Enn Original News
January 13, 2011 07:03 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Hanny's Voorwerp which is Dutch for Hanny's object, is an astronomical object of unknown nature. It was discovered in 2007 by Dutch school teacher Hanny van Arkel, while she was participating as an amateur volunteer in the Galaxy Zoo project. Photographically, it appears as a bright blob close to spiral galaxy IC 2497 in the constellation Leo Minor. The object, now referred to as a "voorwerp", is about the size of our Milky Way galaxy and has a huge central hole over 16,000 light years across. The voorwerp is false colored green, a standard color to represent the presence of several luminous emission lines of glowing oxygen. It has been shown to be at the same distance from Earth as the adjacent galaxy, both about 650 million light-years away. Hanny's Voorwerp may be a small part of a 300,000-light-year-long streamer of gas, located about 650 million light-years from Earth. Scientists suggested that a quasar in a nearby galaxy, known as IC 2497, was shining on Hanny's Voorwerp, lighting up the oxygen in the streamer with a greenish glow. The only problem was that no quasar could be seen.
High-Speed Rail Potential in US "Megaregions"
January 13, 2011 09:40 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
High speed rail is considered the holy grail of mass transit planning, and touted as a necessity for advanced economies. America is often derided for not having any high speed rail networks, while other advanced nations in Europe and Asia have them well established. A new report from the group America 2050 outlines the areas of the United States which have the greatest potential to support a high speed rail network.
Snow, Snow, Everywhere
January 12, 2011 03:23 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Is it growing warmer or it growing colder? In the US and in Europe it is hard to tell this year. As of now about 71% of the USA is covered with a layer of snow. Comparing earlier January amounts this is the highest in the last 7 years. 2010 was 56% with a low of 21% in 2006. Average snow depth has also increased proportionately in this time frame. The winters of 1976-77 and 1977-78 were the two of the coldest USA winters in recent times so we have a way to go yet. The winter of 2009—2010 in Europe was also unusually cold. Globally there were atypical snowfalls in several parts of the Northern Hemisphere. In January 2010, the northern half of Europe experienced its coldest winters since 1981—1982. The winter of 2010-2011 in Europe began with an unusually cold November caused by a cold weather cycle that started in southern Scandinavia and subsequently moved south and west over both Belgium and the Netherlands on 25 November and into the west of Scotland and North East England on 26 November. This was due to a low pressure zone in the Baltics, with a high pressure over Greenland on 24 November.
Prison Air Pollution
January 11, 2011 06:01 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Prisons are where they keep criminals. What has that to do with the environment? The answer is that prisons need to be heated and like industrial boilers or even home heating systems they must burn fuel and in the combustion release potential air pollutants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections and the Department of General Services for alleged Clean Air Act violations at boiler plants generating power, heat and hot water at four correctional facilities. This settlement secures air pollution reductions and additional reporting requirements for correctional facilities in Muncy, Bellefonte, Huntingdon and Somerset, Pennsylvania.
Mass Wildlife Die-Off Events
January 11, 2011 09:25 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
On New Year's Eve, over 3,000 red-winged blackbirds inexplicably plummeted to their deaths from the skies over Arkansas. They may have struck something while in the air such as lightning or hail. It is also possible that the ground itself caused their deaths, and they were merely rendered unconscious while flying by some mysterious force. According to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, they were spooked into flying into trees and houses.
January 10, 2011 02:45 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
What if this and that... The art of prediction is one that often fails and only the test of time will show who is right and who is wrong. Climate models use quantitative methods to simulate the interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, and ice. There is a new paper in Nature Geoscience that examines the inertia of carbon dioxide emissions. New research indicates the impact of rising CO2 levels in the Earth's atmosphere will cause effects to the climate for at least the next 1,000 years, causing these researchers to estimate a collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet by the year 3000, and an eventual rise in the global sea level of at least four meters. The study is the first full climate model simulation to make predictions out to 1000 years from now. It is based on a best-case, zero-emissions scenarios constructed by a team of researchers from the Canadian Center for Climate Modeling and Analysis and the University of Calgary.
Natural Methane Removal in the Gulf of Mexico
January 7, 2011 02:11 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
There is a relationship between known hydrocarbon (oil and natural gas) discoveries at great depth in the Gulf of Mexico and hydrocarbon seepage such as Methane at the seafloor. Chemosynthetic communities are associated with these seeps. They are remarkable in that they utilize a carbon source independent of photosynthesis and the sun-dependent photosynthetic food chain that supports all other life on Earth. Chemosynthetic communities occur in isolated areas with thin veneers of sediment only a few meters thick. Calling the results "extremely surprising," researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Texas A&M University report that methane gas concentrations in the Gulf of Mexico have returned to near normal levels only months after a massive release occurred following the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.
Malignant Cancer-Causing Molecule Identified
January 7, 2011 09:42 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
A cancerous cell is not a problem if it is benign. However, if it becomes malignant, it can cause major health problems and even be fatal. Scientists have identified a molecule known as PML which directly affects whether or not a cancer cell becomes malignant. This line of study may prove to be a breakthrough in cancer research if scientists can figure out how malignant tumors can be converted to benign tumors.
The Return (?) of Off Shore drilling
January 6, 2011 12:34 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Offshore drilling typically refers to the discovery and development of oil and gas resources which lie underwater. Most commonly, the term is used to describe oil extraction off the coasts of continents, though the term can also apply to drilling in lakes and inland seas. Offshore drilling presents environmental challenges, especially in the Arctic or close to the shore. Controversies include the ongoing US offshore drilling debate. The off shore moratorium in the US (as a result of the BP spill) ended in October 2010. The Obama administration has decided to allow 13 companies to resume deepwater drilling without additional environmental scrutiny. The decision comes after the administration said it would require strict reviews for new drilling in the Gulf. Others, such as the arctic Shell project, are still blocked by related concerns. The Department of the Interior apparently gave those companies the go-ahead because they were in the middle of previously approved projects when the Gulf spill occurred.
Europe and Renewable Energy
January 6, 2011 11:24 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
The European Union (EU)27 will exceed its target of meeting 20 % of its gross final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020. Today the European Wind Energy Association published its analysis of the 27 National Renewable Energy Action Plans, submitted by the EU Member States to the European Commission. "Taken together the Action Plans show that the EU-27 will meet 20.7 % of its 2020 energy consumption from renewables", said Justin Wilkes, Policy Director of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). The countries of the European Union are currently the global leaders in the development and application of renewable energy. Promoting the use of renewable energy sources is important both to the reduction of the EU's dependence on foreign energy imports, and in meeting targets to combat global warming.