Enn Original News

Why Biodiversity Loss Deserves as Much Attention as Climate Change
January 27, 2012 01:58 PM - Akhila Vijayaraghavan, Triple Pundit

Biodiversity loss is probably a challenge that is often ignored as climate change looms. Currently the world is losing species at a rate that is 100 to 1000 times faster than the natural extinction rate, further, it is currently seeing the sixth mass extinction. The previous mass extinction occured 65 million years ago, and was caused by ecosystem changes, changes in atmospheric chemistry, impacts of asteroids and volcanoes. For the first time in history, the current extinction is caused by the competition for resources between a single species Homo sapiens and all others. A recent conference arranged by the Danish Ministry of Environment in the University of Copenhagen, provided an opportunity to influence the process of organizing a UN Biodiversity Panel. More than 100 scientists and decision makers from the EU countries gathered and came to the conclusion that drastic measures should be taken to decelerate current loss of biodiversity.

Nanotechnology Safety Strategies Need Improvement
January 27, 2012 09:00 AM - Scott Sincoff, ENN

According to a report released by the National Research Council (NRC), human and environmental safeties of nanomaterials remain uncertain despite the spending of billions of dollars in nanotechnology research and development over the past ten years.

Fructose Effects
January 27, 2012 08:02 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide found in many plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Fructose is generally regarded as being 1.73 times as sweet as sucrose. Fructose is a common sweetener used in many products such as soda as a result. There is now some new research evidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk is present in the blood of adolescents who consume a lot of fructose, a scenario that worsens in the face of excess belly fat.

Ocean Acidity
January 26, 2012 07:49 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Nearly one-third of CO2 emissions due to human activities enters the world’s oceans. This is part of the natural recycling of carbon. By reacting with seawater, CO2 increases the water’s acidity (lower pH), which may significantly reduce the calcification rate of such marine organisms as corals and mollusks, resulting in the potential loss of ecosystems. The extent to which human activities have raised the surface level of acidity, however, has been difficult to detect on regional scales because it varies naturally as well as due to man made sources from one season and one year to the next, and between regions, and direct observations go back only 30 years.

The Amazing Tumor-Fighting Walnut
January 25, 2012 09:38 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

It is amazing how many seemingly obscure causes and effects there are in this world, and all it takes is a little creativity and perseverance to find them. Recently, scientists from the University of California (UC) in Davis found out that, at least in mice, eating walnuts can actually slow down the growth of tumors. In fact, after 18 weeks of being on a walnut-rich diet, the mice had tumors half the size as mice on a similar diet. Further research will be upcoming to explore more beneficial effects of walnuts. Some believe that walnuts can be even used to prevent tumors from ever forming.

Magnet Soap
January 25, 2012 07:10 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

A University of Bristol team has dissolved iron in liquid surfactant to create a soap that can be controlled by magnets. The discovery could be used to create cleaning products that can be more easily removed after application and used in the improved recovery of oil spills at sea. Scientists from the University of Bristol have developed a soap, composed of iron rich salts dissolved in water, that responds to a magnetic field when placed in solution. The soap’s magnetic properties were proved with neutrons at the Institut Laue-Langevin to result from tiny iron-rich clumps that sit within the watery solution. The generation of this property in a fully functional soap could reduce environmental concerns over the use of soaps (lingering soap residue) in oil-spill clean ups and revolutionize industrial cleaning products.

Finding Nature's Speed Limit
January 24, 2012 09:23 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The speed of light is considered to be the limit at which no object can go faster. But here on Earth, nature has its own speed limit which affects its fastest creatures every day. The speed at which an animal can go, and human aircraft for that matter, is directly dependent upon how far that animal can see. Using complex mathematical equations, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have effectively quantified nature's speed limit. They found that given a certain density of obstacles, there exists a speed at which a bird can reasonably fly without collision.

Permafrost
January 24, 2012 07:18 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

In geology, permafrost, cryotic soil or permafrost soil is soil at or below the freezing point of water (0 °C or 32 °F) for two or more years. Ice is not always present, as may be in the case of nonporous bedrock, but it frequently occurs and it may be in amounts exceeding the potential hydraulic saturation of the ground material. A pioneering airborne electromagnetic survey in the Yukon Flats near Fort Yukon, Alaska, by the U.S. Geological Survey has yielded unprecedented images of the presence and absence of permafrost to depths of roughly 328 feet. The airborne survey captured images of permafrost over a substantially larger area, and with greater data density, than has been previously achieved using sparse boreholes and ground-based geophysics.

New Study Predicts Declining Rangeland in California
January 23, 2012 09:45 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Duke University researchers have predicted that climate change in California will result in a declining percentage of rangeland. Such a change will have widespread impact on the state's large cattle industry of California's Central Valley. No matter if climate change will cause wetter or drier weather, available pasture will decline. Forage areas, known as one of nature's free services, may no longer be so free. The grasses will either wither as arid conditions creep north, or be pushed out as inedible shrubs and brush take over.

Shrewbot
January 23, 2012 08:23 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

One can see, one can smell to "see" the world. Once can also touch but with whiskers? The Etruscan shrew, one of the world’s tiniest mammals, measuring around 4 centimeters long, is the inspiration for a ground-breaking new robot developed to use sophisticated whiskers to find its way around. The Shrewbot is the latest in a series of robots which use active touch rather than vision to navigate their environment.

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