Enn Original News

Excrement and Coral
August 19, 2011 07:56 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Coral reef ecologists have found a potential answer to a persistent and troubling puzzle. The elkhorn coral, named for its resemblance to elk antlers and known for providing valuable marine habitat, was once the Caribbean's most abundant reef builder. But it has declined 90% over the past decade, in part due to highly contagious white pox disease, which causes large lesions that bare the coral's white skeleton and kill its tissue. Now, after nearly a decade of data collection and analysis, researchers have a possible cause of the affliction: human excrement. The finding represents the first example of human-to-invertebrate disease transmission and suggests a practical approach for halting the disease's spread.

The Shrinking/Expanding Earth
August 18, 2011 05:48 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Is the Earth growing or shrinking? The change may be small but the effects large long term. Since Charles Darwin's time, scientists have speculated that the solid Earth might be expanding or contracting. That was the prevailing belief, until scientists developed the theory of plate tectonics, which explained the large-scale motions of Earth's lithosphere, or outermost shell. Even with the acceptance of plate tectonics half a century ago, some Earth and space scientists have continued to speculate on Earth's possible expansion or contraction on various scientific grounds. Now a new NASA study, published recently in Geophysical Research Letters, has essentially laid those speculations to rest. Using a cadre of space measurement tools and a new data calculation technique, the team detected no statistically significant expansion of the solid Earth.

River Otters Bounce Back in England
August 18, 2011 03:36 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

The otter population in the England was dealt a serious blow in the 20th century. Around mid-century, environmentalists noticed the otter was disappearing from its natural river habitats. A study in the 1970s found that they could only be found in five percent of the sites where they once lived. The banning of certain pesticides and river cleanup programs turned around the otter's decline. A recent survey now shows the otter is back, inhabiting 60 percent of the roughly 3,000 locations they were once found.

Plant Purifiers
August 17, 2011 06:02 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A NASA research document came to the conclusion that “house plants can purify and rejuvenate air within our houses and workplaces, safeguarding us all from any side effects connected with prevalent toxins such as formaldehyde, ammonia and also benzene.” Trees are often seen as part of the answer for improving the environment and slowing climate change. Tree leaves utilize sunlight and absorb carbon dioxide from the air. Photosynthesis produces liquid sugars that go down into the root system to combine with soil water and minerals. Some of this goes back up the tree to produce more leaves, woody tissue, flowers and seeds or nuts. Some is stored as starch in the roots themselves, to be used during the winter or when the tree is stressed. The process of respiration converts these starches back into usable sugars, and also releases some carbon dioxide back into the air. Other pollutants can be removed too and are sometimes used as a design in remediation projects.

New Study Analyzes Link Between Neurodegenerative Diseases and Normal Aging
August 17, 2011 09:29 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The two most common neurodegenerative disorders are Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Both create serious impairments for the aging mind. A new study from researchers at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) takes a look at genes within the aging and diseased brain. Former studies have identified how to read the genes in the diseased brain. This latest study is the first attempt to compare the gene expressions in diseased brains to those of healthy brains.

Ancient Lava and Whence It Came
August 17, 2011 09:01 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Sylhet Traps lava flows of the Shillong Plateau in northeastern India lie some 340 miles to the east of the Rajmahal Traps at the bend of the Ganges River as it flows south to the Bay of Bengal. Almost 1,000 miles to the south is the 3,000 mile-long Ninetyeast Ridge rising a mile above the surrounding Indian Ocean floor, still beneath the seawater. To the east from the southern edge of this Ridge, some 1,600 miles away is the edge of western Australia. And finally, 2,500 miles to the southwest is the underwater Kerguelen Plateau, just off of Antarctica. Despite these vast distances, research by University of Rochester Geochemistry Professor Asish Basu shows great similarities in the chemical and isotopic signatures of lava rock samples from all these regions.

Oil Leaks
August 16, 2011 11:02 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Leaks happen whether anyone wants them to or not. All that can be done is to try to anticipate them and prevent them by useful maintenance and repairs before the leak happens. A computer model that tests automobile components for crashworthiness could also be of use to the oil and gas industry, according to researchers at MIT’s Impact and Crashworthiness Laboratory, who are now using their simulations of material deformation in car crashes to predict how pipes may fracture in offshore drilling accidents. President Barack Obama in May 2010 stated that the federal government needs to look at getting the technology that would allow it to work at the bottom of the sea to plug oil leaks like the Gulf of Mexico spill. That is after that fact. Better would be to stop the leak before it happens.

Healing the Heart after a Stroke/Heart Attack
August 15, 2011 09:58 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Suffering through a stroke or heart attack, while definitely survivable, can take a tremendous toll on the overall well-being of the heart. It can cause heart scarring which can lead to the thinning of the heart walls and a lessened ability to pump blood throughout the body. Post-heart attack hearts will never fully return to their previous condition. However, a new treatment developed at Tel Aviv University (TAU) by Professor Uri Oron using stem cells has the ability to restore heart function and health.

North Sea Release
August 15, 2011 08:15 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Royal Dutch Shell Plc said a ruptured North Sea pipeline continued to leak oil on Saturday and that it had been seeping crude into the sea for two days before the company declared it. Shell said it cannot specify how much oil may have escaped, but it knows which line leaked and said the flow has been stemmed as the underwater well has been shut in and the line at the Gannet Alpha platform is being de-pressurized. Gannet is 110 miles (180 kilometers) east of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Deep Sea Hydrogen Cells
August 15, 2011 08:07 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Deep-sea mussels use integrated biological based bacterial fuel cells to harness energy from hydrogen spewing out of hydrothermal vents, according to new research indicating that the use of this alternative fuel may be widespread in the communities at these vents. This is the first identified deep-sea organism to use hydrogen as a fuel.

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