Enn Original News

School Bus Pollution
August 22, 2011 01:25 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

24 million American children ride school buses daily. On average, these students spend an hour and a half each day in a school bus. School buses drive more than 4 billion miles each year. School buses are the safest way for children to get to school. However, pollution from older diesel vehicles have health implications for everyone, especially children. Clean School Bus USA (EPA based) brings together partners from business, education, transportation, and public-health organizations to work toward the goals of reducing the potential health impact on children. School districts, with the help of federal grants (and state grants in some cases) have been working to replace the oldest, most polluting buses, and to upgrade others with better pollution control equipment. (The Diesel Reduction Act was reauthorized for five years in December 2010, but it's unclear how much money Congress will appropriate to continue the program.) The way drivers operate the buses can also have a big impact on the air quality for kids.

Life in a World without Oxygen
August 22, 2011 12:59 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Earth’s oldest fossils have been found in Australia by a team from the University of Western Australia and Oxford University. The microscopic fossils show convincing evidence for cells and bacteria living in an oxygen-free world over 3.4 billion years ago. The earliest identified organisms were minute and relatively featureless, and their fossils look like small rods, which are very difficult to tell apart from structures that arise through abiotic physical processes. The oldest undisputed evidence of life on Earth, interpreted as fossilized bacteria, dates to over 3 billion years ago. Other finds in rocks dated to about 3.5 billion years ago have been interpreted as bacteria, with geochemical evidence also seeming to show the presence of life 3,800 million years ago. The new research team, led by Dr David Wacey of the University of Western Australia and including Professor Martin Brasier of Oxford University, report the finding in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Study: A Happy Marriage Can Boost Health and Survivability
August 22, 2011 09:44 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

A very interesting study has recently come out of the University of Rochester, showing that married adults reap increased health benefits than their unmarried counterparts. Women in particular thrive when in a happy marriage. For men, any kind of marriage will do. To prove their theory, researchers observed individuals who underwent coronary bypass surgery. The happily married were over three times more likely to still be alive after 15 years.

The Age of the Moon and the Earth
August 19, 2011 05:02 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Man lives the traditional 3 score and ten. How old the Moon and Earth? New research using a technique that measures the isotopes of lead and neodymium in lunar crustal rocks shows that the moon and Earth may be millions of years younger than originally thought. The common estimate of the moon's age is as old as 4.5 billion years old (roughly the same age as the solar system) as determined by mineralogy and chemical analysis of moon rocks gathered during the Apollo missions. However, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist Lars Borg and international collaborators have analyzed three isotopic systems, including the elements lead, samarium and neodymium found in ancient lunar rocks, and determined that the moon could be much younger than originally estimated. In fact, its age may be 4.36 billion years old.

Excrement and Coral
August 19, 2011 07:56 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Coral reef ecologists have found a potential answer to a persistent and troubling puzzle. The elkhorn coral, named for its resemblance to elk antlers and known for providing valuable marine habitat, was once the Caribbean's most abundant reef builder. But it has declined 90% over the past decade, in part due to highly contagious white pox disease, which causes large lesions that bare the coral's white skeleton and kill its tissue. Now, after nearly a decade of data collection and analysis, researchers have a possible cause of the affliction: human excrement. The finding represents the first example of human-to-invertebrate disease transmission and suggests a practical approach for halting the disease's spread.

The Shrinking/Expanding Earth
August 18, 2011 05:48 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Is the Earth growing or shrinking? The change may be small but the effects large long term. Since Charles Darwin's time, scientists have speculated that the solid Earth might be expanding or contracting. That was the prevailing belief, until scientists developed the theory of plate tectonics, which explained the large-scale motions of Earth's lithosphere, or outermost shell. Even with the acceptance of plate tectonics half a century ago, some Earth and space scientists have continued to speculate on Earth's possible expansion or contraction on various scientific grounds. Now a new NASA study, published recently in Geophysical Research Letters, has essentially laid those speculations to rest. Using a cadre of space measurement tools and a new data calculation technique, the team detected no statistically significant expansion of the solid Earth.

River Otters Bounce Back in England
August 18, 2011 03:36 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

The otter population in the England was dealt a serious blow in the 20th century. Around mid-century, environmentalists noticed the otter was disappearing from its natural river habitats. A study in the 1970s found that they could only be found in five percent of the sites where they once lived. The banning of certain pesticides and river cleanup programs turned around the otter's decline. A recent survey now shows the otter is back, inhabiting 60 percent of the roughly 3,000 locations they were once found.

Plant Purifiers
August 17, 2011 06:02 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A NASA research document came to the conclusion that “house plants can purify and rejuvenate air within our houses and workplaces, safeguarding us all from any side effects connected with prevalent toxins such as formaldehyde, ammonia and also benzene.” Trees are often seen as part of the answer for improving the environment and slowing climate change. Tree leaves utilize sunlight and absorb carbon dioxide from the air. Photosynthesis produces liquid sugars that go down into the root system to combine with soil water and minerals. Some of this goes back up the tree to produce more leaves, woody tissue, flowers and seeds or nuts. Some is stored as starch in the roots themselves, to be used during the winter or when the tree is stressed. The process of respiration converts these starches back into usable sugars, and also releases some carbon dioxide back into the air. Other pollutants can be removed too and are sometimes used as a design in remediation projects.

New Study Analyzes Link Between Neurodegenerative Diseases and Normal Aging
August 17, 2011 09:29 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The two most common neurodegenerative disorders are Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Both create serious impairments for the aging mind. A new study from researchers at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) takes a look at genes within the aging and diseased brain. Former studies have identified how to read the genes in the diseased brain. This latest study is the first attempt to compare the gene expressions in diseased brains to those of healthy brains.

Ancient Lava and Whence It Came
August 17, 2011 09:01 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Sylhet Traps lava flows of the Shillong Plateau in northeastern India lie some 340 miles to the east of the Rajmahal Traps at the bend of the Ganges River as it flows south to the Bay of Bengal. Almost 1,000 miles to the south is the 3,000 mile-long Ninetyeast Ridge rising a mile above the surrounding Indian Ocean floor, still beneath the seawater. To the east from the southern edge of this Ridge, some 1,600 miles away is the edge of western Australia. And finally, 2,500 miles to the southwest is the underwater Kerguelen Plateau, just off of Antarctica. Despite these vast distances, research by University of Rochester Geochemistry Professor Asish Basu shows great similarities in the chemical and isotopic signatures of lava rock samples from all these regions.

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