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The Layers of the Earth
August 26, 2010 02:10 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The asthenosphere is the highly viscous mechanically weak region of the upper mantle of the Earth on which "float" the continental plates. It lies below the lithosphere, at depths between 60 and 120 miles below the surface, but perhaps extending as deep as 400+ miles. The lithosphere is a complex mixture of layers. For example the North American continent is not one thick, rigid slab, but a layer cake of ancient, 3 billion-year-old rock on top of much newer material probably less than 1 billion years old, according to a new study by seismologists at the University of California, Berkeley.
EPA Encourages All to Vote in the Rachel Carson Contest
August 26, 2010 09:41 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Rachel Carson is widely considered the founder of the modern environmental movement. Through her book, "Silent Spring," she opened the public's eyes to the damages caused by the pesticide DDT. From that point on, society realized they have a much greater influence on the environment than previously thought. Borrowing the title from another one of her books, "The Sense of Wonder," the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is holding its fourth annual Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest.
Alaskan Volcanic Rebirth
August 25, 2010 04:47 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
A secluded island in the Aleutian chain is revealing secrets of how land and marine ecosystems react to and recover from a catastrophic volcanic eruption that at first wiped life off the island. Kasatochi, an island in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge rarely studied by scientists before its Aug. 7, 2008, volcanic eruption, is showing signs of recovery.
Artificial Light and Productivity
August 25, 2010 10:38 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Artificial light has, throughout history, been a powerful force contributing to the quality and productivity of human life. It is so significant to human life that society spends an enormous amount of energy to produce it. Currently, there is new artificial lighting emerging on the market place. These new technologies, in the form of solid-state lighting (SSL), offer the promise of increased productivity without more energy usage, and a higher quality of life.
Mystery of the Oil Plume Solved? Microbes ate it.
August 24, 2010 04:52 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN
What is the real story about the "missing oil". One study shows that most of the oil is gone, while another shows that there is still a whole lot of it in a mid-depth plume not visible from the surface. The answer might have been found in research announced today by Lawrence Berkeley Lab of the US Department of Energy. They found the plume alright, but they also found that microbial activity, spearheaded by a new and unclassified species, degrades oil much faster than anticipated. This degradation appears to take place without a significant level of oxygen depletion. The study notes “Our findings show that the influx of oil profoundly altered the microbial community by significantly stimulating deep-sea psychrophilic (cold temperature) gamma-proteobacteria that are closely related to
August 24, 2010 04:20 PM - Andy Soos. ENN
Ellesmere Island is in the far north of Canada above the Arctic Circle. This is the land of the midnight sun and a rather brisk cold environment. But fifty million years ago it was warmer though still quirky in its day night cycles. A new study of the High Arctic climate roughly 50 million years ago led by the University of Colorado at Boulder helps to explain how ancient alligators and giant tortoises were able to thrive on Ellesmere Island well above the Arctic Circle, even as they endured six months of darkness each year.
Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to a Variety of Diseases
August 24, 2010 10:59 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Vitamin D is a type of fat-soluble steroid that can take two separate forms, vitamin D2 and D3, whose actual names are Ergocalciferol and Cholecalciferol. It is produced in the skin from exposure to ultraviolet radiation, the sun. This is the primary way to build up vitamin D, but it can also be ingested in foods which naturally contain it or are artificially fortified with it. However, what happens when the human body has a vitamin D deficiency? A new study from Oxford University shows that a lack of sufficient vitamin D in the body can lead to a wide range of diseases.
Eat Greek for Healthier Skin
August 23, 2010 12:18 PM - David A Gabel
In the summer, it is a hobby of many people to lie out in the sun and work on their tans. Unfortunately, if done in excess, this hobby can lead to painful sunburns and possible skin cancer. A new study from the Tel Aviv University suggests that an effective way to prevent this is not only suntan lotion, but eating the correct foods. A diet rich in anti-oxidants and omega-3 fatty acids — common in Mediterranean regions — can protect the skin from the sun's rays.
August 20, 2010 11:32 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Ocean acidification is the name given to the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by their uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.18 to 8.1. PH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of a solution. It approximates but is not equal to concentration of hydrogen ions expressed on a logarithmic scale. A low pH indicates a high concentration of hydrogen ions, while a high pH indicates a low concentration. A strong acid would be less than 1 on this scale. A recent study indicates the relative impact on future ocean acidification of different aspects of global climate change mitigation policies such as the year that global emissions peak.
Dyes, Laundry Aids, and EPA
August 19, 2010 08:22 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released action plans today to address the potential health risks of benzidine dyes, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) and nonylphenol (NP)/nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs). The chemicals are widely used in both consumer and industrial applications, including dyes, flame retardants, and industrial laundry detergents. The plans identify a range of actions the agency is considering under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)