Enn Original News
Mars Science Laboratory launches, on its way to Mars
November 27, 2011 08:16 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Yesterday, NASA began a historic voyage to Mars with the launch of the Mars Science Laboratory, which carries a car-sized rover named Curiosity. Liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard an Atlas V rocket occurred at 10:02 a.m. EST. "We are very excited about sending the world's most advanced scientific laboratory to Mars," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "MSL will tell us critical things we need to know about Mars, and while it advances science, we'll be working on the capabilities for a human mission to the Red Planet and to other destinations where we've never been." The mission will pioneer precision landing technology and a sky-crane touchdown to place Curiosity near the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater on Aug. 6, 2012. During a nearly two-year prime mission after landing, the rover will investigate whether the region has ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life, including the chemical ingredients for life. "The launch vehicle has given us a great injection into our trajectory, and we're on our way to Mars," said Mars Science Laboratory Project Manager Peter Theisinger of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The spacecraft is in communication, thermally stable and power positive."
Contest Challenges Youth to "Get to Know" Their Wild Neighbors
November 23, 2011 02:35 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Renowned wildlife artists Robert Bateman and Wyland are challenging American youth to get outdoors and "get to know" their wild neighbors of other species by entering the Get to Know Contest. Youth age 5-18 are invited to create art, writing photography and video entries based on first-hand experiences with nature, which they can submit at www.gettoknow.ca until November 30, 2010. Bateman and Wyland hope the Get to Know Contest will inspire youth to build meaningful connections with nature. "The investment we are making by connecting youth with nature is the most important one we can make for this generation," says Wyland. Youth disconnection from nature stems from the trend of young Americans spending progressively more time indoors, to the detriment of healthy outdoor activity. As of 2010, American school-aged youth are packing a staggering 53 hours a week in front of entertainment media screens — up from 44 hours per week in 2004. And while they are aware of global environmental issues like climate change and deforestation in the Amazon, they often cannot name ten different plants and animals in their own backyard. "Caring for this planet begins with getting to know our neighbours of other species", reiterates Robert Bateman, who started the Get to Know Contest in Canada in 2000.
Silk Versus Synthetic Fibers
November 23, 2011 11:07 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Scientists at Oxford University and The University of Sheffield have demonstrated that natural silks are a thousand times more efficient than common plastics when it comes to forming fibers. A report of the research is published this week in the journal Advanced Materials. The finding comes from comparing silk from the Chinese silkworm to molten high density polyethylene (HDPE) - a material from which the strongest synthetic fibers are made. The researchers used polarized light shining through a disk rotating over a plate to study how the fibers are formed as the two materials are spun.
Can Soup and BPA
November 23, 2011 08:12 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic compound with two phenol functional groups. It is used to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, along with other applications. As it has been known to be estrogenic since the mid 1930s, concerns about the use of bisphenol A in consumer products were regularly reported in the news media in 2008, after several governments issued reports questioning its safety, prompting some retailers to remove products containing it from their shelves. A new study from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has found that a group of volunteers who consumed a serving of canned soup each day for five days had a more than 1,000% increase in urinary bisphenol A (BPA) concentrations compared with when the same individuals consumed fresh soup daily for five days. The study is one of the first to quantify BPA levels in humans after ingestion of canned foods.
The Chevrolet Carbon Stories, Part 3 Metrolina Greenhouse
November 22, 2011 04:50 PM - R Greenway, ENN
It's no secret that all buildings, whether residential or business, need energy for heat. No building is a better example than a greenhouse, which traditionally uses fossil fuels to create enough heat to grow plants. That's a lot of energy expended. But what if we can substitute fossil fuel for biomass, especially waste wood or tree trimmings / waste from forests in place of fossil fuels? As part of its Carbon Reduction Initiative, Chevrolet is supporting Metrolina Greenhouse in North Carolina. Metrolina grows over 70 million plants a year and is one of four greenhouse projects from the same developer that is utilizing biomass burners for heating the greenhouse instead of fossil fuel burners. The greenhouses grow plant materials that are shipped all over the U.S. The biomass fuel is mostly wood that would otherwise be destined for the landfill, or low value wood from forest thinnings. This type of biomass meets the United Nation's Clean Development Mechanism’s "Definition of Renewable Biomass." This project will reduce fossil fuel consumption, divert waste from landfills and improve the quality of air for the community surrounding it.
Explosives in Your Shoes
November 22, 2011 12:24 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
For those who fly the ritual of standing barefoot waiting to be scanned as your shoes are intimately examined for explosives, is a common airport mishap. The ability to efficiently and unobtrusively screen for trace amounts of explosives on airline passengers could improve travel safety — without invoking the ire of inconvenienced fliers. Toward that end, mechanical engineer and fluid dynamicist Matthew Staymates of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and colleagues have developed a prototype air sampling system that can quickly blow particles off the surfaces of shoes and suck them away for analysis.
Study: Today's Teenagers May Be Most Out-of-shape In US History
November 22, 2011 10:12 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
A report from Northwestern University in Chicago looks at the status of the cardiovascular health of current adolescents in the United States, and its findings were not encouraging. It says that teens today have a higher likelihood of dying at a younger age than today's adults. The causes listed include high blood sugar, obesity, poor diet, smoking, and limited exercise. Of course this is not true for all teenagers; some may be in better shape than the rest of us will ever be. However, in the case of teenage health, the lows outweigh the highs, bringing average teen health to a dismal level.
November 22, 2011 09:13 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
In this day and age most societies worry about too large a population increase. However, there is always another point of view. Worried about its dwindling numbers, the Roman Catholic church in southern India is exhorting its flock to have more children, with some parishes offering free schooling, medical care and even cash bonuses for large families. The strategy comes as India’s population tops 1.2 billion, making it the second most populous country in the world after China, and runs counter to a national government policy of limiting family size.
Exoplanet Count to 700
November 21, 2011 11:45 AM - Andy Soosm ENN
One can look up and count the stars that can be seen. Finding exoplanets orbiting these stars is a different matter because they cannot be seen by the naked eye. There are two main counters of the exoplanents: NASA and the European count. NASA is more conservative while Europe will include the new exoplanet when it is announced. So Europe will also be slightly more. The count topped 500 in November 2010, and it passed 600 just two months ago when scientists with the European Southern Observatory announced 50 newfound planets, including one super-Earth that might be a good candidate for hosting life. Now it is 700.
The Contribution of Peatland CO2 to Climate Change
November 21, 2011 10:06 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Peat, the accumulated turf made up of decayed vegetation, forms in many parts of the world in places like bogs, moors, and swamp forests. Due to its high carbon content, it can be harvested and burned as fuel. There are estimates that the global inventory of peat, covering 2 percent of all land area, contains 8 billion terajoules of energy. A new study has revealed that peat also has a high potential to contribute to climate change. The study, published by researchers from Bangor University in Maine, found that drought causes the release of far more carbon dioxide from peat than previously assumed.