Enn Original News

An Efficient Solar Harvest
September 23, 2011 12:42 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Solar power could be harvested more efficiently and transported over longer distances using tiny molecular circuits based on quantum mechanics, according to research inspired by new insights into natural photosynthesis. Incorporating the latest research into how plants, algae and some bacteria use quantum mechanics to optimize energy production via photosynthesis, UCL scientists have set out how to design molecular circuitry that is 10 times smaller than the thinnest electrical wire in computer processors. Published in Nature Chemistry, the report discusses how tiny molecular energy grids could capture, direct, regulate and amplify raw solar energy.

Whales Mingle Across the Arctic
September 22, 2011 12:17 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The loss of Arctic sea ice is predicted to open up the Northwest Passage (the vast northern sea lanes above Canada presently choked off by ice), shortening shipping routes and facilitating the exchange of marine organisms between the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. Skeletons, DNA samples and harpoon heads have all suggested that bowhead populations living on each side of the continent did meet and mingle in the past. Previous satellite tracking has demonstrated that bowhead whales from West Greenland and Alaska enter the ice-infested channels of the Canadian High Arctic during summer. In August 2010, two bowhead whales from West Greenland and Alaska entered the Northwest Passage from opposite directions and spent approximately 10 days in the same area, documenting overlap between the two populations.

Andrews Air Force Base
September 22, 2011 11:39 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Most people think of polluted sites as being something industry does. Not so. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has signed an agreement with the Department of Defense to remediate Joint Base Andrews (formerly Andrews Air Force Base) located in Clinton, Md. Although cleanup activities have been on-going at the facility, the federal facility agreement ensures that cleanup actions proceed with EPA oversight within an enforceable framework, in a manner that protects the community and the environment. The agreement will also give the EPA and the Air Force the framework for investigating new and evolving contamination at the base as it is discovered.

WWF celebrates World Rhino Day
September 22, 2011 11:19 AM - WWF

On the occasion of the second annual World Rhino Day, WWF joins the residents of rhinoceros range countries in calling for an end to rhino poaching, which threatens the survival of rhino species. Officials in South Africa, home to most of the world's rhinos, have responded to the recent poaching crisis by increasing protection for rhinos, conducting more rigorous prosecutions, and imposing stricter sentences on wildlife criminals. This action must be met with a corresponding commitment by countries in Asia where consumer demand for rhino horn is inciting poachers. South Africa has lost at least 284 rhinos in 2011, including 16 or more critically endangered black rhinos. A majority of the poaching incidents have occurred in the world famous Kruger National Park, but privately owned rhinos have also been targeted. Law enforcement officials have made over 165 arrests so far during the year, and some convicted poachers have been sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

CO2 Up in the World
September 21, 2011 12:30 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2)increased by 45 % between 1990 and 2010, and reached an all-time high of 33 billion tons in 2010. Increased energy efficiency, nuclear energy and the growing contribution of renewable energy are not compensating for the globally increasing demand for power and transport, which is strongest in developing countries. This increase took place despite emission reductions in industrialized countries during the same period. Even though different countries show widely variable emission trends, industrialized countries are likely to meet the collective Kyoto target of a 5.2 % reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2012 as a group, partly thanks to large emission reductions from economies in transition in the early nineties and more recent reductions due to the 2008-2009 recession. These figures were published today in the report "Long-term trend in global CO2 emissions", prepared by the European Commission's Joint Research Center and PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency.

Killer Asteroids
September 21, 2011 08:02 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Observations from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission indicate the family of asteroids some believed was responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs is not likely the culprit, keeping open the case on one of Earth's greatest mysteries. While scientists are confident a large asteroid crashed into Earth approximately 65 million years ago, leading to the extinction of dinosaurs and some other life forms on our planet, they do not know exactly where the asteroid came from or how it made its way to Earth. A 2007 study using visible-light data from ground-based telescopes first suggested the remnant of a huge asteroid, known as Baptistina, as a possible suspect. The hunt for the killer asteroid goes on.

Yawn!
September 20, 2011 12:32 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Yawning is a normal and common human activity. We all yawn but why do we yawn. A study led by Andrew Gallup, a postdoctoral research associate in Princeton University's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, is the first involving humans to show that yawning frequency varies with the season and that people are less likely to yawn when the heat outdoors exceeds body temperature. Gallup and his co-author Omar Eldakar, a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Arizona's Center for Insect Science, report this month in the journal Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience that this seasonal disparity indicates that yawning could serve as a method for regulating brain temperature.

Laughter
September 19, 2011 08:01 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Milton Berle once said: Laughter is an instant vacation. Now science has added some concrete proof top that statement or so suggests a new study from an international research team, led by Oxford University. The study found that when we laugh properly, as opposed to producing a polite titter, the physical exertion leaves us exhausted and thereby triggers the release of protective endorphins. These endorphins, one of the complex neuropeptide chemicals produced in the brain, manage pain and promote feelings of well being.

Ancient Fossil Aquifers and NASA
September 19, 2011 07:54 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

A NASA-led team has used radar sounding technology developed to explore the subsurface of Mars to create high-resolution maps of freshwater aquifers buried deep beneath an Earth desert, in the first use of airborne sounding radar for aquifer mapping. The research may help scientists better locate and map Earth's desert aquifers, understand current and past hydrological conditions in Earth's deserts and assess how climate change is impacting them. Deserts cover roughly 20 percent of Earth's land surface, including highly populated regions in the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa (Sahara), west and central Asia (Takla Makan) and the southwestern United States (Sonora).

The Benefits of Maple Syrup
September 16, 2011 04:30 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Maple syrup is delightful to have on pancakes for example. Now new research conducted at the University of Tokyo suggests that pure maple syrup may promote a healthy liver. The pilot study, conducted by Dr. Keiko Abe of the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, showed that healthy laboratory rats fed a diet in which some of the carbohydrate was replaced with pure maple syrup from Canada yielded significantly better results in liver function tests than the control groups fed a diet with a syrup mix containing a similar sugar content as maple syrup. The results will be published in the November, 2011 issue of "Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry." Although most healthy individuals take liver function for granted, liver health is of great importance because of the hundreds of vital functions it performs that are essential to human life, which include storing energy (glycogen) and regulating blood glucose, the production of certain amino acids (building blocks of protein), filtering harmful substances from the blood.

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