Enn Original News
January 17, 2012 01:13 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Grasses are usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the true grasses, as well as the sedges (Cyperaceae) and the rushes. The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns (turf) and grassland. Researchers from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Sustainable Bioenergy Center (BSBEC) have discovered a family of genes that could help breed grasses with improved properties for dietary use and bioenergy uses. The genes are important in the development of the fibrous, woody parts of grasses, like rice and wheat. The team hopes that by understanding how these genes work, they might for example be able to breed varieties of cereals where the fibrous parts of the plants confer additional dietary benefits or crops whose straw requires less energy-intensive processing in order to produce biofuels.
Singapore Panel Makes Recommendations for Mitigating Flash-Flooding
January 17, 2012 11:58 AM - Sara Stefanski, ENN
Storm water run-off, a major problem which has affected Singapore for two consecutive years, is thought to be partially due to urbanization of the country, and recommendations have been made for mitigation of this serious issue. An expert panel consisting of 12 members was created after last year's flash flooding across eastern and central Singapore to research potential solutions, and the panel explains that urbanization — that is, more concrete, buildings and roads due to a growing population — is one of the reasons behind the recent increase in storm water run-off which causes the flooding. Today Online mentions that the panel performed additional analysis as a joint effort with the Meteorological Services, and observed that there are clear trends in recent decades towards higher rainfall in terms of intensity and frequency. These findings are consistent with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) findings.
South Florida Alliance Gears Up for Climate Change
January 17, 2012 09:57 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Global action against climate change is often difficult and excruciatingly slow. For the United States, policies to combat a warming Earth are at a virtual standstill. That is why it comes down to local and regional alliances to work together to make a difference. In the US, there are few areas more vulnerable to climate change than southern Florida. It is an area that will be easily inundated with flooding should seas continue to rise and hurricanes continue to batter them. Now, four south Florida counties have teamed together to prepare their communities for the menace that is to come.
Fish Brains and Carbon Dioxide
January 16, 2012 02:16 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Carbon dioxide has many different effects depending on how one is exposed to it. Still no one had suspected a link to brains and neural connections until now. The Australian Research Council's Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies said it had been testing the performance of baby coral fish in sea water containing higher levels of dissolved CO2 for several years. "And it is now pretty clear that they sustain significant disruption to their central nervous system, which is likely to impair their chances of survival," said Phillip Munday, a professor who reported the findings. Specific effects seem to be disturbances to hearing, smelling and predator evasion.
What Really Are the Best Ways to Cut Gasoline Use?
January 16, 2012 10:07 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
The United States has implemented a variety of policies in the effort to cut back gasoline use. For example, the Obama Administration has invested federal dollars into GM's electric vehicles. The EPA has introduced new fuel economy standards which are to be implemented over time, gradually becoming stricter. The government has also promoted the expansion of biofuels in automobile fuel. However, a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has shown that these policies are not only cost-effective, but do not sufficiently curb fuel usage. What is to be done to reduce fuel use and greenhouse gases from vehicle emissions?
Increase Gas Mileage by Preventing Friction Loss
January 13, 2012 09:54 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
A joint study from the VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland and America's Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) has concluded that at least one third of a car's fuel consumption is used in overcoming friction. Friction loss has a direct impact on both fuel consumption and as a result, air emissions. However, there is available technology and technology under development that will make it possible to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by 18 percent within a decade. Within 25 years, the researchers estimate fuel consumption can be reduced by over 60 percent.
January 13, 2012 08:04 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Maize is known in many English-speaking countries as corn but is technically a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable or starch. The Olmec and Mayans cultivated it in numerous varieties throughout central and southern Mexico. Between 1700 and 1250 BC, the crop spread through much of the Americas. The region developed a trade network based on surplus and varieties of maize crops. After European contact with the Americas in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, explorers and traders carried maize back to Europe and introduced it to other countries. Now the discovery of a new provisioning gene in maize plants that regulates the transfer of nutrients from the plant to the seed could lead to increased crop yields and improve food security. Scientists from Oxford University and the University of Warwick, in collaboration with agricultural biotech research company Biogemma-Limagrain, have identified the gene, called Meg 1.
The Myriad Planets of the Galaxy
January 12, 2012 01:57 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
At one time there was serious debates that planets were a rare phenomena, few and far between. Our Milky Way galaxy contains a minimum of 100 billion planets, according to a detailed statistical study based on the detection of three planets located outside our solar system, called exoplanets. The discovery, to be reported in the January 12 issue of Nature, was made by an international team of astronomers, including co-author Stephen Kane of NASA's Exoplanet Science Institute at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. The survey results show that our galaxy contains, on average, a minimum of one planet for every star. This means that it's likely there are a minimum of 1,500 planets within just 50 light-years of Earth.
Cheers! Uncovering Alcohol's Addictive Quality
January 12, 2012 09:39 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Alcohol is one of the most addicting substances on Earth. Alcoholism is so prevalent and can be so disruptive to society that the United States once succeeded in banning it. Remnants of the Prohibition and America's puritanical founding can still be seen in the "blue laws" of many areas. It is often an underlying factor in traffic accidents and violent crime. But if alcohol can cause such egregious behavior and cause debilitating health problems, why do alcoholics keep drinking? A new study from the University of California, San Francisco has scientifically uncovered the truth behind alcohol addiction. The answer lies in endorphins, naturally produced chemicals in the brain that create opiate-like effects.
GHGs and Where They Are
January 11, 2012 12:33 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
In January 2012, for the first time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released greenhouse gas (GHG) data collected under the GHG Reporting Program. GHG is primarily Carbon Dioxide but includes many other other chemicals such as methane. The data shows 2010 U.S. GHG emissions from large industrial facilities, and from suppliers of certain fossil fuels and industrial gases. Reporting entities used uniform methods for estimating emissions, which enables data to be compared and analyzed. The data shows the larger GHG emitters are power plants followed by petroleum refineries. GHG data are now easily accessible to the public through the EPA’s GHG Reporting Program. The 2010 GHG data to be released includes public information from facilities in nine industry groups that directly emit large quantities of GHGs, as well as suppliers of certain fossil fuels and high global warming gases.