Enn Original News

Obesity Control
March 24, 2011 08:04 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

A magic pill for controlling obesity is a dream that many have. Researchers exploring human metabolism at the University of California, San Francisco, have uncovered a handful of chemical compounds that regulate fat storage in worms, offering a new tool for understanding obesity and finding future treatments for diseases associated with obesity. Such compounds may allow chemical control of obesity. As described in a paper published this month in the journal Nature Chemical Biology, the team took armies of microscopic worms called C. elegans and exposed them to thousands of different chemical compounds. Giving these compounds to the worms, they discovered, basically made them skinnier or fatter without affecting how they eat, grow, or reproduce.

Ready To Eat Meat: Healthy?
March 23, 2011 04:29 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

What is better to eat, in terms of health, a hot dog (made from what?) or chicken? If given the choice between eating a hot dog or enjoying some rotisserie chicken, consider the hot dog at least according to some research out of Kansas State. That's because hot dogs, as well as pepperoni and deli meats, are relatively free of carcinogenic compounds, according to their research. But it's a not-so-happy ending for bacon and rotisserie chicken -- especially chicken skin -- because both have higher levels of cancerous material.

Expanding Forests in the Northern Latitudes
March 23, 2011 12:52 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

According to a recent United Nations report, forested areas in Europe, North America, the Caucasus, and Central Asia have grown steadily over the past two decades. While tropical areas have steadily lost their forests to excessive logging and increased agriculture, northern areas have seen increases caused by conservation efforts. However, the long-term health and stability of northern forest lands may be imperiled by the effects of climate change.

EPA and Boilers
March 22, 2011 11:29 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

On March 16, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed long-anticipated limits on power plant emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants (“HAPs”) under Section 112 of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”). Along with recent emissions standards for industrial and commercial boilers and a new proposal for power plant GHG controls due out in July, EPA is undertaking a series of major CAA rule makings. EPA’s latest rule would establish the first nationwide standards for power plant emissions of mercury, arsenic and other HAPs, with numeric limits based upon maximum available control technology as required under the 1990 CAA Amendments. EPA’s new proposal would reduce mercury from approximately 525 coal and oil-fired power plants by 91 percent once fully implemented, and it covers a range of other pollutants that were not regulated under the Bush-era mercury rule.

EPA Works with NJ’s Kean University to Enhance Sustainability
March 21, 2011 01:42 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

New Jersey's universities have been making significant strides to become greener facilities, and Kean University (Kean) prides itself on being at the forefront of that effort. Kean has signed an agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enhance sustainable environmental practices as the school. As part of the agreement, Kean has pledged to reduce energy, water, and fuel usage. They will also increase recycling on campus, and use more environmentally-friendly landscaping practices.

The Coral Pulse of Life
March 21, 2011 07:30 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Corals are marine organisms living in compact colonies of many identical individual polyps. The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans, which secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton. Coral reefs form some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. They occupy less than one tenth of one percent of the world ocean surface, yet they provide a home for about twenty-five percent of all marine species, including fish, molluscs, worms, and crustaceans. Paradoxically, coral reefs flourish even though they are often surrounded by ocean waters that provide few nutrients. University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science scientist Chris Langdon and colleagues have developed a new tool to monitor coral reef vital signs. By accurately measuring their biological pulse, scientists can better assess how climate change and other ecological threats impact coral reef health worldwide.

Why Birds Fly into Power Lines and Similar
March 18, 2011 01:06 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Birds are different from human beings obviously. Birds have been known to fly into objects and knock themselves out. Why does this happen? A sensory ecology framework is used in a new research study to seek to assess why flying birds collide with prominent structures, such as power lines, fences, communication masts, wind turbines and buildings, which intrude into the open airspace. Such collisions occur under conditions of both high and low visibility. It is argued that a human perspective of the problems posed by these obstacles is unhelpful. Birds live in a different visual world. When in flight, birds may turn their heads in both pitch and yaw to look down, either with the binocular field or with the lateral part of an eye’s visual field. Such behavior may be usual for them and results in certain species being at least temporarily blind in the direction of travel.

How To Test for Toxicity
March 17, 2011 06:11 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

There are zillions of products and chemicals in the world. Some are obviously toxic. Others are more subtle or simply unknown because they were never studied. Study is expensive and time consuming. Several federal agencies have unveiled a new high-speed robot screening system that will test 10,000 different chemicals for potential toxicity. The system marks the beginning of a new phase of an ongoing collaboration, referred to as Tox21, that is working to protect people’s health by improving how chemicals are tested in this country. The robot system, which is located at the National Institutes of Health Chemical Genomics Center (NCGC), was purchased as part of the Tox21 collaboration established in 2008 between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences National Toxicology Program, and NCGC, with the addition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010. Tox21 merges existing resources — research, funding and testing tools — to develop ways to more effectively predict how chemicals will affect human health and the environment.

News at the North Pole Ozone Layer
March 16, 2011 04:59 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Unusually low temperatures in the Arctic ozone layer have recently initiated massive ozone depletion. The Arctic appears to be heading for a record loss of this trace gas that protects the Earth's surface against ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This result has been found by measurements carried out by an international network of over 30 ozone sounding stations spread all over the Arctic and Subarctic and coordinated by the Potsdam Research Unit of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association in Germany. In the Arctic the amount lost is more variable year-to-year than in the Antarctic. The greatest declines, up to 30%, are in the winter and spring, when the stratosphere is colder.

Earthquakes Change the Earth
March 15, 2011 01:57 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The March 11, magnitude 9.0 earthquake in Japan may have shortened the length of each Earth day and shifted its axis. Using a United States Geological Survey estimate for how the fault responsible for the earthquake slipped, research scientist Richard Gross of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., applied a complex model to perform a preliminary theoretical calculation of how the Japan earthquake-the fifth largest since 1900-affected Earth's rotation. His calculations indicate that by changing the distribution of Earth's mass, the Japanese earthquake should have caused Earth to rotate a bit faster, shortening the length of the day by about 1.8 microseconds (a microsecond is one millionth of a second). There are about 86,400 seconds (86 billion microseconds) in a day, so the impact of the earthquake is quite small. The calculations also show the Japan quake should have shifted the position of Earth's figure axis (the axis about which Earth's mass is balanced) by about 6.5 inches, towards 133 degrees east longitude. The Earth's figure axis is not the same as its north-south axis in space, which it spins around once every day at a speed of about 1,000 mph. The figure axis is the axis around which the Earth's mass is balanced.

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