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Australian Cyclone Yasi
February 1, 2011 04:27 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Down under they are called cyclones. In the Atlantic they are called hurricanes. Queensland in northeast Australia has recently been hit with devastating floods. Now Yasi, a very large cyclone, is bearing down. Yasi has reached maximum sustained winds near 90 knots (103 mph), equivalent to a Category Two hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale early on January 31). Since then the winds have increased to a category 3 storm. It was centered about 875 miles east of Cairns, Australia, moving west at about 19 knots per hour (22 mph). Cyclone-force winds extend out to 30 miles from the center. Yasi is forecast to move west, then southwestward, into an area of low vertical wind shear (strong wind shear can weaken a storm). Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center expect Yasi to continue to strengthen over the next 36 hours. The Center forecasts a landfall just south of Cairns as a large 100-plus knot-per-hour (115 mph) system by around midnight local time on February 2.
Humans Share Genetic Ancestry with Orangutans
February 1, 2011 12:17 PM - David A Gabel, ENN
For those who believe in the theory of evolution, the general consensus is that mankind evolved from chimpanzees. Chimps are man's most closely related living species. While that may be true, a new study published in the online journal, Genome Research, has a surprising new finding. Parts of the human genome are more closely related to the orangutan.
Antibiotic Resistant Disease
January 31, 2011 06:55 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have discovered a new way to combat antibiotic resistant bacteria by using the bacteria's own genes. For more than 50 years, antibiotics have been used to treat a variety of deadly infections and saved countless lives. Its broad introduction and application has changed the face of medicine and world populations worldwide. Yet, despite the advances made to antibiotics over the years, the list of antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), E.coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter, is growing and becoming one of the world's most serious health concerns. Infections once routinely treatable have now become more difficult to control as well as lethal in some cases.
Caffeinated Gene Therapy
January 31, 2011 09:54 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Many people in society simply cannot function without a daily dose of caffeine. It is so prevalent in many diets. From coffee, to tea, to soft drinks, it has become a staple on par with corn or wheat, or even water. Of course caffeine is not necessary to survive, but it is sure good at keeping our eyes open. However, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Texas, caffeine does more than just keep us awake. It also energizes cells into producing more viruses used for gene therapy.
Black Sea Oil
January 28, 2011 05:29 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The quest for black gold, oil is an ever on going saga of the modern age. US-based ExxonMobil, the biggest privately-controlled oil company in the world, will make a new investment in Russia for the first time in over a decade as Moscow seeks to thaw its frosty investor climate and keep its oil flowing. The Black Sea is considered to be as rich in oil reserves as the Caspian Sea by some experts, but its real potential is not yet explored. Russian state oil company Rosneft will develop over a billion tons of Black Sea oil using a $1 billion investment by ExxonMobil, whose relationship with the world's top oil producing country has been so far poor in the 21st Century. This is not the only endeavor in the area. The virtually land locked Black Sea has six countries on its shores. Each one would like to develop its potential. Each one will have its potential environmental consequences.
Plants Go Down and Not Up
January 27, 2011 09:43 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
When it gets warmer vegetation and animal life adapt and change. Different populations move in from warmer climes to former colder climes. One widely held assumption is that it gets colder as the elevation gets higher so that as the climate gets warmer life that has adapted to a warmer environment will go higher pushing the colder based life forms out. In a paper published January 20th in the journal Science, a University of California researcher and his co-authors challenge a widely held assumption that plants will move uphill in response to warmer temperatures. Between 1930 and 2000, instead of colonizing higher elevations to maintain a constant temperature, many California plant species instead moved downhill an average of 260 feet.
January 26, 2011 04:37 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Most institutions (such as restaurants) have a dish washing machine which sanitizes dishes by a final rinse in either very hot water or a chemical sanitizing solution (e.g. bleach solution). Dishes are placed on large trays and fed onto rollers through the machine. The bleach solution is quite dilute (50-100 parts per million chlorine which is approximately one cap full of bleach per gallon water). Ohio State University researchers recently tested the merits of two new dishware sanitizers, and found them more effective at removing bacteria from restaurant dishes than traditional sanitizers. The two sanitizers — one carrying the name brand PROSAN® and the other called neutral electrolyzed oxidizing water — not only proved more effective, but they also contained fewer toxic chemicals.
California Olive Oil
January 26, 2011 12:04 PM - David A Gabel, ENN
Most of the olive oil Americans consume is imported from southern Europe. The Mediterranean region alone provides 95 percent of all olive oil worldwide. The largest grower, Spain, supplies a third, followed by Italy, Greece, and Portugal. However, a new player may be entering the scene from half a world away. According to an article written in the University of California's (UC) California Agriculture journal, the state is poised to be a significant producer of olive oil.
Dwindling Rain in the Southern US
January 25, 2011 04:42 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region. Although droughts can persist for several years, even a short, intense drought can cause significant damage and harm the local economy. While wet and snowy weather has dominated the western U.S., persistent drought conditions are likely to linger in the Southern Plains and Southeast through mid to late spring, according to NOAA’s National Weather Service. La Niña has kept storms and most of their precipitation in the north, leaving the South drier than normal.
Meet the new species of "Bearded" Crayfish
January 25, 2011 12:18 PM - Yale Environment 360 & University of Illinois
U.S. biologists have discovered a new and distinct species of crayfish in Tennessee and Alabama that is twice the size of other species, an example of a new species being discovered in a well-explored area. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Eastern Kentucky University found the first specimen under a large rock in the deep waters of a Tennessee creek after hearing reports of similar findings. The new species of crustacean, called Barbicambarus simmonsi, is about five inches long and has an unusual "bearded" antennae as a result of the presence of tiny hair-like bristles called setae.