Enn Original News

Zombie Attack
October 31, 2011 11:46 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Can or do zombies exist? How can they and what are they? Zombie is a Haitian term used to denote an animated corpse brought back to life by mystical means such as witchcraft. It has evolved since then. The term is often figuratively applied to describe a hypnotized or infected person bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli. Since the late 19th century, zombies have acquired notable popularity, especially in North American and European folklore and urban legend. The living dead are a year-round affair these days, and not just in movies. Around the world, a growing number of people are dressing up as zombies for parties, festivals, walks and pub-crawls in every season. To explain the undying boom in all things zombie, experts point to the versatility of zombies as a metaphor.

Everything you might want to know about Carbon Offsets
October 31, 2011 07:17 AM - R Greenway, ENN

Companies, and individuals concerned with their impact on climate try a number of measures to reduce their emissions of air pollutants which impact the greenhouse effect of our atmosphere. The greenhouse effect is the reality that our atmosphere traps a portion of the heat we get from the sun, and from fires (both natural and man made) and other anthropgenic heat sources. Some of the gasses released by our industrialization, home heating and cooling, and transportation activities contribute to the atmosphere trapping more heat than would occur in the absence of these activities. There are emissions which CANNOT be eliminated or reduced as much as we would like. For these, companies turn to Carbon Offsets. What are Carbon Offsets? When companies or individuals purchase Carbon Offsets they are paying someone else to reduce THEIR carbon emissions (a major contributor to global warming). There are companies which assist other companies and individuals in purchasing Carbon Offsets. As in any new market, there is a learning curve for participants. Are the offsets real, are the being sold more than once? These and other questions illustrate how much needs to be learned.

Why Population Matters to the environment

Environmentalists agree on the issues facing us, including collapsing diversity, climate change and resource insecurity. We also agree on the causal factors, including pollution, invasive species, resource over-exploitation, waste, population growth, global industrialisation, unsustainable consumption and poor business practices. Solutions are harder. None will solve all our problems and all face obstacles and opposition. Technological solutions, such as biofuels, fracking, shale oil, GM foods and nuclear have side effects, while renewables have limited scope. Environmentally conscious lifestyles, including less waste, travel and consumption, are increasingly adopted, but the impact may by limited given the billions seeking to improve their low living standards. Changes to corporate and governmental practices have occurred, but are far from universal, particularly in the developing world. In my lifetime, human numbers have grown from 3 billion in 1960 to 7 billion today. By 2085, they are projected to grow to 10 billion. One can argue about the impact this makes, but it clearly does not help. We believe that a smaller population would help us to preserve the environment and live within the limit of renewable resources, as part of a comprehensive approach to the environment and sustainability. Most would agree that improving living standards for the poor, women's rights and access to health, including family planning, are desirable and they all tend to lead to women choosing to have smaller families. We would argue that aid for family planning to developing countries should be prioritised, both for environmental reasons and because it contributes to poverty alleviation, women’s empowerment and better health. While individual consumption in those countries is low, growing populations do affect the environment and they will not always be poor as the world industrialises.

El Hierro Volcano: New Land
October 28, 2011 03:21 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

On Oct. 9 an underwater volcano started to emerge in waters off El Hierro Island in the Canaries, Spain. The volcanic cone has reached a height of 100 m and the lava tongue flows down its side, even though its activity has slowed down in the past few days. The base of the volcano lies at a depth of 300 m. It is conical and 100 m high with a base diameter of 700 m and a crater width of 120 m. The volume of the volcano is around 0.012 km3, 0.07 km3 of which is made up of its lava tongue that is slowly filling the adjacent valley. Whether the eruption near the archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa will ever actually result in new land remains uncertain. But it's clear that the magma reservoir under El Hierro is simmering unchecked, constantly pouring out magma and causing the ground to shake several times a day. Since July, there have been more than 10,000 earthquakes (mostly imperceptible) on El Hierro.

Catalyzing Oxygen
October 28, 2011 12:37 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Normally Oxygen is fairly tight bound to the hydrogen in water. If it can be easily removed, it has potential benefits for certain energy and fuel systems. A team of researchers at MIT has found one of the most effective catalysts ever discovered for splitting oxygen atoms from water molecules — a key reaction for advanced energy-storage systems, including electrolyzers, to produce hydrogen fuel and rechargeable batteries. This new catalyst liberates oxygen at more than 10 times the rate of the best previously known catalyst of its type.

New Benefit of Aspirin: Preventing Cancer
October 28, 2011 08:54 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Aspirin, also known as acetylsalicylic acid, is one of the most widely used drugs in the world. It is proven to lower fevers, relieve minor aches and pains, and to reduce inflammation. It also has the long-term use of preventing heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots due to its antiplatelet characteristic, which prevents blood from clotting too large within the blood vessel. A new study from Queen's University in Belfast has found that the regular intake of aspirin can lower the risk of developing hereditary cancer by 50 percent.

The Impact of a Meteorite Storm
October 27, 2011 03:23 PM - Andy Soos ENN

Meteorites have been hitting the Earth since the beginning of time. Yet much is not known of what happens when they hit. Seeking to better understand the level of death and destruction that would result from a large meteorite striking the Earth, Princeton University researchers have developed a new model that can not only more accurately simulate the seismic fallout of such an impact, but also help reveal new information about the surface and interior of planets based on past collisions.

The Strong Woodpecker Head
October 27, 2011 02:05 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Banging you head against the wall is not to be recommended because it sort of hurts. Yet the woodpecker does it every day and seems content and happy. Woodpeckers are able to peck at a tree trunk at a high speed (6-7 meters per second), resulting in intense deceleration forces upon impact, without sustaining any brain injury. Why precisely this can be done without injury was investigated by Yubo Fan of Beihang University in Beijing and Ming Zhang of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The results may lead to better ways to prevent head injuries in humans.

Study: Marijuana Use Causes Chaos in the Brain
October 27, 2011 09:13 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Previous scientific studies have associated the consumption of cannabis with impairment of concentration and memory. Now a new study from the University of Bristol has delved deeper into the mind of the marijuana smoker. They found that brain activity becomes highly uncoordinated, erratic, and inaccurate while the user is under the influence. The researchers believe this brain-chaos can lead to neuropsychological and behavioral impairments similar to those observed in schizophrenia.

A world of sonic wonder
October 27, 2011 08:03 AM - BBC Earth Team

The First wonder, Speaking Sands For nearly a century, man has been baffled by the sound of singing sand dunes. The songs they emit are almost as diverse as the countless theories about how they occur. The sound is produced when the sand on the surface of dunes avalanches. It was once thought that these sounds were produced by the friction between the grains. More recent studies have revealed that the sound continues after the sand has stopped moving and the song that the dunes sing varies depending on the time of year. Some researchers now theorise that the sound is caused by the reverberation between dry sand at the surface and a band of wet sand within the dune, hence it changes seasonally. There are approximately thirty locations around the world where these booming dunes can be heard; the earliest records seem to date to Marco Polo’s time in the Gobi Desert. However you don’t need to adventure among the dunes to hear them sing; the strange sound, said to be like the drone of a low flying propeller plane, has reportedly been heard up to ten kilometres away from its source.

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