever hold others in bondage. Slavery was so obviously evil that slave-holders could only have been barbarians. My students could not entertain the idea that some slave-owners could have been genuinely blind to the harm they were doing. At the same time, I was reading a book on climate change which noted how today's machinery — almost exclusively powered by fossil fuels like coal and oil — does the same work that used to be done by slaves and servants. "Energy slaves" now do our laundry, cook our food, transport us, entertain us, and do most of the hard work needed for our survival.
Deadly Malaria on the Decline
February 6, 2012 10:15 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
A new research study has found that malaria is killing twice as many people that previously believed. However, as efforts to combat the deadly steam have picked up, the total number of deaths is declining. In 2010, 1.2 million people died of malaria, twice as much as the last survey suggested. Researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington believe that the discrepancy is due to the previous studies assuming that malaria only kills children under age five. In actuality, 42 percent of malaria deaths are people aged five and older.
Ancient Lake Vostok
February 6, 2012 08:37 AM - Editor, ENN
After 20 years of drilling, a team of Russian researchers is close to breaching the prehistoric Lake Vostok, which has been trapped deep beneath thick ice layers (2 miles thick) in Antarctica for the last 14 million years. Lake Vostok is actually the third largest lake in the world, measured by the amount of water it holds. In the early 1990s, the Russians re-created a history of the Earth's atmosphere throughout the past 400,000 years — a record of our planet's air during the past four ice ages. The lakes are rich in oxygen (making them oligotrophic), with levels of the element some 50 times higher than what would be found in your typical freshwater lake. The high gas concentration is thought to be because of the enormous weight and pressure of the continental ice cap.