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Ice on Mercury
October 6, 2011 12:08 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Mercury is as close to the sun as any planet in our solar system can go. It has to be hot there. One would expect boiling lava for example. So can water ice be present? The answer is surprisingly yes. Twenty years ago, radar observations from Earth revealed small, highly reflective areas close to Mercury's poles, suggesting the presence of ice (along with vast expanses of ancient lava). Now, NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft, which has orbited Mercury since March 2011, has confirmed that these radar-bright patches neatly coincide with deep crater floors near the poles that never receive any sunlight at all.
How many different dust particles are you breathing?
October 6, 2011 09:37 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
In any given room, even the most sterile scientific cleanrooms, there are dust particles in the air and coating every surface. If allowed to go uncleaned, the dust will accumulate to eventually cover every surface. But what exactly is the dust in the air and on our tables and shelves? A chemistry research team at the Ohio State University, using a new kind of sensor, has isolated and measured the composition of unique dust particles in their laboratory.
Lake Agassiz Demise
October 5, 2011 04:13 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Lake Agassiz was an immense glacial lake located in the center of North America (Manitoba mostly). Fed by glacial runoff at the end of the last glacial period, its area was larger than all of the modern Great Lakes combined, and it held more water than contained by all lakes in the world today. At its largest, Glacial Lake Agassiz, as it is known, covered most of the Canadian province of Manitoba, plus a good part of western Ontario. A southern arm straddled the Minnesota-North Dakota border. University of Cincinnati Professor of Geology Thomas Lowell will present a paper about the lake to the Geological Society of America annual meeting in Minneapolis. Lowell’s paper is one of 14 to be presented Oct. 10 in a session titled: Glacial Lake Agassiz—Its History and Influence on North America and on Global Systems: In Honor of James T. Teller. Although Lake Agassiz is gone, questions about its origin and disappearance remain. Answers to those questions may provide clues to our future climate. One question involves Lake Agassiz’ role in a thousand-year cold snap known as the Younger Dryas.
Europe Electronic Waste
October 5, 2011 10:59 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Electronic waste is a number of different types of waste streams. It can include old computers, TV's etc. The European Parliament and the 27 EU member states are set for difficult negotiations over the recast of the bloc’s electronic waste directive as some European Parliament members insist on ambitious targets for collecting and recycling discarded fridges, phones and other e-waste than the member states can accept. The European Parliament's Environment Committee voted yesterday on its second reading recommendation on the recast of the Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, aiming at toughening existing rules on electrical and electronic equipment.
How Children Associate Snack Foods with Satisfying Hunger
October 5, 2011 09:19 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Childhood obesity is a major problem in the developed world. An abundance of cheap high-calorie goodies have left its impression in our youths' waistlines. A new study from psychologists at the University of Bristol in the UK analyzes why some children are more at risk at becoming overweight. They found that for those children who have grown familiar with snack foods like candy bars, soft drinks, cookies, and chips learn to associate those foods with the feeling of fullness. Other, more wholesome foods, may then be associated with not being able to satisfy one's hunger.
Ice Age CO2
October 4, 2011 03:31 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
At the end of the last Ice Age, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose rapidly as the planet warmed; scientists have long hypothesized that the source was CO2 released from the deep ocean. But a new study using detailed radiocarbon dating of foraminifera found in a sediment core from the Gorda Ridge off Oregon reveals that the Northeast Pacific was not an important reservoir of carbon during glacial times. The finding may send scientists back to the proverbial drawing board looking for other potential sources of CO2 during glacial periods. The study, which was supported by the National Science Foundation and the University of Michigan, was published online this week in Nature Geoscience.
Chevrolet's Carbon Initiative Program
October 4, 2011 11:02 AM - R Greenway, ENN
In the U.S., our buildings — schools, homes, and offices — consume one third of the energy we use. That makes them a major source of carbon dioxide emissions. And when your home isn’t properly insulated, you need more energy to heat it. That produces more carbon dioxide and raises your heating bill. As part of its Carbon Initiative Program, Chevrolet is teaming up with MaineHousing (Maine State Housing Authority) to help increase energy efficiency through a verifiable carbon reduction program — the weatherization of 5,500 low-income homes over the next 5 years. Chevrolet’s investment will be used to pressurize homes to determine heat /cooling leakage, blow recycled content insulation into walls and ceilings, seal chimneys, insulate exposed foundation and tune heating systems for efficiency. When its all said and done, this program will not only help reduce home energy use, improve air quality and cut resident’s heating and cooling bills, it will also aggregate tons of avoided CO2 emissions from thousands of weatherized homes. It's pretty impressive, and substantial. But that's how big changes are made — one small change at a time.
Arctic Ozone Loss
October 3, 2011 02:17 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
A NASA-led study has documented an unprecedented depletion of Earth's protective ozone layer above the Arctic last winter and spring caused by an unusually prolonged period of extremely low temperatures in the stratosphere. The study, published online Sunday, Oct. 2, in the journal Nature, finds the amount of ozone destroyed in the Arctic in 2011 was comparable to that seen in some years in the Antarctic, where an ozone hole has formed each spring since the mid-1980s. The stratospheric ozone layer, extending from about 10 to 20 miles (15 to 35 kilometers) above the surface, protects life on Earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.
Mysterious Virus Killing Siberian Amur Tigers
October 3, 2011 09:57 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
The Amur tiger has an extremely small population in the Russian Far East. However due to conservation efforts, that population has remained stable at around 350 individuals living in the wild. Recent reports have shown the population declining further, and one of the causes taken into consideration is a virus known as distemper. Distemper can afflict many wildlife species including domesticated dogs. For the Amur tiger, this disease, also known as cat plague, affects the white blood cell count. It is highly contagious and often fatal. With the situation growing more urgent, Russian and US veterinarians are now collaborating to understand this mysterious disease.
A Better Plastic
September 30, 2011 01:31 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Researchers at the University of Leeds and Durham University have solved a long-standing problem that could revolutionize the way new plastics are developed. The breakthrough will allow experts to create the perfect plastic with specific uses and properties by using a high-tech 'recipe book'. It will also increase our ability to recycle plastics. The research is published in the journal Science.