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Origami in Space
August 16, 2014 09:30 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN
An ancient art form is beginning to take off in a way no one thought possible: on a spaceship. Origami, or Japanese folding paper, is currently being developed into solar panels at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at The California Institute of Technology. Solar panels that have endless applications. Space travel has already turned over the possibility of solar-powered flight via folding panels, but this particular reincarnation is different. Developers cite a more intricate fold that allows for efficient deployment of the solar arrays. And it doesn’t stop there. Origami may one day be used in self-assembling solar arrays that are launched into space to power the earth below.
Marine noise impacts eels too!
August 7, 2014 08:45 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Marine noise has been studied for it's impact on whales, dolphins and other marine animals. Might it also impact smaller creatures too? Eels, for example. Despite their reputation as slippery customers, a new study has shown that eels are losing the fight to survive when faced with marine noise pollution such as that of passing ships. Scientists from the Universities of Exeter and Bristol found that fish exposed to playback of ship noise lose crucial responses to predator threats. The study, published today in the journal Global Change Biology, found European eels were 50 per cent less likely to respond to an ambush from a predator, while those that did had 25 per cent slower reaction times. Those that were pursued by a predator were caught more than twice as quickly when exposed to the noise.
The Danger of Solar "Super-Storms"
August 5, 2014 01:45 PM - Winfield Winter, ENN
Watch out George Lucas fans, a Death Star may be in our horizons — and one would only have to look as far as our nearest stellar neighbor: the Sun. According to Mr. Ashley Dale of the University of Bristol, solar "super-storms" pose an imminent threat to the earth by disabling electricity and communication system — or worse. Thus, the celestial body that illuminates the world may very well be responsible for sending it into darkness. In this month's issue of PhysicsWorld, Mr. Dale writes: "Without power, people would struggle to fuel their cars at petrol stations, get money from cash dispensers or pay online. Water and sewage systems would be affected too, meaning that health epidemics in urbanized areas would quickly take a grip, with diseases behind centuries ago soon returning."
Nesting Implications for the Northern Gulf Loggerhead
July 31, 2014 10:29 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, a massive response to protect beaches, wetlands, and wildlife occurred. Nonetheless, because of the spill, extensive damage to marine and wildlife habitats were reported and many studies have been conducted to quantify the affects of the oil spill on specific species. One study in particular which started in the wake of the spill looks at the nesting of loggerhead sea turtles in the northern Gulf and how their feeding areas have been not only affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill, but by commercial fishing operations, and areas used for oil and gas extraction.
Moose Drool Detoxifies Fungus
July 25, 2014 06:06 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Saliva contains important substances helps us digest food. It also plays a part in keeping our mouths clean and healthy. Another newly discovered use? Making toxic plants less toxic. Not for us of course, but according to new research, moose and reindeer saliva can help can slow the growth of a toxic grass fungus, and subsequently make it less toxic for them, allowing the animals to graze on the grass without negative effects.
New research compares environmental costs of livestock-based foods
July 22, 2014 08:00 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Trust me, no one loves a nice, big, juicy steak more than me and while I have no immediate plans of becoming a vegetarian, I am a little concerned about the resources and costs it takes to produce the proteins of our favorite meals. From the land that is used by livestock to the supplies and energy it takes to raise these animals for our consumption, it is evident that environmental resources take a toll. But what is the real cost? New research at the Weizmann Institute of Science, conducted in collaboration with scientists in the US, calculates these environmental costs and compares various animal proteins to give a multi-perspective picture of what resources are really being used.
Aura's Ten Year Mission Improves our Understanding of Ozone
July 17, 2014 06:57 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
This week, on July 15, NASA's Aura satellite celebrated its 10th anniversary. Happy belated, Aura! The mission of Aura, which is Latin for breeze, centers on obtaining measurements of ozone, aerosols and key gases throughout the atmosphere. And after one decade in space, the satellite has provided vital data about the cause, concentrations and impact of major air pollutants.
Rainwater discovered below the Earth's fractured upper crust
July 16, 2014 06:40 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
When it rains, where does the water go? Well for one, a lot of rainwater will funnel its way off roads and impermeable surfaces and will make its way into storm sewers. Another path might be directly into rivers and lakes. Or, rainwater might get soaked up by soil where it will then infiltrate into the ground and replenish aquifers. But just how deep does this rainwater infiltrate? According to new research, rainwater can penetrate below the Earth's fractured upper crust - which is at least eight miles below the Earth's surface!
Sand Power: A Better Battery
July 15, 2014 11:32 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN
Technology of the future is hard to see coming — sometimes because you can't see it. Advances in nanotechnology are the driving force behind longer lasting Lithium-ion batteries. Currently, Lithium-ion batteries are used to power every-day technologies like cell phones, computers, cameras and cars. Their energy source is a carbon-based graphite anode, which is nothing short of polarizing. Battery life has always been a major concern with Li-ion batteries. The solution is the most abundant compound in the earth's crust: SiO2, - or — more commonly — sand. The next generation of battery technology is using sand as a source for the production of nano-silicon, an anode material for Li-ion batteries.
Record Radiation in South America
July 11, 2014 09:00 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN
Astrobiologists from the United States and Germany recorded the highest known level of solar UV radiation to reach Earth's surface. This was around 10 years ago. On December 29, 2003, the UV Index (UVI) peaked, reaching the blistering number of 43.3 over the Andes Mountains in Bolivia. To put this in context, a beachgoer in the United States would expect a UVI of 8 or 9 on a summer day. Even with an 8 or a 9, one may not escape the day without sunburn. Nonetheless, it has taken scientists 10 years to detail a report of this data while taking into account all of the variables and anomalies monitored from an international network of dosimeters — or Eldonets (European Light Dosimeter Network) — that measure UV radiation worldwide. This system is comprised of more than 100 stations across 5 continents to account for variation in the atmosphere above each station.