Enn Original News

Incredible rites of passage: Scarred for life, new from BBC Earth
April 18, 2011 05:47 AM - Adelle Havard, BBC Earth

With a dangerous reputation, crocodiles would not be the first animal you would associate with mental and physical strengthening. Surprisingly, the people of Papau New Guinea have a connection between man and beast that marks a boys journey into adulthood. Many traditional celebrations that accompany events like birth, the start of adolescence, marriage, and death are richly integrated with the use of natural materials; such as feather, skin and bone. But when an occasion as serious and important as the coming of age beckons, the rituals connection between cause and effect must reflect this intensity. Many inhabitants of the South Pacific islands practice some form of physical transformation during male adolescence. The sacred act of scarring which people of the Solomon Islands practice can make rituals such as ceremonial hair cutting, and being cast into the wilderness for a short period seem relatively less challenging. For decades, tribes have used the tradition of scarification to mature their young boys into men. For a number of weeks, the boys psychological as well as physical barriers are pushed with consistent verbal taunts as well as public humiliations. However their discipline is yet to be tested to its breaking point.

New from BBC Earth: Human Planet
April 15, 2011 12:48 PM - Editor, BBC Earth

Human Planet has arrived: The first natural history series to ever focus solely on human behavior. With a phenomenal collection of over 80 stories from over 70 locations around the world, the lens has been breathtakingly turned on one of the most successful species on the planet...Humankind. Bringing together the same fantastic program making as seen in the award winning Planet Earth, and widely-acclaimed blockbuster LIFE and The Blue Planet. The BBC has again teamed up with Discovery Channel to reveal and examine the amazingly complex relationship of humankind and nature in the modern day: Through the eyes of those who have learned to adapt and survive in some of the most unforgiving environments on earth. Heralded by the national press such as The Telegraph as being "like nothing you've ever seen before", this fascinating series made by documentary makers with over 50 years natural history experience, brings home the message that human's relationship with nature is still very much alive and well. This landmark series that weaves stories never told before on television will premiere on the Discovery Channel on Sunday April 10, 17 and 24 at 8 p.m. (EST) with two episodes each night. Human Planet will then arrive on DVD and Blu-ray on April 26, just two days following the last broadcast.

Diisocyanates
April 15, 2011 08:13 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released action plans to address the potential health risks of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), toluene diisocyanate (TDI), and related compounds. Americans may be exposed to these chemicals when they are used in certain applications such as spray foam insulation, sealing concrete or finishing floors. The plans identify a range of actions the agency is considering under the authority of the Toxic Substances Control Act. Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is a highly-effective and widely used insulation and air sealant material. However, exposures to its key ingredient, isocyanates such as MDI, and other SPF chemicals in vapors, aerosols, and dust during and after installation can cause adverse health effects.

Wolves Taken Off the US Endangered Species List
April 14, 2011 09:22 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

For the first time ever, the US Congress has removed an animal from the Endangered Species List, a process typically done by a federal, non-political, science-based agency. The action by the US Congress sets a new precedent for altering the Endangered Species List based on political influence, enraging environmental groups. The removal would take effect in two western states that have known issues with wolves: Montana and Idaho. Wolves would now be managed by each state’s wildlife agency, inevitably leading to commercial hunting.

The Memory of Alcohol
April 14, 2011 07:49 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits Drinking alcohol primes certain areas of our brain to learn and remember better, says a new study from the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research at The University of Texas at Austin. The common view that drinking is bad for learning and memory isn’t wrong, says neurobiologist Hitoshi Morikawa, but it highlights only one side of what ethanol consumption does to the brain.

Decline of the Southern Skua in the Falkland Islands
April 13, 2011 09:49 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean near the coast of South America, is home to several unique indigenous bird species. One of them, Catharacta Antarctica, also known as the Southern Skua or the Falklands Skua, is in serious decline. Over the past five years, their population has gone down almost 50 percent. The exact reasons are unknown, but some experts suspect the decline is due to low breeding success and increased competition for resources. Some fear that the problems with the skua are linked with an unhealthy Patagonian marine ecosystem.

Yellowstone Supervolcano Size
April 13, 2011 08:30 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

University of Utah geophysicists made the first large-scale picture of the electrical conductivity of the gigantic underground plume of hot and partly molten rock that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano. The image suggests the plume is even bigger than it appears in earlier images made with earthquake waves. The Yellowstone Caldera is the volcanic caldera located in Yellowstone National Park in the United States, sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano. The caldera is located in the northwest corner of Wyoming, in which the vast majority of the park is contained. The major features of the caldera measure about 34 miles by 45 miles.

Pliocene Hot Age?
April 12, 2011 05:16 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

By studying fossilized mollusks from some 3.5 million years ago, UCLA geoscientists and colleagues have been able to construct an ancient climate record that holds clues about the long-term effects of Earth's current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a key contributor to global climate change. Two novel geochemical techniques used to determine the temperature at which the mollusk shells were formed suggest that summertime Arctic temperatures during the early Pliocene epoch (3.5 million to 4 million years ago) may have been a staggering 18 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than today. These ancient fossils, harvested from deep within the Arctic Circle, may have once lived in an environment in which the polar ice cap melted completely during the summer months. The Pliocene Epoch is the period in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.3 million to 2.6 million years before the present time.

The Mighty Blueberry
April 12, 2011 09:55 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Blueberries are incredible plants. They can grow wild practically anywhere in the northeastern United States and Canada, and are quite tasty. Blueberry bushes can cover vast stretches of meadows and become the dominant plant. Amazingly, they thrive after forest fires, even after they burn themselves. To go along with the plant's hardiness and the berries' deliciousness, blueberries offer great health benefits. According to a new study from Texas Woman’s University (TWU) in Denton, TX, blueberries have a positive effect on aging, metabolism, and inhibiting the development of fat cells.

Plant Biomagnetism
April 11, 2011 08:08 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The origin of the word biomagnetism is unclear, but seems to have appeared several hundred years ago, linked to the expression animal magnetism. The present scientific definition took form in the 1970s, when an increasing number of researchers began to measure the magnetic fields produced by the human body. The first valid measurement was actually made in 1963. Now plant biomagnetism has been little studied. Searching for magnetic fields produced by plants may sound strange, but physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, are seriously looking for biomagnetism in plants using some of the most sensitive magnetic detectors available.

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