Enn Original News

Endeavour Crater
August 9, 2011 07:03 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The NASA Mars rover Opportunity has gained a view of Endeavour crater from barely more than a football-field's distance away from the rim. The rim of Endeavour has been the mission's long-term goal since mid-2008. Endeavour offers the setting for plenty of productive work by Opportunity. The crater is 14 miles (22 kilometers) in diameter -- more than 25 times wider than Victoria crater, an earlier stop that Opportunity examined for two years.

Moonless Earth
August 8, 2011 02:06 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Moon does have effects on the Earth because it makes the tides be pulled, but gravity pulls them back. It might also effect the weather. Scientists have long believed that, without our moon, the tilt of the Earth would shift greatly over time, from zero degrees, where the Sun remains over the equator, to 85 degrees, where the Sun shines almost directly above one of the poles. A planet’s stability has an effect on the development of life. A planet see-sawing back and forth on its axis as it orbits the Sun would experience wide fluctuations in climate, which then could potentially affect the evolution of complex life. It is theorized by some that life itself would be virtually impossible without a moon, since the moon has a stabilizing effect on the orientation of earth's axis. Without the moon, the north-south axis would vary tremendously-- to the point where the poles would sometimes be in our orbital plane. These changes would mean that there would be no stable seasons, and it's questionable whether or not the planet would be able to sustain life.

Behind the lens of Deadly 60 - Filming a Pit Viper striking a water balloon in slow motion
August 6, 2011 12:34 PM - Steve Backshall, BBC Earth

To get this fantastic action shot, the team took a nifty bit of kit into the jungle with them. Cameraman Johnny Rogers rigged up a miniature camera. We used a Sony HXR MC1P, but there are lots of fairly cheap, lightweight camcorders in the shops now and most have a slo motion feature. For a hot wet jungle in Costa Rica we needed a splash proof camcorder, but also small enough to position it right in front of the action; nice and close to the snake. TV is shot at 24 or 25 frames per second — the viper shot is 60 frames per second. Given that ultra slo motion can be up to 5000fps, this shot is hardly impressive technically but what’s more important is to get the shot. The result was this great footage of a strike, two and a half times slower than the real action. But you don't have to be a pro to get these kinds of shots. You can pick up a camcorder that shoots as fast as 300 frames per second for a few hundred dollars.

CO2 Sequestration
August 5, 2011 12:45 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a rule to advance the use of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies, while protecting American health and the environment. CCS technologies allow carbon dioxide (CO2) to be captured at stationary sources - like coal-fired power plants and large industrial operations - and injected underground for long-term storage in a process called geologic sequestration. The proposal is consistent with recommendations made by President Obama’s interagency task force on CO2 sequestration and helps create a consistent national framework to ensure the safe and effective deployment of technologies that will help position the United States as a leader in the global clean energy race. Today’s proposal will exclude from EPA’s hazardous waste regulations CO2 streams that are injected for geologic sequestration in wells designated for this purpose under the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA is proposing this exclusion as part of the agency’s effort to reduce barriers to the use of CCS technologies.

Martian Summer
August 5, 2011 12:21 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A newly released image from ESA’s Mars Express shows the north pole of Mars during the red planet’s summer solstice. All the carbon dioxide ice has gone, leaving just a bright cap of water ice. This image was captured by the orbiter’s High-Resolution Stereo Camera on May 17, 2010 and shows part of the northern polar region of Mars during the summer solstice. The solstice is the longest day and the beginning of the summer for the planet’s northern hemisphere. The ice shield is covered by frozen water and carbon dioxide ice in winter and spring but by this point in the martian year all of the carbon dioxide ice has warmed and evaporated into the planet’s atmosphere.

Mold Exposure Has Greater Impact on Infants
August 5, 2011 10:29 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The inhalation of mold can be extremely hazardous for the lungs, respiratory system, and overall well-being. Some people are more susceptible than others to the symptoms caused by airborne mold, but it is unhealthy for all. A new study recently published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has shown that mold exposure has much greater impact in infants during their formative years. It found that infants living in moldy homes are much more likely to develop asthma by age 7.

Green House Gases Other than CO2
August 4, 2011 11:40 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Carbon dioxide remains the largest by mass of potential green house gases affecting climate change, but other greenhouse gases measurably contribute to the problem. A new study, conducted by NOAA scientists and published online today in Nature, shows that cutting emissions of those other gases could slow changes in climate that are expected in the future. Discussions with colleagues around the time of the 2009 United Nations’ climate conference in Copenhagen inspired three NOAA scientists — Stephen Montzka, Ed Dlugokencky and James Butler of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo. — to review the sources of non-carbon dioxide (CO2) greenhouse gases and explore the potential climate benefits of cutting their emissions.

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.

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