Enn Original News
The Core of the Earth
December 20, 2011 10:14 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Based on the abundance of chemical elements in the solar system, the theory of planetary formation, and other chemical constraints regarding the remainder of Earth's volume, the inner core is composed primarily of a nickel—iron alloy. Because the inner core is more dense than pure iron or nickel, even under heavy pressures, it's believed that the remaining part of the core is composed of gold, platinum and other similar elements in quantity enough to coat Earth's surface. Identifying the composition of the earth's core is key to understanding how our planet formed and the current behavior of its interior. While it has been known for many years that iron is the main element in the core, many questions have remained about just how iron behaves under the conditions found deep in the earth. Now, a team led by mineral-physics researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has honed in on those behaviors by conducting extremely high-pressure experiments on the element.
Nitrate in the Thames
December 20, 2011 09:20 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Nitrate pollution occurs usually as a result of agricultural practices (fertilizer). Intensive agriculture practices developed during the past century have helped improve food security for many people but have also added to nitrate pollution in surface and ground waters. New research has looked at water quality measurement over the last 140 years to track this problem in the Thames River basin. The Thames River catchment provides a good study example because the water quality in the river, which supplies drinking water to millions of people, has been monitored for the past 140 years, and the region has undergone significant agricultural development over the past century. The nitrate transport route as well as application use was studied for its net effects on the Thames.
Martian Landslide and Meteorite Strike
December 19, 2011 12:43 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Cause and effect are not easy to distinguish. Dust avalanches around impact craters on Mars appear to be the result of the shock wave preceding the actual impact, according to a study led by an undergraduate student at the UA. When a meteorite careens toward the dusty surface of the Red Planet, it kicks up dust and can cause avalanching even before the rock from outer space hits the ground, a research team led by an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona has discovered.
Droughts could push parts of Africa back into famine
December 19, 2011 11:57 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Drought and erratic rains could lead to further food scarcities in Africa warns the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). The WFP singles out South Sudan, the world's newest nation, and Niger as nations of particular concern. Earlier this year famine killed scores of people, including an estimated 30,000 children, in Somalia. In South Sudan drought and ongoing conflict threaten food supplies for 2.7 million people.
Car Battery (Lead) Mystery
December 19, 2011 11:40 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Most people just accept that a car battery works. However, to a chemist it is a perplexing mystery because the prime ingredient (lead oxide) should be an insulator. Chemists have solved the 150 year-old mystery of what gives the lead-acid car battery its unique ability to deliver a surge of current. Lead-acid batteries are able to deliver the very large currents needed to start a car engine because of the exceptionally high electrical conductivity of the battery anode material, lead dioxide. However, even though this type of battery was invented in 1859, up until now the fundamental reason for the high conductivity of lead dioxide has eluded scientists.
Challenges to Wine-making in a Warming World
December 19, 2011 09:42 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Perhaps the largest impact of global climate change will be on agriculture, and there is no crop more sensitive to changes in climate than wine grapes. As temperatures rise and average precipitation levels change, the signature wine-making regions such as those in France and California will be forced to adapt. There have been studies conducted analyzing the influence of weather and climate on wine since long before climate change made the headlines. Recently, studies have modeled climate change's effects up to 100 years into the future. The expected impacts are not bad at first, but in the end, they are not good.
Chevrolet Carbon Stories: San Juan National Forest tree planting
December 16, 2011 02:59 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Whenever you take a breathe, you are breathing in 1/3 more carbon dioxide than your grandparents did. That's a significant increase in just two generations. Now imagine a forest. In one year, an acre of forest absorbs 6 tons of carbon dioxide and emits 4 tons of oxygen. In 2003, the San Juan National Forest suffered a major fire that effectively destroyed and deforested large sections of land in Colorado. The US Forest Service does not plan to replant the burned areas, and this land is not likely to be naturally reforested. In conjunction with the US Forest Service, the National Forest Foundation and local activists with the help of Chevrolet have actively begun to reforest a portion of the burned land with newly planted trees. Along with replanting the forest, this is a great project for its ecological benefits such as restoring habitat, as well as for the local economy.
December 16, 2011 01:25 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The Higgs boson is a hypothetical massive elementary particle that is predicted to exist by the Standard Model of particle physics. The Higgs boson plays a crucial role in the Higgs mechanism responsible for breaking the electroweak symmetry of the Standard Model . If shown to exist, it would help explain why other elementary particles have mass. It is the only elementary particle predicted by the Standard Model that has not yet been observed in particle physics experiments. In the popular media, the particle is sometimes referred to as the God particle. They're not claiming the discovery yet, but physicists at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland may have finally found the Higgs boson. Just as the rumors suggested, both teams report tantalizing signs that the Higgs is there and that it has a mass about 133 times that of the proton. But one team sees additional oddities, so the results are far from clear.
New large horned viper discovered, but biologists keep location quiet
December 16, 2011 01:05 PM - Jeremy Hance
In a remote forest fragment in Tanzania, scientists have made a remarkable discovery: a uniquely-colored horned viper extending over two feet long (643 millimeters) that evolved from its closest relative over two million years ago. Unfortunately, however, the new species—named Matilda's horned viper (Atheris matildae)—survives in a small degraded habitat and is believed to be Critically Endangered. Given its scarcity, its discoverers are working to preempt an insidious threat to the new species.
Healthy Food or Junk?
December 16, 2011 10:24 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Parents of some obese children could save up to £6.58 (about $10) each week by changing their shopping habits and opting for a healthier diet, according to research published in the latest issue of the British Journal of General Practice. The study on the theme of obesity shows that healthier eating does not have to be more expensive, challenging one of the commonly cited barriers to dietary change. The figures showed that healthier eating could cost no more than £2.31 ($4) extra a week, and that in some cases, savings of up to £6.58 ($10) a week could by made by switching.