Enn Original News
Electric Frog Face
July 22, 2011 01:20 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
There are always oddities and strange patterns. For the first time, Tufts University biologists have reported that bioelectrical signals are necessary for normal head and facial formation in an organism and have captured that process in a time-lapse video that reveals never-before-seen patterns of visible bioelectrical signals outlining where eyes, nose, mouth, and other features will appear in an embryonic tadpole. The Tufts biologists found that, before the face of a tadpole develops, bioelectrical signals (ion flux) cause groups of cells to form patterns marked by different membrane voltage and pH levels. When stained with a reporter dye, hyperpolarized (negatively charged) areas shine brightly, while other areas appear darker, creating an electric face.
Brea Solar Power
July 21, 2011 03:55 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Chevron Energy Solutions and the City of Brea today unveiled Orange County's largest municipal solar installation. The effort is part of a comprehensive energy efficiency and solar project expected to generate an estimated $13 million in net savings over the 25-year project, plus significant environmental benefits. The savings have been immediate and the City has already seen results exceeding expectations. One early example is a 65% reduction in electricity costs at the Brea Community Center for the month of June. At the Civic & Cultural Center the reduction was 35%. By using the sun to generate its own power, the city has projected to reduce its electrical utility costs by an average 40 percent and its carbon emissions by 86,000 metric tons; comparable to removing 16,000 cars from the road. During construction, the project also provided more than 25 local jobs and 125 indirect jobs with an estimated $3 million boost to the local economy.
Study: Height Plays a Factor in Cancer Risk for Women
July 21, 2011 09:39 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
The risk of contracting cancer is generally thought to be caused by a combination of lifestyle and inheritance. If you decide to smoke too much, drink too much, or eat too much, the risk of cancer goes up. Plus, if your ancestors had a heightened risk of cancer, chances are you contain similar genetics. Now, new research from the University of Oxford has put forward a new theory: taller women are at increased risk of a wide range of cancer. Data has been compiled from over one million individuals which supports this theory. However, the reason why height equates to greater cancer risk remains a mystery.
US Shale Gas and the World Energy Power Balance
July 20, 2011 12:33 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Rising U.S. natural gas production from shale formations has already played a critical role in weakening Russia's ability to wield an "energy weapon" over its European customers, and this trend will accelerate in the coming decades, according to a new Baker Institute study, "Shale Gas and U.S. National Security." The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, projects that Russia's natural gas market share in Western Europe will decline to as little as 13 percent by 2040, down from 27 percent in 2009. The Baker Institute study dismisses the notion, recently debated in the U.S. media, that the shale gas revolution is a transitory occurrence. The study projects that U.S. shale production will more than quadruple by 2040 from 2010 levels of more than 10 billion cubic feet per day, reaching more than 50 percent of total U.S. natural gas production by the 2030s. The study incorporates independent scientific and economic literature on shale costs and resources, including assessments by organizations such as the U.S. Geological Survey, the Potential Gas Committee and scholarly peer-reviewed papers of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Oil shale, an organic-rich fine-grained sedimentary rock, contains significant amounts of kerogen (a solid mixture of organic chemical compounds) from which liquid hydrocarbons called shale oil and/or natural gas can be produced. Deposits of oil shale occur around the world, including major deposits in the United States of America.
Pollutants Can Lurk and Hide
July 20, 2011 12:10 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The health implications of polluting the environment weigh increasingly on our public consciousness, and pharmaceutical wastes continue to be a main culprit. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher says that current testing for these dangerous contaminants isn't going far enough. Dr. Dror Avisar, head of the Hydro-Chemistry Laboratory at TAU's Department of Geography and the Human Environment, says that, when our environment doesn't test positive for the presence of a specific drug, we assume it's not there. But through biological or chemical processes such as sun exposure or oxidization, drugs break down, or degrade, into different forms — and could still be lurking in our water or soil in different forms.
Nano Scale Energy
July 19, 2011 01:11 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Modern electronics as we know them, from televisions to computers, depend on conducting materials that can control electronic properties. As technology shrinks down to pocket sized communications devices and microchips that can fit on the head of a pin, nano-sized conducting materials are in big demand. Now, Prof. Eran Rabani of Tel Aviv University's School of Chemistry at the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences, in collaboration with Profs. Uri Banin and Oded Millo at the Hebrew University, has been able to demonstrate how semiconductor nanocrystals can be doped in order to change their electronic properties and be used as conductors. This opens a world of possibilities, says Prof. Rabani, in terms of applications of small electronic and electro-optical devices, such as diodes and photodiodes, electric components used in cellular phones, digital cameras, and solar panels.
July 19, 2011 12:31 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned the first close-up image after beginning its orbit around the giant asteroid Vesta. On Friday, July 15, Dawn became the first probe to enter orbit around an object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The image taken for navigation purposes shows Vesta in greater detail than ever before. When Vesta captured Dawn into its orbit, there were approximately 9,900 miles (16,000 kilometers) between the spacecraft and asteroid. Engineers estimate the orbit capture took place at 10 p.m. PDT Friday, July 15 (1 a.m. EDT Saturday, July 16). Vesta is 330 miles in diameter and the second most massive object in the asteroid belt (Ceres is the biggest.). Ground- and space-based telescopes have obtained images of Vesta for about two centuries, but they have not been able to see much detail on its surface.
Debate Continues Over European Union’s 2020 Emissions Goal
July 19, 2011 09:30 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Europe has set a bold target for itself, reducing its total carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 against 1990 levels. It is an ambitious goal, no doubt, but one that is certainly attainable at the rate the continent is going. Just last year, statistics showed that Europe's emissions had already fallen by 8 percent. Taken as a good sign, some politicians believe 20 percent reduction is not enough; Europe should cut emissions by 30% by 2020! This new push has opened up a new debate, but not everybody is so thrilled.
Real Earth Cooking
July 18, 2011 12:56 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
What spreads the sea floors and moves the continents? What melts iron in the outer core and enables the Earth’s magnetic field? Heat. Geologists have used temperature measurements from more than 20,000 boreholes around the world to estimate that some 44 terawatts (44 trillion watts) of heat continually flow from Earth’s interior into space. Where does it come from? Initially the earth heated up using energy released buy gravitational collapse, and while this energy completely melted the planet, this heat would have all been lost by now as the Earth is 4.6 billion years old. However, the earth is still hot in its core as we can see from all the volcanic activity on our planet. The energy which keeps the core hot and the volcanoes active is produced by radioactive decay. Heavy, radioactive elements such as uranium sank to the Earth's core along with the Iron and Nickel early in Earth's history (when it was all molten) and these radioactive elements have been heating the core (rather like a nuclear power station) ever since.
The Coming Global Phosphate Crisis
July 18, 2011 09:43 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Phosphate is a mineral that is used in fertilizer to boost agricultural productivity. It is greatly responsible for the "green" revolution and the increased output of farms around the world. Unfortunately, the world will be coming to a point, if certain trends hold, where we will run out of phosphate. The mineral is widely used, but utterly unrecycled. Like fossil fuels, phosphate may come to a point where it is too costly to use, and world hunger may be the consequence.