Enn Original News
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.
Joint USA-Canada Arctic Ocean Survey Comes to an End
December 16, 2011 10:00 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Yesterday marked the completion of a five year collaboration between the United States and Canada to survey the Arctic Ocean. As the changing Arctic climate causes the ice to melt, this region will become more accessible to resource recovery. The project's goal was to delineate the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the coastline. According the Convention of the Law of the Sea, each nation has sovereign rights to natural resources on or above the seabed on the extended continental shelf (ECS).
Biochar Value to Glacial Soils and Green House Gases
December 15, 2011 04:22 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Adding a charred biomass material called biochar to glacial soils can help reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists. Studies by scientists with USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) are providing valuable information about how biochar-the charred biomass created from wood, plant material, and manure-interacts with soil and crops. As part of this effort, ARS scientists in St. Paul, Minn., are studying biochar activity in soils formed from glacial deposits. ARS Soil and Water Management Research Unit in St. Paul, found that amending glacial soils with biochar made from macadamia nut shells reduced a range of greenhouse gas emissions.
Killer Claws and Flight
December 15, 2011 12:32 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
New research from Montana State University's Museum of the Rockies has revealed how dinosaurs like Velociraptor and Deinonychus used their famous killer claws, leading to a new hypothesis on the evolution of flight in birds. In a paper published Dec. 14 in PLoS ONE, MSU researchers Denver W. Fowler, Elizabeth A. Freedman, John B. Scannella and Robert E. Kambic, describe how comparing modern birds of prey helped develop a new behavior model for sickle-clawed carnivorous dinosaurs like Velociraptor.