Enn Original News

Meet the fastest land animal, the magnificent Cheetah
August 4, 2011 10:49 AM - BBC Earth

It is well documented who are the speed demons of the Animal Kingdom. We all know that a cheetah can reach speeds of up to 60 mph in a mere three seconds and that the Atlantic sailfish leaps to the top of the podium as the fastest creature in the ocean. Yet it is rarely asked why. What parts of their body have evolved to make them so fast, and for what purpose? In this series, BBC Earth peels back the fur and the scales of these incredible creatures to reveal what it is that makes them so fast. As the world's fastest land mammal, the cheetah's ability for acceleration starts on the inside. The spotted cat mobilizes glycogen molecules that are stored in its large liver to provide huge bursts of energy. However these surges are short lived because they produce an unwelcome by-product, lactic acid, which builds up and causes painful cramps. Which means that cheetahs can only run at full speed for up to 30 seconds. Cheetah's are not just one-trick cats, they have other adaptations up their sleeves, or rather within its hair. Their distinctive spotted coat makes them almost invisible when creeping slowly through the African grasslands. The longer that they can stay camouflaged and the closer they get to their target, the more likely they are to catch their prey before they run out of steam.

Better Battery Storage
August 3, 2011 03:26 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

MIT researchers have found a way to improve the energy density of a type of battery known as lithium-air (or lithium-oxygen) batteries, producing a device that could potentially pack several times more energy per pound than the lithium-ion batteries that now dominate the market for rechargeable devices in everything from cellphones to cars. Lithium batteries are disposable (primary) batteries that have lithium metal or lithium compounds as an anode. Depending on the design and chemical compounds used, lithium cells can produce voltages from 1.5 V to about 3.7 V, over twice the voltage of an ordinary zinc—carbon battery or alkaline battery. Lithium batteries are widely used in products such as portable consumer electronic devices.

Lake Acidification Causes
August 3, 2011 01:11 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Acidification caused by acid rain precipitation has been, and remains, a major environmental issue because of its life-threatening effects on biota, its global spread, and the prolonged recovery period associated with it. International cooperation to reduce the precursors of acid precipitation has provided a textbook example of how society can address a complex environmental pollution problem with support from science. A key step in that success was the achievement of a broad scientific consensus that acid precipitation was a serious threat to ecosystems in sensitive regions. That consensus was built during two decades of scientific research starting with the first United Nations conference on the environment in 1972 and continuing to 1990 with the conclusion of major research programs in Europe and in the United States. But is this the only cause? A new study of the role of dissolved organic carbon, which comes from living organisms and can also make lakes acidic, suggests that power station emissions may have played less of a role than previously thought. Martin Erlandsson of the University of Reading, United Kingdom, and his colleagues wondered whether it was possible to distinguish the historical effects of organic acids and power station emissions by assessing findings during the 20 years since lake acidification started to decrease in Sweden. They describe their results in the August issue of BioScience.

Study: Antarctica, not Greenland, Will Contribute More to Sea Level Rise
August 3, 2011 09:00 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

As the planet has gotten warmer, sea levels have been slowly rising at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year since 1961. The higher levels are caused by thermal expansion as well as from melting land-based ice. Most eyes have been on Greenland, the large arctic island covered with an immense ice sheet, as the critical source of melting ice. However, a new study has recently been published which suggests that Greenland is not as big a concern as the continent of Antarctica, and in particular, the West Antarctic ice sheet.

A Potential Cure for Sunburn
July 29, 2011 09:35 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

A research team from Ohio State University has been studying the effects of solar radiation on skin cells. They have been able to replicate the process within the tight scrutiny of their laboratory. What they found is that the key biological molecules, which operate during the repair of sunburned cells, function in a way totally unexpected. This new knowledge may possibly lead to the production of special treatments that can heal sunburn. Their findings have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How to avoid being eaten by lions
July 29, 2011 07:10 AM - BBC Earth

Being eaten by lions is probably something we’d all like to avoid. Deadly 60 presenter Steve Backshall shares his top tips to help us steer clear of the killer jaws of big cats. 1. Stay in the car. "Lions don't see a car as prey, so you're safer inside', our director Giles insists, if you're in a vehicle, stay in it. 2. If you go tracking on foot be extra vigilant. 3. Always travel with a local guide. (Our team had two local guides with them at all times.) 4. Carry a big stick and a firearm. (But use them as a deterrent, never intending to inflict harm on the animal. A hurt lion is a very angry lion.) 5. Keep your eyes open: You'd be amazed how close a 500lb lion can get without you noticing. 6. Always have a 'spotter'. Just because you’re filming one lion, doesn't mean there isn't another behind you.

Deadly animals drive BBC Earth to walk on the wild side
July 27, 2011 03:13 PM - Adelle Havard, BBC Earth

Bringing the best of natural history filmmaking to a large audience has never been easy. But what happens when you get the taste for something a little darker? Something a little more sinister, a little harder to find, something that’s intentionally keeping itself far from your reach. This month at BBC Earth we are hunting down all that is Deadly! Gathering together the incredible knowledge of the BBC Earth natural history teams, with the most interesting and thrilling nature photography and film from the BBC. July on Life Is is set to be a truly captivating month! Deadly fact: The Panther Chameleon has a wicked tongue, coated with mucus and tipped with a vacuum, absolutely perfect for picking up prey!

Turns out, there IS water in outer space after all
July 26, 2011 04:16 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Did you think that the earth was unique in having vast amounts of water? Not that much fresh water, or pure water, but lots of water nonetheless! Water is formed when two hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom get together, so in theory, there could be LOTS of water in outer space. Two teams of astronomers have discovered the largest and farthest reservoir of water ever detected in the universe. The water, equivalent to 140 trillion times all the water in the world's ocean, surrounds a huge, feeding black hole, called a quasar, more than 12 billion light-years away. "The environment around this quasar is very unique in that it's producing this huge mass of water," said Matt Bradford, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "It's another demonstration that water is pervasive throughout the universe, even at the very earliest times." Bradford leads one of the teams that made the discovery. His team's research is partially funded by NASA and appears in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Northeast Bakes Under Blistering Heat
July 22, 2011 02:02 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

The ungodly weather that scorched the Midwest of the USA has travelled east, giving the large population centers along the Atlantic coast a chance to experience the skin-frying joy. Temperatures exceeding 100 degrees F (38 C) have lingered for several days. When factoring in humidity and other conditions, the outdoors can feel like a sultry 115 degrees F (46 C). The inhuman heat wave is expected to break by the end of the weekend, with temperatures dipping to a relatively cool 90 degrees F. The end of July is known to be the hottest time of the year, but today's heat goes far above the average. With current trends in the climate, is it possible that this extreme weather may one day become the norm?

Ambient Energy
July 22, 2011 01:57 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Ambient energy sources are all around us in a busy technological world. These sources are small and often imperceptible such as as radio and television transmitters, cell phone networks and satellite communications systems. Researchers have discovered a way to capture and harness energy transmitted by such sources as radio and television transmitters, cell phone networks and satellite communications systems. By scavenging this ambient energy from the air around us, the technique could provide a new way to power networks of wireless sensors, microprocessors and communications chips. Tentzeris and his team are using inkjet printers to combine sensors, antennas and energy-scavenging capabilities on paper or flexible polymers. The resulting self-powered wireless sensors could be used for chemical, biological, heat and stress sensing for defense and industry; radio-frequency identification (RFID) tagging for manufacturing and shipping, and monitoring tasks in many fields including communications and power usage.

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